Saturday, May 30, 2009

Help Racing Greyhounds

No secret that helping racing greyhounds is one of my passions. These sweet, gentle, beautiful animals deserve so much better. I hope you see fit to click here and show your support by electronically signing the petition that the Animal Rescue Site is hosting.

If you'd like to help support animal shelters in general - The Animal Rescue Site also donates food to animals shelters for every "click" they receive - .6 of a bowl of food per click. You can click every day to help - make it a part of your morning routine - get coffee, turn on the computer, click to donate food and then go about your day. It feels good to start it off doing something to help animals. You can even sign up for a daily e-mail reminder to click; can't get much more convenient than that.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


"You only find out who is swimming naked when the tide goes out."

- Warren Buffet

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire and Doubt

In the last month or so I have rented these two movies (I love Redbox - can't beat the convenience and price at $1/night).

"Slumdog Millionaire" - I had been avoiding seeing this movie for a while and I'm not sure why. Maybe because I'm half Indian and knowing this movie took place in India and was about children that lived in slums made me uncomfortable. Or maybe it was because in some of the trailers I saw what appeared to be a Bollywood-esque dance scene and I thought, nahhhh, I'm not interested. But after seeing the Oscars and all the awards the movie won and hearing the music and reading a little bit more about the background of the movie I gave it a try and I'm glad I did. It was clever, sad, eye-opening and finally joyful. It is also funny to me how mainstream India and Indian people have become - I remember 30 years ago, as a child feeling so much the odd-ball, with the odd name, relatives that wore traditional Indian clothing, ate traditional India foods and being embarassed for being different. It felt like a burden having a mixed ethnicity when my classmates were Irish, Italian, German - not another "mixed" child or Indian child in my class. It was a big deal when Vietnamese refugees started coming to my school.

Now I'll bet if you asked 5 people what a samosa is 3 of them would know and also tell you how much they love naan as well. Who doesn't know what chai is? I have a friend that tells me how much she loves Bollywood movies and a neighbor that goes to Devon St. in Chicago and brings back Indian desserts for me and also listens to Indian music - she's a 50 yr old Jewish woman of Eastern European descent but sometimes I feel like she is more Indian than I am!

"Doubt" - a rather dark, heavy movie. Not what I expected and it left me with, well, much Doubt after I saw it. Doubt as to whether or not he did anything wrong and Doubt about whether I thought this was a worthwhile movie or not.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Belated Happy Mother's Day

I don't usually care for the mushy Mother's Day stuff, but this one got me. It got me and it will stick with me. I hope you enjoy it too.

For All My Favorite Moms by Anna Quindlen, Newsweek Columnist and Author

All my babies are gone now. I say this not in sorrow but in disbelief.

I take great satisfaction in what I have today: three almost-adults, two taller than I am, one closing in fast. Three people who read the same books I do and have learned not to be afraid of disagreeing with me in their opinion of them, who sometimes tell vulgar jokes that make me laugh until I choke and cry, who need razor blades and shower gel and privacy, who want to keep their doors closed more than I like.

Who, miraculously, go to the bathroom, zip up their jackets and move food from plate to mouth all by themselves. Like the trick soap I bought for the bathroom with a rubber ducky at its center, the baby is buried deep within each, barely discernible except through the unreliable haze of the past.

Everything in all the books I once poured over is finished for me now. Penelope Leach., T. Berry Brazelton, Dr. Spock. The ones on sibling rivalry and sleeping through the night and early-childhood education, all grown obsolete. Along with Goodnight Moon and Where the Wild Things Are, they are battered, spotted, well used. But I suspect that if you flipped the pages dust would rise like memories. What those books taught me, finally, and what the women on the playground taught me, and the well-meaning relations --what they taught me, was that they couldn't really teach me very much at all.

Raising children is presented at first as a true-false test, then becomes multiple choice, until finally, far along, you realize that it is an endless essay. No one knows anything. One child responds well to positive reinforcement, another can be managed only with a stern voice and a timeout. One child is toilet trained at 3, his sibling at 2. When my first child was born, parents were told to put baby to bed on his belly so that he would not choke on his own spit-up. By the time my last arrived, babies were put down on their backs because of research on sudden infant death syndrome.

To a new parent this ever-shifting certainty is terrifying, and then soothing. Eventually you must learn to trust yourself. Eventually the research will follow. I remember 15 years ago poring over one of Dr. Brazelton's wonderful books on child development, in which he describes three different sorts of infants: average, quiet, and active. I was looking for a sub-quiet codicil for an 18-month old who did not walk. Was there something wrong with his fat little legs? Was there something wrong with his tiny little mind? Was he developmentally delayed, physically challenged? Was I insane? Last year he went to China. Next year he goes to college. He can talk just fine. He can walk, too.

Every part of raising children is humbling, too. Believe me, mistakes were made. They have all been enshrined in the "Remember-When-Mom-Did" Hall of Fame. The outbursts, the temper tantrums, the bad language, mine, not theirs. The times the baby fell off the bed. The times I arrived late for preschool pickup. The nightmare sleepover. The horrible summer camp. The day when the youngest came barreling out of the classroom with a 98 on her geography test, and I responded, "What did you get wrong?" (She insisted I include that.) The time I ordered food at the McDonald's drive-through speaker and then drove away without picking it up from the window. (They all insisted I include that.) I did not allow them to watch the Simpsons for the first two seasons. What was I thinking?

But the biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make while doing this. I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of the three of them, sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages 6, 4 and 1. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less. Even today I'm not sure what worked and what didn't, what was me and what was simply life.

When they were very small, I suppose I thought someday they would become who they were because of what I'd done. Now I suspect they simply grew into their true selves because they demanded in a thousand ways that I back off and let them be. The books said to be relaxed and I was often tense, matter-of-fact and I was sometimes over the top. And look how it all turned out. I wound up with the three people I like best in the world who have done more than anyone to excavate my essential humanity. That's what the books never told me. I was bound and determined to learn from the experts. It just took me a while to figure out who the experts were.