Chasing Happiness #31

It’s a ritual. On the first day of school, no matter how tightly scheduled our work commitments are, we always take the morning off to drop off the kids to school and go for a coffee date. After the coffee date, we let life take over, and absorb our senses in the drowning noises of the mundane life, waking up at the alarm, and sleeping just enough to survive the next day on three cups of caffeine. It’s called work life balance, but I like to call it mundane, because I strongly feel that my life is capable of magnificent. Loving spouse, pretty and intelligent children, and a house have redefined and refined me, but haven’t completed me.

There is more to me that I have met already.
My loneliness and I have a date on the first cold and windy morning of fall. First we congratulate each other on surviving another summer. We celebrate the warmth of fuzzy jackets and tall boots, Pumpkin Spice Lattes and Panettones with it. “They drive me away from their lives, and you want to reunite with me, warms my heart, this love”, she says. “They drive me into your arms, it suffocates me, too much love, too much warmth, I love the ice cold side of my heart”, I say.

I do, I do love my ice cold side. A cold heart that stops me from fine tuning my work in those two bonus hours I scored that day. A cold heart that stops me from setting a lunch date with husband, or a girl friend. A cold heart that stops me from channeling the inner domestic goddess to whip out a batch of snacks to wait on the counter for the children coming back from school. A cold heart that stops me from massacring those ants creeping up the backyard concrete like a brown band of soldiers. A cold heart that stops my thoughts, my guilt. A cold heart that wants me to sit on that chair facing the window and just stare without thinking of buying bird food because I spotted a dove that visits my backyard, or get tricked into the guilt of doing something that others would appreciate and reward me with their happiness.

Speaking of happiness, Chasing Happiness began this January, but as seasons rolled, the original goal was revised and revisited. With fall comes a new pact, to redefine happiness with a quote from philosopher Immanuel Kant :

Rules for Happiness: something to do, someone to love, something to hope for.”        
Rule #1: Something to do.

Oh, there is a lot to do. I live a blessed life where the list grows as the love grows. There is always something that’s not done, there is always something that needs to be done, now. I should edit my novel, write my blog, and contribute to that real estate blog I am writing. I should also read a novel while I cheer on the children who kick and punch. I should listen to Lang Lang, but before I should listen to R1’s piece that she wants me to critique. An untrained ear is a better critique than the one who knows the note, she says. Thankfully I don’t take it as an insult and add learning to identify notes as they are played to the long list. I should cook dinner, I should try that new restaurant, I should try a new drink with unidentified beautiful things floating in it, and I should organize more.

But before that, I should go to work on time, ensure that I am the star I am used to be, be punctual at all scheduled pick-ups of the day, and try to eat healthy. Something to do? I have a lot to do, and I didn’t even add scan through pictures of friends of friends on Facebook, go through random articles posted by my friends, and of course worry about the inflation being brought with QE3, rising cost of milk and bread, and gas. The other day, a friend shared a movie clip where a woman and child sit isolated in a different room of the house, and based on the aroma coming from the kitchen, try to identify the food that was cooked. One day I want to make something so beautiful. That would start a list of unrealistic expectations though.
Rule #2: Someone to love

Thankfully I am past my teenage years where I had to wait for somebody to love. At this stage of life, I know love is an emotion just like sorrow, and it can be shared with anyone and everyone. I love my husband, I love my children, I love my parents, I love my distant uncle whom I haven’t met since childhood, and that second removed cousin whom I haven’t met, and all my friends.  Sometimes I fall in love with the feeling of holding a baby in my arms, and I pick up my neighbor’s baby. Sometimes I fall in love with a furry cat, and I run my fingers through one of my daughter’s furry toys. Sometimes I fall in love with the man who provides me healthy insurance while I liberate myself from cubicle slavery, manages the mornings with my children while I report to work when the phones don’t ring and emails don’t pop, loves me and my many moods unconditionally and during those times I just call the person I am married to, and say I love you.

Rule #3: Something to hope for

I am an eternal optimist. Somebody sold me a promise of hope and change four years ago, and I gladly believed. I don’t hope to lose ten pounds, or to have better children or to have a better relation with my spouse because that’s not something that you hope for- that’s something you work for. Years ago, as an Architecture student, I read a book on the details of Twin Towers in New York. After we got married, I told my husband that before we go to those snowy places to sing our own Bollywood song freezing in chiffon saris, I want to visit Twin Towers. He said it’s not going anywhere, neither are we. We couldn’t go to where it was then, and haven’t been to where it stood now. I hope for a future where hopes like those aren’t shattered. I hope life stays beautiful, and the world too, for me and my children, and the generations to come.

There! I have a lots to do, lot of people to love and lots of hopes in life. Thoughts like these bring lots of happiness to the ice cold heart that wants to curl up in a corner of a dark room in the name of creativity and warm it up. There is more to me, but there is more around me right now. Let me go talk to the neighbor, pick up my children, reply to the work-related emails, enjoy a lunch date with my husband and continue to steal moments on my smart phone to read the latest smut, and check Facebook pictures of the perfect lives of others, and chat with my mother to know the latest happenings in the family, yes, that includes every little news about the second removed cousin that I haven’t yet met.

My loneliness is calling me, my chaos has drowned me.
Silence calls, but white noise sends a loud and clear signal to report.


Chasing Happiness #30

Come tomorrow both of my girls will be in school, one in seventh grade, and the other in first grade. Like all the mothers, I am in shock and awe at the speed of their growth. Like all mothers, my heart misses a beat when they wave me bye and disappear among friends. I made it easier on me, wrote a thousand words to sum up my emotions about this transition. I wrote a letter to my daughter.
Guess what! I got a response. The generation that texts in ten characters or less managed to dish out a little less than thousand words. She has it on her blog, but I am not prepared to connect our blogospaces just yet. Without intruding into her space, I am posting the contents of her blog here, with all due copyright mentions.
Dear Mom and Dad, 
Seventh grader means one step away from the top of the school, and two from high school.

All my friends have already mastered the art of rolling their eyes and flipping their straightened hair, while they wave good-bye with their perfectly manicured fingers, and smile with their heavily glossed lips. So I think this year, a LOT of my friends are actually going to wave good-bye to their parents. (This will be the first time in the past seven years that their kids actually turned their head in their direction!) Please don’t expect to turn my head, flip my hair and wave you bye with a perfect smile on my face, because chances are I’ll fishtail braid my hair that I forgot to diffuse, and my nailpolish is chipped because I forgot to coat it after the last Sunday’s manicure.

I’m no Greg Heffley, who turns a tomato red when his mom says goodbye to him. But don’t expect me to be a pink pony either, who will jump up and down, and say “Bye Mommy! I’ll miss you.” I understand that you will cry on the first day of school, what with keeping up with the family tradition of crying for every new step the kid takes. Get over it! It’s just the next grade. They would have passed me even if I got all C’s on my report card, and I brought home a perfect report card, star studded CST result, which proves I am perfectly capable of taking care of myself in seventh grade.

Let’s not forget about you Daddy. One moment, you tell me that I can be a mathematician, and the next moment you go gaga over how much I have grown from my diaper and nursery rhyme days. I’m neither old enough to think about my career in math, nor baby enough to open my Cat in the Hat book with you. Let’s make a deal this year. I’ll help you memorize the hottest and coolest song of 2012 ( I still can’t believe you don’t know who Liam Payne is!), and you help me memorize my theorems in Algebra 1 and 2.

Aren’t I thankful you guys are too busy to volunteer in my classroom? It’s tiring to keep up my act of a perfect child when you are there following my every step. Thank you for not being that helicopter mom who emails the teacher a hundred times just to see if I have turned in my assignments on time. I might forget on Day One, maybe even on Day Two, but I’ll fix it before it gets anywhere NEAR the Aeries Parent Portal. Trust me. Been there, done that, and made it into Principal’s Honor Roll twice. Proves I must be better than a lot of other kids ( No offense to my friends who submit their assignments on time!)

Don’t worry, I won’t hide a makeup kit in my locker (It’s overflowing with clothes and shoes I innocently forget to bring home.) And please don’t worry, I’m not going to search for anything inappropriate on my laptop, or my engraved Itouch which discharges, and resets itself to the year you were born. You know me, I can barely clean up my room, let alone the history on my computer. It’s still laziness, but makes your job a WHOLE lot easier.

I forbid you from being my friend. Thankfully I have a lot of friends whom I can talk to about my teenage crisis. We love the hormonal drama and mood swings. We don’t want you to lecture us about how it’s a normal part of growing up. It is special for us, and we would like it to remain special. But I love coming crying into your arms once in a while and hearing that it will be okay.

Going to seventh grade is a big change for me. More privileges, more responsibilities, and more work. Maybe that would translate into more slacking, and more irresponsible behavior, but hey, I talked to both of my grandmothers today. Surprise, surprise! My perfect parents were not at all perfect children. And you turned out just fine. I’m sure I’ll do too. Let me steer my own ship, but if I get lost in the fog, beam me from the lighthouse.

Till next year,
Copyright © Rea Rajesh Josh

I got another letter from her sister, and then was asked where her letter was. Oh baby! Mommy didn’t write you a letter. Even if mommy wrote one, she wouldn’t share it with you just yet. You don’t have to know that mommy pushed you a year ahead (she pushed your sister a year ahead too, but then your sister actually fits in physically), and now it worries that your feet don’t touch the ground when you sit on your seat, and you are smaller that most of the kids in your class, not just younger. But you know what, mommy will seal her worries in her heart and never let them out. You just go and make mommy proud without any of her words of wisdom.
May the force be with (both of) you!



Chasing Happiness #29

Dear daughter,

It’s a good fifteen days before the Almanac announces a curtain call on Summer of 2012, but back to school nights and registration mornings unofficially dictate that we should stop hiking up the mountains, waddling in the pools, walk barefoot in the golden sand and embrace academic life. It’s always a bitter sweet moment to send you girls to school come September. On one hand, I am happy that I can work peacefully, without the white noise that you guys provided, and on the other I will miss those erratic piano beats, crazy words that were exchanged between you sisters, and your loud music that certainly isn’t my taste.

Expectations change with every passing year. This year will be no different. I will expect you to be honest, truthful and responsible also. But I don’t expect you to be perfect, neither do your teachers.

Please don’t study. I know the pressure you are under where each one of your friend is following the rote routine to master the textbook aiming for a hundred percent during testing. You don’t have to get a hundred percent if that’s what it takes going forward. Understand the subject. Learn it. If you are learning about Greece, you don’t have master the textbook to understand the subject. Read along with the teacher when she teaches the class. Pick up a historical fiction that outlines the syllabus you have. Read and enjoy the different perspective of the same subject laced with dialogues, and grandeur, and some imagination. Watch a movie. Imagine yourself how it must have been. How Caesar must have been as a person. How life must have been during those times. His mundane, his magnificent, and his thoughts as he ruled.

Realize that your textbook is a guideline of what people your age should know about – not the entirety of what you should know. Your grandfather wrote textbooks. Your grandmother is working on one right now. Ask them, and they will tell you the process of how textbooks are written. How they tread the path of history, carefully outlining what can be safely discussed and understood in a classroom full of students with diverse backgrounds and varying levels of intellect. Don’t let an outline define history to you. There are more people than the listed ones in the textbooks any given time. Their roles were equally crucial in changing the course of time. Just because it is controversial, you cannot deny yourself the pleasure of knowing them.

We have never forced culture or religion on you. There are absolutely no limitations on you when it comes to expressing yourself. You have the freedom to wear any color, any design, and any brand as long as it adheres to the policy imposed by the school and general decency. Don’t go by what your friends wear, don’t go by what your friends think of what you wear. Be yourself, be the way you like yourself to be. Those who aim to please others will never succeed, even Vera Wang has her detractors. When you look at yourself in the mirror (that is if you have time before you dash off the door half asleep!) slap on that smile. Your smile is the only accessory that I never want you to lose in some locker in the school hallway. Everything else with a dollar value can be replaced.

Please don’t gossip. I don’t want to know who the friend of a friend likes. I don’t want to know about your friend’s father who punishes her if she misses the grade. Tell me about you, yourself, and your own issues. Talk to me, always. I want to know about your likings, your confusions and your time management issues. I want to know what troubles you. I want to know what affects your performance. I want to know how I can make life better for you. If the friend is affecting or influencing your life, I need to know. But if your friend is expressing herself in ways that you don’t approve, please don’t talk to me about her. Like you, she is trying to find herself, and her method might not be the same as yours. Respect that, and let her paint her nails black, and get streaks of blue in her hair without judging her in front of others.

You are an inch taller than me now, and strangers ask us if we are sisters. But let’s not trick ourselves into being each others friends. I will never be your friend. There is nothing wrong being your mother. Your grandmother and I always had, and still have a very open relation where she knows about everything that happens in my life including news about what pissed me off that day. We never had to pretend that we were friends before we started sharing everything with each other. It was an easy transition, to show her how I danced to a certain song in Kindergarten to how I danced for a certain hit number during my teenage years. Never a shame to be her daughter, never in need of a sham called friendship. Let’s take pride in being mother and daughter.

Manage. Please learn to manage now. It’s not easy to think about life sciences and cell division when you are lost in Aria, but that’s how life is, and always will be. Lose yourself in music. I like seeing you lost, your eyes closed and fingers flowing smoothly over the piano keys, half of your nail polish chipped, and your hair tied in a bun. It overwhelms me emotionally to see you like that sometimes. It scares me also. This thing called life is cruel. Even if you choose to play piano for the rest of your life, you will have to learn to manage your time, and prioritize your commitments. School teaches you that art, and if you submit yourself completely, you might even master the art before you graduate!

Please be alone. Every day. Even if it is for ten minutes. Without music running in the background. Without talking to a friend or texting one. Without reading. Without playing with your sister. Connect with yourself. I had too much energy to do that when I was your age, but when I finally said hello to myself in my thirties, I wondered where I was all those days, and why didn’t I break the ice before. Don’t let that happen to you. Close your eyes, and lose yourself every night before you sleep. Dream. Where I don’t matter, your sister doesn’t, and your father doesn’t.

Don’t compare yourself with anyone. You are far too precious to be compared with anyone else. I like you the way you are. Your grades, your actions, and your thoughts- set higher goals for all as you want them to be, but not to be better than someone. I don’t care for anyone else in the world. I am too self centered that way. Other than you and your sister, no other kid matters to me. If you have a perfect grade point average in your view, that is perfect enough for me. I don’t have to know what the other 98% have. I never will want to. Just you, your view of perfection, and your score against it. That should be the ultimate comparison.

Another small promise while we are running a laundry list, please don’t talk about what you want to be when you grow up. Growing up is fun, let’s focus on that. If you want to take up culinary arts as an elective, go ahead. Don’t think of how it looks on a college application. If you want to take up computer sciences, do so because you are interested. Not to please your father. He is proud of you and loves you the same whether you write a novel, or write a cryptic code. Same applies to college. At the right moment, you will know what you want to be. We will support you with all our hearts (and bank balance) to help you achieve what you want to. It can be anything from making a movie to making upma on top chef. Put your heart in and succeed. Your dream and your future are far more important than our bragging rights.

At your age, I know it is hard to read something that was not said within one-hundred-forty characters. But I still love my thousand words, and one day you will too. A thousand more for a different moment, let me conclude now, wishing you and your sister the best for the coming academic year. As usual, your father and I will sit at a local Starbucks after dropping you off to school, my eyes still wet because I obviously shed some tears when you waved bye and disappeared among your friends, not once looking back. It’s even harder this year, your little sister going into a classroom where her feet don’t touch the ground if she sits on her seat. But I will find my strength, immerse myself in work till both of you come home with colorful stories about your new teachers, new friends, and new classrooms.

It amazes me, the way you have grown and matured every passing year, first day of school being a reference record of the speed of those changes. Wishing you the best for the academic year..


Mom (and Dad because I know it takes at least two to raise a child in this house)


Chasing Happiness #28

“Don’t talk to strangers” “Don’t accept packets from strangers”, my mother told me as I prepared for the journey to begin my life with a man I had married eight months ago, still a stranger to me in few ways. My father slipped a hundred dollars into my purse and said “Don’t buy shoes in Singapore. You might need this money for the cab ride home if your husband cannot pick you up”. With a suitcase full of clothes, a hundred dollars, passport and dependent visa, I boarded a plane to San Francisco two days after giving my last exam to finish my Architecture Degree. It was so hard to live in a world away from him after I got married, but it was even hard to leave the world I had lived in when the moment came.
That’s right, thirteen years ago, young me came to this country to live with a man I didn’t meet eight months after marriage. The last images we had of each other in our minds were of our weddings, dressed in our finery, and the moment that we said good bye to each other with a promise to see each other, soon. Soon wasn’t soon enough, and during that time the images stored in the heart faded, memories grew stronger. It was a busy life, wrapping up all my work, finishing up assignments, writing a thesis, interning at a place that felt like a jail. But we wrote letters when we had time, sent telepathic messages when we didn’t have time, and let the clouds moving across the Pacific say the unsaid. He would call me every day, we would report everything about everything, and spend hours listening to each other breathe. Looking back, I think I know why we don’t have a Mercedes in that garage of ours.

Here is something I wrote on the eve of our “domestic partnership”. Those were the days where the desire to hold each other and listen to our hearts beat in unison mattered more than anything else in the whole world.

“I am mid-air.. Somewhere between San Francisco and Singapore. Miles away from those who were my family, and miles away from the guy who will start a family with me.” “As I prepare to land amidst the fog of the city and of the mind, I am not sure, if this is the place I want to call home. I hope, and I silently pray for strength at all times, good or bad.”  “As we landed, the Customs official asked me if I had anything to declare. I almost said love and desire, but not to you”.

That day when I landed I didn’t know what to expect from the life I was going to live, but two Degrees, two houses, two kids, three cars and six California zip codes later I don’t know what the worry was about. A few miles from where I live, they say dreams come true. I say Amen, mine have, of a wonderful career, beautiful children, flip worthy houses and a loving husband. Life is still in transition, but my happiness needs to be documented today. I know I talk about the mundane, about the chaos that surrounds me, but I am sure I would be complaining the lack of if not the overdose of.

Today is no different, a blanket of chaos surrounds me, work needs to be brought to a phase where the client can be billed, daughter needs to be prepped for the picture day, and the registration for the next grade, and a birthday party at the most claustrophobic place on the face of earth (Chuck-e-cheese) awaits in the evening. I haven’t forgotten, that mandatory call to my mother once withing every twenty four hours needs to be made. Thirteen years, I have kept that promise. Sometimes she nags me for gaining some weight, not working a novel I told her I would, and sometimes she says I am jealous of the chaos that surrounds you, and sometimes she proudly declares that she is so glad she is over all this mess, and can travel every quarter without having to worry about the multiple schedules.

I don’t even know if I will stay awake till the stroke of midnight to clink the glasses and kiss my husband a very happy anniversary and congratulate him on a successful domestic partnership. That fleeting moment in the morning while we divided and conquered the children and chores might end up being celebration enough if circumstances demand it. Of late that’s how we find our Friday romance. The little café in Paris still awaits for me with the best of its Cappuccino, but I have to wait till the hair grays some more, pocket greens some more. I am sure when it happens, it will be memorable. 


Till then, we will share a drink at Starbucks at the happiest place on earth while the kids take a roller coaster ride with their favorite Disney characters. Happiness today will be leading a life where there is nothing to regret, plenty to celebrate.


Chasing Happiness #27

Worry not Indian men! You will not be bombarded with permanent penis enlargement (guaranteed) advertisements in your Yahoo mail box anymore. Times have changed. Technology has evolved. Knowledge and science have empowered us in seeking out of the box solutions. Also, the newer generation of Indian women has learned to adapt to circumstances. They have collectively stopped the movement that their mothers started and the revolution their young aunts and sisters started, and have started a new evolution.
Evolving as the fairest and tightest maidens ready to do anything for their man’s pleasure.
They have spent hours and hours studying a tongue and groove joint, and have decided that there is no point wasting time trying to sculpting the tongue, it’s time to alter the groove. Behold ladies, in India for the first time, vaginal tightening gel to ‘empower you’ (at least according to some Bollywood actress that you didn’t know existed so far). It certainly has empowered her – after shedding her clothes in movies that no one heard about, she is a mother of twins now, and has become an overnight internet celebrity among people who want to know WHO endorses such products.
This morning, I mentioned to dear Darcy that there is a new product in the market to tighten the vagina. He continued sipping his coffee, poker faced thinking this was bait for a heated feminist discussion that I had already rehearsed in my mind. Just the day before, I had given someone a piece of my mind when she said the girls should also stop dressing up provocatively and hitting the streets in the midnight where bad men with bad intentions lurk. This is almost the same as calling for a ban on guns because guns kill people, and calling a ban on spoons because they make you fat. Just because some men didn’t get the value based education from the women in their family to respect other women, all women shouldn’t turn into their ideal women fearing their wrath.
Might be an internet joke to rile up the feminists who are still not done discussing the vaginal fairness cream said dear Darcy, and I had to prove it to him that I was right. A quick internet search brought up an advertisement for 18 Again. The scene opens with a married woman bringing her husband’s lunch box while he is all dressed up to go to work, and is chatting with the other family members that includes grandparents, parents and teenage siblings. For a minute I thought Darcy was right, and this was a prank. But lo and behold, I feel like a virgin.. the woman starts singing, pouting-preening-seducing her man while the family watches intrigued, happy to be the part of the show, recording them, nodding appreciatively.
I didn’t see a mother-in-law (the old couple is the grandparents and the feeling like a virgin is too young to have teenage boys making her MMS) anywhere, probably she would have told the woman to let the man go to work. Seduction Salsa can wait for a few hours. What is it with Indian women and the dirty dancing when the husband is ready to go to work? Even the vaginal fairness woman hides her husband’s keys to stop him from going to work. How do these ladies plan to pay for all the vaginal tightening and brightening if the husband is home during working hours? This EMI generation clearly thinks and lives in the moment! Anyway, the couple danced around the very traditional South Indian house while the family cheered on, and as usual, when it was time to kiss a flower popped out of nowhere keeping up with Indian tradition of not kissing on screen. End of the advertisement, the grandmother logs on to the website probably to check the ingredients and side effects, cross effects with her medication before ordering one for herself.
It’s not like rest of the world is not tightening and brightening. They are doing all that (China seems to have a whole range of tightening products), and much more, they even have home repair kit for artificial virginity. I am not making this up at all! Check out Jezebel! The link to the product doesn’t work anymore, I hope the company went underwater too. Indian women haven’t given much thought about the hymen, but once they are done with this fair and lovely fad, that will be the logical next step for them. When that happens, prepare to watch the advertisements at prime time with your family!
A fair and lovely daughter comes home after a long day at work, worried. Mother asks her, what is it and she lowers her gaze. Mother gives an understanding look, walks to her closet and brings a repair your hymen kit. The daughter smiles, disappears into her room. The next morning, arranged marriage party comes to visit her, she smiles, he smiles, and they all smile, grandmother gives the mother an understanding smile, and the mother gives an understanding smile to the daughter, the wedding date is fixed. Next shot the girl is a bride, and as she leaves with her husband, she hugs her mother and says thank you ma. Father looks appreciatively.
Darcy reminds me gently that I should stop watching such advertisements, because iPad history saves all of them, and suggests videos based on my previous views. Sigh. Yes, I will erase it off my history, and get back to my work-workout-vacation life where work is always a work in progress, workout is a thirty minute ritual, and vacation is sweaty children biking on the streets without worrying about darkening their shade of brown. By next week I wouldn’t even remember anything about this, but it hurts to see these young ladies take a step back while their predecessors struggled to bring them twenty steps forward giving equal rights and opportunities and freedom to express themselves.
I feel like a virgin.. on a different level!
Anyway, for those who want to spend their afternoon singing I feel like a virgin..HERE!

Edited to add this link given by Captain:
Enjoy! My thoughts exactly was my response..


Chasing Happiness #26

I am suffering from Multiple Goal Crashing Syndrome, or MGCS.

My head hurts, my eyes close automatically and I slowly slip into a dark and empty space while every muscle in the body aches like it’s been wronged, and I lose control over myself. I hear they call it a nap. But there is a general sense of weakness that surrounds my brain when I want to focus on my multiple goals and stay on the course on all of them. I hear they call it distraction. Sleepless and distracted, because of my multiple goals, and feeling lonely, abandoned, over worked, underutilized and a thousand other things losing focus on the checklist of things that needs to be done in order to keep them goals, goals. That is the classic Multiple Goal Crashing Syndrome.

I self diagnosed in February 2012, and tried to self medicate with gallons of caffeine, but so far my self-rehabilitation and healing process hasn’t worked well. Since the year ends in a few months, and my undone goals are stopping me from adding on more goals, I will go through a “goal cleansing process” where I will keep what I want to do, toss what I don’t want to do, and donate what is done but not enough for my satisfaction. If I didn’t do it in the past three months, chances are I won’t complete that project in the next three months. Incomplete files on the computer haunt me, and scare me from beginning new ones.

The happy space that I search between the sun and moon, and tiny drops on rain replete with a spectrum of fantasies and a pot of gold at the end does not need distractions.

So, as I gear up for a different life come September, I clear off the incompletes, hoping that I will breathe life into them one fine day, hoping that someone doesn’t steal my idea, polish it, run that last mile that I didn’t run and claim a medal for their achievements. Of late I see some of the things I said in my blogs come up in other blogs twisted slightly to suit the author. When I check my own blogger stats, it does show that the ‘inspiration blog’ was read a few days ago. In fact, dug from the deep and read. That is fine. You can only copy so much, you can only inspire so much. One day I would love to write like Michelle Moran and Sherry Jones, but no matter how many of their books I read, re-read, it will take my own talent to come up with a product like that. I will take it as a compliment that someone stalks me, someone hangs on to my written word, and leave it at that.

Coming to the big announcement, here it is. In my past blogs, I have constantly mentioned the twenty-two-thousand words that I have written to share a story that I wrote this January. I wanted to rewrite it, edit it, and present it beautifully. But I couldn’t. I don’t have the patience to sit and polish. I don’t have the discipline to do it. A few days ago, I thought of sharing the story with my readers in 15/20 parts over the next couple of months. I will polish as I go, and if I cannot, I will still share what I have. If it turns out to be a great product, I can always add it to Createspace, and if I get distracted even with something that simple, well, good luck to me!

I am not sure how to do it, whether to start a website to share with elaborate copyright statements, or to just add my copyright line and add it to my blog. I am open to suggestions, and I am open to ideas, and I am very much open to my impulse decisions that happen around 2am on Wednesday. Middle of the week, middle of the night, I feel very impulsive. Every time someone said, no, work on it, it needs a bigger audience, I came back to my file and tried to rework. So far there hasn’t been any inspiration to keep me motivated.

Here is one of the paragraphs of the novella. There is no name yet, but there will be one soon.

It’s only a guard walking by,
But I hear a thousand soldiers marching.
It’s only a eunuch breathing on my shoulder,
But my heart races with fear.
In fragments, the memories of that night linger,
Constantly replaying in my head,
Forcing me to relive each moment that I would gladly forget.
I tremble with fear when I am awake,
I tremble with fear when the nightmares awaken.
I am not alone even in my loneliness,
Memories walk every waking moment with me.

©Meghana Rajesh Joshi, 2012. All rights reserved.

Beginning next week, I will start streaming this novella online. It is a Historical Fiction where I have taken plenty of creative liberties to express myself. Happiness today is learning to focus, even if it means calling my passion a distraction. Once this is done, maybe I will find the creative energy to write about Lopamudra and Agasthya, Amba and Ambika and another historic fiction that stayed in my heart for years. One day I might learn to be patient and actually list approaching an agent, selling my book, or even market it myself, but..

Till then, happiness is freedom from everything that holds you back, even your own creation.

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Chasing Happiness #24

The list of unfinished tasks grows like a blaze up the hills. An orange dot here, a yellow patch there, strewn among the gorgeous green hardly registers the mind as something deadly. But within hours, the dots and patches joining forces to create a ring of fire you cannot escape. You will run from one corner to another, pouring fire retardants from the aircraft, creating fire breaks to slow the fire from spreading. I haven’t been lazy at all, not even for a moment, but such is the power of multiple dramas in life that I am in firefighting mode continuously.  Stuck in deadlines and to-do lists of all sorts, none conquered, all in progress.
This January, I started reading seriously. My reading had slowed down for the past couple of years. Not that I stopped reading though, magazines, and anthologies kept me busy. Unless there was significant press and buzz around it, I didn’t spend my time reading a novel. I know, if I worked full time and took care of a child and read, I could still do it with two kids. May be I lost interest. May be I didn’t enjoy reading hundreds of pages written about the flowing dark tresses, feeling pouring out of the eyes, and the magic of long fingers and luscious lips. Another problem of course was losing books. If I read in the car, I would leave it in the car. If I read in the bed, it was tucked in the bedside drawer. If I read while cooking, I would leave it in a kitchen drawer. By the time I picked it up again, the interest would have faded significantly.
So this afternoon, when we went to Costco to pick up groceries after a dentist appointment, I went to the book aisle in hopes of rekindling the love with books. When we were newly married, we would go to Barnes and Nobles, and Borders before heading out for dinner.  But post-Amazon, I have denied myself that luxury. We no longer linger in the aisles of a book store unless someone thrust a gift card to one of these places. It’s become so easy to look up a book, an author, along with the thousand reviews for anything these days. Gone is the innocence of looking at a book, reading the blurb, and reading the book to see what it has to offer. I told the children to pick up a few books, read the blurbs, scan through the pages and short list their buys. I don’t usually do this on a crowded day, but on the middle of the day, middle of the week trip, I had to luxury of suggesting that they sit by themselves on the Costco sofa while I just walk around browsing my own books.
You may have noticed already, but Costco has joined the fifty shades bandwagon! I have nothing against the books. I didn’t read the Twilight series, but read the Shades trilogy last January. The objective was to explore fan fiction genre. The first book wasn’t that bad, but the next two were nothing but fillers. The “Oh My”s get overused and you wonder if you should drink up to each one like Ted’s students drink up to Robin’s But-ums. Basically it’s Darcy kinked up.
Anyway, back to Costco. They have lined up half of the adult books shelves with the shades trilogy. No clue how can anyone buy a physical book like this, leave it on the coffee table half read, or toss it in the car after scanning a few more pages. Oh, the horror of having a child phonetically spell the title.. since the intended audience is young mothers.  I don’t know if everyone else has mastered the art of reading in private, but my children, the people sitting next to me in waiting lounges, they all want to know what I am reading on my Kindle. I was reading Sherry Jones’s Jewel of Medina, and not a single person resisted asking the question “Does it talk about Aisha and Prophet’s relation?”. I can only imagine the questions if you read Shades in public.
 Whatever space remained after graying the shelves was shared between Hunger Games trilogy, and a thousand other things that were mentioned in the press or received prestigious awards. Out of the obvious midlife crisis, memoirs and love stories, I pulled out Cleopatra’s daughter. Read the blurb and fell in love. “Selene’s narrative is animated by the concerns of a young girl in any time and place–the possibility of finding love, the pull of friendship and family, and the pursuit of her unique interests and talents. While coping with the loss of both her family and her ancestral kingdom, Selene must find a path around the dangers of a foreign land. Her accounts of life in Rome are filled with historical details that vividly capture both the glories and horrors of the times.” As someone who enjoyed watching HBO’s Rome series, nothing could be more interesting.
Hard as it was, I resisted the urge to scan the price code via my Amazon app, and buy it on Kindle. As much as I love my Kindle, I have lost control over the list of books that I have populated on that device. Impulse shopping and impulsive reading habits didn’t translate into a lot of read and archived books. I have a long list of unread books there which will force into reading the things I bought before. Like women have clothes and shoes that they hide, I have books that hide. No, not from the spouse, I hide them from myself! The guilt just ruins my day otherwise. But this should please Jeff Bezos, bought Nefertiti on a whim sitting on the Costco couch, browsing for more titles from the same author. Historical fiction and me, together at all possible coffee-tea-dessert breaks should be a good end the long summer.
That reminds me, the beginning of the year while hit restart on my reading button, I hit restart on my writing button too. I take pride in my work in progress, but it hasn’t hit the editing highs that I wanted it to reach. Twenty-seven thousand words and it still fells incomplete. The plot is done, there is a distinct beginning and end, but the middle stayed undeveloped, unedited. Since January I have been promising myself that I will get to it. Sometimes work, sometimes children, sometimes watching Ted (How I met your mother) find his wife comes in the way. Am I done with the other things at least? No. Work is an eternal work in progress, children are my master pieces that need to be groomed every day and Ted hasn’t found his wife yet. May be reading will inspire me to take that hike to the elusive finish line, or realize that I haven’t trained myself enough to complete the whole course.
Last week, someone sat down with me for an hour, told me to take control of my ideas, focus, and finish one task at a time, control the distraction, and if possible eliminate anything that is not concerned to one big idea that I am working on. Focus. Focus in bold, circled. I know I can’t go on forever like this. I am like a bed of starter plants that the garden center sells. If I don’t re pot a few strong ones carefully, they all fight for a handful of sun, and a drop of fertilizer and burn in the end.. without flowering and fruiting. But again, what to eliminate, and what to focus on is an eternal quest. Only time will tell what distracts, what blossoms.
Till then, life will be documented as a confusion of sorts, with pride…
Till then, life will be a work in progress, shooting off in a thousand directions…
Till then, life will be spent in fire fighting mode, one corner in control, the other blazing orange..

Chasing Happiness #23

Summer of 2012 began with a promise, to let kids be kids.

But a month later, I will admit. We weren’t entirely true to our promise of letting them eat and sleep at their own schedules and make their own rules. We pushed our children to exceed expectations, to look beyond what they see, and perform under pressure. We pulled them out of their beds on Sunday mornings, and made them eat breakfasts that didn’t involve pastries, and promised them a good meal only if reached the heights we expected them to reach.

We are hiking as a family! Over the past month, we have explored a few trails in Orange County, and even though we drag our dirty selves to the shower and then to bed after every hike, we couldn’t have spent our time doing anything else so rewarding. Just walking on the carved paths in a line, one of us leading, one of us guarding the backs, and the ones in between chattering nonstop.. Just climbing a mound of sand, sometimes of clay and rocks… holding the one that goes off balance, asking the one who reached the top to slow down and wait for the team.. couldn’t have found a better activity to bond with the family without any distractions.

When we first went to the Santiago Oaks Regional Park, we weren’t sure if the kids were ready for this. We went up the little loop, and walked in a little line trying hard to get the kids interested in something that did not involve theme parks and television shows. The dried up vegetation, the distant chirps of the birds, vague rattling noises.. what was there for the spoiled children of the Orange County who live a stone throw away from the Disney, Sea World and San Diego Zoo.. not to mention lovely beaches lining the West Coast? A few steps into the trail, the older one already crinkled up her nose and starting jumping up and down- a fly attacked her. We don’t know who attacked who because both looked equally scared of each other, but the younger sister stepped in and swatted the fly, and made life easier for her sister.

Speaking of the comfort level with nature, I have nothing to worry about the younger one. She loves animals, big and small. She saw a sign for bob cats when we went to a trail in Solvang, she asked if she can please-please-please pick one if it was sad and lonely and bring it home. She would roll up her sleeves and pants and smuggle lady bugs home after she got busted for using her pockets to transport them. End of recess, the teacher would pull her to the side, check her thoroughly and let her in the classroom. She even brought home rollie pollies from the street because she thought they deserved a better home. When she was three, she insisted on adopting a lion, a tiger and a cheetah from the animal shelter and we kind of convinced her that we already adopted all of them, and since our house was so small, we put them in a zoo. No dog can pass in front of our house without paying the interaction toll. We know all the names of dogs in our area!

Her older sister is a complete opposite. A small fruit fly in the house will make her want to relocate. She is like the Princess in Princess and the pea. Delicate and darling. When she was four, we hit the Santa Monica trail with another family, and almost all the time her dad carried her because she didn’t want to get her shoes dirty. When she was five, we went on a walking trail, but she didn’t want to climb the trees because there were ants. If she bikes, her dad has to check air pressure, load her bike, and unload it. If she practices kicking her target, someone has to get the target ready and waiting for her. If she is on the beach, she won’t go close to floating kelp. She is very royal, in her own way. I am not complaining, just musing.

After the fly murder, we decided to talk to the kids about the hiking rule of “leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but memories”, but then a fly didn’t seem that important when we reached the top of the hill. There was a bench up there, and when we sat with the younger one to help her stop chattering and catch her breath, we were in for a breathtaking view of the Orange County! The kids couldn’t stop wowing at the view, and couldn’t stop screaming about their achievement of being at the top of the world. Going downhill along the loop after that was a cake walk, now that we knew the landscape. “Burger- Juicy burger” the backseat warriors screamed, and I couldn’t deny them that pleasure.

The next week, we went to Peter’s Canyon. While driving up to the parking lot, I mentioned that it would be nice to go up that steep hill with a path in the center. Little did I know that Junior Jillian Michaels will say “let’s rock it” “punch your fears away” “go team” “let’s do it” and climb the steep mountain without asking anyone to carry her. We had both fully prepared to carry half way up. Once again, the reward a panoramic view from the top of the hill. The kids couldn’t stop appreciating how beautiful it was. The chirping of the birds, the rattling of the snake, suddenly it was all so familiar, and they started looking forward to their weekly hikes.

Last weekend, we went to the Irvine Regional Park. This is our second outing in the park, the first one ended with a small walk and mini rock climbing on the Horse Shoe Loop Trail. No one liked it, but when I came home and researched, the other side of the Horse Shoe Loop Trail had better reviews. So we returned, this time fully prepared with our hike. Also, when we went to the Peter’s Canyon trail, we were amazed by the bird population that surrounded area. This time we packed the binoculars. So up the hill, over the hill, we went to hike on the hill.. and we saw the sign for a Mountain Lion. We never care for the signs, but this time the park ranger came walking down the hill and Miss. Royalty asked him if there were any mountain lions in the area. I just came down the hill, didn’t see any was his politically correct reply.

We went up the trail, and rested at the top of the hill, at the vista point, savoring the view of the paddle boats in the lake below. The kids wanted more adventure, and insisted on going up the Puma Ridge Trail, and climbing that little clay and rock path someone had cut. Why not! Mission accomplished for parents, when kids lead them where they want to go. Suddenly little Miss. Royalty in her expensive designer clothes and shoes decided to get dirty, and enjoy what nature had to offer, used her hands to climb, slid down on her bottom, and just had fun! Not one single Ouch! Mission doubly accomplished. Since the trail was illegally cut, there weren’t signs of what to expect next, but that’s what makes a hike even adventurous.

That afternoon, driving home in our dirty clothes and dusty shoes, we made plans of taking a week off next week and exploring the wilderness along the coast. What a trip that will be! Go for a hike early morning, and then have lunch, relax in the hotel room or at the beach, explore the city in the evening and drive further ahead along the coast the next day. We talked about taking the bikes along, and then shot down that plan considering the biking capabilities of the little one and her mother. We are not ready for the slopes and curves, yet. I just got back on a bike after fourteen years, and she just got off her training wheels.

Then came the news of a Mountain Lion spottingin a trail we planned to go this weekend. I thought of not sharing the news with the children, but it felt a little unfair not to. If they were scared, we could always use our Mello Roos Trails, or hit the beach, or just swipe that annual pass and watch them Princesses pout in Disney. “We should get a horn that scares the Mountain Lion away” said the younger one. “We should get everyone their own backpack and bottle just in case we get separated” said the tween queen. They were not at all affected by the sight of a coyote whimpering or mountain lion walking past a biker. Of course their grandmother didn’t like it one bit, and warned us to stay off the course that says mountain lion country!

I don’t know which trail we will pick to hike this month, but I can proudly say this is just the beginning. Memories will be made. Stories will be told. Pain of the calf, and pleasure of the eyes will be shared. I don’t know if the children will ever appreciate us for giving them all the good things that we could in life, but I do know that I will never feel guilty of not doing enough. When these girls talk about their childhood, there might be nothing very exciting given the vanilla city we live in, and the vanilla upbringing they have, but I am sure this little adventure with nature will give them a lot to talk about.

To the new highs in life that do not involve alcohol and drugs.. or even sex.

Chasing Happiness #22

It’s been a long time that I documented my mundane. It’s not that I didn’t find words to express my delight and disappointment about the life I am living. There is always something to share, as long as I find the time and energy to let my finger tap dance on the keyboard. Mid-morning, mid-week, and middle of my journey in life, today seems perfect to spend a little time with myself, reconnect and revitalize my documentation of life through my eyes.
This morning, the kids were singing along “These are a few of my favorite things” and suddenly the older one asked what are your favorite things. Before waiting for my answer, she listed her favorites, which of course included food, clothes and gadgets. I didn’t share my list with her, but wondered what makes me happy. My happiness isn’t independent. It’s derived and dependent on the happiness of the people who surround me. But, here is my own list, the thoughts that have crossed my mind for the past few weeks, and have stayed on, urging me to document them, celebrate them, and make them special so that one day I can look back and smile at the phase life was in.
        This week, a friend shared an article about Freedom by Martha Boston. It made me think and wonder where my Freedom was. When I was a little girl, I thought when I am done with schooling, I will be free. When I grew up, I thought earning my own meal would set me free. But by the time I was done with schooling and started contributing to my savings account, I had happily bound myself to the pleasures of life called marriage and mortgage, realizing the freedom happened when I was a carefree teenager. One thing led to another, and before I knew it, freedom meant taking five in the bathroom, reading Redbook even if it was a trashy article about fifty new ways to be better in bed. Freedom came with a huge price tag, of guilt. I enjoy girl’s night outs like any other girl, I immerse myself in work when I am working, but the moment I am done with one task, I am on to another. I have denied myself the freedom of doing nothing. I wish, I wish, I wish for a moment when I can sit on the couch without running a mental checklist of the things to do, without beating me up for not accomplishing the last two items on the checklist we shared on the Droid, without talking to anyone, without listening to anyone. I wish, but if the wish came true, am I wired to sit on the couch gossiping about second removed cousin I barely know about, or a soap opera where everyone is out of the world and have out of the world issues to deal with? Probably not.  Some people find happiness where they stand, and some are stoked by the constant pursuit of happiness.
Happiness is knowing there is not a moment of awkward silence around.
Not all the silences make your voice stronger, and not all chaos drown your soul.
       A friend of mine, a working mother, wrote about her schedule. It reminded me of my own journey, my own trials and tribulations, pleasures life offered at that phase. I won’t post the blog here, but here is an excerpt that gives the general idea:
“Mommie.. Pooh bear story..”I get her the book and sleep by her side and snuggle in the blanket and read the story- the story is about the rabbit who wants everything organized and fails to enjoy little pleasures of life. How familiar, I wonder. I wake up every morning at 5am so that I can get to work by 6am, and finish by 4pm. R goes to work  after dropping off R1 at the daycare, and comes home after working at the gym. All this, so that R1 spent very little time at the day care. She would go after breakfast, have fun with her friends, and then take a nap, and when she was up, I would be there. Even if it meant driving while half asleep. I come home and play with her for a while, clean up the house, give her a bath, feed her, and read to her like a good mother, and when R comes home, we go out for dinner. Rinse-repeat.
We weren’t able to spend quality time together, there was absolutely no balance of work, family and personal life. It was chaotic, and it was all new, I didn’t understand that chaos and clutter would define life in the coming years.  I felt like a zombie who didn’t fit in anywhere in a quest to fit everything in. But life has changed and so have I. The chaos has increased to a mind numbing decibel, but the mind has learned to tune out and meditate to focus on all things important. I wear an invisible cape, and I stretch myself thin still, but I have learned to seek and accept help when it is offered without fearing the loss of my superpowers if I did so.
Happiness is knowing that a fine imbalance helps you appreciate finer things in life.
Not everything in life needs planning, organization and perfection execution.
       On a cold winter afternoon, we shared our first kiss looking at the pictures of his adventures in Guyana. He talked about his treks, of the beauty of nature, of the adrenaline rush of hiking in the rain to the top of a mountain, and I listened intently, and do it so even today. Like some men are addicted to poker and alcohol, my man was addicted to biking, and hiking, and of course technology.  Parenting restricted his life too, it’s just that I am vocal about the things I cannot do, and he just accepted the change whole heartedly and moved on. His accident last winter felt like a life altering moment, only it altered things for better. We have started hiking as a family, and the kids are at an age where they can appreciate such adventures. This summer we are scaling new heights, literally. All those mountains that I looked at while driving around the neighborhood have become the favorite haunts over the weekends.
Happiness is sitting on top of a mountain covered in sweat and dust, and spotting the ittibitty dot of our house that binds our lives, as a family. Not every high in life comes from alcohol, nicotine and sex.
      Two and a half months ago, I declared the end of an era, said so long to my eat-pray-love moment, and started huffing and puffing on the cardio machines. At first the scale didn’t budge, but I fit back into my jeans. I didn’t stop, continued eating clean and working out dirty. There were birthday binges, vacation binges, independence day binges, and regularly scheduled weekend binges, but seventeen pounds lighter than what I was in Spring is worth a new summer wardrobe.  I still have thirteen pounds to go before I can fit in my wedding blouse without bursting at the seams, but I will take rolling back to my decade old size is as achievement enough. It is fun, going to the gym, looking at the older women lured by the young master trainers, younger women lured by the older men, and being the one in the middle without any unnecessary attention.
Happiness is in losing what you gained, with love.
Not all that you gain is good to hold on forever, and not all you lose is worth a tear.

A thousand other things give me happiness, but happiness today is in attending to life when it calls, and documenting it when the chaos pauses.

Chasing Happiness #21

Dear Eighteen,

This year I turn thirty-six. Middle aged according to US Census. At thirty six, I have realized that dreams are not made of degrees, or of men who buy diamonds that match the silver of your hair, or perfect smiling children in matching dresses who litter their report cards with perfect grades. They make happily ever after. Today, go dream a little. A dream that celebrates you, and only you, and isn’t associated with a relation you will have in your adult life. A dream that doesn’t morph you into someone else. A dream where you walk on the dirt along a side walk letting your soles grow dark and hard. A dream that lets your skin burn and bronze in the sun. A dream where you wander alone, aimlessly. Don’t stop yourself. Don’t draw boundaries. Let go and enjoy the free fall. Trust me, I have seen things spiral out of control and bounce back stronger than before.

You were born on a monsoon morning, and without fail, the sky has sprinkled the parched earth by your birthday. You danced in the rain, drenched yourself coming back from school, but soon, you will move to a distant land where your birthday will celebrate the sun, and mark the beginnings of summer. Your children will get out of the school, and your husband will celebrate father’s day around your birthday. It will be a lovely day, you will look forward to it, but today, it is a lovely day, it’s cloudy, it’s going to rain in a few minutes. Step out, breathe the fresh smell of the earth, and seal it in your heart. You have very few of those experiences left to savor on your birthday. Blow those candles alone, don’t wait for someone to come and light up your world when you blow them all. One day it will be so bright, you will crave for a dark corner of solitude.

I am half as beautiful as you are, but doubly confident. The dark mane that you can’t tame today will be teased on the crown for volume in a few years. The acne that is the sign of your youth will be replaced by the wrinkles time and experience will reward you every passing year. The beautiful skin on your body will take a beating every time you have a baby, and very soon the battle scars of motherhood will bar the bikini for you, forever. Today, love yourself. Today, flaunt your beauty without any adornments.  Don’t hide in those flowing clothes, stop fidgeting with your hair, and picking on your acne.

Today is also Father’s day. You made your daughters sit down and write letters to their dad. Not poems, but letters. You will be amused, reading them. You never thanked your dad for buying everything you wanted. But your daughters will. You never thanked your dad for being there for you, supporting you when you were down. Your daughters will. You took your father and his love for granted, but your daughters will not. So today, go give a hug to your father and say thank you. The man that will clear your every invoice, including those for your education and wedding deserves it.

Your grandfather loves you, pampers you, sees a little bit of his wife’s attitude in your tantrums. He buys a Cadbury Five Star bar every Saturday evening. The old man can barely hear the honking vehicles when he walks into the streets. His eyesight isn’t good enough to help him navigate the maze of motor vehicles on the streets. But he will go to the store every week for you, because that little ritual keeps the child in you alive, for you and him. Later, you will understand the reason he pampers you. He gave the same love to every child in his life. Some respected and returned the favor, some didn’t. Even in your selfish and self centered years where you question your father’s charitable efforts, you loved the old man whole heartedly. He will bless you, with his heart.

I hear every young woman who turned eighteen wrote a letter to her older self, sharing her dreams for the future. Thank you for not leaving a time capsule. It would have been hard to live up to your Bohemian expectations. You didn’t know, but the colors that you dipped your hands to paint those dreams would embarrass me if they bled through the beige of my life. You were innocent, you curiously roamed in the dark and forbidden alleys that I wouldn’t buy a ticket to in my consciousness. Before you know it, you will be tied down to stable life with marriage and mortgage, career and children. Without the basket of paints, and an unscheduled dream time, you will become the vanilla woman you desist today.  You are but a complete stranger to me today, living in a different world. But I love you, and treasure you deep inside me, only letting you surface for fresh air once in a million breaths.

Today is also the last day of summer vacation. These are the rare moments when you are allowed to be the parent. I open the treasure box and breathe you to life tomorrow. You can tell them to sleep-in every morning. Bike when they feel like. Scooter if that’s the mood. Eat when they are hungry. Watch TV. Turn on the music and play it loud. You can let the kids be kids, and give me a break. I am tired, waking them up on time every morning, shuttling them to school, activities, and helping them eat healthy. I will recharge my vanilla and beige self the entire summer and report back to duty in September. You will be a disaster if you stayed on. I am no Irvine mommy either, pretending to send my children to Harvard when they are in some public school Kindergarten class, but we do respect authority and keep our report card free of reds.

I didn’t realize it until I wrote a letter to you, but you look like a wilder version of your older daughter. She is the same daddy’s little princess that you were, pampered and protected by her father. She will be a disaster, I tell her, if she doesn’t learn some discipline, and some self control. I forget, I learned. I forget, I excelled. I should take a deep breath and let the University of Hardknocks teach her the valuable lessons of life. It’s easy that way. Let her be under daddy’s protective custody till the time comes. If you could drain the colors off your canvas, and play four minutes and thirty three seconds of silence with melody and harmony, so can she! Train the ear for the Goldberg variations now.



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