Wednesday, April 29, 2009

turning into a pig?

all this hysteria about swine flu.

i LOVED seth godin's blog post about it.

might as well panic. worry about the economy. worry that we are all going to die and go bankrupt.

it's true. there ARE a lot of things to worry about. but panic never helps. and worrying doesn't either.

sometimes i wonder if people like talking about how bad things are so they realize how things are not really that bad for themselves.

or if it's all just a distraction from the REAL stuff to worry about - like am i a kind and responsible human being? am i less selfish - taxing the planet less, helping people more, working for a better world for everyone rather than just a better place for me...

how do we REALLY avoid catching the porcine disease?

i for one am constantly fighting myself to take responsibility for the situations i find myself in. to stop being selfish and seeing things for my point of view and start seeing things the way other people see them.

it is hard.

i am not always successful. as we see.

but that kind of swine flu is so much more insidious, isn't it?

Monday, April 27, 2009



what is it about the brighter softer light, the warm air, the tiny golden-green leaves that changes everything?

somehow, i'm less tired in the morning.

and then there are lilacs. huge pale purple clouds of transporting scent. those dusty, heart-shaped leaves. the promise of summer and lush watermelon-sweet just-cut grass.

suddenly, pavement-addicted urbanite that i am, i find myself longing for the countryside. i want to be lying in a hammock listening to birds in the shade of a big gnarled oak.

it's spring and i am taking the time to remember that i am not a perfect bunch of flowers myself.

but i am so lucky to be here.

Monday, April 20, 2009

old world new world - or the drama the drama

on saturday, my mum called and said, i know you are so lonely and have no one to talk to anymore - but please, you must end this facebook thing!

but first - i had 5 kids in my house, a depressed friend, hormones out of control and was still reeling from an incredibly nasty email in which my first ex-husband andrew blamed his being a MIA dad on my "trapping him with a marriage and a baby" that i engineered (despite the fact that baby and i cut our losses and split in 8 weeks of her birth and he refused to get divorced because i "abandoned"him...)

next a 45-minute sobbing phone call where my mother begged me to get off facebook because 1. people as far away as dubai and france were reading my mad family stories and laughing (they are MEANT to be funny) 2. in our culture, we don't praise our daughters and my daughters would now never get married, make lasting friendships or get real jobs because people would remember they were terrible teenagers 3. in our culture, there is a concept of "shame" (read salman rushdie for more explanation) and that seems to have bypassed me entirely 4. she goes to dinner parties and people know that my cousins are visiting or i have a job interview before she does.

i tried to explain to my mum that i don't write anything on facebook that i wouldn't say to someone in the supermarket line.

and admittedly, i sometimes express exasperation, frustration, irritation with my kids and/or ex-husbands and finances - but wait, isn't that a normal human state?

this is the new village, i said.

this is the over-fence, on the sidewalk chat that people have these days.

when i was in college, i shared a flat with a guy at one point. not a boyfriend or a romantic interest in any way. douglas is a lovely brilliant person and now a professor at UCLA, i think.

my mum stayed with us and said, oh, this is terrible - what do you think all my friends in india will say when they hear that you are LIVING WITH A MAN?

i said, um how will they know?

and she said, oh i'll have to tell them!

it's funny, because i remember, when i was a teenager, aunties coming up to me and saying, tell your mother not to talk about EVERYTHING, it's not nice.

so in her world, she's right.

in the old world, the internet is a vast and scary place where you post the wrong thing and your identity is stolen, your children kidnapped.

in the old world, your "privacy" is a jealously-guarded secret.

a friend of mine got upset a few months' ago because i said her baby was crying while she was on the phone. she said, but you WROTE HER NAME on the internet. that was so uncool.

and i said, first, why does it matter? you might tell the guy who serves you a burger at the shake shack her name.

and second, who will ever remember?

i was trying to explain to my mum that paris hilton got famous for having sex on youtube. and now she is selling fragrances to pre-teens.

in the new world, the collective memory is very short.

in the new world, we realize that privacy does not exist.(and perhaps it never did - live in a small village anywhere and you'll discover that everyone knows how many croissants you buy on sunday and whose car was parked outside your house last weekend)

do a quick search on almost anyone on google, dogpile, about or zoominfo - you'll be surprised by what you find out, or don't.

in the new world, internet absence is mark against against them.

but also, your medical records are computerized, so are your credit reports. if you use ezpass, the state has records of every place your car goes. there are records of every financial transaction you make if you use a check, a credit card or a debitcard.

and don't you think the grocery check-out girls discuss the bizarre contents of your shopping cart as a chance to deconstruct your personality? (please, i worked check-out before)

look online, chances are, you've been tagged in a photo somewhere. mentioned in school records.

as i said to my mum - what do i have to be ashamed about?

in old world, men were "trapped into marriages" by women who got pregnant as a strategy. (should i mention that my ex-husband and my mum are quite close in age?)

in the new world, we take responsibility for our choices.

it's not scary - it's thrilling!

we're not victims, we own our narratives.

we invite people in and realize our common humanity.

and isn't that the point?