I have a story to tell you guys. You might not believe it. But I swear, it’s all true. Every stinking word of it.
When I was younger, well…I wasn’t really a hit with the boys. I know. I KNOW. This is hard to believe since now I am so obviously ridiculously, ridiculously good looking and charming. But suspend your disbelief for just one minute, however hard that might be and go back in time with me.
When I hit my teens, I was awkward and shy. A bit pudgy, with braces and Jersey hair so big and so wide that it made Medusa look like she was a shampoo commercial model. Friends, it was bad.
But then things changed. The pounds fell off when I ran cross country. A teeny weeny eating disorder didn’t hurt either (another story, another day). The braces came off and I figured out (somewhat) how to work with the mop that God (yes, thank you for that God) gave me.
A lot of people ask me the question, “Where are you from?” I know most people ask because they are curious about my ethnicity, not because they want to know which state of the Union I identify myself with. But I am never really sure, so often ask, “What do you mean?” I will respond without hesitation once they clarify. In some cases, people are actually asking about the state I am from, after they catch the subtlest hint of what remains of my Jersey accent.
When the question is about my ethnicity, the responses I get range in nature from slight head nods to outward enthusiasm to the highly offensive. Here are a few examples:
“I love Indian food! I love Indian culture. That’s so cool.” An enthusiastic response.
“Wow, you’re pretty for an Indian!” Yeah, that’s a very informed thing to say. No, it’s not.
A few years ago, I wrote a post about how good friends know what to say to each other in tough situations. They know the difference between being painfully truthful and kindly, gently delivering a message. Other times, they might even tell little white lies to help you get the message. Well, I called it lies, but I realize now what I meant was not necessarily lies… more like, omission?
What do you mean? I want someone to tell it to me straight, you might think. Yeah, I say the same thing, but when it comes at me too fast, too hard, I realize I’m not always ready for it. Let’s just walk through a few scenarios and see how this might work.
“The timeless in you is aware of life’s timelessness. And knows that yesterday is but today’s memory and tomorrow is today’s dream.”
- Khalil Gibran, “The Prophet”
“Last morning, I peed my pants.”
“Last morning, I got a boo boo, Mommy.”
“Remember? Last morning, Shaila hit me.”
These are all things my three year old son, Nico, can say on a given morning. You would think that “last morning” might mean yesterday, or the day before yesterday morning. But no. Last morning can really be any morning that happened in the past. Heck, it might even be an afternoon or an evening.
We have a lot of stories about “last morning” going on in this house. “Last morning” basically is a sum of all our yesterdays; it’s where the accidents of our past took place and where we lay our mistakes to rest.
On Wednesday, John and I are going to see my favorite band, Mumford and Sons. I am extremely excited and this was kind of both of our big Christmas/Birthday/Valentines gift to one another because I got the tickets too late and basically paid an astronomical amount for them.
It’s worth it for us though. Or, maybe I should say for me. John loves them, but not quite as much as I do. I sometimes think there is a 6th sense and that is the thing you experience when a song touches something in you that seems otherworldly. It’s bigger than the sense of hearing, because an amazingly written song can bring all of your senses into sharp focus.
I wrote something about Mumford & Sons a few years ago that I wanted to reshare.
When adults would read me Snow White as a child, I always marveled at the beautiful Princess’s beauty. Her loving mother had wished for a daughter with skin as white as snow, lips as red as blood and hair as black as coal.
Wow. She sounds pretty.
Except…. (Sound of a record scratching)
Back the fuck up, yo.
Skin as WHITE as snow?
I was raised in a pretty homogenous small town in New Jersey, at least when I was young. It started to become more and more diverse as droves of New Yorkers from Brooklyn, Staten Island and Queens started to move a little further out to raise larger families in bigger homes, where they could still commute to the city. When I graduated from high school, my yearbook reflected faces from around the world.
The past few months, my 5 year old daughter has spent an inordinate amount of time worrying about her appearance. Worrying about how to style her hair. Painstakingly picking out her outfits, trying to make them look as “girly” and as “dainty” as possible. This usually amounts to huge amounts of pink. Ruffles. It looks like Barbie puked on her when she tries to dress herself. She pushes her limits too, constantly asking to wear lipstick. Or hoping she can get a pair of shoes with heels.
I am not sure where Shaila gets it from. I certainly may have been a fashion plate at one point in my life (briefly. VERY briefly), but now I find myself dressed in something I can kick around in all day. Yoga pants. Sweats. Comfy hoodies. Working from home has removed the desire to spend a lot of time styling my hair or putting on makeup. I do clean up pretty well when I want to, but it hasn’t been a focus of mine since she was born.
Never judge a book by it’s cover.
We all know the expression. The meaning is clear. A book which is beautifully bound, with a richly decorated exterior may be the one that grabs our attention. It may be the one we pick up and bring over to the cash register to buy.
Only to come home and find that the pages inside are hollow. The story and the characters are shallow and one dimensional. And you realize how much better off you might have been picking the other book that you had held in your hands for that short moment, but dismissed because it lacked the shinier, less sparkly cover.
I try not to judge my books that way. Most of my favorite books have nothing compelling on the cover. I have learned over the years how to follow my instincts in picking out what to read. Sometimes the barest of covers are the perfect hiding places for stories of substance.
“You’ve been getting really political lately” – My husband, in regards to my activity on Facebook, Twitter and yes, this blog.
When John told me this a few weeks ago, I was like “Really?” knowing in my heart (yes, this bleeding, left leaning heart) that he was right. “What do you mean?” wanting him to tell me so I understood what he means by “really political.” You know, versus just “slightly political.”
“Well, you put up a link to a post that is obviously written with a liberal slant on your Facebook page and then you ask people for their thoughts.”
“So? I am asking for an open discussion.”
“Well you never put up a conservatively written link and ask for anybody’s feedback on that,” he countered.
When I was younger, I always had this vision of what being a mother would be like. I knew it would be hard, juggling that successful career, running around with my kids in parks, cooking homemade meals every night while still remaining to stay in shape through all of this.
Because everybody knows if you are doing that much work, you must be burning a lot of calories.
But being a mother is NOTHING like I thought. Nothing that I bargained for. These were the realizations that hit me very early on.
1. Control. Or lack thereof. As someone who could be relied upon to be on time, stick to commitments, be out of bed early and even manage to throw a workout in before a 7 AM flight, losing this practically gave me angina. I cannot tell you how many times I have gotten my family prepared to go somewhere to be stalled by a “What’s that smell?” from my husband or a “Mommy, I need to go potty!” or an even more reassuring, “Oops, Mommy, I missed the toilet!”