It was early in the morning, but he knew exactly what was happening in his chest and woke my mother to ask her to call an ambulance. Our telephone was in the living room, but before she could leave their bedroom to use it, he asked for something else. My father asked that the ambulance not use its siren.
Weeks later, when the fear of death had receded like some strange tide, my mother asked him about the siren. My father said simply that he worried it would have woken and frightened his three sleeping daughters. It is true that we were all light sleepers and that our farm was usually blanketed by the polite silence that comes from having no close neighbors, but what impossible kindness there was in my father’s request.
I have called it an act of kindness, which I think it was. It was considerate in a way I cannot begin to understand; generous in a way no one would expect, much less demand. Years later I still do not comprehend how in what very well might have been the final moments of his life, my father thought to ask for quiet so that his daughters might continue sleeping.
Kindness is like holding an ice cube in your hands. It stings, but then the cold dissolves; what at first you could barely hold becomes something you cannot let go. My father’s request for a quiet ambulance came from a man so familiar with kindness that the sting was completely gone: the ice was no longer cold, but one with the flesh.
Because we’re foreign and white, I imagine. Same reason I enjoy taking pictures of them. They look and dress wonderfully different. I just don’t ask to get IN the photos I take of them. It happened to us all over India, and in Japan too, where my parents went after the India trip.
We visited two major temples near Bangalore — a Hindu temple near the Nandi Hills that dates back to the 9th century and Shravanabelagola, a 10th century Jainist temple dominated by what’s said to be the world’s largest monolith (sculpture made from a single piece of stone).
What struck me about the temple at Nandi Hills was the tranquility — we were truly among worshipers (we were lucky to be there on an otherwise quiet Monday) who seemed to have decked themselves in their brightest and most exuberant saris for the occasion. I could stare at them all day long.
Another thing that struck me is that this is very much M.’s heritage as a Brahmin with a bloodline that can be traced back some 2,000 years (and then he marries little ol’ European peasant mutt ME and we ruin the whole damn thing ;).
Hinduism is similar to Judaism in that you simply are Hindu, whether you practice or not (M. won’t even call it a religion). It was surprising to see him walk up to an idol, touch his forehead to the floor, walk backwards to retreat — but it shouldn’t have been. It’s no different than spraying 10 drops of wine at the home of his Jewish "familia putativa" every Passover.
Everything is an undertaking in India and the trip to Shravanabelagola — which should have taken 2 hours but took twice that due to engine trouble — was certainly no different. (Could we really say we’ve been to India if we hadn’t been stranded by the side of the road at least once?)
The journey is the destination. The journey is the destination. I repeated to myself as we waited to find out if we’d ever get back on the road, and then, in socks or bare feet, as we climbed the 647 steps that lead to the statue. Perhaps because it was a Saturday there were far more (Indian) tourists, as well as worshipers — teens posing for pictures bowing their heads around a statue and then asking, again and again, to pose with us (not to brag but we’re kind of a big deal in India). Which I suppose is a reminder that we’re all the same everywhere. Or at least teens are.
For 48 hours this week, some of the world’s most acclaimed chefs were living in hiding in New York City, preparing the ultimate surprise party for Wylie Dufresne: http://nyr.kr/1gLjbCG
They’d focus on three of Dufresne’s signature dishes: shrimp noodles, cold fried chicken, and scrambled egg ravioli, a cube-like concoction made of scrambled eggs encased in a sheath of egg yolk. They’d form cooking groups, pick their dishes, and converge at wd~50 on a Tuesday, when the restaurant was closed. At the appointed hour, someone would call Dufresne to inform him that the restaurant was flooded. When he came rushing over, he’d arrive to the party of his dreams.
What most people tell you is that closing your apps will save your battery life because it keeps the apps from running in the background.
Yes, it does shut down the app, but what you don’t know is that you are actually making your battery life worse if you do this on a regular basis. Let me tell you why.
By closing the app, you take the app out of the phone’s RAM . While you think this may be what you want to do, it’s not. When you open that same app again the next time you need it, your device has to load it back into memory all over again. All of that loading and unloading puts more stress on your device than just leaving it alone. Plus, iOS closes apps automatically as it needs more memory, so you’re doing something your device is already doing for you. You are meant to be the user of your device, not the janitor.
My friend Bill sent this to me just in time for the India trip. I thought I knew elephants (I know I love them) — but there were so many anecdotes in this essay that I had to stop and reread and then read to M. Second to humans, they’re easily the most fascinating mammals on earth (they have inner lives. they’ve been known to create art out of boredom — and I’m not referring to the elephants who have been trained to paint flowers. they recognize ivory jewelry as a fallen comrade. they hold grudges. they herald the arrival of a baby elephant with a great stomp and a trumpet salute. they will fuck with you if you fuck with them, but they will save you, too, with the tenderest care.). Ms. Nicol captures them beautifully. Thanks, Bill.
“Nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change.”—
Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, at a Monday news conference presenting a new report on climate change by hundreds of scientists from 70 countries (via latimes)
Yes, but poor people will be far more impacted than others. (And what’s new.)
In related news found out yesterday (my first day back at work since March 14) I have to make a statement this morning to the City Council in support of proposed legislation that would make energy-efficiency training for operators of large NYC buildings mandatory.
I’ve been awake since 4 or 5 am with jet lag and my brain is still a plate of spicy Indian mush but … here we go!
I wrote down this speech that I had no time to practice so this will be the practicing session. Thank you Alfre, for such an amazing, amazing introduction and celebration of my work. And thank you very much for inviting me to be a part of such an extraordinary community. I am surrounded by people who have inspired me, women in particular whose presence on screen made me feel a little more seen and heard and understood. That it is ESSENCE that holds this event celebrating our professional gains of the year is significant, a beauty magazine that recognizes the beauty that we not just possess but also produce.
I want to take this opportunity to talk about beauty, Black beauty, dark beauty. I received a letter from a girl and I’d like to share just a small part of it with you: ‘Dear Lupita,’ it reads, ‘I think you’re really lucky to be this Black but yet this successful in Hollywood overnight. I was just about to buy Dencia’s Whitenicious cream to lighten my skin when you appeared on the world map and saved me.’
My heart bled a little when I read those words, I could never have guessed that my first job out of school would be so powerful in and of itself and that it would propel me to be such an image of hope in the same way that the women of The Color Purple were to me.
I remember a time when I too felt unbeautiful. I put on the TV and only saw pale skin, I got teased and taunted about my night-shaded skin. And my one prayer to God, the miracle worker, was that I would wake up lighter-skinned. The morning would come and I would be so excited about seeing my new skin that I would refuse to look down at myself until I was in front of a mirror because I wanted to see my fair face first. And every day I experienced the same disappointment of being just as dark as I was the day before. I tried to negotiate with God, I told him I would stop stealing sugar cubes at night if he gave me what I wanted, I would listen to my mother’s every word and never lose my school sweater again if he just made me a little lighter. But I guess God was unimpressed with my bargaining chips because He never listened.
And when I was a teenager my self-hate grew worse, as you can imagine happens with adolescence. My mother reminded me often that she thought that I was beautiful but that was no conservation, she’s my mother, of course she’s supposed to think I am beautiful. And then…Alek Wek. A celebrated model, she was dark as night, she was on all of the runways and in every magazine and everyone was talking about how beautiful she was. Even Oprah called her beautiful and that made it a fact. I couldn’t believe that people were embracing a woman who looked so much like me, as beautiful. My complexion had always been an obstacle to overcome and all of a sudden Oprah was telling me it wasn’t. It was perplexing and I wanted to reject it because I had begun to enjoy the seduction of inadequacy. But a flower couldn’t help but bloom inside of me, when I saw Alek I inadvertently saw a reflection of myself that I could not deny. Now, I had a spring in my step because I felt more seen, more appreciated by the far away gatekeepers of beauty. But around me the preference for my skin prevailed, to the courters that I thought mattered I was still unbeautiful. And my mother again would say to me you can’t eat beauty, it doesn’t feed you and these words plagued and bothered me; I didn’t really understand them until finally I realized that beauty was not a thing that I could acquire or consume, it was something that I just had to be.
And what my mother meant when she said you can’t eat beauty was that you can’t rely on how you look to sustain you. What is fundamentally beautiful is compassion for yourself and for those around you. That kind of beauty enflames the heart and enchants the soul. It is what got Patsey in so much trouble with her master, but it is also what has kept her story alive to this day. We remember the beauty of her spirit even after the beauty of her body has faded away.
And so I hope that my presence on your screens and in the magazines may lead you, young girl, on a similar journey. That you will feel the validation of your external beauty but also get to the deeper business of being beautiful inside.
“Oscar voters are nearly 94% Caucasian and 77% male, The Times found. Blacks are about 2% of the academy, and Latinos are less than 2%. Oscar voters have a median age of 62, the study showed. People younger than 50 constitute just 14% of the membership.”—