Saturday, September 29, 2007

Sunday Scribbling: Power, full and less

Generic college picture from here.

We were there to learn to be powerful. We were the women who were going to secure the promises of feminism— exciting careers, equitable relationships, endless opportunities. No glass ceiling for us. It was going to be all sky, baby.

I remember driving up for my first view of the campus. Punkish Middle Sister volunteered to come with me (grudgingly—she was in the throes of a new romance and was loathe to leave). We drove through the snaking road, temporarily blinded by the streak of sunlight glittering in the Gothic windows of the central tower on campus.

“'s like the movies,” she said, suitably impressed. “Yeah, real Ivy and everything.” I was trying to be flip, trying to act like I was seriously considering going to another school. But this was the best college I had gotten into. This was going to be it. The air smelled rural, like tilled soil and grass. I watched the girls (I did not know to call them women yet) walking under the thickly clustered trees. Did they look happy? Intellectually fulfilled? Did they look powerful? I couldn't tell yet. But they were here, and that had to mean something. Unlike me, they looked like they could have gone anywhere.

We left shortly after a rousing speech by the college's President. “Look, why drag it out?” Sister argued. “You know this is where you will be.” And where she wanted to be was with her boyfriend.

Anyway, I couldn't disagree.

I was still surprised that I had managed to get into this type of school, coming from my decidedly ordinary high school. We were a school known more for the speed and talent of our football players than our academics. But some of us had seized on classes, challenging ourselves to do better, learn more. There was nothing better than the feeling of getting it RIGHT...the math problem, the analysis of the novel, the history question. We had found our talents and we were hooked. Truth be told, we were cocky...perhaps over-valuing ourselves to make up for a lack of enthusiasm in our peers.

I didn't know much about my new college except that it was very highly regarded, very academically rigorous, and that it was all-women. The first two attributes were enough for me. The last one...well, I'd learn to deal. “That's good. You're going to get an education. You don't need boys,” my father said. I rolled my eyes behind his back. I'd managed to juggled top grades and a complicated dating schedule in high school. I had no doubt that I'd be able to do the same in college. There were LOTS of co-ed schools nearby.

So I arrived, with my steamer trunks packed full of Gap jeans and romantic notions. My parents stood in front of me, my father in his baseball cap and my mother in her fuchsia slacks. We didn't look like the other families, like we'd done this before and would do this again. Those other families seemed confident. They knew who to ask for information. They were Fitzgerald people. Their voices sounded like money.

Nothing I learned as I settled into campus disputed that first impression. My new classmates were not only top scholars, but also poised and cultured women. They were also, mostly, wealthy. I'm not just talking about money. They had something I hungered for even more. Experience. These women had traveled, lived abroad, taken the kinds of enrichment classes I'd always dreamed about. They knew how to behave in every situation. They knew they would make their mark, their power was taken for granted. They knew where they belonged in the world. On top.

I never knew what it was like to feel so persistently wrong until I started the Right School. I watched my classmates take risks, experiment with every aspect of their lives, confident that even if they made a mistake, they would be fine. We were all women, they said—we had been kept down by society and now we had to make up for lost time. But I didn't feel that kinship. I couldn't forget that I was going to be debt for years after I graduated. I wasn't free like that.

Why couldn't their assurance rub off on me? As I inched through the dining hall line, I listened to the raucous Spanish in the kitchen. My well meaning classmates were gracious to the help, but usually they just ignored them. Brown hands spooned the baked beans into the warming trays. Brown people washed the enormous piles of plates, bowls, silverware.
I looked up at the workers, smiled. “I'm just like you!” They smiled back, distant and polite. I didn't want them to think I was privileged, because it didn't feel that way to me.

I'm embarrassed to think of how condescending I must have seemed.

So, maybe they were right. I was privileged, even if it was costing me dearly. So then, why I couldn't bring myself to be practical—to study economics and go to business school, or law school like my oldest sister? Because the main privilege I wanted to claim was the right to study whatever I wanted, to follow my dreams just like my friends were doing.

Especially since I found my native heath, my powerful place. The classroom. I wasn't as brilliant as most of my classmates, but I was in love with my English classes, psychology, anthropology, sociology. The pleasure I derived from unpacking a dense poem, or from connecting what I learned about !Kung women with a nineteenth century novel—it made my class resentments, my self-hatred, melt away. I felt dizzy with it. I felt most deeply myself...walking through the campus alone, my feet crunching on the carpet of leaves, talking to myself about all the things I was discovering.

I only felt powerful when I was alone.

How I wish I could give this story a happy ending, perhaps about a caterpillar who became a butterfly. But I arrived a tentative moth, and I didn't leave that way.

Sometimes I wonder if I wasted my expensive education. I'm not a captain of industry. I didn't succeed in the world of work. I'm in a traditional marriage, a stay at home mother who is not exactly challenging the patriarchy on a daily basis. I can fake my way through an encounter with the elite, but I can never duplicate their sense of solid entitlement. Those years were marred by intense depressions that colored everything gray.

But then, I remember finally getting to know some of my classmates, and learning to see them as people, not just as little Daisy Buchanans. And I remember those ecstatic walks around campus, drunk on its beauty and surfing on the ideas that seemed to expand my vision in every direction. Over a decade later, I still remember that power.

And I long to feel it again.

Fight and claim the power here.


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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Bad Book

From here.

I've adjusted to most of what motherhood entails, for me. I am used to waking up in the night, grudgingly used to being interrupted at the most exciting moment of the book or the writing. I am used to being asked for a snack, then having the same snack rejected for some inexplicable reason.

But I miss Friday nights.

My parents always went out on Friday nights. Always. Even if it was just to a neighbor's house. They could be fighting, shouting over the banging of the closet door and the dance music they always used to get into the Friday mood. But they would go out. Of that there was no doubt.

Thus, I think that same desire is encoded in my emotional DNA. TEG indulged it, pre-parenthood. We might stay home on a Saturday and cuddle on the couch with a movie. We might even go to bed early. But Fridays sang their siren song, luring us out of our house and into the red lit, unpredictability of the night.

So, even though the rest of the week I am (almost) perfectly content, on Fridays I get restless, staring at the ribbon of headlights streaking outside my window. We don't have babysitting, nor any family in the area, so my only outings on Friday nights are the ones in my imagination.

That's when I read chick lit novels, the more frothy the better—something festive, preferably with a stylized picture of shoes. Or a martini glass. That kind of book. It feels a little illicit, like I am cheating on the more serious novels and nonfiction I read during the week.

Now, the thing is...most of these books are perfectly satisfactory. The situations can be a little ordinary, but the characters are well drawn, instantly likable. They follow all of the rules stated in my writing books—setting up the situation, following through with plot suggestions, etc. And, as a bonus the books feel like a couple of hours sitting at a woozy bar table with my single friends, gossiping. They feel like, well, Friday night.

But every now and then you find a book that brings all of those “writing book rules” into relief, and you learn exactly what you DON'T want to do.

I read most of one of those books this last Friday night. It started out promisingly enough, two friends living in London, secretly in love with each other and wondering why their love lives never seemed to work out. And then guy's first love reappears, after having left under mysterious circumstances....

You get the idea. I liked the characters, mostly. I loved the descriptions of London. I settled into my Friday night...until I realized I was thoroughly BORED. For starters, the two main characters kept talking about how wonderful they thought the other person was, but all you saw between them was arguments and history. Their so-called wonderful natures were not SHOWN, but only talked about.

Their work existed only as a glamorous backdrop to their fraught (ha) passion. There was no substance to any of it, and it didn't forward the story at all.

And then there was the flimsy obstacle between them. There was no real reason for them not to just be together, no compelling force keeping them apart. So instead, they acted in increasingly idiotic ways in order to pull the book along. That reminded me, as we all know, that contrivance is not a novelist's friend.

Finally, after yet another drunken and foolish plot twist, I put the book down in irritation. This was no gossip was more like listening to a close friend defend her relationship with a clod you know is no good for her. And who needs a fictionalized version of that?

It wasn't all time wasted, though. I got a few fun London memories out of it (TEG and I went there on our mini-moon) and the realization that all of these writing books are finally sinking in. Sometimes you can learn more from bad art than from good.

Best of all...writer friends..we can do this. This book served as a motivating reminder of that.

So, go and give me something better to read. I'll try to do the same for you.


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Monday, September 24, 2007

Sunday Scribbling: Hello, My Name Is...(a sketch)

From here.

Ed note: This is a very rough draft of...something. A mood piece, really. I'm rusty.:)


She sat up, so suddenly that she left her body's impression in the tangled quilt we'd been laying on. It looked like a discarded, lesser twin. We were in her parents' attic. It was summer, a long time ago.

“Don't you wish that feelings came with name those 'hello, my name is...' things? 'Hello, my name is sadness. Hello, my name is anger'?”

She was always saying stuff like that, asking questions out of the blue. I think she got them from the books she was always reading. I don't know. I rolled over on the floor, staring at the summer rain trailing down the skylight.

“How about 'hello, my name is happiness'?”

She curled her lips into a smirk. “Optimist.”

If you'd asked me when it started, when we started, I wouldn't have been able to answer you. We'd always lived near each other, spending time together at odd times. We never gave what we had a name.

I looked at her, sitting in a loose black t-shirt with her knees tucked in. In this light, you could really see her almost-prettiness. Her frizzy black hair tamed into a knot at the nape of her neck-her eyes big and jet black. She was like the first week of March, ugly Spring. My mother always said, “She's gonna be gorgeous...someday.” So I always looked at her twice-once for now and once for someday.

“Besides,” she continued. “You never see those feelings long enough for a 'hello.' It's always 'goodbye.' You can only feel sadness all the way.”

I laughed. I couldn't help it. She was being so dramatic, and I was just a boy. Oh, I wouldn't have referred to myself like that back then. I was a kid, or ideally a guy or a dude. But, I was just a boy. Gladys wasn't just a girl, though. Not even then.

I took her face in my hands and kissed her on the edge of her lips. She tasted like strawberry jam and witch hazel. “Hello, my name is joy.” That was the thing with Gladys. You always wanted to keep the argument going once it started, even if it hadn't been your idea. You ended up getting swept up in it.

I kissed her again. “Hello, my name is fun.” I kissed her more deeply. “Hello, my name is sexy.” She gave a smothered laugh against my lips then. And then we stopped talking.

Summer ended, as it always does, and we went back to our worlds. Gladys to her parochial girls' school, and me back to the tumble dryer of public school. One day, I was standing in my usual spot, talking to my usual friends. I don't remember about what. Nothing, probably. I was trying to be cool, but ordinary. Normal, as normal as a gangly seventeen year old guy could be. And then Gladys walked up to us. Not in uniform. I wish she had been. She was wearing some stupid hot pink dress and lime green tights underneath and big black boots. I couldn't even see early March, or 'someday.' There was only now, and now was a disaster.

I was trying really hard not to look at her, but she kept coming closer. Like she expected something. Meanwhile my friends watched the way you do when you are taking notes, getting ready to spread shit.


I made my face go blank. “Uh...yeah. That's me.”

She was waiting for me to say something else, but I wouldn't acknowledge anything. Not even my name. And I was way better at waiting her out than she was at just standing there.

“Hello?” She gave it one last shot. Her voice sort of broke on the end.

“Yeah, bye.” My friends laughed now, nasty. I felt flushed with something dark and mean and happy. I'd finally managed to surprise her. I felt like I'd named myself.

She turned on her heel and left after that.

School, and school, and school. We didn't speak after that, and we never went back to that attic room. She was happy, though. I knew that much. She finally hit her “someday”—confident, had lots of friends, a boyfriend who held her hand through the halls. Probably he could answer all of her stupid questions with deep philosophy, or with quotes from the books she loved.

Sometimes, I walked up to her house, wondering what would happen if I rang her bell, wearing one of those stupid “hello, my name is...” stickers. Letting her fill in the blank, call me whatever she wanted. Starting again. But I never had the guts.

I was in my second year of college when I got the call. My mother, a sea of words like the static on the radio. Just a few words in perfect, clear focus. “Pills. Gladys. Funeral Monday.”

She was happy. I saw it whenever I took the time to look.

I wish I had shown her how to name it.

To learn more names, go here.


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Friday, September 21, 2007

Goodbye to my Beautiful Soul

Lately, I have had a certain fascination for Virginia Woolf. She's always been one of those authors who was my model for everything I could never understand--forbiddingly brilliant. I spent years avoiding her. But now, she creeps into my consciousness a great deal. Why her? Why now? It seems to simple to say, “She was an amazing woman writer, who wrote even through unbearable pain.” Maybe it's just time for me to take a deep breath and fill in this gaping hole in my literary education. So far, I have approached her respectfully, through the back door—biographies, letters, essays. I am finally ready to dip myself into one of her novels—Mrs. Dalloway. I'm excited.

Given this new love affair, of course I noticed the little paperback book nestled on the “new books” table at one of my favorite local bookstores. It's exactly my kind of book too, literary self help. I admit that I want to learn from my novels—how to be a better, braver, wilder, more intense person. So I am always intrigued when I find a sympathetic guide for that quest.

I am usually hesitant to buy a new book—I'll wait until I can find it on the remainder table, or at the library. But this just felt...right somehow, so before I could talk myself out of it, I took it to the cashier and paid. (it helped that Madam was starting to whine, bringing my indecisive ruminations to a quick end).

People, I fell into this book. And it gave me that kind of “aha” moment you get when you see yourself so clearly in print that you dart your eyes around, wondering if its possible that you are truly THAT transparent. In the first chapter, Speak Up, the author mentions Hegel and his “Beautiful Soul”--a character in his writing who remains pure and ideal because he remains silent, thus protecting his self-concept as someone who is “deeper, and different” from other people.

I am not proud of that idea. I believe it actually made my cheeks burn as I read it...but it is me. I have been cherishing my own “beautiful soul”--in my life, in my blogging, in my life. I would rather remain silent, gloating over ideas and knowledge that will never be sullied by being expressed in my imperfect words. Isn't the book that lives in our head already perfect, without needing a crass word on paper to ruin it? I would say no, but my behavior speaks otherwise. And I realized that in order to move into a life that I actually WANT to live, I have to stammer out all of my wrong words. I have to write my mangled manuscript, no doubt ruining the Platonic ideal of my inspiration in the process. I have to write my blog posts, even if they feel half-baked, not eloquent. I have to tell people what I know, even if I am afraid that what I know is very little. Alas, I am probably not deeper than any of you, nor “different” in that delicious, teenage goth sort of way. And of course, now that I have spoken, I have removed all doubt.

From my explorations into Virginia Woolf's life, I have learned that she worked and worked over every manuscript, despairing over her ability to capture the ineffable nature of a mind thinking. Sometimes she succeeded (obviously). Other times, she feels that she failed.

I am so grateful to have her words—so grateful that she put them out onto paper instead of hoarding them in her mind. And so I'm going to keep trying to destroy my Beautiful Soul, so that I can finally get to my own imperfect, confused, visible words.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Facing it

No ideas but in things.
William Carlos Williams

I loved the writing of my first novel. I've never experienced that kind of flow--it seemed to be growing wider and more interesting from scene to scene. I felt immersed in the writing and the characters. I even made myself cry a few times. I was thrilled with it.

Until I read it.

It needed so much WORK. I realized I have a tendency to underwrite, to shorten scenes, hint when I should be showing the events. My little, beloved draft didn't have that wonderful thickness that a real novel has. On the contrary, it seemed, upon re-reading, to be a little shallow. It felt more like the rough outline for a novel than than the novel itself. And all of the problems that I had forced myself to ignore as I finished my draft...well, I still didn't know how to solve them. My story seemed a poor, plucked little sparrow. I was so disappointed, and put it away.

Now I am working on my second novel, and am trying very consciously to avoid the problems of the first. I have come up with a great deal more plot and elaborate background stories for all of the characters. I have what I think is a clever conceit—a road map which should help me through the sticky bog.

And I am unable to go on.

I wasn't really sure why, until tonight. I've spent the last few months castigating myself, “too lazy! Not a real writer! Lots of mothers write after their children are asleep...why can't you?” But every time I opened my document, or indeed, any document related to my novel, I just froze. I can take notes; in fact, I have laughed in glee at some of my fiendish plot twists. I just couldn't seem to turn any of those ideas into actual scenes.

I've spent the last two days reading through a writing book by Robert Olen Butler that has forced me to see things a different way. The author stresses writing from what he calls the “dreamspace”--writing from the “white-hot center.” Now, this kind of talk always makes me feel inadequate—because it seems to imply that unless you can go into a mystical trance, you aren't a real writer. And I disagree with several of his exhortations, i.e. don't ever write unless you are in the "zone"—for someone like me, sitting around waiting for the force of that perfect intuition is lethal. But, to his credit, he offers concrete suggestions for achieving this dream state. He also shows examples of what he calls”from the head” writing and contrasts them with more immediate, sensual work.

That's when it hit me. I've wanted to force myself to write a REAL NOVEL, full of complicated plots and reversals and deep meaning. I've tried to graft them all to the myths that offered the original inspiration. I've wanted to show off what I know, sound smart.Oh, I have a lot of ideas and psychological insight and theories--the problem is that they feel false, shoved onto my poor characters. And to that teetering tower, I've piled on a concern with the mechanics of skill.

You know those wedding dresses that seem to be drowning the bride in festoons of lace, net, taffeta, and billows? Yep, it's like that.
I've made my little tale so complicated, I can't approach it anymore.

Butler talks about trying not to force your material into a structure too soon. Some stories naturally lend themselves to novels, while others to short stories or even poems. See, this isn't even something I want to face—the possibility that I am really a nonfiction narrative writer, or at best a short story writer. Those are the forms that have brought me the greatest writerly pleasure. But, oh, my dream is to write a novel. That's all I have ever wanted

So I am scrapping the cosmic MEANINGS and artful plotting and getting back into the humble things of my core story—even if they're not so smart. Even if they result in yet another underwritten novelette.

Because at least then, I'll be writing from the white-hot center again. I'll be writing true.


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Friday, September 07, 2007

Sunday Scribbling: Writing Exorcism

(From here.)

I admit it. I am obsessed with writing. Every detail. Writing books are like magic beans—I keep reading and buying them in the hopes that eventually, I'll be able to grow a Novel Beanstalk. Someday, I'll write up a catalog of every writing book I own, for your amazement and (it's OK, you can admit it) envy.

For years, I tried to deny my desire to write. It was almost too innate—too predetermined. I wanted to go to college and discover a hidden talent, something to change my destiny. And I tried. Photography. Music. Media. Art. Dance. I had fun, sure, none of those forms were really me. I still longed to write above all things. I just didn't think I really could. I loved books so passionately, I could never do them justice. I felt like I was cursed with just enough talent to understand the stories I loved so much, but not enough to create any myself.

Despite my wholesale ingestion of every writing text I could get my hands on, I've never felt confident. Part of the problem is the books themselves, I imagine. I have a very hard time taking the templates they offer and applying them to my own work. Where are my inciting incident, my antagonist, my hero's journey? Not always sure. I am beginning to suspect that the formulas only make sense after you have written something.

But another problem is mine. I compare myself to the books, point by point, until I find a dissonance. Then I sigh and try to think of something practical to do with my life.

Well, no more. Here is my exorcism of the most destructive ideas I believe about writing. I hope that seeing them outside of my mind will show us all how ridiculous they really are. Feel free to include your own crazymaking ideas about writing. Then we'll have a big bonfire and be free to discover new, better truths.

  1. Whole books are out there in the ether, fully formed, waiting for me to sit and channel them into existence. They are perfect, and complete, and inevitable.
  2. If I'm not in some sort of trance while writing...if my characters haven't taken over my fingers themselves...then I'm not producing quality work.
  3. I need to be very smart, highly educated, and utterly fascinating to write.
  4. I also need to be temperamental and more than a little insane.
  5. Ideally, my wardrobe would consist of nothing other than peasant skirts, black chiffon dresses, and high heeled boots. And a beret.
  6. Don't bother writing if you haven't lived in Paris, in a garret.
  7. Books and babies don't mix.
  8. Fiction is all that matters. Nonfiction writing isn't “real writing.”
  9. I haven't done anything worth writing about, and yet, I must always “write what I know.”
  10. Only writing directly into a work in progress matters, forget planning or notetaking or even just occasionally THINKING about what I want to say. If I need to think that much, I am not a real writer.
  11. If my writing doesn't resemble the examples in the writing books, I am not a real writer.
  12. If I am too unhappy, I must not really love writing.
  13. If I am too happy, I must not be “deep” enough to be a writer.
  14. Be suspicious if it comes too easily. Be suspicious if it's too hard.
  15. Either you are a genius, or you are nothing. And you are probably not a genius.

If you see any of these ideas walking down the street, looking for a new home, be sure to cross the street. But first, give them a kick in the shins for me.
For more writing know-how, go here.

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Thursday, September 06, 2007

Write Stuff Short Story Contest: Skin

Music plays everywhere, the Punjabi drumbeats that always sound exactly like happiness to me. My feet itch to dance, but it’s my mendhi party, so I sit instead, as the three mendhi artists write my fate on my hands and feet. I’m a bride. Finally, as my parents would say in relief. Finally, as my aunts and uncles would sigh. Finally, as my whole culture would shout, one collective shudder of joy. I had escaped that horrible fate, the one everyone had predicted when I went away to college. I wasn’t going to be some rebellious American girl, like Dadiji had predicted, staring balefully into her chai cup. Every relative was full of stories that had to be told. Warnings that had to be delivered. They tried to convince me. “Not that you shouldn’t go to college, beta. It’s important for you to be a smart, well educated girl. But…go closer to home. Stay with your parents. Lots of crazy things happen in this world. It’s not like home, you know. I see what it’s like. I watch the news.” I only managed to escape by promising that I would always remember who I was. Who I had to be.

Since all I could move was my head, I concentrated on watching the partiers, these people who came together for every wedding, naming, funeral, then scattered themselves to the winds again. These people who had seen me grow up in steps at each event. Family that never seemed to change, that seemed to exist only to celebrate, dressed in fine silks, bent by heavy gold jewelry. I couldn’t connect these people to the mundane tasks of life any more. It was like we kept them into storage and brought them out for parties.

I know how much my parents saved and scrimped for today. I remember my mother tracing her hands on the big motel ledger, muttering numbers to herself, chanting prayers for our prosperity in Hindi. They wanted to step out of the day to day too…everyone here was pretending to be in a Bollywood movie, or else back in India. Outside this hall might be gray Atlanta skies, but inside, we were all in Bombay. For a few days, my whole family stepped back into their native skin, speaking their language, eating their food, telling the same old stories and jokes, and singing the same songs that had been sung at their weddings.

All of the women invited were sitting around me on the floor, getting less elaborate mendhi on their hands, laughing as they tossed compliments and teased each other. Babies and toddlers ran around their mothers, sitting on the floor, thrilled to be taller than Mummy for once.

So I watched them, these mendhi women as they held their cones of putty like pencils and concentrated on covering every inch of my skin. They tucked their mangal sutras into their buns and wiped the tips of their cones carelessly on the old cotton saris they wore for their work. The green goop feels cool on me, like cucumbers on your eyes after a night at a smoky club. Not that I would know anything about that, ha ha. My brown skin turns into a canvas, full of swirls and pictures and lines. Telling the ageless story of every Indian wedding through my skin. I tried not to shift too much. One false move and everything that was so clear now, would smudge and become unrecognizable.

They continue to write on me, to draw the ancient wishes that would help turn me, for one day, into an incarnation of Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth and Good Fortune.

And I wanted to be that. I wanted to make my parents proud, to take the seven steps that would turn me into a woman, into a wife. To wear the bridal sari and the sacred markings on my forehead, the jeweled bindi of a bride.

I wanted the mendhi to write over everything that had come before this day. The tumbled kisses as we danced, he and I. The feel of his calluses on my skin—hard meeting soft. The way his skin grew whiter when I told him, harsh so he would leave, that I would never choose him over my parents, over everything I was.

The way I felt it in my skin when he left and slammed the door.

My parents were surprised when I told them I was finally ready to be married. But they tugged on the family network and before I knew it, I was engaged. I like him, my betrothed. Like my parents would say, “He’s a nice boy. Good family.”

The mendhi was done. The women stood up, wiping their hands on their laps and stretching. Everyone crowded around me, their bare feet sounding like the tabla drums beating through the speakers. This was their favorite part of the ceremony.

“Look and see, Nisha…now you have to try to find his name in your mendhi. That's how you know he's the one who is fated for you!” I looked down at my hands, covered now by a gorgeous intricate design.

I tried, stared intently at hands grown beautiful and foreign. And they waited, these women I’ve known forever, waiting for me to become one of them.

I tried, muttered something. The aunties laughed and shouted, "She's just too modest, a proper blushing bride!"

But that wasn't the truth.

The truth is, I couldn't find it.
For more entries in the Write Stuff Short Story Contest, go here.

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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

East, West, Home's Best

From here

When is a vacation not exactly a vacation?

When it leads to an unintended blogging break. I was prepared, nestling my new Macbook into the diaper bag like a cherished egg. Already anticipating the time I would have to write, while sipping some delicious cafe Cubano in my parents' sunny kitchen.

But, alas and alack...someone tampered with their wireless router and despite my best geeky attempts, I was unable to fix it.

It wasn't all terrible, though. I'm always inspired at my parents' house (which is strange, since they tend to be so critical of me) and this time was no different. Without the distraction of the internet, I was able to sit down and patiently retrace my steps through my story, figuring out where I was stuck and planning a tentative work-around. I was also able to read three wonderful novels, and two writing books besides. So, productive.

I missed this place, though. It was strange to be around people who aren't obsessed with what they are writing, or painting, or thinking.

I like our way better.

One slightly worrisome question for the parents out there—is it normal for Madam to be so uncomfortable around my parents, still? She saw them in July for her birthday (for a week) and just spent ten days at their house. And yet, she won't be alone in a room with them (seriously, she was my little toddler shadow for ten days; I had to shower with her sitting on the floor of the bathroom, watching, unless I waited until after bedtime) or even really allow them to carry her. Am I doing something wrong? It makes me feel horribly guilty, especially since my parents adore her and would gladly spend their time lavishing her with loving attention.

More later when I am less exhausted. I cannot WAIT to catch up with all of your blogs!

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