Saturday, October 11, 2014

Hair my bug bear

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It's mid October and another year nearly over. I can't believe it! Him says that I utter the same thing every year. It's been only 14 years since we've been married, so it can't be too bad. But honestly...the years fly by so fast, and each and every year has had revelations that I've sat with or run with.

The biggest reveal this year has been a bunch of grey hair. My grey hair. The trouble makers were lurking all these years I'll bet, right under my scalp, waiting to spring out when I got too busy to notice. And truly, I have been so busy that the last thing I remember about this year, was the winter from last year. When we were forced to slow down. And now it's nearly winter again! Back to the point, I have never had quite such an explosion of grey hair before. And before you point out the obvious, I've had grey hair since I was 10. A few strands here and there, that my mother tried desperately to cover up. She imagined traumatic recesses when classmates would point at my head and treat themselves to a laugh. She would smear home made pastes, some sort of pencil, and she would comb it artfully so the 4-5 strands would stay hidden.

I grew up not caring, and when I went to college, my hair stayed black with suspicious glints, but never more than the wisdom conferring few that showed only if you really looked. (Just like my supposed wisdom, try hard to see...) It was rather nice looking, not thick, but healthy and bouncy and all those adjectives once ascribes to youth. After Mini-Him was born, things changed. The greys still stayed outta sight. The texture changed, but enough home remedies kept the youthfulness locked in. After Mini-Baby's birth, the nose dive that my hair took could be compared to a swallow's dive...only it wasn't nearly as graceful. In addition to scantily dressed scalp, there were stringy greys and many strands that looked like the thinnest filament of cotton wool. Apparently it was a bad case of telogen effluvium. And it would auto-correct at some point. That particular time line is tricky. Because, as I discovered two years and many stresses and frustrations (not related to hair) later, I had to bring about that point.

Research, hair pulling and many vitamins later, it appears that sleep, exercise, nutrition, low stress, and lots of hair food beats any miracle cure. It's pretty much what my father told me all my life. And what my mother still does.

I began doing what I should have done in the first place. Even as the texture etc got better, the greys won't quit. And so I was at a dilemma. What could I possibly do, short of using one of those deeply moisturizing colors? And make trips every 2-3 weeks to a salon, or DIMyself at home?

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Over the weeks that I pondered this, there were worlds falling apart. There was never a day without news that highlighted just how many people's worlds shattered from war, disease and generally something terrifying and unreal at once.

And then, I looked at my household. I have such a loooong way to go. Such a darned looong way when all I really want to do is play a little. And read, and do silly things. But I don't think I'll have that luxury for a long time to come.

I asked Him if it mattered to him that in a couple of years, I'll have more grey than black. He didn't look up from his laptop as he said, "huh? No...why would I mind? Do what you like..."

And so what I'd like is to quit worrying about a natural turn of events. And accept this as who I will be from now on and move on to do what needs to be done. I don't want to be bothered with hair color appointments, and hair changes and skin reactions from using color. No. I'll take care of it, and give it what it needs. I don't think color is it.

Though a really dark brown henna doesn't sound too bad with jet black hair does it???

*Image : "Young Girl Looking At Watch" by iosphere through www.freedigitalphotos.net






Tuesday, October 7, 2014

molten vein

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A mountain headless dread,
nothing to quell the spread
of ash like dead thought
and molten rock with anger fraught.

Fury comes alive
Dare hope thrive,
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Craters and mouths that brew
words disconnected from the mind that drew
humanity melding and meeting
a body on earth meant to be fleeting.

Thoughts that resist evolution
a soul's sublimation
a cry for mercy, a heart that cannot process
choices inhumane that apparently lead to largesse
And much like those lost souls
a volcano does explode
to reveal what was bubbling beneath
incinerates, sometimes kindly, cuts off at the knees

The verdant slopes will become once more
hiding what remains in memories of yore
the ash like dead thought
and molten rock with anger fraught.

*Image - "Bromo Volcano Form East Java" by TeddyBear[Picnic] through www.freedigitalphotos.net

Monday, October 6, 2014

Mini-Him and Mini-battles

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Him and I have been hounding Mini-Him. That's the word for it. Hounding...

It didn't seem that way initially...and we were so certain of our parental insight, that we took away a whole bunch of things that he loves, unconsciously forgot our usual endearments for him, and really, made the almighty "grade" the sole focus of our collective existence.

He is a good kid, and with a touch of ADD, his days can be slightly challenging. He has nearly always had straight A's. His problem lies in the ability to listen and follow directions. Unless you were to observe it first hand, you would not know exactly how difficult a task this is for Mini-Him. You can see his eyes glaze over the minute instructions are issued...you can see the fidget in his bones, his eyes looking for another focus...and when you finally say, "Repeat what I just said..."
the panicked guilt cross his face.

Then comes the mistimed chatter. He almost always has something interesting to say. Only, the timing is off. It could be in the middle of someone's conversation, in the middle of a prayer meet, or just when he has been asked to be quiet. He used to be on meds for a few things and I am convinced that they left traces of themselves behind in a restless Mini-Him.

And yet, on remorse filled weekend mornings of the past few weeks, I wonder what exactly we are doing to him. As I watch him sleep, utter innocence and peace on his face, I wonder why I cannot give him this. This sense of peace, and complete acceptance.

I've been trying very hard, with an alternately upset and sad Him, to understand what drives us to drive him this way. Is it because his ill-timed comments reflect on our parenting? Or perhaps his grades reflect on the collective IQ of our collective families? Or his intolerance for any kind of "serious" conveys some special dead beat status? What is it that bothers us so?

He is certainly different from the kids that Him and I were. And he has been through so much more than us. For all of this, he is a large hearted boy. And he never fails to stand up for me. Ever. Why can I not do the same for him? Show him that I love him and accept him?

I do want him to blend seamlessly into society. I don't want him to suffer from rough edges that will cause judgemental others to push him to the periphery. I most desperately want him to be able to hold a non controversial conversation intelligently, and handle controversy with grace. And yet, I don't know if we are all that well equipped. I guess I am saying, to my shock, that I don't want him to stand out.

Perhaps I don't want him to stand out in a bad way. But who am I to choose? And force? He is not me. Or his Dad.

He is quite simply, only himself.

His grades, his behavior, his choices of conversation, his motivation etc are a function of his thoughts and feelings. And so it seems that my boy is not feeling too good. And his thoughts and mine are far apart.

He has a special delight in little things, and an awe of achievement, fast cars (only Lamborghinis, no other manufacturers need apply), space and physics, good food, wonderful music, basketball and although he is 12, Curious George.

He dislikes having to work at anything that he creates....he writes very deep poetry, and refuses to accept that anything could be expressed differently (and why I would try to change something like that is a matter for another post potentially titled "helicopter mom"), he sketches scenery and does not want instruction on depth and perception, and writes lovely essays that he will not rearrange to improve flow.

And did I mention that he is allergic to direction?

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I really only want for him to live a struggle free existence. To enjoy certain aspects of life easily because who needs to deal with comments about table manners at 25? Yet my boy seems unteachable.

But he accepts me does he not? I still get asked what flavor I would like when he goes to the local ice cream shop with Him. He will still ask me if I want a bit if his favorite Lays Chile-Limon on the rare occasions that he gets treated to it. And he still opens up to me. I get to hear about every single thing that goes on in his little life. This could be about half an hour after he has been yelled at for something legit I'm sure.

I'm trying to back off now. I think he is going to set his own trajectory that has nothing to do with me. And the more I try to reset it, and direct him and his future, the harder things are going to get.

That's just it...I need to back off. My little poet/artist/wannabe astrophysicist musician is going to have to figure things out on his own. He can continue to spill his guts to me in the mean while.


*Image - "Holding Hands Represents Paint Colors and Bonding" by Stuart Miles through www.freedigitalphotos.net

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

For someone I'll never see again...

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I used to have this Uncle. Won't spell out the exact relationship just so no one can tell the person I am talking about. This Uncle passed away shortly after Him and I were married. It was not anything that we expected. One assumed that his tall figure would always wait at the airport when one landed, paper rolled under the arm, waving lanky arms excitedly. I understand from my mother's stories about my baby days, that he was everything to me for a while. I must not have felt any of that in my teen years, because I had been nothing short of a b**** to the poor man. That is a strong word for me. I live in a household with many males and they all swear routinely. But this is the only word that I cannot stand. There is some manner of violence to it that I can't put my finger on. So to say that is what I was to this much hassled uncle is to say that I really was a miserable human being for a while.

I hated him with a passion for some years. Some years, because from the time that I lived with my grandma, Uncle and Aunt, to the time the said Uncle died, it was just seven short years. I often wonder how much my utter disregard for his feelings must have contributed to his overall disillusion. He was all of 59 when he passed away. I believe he died of a broken heart. My Aunt is a good woman, but I think my Uncle was beaten down by life.

My entire issue started when my parents discussed their particular disagreements with him in front of me. I could never think well of him after. Dad's angst was understandable. To the rational, planned, "never-drop-the ball" type A's, he would have seemed a bumbling buffoon. I spent the years from 13-16 believing it. And the years from 16-18 hating him for it. Hate as in visceral hate. And yet, he never showed me what he thought or felt. Through all of my attempts to ignore him in the home that we all lived in, and through all my attempts to exclude him from the fabric of my life, that in truth, him and my aunt were holding together, he still asked after my well being. Bought goodies that he knew I liked, and never once let on to my parents that he was dissatisfied with my conduct, and that sometimes, as a teenager would, I skimped on helping around the house. Tiny though it was.

That is not to say that he didn't have his failings. I only failed to note in that time in my life, that everyone did, everyone who lived on after him developed even bigger failings, and that he had been someone who existed solely to take care of everyone around him. He didn't have any children. But he took care of his mother, me, a couple of wild cousins, a sister and generally made everyone else's problems his. Which might be why he could never get anywhere. Of course, no one in the family will believe it. But it is my take on why he might have failed where others atleast broke the surface.

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Then again, failure, time, success, richness, poverty, money etc are such human constructs. We have become the adjectives that we syllabicated many timelines ago. We structured words to convey expectation and appreciation.We have run since to shape ourselves to be worthy of our own hype. And as in the case of this Uncle, who I now believe was not meant for this world, expect everyone else to fit in as we would. Struggle as we would. And be as fearful of negative labels because that's just what we are afraid will happen to us.

Uncle just continued living as joyously as he could in his cramped life. And one could tell that he could not feel his lack. That he expected to be loved and appreciated and did not feel poor. He didn't behave like there was anything missing from his life although a great deal had been lacking since childhood. For all the siblings in fact. But he was the only one living where the others had left. He tried to keep his wife happy as he could. And tried to ignore Dad's repeated attempts to beat some monetary sense into him. And tried to laugh and joke and be an outstanding human connection to everyone who ever crossed his path. And continued to ignore Dad's pleas for some sense as he sent yet another lump sum of money that Uncle asked for.

Money was the construct that broke them in the end. The arguments, the stress and the lost gaiety came from Uncle and Aunty needing more, and Dad having to provide. And still there was so much to Uncle that we couldn't appreciate then.

I was resentful of Dad having to part with his hard earned money then. And I still don't think that he should have had to fund anyone's lifestyle. But the grey area gets me these days. I mean...so what? So bloody what if he needed a handout every year? And so what if he took trips and ate out and laughed and hung out with friends? Was he supposed to stop breathing from the guilt? He didn't live in a forgiving country. And he told me later that he never in all his life asked for a raise because he believed that raises had to be given. Not asked for. And even I. at 18 knew that not much came from this world without that initial push at the very least from us.

He didn't belong here. And he was idealistic and impulsive. Loving and carefree. I grew to understand once I was on my own, and struggled for a bit to be understood myself. It all grew into appreciation pretty quickly. And it seemed to me for a short while after I was married, that he would always be there to reach out to. Which is why I never called him after saying goodbye to him at the airport in Aug 2000, as a new bride going away with her husband. He was gone in November. I do not have guilt that I did not call. I feel immense guilt that I burdened him with childishness when he had been so close to death. And when he could have used some affection and understanding. I now believe those two qualities can change so much in people's lives.

I regret the arrogance that allowed me to think so little of him; regret that it prevented any closeness...

To a man who had once been everything to me. That manner of blindness is the worst in the world. I hope he knows that I regret my lost teen years that could have been better. For all of us. I hope he knows that I am sorry for being a cause of strife in his tragically short life. And I hope he knows that I love him. I never did tell him that.

And of course, I hope he knows that the whole bunch of us who judged and withheld appreciation are actually grateful. Even if his life never quite fit our shortsighted framework, he was quite the champion. Our lives had been better with him in it. And better because of him.

He also loved flowers. And laughter. What a loss! Our loss...

His birthday falls in the second week of September. This is my remembrance.

*image - "Gardenia" by panuruangjan through www.freedigitalphotos.net


Saturday, August 23, 2014

About the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and why I think it is a great idea

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There has been a lot of controversy regarding the Ice Bucket mania that has gripped the nation. One can understand why the thought of celebs pouring ice cold slush over themselves comes across as ridiculous and attention grabbing. And as outlandish as one may be tempted to think it is, I believe that this is an AWESOME way to raise money for ALS and it's victims.

I run another blog that has so far been devoted solely to ALS research and it's impact upon the victims and their families, and ways to help these people go through an extremely stressful condition.

We have ways to buy time, scope for remission, and cures for other conditions. There is none of this yet for
ALS. Right from the time that Lou Gehrig and this condition became synonymous, there has been research in many parts of the world. Awareness is not as it should be either. We have pink ribbons for breast cancer awareness and research, a Run for MS, and others where victims can more often than not participate and hope for recovery. In the blog that I update, I advertise the ALS Walk where ALS sufferers are part of the participating population. Every year, one can see them get weaker, use more assistive devices and walk less, until they are spectators and one day, they are not part of anything on this earth anymore.

And no one has a concrete idea as to why this happens. There are theories, and there is much research. But no proper idea, and no potential for a cure yet.

It meant as much to me as it does to many of you; a vaguely disturbing, sad condition that one pushes to the corner, much like we attempt to ignore news about poverty, massacres etc. Simply because there isn't a whole lot one can do to change things, and because we would be bogged down with helpless sadness if we thought of these things all the time.

pic credit - prakorn, freedigitalphotos.net




Then I met Linda. Linda who was so full of vitality, and bursting with ideas and projects. She had raised two daughters and had traveled the world. She and her husband, Him and I and others were were all on the same project in Panama, and we met during a Christmas party. After a couple of meetings, she told a group of ladies about her twin sister, Laurie, who had passed away from ALS. The profound sadness in her face is something that will take me a long time to forget. Laurie had been as Linda was now. Vital, alive and adventurous. She had been a wife, mother, and do-er of all things. A mild weakness that she noticed in her legs had been no cause for concern. She attributed it to her rather active lifestyle and continued to train and strengthen her body. When the weakness progressed, and subsequent tests revealed the devastating ALS diagnosis, she and her husband attempted researching every possible outlet. Every potential cure, and research study. She even participated in one. Unfortunately her condition progressed rapidly and she passed away in 2006. Her story can be found HERE.

Linda has been tireless in her efforts to talk about ALS, raise funds for those suffering from ALS, called PALS. She has shared ways to help families affected by this on the reachforacure blog. Ways to help, in addition to spreading the word, and controversial or not, joining in the ice-bucket challenge, can be found HERE. While individuals suffering from this have their lives taken over in ways that they could not have imagined, their families suffer enormously. Given that the condition causes people to lose any control and strength in their bodies, the constant caretaking wears caregivers down. The financial impact is also enormous. Whether it is the primary bread winner, or a grown child, there is a constant need of supplies and doctor's visits. I can't imagine the impact of watching a loved one degenerate before your eyes, knowing that there is nothing one can do, but make them comfortable for the days that they have left. And this is right from the beginning, from the time of diagnosis. Not a single hope except that the disease might keep the loved one communicating for as long as possible.

There is much more to this than everyone trying a new trick on themselves. I don't believe that I've seen ALS get as much exposure before and it's great, and it's important, and it is necessary for us to know why this happens so that we can put a stop to it, or change things to make them better. Right now, no one knows for sure. They're just about finding the information in genes. But what causes the progression, why some get it (Linda's ever torturous question to herself and us - why did Laurie get it and not her?), and could it be environmental?

If you're not up to ice bucket challenges, and would like to help, perhaps the many ways outlined by Linda might offer you some insight, HERE. If you're able to provide help monetarily, Linda's Walk Page can be found HERE and the ALS association's donation page can be found HERE.

There is so much more to all this than a macho dunk in ice. I truly hope researchers find answers and stop ALS's ravaging effects on individuals and their families.