Currently, in mourning. Also T-5 days | The Sunday Salon

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Sunday

Currently / We had a rare opportunity to sleep in this morning! I am in shock. We didn't wake up until 8 AM. Yesterday, I woke up feeling like a brick so I'm glad for the extra couple of hours of sleep this morning.

This past week / We are in mourning. A very close uncle of mine passed away on Friday after suffering a heart attack earlier in the week. The sad thing was it looked like he was well on the way to recovery and minutes before he actually died, he was drinking tea and chatting with his wife and daughters. We have been feeling so broken this week ever since we heard this news. I hope his family will have enough strength to get through this.

Speaking of tragedies, I have way too many people around me suffering right now. A family member had a bypass surgery a month ago only to have the spot infected. Another person is suffering from a life-threatening fungal infection that has destroyed half of his face already. A family friend recently found out she has cancer and is undergoing radiation treatments. A close friend of a cousin passed away last week, 15 days after giving birth to her baby. A colleague's mother-in-law is on hospice care and expected to pass away any moment now from cancer. This month has been a little distressing because of all these news.

Work / Don't we all love long weekends? I actually had to work Friday but after my uncle passed away, I took the day off. So this does feel like a long weekend. Shreya has been very happy especially since she hasn't had to meet the bottle for the past few days. We'll see how she fares this week.

Reading / Quite a bit, I think. I finished Sleep is for the Weak, a random read I saw in my library's catalog. I've been listening to The Emperor of all Maladies and reading On Writing Well and Something Must be Done About Prince Edward County. Somehow I ended up with all nonfiction reads. I've been going through a reading mood lately so taking full advantage of it.

Excited about / My library is moving to a new location that is closer to my house and also happens to be in a very beautiful location. They are closed through December and will reopen at the new location in January second week. Any book checked out now need not be returned until after they open - which means I can take a bunch of them on my month-long India trip. Speaking of which...

Anticipating / I will be leaving for India this Friday. I am both nervous and excited about this trip. I am not so worried about handling a baby for the day-long journey but she still hasn't had her flu shot so I hope she doesn't catch anything on the trip. I am also not lying when I say that the recent depressing events in the news are making me extra worried about flying over Europe and the Middle East. We have been planning our itinerary since forever and after my uncle's passing, it is changing again. This will be a packed trip. Although I call it vacation, it will be anything but. Still, it will be fun meeting family and some friends. It has been more than three years since my last trip to India.

Blogging / Not so much, though I started writing reviews yesterday. I know I will have more time after Friday when I leave for India - I have tons of reviews to write.

Making / Still working on the baby pullover. I think I will be finishing it soon - I am beginning to see the end of the tunnel, so fingers crossed.

Today / We don't have too much planned for the day. Maybe lunch at one of our favorite restaurants and then do some packing for our trip because I am going to have very little time during the week.

Dear Me... Signed, Future-Me | The Sunday Salon

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Sunday

This weekend I started reading this delightful book, Sleep is for the Weak, that contains tons of parenting essays written by several bloggers. In one of these essays, blogger Risa Green decides to make a New Year resolution to live life as her 55-year old self would want her to.

Ever since I read that essay, I have been thinking about what a wonderful perspective that is - looking at yourself as your older self would. There have been times I wish I could turn back time - sometimes to relive a certain day and sometimes to do something differently. But dwelling in the past is not very advantageous, unless you are learning something from it. Reminiscing is good but too much of it can make you upset and not live in the present.

But wondering what your older self thinks about you is somewhat inspiring. Twenty years later, the husband and I will be 51. Shreya will be 20 - out of our house and in college. Rue will not be around anymore. Our parents will be in their eighties, if they are still around. At that time, what would I miss most that I now enjoy? What would I tell myself to do more of?

That's a very powerful image. A future that is different and evolved but missing something nevertheless. If I look at my life in phases - childhood, teenage years, early adulthood, middle age, the 'kids out of home' age, and old age - I see the middle age as the richest and the most diverse. I have an established career, a home, an adorable dog, a beautiful baby, and an amazing husband. My parents are not too old and I have an amazing couple of decades to spend with Shreya - grooming her and sharing many of modern life's conveniences with her. But at 51, all these are going to be part of a huge platter of memories to choose from, to reminisce or to relive.

I will be the first to admit that I don't want to be 50 yet. There is so much about the present that I am going to miss. I love my life and I want to live it for long but I also want to do right by my older self. I want to spend more quality time with my parents. I don't see enough of them and it bugs me that we are in different countries, separated by half the planet. The husband and I haven't had a date since Shreya was born, and while I expect that to be the case for the next couple of decades, I want us to remember to find or steal some time to be with each other.

Having Shreya has actually changed me a lot. For one thing, I have been very picky about how I spend my free time. If something isn't giving me pleasure, I don't do it. I have also been particular about leaving work at the office and only dabbling in it at home if it needed to be done before the next workday. I have also been insistent about getting rid of bad habits. If I didn't want my daughter to do something, then I tried not to do it either. My 51 year old self will probably appreciate all these but I know I need to do more. I'd like to travel more and explore other cultures. I want to read, eat, and live deliberately, enjoying every word and morsel rather than 'just doing it'. I also want to spend less time on the iDevice and more time on tangible sources of amusement like board games, physical books, and hands-on experiences.

When I started thinking about how my older self will want me to live, I knew answering it was going to be easy. It's the doing part that is hard. It's too easy to procrastinate, too easy to tell myself that I am tired or that I can deal with this tomorrow or the day after. It's difficult to sit back and do it now, whatever I choose "it" to be. It's not a lot to ask for. My life isn't going to change. It's just trying to slow down and live in the moment that is challenging, especially when the world around you zips by. Remembering to appreciate all the moments I spend with my family is hard when so much is happening and exhaustion levels are high. But I should try. I know I will be thankful later.

The second road trip with the baby | The Sunday Salon

Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Sunday

How are you guys doing? It has been a bit too quiet over here these past two weeks though my days weren't anywhere close to being quiet. There has been some mild work drama which has kept me busy at work, my father-in-law is leaving to India today so we have been doing some shopping and packing, and we also made a quick fun trip to DC last weekend.

Last weekend's trip was worlds different from the one we made to Williamsburg almost two months ago. Shreya took this road trip well in her stride, she is a champ nurser now so we didn't have to take long breaks, plus we were able to anticipate her needs and decode her cries much better now than we did during the last trip. Moreover, I felt a lot readier to take her on the road. Emotionally, I was stabler - those postpartum blues had bid their adieus long ago. I was happier and eager to be back on our once-semi-regular weekend vacations. This trip did so much good to my moods that I am actually excited about and looking forward to our India trip.

Honestly, this DC trip was more about family and less about DC itself. My brother-in-law and his wife had also flown in so it was a nice get-together. We drove up on Friday evening, with one nursing stop and reached our hotel in a little over 3 hours. The baby and I crashed pretty soon - we were too sleepy to want to stay up to meet the rest of the group. Next morning, we left the hotel and headed towards the Air and Space museum in Chantilly, only to have a guy ignore the Stop sign and hit us on the front wheel. The damage to our car was barely noticeable but the fender of the other car had pretty much fallen out. Not the best start to our day but we were able to move on after a brief chat with the other driver who was pretty apologetic and nice.

The Air and Space museum was interesting as always - the husband and I have been to this museum way too many times already and my mom once but the rest of the clan was here for the first time. In fact, even Shreya had been here when she was just a peanut in my belly. We had come to watch Interstellar in their 70" screen. Now that there is a baby in tow, I was mostly on the lookout for baby-related conveniences. They had plenty of baby rooms where you could use the changing station or take a seat and nurse the baby if needed. I did both and sang the museum's praises too. (Many cheers to baby-friendly places!) After lunch, we visited a friend's place and spent the evening back in the hotel.

(Usually, on trips like these, the husband and his brother alternated driving. On this day however, they both ended up with irritated eyes after an early morning dip in the hotel's pool. Not sure what the deal was but they were not fit for driving. I had promised them that this incident was going on the record, so there you go.)

The next day started off with a visit to a temple in Maryland, followed by a lunch meeting with another friend. We ended the trip by a short stop at The Cheesecake Factory, where we gobbled up some heavenly cheesecake goodness.

Since weekends are usually my time to catch up on things, I was woefully behind on everything for two weeks. I spent much of yesterday taking care of some of those things, followed by some shopping. Today is going to be much of the same thing probably. I had just finished putting things away where they belonged, the humidifier is filled up and running, baby toys are away, and laundry folded.

What is happening at your end? What did I miss? I will be shortly checking out your blogs - I feel like I have been away for a long time.

My gradual love story with nonfiction | Nonfiction November

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Nonfiction has been something that I didn't think readable for a long time. By the time I started blogging, I may have read enough nonfiction to  count on just one hand. It was mostly due to a combination of not wanting to deal with reality and not wanting to be bored with nonfiction. Over the years since, I have added a lot more nonfiction to my read list - first due to blogger reviews, then through some review requests, and finally thanks to audiobooks.

I guess I can state definitively that if it were not for blogging, I would not have attempted to explore the nonfiction genre. Isn't it interesting how your reading tastes can change just by talking or writing more about books and reading or listening to fellow readers' opinions on books?

For the most part, I stick to narrative nonfiction and graphic memoirs. Occasionally, a book of essays will find its way into my hands, but not too often. Narrative nonfiction still remains one of my favorite categories of books. I'm not very surprised by this - I spent a big part of my teenage years reading the many real-life stories in Reader's Digest. In fact, I often prefer narrative nonfiction to even fiction. Just the fact that something is real can change how I perceive certain things.

For instance, would I have loved Unbroken as much as I actually did if it were fiction? Probably not. I would have felt manipulated if Zamperini's war experience and torture was just a figment of an author's imagination. But as a piece of nonfiction, it feels surreal, impossible, hard to stomach, and powerful.

Still, despite how much I liked nonfiction, I didn't start reading enough of it until two years ago, when I discovered that nonfiction makes for great listening in the car. I still continue that convention - right now, I am listening to The Emperor of All Maladies during my daily commutes, and I have a couple of nonfiction books lined up next.

What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year?

This year, almost half of my nonfiction reads were audiobooks. The other half were graphic memoirs. I have had some really good listens this year - Missoula, Expecting Better, and Stuff. But the one book that I loved the most is the only non-audiobook non-graphic memoir nonfiction on my read list this year - Lean In.

What is one topic or type of nonfiction you haven’t read enough of yet?

I keep wanting to read more history, as in more American Revolution or Balkan Wars or the Medieval period. I find myself fabulously entertained by such histories when I read about them in passing and always intend to read more about them, but then I find myself passing over them if I came across a book in that category. I could do audiobooks for these kind of books but I'm sure I'll miss a lot of the names and time periods mentioned in the book.

What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?

An exploding TBR pile, I believe. Maybe I can find the perfect book in the history category - one that I will pick up right away.

The Sunday Salon: November Graphic Novel Reading

Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Sunday

Happy November and Fall Back day! Those of you in the US, did you get your extra hour of sleep in? Over here, it didn't make any difference because what do babies know about Fall Back and Spring Forward? All the more reason to scrap this disrupting practice.

Halloween last night was fun. We had a huge turnout this time - around 150+ kids. Last year, there was a game at the local school on Halloween night because of which we didn't see many kids but this time, we almost ran out of candy. We dressed the baby up as a lamb. For five whole weepy minutes. Oh, man - she didn't like being in the costume. AT. ALL. I will have to remind her of this reaction during every future Halloween when she gets over-excited about dressing up.

I spent much of last week trying to clear my brain webs. I had been feeling as if I was all over the place and the lack of a consistent routine has been making me feel like I need to catch up. Although stuff will still continue to accumulate (Feedly, TBR, knitting queue), I feel less bothered by those now.

Next month, we will be heading to India for a one-month trip. I have started thinking about what all we need to pack and what we will need in our carry-on luggage. We usually don't start thinking about packing this early - we thrive in last minute packing. Now however, I don't want to end up wishing I had not forgotten that baby bib or that baby carrier, hence the early planning. Have any of you flown long distance with an infant / toddler? Any advice for this terrified mom?

Since the next couple of months are going to be insanely busy, I've decided to focus on easy and comfort reads, if at all reading will happen. That means graphic books and Harry Potter. It has been a long time since I had a graphic book spree so my TBR has been piling up slowly. I usually like to read graphic books in spurts so it's finally time to do one of those. Friday, I went and borrowed five books from the library (El Deafo, Saga Vol. 1, The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage, Blue is the Warmest Color, and March Book 1) and cannot wait to dig in. Would you like to join me in reading graphic novels and memoirs?

As for Harry Potter, The Estella Society is hosting a Harry Potter Binge starting November 1st and ending January 31st. I have been trying to reread these books for a while but I always end up thinking about all those other books I could read instead. Now however, since not much reading is happening, reading an old favorite sounds just perfect to me.

My rest of the day is shaping up to having no plans whatsoever - my best kind of weekend. This week is going to be extra busy at work so I'll be thankful for any kind of relaxation I can get today.