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September 17, 2014

Three baby showers and an engagement party.

I was eating a bowl of matzoh ball soup in a Great Neck diner (as you do), trying to explain to my hard-of-hearing great-aunt Bea about the mixed-up order M. and I have done this in (wedding date then pregnancy then engagement then City Hall wedding then baby… etc). Suddenly she stopped me.

"How OLD are these people?"

It took me a moment to realize she had no idea I was talking about myself. 

Um … well, I’m 32 and he’s 40 and WHATEVER WE DO WHAT WE WANT.

Besides, how many people get to have three baby showers and an engagement party all in a six-week period? 

The first shower was hosted by my aunts in my hometown of St. Paul. They definitely won the Pinterest Prize — there was an ‘elephants on parade’ craft table where my family and friends could make sweet little elephants and write wishes to the baby on the back; an elephant-themed diaper cake; “baby dills” sleeping in a nursery; and a one-hour, super-serious game of “Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me: Baby Shower Edition.”

Then there was a traditional Hindu shower at my father-in-law’s apartment here in Manhattan. In the seventh month of pregnancy, the mom is pampered with special foods, anointed with powders, garlanded with flowers, and showered with all green everything, from silk scarves to bangles (my mother-in-law gave me a knockout emerald-and-diamond heirloom ring a couple weeks later. I could get am used to this.). I felt so, so special.

Late in August, my sister threw me a very cool, very NYC friends’ shower at our apartment, complete with a groaning Russ & Daughters spread, adorable decorations from Pearl River Mart, and a mix tape (with song suggestions from all my besties) + American Apparel hoodie for my already too-cool-for-school East Village baby. The only way that day could have been better is if I was drunk.

And the only way to top all that off? A boozy-fabulous engagement party at one of our favorite Brooklyn spots, Clover Club. The Knoxes — Andrea and Peter — were so frickin’ sweet to put this together: custom punches (one was nonalcoholic, womp womp), a photo collage of me and M. that Peter drew from my archives (sometimes it makes me cringe to think how much I used to blog — but as Peter said, here’s to keeping track!), plus both sets of parents and a healthy representation of our New York familia. With mini lobster rolls and bindis on all the ladies, it made us even more excited for the main(e) event next summer. 

Damn, it’s been a good year.

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July 31, 2014

humansofnewyork:

"What’s been your greatest accomplishment?""Keeping in touch with distant friends and relatives.""Why is that important?""It’s important to always have people who remember you at various stages of your life. It’s especially important as you get older, because there are less of those people around. And they remind you who you are."

I’m home in St. Paul for the week, and I just spent four days in Kansas City with Liz, my very first friend at Tulane, her husband Bill, and their sweet 3-week-old baby Nell (as Gena said, “that baby is actually cute, like not just cute ‘cause she’s a baby”).
My dad asked me the other day, “So what is going to happen to you?” Meaning, all of us girls, as long-distance-friends-who-now-have-babies.
My answer was rambling (they always are) but it got down to this: those babies are my baby’s cousins. In a time when families are small and many of us live far from where we grew up, we are family, and we’ll make sure to foster the sort of cross-country (and sometimes just cross-city) relationships I enjoyed with my cousins growing up.
We’ll take trips together — sometimes without the kids/husbands for sure — and we’ll make time for each other — we’ll put in the work — and without even realizing she’s doing so, my baby will look at her “fuzzins” (what my family calls “faux cousins”) and her aunties and uncles and feel secure that the world is huge and unpredictable but it’s full of pockets of love.

humansofnewyork:

"What’s been your greatest accomplishment?"
"Keeping in touch with distant friends and relatives."
"Why is that important?"
"It’s important to always have people who remember you at various stages of your life. It’s especially important as you get older, because there are less of those people around. And they remind you who you are."

I’m home in St. Paul for the week, and I just spent four days in Kansas City with Liz, my very first friend at Tulane, her husband Bill, and their sweet 3-week-old baby Nell (as Gena said, “that baby is actually cute, like not just cute ‘cause she’s a baby”).

My dad asked me the other day, “So what is going to happen to you?” Meaning, all of us girls, as long-distance-friends-who-now-have-babies.

My answer was rambling (they always are) but it got down to this: those babies are my baby’s cousins. In a time when families are small and many of us live far from where we grew up, we are family, and we’ll make sure to foster the sort of cross-country (and sometimes just cross-city) relationships I enjoyed with my cousins growing up.

We’ll take trips together — sometimes without the kids/husbands for sure — and we’ll make time for each other — we’ll put in the work — and without even realizing she’s doing so, my baby will look at her “fuzzins” (what my family calls “faux cousins”) and her aunties and uncles and feel secure that the world is huge and unpredictable but it’s full of pockets of love.

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July 15, 2014

When I was a little girl, my aunt Therese and her then-husband made me a wonderful book with watercolor illustrations: The Little Girl With Altogether Too Many Names. It’s the day in the life of a girl named Nora (that’s me!) who did the things that I did – she spent time in Grandma’s mint green house,  avoided naptime at her Montessori pre-school, and went to a birthday party … where this Nora character proceeded to disobey her Daddy, eat too much candy, and turn into the dreaded werebaby. (I’m sure I never did such things.)

Along the way she picks up names until, at the end of the day and in a state of sugar-withdrawal obstinacy, she insists her Daddy call her by her full name: Norrina Tetrazini Toscaninni Subaru Albermarle Cake.

I’m thinking of this now, and how prophetic Therese was….

After we found out we’re having a girl, we settled on the name: first, middle, and last. But then that evening M.’s dad called me.

After offering delighted congratulations (everyone was hoping for a girl), he said: “Now, Nora. Let’s talk about middle names.”

“The name is up to the mother,” he stated, but he implored me to include Lakshmi, saying she is the goddess of good fortune and prosperity – such a name would be “good for us all,” he assured me.

Lakshmi is pretty much the definition of smart and powerful so, why not? But I certainly don’t want to give up the middle name I’d picked out: Denise, in honor of my birth-mother.

And then I want to throw my last name in there somewhere, too.

So now we’re looking at [Redacted First Name] Denise Lakshmi Sherman Subbarao.

They won’t all be on her birth certificate – I’d hate to burden her with that legal ball and chain. But they’ll be hers.

One little girl,

Altogether too many names.

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June 25, 2014

It’s a … GIRL!! (And what a sneaky little girl she is, had me totally fooled.) Hip hip HOORAY!! #smartandpowerful

It’s a … GIRL!! (And what a sneaky little girl she is, had me totally fooled.) Hip hip HOORAY!! #smartandpowerful

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April 24, 2014

So, back to India for a minute…

The first week we went on a safari in the Bandipur Tiger Reserve, a national park that was once the Maharaja of Mysore’s private hunting grounds. We didn’t see a tiger — not surprising, let’s be honest, they’re not motherfucking tigers for nothin — but we did see female tiger “pug marks” (paw prints) as well peacocks (mayur in Sanskrit — M.’s namesake), their feathers so much more vibrant than their captive brothers, deer of all varieties, monkeys of all varieties, birds of all varieties, sunrises and sunsets of all varieties, and … wait for it … a trio of elephants. The mom and auntie were in chains, though, which was rather depressing. They’re domesticated, our guide explained, relieved of their duties clearing forest but still property of someone and not allowed to migrate south. The little one, however, was unchained and so sweet. She came right up to our jeep and gave my mom the once-over. Then I put out my hand and she wrapped her little trunk around it, warm and rough and surprisingly strong, and it’s safe to say I can die happy now.

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April 18, 2014

Two Temples

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.

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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.

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April 16, 2014

On the road in India. 

At first I was too overwhelmed by the emotional intensity of the experience, the sensory memories still hot on my tongue, and the rather epic jet lag to even look at my India photos.

And then I was too overwhelmed by the thought of distilling those two weeks into (god help us all) blog posts that the mere thought of trying to write about it left me exhausted. So once again, I went to bed at 8.

And then I realized there is nothing to do but present it, as best I can, knowing I will never be able to explain what really happened there: 21 friends and family gathered in a country most of us hardly knew to celebrate, explore, and, at the risk of sounding all Eat, Pray, Love, learn a little something about ourselves.

And in the middle of that, something deep and permanent happened between M. and me. We became a family.

So yeah.

It was intense.

It was gorgeous.

It was infuriating.

It was India.

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January 28, 2014

A time for peace (I swear it’s not too late).

When she was 15, my aunt Mary drowned at a Sweet 16 party. Her sisters and brothers sang this song at her funeral. I’m imagining them now, as I have always imagined them, every time I heard this song: the cast, so new to their roles. The cast, so terribly young.

My dad said today that whenever he hears this song it gives him chills.

Me too.

I wasn’t there but — me too.

(Source: roselerner)

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January 26, 2014

My (adopted) mom’s grandfather was from Baroda, India. As a young man he traveled to Berkeley, met and married an American pianist of Swedish descent, and moved to Long Island, where he had three daughters, Sulochana, Mira, and Kamala.

In 1972, Shelley traveled to India to meet her family, study for a few months, and generally look gorgeous in to-die-for saris.

This March will be the first time she’s been back since then. Safe to say we’re all counting down the days….

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December 20, 2013

ruhnay:

My dad’s retirement party - 30 years as a nurse in the emergency room and the pediatric ward! (at University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Center)

Incredible! Congrats, Uncle Leo.
(Now I hate to see what Mr. Fix-It is going to do with all that free time…. ;)

ruhnay:

My dad’s retirement party - 30 years as a nurse in the emergency room and the pediatric ward! (at University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Center)

Incredible! Congrats, Uncle Leo.

(Now I hate to see what Mr. Fix-It is going to do with all that free time…. ;)

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