Friday, January 30, 2009

back then the street edition was 20 cents

"We're not in it to make money," says the David Cole from the San Francisco Examiner.

via Romenesko

Monday, January 26, 2009

last link in the chain

It's no secret that I love that I'm Indian. I can't get enough of the food, the cheesy movies and the sometimes inexplicable superstitions, and the culture has really shaped who I've grown to be. In recent years I've tried to absorb as much as I can, from learning Devanagari script to unlocking the secret of making a killer gujiya.

But is it all for nothing? Am I going to be the annoying person whose children roll their eyes whenever she tries to get them interested in some music or a movie? Does it make a difference that I can cook all this stuff if nobody wants to eat it? My own brother has never taken a liking to our culture--while we'd dine on dal and chawal or chicken curry and fresh roti, my mom would make him a separate meal of pizza, spaghetti or a hamburger. He's just not into it, and I can accept that, but I hope he'll be more interested when he's older. Because we don't have any family here; he's all I will have beyond my parents. And there won't be many family-friend get-togethers with long folding tables of aluminum vats full of food like those we had during our formative years; even the after-church tea receptions are rarer as time goes on. Besides, our family friends have their own extended networks with whom to share spicy Thanksgiving turkey and four different kinds of bhaji among the plates of mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce. Everyone has moved on, and the preferred path is the one of least resistance. One of my friends even says the reason she doesn't cook Indian food is because her parents do such a good job she just lets them do it.

I wasn't always this keen on the traditions of my culture. When I was in junior high, our family started going to this evening Hindi church service on top of the morning mass we'd attend every Sunday. Mom and Dad wanted to give us a sense of the community they'd left behind. It was a whole lot of praying for a kid, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't think it was a drag. However those sermons boosted my Hindi vocabulary exponentially, and I saw people my age who were actually into the culture. I looked up to them, noticing their pretty outfits and that they already knew how to do all the cool dances and cook complex dishes by the time we were in high school. I wanted in on all that, and for once I felt lame because I didn't embrace my heritage, after all those years among my school friends when the opposite was true. And after a little while, I started appreciating that stuff for its own merit, not only to fit in.

But all of those people have moved on and away. Our family doesn't attend that church anymore. I have several closets full of gorgeous outfits, but noplace to wear them. I can't even cook Indian food in my condo for fear that any lingering aromas might turn off potential buyers. I used to feel so confident saying it doesn't matter--that I'm Indian enough for everyone--but the truth is that holding onto a minority culture is a whole lot of work. And if you're the only one interested in keeping up with it, just doing something you enjoy once in awhile can quickly make you feel like an unwanted proselytizer preaching to deaf ears, even if all you want is some company during a cheesy movie.

When I go back to my parents' house, I can indulge in comfort food, binge on some bad soap operas and catch up with my family in grammatically questionable Hindi. But I won't be able to do that forever. And if enough time and resistance wears away at my enthusiasm, a big part of my identity will be relegated to the spice rack--busted out about as often as a non-Chinese family springs for dim sum or hot and sour soup. And that just makes me want to cry.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

these pulsating lights make it really hard to knit

Last night H and I went out to the Hop Haus to celebrate Cool Cat's big 3-0. That place holds special memories for me: It was the sports bar/purveyor of exotic-meat burgers where my coworkers took me for a great birthday lunch--right before we got back to the office and were all laid off. But it does serve a mean cheeseburger.

I was expecting the same casual vibe from the place, so I was surprised to see the DJ bumping in a booth, laser-lightbeams bouncing off every surface, and that I could feel the bass in my sternum and on the bottoms of my feet (through heeled boots). H was even convinced individual hairs on his head were vibrating to the beat.

But it was a lovely get-together. The music took me back to the old days (especially the merengue and bachata they were playing toward the end). And it's always great to see my college girls, especially Cool Cat, who I discovered has been living pretty close to us all this time. Sadly, after a few hours the lights started to give us psychedelic hallucinations, so we moved to the bar area. The music was still plenty loud over there, but we didn't have to yell as loudly and were away from the throat-scratching fog machine and crazy lights.

Taken by H from his iPhone.

The light display was very cool. And seven years ago--when I could dance all night in four-inch heels and run around without a coat when it was below freezing--it would have been pretty freaking awesome. But you just can't turn back time. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to take my vitamins before shuffleboard starts.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

he spoke to me

Yesterday I waited for H to come home so we could watch the Inauguration together. And despite seeing it eight hours after everyone else, the proceedings still felt momentous. Obama's speech isn't being lauded as "memorable," but a few points seemed to speak to me directly--my parents certainly packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans so that we might live a better life. Even the fact that he included the word "Hindu" hit home, and that's not even my religion.

Sepia Mutiny's Anna was there, and she captured some of what I felt:
You are what you look like. And to the vast majority of the world, I look Hindu. I’m not ashamed of that at all. Today, I felt celebrated for it. I felt included, even though my actual faith was mentioned first, in a group which was organized by a man magnanimous, courageous and heedful enough to include “non-believers”.

If every American could feel included, there's a much better chance we will work together to turn this ship around. And in these frightening times, the hope that things will get better is what I'm relying on to make it through.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

hurts so good

The great thing about one of your best friends studying to be a yoga instructor is that in her classes you get individual attention, can ask any stupid question you want, and you don't have to feel self-conscious about the fact that your legs have not been de-fuzzed in more than a month.

I had a great first session with Kaiya at her in-home studio--something about teetering around in the tree pose in a sun room surrounded by real trees is very very zen. And our little yogi-in-training is off to a fabulous start: I left there feeling refreshed, energized and content, and I woke up this morning with the best kind of sore muscles an out-of-shape cadiz could ask for.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

life block

In the time since I stopped working I have come up with hundreds of things I can spend this time at home doing: half-finished projects, hobbies I'd like to pick back up and tons of time-consuming tasks that have fallen to the wayside as life had picked up speed the last few years. But it's been weeks and I have yet to completely finish a single one.

I have NO idea where the time goes. I wake up at about 8 a.m. every morning and spend the day shuttling between looking for jobs, puttering around in the kitchen, cleaning/reorganizing something in the house that annoys me and television. Then suddenly it's 5:15 p.m. and H is home. I feel like while I was working I did more in two hours than I accomplish in eight hours here. And it's frustrating, because I'm not just sitting around eating yogurt and watching reruns of Project Runway (well, not ALL day, anyway).

The more I plan to do, the more paralyzed I get. This is not a state of mind I'd like to hang around in for very long.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

don't leave home without me

Velocibadgergirl tagged me for the six things thingy.

RULES: Share six non-important things/habits/quirks about yourself.
Tag six random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs.
Let each person know that s/he's been tagged by leaving comments on their blogs.
Link to the person that tagged you. Let your tagger know when your entry is up.

Here are six random things about me when it comes to staying home. Here are six other random things about me, which are a little more random.
1. I prefer not to leave the house more than once a day.

2. When I'm home, I like to be in pajamas no matter what time it is.

3. When I'm home by myself, I often forget to eat. When other people are around, I'm constantly snacking and asking if they're hungry, too.

4. I am creeped out when taking a shower if I'm the only one in the house.

5. If you want to be sure I will get absolutely nothing accomplished, leave me home alone where there are one or more of the following: a television, a couch, a bed and/or the Internet.

6. An alarm is not as effective without another human being around to make sure I haven't turned it off and fallen back asleep.

I tag: Madelyn, Mike, Supacoo, Momma, the Casual Perfectionist, weebug, Eclectic Bride. No obligations.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

the things they did for us

The year was 1984. The holiday season was ramping up and there was absolutely nothing 6-year-old Cadiz wanted more than a Cabbage Patch Kid. Unfortunately for my mom, everybody and her momma wanted one, too, and the shelves were bare. To hear Mom describe it, getting a Cabbage Patch Kid that Christmas probably inspired that Schwarzenegger action flick Jingle All the Way.

Little did I know then, but late at night my mom went to every toy store within a 15-mile radius for weeks in vain so I wouldn't be disappointed on Christmas morning. And there was no way she was going to let me open a box with a raincheck in it, so the poor woman finally ordered one from abroad.

The "official" paperwork that came with "Brigitta Sylvia," dated December 25, 1984. I was apparently so excited to start playing mom that I never bothered to add my signature.

When I ripped open the wrapping paper that morning, I noticed that Brigitta Sylvia looked slightly different than the *real* Cabbage Patch Kids my friends had. But my mom--clever as always--put on the spin: My doll was WAY cooler than everyone else's because she came all the way from GERMANY, just for me. I was sold.

Me and Brig on Christmas.

I don't know if I ever really told my mom how sweet it was that she went to such great lengths to see me smile. Awhile back, I stumbled onto a set of short films called The Responsibility Project. They're all about doing the right thing. I hadn't thought about ole Brigitta in years, but watching the film called Tony reminded me of what parents are willing to do for their kids. And while we don't always show a lot of appreciation at the time, those gestures stay with us forever.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

2009: Reboot

I can't say that I'm going to miss 2008. I lost my last grandparent, my job and pretty much all of my savings. However, I am thankful for being able to look upon my boyfriend's face in person nearly every day, actually living in the place I've been paying mortgage on for three years (though it doesn't look like it's going to sell anytime soon) and having a reliable fast Internet connection for the first time in a long time.

My situation is likely going to get worse in 2009, but there's little I can do to prevent that. So I'm taking time to "reboot" my life. It started with an abrupt decision to chop off most of my hair, and now I'm looking at everything around me in a new way: Have I truly expressed how much the people who love and support me are appreciated? Do I really need to watch so much television? What needs to change to prevent my being taken advantage of in the future? Maybe that life-assessment I didn't go through when I turned 30 is catching up with me four months late, but I suddenly feel like a bomb is going to go off if I don't get my crap together as soon as possible.

Last month I reconnected with people who studied abroad with me; we reminisced in disbelief that our semester in Spain was a full DECADE ago. Then I stumbled onto a journal (I still haven't put my albums together) from that time and discovered that the uncertainty and frustration I had wanted to escape back then isn't all that different from the confusion and helplessness that I wrestle with today. Ten years can change a lot of the details, but the sentiment is the same. There's no such thing as a vacation from your life--and perhaps the best way to figure out where you're going is to take a good look at where you have been. So that's what I aim to do this year.

Happy 2009 everyone. I hope things get clearer and brighter for all of us.