Thursday, May 14, 2015

So much has happened... the past few years that I haven't had a chance to write down, or that has been recorded in Facebook never to be found again...

I just looked over some of Katarina's come backs, one-liners, and insights. And I know I've missed posting many more, but to aid my memory, I'll post one that's fresh in my mind, though it happened several months ago. She is now 9 years old.

One morning not that long ago, while waking her up and giving her little kisses, I whispered in her ear: "Good morning, your beautifulness... wake up, your beautifulness..."

Then I wondered if she was old or clever enough to get that it was a play on "your highness", so I asked, unnecessarily as it turns out, "do you know why I'm saying 'your beautifulness'?"

In a sleepy voice, eyes closed, slight grin starting to curve her lips, she replied: "Because you are the royal hiny."

... ugh...

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Whatever happened to...?

I don't know where to start. It's been two years... YIKES!! Two years without posting a single blog, recording some funny happenings in the Farhadi household, saving memories of my girls for when I don't remember anymore. And then today, there it was. The old bug that said to take a look, and I found myself looking at old posts and laughing at the things my kids did years ago which I didn't remember anymore. So I got back to this, trying to figure out whatever happened to my blog. 

I think it was Twitter. Much as I admit to love Twitter, it did have an unintended side effect. It gave me the opportunity to immediately react, comment and move on, and the need for further exploration or expression was gone. Twitter killed my blog. Or perhaps I did? 

And then I got thinking about this, and of course went on to something else - to the realization that this immediate gratification we have grown accustomed to (gross generalization) is ruining more than the blogging. This constant connectedness and busyness is turning us into reactionary people - we get emails no matter where we go and immediately respond. We find the news on the move and are always informed (at least of the headlines, which isn't really informed). Everything is urgent, everything is immediate, nothing can wait any longer. 

We are too busy to take our time, trying constantly to jam something else, since now we can. And in the process we are growing used to expressing our opinions without weighting the unintended consequences. We spout thoughts we haven't refined, we argue our points in opposition, and we forget along the way to look deeper, to play in the grey, and to look at the many angles.

I am the queen of that parade - the strong opinion parade. There. I own that one. Those of you who know me are nodding vigorously and agreeing with me. Admit it. You just nodded again.

I am the queen of the strong opinion parade, but all this is making me want to slow down enough to realize that nothing is truly black and white (which, let's admit that too, really rattles my world). We have the right to free speech and to express our opinions, but do we truly have the right to judge others as harshly as we do these days? 

Exhibit A: same sex marriage. No matter where you stand on the issue, chances are you have a strong opinion about it, have expressed it, have gotten into more than one heated argument along the way. 

Exhibit B: Abortion. Whether you are pro-life or pro-choice, the same applies. 

Exhibit C: Zimmerman case. 'nuff said.

And the ultimate fact is we don't have all the facts. The truth is many of us are not the people who have to live with these issues, these realities, and the laws that affect their lives more directly than anybody else's.

So, whatever happened with slowing down, taking it all in, considering the facts, and just plain having compassion for each other? I know... coming from this queen of the parade, that's saying something...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Life's contradictions and the ever elusive concept of happiness

Life is full of contradictions - some comical, some ironic, some just cruel. Walking on this path that none of us understands is a challenge from one moment to the next. There's highs, there's lows, and there's the balance of it all. These days, we try to find balance like an acrobat walking on a tight rope.

We spent the last few days in Cabo San Lucas, basking in the warm Mexican sun, wading in the pool with piƱa coladas in hand. Forcibly unplugged, we shrugged our shoulders and found a way to let go and for stretches of time actually managed to do nothing, while waiting for my brother's big day - his wedding day to one of the most beautiful brides anybody's ever seen. There was laughter and stress, comedy in the family dynamics that put "fun" in dysfunctional, and a combination of peace and stress that beat most average days.

These were happy days in many ways, with an amazingly joyous occasion to cap it all off. I have seen my brother grow from being a pain in my ass to this sensitive, emotive, creative man who has the ability to amaze me with his talent. And I have seen the light come into his life when he found my now sister-in-law - it's been a great addition and the best thing to happen to him hands down. There were tears at this wedding - hers, his, and everyone else's.

And through it all I was reminded of life's contradictions, as I watched this other man continue to decline rapidly in the claws of the horror that is Lou Gehrig's disease - this man that I love as if we were related by blood, this man who brought such happiness to my mother for the last 17 years, this man who was always patient, considerate, caring and giving. This man who walked me down the aisle when my father couldn't.

I have watched him go from limping last September to being bed-ridden and almost completely unable to communicate today. I have seen him be eaten by this disease, trapped in a body he no longer can control, losing his ability to communicate and all dignity along with it. I have seen him look at us in frustration and unbearable sadness, because he knows he is dying, and there is not a damn thing anybody can do about it or for him. I have prayed for a miracle. Today, I pray for a quick ending. And it breaks my heart to know that these few days I have with him are probably the last I'll ever have, and I'm not ready to say good-bye, to let go, to resign myself to the ending that I know will come.

Happiness is never complete - it gives and it takes equally and sometimes swiftly. There are only perfect moments. It's in those moments that we can experience that feeling of exhilaration that makes it all worth it - the risks, the rewards, the struggle, and yes, even the heartbreak.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

About womanhood...

I'm on a tear... I know, big surprise... why, you ask? I have been wondering about women and friendships and this thing that we share, this womanhood, this "sisterhood". You know, the thing that makes us sit around the circle and talk about everything, share every thought, every feeling, be there to support each other, and so on. And I will start by saying that, by and large, that is exactly what we do. We stand by each other, we fight for each other, and we become down right dangerous when one of us is threatened.

On the other hand, and here's the reason for my latest rambling, we hide things from each other. It's as if there were this unwritten code of "un-ethics" that requires us to hide the "darker" sides of womanhood, the things that would show the world we are (1) not perfect, (2) not as strong as everyone else thinks we are, or as strong as we think we should be, (3) not invincible, (4) not completely put together. In short, we hide anything that might tell other women that we are not Wonder Woman - and note here that we hide it all from each other.

We can be vulnerable, we can even be needy, but on those things that both define and test our womanhood, we can be nothing short of perfect. Except we mostly are not perfect, not by a long shot.

Take, for example, motherhood. Those of us who elect to have children and can conceive them without issues somehow are supposedly better than those who can't. Take childbirth, where those who can go through it without drugs (the craziest fad if you ask me), are somehow better mothers than those of us who much rather join the line that says "epidural here!" Take those first few weeks, where God forbid we admit to anyone that our little bundle of joy is the root of anxiety, doubt and even remorse!

Now, let me address those points in opposite order.

I remember being pregnant with my first child. What a joy! What a dream come true! What a nightmare! I remember spending those first weeks so overwhelmed, a shower was my greatest accomplishment. I was on a hormonal roller coaster in which one minute I cried because I thought my life had been fine without a baby, the next moment I cried because I loved that baby so damn much, and the one after that I cried because I surely was a horrible mother - who could possibly feel that way about her new born?

Turned out about 95% of women feel that way. It also turns out the great majority of those women never fess up to it, thus leaving the likes of me in complete ignorance and darkness and feeding us the dream of a wonderful time to come, a natural high to enjoy, and the perfection of life itself once your baby arrived. Granted, I am high strung (yeah, no kidding...), so this adjustment hit me rather hard. Add to it a couple complications, and it truly was hell on wheels. I now have made it my mission in life to scare the living daylights out of expectant mothers. Beware out there! This crazy woman will tell it to you as it is! And if your experience is completely opposite to mine, more power to you.

Point number two. Labor. That one little word alone elicits more anxiety than anything else a woman faces during pregnancy and after. We all talk about the pain - whether we've gone through it or not. We all want to know. We do get told it hurts like nothing else. We also hear how we're supposed to forget about it... maybe when I'm senile. We enroll and attend Lamaze classes, mostly led by militant women who profess having a baby without drugs is some kind of badge of honor. We get brain washed into thinking maybe we can deal with it, maybe we should really consider skipping the needle and opting for focal points, breathing and a tennis ball. We start doubting ourselves and start wondering if electing the needle means we'll be less - will it hurt the baby, will it hamper our recovery, is it really necessary... blah, blah, blah.

Some heroic women (crazy women in my book) do elect to have their babies that way. Good for them. Just don't judge the non-heroic women, like this one. This non-heroic woman didn't elect the natural way the first time and got her drugs. This non-heroic woman also didn't elect the natural way the second time but the gods had other plans and she didn't get her drugs. It's not a badge of honor, people. It's the indelible memory of horrendous pain, because unlike the other super women out there, this non-heroic woman doesn't do pain and has yet to forget. Sure. I made it through and lived to tell the tale. The baby will win this one no matter what you do. I considered standing on my head and crossing my legs until the anesthesiologist made it to my room, but hell, baby crowned, and I had to push. This non-heroic woman was exhausted, sore, and to this day doesn't see the point in doing it any other way than what nature should have intended: give me my epidural, baby!!

Point number three. A friend of ours is having her first baby. Being a woman who knows her mind and doesn't really care what anybody else thinks, she also is a woman who speaks her mind. Gotta love that quality in a woman. She had a hard time getting pregnant. She ended up seeing an acupuncturist, who incidentally works wonders and works fast. While seeing this doctor, she saw the pictures of three other people she knew. People who had issues too. People who prefer not to talk about these issues. People who could have helped her find an answer, if they hadn't thought that, somehow, they were less perfect, less heroic, less prepared to be mothers because they needed help.

Am I starting to make my point?

I am on a tear because of point number three. And, being the type who also doesn't care what anyone else thinks and the type who speaks her mind, this non-heroic woman is now starting to go through the dreaded "change" and sharing that little dark secret with everyone who may want to listen. Because guess what. Forty isn't too young for it. Forty is probably too young to notice, especially if you're on the pill - hello! Hormones in there! And when did the dreaded "change" signify the end of womanhood? Is it the emphasis we all place on menarche as the point at which young girls become "women"? Really? You're a woman at 11 or 12?? Scary. But that's another story. So, if we become women with our first period, does that mean we stop being women with our last one? Seriously??

Get a grip! Deal with it - whatever "it" is - and stop being ashamed of dealing with it in public. Let's stop placing these little episodes in our lives in dark little compartments that shall never come to light, lest we become less women. It won't take away from the suffrage movement, women's rights, equality in the workplace.

We can be women and not be perfect. We can be mothers and not always be sweet, happy, fulfilled. We can have it all, and yes, we are allowed to admit that we have to compromise, that we sacrifice parts of our lives. We can be full time professionals and balance family and career. And yes, we can admit it's not perfect, we don't have it all figured out, and some days we put chicken fingers on a plate because we are dead on our feet. We can be stay-at-home moms and not have a career and admit that it's hard, that some days we'd kill for adult conversation, a long, hot bath, and time to spend with just ourselves.

We don't have to be perfect. We never will be. And we never will be less women than what we are, because being a woman is not about being perfect, but about handling all of our imperfections with grit, and courage, and sometimes balls.

So have the balls to tell each other about those little dark compartments - and be prepared to enjoy the sisterhood that comes from shared experiences and complete understanding.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Welcome to 40!

When life begins! Or so they say... and I am excited about this - really, I AM! Why else would I tell the world my age, when I can easily shave a few years off and pretend I'm still in my thirties? Nonetheless, this whole turning forty thing has gotten me thinking... they say it's just the beginning of your life - I'm thinking in some respects it's just the beginning...

For us women it should read, "Welcome to 40! You now are entitled to regular mammograms." The fine print would read, "In exchange for this new thrill, we are taking away your 20/20 eyesight. You no longer will be able to read the fine print without chic, stylish (optional) glasses (mandatory). Unintended advantages of presbyopia may include no longer being able to see the mammography technician up close, like when she's ready to squeeze your tatas into those dreaded plates, effectively turning said tatas into temporary pancakes."

And I suppose that's what got it all started... unlike the pain of childbirth, which I will clearly remember for the rest of my natural life, I had forgotten how bad mammograms are. Really, who came up with this concept? It turns out this torture mechanism was invented in 1966, and yes, you guessed it, by a man... Albert Saloman. Now I ask myself, had Dr. Saloman been after screening testicles, would he have come up with the same device? I think not.

Of all the things to worry about as you get older, getting part of yourself grabbed, squeezed and compressed should be at the top of the list. Forget wrinkles and Botox. Quit worrying about the loss of your youth. Stop obsessing about impending menopause... and beware of the mammogram. And on top of it all, remember to keep your tatas healthy!