empty head {3 min read}

It has been a rough couple of days. My brain feels like a tangled web of nerves. Pulsating, and throbbing while I try to unravel the sure from the unsure. It seemed very crystal clear till a few weeks ago, then the muddling started which I ignored and blamed it on my insecure and occasionally paranoid frame of mind. Focus was gung ho, and I was on a roll with many other parts of my life, meditation was working wonders as much as cycling, writing, cooking and a few other projects I’d taken on.

Life was humming along, not with autobahn perfection and speed, but just fine along the country roads with the window down and some breeze in my air. 60 mph would sum it up fine.

Then stuff happened.

It’s like I hit a bad crater on the country road, and realized I was out of gas, with no gas station in sight, and there was no cell phone service on a  dying phone and I was just told that the place I was thinking I was going to had shut down, and I am not allowed access there anymore.

It’s been rough and will be rough for a while till I figure out my next route, and figure out a destination that *I* want to go, and with whom or if I need to hike it alone, and if so how accepting I would be of it.

But, life goes on.

Companionship on such routes is over rated. My karma is talking to me, and I resign with slumped shoulders and a headache that pops a vein on my temple every now and then, and make dinner for another family too, and do what we all do. Go on with our day

I pick up munchkin from her class and we drive back home.

She usually likes to talk and i am not much of a talker, but I humor her every now and then. She was silent today, till halfway. She then reached out and started messing with my hair. I smile and move away.

She snaps “I am sooo bored!”

As I veer into our community, I exclaim “You were busy till now, we almost home!”

“But am bored! You don’t talk at all!”

We shouldn’t be talking all the time. It’s good to listen and be with our thoughts. They tell us stuff when we are silent.”

I reason with her and we smile at each other, she still petulant, and yearning to kick a fuss. Which she does.

“But mommy! I don’t have any thoughts! My head is empty. No thoughts. Nope, nothing. See, I knock, and it’s empty. Am listening to silence!” 

I smile and wish for her head to stay empty for a long time to come.

Coz once it starts to fill in, it’s a deluge. Much like our closets. Like the attic. Like the garage. Lots of junk that can hide the occasional rare gem that we forget to hold closer to our hearts.

 

 

crack this you sleuths

It’s a usual work day. I come down, and start the toaster, think briefly on what to make lunch for the girls, and realize the older daughter needed a bigger lunch coz she is staying late at school. Tell myself it’s okay to give them a sandwich as they had pasta yesterday. Start off my coffee in the microwave which I shall drink till it gets cold and insipid, but that’s normal.

Zephie comes to me, so I pet her, hug her for a bit, and then let her out. I take out the green chutney for the sandwich, a tomato, and leftover pizza slice. I place the pizza slice on palate and shove it in the microwave. Get the bread out, slice tomato thin, make the sandwiches and wrap them one after another in foil.

This lunch packing is a ritual. Something Ive been doing for many many years. Two lunch bags for 6 years or so, then 3 for the last 6 years or so, and now back to 2. It’s a routine. I sometimes sleep-pack through it. It’s a set number.

  • A main lunch – sandwich, pasta etc. (sometimes two)
  • Drink (from outside which usually the husband brings in)
  • Yogurt, Fruit, cookies/chips

It’s not something I fail at or forget one, it’s at least 4-5 different things that go into the punchbag. They all sit in neat little piles spaced separately coz each one’s varies slightly, and I don’t want to mess it up for the hungry ones. They come down and they pack, or I pack depending on where the lunch bag is. Ive been doing this for years now. It isn’t new.

I am not dreaming any of the packing up.

Today was no different. I finish sandwiches. Take out grapes, coz the daughter complained of too many apples, so I wash them in a colander, leave them to dry out a bit. Husband comes down and I ask him to bring in drinks. He has only one chocolate milk and one Capri sun, and I tell him to give the chocolate milk to the daughter and the juice pack to Munchkin. (they like it that way) He does, and he goes out to get the paper, Zephie follows him, and I am back to sipping my coffee and waiting for the pizza to toast, which I scroll on the twitter timeline. I smile at the ruckus I created with my midnight Bhel posting on instagram and go back to removing the hot pizza onto a foil. I pack the grapes in ziploc bags.

I go to the freezer and I get a Gogurt out for munchkin, place it next to her pile.

Two of each. Two cookies in wrap. Two grape bags. Two yogurts. Two sandwiches.

Her backpack is right on the chair, so I pull her lunch bag out from the front compartment. Zippered. The bag feels heavy and I frown. She hasn’t eaten her apple, and a small piece of her sandwich from yesterday is still wrapped in foil. Carefully, she brings it back home. I place the apple down, and trash the foil and place the dirty spoon in the sink. I start packing her bag, since I had it open anyway. Husband is across and he starts to get his cereal and lays his newspaper out. The girls are still upstairs.
I wipe the inside if the lunch bag out, and with a clean empty bag, I start packing. I place the sandwich in the pouch. The yogurt stands on the side, the grapes go in, and the cookies and the apple goes in too. Telling myself that I must remind her to eat it during recess so she isn’t too hungry when she comes home.

I need to use the restroom. Finally. So I do.

I come out and munchkin has her lunch bag in her hand and she and the husband look at me and ask if she can buy lunch? I say, Ive gone over this enough times, Just tell me the night before, coz then I wouldn’t pack your lunch? Also, you didn’t eat your apple, can you please rem to eat your apple at recess?

She looks blankly at me, and says, but you didn’t pack my lunch.

Huh?

What do u mean? I packed your lunch.

She and her dad stare at me like I lost it. No.. There is nothing in here, see? Except cookies.

Incredulous! See, daughter’s lunch is right here, I packed all of yours! Yes, that’s the cookies I packed! Orange one for halloween!

I look at them pointedly and ask if they are pulling a prank on me. Did you just empty it off thinking its old lunch. With munchkin, it’s possible. I dart to the kitchen trash. I see what I threw out, old sandwich wrapper, and yesterday’s yogurt boxes – nothing else. So I *did* empty her lunch bag. Husband is now concerned. He brought in the juice pack, so thank God, he decides to start searching with me coz now his juice pack has walked away. He starts looking at the laundry room’s trash. Then the pantry. The refrigerator. I look and look again in her back pack. Just books,  few folders. Its as clean as a whistle. the couch is on the other side. The deck door is closed. We even peek outside coz the daughter who has now walked into this panic, starts to joke. Maybe someone is sitting outside and eating away her lunch! haha.

I stare at her.

It’s baffling us. Where the hell did most of the lunch go? I know I packed it. I didn’t dream it up?

More searching. More blame game. More doubt. But within a few minutes we all come to the conclusion that none of us are playing a prank on each other, and that I did pack her lunch, at least made it, and then packed it and placed it into her backpack. Zippered it down too.

These are physical things. They don’t just disappear.

Husband asks me to get cracking and make lunch coz now we have just 15 minutes before the bus. The daughter packs her lunch nd they both eat cereal as we continue this craziness of repeatedly checking the same places again and again. A cold fear grips me. Husband also asks me if I dreamt it all. Did I have a senior moment. I am not even angry. I ask him what happened to his juice box and he calms down.

Life must go on. The dog needs to be walked. He starts moving.

I pack lunch again, with a worried look on my face. I tweet about a ghost in the house. Daughter assures me that it will be alright and she runs off, as she has to fill gas and then go to school. Munchkin is looking at me concerned. I shake out of it for her sakes, and talk about school and brush her hair and ask her to wear more layers. Its cold outside.

Zephie couldn’t have reached up. The deck door was closed. I packed it. I know the husband wouldn’t do this, not in the morning anyway. The girls were not down. Munchkin would never empty out her lunch bag. Who would open her back pack, take out the lunch bag, take out almost all of it, and then place it back in the back pack and zip it down? 

So what happened to the sandwich, apple, grapes in a ziploc, and yogurt and a capri sun juice pack?

Cold fear in my heart. I am a logical person. I don’t believe in ghosts. I believe everything has a scientific logical reason. I cannot find an answer. i tweet. People reply simply. I had earlier lost 2 cutting boards. No one knows where they went. One just doesn’t lose lunch bags’ contents.

I drop munchkin at the bus stand and crack a joke “Hope hat the sandwich stays and you get to eat it!” She giggles and slides out. I come back and i remember by sister telling me stuff that happened at her friends’ place and she was upset too with a cemetry in her backyard, and so she played Vishnu Sahasranama on a loop. I had smiled back then on beliefs and how they make us strong. I am not smiling now and am instead playing Lalitha and Vishnu on  loop.

I think back to my trip on Monday to Rock Creek Cemetery and wonder.

No, it can’t be. There must be a logical explanation for it. things should and must not disappear just sitting there.

It’s Halloween tomorrow. I must think of a costume for myself. I think i look scared enough without a costume.

Husband hugs me and tells me to move past. It’s okay. I nod. My brain will not let it go, coz my head tells me there should be an explanation for it. I am home alone with Zephie. A part of me wants to step out. There is so much to be done. Today was the day I would get cracking and get things done. I didn’t need this.

Anyone wants to take a crack at this?

 

 

 

 

 

 

front row view

There was a time when front row seats were avoided like the plague. seats would get filled from the back row. That’s where the fun was. Am obviously talking about school and classes. Front row was for the nerds and the goody two shoes. Or for the ones who came in late.

Then we grew up. Somewhere some soul decided to raise the bar. I am guessing the person was a long suffering booted to the front by the class bully individual. It all comes back to haunt you. The jeers, the jokes and the teachers’ inevitable large blind spot, even if you were an amazon in the land of dwarfs and were doing bird calls with your hand raised for an answer. Maybe it didn’t hit home that it was precisely the reason they were in the front row in the first place!

I attend a yoga class religiously and there are some regulars and then there are some who float in and out. I realized the other day I was a front row person. It came as quite a shock that I would actually want to be right up there under her nose doing the downward dog, instead of disappearing into the shadows and hoodwinking on the downward dog.

This didn’t home until yesterday when I was buying recital tickets for munchkin’s Jazz performance. For some reason, which will remain a million dollar question left unanswered by most of us, recital tickets for ballet and jazz schools get sold out within hours. No, am serious. For that brief 3 minute appearance of a munchkin wearing the exact same dress as at least 15 others around her to do a hop and a skip, entire families spanning a couple of generations assemble in the middle clutching roses. The talent is the last thing on anyone’s mind, and along with the smiles, the general accolades that flow for that brief stint, the school/studio reaps it all in.

Okay, am being cynical there, and yes, I’ll grudgingly agree that one cannot force a dollar value on your precious pumpkin’s centerstage appearance.

So, I walk into the studio to live up to my parental duties of coughing up the necessary dollars to seemy munchkin pirouette around and what do I see but a paper FULL of gray. What? I exclaim. Yes, says the lady being the counter with an air of nonchalance subdued only by forced politeness and tolerance to the parents who have invariably sighed and gasped at the lack of good seats for the performance.

What are my choices? I ask.

Having just trooped back in from a fieldtrip in the warm mute sun minding wandering 7 year old girls in a SEA of 7-8 year olds from all over the area (not just the school), I was in no mood to make small talk or cackle my way into any respectable position in the audience.

She points a sharp pencil to the very first half empty row and then the very empty back row on top of the balcony.

Wow. I exclaim. I’ll take two in the front.

I pause. Really? Two in the front. I’ll be seeing up their beige stockings. Maybe I should go back after all. I’d get to see formations and the colors and the straight lines the tiny bodies form. Sure, it would take me a full minute to win the “spot the munchkin” contest between me and my husband and before we can hone in on her like parental hawks and grin, she’d be bidding us goodbye. So I flipped the decision a few times in my mind.

Yes, I’ll take the two in the front.

I’ll see my munchkin up close and she will see us up close. She will wear a grin and we will wear our grins and that moment alone would compensate for the $30 check I wrote in a swift motion before I could change my mind and whine.

There were one too many other things I could choose to whine about later in the van ride back home.

Front row seats.

Now I am a conscious by choice front row seater. I don’t mind not knowing the answers to questions that may fly at me anymore. I do know I’ll get the view that I will enjoy, may not be the best view that most of the world wants or cares for, but my eyes will love what they see and for that I will bear the cross of the front row.

am late!

Munchkin likes to chill when she gets home. She is not your hoppity hop sorta kid whom you can drag from one activity to another (while being a tiger mom in training) with a taco bell burrito and a snack on the way.

She comes home, and she needs to plonk herself down on that couch, gape at that Nickelodeon channel and demand food! Unwind and be lazy and then if all the stars are aligned right, she will allow herself to get to work. Any kind of work. Including taking her empty glass or plate and walk it to the sink.

Today, she was running late and barely had 30 minutes before she had to head out for Jazz. She does her usual and I tell her in slow tones:

You have about 20 minutes to get dressed and go. Ok?

She has that u-got-to-be-kidding-me look.

Okay, just eat your snack for now and I’ll tell you. 

…..

It’s 4:49

Munchkin, we have 5 minutes to leave. 

She turns back angry. Then it becomes a whine.

What? Just 5 minutes? 

I nod my head

FIVE minutes? ..and her voice goes into a shrill – Just five minutes. But I still have to go change! Why did you tell me before?Now am going to be late! I can’t be late! Mom!! 

I calm her with my apparently now calm voice

It’s okay, you can be a few minutes late, don’t worry! 

Noooo, I can’t be late! I don’t want to be late.

The tears rush now.

Aw baby, don’t cry, it’s alright! You still have 4 minutes to go change and then it will take us 3 minutes to drive there and it’s snowing too, so we should hurry. But go on now, eat up. 

She calms down. Gobbles her last pieceof sandwich, slyly feeds the dog with a tiny triangle, and looks at me with a smile

NOW I am going to go change and we can go. 

I laugh and pull her close, asking her

So you don’t like being late?

Her eyebrows furrow. No! 

Why? What happens if you are late?

Her eyes go round, and she has the is-that-even-a-valid-question look on her face as she indignantly and bluntly replies

Coz I’ll be late. 

*a silent duh hangs in the air*

She scuttles off to change and I start this post.

***

It must be wonderful to not be or do something coz it is just wrong to be or do that particular action. Repercussions need not be a motivation for that act to take place. I suppose only children in their pristine sense can be plain and unassuming, something that disappears quickly  as they grow up. They are fed (by adults or parents) the consequences of their actions and words such as “bribe”, “reward”, punishments”, and such sneak into their head.

Some actions are just wrong. Not because they can trigger a sequence, but just for that moment, they are wrong. They are very capable to stand their ground and hold themselves for what it’s worth.

I like that instance.