Monthly Archives: January 2012

Aside

You who sits there in the window with tears on her cheeks.
Why do you always stay up there, why won’t you ever leave?
Why is your face in the window, looking out constantly?
Don’t you ever get tired of waiting for your love to finally see?

He isn’t ever coming.
And even if he did.
He wouldn’t bother looking up.
You’d remain a dream within his head.

He’s looking at his own level.
He’s walking by your home.
He never thought you’d be above him.
He doesn’t even know.

That his angel is weeping because he never walks by her window.
He never takes the street she lives on. And he’ll never go,
by  the place he knows she lives, because he doesn’t want to see her.

He can’t bear the pain of her tears or cries.
He doesn’t want to hear her sighs.
He ignores her heartfelt songs,
his own feelings, he denies.

And she’ll suffer all the heart ache
because her loyalty remains,
she’ll stay forever lonely
because she doesn’t want to change.

They’ll never be together, that is the fates design.
Each one believing blinding that this life is not their life.
They don’t have faith enough, to hold on to what is theirs.
They both sit at home, wallowing in their tears.
They refuse to acknowledge that they both share the fears.

I can only pray that the Universe will see,
that they both deserve to be happy
and in each other’s arms they should be.
That if only once, he’d be brave enough to walk down her street.
And if she’d be bold enough to leave the safe confines in which she sleeps.
If for once chance would bring them together and they could stop feeling defeat.

If they could hold each other, love each other, and say honestly to one another
“It’s you, I’ll always keep.”

Window Watching

Trying to live with less luxury

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I have been dedicating myself to trying to live with less luxury than the average American is accustomed to. For one, I don’t have a microwave. Something that I have had at my disposal my whole life. I don’t have a dishwasher, another appliance I have been used to having. I don’t have a washer or a dryer. I do have access to one, but thankfully need to walk down three flights of stairs to share a washer and dryer with my thirty or so neighbors.

I lack a couch and instead, have a blanket and pillows. In lieu of a dining table, I have a coffee table where we sit on the floor. I’ve abandoned cable and the traditional rabbit ears. Instead of the luxurious $600 mattress and $200 boxspring I used to sleep upon, I have a rolled out mat and one pillow. I still own a car, but drive it once every 6-10 days, preferring to walk, ride a bike, or take the bus.

I have even taken to hauling my drinking water in a three gallon plastic container. Yes, that’s true, instead of the convenient  water pitchers and replaceable filters, I have switched to purchasing my drinking and cooking water in bulk and filling up a reusable container at a location about 6 blocks away and then hauling it home. I do drive when I need water, but last time I had to park two blocks away and walked the distance with this heavy burden. Eventually, I hope to be able to haul the glorious H2O the whole distance on foot.

To most of my fellow Americans I seem like a ridiculous fool. My own family criticizes my choice to live in a location without such common amenities. Why after all would I walk when I could drive? They don’t seem to understand the argument for wanting to live more like a world citizen or wanting to experience a little bit more what it might be like to live without all the comforts we take for granted. No, they don’t even understand the more self-centered, its healthier for me to walk/climb steps argument. They think its silly to ‘force” my daughter to suffer my ideologically sacrifices.  They claim I’m not making a difference, I’m just one person, I’m only hurting myself. And yet, somehow, the whole process makes me feel better.

I delight in walking down the basement to wash clothes. I find meditative pleasure in scrubbing dishes, pots and pans included, by hand. I don’t mind scrubbing the tub harder to use my limestone instead of some chemically based disinfectant. I love sleeping on the floor, I don’t miss a couch or a microwave, I actually enjoy all the free space not having those things means.

I don’t fit in with the culture I was born in.

Vesta’s Influence

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As if I need anymore focus on dreamland. As a Piscean with natal Sun, Venus, and Mercury also in Pisces and also in my twelfth house I’m about as watery and emotionally intense as they come. Oh, did I mention dreamland? I spend more of my time there than I do in “reality”. I once read that those with such important planets in the twelfth house (my Mars is also in twelfth) can lead to a personality that believes more in belief than in real. I’d say that’s pretty much true. 

Add that to a current moon and Uranus in the twelfth and Pisces, I’ve got the waterworks turned on. Only recently I’ve started learning about Vesta and her influence on natives. My Vesta is currently in aspect to my Venus while they journey through my 11th house and the sign of Aquarius. Supposedly, the proximity to Venus should help me focus. Aquarius is the sign of friends and large groups of people. Also, it should be a good sign for projects, even if they are unique and surprising. It is an interesting paradox as the 11th house is also a house of friendship. With Vesta there, it signals a need for me to break away from these large groups and recharge. It is also a time to take myself away from my own hopes and wishes. *sigh* And it stays there until…Valentines Day? Really?

Then Vesta enters Pisces and my Twelfth House and into a harmonious aspect to my natal sun. What changes does that bring? With Vesta in the 12th, I can go ahead and resign myself to fighting a desire to be withdrawn. If I give into the desire to keep to myself, I will begin to feel drained. Quite the opposite to the recharging effect being withdrawn has until then. Once Vesta enters into Pisces on Feb 14th, I am also signing up for a little more influence from the imagination. This is also a good time to begin focusing on helping people or starting a creative endeavor. We’ll see. 

 

 

Aside

This comedic take on South-asian corporal punishment by Russel Peters and How the Establishment Thinks are in stark contrast. Now, I’m not suggesting that beating kids is funny. Of course it is a serious matter that affects children every year in horrible ways. I’m glad that we have watch groups because we really do need them. Unfortunately, the watch groups don’t always help the situation they are attempting to resolve. I also fear that they often act as cultural reform groups instead of child advocacy groups.

First, let me say that I am biased. I have had only one positive interaction with any child protective service. And that was primary based on me decision to move to a location where the local culture was more in line with my personal philosophies.

In the Southern United States, my experience with child protection was a pathetic excuse for child protection. What it really was, was the enforcement of local cultural norms in the name of child safety. For one, as a child I needed child protection to keep a three time sexual offender away. He was on probation when he committed his sexual offences on my less than 10 year old self. And although he confessed to his crimes, he was ultimately let free after one year in jail. Why? Because the local child protection team had failed to do their jobs properly. Oh and another thing…they repeatedly blamed me for “seducing” said child molester. Because you know, children are such great tools of seduction.

Moving on into adulthood when I had my own child. I learned that child protection teams in that region of the south are also forces to be used by men in custody battles. These agencies will suggest that they are attempting to balance out the fact that “women make too many false claims in divorces.” Well, attempting to balance out statistics instead of viewing each individual case on its merits doesn’t make for a good investigation. This agency wasted the better part of six months investigating extended breast-feeding, co-sleeping, elimination communication, and the general concept of attachment parenting because in that community the norm is beating/abusing/molesting your child and the weird thing is to actually consciously parent your child. In fact that regions senior director of the child protection team was arrested last year for molesting more than 100 of the children that were being investigated for abuse they suffered. I wish I could say I was making this up.

Moving on to when culture and norms collide. These social norm enforcing teams waste no time in prosecuting immigrant families and other racial groups (read: not white people) for abusing their children because their form of corporal punishment involved a smack to the head and not a spank on the rear. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying its okay to punch your child in the face. I have witnessed these head smacks and it is hardly cruel and unusual punishment. I’d have to say some of the tortuous tasks of hours of violin playing listed in the book Tiger Mom was more emotionally abusive and damaging than the sort of corporal punishment I’m referring to.

I was hit as a child and I don’t think that I have suffered any serious damage from most of the hitting I went through. I wouldn’t ever strike my child in many of the ways I was stricken. I strongly believe that using instruments is wrong. I was belted, whipped, smacked with spoons and paddles, and switched. For those of you that don’t know what a switch is, consider yourself lucky. But I do believe that to label all forms of corporal punishment other than butt spanking is paramount to cultural norm enforcement and not child protection. Why is smacking a kid’s head worse than bruising their rear just because of where the striking took place? When the smack to the child’s head didn’t result in any damage and definitely not bruising.

Its a big fat gray line on where and how to strike a child and how and when its okay. But I definitely think that some Asian families have a reason to fear where many white families don’t. For instance, whites that were born and raised here get to benefit from cultural privilege. They are going to be perceived as a more typical parent. In addition with fluent English skills comes another preference. When an investigator is having difficulty communicating with the parents, they are going to be naturally prejudiced. Who knows how to draw this line? I draw it at using weapons and leaving swelling and bruising. That’s unacceptable in my eyes.

But butt spanking?

Bhanchha garnu bhayo?

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Have you had rice today? A staple meal in Nepal is Daal Bhat. This directly translates to rice and daal, but it really is such a poor way to describe such a versatile food. After all, there are so many ways to make this that to label it all Daal Bhat is misleading. Here is one of my favorite recipes for this traditional dish. This serves 4-6 depending on how large your portions are. I put the Nepali words for these things that I do know next to the ingredients list. If you know the others in Nepali, please comment.

1 cup massor daal (pink/red lentils)

2 large cloves garlic (lasun) (I like to press it, but its traditionally finely chopped)

1 1/2 tsp minced ginger (adhuwa) (I usually use ginger paste)

1/2 tsp salt (nun)

1/4 tsp turmeric

1/4 tsp cumin powder

1/2 tsp whole cumin seeds

1/8 tsp jimbu (I’ve never found this in the US, I use chives)

1/4 tsp coriander

3 tbs ghee

2 green chilies, finely chopped

a small pinch of asafetida (its worth the trip to an Indian market, I promise)

1 tbs fresh lemon juice (kagati ras)

1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro

3 scallions finely chopped (all but the root)

1 small tomato chopped (golbherra)

Wash and rinse the daal. I like to soak it til the water turns cloudy then rinse. A lot of recipes call for this to be soaked before cooking. It definitely makes the cooking process take less time to do this, but I think that it makes the daal rougher. I like to just cook much longer and keep adding water as needed instead of pre-soaking. This is just a matter of preference.

Combine daal, garlic, ginger, salt, turmeric, cumin powder, coriander, 1 tsp of ghee, and 4 cups of water (you can use 3 1/2 cups of water if you chose to pre-soak) either way you’ll probably end up adding water).  Use a deep saucepan or large pot. Bring to a boil and stir frequently to prevent the daal from burning to the bottom. Do not take away the foam, it will look like soap bubbles. Reduce heat to low until daal is cooked. This can take as little as 25 minutes for well pre-soaked lentils. I usually cook mine near an hour and a half and keep adding water, but again I don’t like to pre-soak.

In a separate pan melt ghee on medium heat. Add the green chilies, cumin seeds, chives (or jimbu if you are lucky enough to find some) and fry for about 5-10 seconds or until they brown. Add the asafetida, mix in the pan, then add to the daal. Mix in lemon juice and serve. Add fresh cliantro, scallions, and tomato as you see fit.

Serve with rice. I usually eat a veggie and some yogurt on the side. Eat with your fingers, it tastes better that way 😉

Emotions In Pictures

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This is an activity that I like to do with my students, regardless of age. So many of us have a difficult time putting our feelings into words. This is especially true for ELL students. With an extremely limited vocabulary to describe themselves with, sometimes its helpful to be able to draw a picture

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This picture of anger is described by saying, it starts with a bunch of little things deep inside. Like bubbles in a boiling pot. If you look at the surface you would never know that all those little things are building up. The surface is smooth, sparkling, and clear. The water never sounds distressed, it is silent and accepting. Still, all those little things that make me angry are building and adding. They start bumping into each other and making the other little things upset too. Until, all of a sudden large masses of anger rise to the top and break through the facade of peace. Because it took so long to bubble over, now its hard to get back under control. Even if you remove the flame, the water is still boiling. Steam rises to burn those who even come close. You can hear the anger because the whistling and bubbling is sending messages through the air. Until the energy is released, the anger is not calmed. The key is to never let the little things reach boiling point.

How would you draw anger?

Co-sleeping & Why I Think Asian Parents are Right about It

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this site includes a lot of information and how disinformation spreads about co-sleeping.

I’ve read a number of blog posts about how silly or obsessive or even dangerous it is when traditional Asian parents believe that all babies belong in bed next to mom. I have to agree with them that they do. Unfortunately, western cultures often follow the belief that bed sharing is dangerous for the infant. This “truth” isn’t easy to claim. In some situations bed sharing can be very dangerous, especially when one or both of the parents is drinking or on drugs. Smoking even poses a risk through third hand smoke.

The site linked above includes a lot more information about why those risks are pretty much the only risks regarding co-sleeping. But really babies throughout human history have been accustomed and biologically programmed to be sleeping near mom. If you take out the past 100 years of modern western culture, before a time of cribs and diapers, there was breastfeeding and chamber pots.

In many third world countries, this is still the case. Therefore the best way to keep a baby alive, clean, and cared for is to bed share (which is commonly misnomer-ed and referred to as co-sleeping). I doubt many will argue the benefits of breastfeeding, although many will claim they tried everything, I wonder if they did try unrestricted access to nursing. What do I mean by unrestricted access? I mean, bed-sharing where baby could nurse all long if they desired, which I promise you a newborn will do, if given the chance. All this bed sharing nursing in addition to eight weeks (you read that right, not the six weeks common to many westerners view of maternity leave) of nursing on demand, meaning mom and breast (not person with bottle of pumped milk) must be available for the baby.

This leads me to another commonly held Asian parent belief that new mothers should rest in bed with the new baby for the first two-three months. I’ve heard (and read) a fair bit about women complaining that this outdated practice “confines” them to their beds or homes and they are ready to break free. I don’t doubt that. And I do understand cabin fever and believe that women (even newborn mothers) ought to be able to get a break from time to time. However, the belief that mom needs to be at the beck and call of the infant is really to both the mother’s and infant’s benefit. Mom needs rest. The weeks after birth are incredibly important for bonding/attachment, hormone regulation, milk supply establishment, emotional recovery, and physical recovery. Allowing (some might say pushing) mom to stay home and relax helps encourage these important postpartum events to be positive. I’ve even read on nepalijiwan’s blog about Nepal folk wisdom that new mothers are given food that includes fenugreek, which is often recommended to increase milk supply.

So before you knock another “traditional Asian” parenting method, consider that maybe there is some value to the perspective.

Ananta kina sina?

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Ananta kina sina calaunu?

 Maile bhujhina. Hami gardichau?

Hamro prem ra sambandha sinaharu najannchu. 

Mero vivshvas asha garnu ho. 

Ma dukha lagyo ani ma timi sanga hawaamaa nach garchhu. 

Timro prem mero ullas ho. 

Tara timi “hoina” bhanna. 

Timi “svorga hoina” bhanna. 

Ma “krypaya” bolchuu. 

Timi “sina yahan” bhanna.

Ananta kina sina calaunu?

Just in case the meaning is lost in attempted translation: here is what I meant to say…

Why place a limit on infinity?

I don’t understand. Why would we do that?

Our love and relationship know no boundaries.

My belief is to hope.

I feel sad and then you dance with me on air.

Your life is my joy.

But you say, “no.”

You say, “this isn’t heaven.”

I say, “please.”

You tell me the boundary is here.

Why put a limit on infinity?

 

 

Vedic Maths – Arithmetic

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Vedic Maths – Arithmetic – some joyful fun in winter.

This blog posts a little bit about vedic math with a link to a fun tutorial site. This really is the best way to do quick math I’ve ever seen. It really is fun. As a teacher, I will definitely be teaching my older students their multiplication tables using this method. Genius!