Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Write Write

I have a man on my floor. My hardwood floor. He is humming his symphony and reading The Handmaid's Tale. He is my friend. My platonic brother. He stays with me when I am lonely. He stays with me when he is lonely. And we talk.

We dance. We eat. We cook for each other. And we take walks.

We ask questions and make observations. About each other.

And sometimes they are ... not what we want to hear.

I don't know where to go to write anymore. To process life’s griefs and sorrows. The big ones that stop my breathing, and send me to bed with my clothes on, and the little ones that I just want to vent about. I took this platform class that has streamlined my blogs and website to make it more "professional," but then ... I don't have anywhere else to write write. Write write my heart. But maybe. Maybe maybe I should just write write anyway. Platform be damned. There is something, after all, to be said about writing as you are -- showing up on the page -- and whosoever gels with the message will stay to read. Will feel the resonance. Will soak up my words, like rain, and plant their own seeds because of what I've said. That's who I want reading my stuff anyway.

The other ones -- the ones that take umbrage with my phrases, my pictures of story -- those ones, they can just not read. They can put the book down. They can click away. They can unfriend me. Not with any haste or malice. Just. Because they don't find what I say interesting. It doesn't make them bleed or cry or say Yes. And that's ok. I am not writing for those people.

I've been dancing lately. Unpeeling myself and looking inside. Sometimes I'm amazed at the beauty, other times I'm startled at the dishonesty and ignorance. The blindness. The self-defeating practices.

Even now I'm struggling. Struggling to write these few words, because I've been blocked again. Blocked by my own arrogance. My own denial. My own ... unhealthy practices. Who knew that not eating enough calories, or subsisting on restaurant food and instant oatmeal, or not going to bed by 10pm could interfere with my writing?

But there it is.

So I'm forcing it through.
Sucking the stories and truths out of my bone marrow to look at them.
Trying not to think.
Trying not to feel.

And then realizing I have to.

One of the things my brotherfriend and I talked about tonight had to do with letting go of static ways of being, honoring the grieving process – no matter what it’s about, and then looking at ways to bring yourself back to wholeness. He says that I can't grow with fear stopping me every time I open up a little bit. But isn't fear a natural reaction to change? Isn't fear a necessary emotion during transition? One that helps you slow down your impulse to sprint through the grieving process? Because that's my inclination. Hurry up and grieve. And in doing so I would miss the lessons and gratitude my life situations have gifted me. I want to meander, not sprint. Even as my fear is slightly paralyzing, isn't that better than the alternative?

Ultimately I know that the fear will subside with time, and I will begin to move again. Look at the light again. Foster hope again. And actually, I think that will happen probably sooner than I think, but the safety of fear and paralysis is comforting.

If even a little annoying.

And then. And then then. Maybe after I have the courage to leave the sameness and routine of fear – I can write write again. Platform be damned.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

You Don't Spit Out Sweet Paan

"You want to try some paan?"

"No!" I am sure I looked horrified, but smiled nonetheless.

"Why not?" he laughed.

I wrinkled up my nose and grimaced.

"Isn't that the stuff that's red and you spit it on the sidewalks all over India?"

He laughed.

"Yes. But no. I don't want you to eat that kind. I'm talking about sweet paan."

We were walking down a sunny street in a small town in New Jersey. One, of course, heavily populated by the large Indian community that lived nearby. That's why we'd come here. I had come in search of a diya (oil lamp for altars and prayers), more clothes for work (salwar kameez), and to fix one of my silver-belled anklets. I also wanted burfi, and bad.

And so we were walking.

"You want to try new experiences, right?"

And with that logic, we stepped into a sweet shop and made our purchases. Two boxes of burfi, a sweet lassi (a yummy yogurt drink), and -- with trepidation -- sweet paan.

The sweet (Meetha) paan I ate was: a betel leaf wrapped around coconut, rose paste, candy-coated fennel seeds, and ... other stuff. The idea is to stick the whole thing in your mouth at one time, bite into it, and hold it there while you suck out the juice. Bite and suck. Repeat.

 It's really sticky.

 The paan we were served were too large to fit in all at once, so I bit it in half. 
(This is what it looks like inside.) 
Once it was munched down enough, I put the other half in.
This is what you look like with your cheeks full of meetha paan.

Final result: I'm sold. I like it. At first explosive taste, it was ... like ... eating incense. We bought several wedges (I'm sure that's not what they call them anywhere but on my blog) in town, and ate them up within a couple of days. They are traditionally eaten after a big fancy meal, like at a wedding. But I'd eat them after any meal. Probably a good thing I don't live in New Jersey then. I'm sure they are loaded with calories.

Another humorous account of a first time paan-eater.

Love in Art

 On our way to Penn Station 
 to walk the streets of New York City
 to find, among others, this place ... represented in art
 at the Asia Society Museum and the MET

Of course I was drawn to anything with tiny detail, script, and books. Holy or otherwise. And love. And then I remembered that any work of art is a piece of love. Made manifest. Intangible made tangible.

Look again at the photos. Closely. They all bleed and breathe love.

As should we all. Every day.

Let every day be a work of art for you.