Forty-Something Years in Ninaland

Cinderella Called

Jul
26

Photo by Martino Pietropoli on Unsplash

Let me tell you a story. It’s kind of like a true fairy tale. Whether I will live happily ever after is yet to be determined.

So I’m out with a couple friends doing something or another, eating probably because I distinctly remember it was evening. My mom called me, and asked what I assumed to be a simple question,”I’m at Macy’s, should I buy you shoes?”

“NO!” I said quite emphatically!

“Are you sure?” she asked again. “They are on sale!” Just an FYI Macy’s has a sale three times a day, every day of the week. I wasn’t missing anything.

“NO!” I repeated again. “Please don’t buy me shoes, they have to fit for me to be able to wear them.” It seems like a simple request. Just an FYI to all mothers: Don’t buy your kids shoes. Don’t buy anyone shoes if they are not with you. Please.

The back story as to why she was insisting was because all summer long, like every single day, with every single outfit I wear what I consider to be very nice black flip flops. I don’t wear any other shoes at all. The reasons are many. I like my feet to be free. I have super sensitive skin and a lot of shoes irritate me, especially the skin on my feet. There are just all these foot issues I don’t want to deal with in the summer. Shoes are oppressive, much like bras but that’s another blog post.

Another part of this is that I’m not really fond of feet. A guy I met online once asked me to just send him a picture of my feet. He seemed really cool until he said that. Obviously, he had a foot fetish, which freaks me out. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

So my mom’s cure for this problem was to buy me more shoes, I, in fact, have shoes, a lot of shoes, that I don’t wear. It’s true that my summer shoes are all old because I’ve been wearing these black flip flops in the summertime for years now.

My mother does not find this cute, or amusing. Fashion is very important to this woman. Every time we leave the house, whether it’s to get gas or to go to a wedding, she asks me if I’m going to dress like a human or a heathen. I have been known to look homeless at times when I have to run to CVS. This absolutely appalls her.  My mother has so many shoes that, well let’s just say that is a different fairy tale, but she literally could build a house with those shoes and become the old woman who lived in a shoe.

Photo by Arnaud Mesureur on Unsplash

So here’s the situation. She calls me again. “I found some shoes for you, sandals. Three pairs, should I buy them?”

“NO!” What part of NO do people not understand? No means no people. No means no, even when it comes to seemingly frivolous items such as shoes.

Well, she continues on the phone, “Well, I think you need them.”

“Mom, I don’t always wear the same size in shoes, my feet are weird they are narrow at the top and wider in the back.”

“Well, you will never buy them yourself. I cannot stand your chappal.” Chappal is Hindi for flip flops.

“Mom, I don’t think this is a good idea,” I say again.

“That’s too bad!” she says and hangs up the phone. Oh no! I think to myself. This is going to be bad, ugly. I can feel it.

So I get to my friend’s house and mom calls me again. It was nine o’clock at night. “You must come home right now and try on these shoes I bought you.”

“But we just started a show…”

“No, but! Come home.” She hung up. There’s this new thing with my parents, they hang up on me when they are upset. Can you imagine how traumatic it feels to have your parents hang up the phone on you? My friend looks at me and says something about “She’s doing something nice for you, be nice to her.”

Photo by Hanna Morris on Unsplash

OK, OK, I think. I’ll be nice, I decide to go home immediately to try on shoes. That’s weird, right? They will still be there later that night or in the morning. Anyways, even my friend was kind of annoyed that I left her house.

So I come home and there is a red and white Macy’s bag with three boxes in it on the leather dining room chair. I sigh heavily. She actually has good taste in shoes and clothes and stuff, but I knew this would be a mess. I tried them on and none of them fit, some were not right here or there, or everywhere. All three were a bust. They were cute, black sandals, camel colored sandals, and some other shoe I can’t remember. I think I blocked some of this story out.

So this is the real kicker. I go upstairs and tell my mom, “I’m sorry they are all very beautiful shoes but none of them fit me.” I thought that was respectful and nice.

“What? You didn’t try them properly!”

“I-I don’t understand what you mean…” I stuttered. Words are coming out of your mouth and I’m not getting it. How does one try on shoes improperly?

“Bring them up here, you are never doing things the right way!” she yelled.

So I went downstairs like a dutiful daughter, confused, upset and just feeling weird. I bring the shoes up. And this is where it gets really good. “They don’t fit mom, I don’t know what else to tell you.”

“Show me how they don’t fit!”

“What exactly do you want me to show you?”

“Put your foot in the shoe,” she said and held up a black sandal. Is this really happening to me, I was thinking?

I tried to put my left foot in the shoe, and as nature would have it, the shoe don’t fit. “See what I mean?” I say to her. I want to ask her to watch the movie My Left Foot, about a guy who paints with his feet. I can’t even put on a shoe with my feet.

She takes my foot and tries to shove into the shoe, “You are not really trying!”

“It doesn’t fit! They don’t fit!” I got up and threw the shoes on the ground.

“It kind of fits,” she says and stares at the shoes. There is no middle ground in fitting. Either it fits or it doesn’t. There’s no kinda.

“You ungrateful child,” she sighs.

“I’m not a child! I’m not twelve mom. Don’t buy me shoes!!!!!!!” Ever. Again.

“You were much better when you were twelve…” and then she went on to yell in Hindi stuff I don’t remember. I probably blocked it out. Something along the lines of how unfit I am to be a human, a woman, don’t I want new shoes? I looked back at her, this was a pivotal point in the conversation. I could have sealed my death.

My parents taught me English. In fact, I lived in India for a hot minute as a child and came back not knowing English. My parents would only speak to me in English when that happened because they worried I would not adjust. My mother’s English is probably better than mine, she can spell words like pneumonia because she’s a doctor. But when I am really mad at my parents I sometimes ask, “Do you understand English?” Just to throw them off their game. To which their response is “O beri vaadi Engrazee Professor aeeyha!” Which roughly translates toOh the big English professor has arrived!”But I assessed this as not being a good moment for that question.

So we have a cordial talk in the morning, she tells me to return the shoes immediately. Today she says. This urgency annoys me. She tells me I only have 60 days. You shouldn’t tell someone like me that. I will in fact probably wait until the 60th day.

Anyways, I shove the boxes in the back seat of my car and totally and utterly try to forget about the whole thing. I call up my good friend, and as she put it, “Are you kidding me? Cinderella called, she wants her story back! Ha ha!” Ha Ha Ha

Very funny if this wasn’t my life. This does have a happy ending. It’s been like forty days since she bought those shoes, so today I decided to return them, why the hell not? I go into the store thinking I can use the store credit to buy some clothes. But it turns out they have some cute flip flops, fancy flip flops. And other rather comfortable and cute shoes. It turns out if I try out the proper shoes they actually feel good.

Let’s just say, I came into the store with three pairs of shoes, and came out with four. OK, perhaps I forgot in the midst of wearing flip flops all summer that I really do like shoes and sandals and all kinds of foot paraphernalia. I decided I need to get another pedicure. I don’t have the money for it, it will have to come out of my Starbucks fund.

I don’t know if I’m being too harsh in the way I depict my mother in this story. She was really trying to do a nice thing for me. She was showing her love in a weird way. Love is weird so I understand. I’m over it. And I have four new pairs of shoes.

I mean if the shoe fits…I know this story is really not about boots, but I just really like this song:

These boots are made for walking
And that’s just what they’ll do
One of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you…

nina

 

 

Reflections at a Car Wash

Jul
25

 

I got a fast car. A new car, a black Camry with alloy wheels and fake leather mixed with real leather seats.

So I traded cars with my mom and I had to get the car washed. I was trading a Subaru for a Camry. When I got to the car wash with my grayish blue Subaru, I got the premium wash, because why not? Well, for one thing, it was a whopping 12 dollars! Is it just me or do you remember when car washes cost like $2.50? Right? I’m not sure when that was, but that kind of inflation scares me. I was yet to find out that car washes scare me, a little as well.

So I get in there, not noticing the sign that says you need to put the car into neutral. So it’s in drive mode until I realize something is not working right. I kind of felt like I was gonna hit the guy holding the hose, but thankfully he pointed to the sign and I put the car in neutral. He didn’t look amused.

I was not amused when these enormous brushes filled with some kind of soap started attacking my car. I wanted to put the car in reverse and sort of get out while the getting out was possible. Once, when I was a kid, I was sitting at a red light with my mom and suddenly decided to put the car in reverse. My mom gasped for air when she stepped on the accelerator and started going backwards. I was spanked that day. One of the very few times I was spanked. I contend to this day that I did not deserve that beating because no ever told me, ‘Don’t put the car in reverse.’ I was eight, I didn’t know what ‘reverse’ meant.

At the car wash, fortunately, I voted in my head against putting the car in reverse. Then this multicolored concoction of soap bubbles hit me, it was kind of pretty, like an abstract painting. I think about how my dad called me the other day and asked where he could get ‘Monkey Paintings’ ‘Monkey Paintings?’ I asked. ‘Do you mean abstract art?’ I asked him. ‘Yes, I think that is what I mean. Nobody does it like the monkeys do!’

Well apparently no one does abstract colors the way that car washes do, I thought of taking a picture but then realized how weird I am. I just experienced it and it was interesting to see the different colors flashing before my eyes, mixing together, creating new colors. I wanted to paint once upon a time. I painted something in grad school and put in on the wall in our living room. My roommate never mentioned anything about it until months later, she said it was ugly, where did I get that? Never mind, I said. Never fucking mind. That was the end of my art career.

So why didn’t I do the car wash myself? It’s kind of fun and really good exercise you say. I agree, let’s be honest. It was hot as hell outside and I’m kinda lazy, I’m not gonna lie. Me and my best friend when I was a kid would wash her dad’s car compulsively. We did it over and over until, well until we got tired. It was just fun.  We could spend a whole afternoon just washing the car. I don’t have any memory of what kind of car it was, but it was beige. I remember that.

Jeanette was my best friend’s name. She was a real piece of work. She’s the one who taught me how to crank call people, for real. Like, have long conversations with them. In fact, we created a crank call relationship with one of her ‘friends.’ Anyways, if we got really bored of dancing to Madonna tunes for hours and hours in her basement, we washed that car until the paint almost wore off. Years later Jeanette’s mother would die of alcoholism and many, many years later I would hear of Jeanette’s own death. I read about it on the Internet because I couldn’t find any trace of her on the Internet.

I don’t know how she died, I called her dad but didn’t leave a message. He called back and talked to my dad, they remembered each other. However, neither one of them mentioned Jeanette’s name. I never had the gall to call him back. I want to know so badly how she died. I don’t know what that will do for me, but maybe some kind of closure.I have all these imaginary ideas about how she died and why she died, but none of them really matter. She was a good childhood friend. The best.

As water started spraying violently at my car, so hard was that water that I wanted to roll my window down and express that perhaps the water pressure was too high. However, I did no such thing. I sat there, and eventually was rolling out of the car wash. My car was still in neutral but it was moving towards the road. I quickly put in drive and stomped on breaks. A kid came with a cloth and started to dry my car. He missed a spot, a big spot on my left-hand side window. Of course, I didn’t tell him that. I waved goodbye.

I felt like I just got a new car. I felt like as I drove, everyone was admiring how clean and new my car looked. No such thing was actually happening. People were going about their way, doing their thing, as I did mine.

I don’t drive extremely fast, but I got a fast car.

I want a ticket to anywhere
Maybe we make a deal
Maybe together we can get somewhere
Anyplace is better
Starting from zero got nothing to lose
Maybe we’ll make something
Me, myself I got nothing to prove

nina

Fast Car by Tracy Chapman Studio Version – YouTube

Carpel Tunnel Syndrome

Jul
24

Photo by Juliette Leufke on Unsplash

I have this anxiety in me, I don’t know, something is going on. I went to my regular doctor today because I have Carpel Tunnel Syndrome. My hands hurt and get numb from using the keyboard too much.  An extern saw me first. He is wearing dark blue scrubs. What is the difference between an intern and an extern? He was a little aloof at first, but when we started chatting and he asked me what I did for a living he perked up. I teach English, I told him, and write. He seemed pleased, I have no idea why. He’s trying to be a doctor and I’m trying to make this numbness and pain in my hands go away.

We seemed to have somewhat bonded over my career and the fact that he could not get the blood pressure machine to work. I’m nervous, I think my blood may be all out of whack. I think it’s dancing a dance I don’t like. I never liked doing group dances, I could never follow the steps, I found it tedious that everyone wasn’t doing their own thing. My cells are dancing together, they are not coordinated I think. That is what is happening. Dischord.

Now I’m sitting here in front of an extern, we’ll call him Tom. Tom is very thin, he has a pretty face, but too thin for my taste. I want to say something to this man, kind of boy, he looks like he’s in his early twenties. I want to tell him that I came in for my hands, but really it’s the rest of me that’s hurting. I’m nervous, I have some kind of generalized anxiety. I’m not having a panic attack, I know those when I have them.

My hands are shaking slightly. I want to shake this man who is staring at me, not noticing the fact that I am ever so slightly shaking. I want to shake him. Do your job, I want to say. Diagnose me. Tell me everything is going to be alright. I realize he’s not my boyfriend and it’s not exactly his job to make me feel better. I think maybe it is the poetry that is making me sick. Writing poetry is very emotional, it takes so much out of you. Then people interpret it and assume things about you. They read your poetry and tell you what it is about because you barely understand it yourself.

I barely understand my own words, much less my own poetry. I want to ask this man who has forgotten to listen to my heart if poetry is bad for my heart. If I asked him that question, he would report it to his colleagues and ask them, in earnest, what I meant. Is there a cure for poetry I want to ask him.  Is there a cure for this pain in my chest?

But I came here because my hands are numb. So is my heart. Sometimes I feel everything and then nothing at all. The extern walks out of the room and tells me he will be back with a new blood pressure device. He never does take my blood pressure or listen to my heart. He knows, doesn’t he, he knows my heart breaks too easily, is too fragile, is too easy to tease. That my blood is too thin for a human.

I am led ten minutes later into the office of the actual doctor I came to see. The doctor doesn’t look up from his computer screen, with his back facing me, he shakes my hand. He stares at the screen typing something as I talk about my right hand. I look at his fingers typing away. I want to tell him he is likely to get Carpal Tunnel if he continues to type away at that speed on a daily basis. He doesn’t seem interested by my diagnoses though.

Hello? I want to say. Talk to me, will you? What ever happened to conversations between doctors and patients? Maybe I have this hand disorder because I am on the computer too much, writing the poetry that is messing with my blood flow to my head and my heart. Maybe I should stop writing, period. Beethoven went deaf, my hands went numb. End of story.

Is there a cure for Carpel Tunnel I want to scream! But I don’t scream, I dare not scream in front of a doctor. I know from my history that if you scream they send you to another type of doctor. I want to tell them that the words I write, don’t make any sense to me, but somehow I manage to hurt other people with these words. I play with words and end up playing with people’s hearts.

Don’t befriend a poet. Or any writer for that matter. You are most likely going to become their subject matter. I am scared, scared of the power my words have over people. I want to sit in this man’s lap, this doctor, and suck my thumb and cry. I want him to give me a green lollipop. Oh, why don’t they give adults lollipops? Where did all the candy go? He gives me a prescription for a stint and some pain killers.

I go back to the lobby, there are other people there. People with real ailments, sicknesses, no one looks particularly joyful. What if I were to just start dancing I think? What if I danced my way out of the building to my car. Then they would notice me. But no one would give me an award, I am no ballerina. I stand at the desk of the receptionist. She has straight brown hair and braces. I had braces as a kid for five years I want to tell her. No one could see them, you can’t really see my teeth when I talk.

She seems nice, she is not too busy to tell me that I can make an appointment now, or call them later. But she has no lollipop for me. I want to say thank you to her. Thank you for not knowing me. I can write about you safely. I can say you seem like a nice girl. She types something into her computer.

nina

Singing my Smile

Jul
23

Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash

I try to smile in my photos because I know you like that, me happy. I try to sing the right songs. I know you can hear me, in the shower. In the middle of my dreams I am always standing next to you, even the nightmares. I am usually walking away, walking too slow, never catching up with myself. Where am I going? Where have I been? Which part of me remembers what exactly was the point of all this. Of all this was there a destination, even intellectually. Was there a spot, the sweet spot between pretending and knowing.

I’m not tall enough for my own good I think sometimes. Too wide for anyone’s good.

In my dream, I didn’t get picked to be part of the team. I don’t know what we were playing. If there was a ball involved or what color it was. It’s true that I never got picked in elementary school, I never got picked for prom. So I started doing the picking. I picked you.

Even though you found me, sitting by a tree, standing over a mausoleum of my own making. The Taj Mahal could not trump our dead dreams. These monuments we’ve built with our eyes are not as strong as we are. These places we roam in our dreams, the past, the evolution of love.

Will you look at my face, when I’m not smiling? Will you say the right thing, when I’m not singing?

When I put a pink scarf over my head and pray, will you understand me? This is who I am.

I’m on my knees, worshipping something I don’t know the name of. god didn’t pick me, I picked god.

Maybe it’s the end of the world, or maybe it’s our world ending.

I say the right words in the wrong order. I’m mostly walking backwards, until I run into myself in the mirror and fall. I cut myself the other day, by accident and it didn’t feel good, as the cutters claim it does. It felt sharp. And bad. Which one of us is bleeding?

When I see blood, I see your face in the red liquid. What is honor? I ask you this because we don’t have the same blood. I’m not smiling in this photo, where my hand is bleeding. I am feeling instead.

Photo by Calum MacAulay on Unsplash

Can you feel me through these words? Are you really standing there, somewhere in the universe, reading this?

At what point am I writing this and you are reading this and we are one person, knowing this.

Let’s not pretend anymore that the blood I bleed, is not for you.

nina

Dear Future Boyfriend,

Jul
22

Photo by Ryan Holloway on Unsplash

I guess I should tell you that I come with some baggage.

I have never had a good enough relationship that I could say that I wanted to be with that person forever.

Let’s not talk about forever though, let’s talk about right now.

How do you live? I will want to know.

I don’t care so much that you don’t squeeze the toothpaste from the back or put down the toilet seat.

What I care about is that you do the dishes when I look tired and worn, even if it’s my turn.

Sometimes you will be upset by me, to the point where you want to break up.

Give me a minute before you walk away. I may surprise you.

I will want to sing with you sometimes, sometimes I won’t. Sometimes I will sing to my own tune.

I don’t care so much that you snore, but I will ask you to hold me, even when you don’t want to.

Please do it anyways. It will ensure our success.

Don’t just buy me flowers when you mess up or on occasions.

Photo by Caleb Ekeroth on Unsplash

Buy me flowers for no reason at all, that’s how I will know this is real.

I will ask you questions about your past, don’t answer all of them.

If you know what not to answer, you may have the answer to me.

When I ask you about your past girlfriends or wives, don’t tell me how much you loved them.

Don’t tell me you still love them. Know what to keep to yourself.

Those are the kind of things I don’t need to know. I do however need to know how capable of love you are.

Show me who you are and I will return the favor. Don’t hide yourself, show me your scars and I will do the same.

I just need to know that you are kind, smart and can make me laugh. That is all I need in the end.

Let’s try to have long philosophical conversations about how to save the world with intermittent hilarity.

Let’s laugh at ourselves, a lot. Let’s not take this too seriously, but still seriously enough.

Don’t give up on me too easily, I’m not consciously trying to test you, but it might feel like that.

Maybe I am, I would like to see how devoted you are to me.

We will most likely have a lot of passion and infatuation. When this fades, don’t fade away on me.

Don’t mind me sometimes, I’m a little crazy.

If you make me feel alive, I will probably stay.

If you stop loving me, you must leave me.

I will do the same favor to you.

Hopefully, we have something real here, time will tell.

All we have is time.

nina

Post Apocalypse: Carpet is Installed

Jul
21

Photo by erik cid on Unsplash

What to do now?

So we got new carpet and it feels like silk, the house looks new. Putting stuff back in place is easier than taking it down it seems. Besides, we threw away all the unnecessary crap. It occurs to me that I was supposed to be working on the book I’m writing this entire time, instead, I’ve been doing household shit for like a week. I need to get back to my life.

Then I wonder, do I have a life? I call some friends I haven’t talked to in a week and it becomes clear that I need to go back and join my so called life. Since I’ve decided I’m going to spend the summer writing, perhaps I should be writing. Besides this blog, I have two books I’m working on. One of them I will be selling on this blog very soon, hopefully.

I still have a pile of junk in my kitchen in the basement that I have to go through. I spilled some popcorn on the new carpet in my room. I haven’t told anyone, they will think I don’t appreciate it and am going to ruin it. I will vacuum it up, soon. Why was I eating popcorn in my bed? I don’t know, I was hungry. They say you shouldn’t eat in bed, oh well.

The carpet is dark brown in the living room. I was not pleased with this choice, but now that I see it, it actually works. For some reason, the room looks bigger. Let’s fast forward to right now:

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

I don’t want to write. I basically don’t want to do anything at all I think. I kind of don’t want to exist. That is different than wanting to die. I don’t want to die. I’m just tired of doing, and doing, and doing. I’m sitting in a Starbucks with a good friend, staring at a McDonald’s. There is a black man who has some beaded necklaces on and a long beard, he looks like he might be Rastafarian. I know nothing about that culture. I want to ask him what it’s like.

There’s a pretty woman with false eyelashes sitting by the window, she is studying a textbook that is all highlighted in yellow. She has purple ear buds on and I wonder what she is studying and what she is listening to. For a moment I want to be her, she seems like she has a purpose. That book looks really complicated. But I remember, I’ve read complex and sophisticated texts in school and I have had enough school. I actually don’t want to go back as a student, I like being a teacher or professor.

I’m thinking the cute man with the blue and white striped shirt is smiling because life is good. It is you know, he reminds me of that. I forget sometimes how good it can be. It seems that everyone is on a computer in this joint, except one man is reading a newspaper. Remember paper? I mean as bad as it is for the environment, I sometimes miss paper. I miss reading hard cover books and even paperbacks.

Photo by Amanda Sandlin on Unsplash

I’m staring at a yellow line on the cement parking lot outside. I wonder about this yellow line, and all the lines I’ve drawn in my life. They have all been sort of yellow. Like the fresh bananas I bought from the market the other day. I buy them mostly for my father, who like an ape cannot live without bananas. There is a woman with a white hat at the coffee bar. Her hat reminds me of a black hat I wore this winter. I thought I looked like a movie star, but actually, I looked like me with a hat on.

I’ve always wanted a raspberry beret. I always wanted Prince. Although he was a little skinny for my taste.

These are the kinds of things I think when I’m not doing stuff around the house because we got new carpet. Is this all worth going back to?

nina

Hair and Heroines–Repost

Jul
20

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Hair and Heroines

Are you grossed out? Be honest. I told my students in my Composition I class to be honest when I showed them a slew of pictures of unshaven women from kaurlife.org and the Huffington Post.

“I’m grossed out,” said a one woman and one man in my class. “I think it’s beautiful,” said another red-headed woman. She told us she had scars on her body and her boyfriend thought they were lovely. He loved her imperfections. “I don’t mind,” said another European man in my class.

Photo by Intoxifaded

Is hair even an imperfection if everyone has it?

Sikhs are not supposed to cut their hair or shave their body. They happen to think that’s perfect.

After reading the article in kaurlife.org that depicted Sikh women’s struggle with their body hair, the same man who said he was grossed out said he respected these women and were inspired by their strength. The woman who said she was also not comfortable with the site, said she sort of changed her mind about it when she read the article.  These women had overcome bullying and taunting from the general public.

Photo by Ben Hopper

Both of these students said, however, that if someone is doing something just for their religion or their society, they don’t respect it as much as if the women were just doing it for themselves.

Hold on a minute, if someone wears a turban just for their religion, maybe not even for themselves, I still respect it. I think respect has to be given to everyone’s beliefs. If they are doing it for their religion, maybe they believe is what god wants, aren’t they doing it for themselves too?

I mean I get the kids’ point, that if the women are keeping their hair because they think it makes them beautiful and real and helps them express who they really are, respect should be given. If they are only doing it to please god it seems rather dicey. However, respect is still due I believe.

Photo by Ben Hopper

There was a Sikh woman I once met who didn’t shave her legs or underarms because she was a feminist. I thought she was awesome. Was she doing it for herself, or for this belief in feminism or for or sort of against society norms? Where is her self in all this?

“Women should not have to follow society’s idea of what their bodies should look like,” the student with the scars added.

I agree. I’m Sikh but I still cut my hair, shave my legs and underarms and thread my eyebrows and take care of my facial hair. Am I weak?

I mean I think I look maybe pretty or something without a mustache, however, I completely respect those women who think it makes no difference.

Photo by Ben Hopper

It’s tragic that we live in a society that wants them to feel ugly. I remember this Sikh woman who didn’t know what to do about her daughter who could possibly have a condition that made her grow extra facial hair.  She didn’t know if she should give her daughter this medicine that would make it go away. Her worry was that Sikhs think of hair as a gift from god.

I did not cut the hair on my head until I was twenty-six. I did, however, shave all my ‘unwanted’ hair starting at the age of twelve. I consider myself a Sikh, although I am by no means religious. I consider myself a feminist as well, although by no means am I a good one.

I guess my idea of beauty still involves hair styles and hairless faces and bodies and make-up. I understand that god didn’t make me naturally that way. However, in my humble opinion, we do a lot of unnatural things…However, I have deep respect for my Sikh sisters who don’t touch a razor or scissors to their hair. I hope they equally have respect for my opinion.

Photo by Ben Hopper

I walk around with the name Kaur (a Sikh last name for women) and I do not do it to identify as a Sikh, I chose it as my pen name because it is my middle name. And it means princess. And I’m a princess. However, I don’t sit here trying to represent the views of everyone in my religion. I only represent my views.

I told a dude to call me princess once and he said he would never because he didn’t believe in aristocracy. Well, I believe in feminism and I’m still a princess looking for her Singh, or lion. As sexist and old fashioned as that sounds.

Photo by Ben Hopper

You can call me a hypocrite because I don’t follow like one thing or whatever. Call me anything you want. I’m complex.

I don’t have to go by your standards and you don’t have to go by mine. We are all free.

Thank god for that…

nina

Please visit this site to read the entire article in Kaur Life

Epilog: I thought I was done with this article until I realized something. I have something more to say. We consider hair to be flaws on women’s bodies. This is obviously not a fair thought. However, if I believe that why am I removing the hair from my body? Because perhaps my mind is flawed.

I have bought into the beauty standards of our country and even now our world. Can I unlearn this? Maybe, but I got bigger fish to fry. If I want to unlearn something, first I must unlearn the idea that I am unworthy as a woman without a thin perfect body. I have a long list of stuff I would rather not believe or do, but I have been conditioned as such. Maybe we are all a little robotic and do things because the herd is doing them.

I want to be my own person, just like everybody else does. There you go.

nina

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Tree Talk

Jul
19

Photo by Mark Bouldoukian on Unsplash

I’m looking at a tree

as if it explains something about me

I’m shorter than the tree

so tree: who knows how long I have loved you.

I see you bare in the winter

I want to put clothes on you when you are leafless.

I want to tell you about bark

about how it grows around my neck

the leaves build a crown around my head.

tell me your secrets, oh great tree.

tell me what I’m missing when I’m not here

standing next to you in the sun.

tell me about those tuesdays

when the asian boy next door risks everything

to climb your branches and leaves nothing

on the ground, he takes himself fully up there.

I think about climbing trees but I feel too old

and out of shape to do it right.

you know your yesterdays

if you had hands you would read them

but instead, we read the rings around your stump.

we walk by you, we don’t even see you anymore.

we only see our own reflection in the sun.

but it’s you, it’s been you all this time.

you have been watching me.

tell me tree, who am I?

nina

Apocalyptic Adventures: The Carpet Change Part Three…

Jul
18

Photo by Sergiu Nista on Unsplash

Ok, so I have a few things I’m required to do around the house. Let’s not call them chores. I’m not 12 and chores sounds so Little House on the Prairie. I don’t have to milk the cow or anything like that. You know what the most irritating thing I have to do is? Take out the trash!

Watering the flowers is second worst on the list.

I’m not good at either one of these things. Trash bags are heavy, especially when you are emptying out thirty years of garbage from your home in order to install new carpet. But my dad is blind with a heart and blood pressure problem and my mom has severe back and shoulder pain. That leaves me. There are still a million and one trash bags in our garage. I have yet to take them out. It costs around 400 dollars if you hire a junk removal company. Forget that. Even I think that’s outrageous and I don’t want to remove the trash myself. The city will only take like twenty bags at a time, I honestly don’t know how many we have.

So my parent’s bright idea was to ask our neighbor if we could put fifteen or so bags on their lot to give to the city garbage trucks. However, our neighbors are never home, so my dad said, “We will just leave the bags on their grass, they won’t mind.”

“What?” I asked. “Are you crazy? That is completely inappropriate!” I yelled. “They will think we are the dirty Indians who live next door.”

“So what if they think that?” My mom asked. What exactly is happening here? Am I living in another dimension, have we lost all decorum?

Anyways, turned out the neighbor had too many bags out themselves, so we never asked. Our other neighbor we suspect does not like us, since they put up a rope to define the property lines when our lawn mowing company started mowing part of their lawn by mistake. I love this town.

Photo by Hannah Sears on Unsplash

My flowers are another story. I don’t know how to water them without taking a bath myself, I get the water all over me. That is why I avoid watering the flowers and why they are essentially burning up. The thing about a dead plant is, you can’t give it CPR, there is no real way to resuscitate it. I’m sorry but watering flowers every single day is just tedious.

Photo by JJ Thompson on Unsplash

I’m an idiot, why did I volunteer to do this? My parents are constantly upset that I haven’t taken out the garbage or watered the plants on time.

You know what the real problem is? I’ll tell you what it is. I’m not as diligent as my parents expect me to be because I’m not an immigrant and they are immigrants.  There is a mentality in immigrants to work yourself to the bone and never care about leisure time that my parents subscribe to. Am I lazy? I don’t like that word.

Let me give you an example: So they send two dudes from Art Van to do our carpet on the first day. These fellows are fellow Americans, they seem nice and stuff. However, they took eight hours to carpet one room. Then they complained about the heaviness of the furniture to their boss.

So my parents are livid, if they did one room in eight hours, doing the rest of the carpet in the entire home would take the rest of our lives. So my dad calls the manager of the carpet installers. My dad raises a huge ruckus and they decide to send five Mexican brothers to do the job, they are all literally brothers. Not only did they did so many rooms in eight hours, I can’t count that high, they didn’t complain for one moment about anything. We gave them pizza and coke and they were overly grateful.

You want to get a job done, hire immigrants people. Speaking as the daughter of immigrants I can vouch for the fact that my parents worked harder than the average joe and definitely harder than I ever worked. That’s not to say anything against regular old Americans in America. We, the citizens who were born here, take a lot for granted and we believe very strongly in our leisure time. Ain’t nothing wrong with that.

While the boys were changing up the carpet I started to talk to my parents, but my mom kept interrupting me because she was worried the carpet guys were listening. As if they were going to write a tell all book about our family. Because we are so very interesting. I believe I was talking about a new man I met on the Interwebs. I was probably telling her that I summoned him with my writing, he found my blog somehow and we met via that. We did not meet on an online dating site, and that is something I’m proud of.

So anyway, I’m telling her how he’s super smart and very kind and my mother interrupts me again in Hindi. She actually made me speak Hindi to her and my father in order to hide our conversation from these Hispanic men who barely knew English. This is the same woman who believed that our phone stopped working because we gave AT&T a bad rating on a phone survey. She was convinced we were black balled from getting phone service from them because we gave them a one in every category.

So I start speaking in Hindi and it occurred to me how many languages were being spoken at one time in my home. The manager of the carpet men was a Lebanese man who was yelling at what must have been his wife in Arabic or Lebanese, whatever they speak in Lebanon. The Latin men were speaking in Spanish, my parents and I were mixing Hindi and English with a hint of Punjabi. For a moment I really reveled in how international our home had suddenly become. It reminded me of when I was in New York in Central Park and I would hear various languages when I took a walk.

All of a sudden I missed the world. Like the world world, this little suburb called Troy where I live is not that representative of the world. Troy is predominantly White, Indian and Asian. They are very few African Americans or Hispanic people. Even though it seems sort of international, it is a facade. Everyone speaks English to each other around town. In their homes, everyone speaks their native language, but outside those four walls, it is English all the way.

That’s kind of too bad. I wish the guy at the CVS counter didn’t know English so well and tried to speak to me in French or something. Wouldn’t it make life more interesting if you had a German dude who answered the phone when you ordered pizza? OK, I understand it can at times be difficult to understand foreign accents, like when you call a call center. Usually, call centers are either in Mexico or India. Even I have a problem understanding the Indian representatives at times. I don’t know why we get so mad about that though, we should have patience, they are just literally living in another world.

You know what I loved the most about the carpet dudes, we got them subway sandwiches on the second day they were there and they went undeniably out of their way to make sure all the furniture was put back exactly as it was supposed to be. They even moved furniture from one floor to another because we asked them to. They are technically not allowed to do that. Our furniture is heavy, mostly solid wood and stuff. Not an ounce of complaint from them.

They were just good people. We only gave them lunch, I wish I could give them a new life, a better life. They are most likely living in a one or two room apartment in Detroit. They likely send money back home when they can. They are most likely missing home and miserable. That’s the American dream, isn’t it?

You know what the truth is, I’m living the American dream. I live in a privileged neighborhood, I have so much stuff I need to throw some out. I don’t even know what I have, I’m such a bitch. When was the last time I appreciated this all? I complain about all the stuff I have to do and mix with my writing and teaching. But really, these are privileged complaints.

I am complaining about getting new carpet, and taking out the fucking trash and watering expensive flowers.

This is the first world.

I think I’m better than this.

nina

The Apocalypse: Changing the Carpet Part Two…

Jul
17

I may have mentioned that we got new carpet. As lovely as that sounds, let me tell you a secret. It’s not lovely. It’s more like Hurricane Nina entered our home. In order to get new carpet, you have to turn your entire house upside down and backwards, so that not a single item is on a single surface in a carpeted area.

Let me tell you something about inanimate objects, they surprisingly don’t move by themselves. Shocking, I know. Since I don’t per say know any magic tricks, or that telepathically moving objects thing called something or the other, please google it for me. Telekinesis is what they officially call moving objects by mentally thinking about it. I don’t know how to do that so I had to go around the house picking up random stuff. Just stuff here and there and everywhere.

Do you have any idea how much stuff humans can accumulate after thirty years? Especially people who are on the hoarding side of the sliding scale of neatness. My family is not like an actual bunch of hoarders who need intervention, but we have accumulated a massive amount of useless clutter. From ugly old Indian green and yellow plaid cloth that could be made into Salvar Kameezes, but in my hands were thrown out immediately, to old medical cassette tapes from Yale University. No one in our family went to YALE! How did this STUFF enter our home, I ask you? And why is all of the crap of the house in the basement, where I live?

My mom’s a doctor so the amount of paper pads, pens, and paraphernalia that have medicine labels on them that are from pharmaceutical companies alone could fill up a pickup truck. I’m talking everything from paper weights with Gas X logos to umbrellas with huge PROZAC labels on them. It would have to be one hell of a rainy day for me to bring out that green Prozac umbrella, let me tell you.

Then there’s the magazines, one for every different type of medical analysis. JAMA, The Journal of the American Medical Association is my favorite. They every now and then will have photographs of huge puss filled dermatological conditions, ie disgusting huge ass zits on people’s groins or armpits or somewhere where puss should never go. The AFP or The American Family Physicians is a little tamer, they sometimes have drawings or cartoons on their covers of deadly contagious diseases that you could get by simply looking too closely at the illustrations. I’m telling you it is a mad house, this house of a doctor.

Actual article from JAMA

There are entire binders from conferences about more deadly diseases which when looking closely at the materials, one comes to realize that we are all going to die of a disgusting incurable disease.

It’s all very depressing.

So basically, while my mom was cleaning out her closet, I cleaned out all the medical paraphernalia from the last three decades in the basement without her consent. You see, she likes papers and information. I can’t have that unhealthy material brewing all over this house, we will all go madder than we already are. Hyprocandriacs that we are.

Then there were my closets, yes that’s plural for too many clothes, too little time. I have clothes in every size, much like the women’s section of any mall. I basically have a department store all my own, in the several closets my clothing takes up. No, I will not give away clothes that are too small for me. I won’t do it. I will fit back into those fucking clothes again if it’s the last thing I do on this earth. Don’t doubt me!

Now let’s talk about books for a second. I used to think there was no such thing as bad books. I stand corrected. The entire series of Sweet Valley High books were found under my sister’s bed, along with the Babysitters Club and some other random adolescent erroneous literature. I’m obviously going to take them to the library, as soon as I gather the 78 dollars I owe them for three hard cover books I never returned. I am in possession of those three unreturned books, I actually even know where they are. Why have I not returned them in two years you ask? Why is the sky blue? When you figure that out I’ll tell you.

Anyways, speaking of books, we found a ratty old ripped up Bible while cleaning out one of the rooms. My dad wouldn’t let me throw it away because he heard it isn’t a bad book. And clearly it’s a great book, he hasn’t read it, I’ve read entire sections. The moral of the story is that if this Jesus is the savior business turns out to be true, we did not throw out that Bible gosh darn it. No, we didn’t. We might even read it one day.

OK, I’m not gonna lie. I read Sweet Valley High like it was Shakespeare for girls when I was in elementary school. It did not teach me how to read better. All it really taught me was to envy white blond girls with blue eyes, and pretty popular girls in high school. I blame my crushes on unattainable athletes in high school on Sweet Valley High. I really am against these toxic books and might even, dare we say, burn them. Wow, I’m thinking of burning a book. You learn something new about yourself every day. Anyone up for a bonfire? We could all sing old together…

Why are there so many songs about rainbows, and so many CD’s, tapes, records in this home??? We are not a recording studio. We own too much music. I never thought that could be a thing. Having too much music seems impossible, apparently, it’s not. My sister’s collection of hip hop from the nineties, mixed with Sarah McLachlan, Tori Amos, and U2 is apparently the collection of a lifetime. I had some friends move our sofa and they found her CD’s and hoarded them for themselves. Good riddance I said. Go, and take a few video and audio cassette tapes while you are at it. Haven’t you people heard of Spotify?

Records I can respect, we have a record player and it does sound kinda cool. But, please people. Get rid of your cassettes. They, whoever they are, have stopped making cassette tapes or video tapes, or cassette players or video players. It was mediocre technology, to begin with. Why are we holding on to this crap? My mother had a collection that went up to the ceiling of VHS tapes of old Bollywood Indian Movies. Thankfully our cleaning lady, who is a godsend, convinced her to say goodbye to said tapes. We threw them out. Halleluia!!!!

You’d think I could not possibly rant more about this carpet change. You would be wrong. I could go on for days. My back hurts, my belongings are still everywhere. I have no idea where my Apple TV remote is. Do you realize how small they make those Apple remotes? It’s like they want you to lose them and then buy a new Apple TV. I know, I know, first world problems.

My poor blind father could not find his shaving blades, his aftershave lotion etc. The house was in shambles!!!!!

Honestly, I think carpet is overrated. I wanted wooden floors. I don’t get a vote in this house. Just cause my parents pay the mortgage they don’t listen to me. The value of the house would increase with wooden floors. How do I know this? HGTV baby!

So if anyone ever suggests, in passing that you need new carpet. Think twice people.

Think twice, that’s only advice.

nina