Sunday, July 31, 2005

CRANE BEACH, MA which The Author really does sink down into warm, soft sand during Savasana.

Thursday, July 28, 2005


Last year on my birthday it was cool and rainy, and after a bike ride and over pizza my then -companion asked me to tell him the difference between fiction and nonfiction, ouch. Red flags, anyone? I have several to spare. He's getting married, you know. For the third time.

This year the day dawned hot and humid and my naive self still entertained some hopes of canoeing on the Chicago River that afternoon. I greeted the morning by watching the cat disappear while I drilled a hole in a chilled tender Thai coconut picked up for just $.99 at the Golden Pacific Market.** After slurping the juice through a straw I somehow managed to hack the thing apart (this takes some skill, esp. when every knife you own is dull) and slurp down the tender insides. I'm still not composting, and it felt very wrong to put the whole thing in the garbage when in India they let them dry and use the fiber (coir) to make rugs and other items. But, I thought, It's my birthday, and I'll act like a fat spoiled 'Merican even if'n I don't want to.***

Then I took the bike up to YogaNow - where they sang happy birthday! I had a difficult and painful practice -- someone has replaced my body with that of some 41-year-old -- with Henry the Punk. Afterwards we enjoyed a lovely breakfast at m. henry (hey! a theme!). Lovely despite the fact that in spite of my glowing recommendation in this month's Fancy Magazine we were seated not in the bright and cheerful front area but in the back, near the kitchen. Nonetheless the food was excellent and plentiful as usual (FAT BLOG ALERT! Today the health club scale showed that I somehow gained FIVE POUNDS over the past week. When I just bought SIZE THREE capris. Could it have been the millions of salty corn chips consumed with Gridlife on Saturday? The two pieces of chocolate cake at the workshop on Sunday? The pina colada-in-a-martini-glass followed by a carrot cake chaser on Tuesday? Or are the scales and sizing all wrong? You make the call).

Then I rode the bike through the humidity and back to my hot home (seven of my windows face south, and I'm on the top floor) and dealt with work and laundry and phone calls and a bath, and took a long summer's nap in front of the AC. I awakened crabby and disoriented and was consuming some chilled chai and half of a Take 5 bar (a possible contributing factor to my new phatness?) in an attempt to elevate my mood when an editor called... and offered me a lucrative writing gig! The mood lifted somewhat. Then the doorbell rang. It was a man with flowers from the Hex (yes, that's them above), which were both unexpected and very welcome. And fragrant. Still very fragrant in fact. Then my long-lost friend Wickey called; she recently returned to New Hampshire after a long stint in Dublin -- and I get to see her this weekend! The last time I was in her company was in 2004, at Queen Victoria's house in Germany, where I stopped on the way home from India, when we visited some Hitler museum (we *really* know how to have a good time). Then Queen E. called; she's in Beantown and very keen to discuss The Bollywood Fillums, and will pick me up at the airport Friday!

While I was chatting on the phone the wind started blowing like crazy from the north and it was cool and such a delight after Sunday's 102-degree (felt like 120) nightmare. So I opened every window in the apartment (nine total) and let the cross-breeze flow and forgot entirely about the laundry on the line. And then it started to rain! Finally, the monsoon came (we're in the midst of a terrible drought) and it seemed like things might turn out OK after all. And then it was time to stop wringing my hands and wring out my clothes and head up north to charming Andersonville to meet the posse for dinner; much laughter and a much mellower birthday than last year's ill-fated 40 in 04 fete. Less is most definitely more, now that we're in OUR EFFING FORTIES.


*sounds like the title for a Huey Lewis comeback single

**Golden Pacific also has the great prices on regular and tasty fried tofu (made across the street! very fresh!), jaggery, bean sprouts, canned bubble tea and a plethora of other items.

***Now there's a song

Monday, July 25, 2005


Bombay-born, Park Slope (Brooklyn)-based writer Suketu Mehta -- author of the book to your right -- Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found -- was one of the literary figures at this weekend's Master's Tea writer's workshop, which took place at the cozy-yet-air conditioned Chopin Theatre. Actually it was more like a publishing workshop, since we weren't there to critique work or do writing exercises but to learn from writers who know the publishing world.

In any case Suketu (who cowrote the screenplay for the Hindi movie "Mission:Kashmir" and the controversial, still unmade Kali film The Goddess that was slated to star Tina Turner [many Indians and NRI's* were upset that one of their gods was going to be played by an American sexpot / pseudoBuddhist]; the latter project has been put indefinitely on hold since producer Ismail Merchant expired last May) read from my copy of his book (woo-hoo! he signed it too!) and told the story-behind-the story of how he wove his own narrative into the massive amount of investigative work he did, which goes into the Muslim and Hindu mafia and their relationship to Bollywood, the police, the riots, and many other things that have confounded me about India. Yet it's also quite funny. If you haven't read it and don't have a lot of cash, it's definitely a must-read; go to the library or buy it when it comes out in paperback in September. It was up for a Pulitzer but lost to some Al Qaida book. The terrorists win yet again.

The heaviest hitter was agent Sterling Lord, who despite his name and Panama hat grew up in the Midwest (Iowa to be exact) and was Jack Kerouac's agent. He told stories about trying to sell On the Road -- amazing -- and is working on his own memoir. Sterling (which is my favorite name in the whole world right now -- I mean, you have him, the Velvet Underground's Sterling Morrison *and* Chicago poet and lottery winner Sterling Plumpp, to name just a few) recently unearthed a long-forgotten 1957 play written by Kerouac, called The Beat Generation, which was rejected by Lillian Hellmann and others way-back-when. It will be produced off-Broadway next March. In the meantime we got to see an excerpt performed by actual actors. Mr. Lord is not unlike Merce Cunningham and certain highly-evolved yoga teachers who actually do what they say; when you're with him you know you're in the presence of a master, and you feel calm and happy and like you can accomplish anything (it's not unlike getting a hug from Amma, only all he used was his voice and presence). He recommended a book for me to read and sent me away with the advice that good books take a long time to write.

The firecracker of the bunch was Obie-award winning playwright Robert Auletta (Broadway Play Publishing), who was a stitch to talk to and has written some amazing plays that among other things have dealt with Vietnam vets and vets of Gulf War (he told how his play The Persians didn't go over so well in the early 90's, but now people are digging it big-time).** We also heard from award-winning author Rachel Shteir (Striptease: The Untold History of the Girlie Show) and bestselling investigative author and event instigator Wendy Goldman Rohm, who wrote that book about Bill Gates' evil dealings and four others.

Oh yeah, I was there because I'm, you know, trying to write a book or something. I actually learned quite a bit -- including how to find cheap archival photos! -- from the panelists and other participants, all of whom are also writing books. The conversations were amazing (as was the food). Sterling and Suketu and a 26-year old woman who just started a publishing company had some spot-on advice. But no conversation compared to the one that set the tone; it took place between me and another woman of my (un) certain age, who's a scientist, shortly after check-in:

HER: (pointing) Is that a magnetic bracelet?
MOI: (gesturing towards wrist) This? Yeah.
HER: My five year old has one of those.
MOI: (coiling and uncoiling the bracelet) It's great for fidgeting
HER: Yeah he does that too. And then he throws it against the fridge.
HER: (continuing) It sticks, you know.
MOI: Huh. I never thought of that.

HER: Are you attracted to men?
MOI: Uh. Yeah.
HER: Are they freaked out by you?
MOI: (thinking) Yes
HER: That's funny. They're freaked out by me, too.

HER: Do you have kids?
MOI: (looks up and counts) Nope
HER: How nice!

Another highlight:
After reading from Striptease, author Rachel Shteir (who was wearing something quite low-cut) took questions from the workshoppers. Without irony the man who's writing a book about the time he lived with some African tribe and/or missionaries (it's not clear) asked if he could ask a personal question.

MAN: "Did you ever, you know, when you were in your office by yourself -- Did you ever, um.... Did you ever try it?

Stunned silence.

RS: You mean -- stripping?? My office is so small ---.

MAN: "I mean, I was writing about ear-piercing, so I went ahead and pierced my own ear..."

RS: Uh, no ---.....

WOMAN IN AUDIENCE: Well, would you do it for us now?

Laughter all around.

MAN: OK. I retract that question.

During one of the breaks I learned from a psychologist who's writing a book about keeping children of divorce from going mad that yes, there IS such a thing as reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder (summer depression). Ha!

Even more important, I found out (from a woman writing a book about how her great-aunt passed for German during the Holocaust) that Joan Cusack does indeed live in my neighborhood, in the exact house I've been pointing out for years to anyone who'll listen -- and she gives out candy on Halloween!

And yes, I managed to practice yoga before both sessions of the workshop.


As if that weren't enough (and believe you me, it was) I followed it up on Monday night by checking out a Chicago Authors Roundtable on blogging and the future of literature, which featured bloggers-cum-authors Wendy McClure and Erin J. Shea (both of whom keep fat blogs and wrote weight-related books; I wrote a profile of Wendy and she's awesome BTW) and Claire Zulkey (another 26-year-old!?) and two Kevins, Guilfoile (author) and Smokler (critic/editor). It was officiated by Gapers Block editor Andrew Huff. The panelists spoke a lot about the importance of having a blog to 1). attract a publisher/agent and 2). to help promote the book and subsequent tour. There was also some talk of the difference between blogs and "online journals" or some such shite, plus complaints about how they were some of the first bloggers and the rest of us are johnny-come-latelies, topped off by commiserating over how effing hard it is to blog when you're on a book tour. I feel your pain. For the record, there was zero overlap between the audience at that event (young, white, flabby and bespectacled) and the one on the weekend (older, thinner, wiser -- my favorite being the too-handsome Amish Mexican guy writing the book about the evil pharmaceutical industry). Unfortunately the panelists at the Monday workshop failed to explain how one goes about getting a book deal thrown into their lap... which may mean I must keep going to these things.

Interestingly, I was far more exhausted after the writing workshop than I usually am after an intense ashtanga yoga intensive. Hmmm....

And now I'm off to toss my bracelet at the fridge (so to speak) -- and see if it will stick.


*NRI = Nonresident Indian or Desi
**He did not have any advice re; Jack

Friday, July 22, 2005


I am kicking myself for putting My First Book* and My Bad Back** before The Yoga Practice*** and not going to India for Pattabhi Jois's 90th birthday celebration yesterday.

At least we can live vicariously through Joey (apparently his Indian name is "Joy"), an obssesive blogger who took a few photos at the partIES (scroll down to see Guruji and family, plus Richard Freeman in Muslimwear, our friend Zoe wearing that beautiful maroon sari and two of the Three Sisters {where, pray tell, has Harini gone?}; everyone looks a little shiny if you ask me so maybe it's good that I'm not there but here in the energy-sucking USA, where I have not one but *two* air conditioners at my disposal). There's also some exquisite text-only reportage (pictures are coming Madam) from my other favorite blogger, Vanessa, which I've excerpted here:

"Disconcerting moment of the day: Instead of gifts, Guruji and his family requested that we (if we wished, of course) gave money to a charitable trust that they have set up (with the help of lovely Stacey from New York and I'm sure some other people whose names evade me now). Part of this money has been used to help a local charity that provides disabled people with prosthetic limbs.

Part of the celebration consisted on bringing ten of those disabled people onto the stage, where one by one they hopped to Guruji, who presented them with their fitted fake leg or arm, and fitted it to their stumps.

This is the kind of thing that many Westerners, me included, found slightly uncomfortable. Even when we act out of generosity and donate money to these charities, we don't want to see the diseased. We want them to get help, but far away from us if possible. Their presence reminds us that disease and death are just round the corner from everyone, us and our loved ones included, and that disturbs us.

What happened yesterday was a more pragmatic approach: disease exists, those of us who can and choose to, help. And by fitting the prosthetic to the person, Guruji gave that person a name, a face, a presence, and acknowledged their humanity. I can't say I enjoyed it or I felt comfortable, but I bow to Guruji for doing it."


Not that anyone noticed or cares, but I *did * wear my talking Pattabhi Jois tank top all day yesterday. Which was indeed a full moon day if the students' actions are any indication. In my second class a woman came in 15 minutes late (it's a health club after all) and made a racket putting down her mat, accessories, WATER BOTTLE, etc. A half hour later we're all doing revolved triangle pose (all of my classes were compelled to do at least 3A, 3B and the fundamental standing poses in honor of Guruji's 90th) and she's doing.... ardha chandrasana (half moon pose, which is NOT EVEN IN THE SERIES). I cocked my head (now that sounds dirty) and watched her do it on the right side. When she proceeded to do it on the left side I said, "Why are you doing this?" And she said, "This is my last pose before I leave." Then she rolled up her mat and left! The rest of us were there for another 45 minutes....

Anarchy also reigned in my evening class. One lady sat out nearly every vinyasa while another student proceeded did sitting wide-leg stretching exercises as the rest struggled through Janu Sirsasana C (the seated "toe crusher" pose in which the bottom of your foot is wrapped around your inner thigh, perpendicular to the floor).

I did get a good laugh out of that same class. After Savasana (final resting pose) I told them I was wearing said shirt because of Guruji's 90th birthday; that he was born on the 26th of July (as was I) but he celebrates on the full moon, whereas I would be observing mine next Tuesday (C-U Next Tuesday, indeed).

"What did you say? How old is he?" one of them asked.

"NINETY," said I.

"Ninety?! Wow, he looks great," she said, and everyone nodded. "It must be the yoga."

And then I looked at them deadpan and replied, "Believe it or not, I turn EIGHTY-NINE next week."

I guess you had to be there.....

Speaking of which....Mercury goes retrograde today; fun for the whole planet (until it goes direct on August 15). From a really out-there website called Writer in the Window:

"While people speak of Mercury Retrograde periods that screw up computers and television sets, today's astrologers believe the mishaps happen in more personal realms (Uranus is the planet that rules television and computers). Mercury rules communication, but more informal communications, like writing, speaking, short shopping sprees and other erranding endeavors. So, while Mercury is Retrograde, don't give that party, be extra aware of what you say and what you interpret when chatting with or writing to friends, cut back on errands, expect that the check will be in the mail longer than usual. Since the car is usually used for shopping and errands, don't be surprised if the battery wire loosens or the fan belt snaps just when you have rush out for that one ingredient you forgot to buy.

The good things to do when Mercury is Retrograde: meditate, contemplate, edit the book/poem/song/essay you've been writing, clean house, talk to your pet, listen to music, paint, catch up on sleep!"

We can all get behind that last bit, can't we?

Especially now that we're armed with the knowledge that the world's computers and television sets are ruled by Uranus and not the evil triumvirate of Turner, Murdoch and Gates.


*It looks like the book is still on. Knock wood (me and my peeps [ie; British lawyers] have a few issues with the contract -- and it's still not signed. Yet.).

**For those of you not keeping score.... I threw my back out in March while helping a tall stiff man drop back from standing into upward facing bow, and sealed the deal a few days later by slipping on some ice and falling down a half-flight of stairs. I'm still "in recovery." But approaching twists and backbends the way Tim Miller showed me at an Asana Doctor workshop several weeks ago is making all the difference in the world.

***I'm still stopping after Kapotasana as per Sharath's instructions in May.... Although this week -- without any assistance -- I managed to clasp my wrist in Supta Kurmasana (feet behind head, chin on floor, hands on back) and in Pasasana-on-the-left (suffice to say the pose is hard to explain and even harder to do). Methinks it won't happen again any time soon.

Thursday, July 21, 2005


So all I want to do of course is sleep. In front of the air conditioner. With earplugs.

Instead I taught a couple of led open classes from 6-9 AM. Could it be I don't like to talk much because I spend up to five hours a day yakking for my supper? POSSIBLY.

I drove out to Des Plaines to see the Hindi movie Paheli on Tuesday; Shah Rukh Khan in a dual role and with a moustache no less. Which somehow made him even hotter. It took place in Rajasthan of olde, with deserts and turbans and very cool clothes and lots of jewelry (even for the men) and the stunning Rani Mukherjee -- and a cameo by the venerable, deep-voiced, still-handsome Amitabh Bachchan (as a shepherd!). The film worked Bollywood's usual magic and put me in a good mood. But somehow Rescue Me didn't tape while I was away; something about not resetting the clock properly after Monday's power outage (Travesty! The VCR ended up taping Married with Children. Is there any show I loathe more?)

My profile of Sri Lankan-American writer Mary Anne Mohanraj hits the floors today. She served fresh mango slices and finger sandwiches during our interview... and I was already a fan, because of the book (Bodies in Motion).

I must get back to my story about the Chicago White Sox and their lack of fans in the seats -- despite having the best record in baseball SINCE APRIL. Ironically, their highest attendance so far this year was June 24 -- when they played the ever-popular Cubs of course (Sox creamed 'em, 12 to 2). If only Richard Roeper would call me back I could finish the piece......Hard-hitting journalist, indeed.

(photo by Bindifry, @2004)

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


Amma plays the Hammerstein.
By Catesey

34th st between 8th and 9th ,on the island of Manhattan is,on a good day,worth’s fairly uninspiring,, what with the quiznos, the loews 34th complex and assorted non descript office buildings. Fine,if you’re lined up outside the manhattan center/hammerstein ballroom, as thousands of us were, you do get to gaze at the storied new yorker hotel and the top part of the empire state(the best part). Amma is playing a gig here.she’s on at 7(no opener).it’s 4.30., the line is already down the feels like 102 and the negative thoughts are up and running. And this is meant to be about love, of self and others.

The building itself is the perfect venue for her. Turning 100 years old next year(i.e.the building),oscar hammerstein 1 built it to rival the metropolitan opera,by offering cheaper seats for the ordinary new was later sold and became more of a vaudeville house.the hammerstein is now a major cultural venue and boasts (supposedly) superior acoustics and full on remote production facilities to carry live events.

There’s more than a little shtick going on as we wait. And it is all very ordered. Devotees run around making sure there are 2 separate lines, each line then divided in to a another 2 lines. There are placards held aloft…”first timers”/”special needs”/”everyone else”…if you’ve never been hugged before(I heard someone ask…”do you mean ever,by anyone?”) you get a green dot and moved into the priority line. I was liking that, but the dot wouldn’t stick to my shirt or my chest so I stuck it on the middle of my watch face.not the most practical solution, but now when I am late for stuff I will always think of amma.

….some of the people wranglers, all of whom were wearing special coloured sashes,were, how to say it,annoying, esp the guy who continually walked up and down the various lines gently swatting people with his (holy) water bottle asking for “a real aisle,please” . ok so we are in,the shoes are off,and there is good AC.i am feeling the love a little here and it only gets better…from nowhere all these people start coming round offering all kinds of snacks and drinks.chai guy!! Samosas!!

Nothing to do now but wait to line up(again) and get a real token for your place in the hug line. There is a complicated procedure to get everyone out of their seats and onto the main floor(the hammerstein is as big as your average broadway house.3 balconies, boxes,etc. tho the main floor is carpeted.note to self. Next time you feel like a hug, bring socks). Astonishingly, I am seated a couple of rows from the stage,right on front of the action. Pretty much a house seat, and I swear I don’t know anyone in the cast.

We sit for some time and with little fanfare amma comes out and takes her seat. Silence……much lighting of incense and candles. Passing around of individual containers of holy water.(only later was it announced that it is best to not drink the water immediately but keep it for future times as it is holy and full of special power.oops). She then speaks for over an hour, stopping for translation. Much of it is very amusing.and thevoice!deep, gutteral, melodic, powerful.impressive. Chanting.meditation.lots of discomfort and cramping leg muscles.i felt bad for those closest to me, as I was adopting all kinds of strange poses to lessen the diccomfort.…..more announcements about how to actually line up.

it is said that this will go on all night, literally.she will hug everyone.(I heard it estimated that she was going till what to do now but wait….and shop. There are tons of stalls selling everything you would expect. I feel I am back in India,tho I don’t remember nagchampa being the equivalent of 130 rupees.(more like 12 ) The full on dinner downstairs is apparently fantastic(it is.$6).and so you wait.and watch. So many people to look at. Lots of kids with parents. Some familiar faces.The live music is beautiful, and yes, those acoustics are indeed superior.

I was in the 700-800 range of tokens and soon enough(the whole thing was easier than expected) I’m sitting feet from the stage.on deck ,so to speak. Amma sits in a beautiful square roofed tent- like space, beneath a gorgeous golden and silks everywhere.she has, as announced, changed into a brilliant sari.she is wearing a george clinton like multi tiered silver crown,and has so many people around her, not just us folks waiting our turn. Tons of handlers, all of whom seem to have carpal tunnel syndrome, as they are all wearing that protective wrist thing you can get at target.

Before I know it I am being asked my native language, I am kneeling before her, and I am told(pushed) to lean in to her chest. put your hands on either side of her. It is very warm and she smells very nice. . I breathe easily and she mutters something three times . it seems very loud and skull kind of reverberates with her voice. I am pulled back,and there is some sparkling eye contact.someone shoves a piece of wrapped chocolate in my hand and what appears to be a withering petal.(is the chocolate sacred.when can you eat it. I almost have a larry david moment trying to clear up the timing of the eating of the chocolate). I am ushered off the!

I hang out for a bit, feeling rather happy and peaceful. This woman is truly amazing. They had shown a long video during the build up,and there is considerably more to it than just the hugging….housing projects, health care, childrens’ services, disaster relief. All kinds of humanitarian stuff.It goes on and on, as does she……

I consider staying for the entire session, but soon give up. Before I know it, I am waiting for the A/C train with a bloody change to the F to brklyn. It’s past midnight. The trains are not co-operating. It’s hotter down here than on the street,8 hours prior. People look miserable. New York fuking city, indeed. I drink some holy water. Hungry now. I eat the chocolate.

--------MDC. NYC 7/19/05

Monday, July 18, 2005


Running the AC in both the bedroom and dining room during a nap today made the fuse blow, and cut my slumber short. While flipping the circuit-breaker downstairs (make that down FOUR FLIGHTS of stairs) I noticed that the landlord has installed a cute little black-and-white bathroom in the corner of the basement. No idea why. Back upstairs, everything is still flashing "12" of course. Nothing little or cute up here.

My practice with Henry the Punk this morning was the only thing that saved me from myself. Backbends + Henry's wit = Sanity. For awhile anyway.*

Later Gridlife and 'Enelle propped me back up again. Props to them.

Last week's zombie movie helped, too. I attended in character of course.

I cannot get enough of Julie's blog and Vanessa's blog. Apparently they're having a rough time of it too (Julie for two very real reasons).

Ever since I heard a story about it on the radio yesterday, I've been thinking a lot about sangria. Maybe *that* is the cure for SSAD (Summer Seasonal Affective Disorder).**

At this very moment the Hex is NYC, waiting in line to see Amma, wearing Indian dress and the green dot that says he's a first-timer (and guarantees him darshan, or a hug, with her). He said the queue just to get in to the building was many blocks long.

And I had mango bubble tea this evening at a place called Tank in Little Vietnam (Argyle/Broadway). We were the only Caucasians in the joint. The entire staff there wears NATO woodlands camouflage, and our cute waitress had a graphic of a tank or armored vehicle imprinted on her cammo apron.

Apparently I was the only one who found this fascinating/ironic/scary. My comment that in 30 years people would be eating kufta at an Iraqi restaurant run by guys in desert cammo fell on near-deaf ears.

As it was, they got our order wrong, wrong, wrong (as far as I know, fish is *still*not a vegetable) and held us hostage for an eternity as we waited for our check.

Someone once gleefully pointed out to me that "Tank" is also a derogatory term for Whitey. Hmmm....


*H the P will kill me for revealing this, but his best line was....
"Ashtanga: Sanskrit for 'Get a life.'"

**Lest you think Summer Seasonal Affective Disorder is a figment of my imagination, I found this on "A less common type of SAD, known as summer depression, usually begins in the late spring or early summer. It goes away by winter."

And from The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (which hits it right on the head, if you ax me):

"In about 1/10th of cases, annual relapse occurs in the summer rather than winter, possibly in response to high heat and humidity. During that period, the depression is more likely to be characterized by insomnia, decreased appetite, weight loss, and agitation or anxiety. Patients with such "reverse SAD" often find relief with summer trips to cooler climates in the north. Generally, normal air conditioning is not sufficient to relieve this depression, and an antidepressant may be needed."

From McMan's Depression and Bipolar Web:

"Kathryn (March 31, 2002): And do not forget Reverse SAD, a seasonally based depression that begins in the Spring and goes on until August or so. That's what I have been experiencing for about twenty years. I HATE Spring, it fills me with foreboding; Summer renders me stupid, indecisive and ravenous for carbohydrates. The theory is that my brain is over stimulated by light (the opposite of classic SAD). So I do try to avoid it, wear dark glasses, have heavy drapes in my bedroom. I am diagnosed as cyclothymic and have been on Lithium for 18 months now. This year (yay!) my pdoc is adding Lamictal, an antidepressant, to my Lithium. After keeping a detailed mood chart for the 18 months I was able to let the facts speak for themselves in persuading him I need the help. For the first time in memory, I am looking forward to spring and summer and wondering if there really is hope....fingers crossed..."

"Marsha (Feb 23, 2004): Thanks so much to Kathryn & Robert for talking about reverse SAD. I live in Texas & am practically suicidal from mid-May to October. I am overjoyed in the fall & winter, on overcast days, & especially when it's raining & cold! I was diagnosed bi-polar recently & am taking Trileptal. I had never thought to mention my horror of sun & hot-weather to my doctor, but after reading your comments I shall. Perhaps my medication will help me through this nightmarish time. I thought I was going to have to move to Seattle, but with treatment, maybe I will be able to face warm weather with a smile (I hope!)."

Here's a List of Symptoms of SAD from The National Organization for Seasonal Affective Disorder:

* a desire to oversleep and difficulty staying awake, but in some cases, disturbed sleep and early morning wakening;
* feeling fatigue and an inability to carry out normal routine;
* a craving for carbohydrates and sweet foods, usually resulting in weight gain;
* feelings of misery, guilt and loss of self-esteem, sometimes hopelessness and despair, sometimes apathy and loss of feelings;
* an irritability and desire to avoid social contact;
* a tension and inability to tolerate stress;
* a decreased interest in sex and physical contact

Sunday, July 17, 2005


Last night we finally got around to watching the first episode of "Hooking Up," in which the reality-TV cameras follow 11 NYC women who use the Internet to troll for boys. It was riveting / hilarious / heartbreaking, and the next episode airs Thursday on ABC.

My theory is that people who meet online and get in a relationship always have in the back of their mind that if things don't go their way, they always have the profiles of the people they were interested in but didn't yet meet. You know, as a backup plan ready to be put into place at the slightest provocation. There is something mildly sleazy about the whole thing....

That said, this evening I learned that an acquaintance asked a guy out (face-to-face) and learned on their first date that he's a twice-convicted felon. 20 years ago, but still..... It was a lovely date but he didn't call, so after some weeks passed she called him. They went out, and she learned that he'd been out of touch because he was worried about her reaction to his felon-admission (it came out when she asked him flat out if he had a record, which is a pretty darn hard-hitting question if you ask me). It was another good date. But then she learned that he regularly drops acid. And that was that.

So maybe it's not that much better meeting people in person. Or through friends, which as we know can *really* blow up in one's face.....

Saturday, July 16, 2005


I've been told I'll be privately flogged if I don't update this thing so here I am making a halfhearted stab at it.

Amma was amazing (she's in NYC this weekend).

The moment I got there I did the equivalent of locking my keys in the car, only worse because the locks don't work, and started flipping out. Prior to accidentally locking the doors, I'd driven to Indian Lakes via many expressways (four) in a car with no AC and had gone past the place once or twice before searching forever for a parking space amid much cursing, so I was more than a little perturbed. Well on my way to a meltdown, actually.

But the first person I saw inside the door was Miss Y, and when I told her my predicament she said "We should call Triple A." And we did, and they came (eventually) after we had enjoyed a lovely repast (South Indian food!). The man they sent took *a really long time* getting my car door open (the insides are rusty or something). But he eventually opened it, thank Amma. We went back in, and my mind was at ease and my body quite pleased with the AC.

Our friends had a hotel room where we cooled off between programs and watched the wee boys spar; later we were standing for the evening program when some men came up out of nowhere and placed chairs under our arses! Amma told stories that were translated by a handsome man with an untraceable accent (she speaks Malayalam, the language of Kerala, which is really gutteral). Then the darshan (hugging) began.

I went up to one of the white-clad Seva (selfless service, which a Miss Y points out is different from shellfish service) people and asked if I could get a real token, since the token I'd gotten earlier was a token for a token, only good if there was room for me. Apparently there was, and I got a number. After some waiting and more food and the obligatory shop-asana (one amazing CD and one clunker, it turns out) I got a hug! It was very moving and hard to describe; I felt like some long-chilled part of my heart had finally melted and suddenly there was a feeling of ease and the knowledge that everything would indeed be OK (of course everything's since frozen back up. But that's another story). During it she muttered in my ear and I remembered how much I miss my real mother, and she pressed a Hershey's kiss and flower petal into my hand. It felt very unrushed.

It was so intense (ie my burden felt so much lighter after that), I returned for more after teaching the next day, and stayed til 2AM. The second hug was more like the first one I'd ever gotten (three years ago in Lisle, when her handlers were rough and kind of mean), meaning I didn't feel much. I was trying to express thanks, which is probably wrong. Also I was probably too tired to feel much. But the evening program was incredibly beautiful, with the chanting and stories (some of which were very funny) and meditating and whatnot. Also some lovely yoga people were there and we enjoyed a long, leisurely, Mysore-ish meal together. Did I mention how amazing the music was? Apparently it was performed by Satsang Chicago, which is a local organization devoted to Amma. They're incredible; they played forever, facing her onstage. Later I spent some time eating uppama while sitting outside, where you could see the actual stars and smell the night air, before my number was finally called. I'd go back in a minute if she were still here.....


*In the meantime, if you are feeling miserable / invisible / nonexistent and Amma is out of town, you can get some validation and adoration by donning full Indian dress and going to Dunkin' Donuts. I recommend going inside rather than driving through. While there try the Mango Coolata or Decaf Iced Coffee with Coconut. It's the best defense against summer.

The other thing you can do is read this

Monday, July 11, 2005


I saw the sneak preview of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory tonight with Munkin and her four year old. We all thought it was amazing; it even included a Bollywood sequence. The fancy chocolate consumed during said movie also added to the experience.

I didn't get home from Amma til 3 last night and then got up to teach at 8, practice, and call flaks for a magazine piece, so I have a lot of catching up blogging to do re; the hugging experience. Tomorrow. Suffice to say it was *all that* and then some (ie; enough to make me go back for seconds).

Sunday, July 10, 2005

and American Automobile Assocation

long weekend; more later....

Thursday, July 07, 2005


My little essay correlating the current drought situation with an excess of sun salutations is set to air (so they say) tomorrow morning -- Friday, July 8 -- between 9:45 and 10AM on WBEZ-FM (91.5). Listen and reap.....

You can hear it online here
Just scroll down to "Dealing with Drought."

Tuesday, July 05, 2005


Does not respond to e-mails, does not call

We're just not that into you

We're moving the publication date

I want to see other people

We're launching the NYC book first

That's who I'm seeing -- and he's not *difficult*, like you are

So there's no rush to meet the deadine.... Although we'd love it if you could still meet it.

You're my backup plan if this other thing doesn't work out

It's not because of your performance; it's just business (it's not you, it's us)

You don't measure up; I could do better

Publication dates get moved all the time

I love you; I'm just not IN love with you

We'll get back to you at the end of the month

I'm breaking up with you and you'll never hear from me again.

Monday, July 04, 2005


Hailed as one of the nation's top singles strips in the 1967 bestseller, Coffee, Tea or Me? The Uninhibited Memoirs of Two Airline Stewardesses, Chicago's Rush Street was named for Dr. Benjamin Rush, one of four physicians to sign the Declaration of Indepencence. Ben Franklin was Rush's benefactor when he was a medical student in the UK and he served as a surgeon in the Revolutionary War Army. Rush Presbyterian St. Luke's hospital in Chicago is named after the impatient doctor (he once pissed off George Washington), who is credited wtih curing the yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia. A proponent of bloodletting, he was also one of the first to push the then-revolutionary idea that mental illness is a disease rather than proof of possession by demons, and is considered to be the father of psychiatry. He headed the US Mint from 1797 to 1813 and his poor wife bore him 13 children. Ouch.

Sunday, July 03, 2005


I'm nationwide.
(click upper righthand article).