Saturday, August 15, 2015

Find Yourself, Lose Yourself, Find Yourself Again - Hide and Seek in Life

Mood: Contemplative
Listening to: Sorry - Buckcherry


Oh hello there internets. It's me, the blogger that cannot seem to get her shit together. Adult or not. 

So I was randomly looking through the past 3 blog posts I put up. To be brutally honest, I can't even remember posting them. I was either that drunk....or just that forgetful. Both are equally possible. 

India has changed me in ways that I've never imagined possible, and not always for the better. Even though I wouldn't trade my experience here for absolutely anything, it's been a constant struggle with identity. In times past, I would daydream that my children would have identity crises. At least so the warnings go about marrying someone different. What "they" neglect to mention, is that you yourself go through an identity crisis, especially if you move outside of your culture/comfort zone.

I wear toe rings. Anklets. A nose ring. Silver bangles I gifted myself. A mangal sutra. Banjara jewelry. A western style wedding ring. Skirts, A dupatta over my head (and Guns N Roses tee shirt) most times I'm outside. I understand (to a certain degree) and live in a culture that's not mine. I have a love for the culture, food, and interactions that most days I don't feel entitled to. On the same token, my own culture doesn't cut it. It doesn't show the whole picture of who I am. I no longer belong to that place either as I have been too far away and seen too much to fit in with ignorance of life as I now know it. 

My hands and feet sing as I walk. It's not my song, yet it's integral to the life I live. How does one reconcile that?

No one knows quite what to do with me, not that it matters. I've not lived for anyone else for a long time; I'm not about to start now. I found who I was around 25.  I've spent the last 4 years losing myself to a culture, country, and people that aren't mine. I've spent the past 2 months re-finding myself. 

I've come to discover that it doesn't matter what I wear or how I behave so long as I'm living according to what I value. This is easier to do when what you believe doesn't fall outside of the norm, which is why I still struggle with it. If I want to wear a skirt, Guns N Roses Teeshirt, a mangal sutra, and a dupatta on my head, that's my choice. It doesn't matter if its acceptable to anyone. It's my life - I'll live it on my terms.

There is so much missing to this story. Some of which I may share, much of it that I can't. Living life on your own terms when you vary from the norm is difficult - so much more so than you'd imagine, yet more rewarding than you can imagine.

My advice for those contemplating a choice in their life such as mine - and I do wish someone would have told me this even though I wouldn't have listened - is that it never gets easier. Ever. Even still, I'm proud of how far and where I've come from. No one can take that from you. If you're strong enough to know yourself and continually reassess who and where you are, it's tremendously rewarding on the same token.

Becky

Let's Talk About Feminism - And How Not to Fuck it Up.

Listening to: Irreplaceable by Beyonce
Mood: Stable and Positive

I was going to label this as a manifesto, but then again, no one really takes angry rants seriously. Time to get out the big kid underpants readers and tackle something heavy. We're going to act like adults and discuss it rationally. If you're not old enough to be reading about sex, for god's sake, what are you doing wandering around on the internet? Go outside and play.

So. Feminism, rape, gender roles, oppression and sex by proxy have been blowing up on the news as of late due to the very unfortunate Elliot Rogers incident. As I've no doubt mentioned many, many times, I live in India. Feminism as the western world understands it, does not exist here. There are a few small movements, but the overall culture here is far more repressive and violent than most westerners can imagine, none the less understand. So feminism has been on my mind for a while before this tragic event even hit the news. Historically, younger women (especially my generation) have struggled to define what feminism is, because it obviously doesn't have the same face as our grandmothers' feminism did fighting to vote. Let me quantify exactly what feminism means to me after long, and intensive contemplation.

Feminism is not:

1. Mysandry. This is hating on men. Men are not inherently evil (or any more evil than people are in general, which is another story). Many times, they are just as much victims (or unconscious participants) of cultural conditioning as women are. Aiming anger at men is not going to change anything and is counterproductive. A change of thought is required in both of the sexes.

2. Victimhood. I have heard far too much whining that we're being oppressed. While this may be true in some circumstances, I'm talking about the kind of whining that people do about useless stuff that they have no intention of trying to change.

3. Entitlement. I will qualify this as anything besides entitlement to equality/basic respect ideas. You are not entitled to a job just because you are a women. Nor are you entitled to expect a man to buy you dinner. Or a seat on the subway. Chivalry as it existed in storybooks is dead ladies and gentlemen. No one is entitled to anything from the opposite sex besides common decency.

Feminism is:

1. Equality.  In our attempt to make sense of the world by segregating by physical differences, we have forgotten that we're all humans. Perhaps at some point in the past, it made sense to see women as weak, or property, or whatever shit made sense at that point in time. However, just as science, math, philosophy, geography and economic theory have changed with time and enlightenment, so must our view on the sexes. We are definitely not the same, but we are all equals.

2. Not acting like an entitled asshole. This applies to everyone. If an old lady is struggling with bags and you're a girl - open the damn door for that lady. If you're a young lady and an old man gets on the subway, remove your behind and let him sit if he's so inclined. If you're a man, and an older guy needs some help carrying something - help out. The help/courtesy may well be declined, but it is still your responsibility to try. Girl, boy, whatever you identify as. Really, this doesn't need much explanation, but people do seem to forget this simple principle. It doesn't matter who you are - don't be a jerk.

3. Challenging the current environment of fear. This one is more difficult than the previous two. Cultural attitudes are sometimes almost impossible to change over the long term, not to even mention the short term. One of the biggest disservices that society has done to women is to make them fearful. In most cases, this fear springs from physical differences between the sexes. Men over all are larger and stronger than women. They are also equipped with body parts that can rape a woman if they are so inclined. This fear is not without a bit of justification, but has flown WAY out of proportion. Making women afraid of their own sexuality, normal interactions with men, and making women afraid of rape has made women move into a victim-hood mentality. This benefits no one. To be sure, rape is a horrible thing, which I wish on no one. The US has a horrible fascination with rape that leads to dramatic television series and dire warnings to women to be fearful. Again, this benefits no one. Girls/women should be aware of their surroundings, just as anyone should. Crime is not limited to rape - it affects both sexes. Being aware of your environment and being in control of yourself and your surroundings is just good, solid common sense.

4. Challenging Cultural Expectations of both sexes. This I feel is the hardest issue of all. As I mentioned above, changing these things takes an extremely long time and is very difficult. It also takes awareness on the part of individuals. All the time. I like to think of myself as an enlightened person, who thinks about issues. I still find myself carelessly applying labels like bitch and dickhead in my head when I get mad. It's a fight to not vilify or dismiss sexuality or body parts. How the fuck did we even get here??? Body parts are just that. We have 2 different sets for two different purposes. Labeling something as such doesn't refer to that, it refers to your inability to correctly insult something that bothers you. This is way too big of a point to actually be a  point. We'll conquer this a different way.

Look kids, sex, feminism, and and not being a dick apply to us all. Ladies, our feminism isn't the same as our Grandmothers'. That doesn't mean it's not important nor valid. It is. To a even greater degree. We've gained a bit of ground, let's use that to gain equality, not mess it up on stupid shit.

Women, there is no wrong version of feminism besides the one that vilifies men.  If you want to be a submissive housewife by your own choice, that's no less being a feminist than one who doesn't want a man at all.

The key word here is choice. Every woman has the choice to live her life as she sees fit, without involuntary submission or apologies to anyone. Every single woman has the right to chose her path, sexual or otherwise without the need to explain anything to anyone at all.

Ladies, support each other - suppression is the cheap version of competition. A quality woman doesn't need to put another woman down in order to succeed.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

This House Eats Shit.

Mood: Rum happy
Listening to: Stay – Thirty Seconds to Mars (live)

Let’s clear a few things up internets. Jared Leto in Thirty Seconds to Mars – Yes. Sweet baby eggplants  yes. That man has pipes that make me wanna weep.  Oh for god’s sake- not that kind of pipe you kinky wankers.

Second – My house does not eat poo. It eats stuff in a way that when I go looking for random things, they are nowhere to be found. Now, this may seem normal to you if you are a person who is not of the overly neat/organized/Martha Stewart Magazine/compulsive persuasion. Unfortunately, I am all of the previous adjectives. In my entire life, I have never lost so many things as go missing in this apartment. Not I forget where I put them, things are not where I left them.  I’m one of those annoying people that repeats that there is a place for everything and everything in its place. I know, I know. I really can’t help it – but I do try to keep that phrase in my head instead of annoying the sam hell out of the people around me.

This has a tendency to throw me off the deep end of crazy, because I just need to not not know where things are. Daddy G has spent many amused hours watching me throw stuff out of closets and drawers cursing, looking for something that I swear I left there the last time I saw it. The worst is electrical cords. I keep all the extra electric cords in a plastic bag. Most of them are free phone cords that we’ve received over the years from a new phone or the phone company, and I have no idea why I don’t get rid of them as we don’t even use our landline right now. So help everyone when a cord goes missing in my house – it will never, ever be seen again.  I’m talking worm hole opening up and the cord appearing in another dimension  out of the sky and smacking someone on the head type never seen again.

My family was lower middle class when I was growing up. Things were downright tight most of the time with both my parents working and doing their best. We grew up with a rather conservative estimation of what garbage consists of. Namely anything that is utterly destroyed and cannot be used for anything else. I have annoyed many a Salvation Army/Goodwill donation center insisting that surely there’s something someone can do with random odd items. Anyhow, moral is – I absolutely would not have thrown good and useful cords away.

My kitchen is another area where things magically move around. I think this has more to do with my new maid rather than the apartment itself, but seriously, how do you hide a 3 liter pot for an hour while I search and curse. My kitchen is not huge, let me assure you.

India has done wonders for me when it comes to chilling the fuck out about things I can’t control – which tends to bleed into absolutely every aspect of life here (the incontrollability, not my chill level). This is just one I can’t get over.


I want my damn HDMI cable back apartment. Also, kitchen, I want that spatula back. 

Friday, May 9, 2014

Bats in the Belfry

Listening to: Fat Bottom Girls - the Casey Abrams/Jack Black version. I love me some Jack Black!
Mood: Happy/Slightly manic

Hey Internets, what's hanging? I know, it's been a while, but someone told me I was a good writer this week. This led to blushing/giggling/a general remembrance that hey, I DO like writing. A lot. I'm just equally good at procrastination/wasting time. Here's to you Varun, for reminding me.

So yeah, just so we're on the same page, if I show up only sporadically, I'm not going to bother with the explanations anymore. 1. Because they're lame (my excuses), 2. It's just a waste of time, and 3. Damn it internets, we agreed that this was a casual relationship. Don't be stalking me.

Here's what I've been up to in the mean time. I've spent quite a bit time with my 28 students. But not too much because it's summer vacation and half of them have wandered off to who knows where. I lost my assistant (to a Master's degree program in the US) and have been enjoying Twitter. Ok, ok, I have been spending WAY too much time on Twitter. It's been fun though. I've met a few interesting, and hopefully non-psychotic people.

I've been to Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh. You can wander on over to Following the Masala if you'd like to hear about that.

We've changed my daughters' school also, to mainly positive effect, which has been great. The three month summer vacation they'll have is not so great.

So not much going on right now Internets. I'm not sure what Bats, or belfrys had to do with anything either, but I'm kind of random like that. I'll be back again, hopefully with something more...focused to say.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

This Should Hurt, but I Can't Figure Out When

Hello Internets. 

Long time no ramble. I've had lots of good intentions to blog, lots of ideas in my head....and no excuses. I'm just lazy as fuck about some things - writing is one of them. With 28 piano students and a house to run, I'm lucky just to keep my head on straight most days.

Anyhow. The recent big revelation in my life is death. My grandmother's to be exact. I know death isn't a new thing (trust me - "No one says anything new" - so quotes someone I can't remember in my current inebriate state), nor particularly exciting. The thing for me is, I've not had anyone close to me die since I was in highschool - and that was a friend, not family. So it basically has come as a rude shock, even though I've been trying to prepare for my grandparent's eventual death since I was 18. Not a morbid fascination, more like an inescapable fact of life that I figured would be better faced with preparation. I always had difficulty with it because my grandparents were very, very active/healthy until 5 or so years ago and I still thought of them such. More on how that turned out later.

As I've mentioned, my grandmother was one of my favorite people on this earth and I was ridiculously fond of her. I was blessed to be the first of her 12 grandchildren, so I like to think that she had a special place in her heart for me too. Trust me, she was the kind of person to have a special place in her heart for each and every grandchild, along with husbands/wives/boyfriends/girlfriends, etc. She is the one that I would love to be exactly like at the end of my life, and the first one I claim when it comes to genetics. She had a stable, loving marriage that lasted for over 60 years. She was by no means a perfect person, but she was amazing none the less. Even though I could sit and bore you for 3 more hours on this, I think you get the idea - she was a kick ass person and grandmother.

Daddy G, being the amazing man that he is, stuck me on a plane the evening we found out she had passed away with a promise that everything, including my kids, at home would be fine while I went to be with my remaining family. This is why I love him internets. I spent the week helping my family grieve, or so I like to think - it was a weird week. I spoke at my grandmother's funeral, although looking back, what I said seems so inadequate for the feelings that I had for her. 

Internets, I have yet to cry for my grandmother. Granted, I am SO not the weepy type. Ever. Especially not in front of other people, even Daddy G. I always thought that this would do it though. I'm rather afraid that I'm permanently either numb or a frickin psychopath. To be fair though, I've done a damn fine job being an ostrich and doing my best to avoid though about this subject all together. I think during the funeral, I just denied it was real all together. I could not figure out how I would get through speaking in front of a church of people otherwise. My family is a bit weird too. We have a few that look like tough people but cry at the drop of a hat, and those that just quietly go along without showing feelings outwardly. Our family in particular loves inappropriate humor to deal with uncomfortable feelings. Come now internets, you didn't think my propensity for inappropriate humor popped out of nowhere did you?

The only time I started leaking was when my Grandfather, cousin, and uncle dropped me off at the airport to return to India. Leaving my crying grandfather was almost physically painful - I'm overly fond of him too. 

I guess this is my reaction to the whole thing. My grandmother was 86 years old. She had a long, happy, adventurous life with a loving husband, 6 kids, 12 grandchildren, and 4 great grandchildren. Her last 5 years were spent in pain and I'm very happy that she doesn't have to hurt anymore, even though I would love another hug from her any day. What pains me is what's left behind. I have a shattered grandfather who is lost without the woman whom he claims he married because she had a car. This obviously isn't all he married her for, but how do you comfort someone in pain like that? The pain I feel from losing her seems so very insignificant in the face of that. I have a mother and aunts and uncles (there are no in-laws in our family - everyone is equally involved/loved) that grieve both visibly and not and I have no idea what to do with that.

I had to warn Daddy G today that the storm was coming - I'm just not sure when. As per my usual, it will erupt at some hugely inopportune time, over some insignificant straw breaking the camel's back. Because, you know, I'm am so completely adult and deal with my problems in a head on manner. Pfft. 

There you have it, what's been in my head. I'll try and return soon with something far less....depressing soon.

Becky

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Piano Project and Online Lessons

Hello Online Bloggy Friends, how's it hanging?

I have a proposition for all of you (Oh no. Definitely not that kind.) that I was hoping to get some feedback on.

So as I've harped on plenty enough, I teach piano. To be quite honest with the intertubes, I absolutely love teaching. Love it. 

As of now, I have around 27 students and am about topping off on capacity of students that I can teach in person. I also have noticed a decent population of working adults (at least in India) that would love to learn, but are completely overtaken with work and can only come on the weekends (of which lessons are currently full on Saturday A.M's for me). 

The idea goes that I will have video lessons (which students should work on about a week at a time) online, 1 day guarantee email support for questions, once weekly student/teacher Skype interactions for performance, level appropriate exams, and additional educational assistance/materials.

So here's where I need your feedback:
Would you take classes online?
What services/support would you need to be convinced to take classes in an online environment?

I also am looking for some fearless volunteers to go through 2 months worth of classes (on me!) a month or two from right now and give some feedback about the program. It's completely free for volunteers, unless I get completely bowled over by eager learners! Then we may need to limit numbers. 

The thing you would need to participate: 

  • A piano/keyboard to practice on - doesn't need to be yours, but it should play
  • The appropriate computer equipment to view videos and conduct skype sessions with sound, which I'm going to guess most of you will be equipped with
  • A willingness to try out playing the piano.
  • The time to commit to 4 (30 minute) Skype meetings per month (about once per week)
  • The ability to not be a troll. Sexual comments/innuendos/invitations are entertaining, but a waste of my time in this experiment. Just don't.
I've been told I'm a good teacher and that I have a great rapport with all different ages, but you can feel free to try it out and give your own feedback as needed.

Even if you choose not to participate, please do let me know your thoughts on the idea. I do need some idea as to whether there is any interest in this at all.

Becky

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

I'm Baaaaccckk!

Mood: Rum'd Up. Yep.
Listening To: Dhadhang Dhang - Akshay Kumar is my second favorite person on earth to watch dance. Boy has some mad enthusiasm. Second only because there is absolutely no one like Prabhu Dheva. No one.


Alright wiseacres. Try not to fall all over yourselves that I've showed up again. I can't promise it will or won't happen again - that's just how I roll with the randomness.

So. From last post. It's holiday season at the G house. Speaking of which, which one of you Indian buggers decided that holiday season starts with Ganesh Chathurthi in September and continues on until the New Year? Someone kidney punch that guy. I was packed solid with holiday chikanery when it started at the end of October in the US! It's getting ridiculous.

As I may (or may not have, I can't remember at the moment) mentioned, my eldest turned 10. I endured the 3 hours worth of 10 screaming 10 year olds with most of my sanity intact. Well, as much as I had to begin with anyhow. My living room still looks like the birthday party fairy had an orgy on my couches with the balloon man. Anyone know why my walls are still littered with birthday....matter? That's right, I have one more party to throw this Friday for my other daughter. Laziness outstrips normalcy in the G household sometimes. So, yeah. Only half the decorations to frantically put up on Friday. It's a good thing. In other news, I spent a very weepy-ish afternoon getting out appropriate sized clothing for my kids and deciding what to pass on to other people to use because it's too small. It's killing me. At least the pain was a bit muted because it wasn't baby clothes. Little yellow duckies, wah!!!

Sorry, I'm done. Daddy G is again absconding to the US after the littlest's birthday party is done. Whatever. Mama needs some hair dye and coffee flavoring syrup. Even the import stores don't find it worth it to cater to blondes. Or people who are addicted to caramel and hazelnut flavored coffee. He's gone for a week this time, which is rather innocuous for his usual trip

I'm planning to send my third child to the US with Daddy G to have some things fixed. No, no, I did not go off and have an unannounced, secret child that I neglected to share with my internet peeps. I'm talking about my ipod. As I've mentioned - worlds biggest whiny bitch in terms of batteries. Unplugged for 2 minutes? Time to die. This needs to get fixed because I need to get back into running. And running without Axl and Bon Scott keeping me company just isn't happening.

Lots of craziness in the upcoming months that I'm trying to plan for. A few of my students have finished their level 2 books - Go Students!! - and will need to get ready for an exam. An exam that I am writing with the help of the other fearless teacher that teaches in the G house. Writing and exam has been eye opening, that's for sure. I'm super excited to see them excel and carry on though, which I'm sure they will.

I'm getting ready to wander off to Mumbai in December to see my very first, in person, real life Indian wedding. You guys, I am SO stoked. Daddy G and I will be going alone to Mumbai to watch a good friend tie his knot and wish him well. The one well and truly valid excuse I have to tie and wear my own sari in public. I so got this.

So yes, with the enthusiasm this evening - I have it.

The inlaws are coming over in a week or two to spend some time with us. I'm excited (surprise, surprise) for this too. I actually love spending time with them. Bring it.

I've started preparing both my students and myself for the upcoming recital in Feb also. I feel like I just finished the last one, so I'm not so enthused to start, but on the other hand, the program looks to be super interesting this year. I have decided to have two separate recitals (split the 25 into 2 groups) of roughly piano and keyboard students. It was just too hard for the piano students (and myself) to get into playing the keyboard, even if the venue was good. So...two groups, two different nights at my place. Hopefully it will feel more intimate too - last year it was a bit...well...non connective. If you know what I mean

Very full plate until Feb. I'll stick around though. This has been therapeutic. And enthusiastic.

Becky