What are we fighting for?

Little A is named after the Game of Thrones character who’s not supposed to even have a name. Or a face. And yet there she was, being a bad-ass, boss-ass motherfucker on last night’s premiere, reminding those piece of shit Freys that the North remembers. A friend sent me a Facebook message immediately after: “Hot damn! That intro… when you guys named your daughter, bet you didn’t know she was going to be straight gangsta!” I responded with the “in-tears laughing” emoji, but what I really wanted to say was, “Well, actually, that seems about right.”

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Unhinged on April 4

Another non-li.st list about my day. I want to write more in this High Mom Diary, but I’m feeling lazy, so, without further ado, here are some thoughts/insights/experiences/etc. from my Tuesday:

I had a stoned epiphany tonight about Enrique and beauty.

Funny thing happened today. Well, I guess it technically happened at Ms. Mahogany’s baby shower last Friday, but the funny part happened today.

Enrique had taken a bunch of photos of the work crew at the shower, which was especially lovely because, per the success of my office coup, we’re moving offices sometime this week. So while this means saying goodbye to people we love and genuinely care for, for me, it also means closure with my high school nemesis. To be honest, I was quite surprised when she showed up to the baby shower because (1) she doesn’t  really know Ms. Mahogany, and (2)  she fucking hates me. But no, she walked in, sauntered passed me, and in a moment caught in the lens of Enrique’s camera, my face reflected my bemusement.

“You look slightly unhinged,” he told me this morning, as we sorted through the album he had posted on the shared drive. I couldn’t stop laughing at my eyes, my smirk, the painted expression of a woman with a lot of petty thoughts on her mind. I later emailed the photo of my face and the sole picture of Anaid to Mr. D, with the note, “Enrique says he loves how I’m slightly unhinged in the first photo, but it’s only because my nemesis walked right past! She smiles for him though…” Mr. D didn’t respond, but Enrique followed up with a close-up shot of Anaid and one line: “THAT’S a smile???!!!”

God, I wish I had Mark Bowden‘s gift of description. Or Enrique’s casually biting honesty. The Kelly Kapowski of my high school… no longer looks like Kelly Kapowski. In fact, she looks quite feral. The combination of her face and his caption had me laughing so hard a coworker had to shut the door. I’m not doing a good enough job explaining the hilarity of it, so I’ll update this post later with an addendum from Enrique. (Speaking of which, Enrique is totally complicit in my blog, just in case Ivanka’s reading and needs help understanding the word).

Anyway, it was hilarious, and I brought it up with Mr. D tonight, and he called Enrique’s email mean (which always makes me wonder if he ever really fucked Anaid, which I know he never did, although I could totally see how he could have once wanted to, because there was a time when she was Kelly Kapowski Hot). But anyway, I told him how I couldn’t stop laughing, and I asked if my Facebook post was petty. (The same photo of myself, after Anaid walked directly in front of me, her body turned away, face hidden from the camera, along with the caption: “That face you make when your nemesis walks past,” and customized  mood: “feeling slightly unhinged, but in a harmless and friendly way.”

Ms. Mahogany saw the post and reprimanded me online, writing my name in caps locks, followed by an exclamation mark. My high school BFF wrote: “You’re bad” with two unhinged slanty face emojis and one “laughing in tears” emoji. I responded to my high school friend–but more broadly, to everyone looking at the post–with my meager justification: “The question literally haunted my dreams! For years, I’d wake up in the middle of the night and ask Mr. D why this person hated me, and even today, I have no answers. But I harbor no ill will! Just some slightly unhinged curiosity…

I wanted to talk about Anaid tonight, but Mr. D was not trying to entertain me. He called her photo “unfortunate,” and I agreed but added, “Enrique just has a gift for taking truly awful photos of people.” To be fair, he also takes some great ones; he just has a knack for capturing reality’s stark ugliness. It’s a skill that suits the persona of a man who says things like “We’re all doomed,” when reading the news.

Enrique is like an Asian tourist with his camera. For instance, we celebrated the completion of one of our big work projects by taking the day off and getting stoned at the Reading Terminal Market last fall. After devouring Dienner’s roast chicken and contemplating the universe, we pottered around the various markets until his bulky camera bag almost knocked over a tray of overpriced essential oils. We could have been very high, or he might just be an obnoxious Asian tourist trapped in the body of a grizzled former journalist. Hard to say.

Anyway, Enrique takes God-awful photos of people. Including me. There’s one from the conference last month, and I look like a man undergoing an exorcism. This atrocious image is followed immediately by one of me looking more feminine, but also like a woman who has just farted herself into an orgasm. The only thing more embarrassing than my three chins is the fact that nothing in the keynote panel was even worthy of such ugly laughter.

But I digress. I’m drunk writing now. No longer stoned, but definitely tipsy… tipsy plus. Testing out some Ernest Hemingway shit. What was I writing about? Enrique as a photographer? He took a brutally horrific photo of the Duck from the baby shower, and it was so bad I felt guilty for laughing at it over the weekend.

I started thinking of beauty tonight. Of thoughts I’ve had since this weekend, when I began an essay (still unpublished) about race, gender, skin color, frenemies, interracial couples, Jordan Peele’s Get Out, and some other scattered but somehow connected thoughts. I discussed some of them with Mr. D’s Jamaican-Indian-Chinese friend, Mr. T, who made a particularly insightful comment about race and perception, in which he said he never thought of himself as black until recently, in college, when he realized others perceived him as black, and then questioned whether that knowledge changed his perception of himself. (I’m going to interview him for a longer post on the topic).

Anyway, the bulk of my thoughts and conversation with Mr. T can basically be summarized in these two posts–the first of which is about Beyoncé. Then that got me thinking of Beyoncé, how her beauty is such a fundamental part of her appeal, and how she should have just kept it real and unapologetic with those Buzzfeed pictures.

When we drove down to the conference in February, I asked Enrique if he thought women shooed away from intellectual pursuits, or something along those lines. I’m drunkish now, but my question at the time had something to do with the Kardashian-esque-ness of my gender, to which Enrique responded: “beauty is easy power.”

Is that why I want to be beautiful? I guess that brings me to my next epiphany.

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Birthday weekend li.st

Dear BJ Novak and Dev Flaherty,

I wish your li.st app offered greater compatibility with non-mobile devices. What’s the technical term for computers again? I dunno, and as I said in the last post, I’m still high. Maybe it’s worn off by now. It probably has. It was only a few small puffs, an hour back, but then again, it’s 11pm and I’m about to eat Honey Nut Chex cereal, so I might still have some lingering effects. Apologies, I’m digressing a bit.

Anyway, if there was a way for me to write this post as a li.st, I would do so. But alas, it’s too complicated to figure out, and perhaps the design was intentional, so I’ll just voice my complaint here, where you may never venture. I’m pretty invisible to the Internet gods, to the point my Weed Husband once googled “high mom” only to stumble upon some filthy porn, although I suppose anything is better than cake bukaki. Again, I digress.

I want to write about the past weekend, but I don’t know if I have it in me to weave one of my long-winded, non-epic epics. So, instead, here’s a non-li.st list–to be edited, a million times, at leisure, on the comfort of my laptop–of observations, memories, quotes, etc. from my birthday weekend:

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What’s the word I’m looking for?

Nothing especially witchy happened last night, but that doesn’t mean I’m not a witch. I mean, I might not be a witch, but I don’t think it depends solely on yesterday. I feel like the witchyness emerges on more than a single day. Or maybe all women are born witches and they just choose to embrace their powers at 33. I haven’t really thought the theory through.

Also, I think it’s good to acknowledge here that I’m being fa·ce·tious. (Copied straight from a Google search, hence the dots). I can never remember how to spell facetious or what it means, but it’s defined as “treating serious issues with deliberately inappropriate humor; flippant.” Turning into a witch is not generally considered a serious issue, so perhaps there’s another word I should be using. I’m not sure. I’m also high.

There’s definitely a correlation between the witch thing and the weed thing. I feel like I connect on a deeper level with the universe and everything in it when I’m high. I also feel like I’ve been turning into more of a pothead lately, and I’m not sure how I feel about that. Enrique and I were conversing over a bowl the other day when I asked if there was an acceptable frequency for getting fucked up. “One-third of your free time,” he said after a minute. “Well, pretty much, if you find yourself getting fucked up for more than 33 percent of your free time, then it probably controls you more than you control it.”

Thirty three. Point three.

Drugs are a powerful force in the universe, and they scare me. Everything in moderation, Mr. D’s dad used to tell him, but he was speaking broadly.

I interviewed Mr. D’s uncle back in December because I wanted to write about his father. That was going to be my Christmas present to him, but I never wrote it. I’ve had so many things I’ve wanted to write, and I haven’t written them. Simon and Garfunkle’s Concert in Central Park, and how it serves as the soundtrack to my childhood and my parent’s immigration experience. The love story for my bride-to-be friend. My next project at work. Is it simple enough to say I’m scared of falling short? Is that even the answer? I don’t know. “The truth is rarely pure and never simple.”

Enrique and I were stoned and looking through magazines the other day when we decided the best writing is subtle. It’s the kind that pulls you in slowly, seductively, so smoothly you don’t even realize how deeply entangled you’ve become. Writing takes you on this strange trip to faraway places in other people’s brains, lost not in the tunnels of a writer’s mind, but in the minds of the characters they create. How wild is that?

Writing is my favorite drug. Maybe that’s the anxiety I feel. That I’m not doing it enough. Dan Jones, the editor of the NYTimes Modern Love column says writing is about discovering what you don’t know, not showing what you do.

I don’t know enough to be a witch.

I know I’m grateful, that not a single day passes by where I don’t thank the universe for my girls and Mr. D, and my parents, and my job, and my health, and my life. Nothing magical happened on my birthday, except for the fact that I spent it with people I love. There’s no force in the universe more powerful than that.

Are you there, God? It’s me, High Mom.

I’m taking a stab at high writing, though it’s hard to tell how high I am or how it will affect the quality of the prose (for better or worse). I hit the bowl before putting the kids to bed, and now I’m trying to make sense of all the thoughts I had throughout the day. I know there were a few good ones in there…

When I’m high, I often find myself taking the same walks in my brain, down the same, familiar paths. Like, Oh, I’ve been here before. I know this place. The insecurities, the desires, the feelings of Anxiety and Gratitude and Contemplation, emerging like old friends from the murky shadows of my mind. Is this my religion, I wonder? I think about religion a lot when I’m high.

I met an expert in religious studies today. I’ll call him the Fox. He is shortish, with a slight paunch and an inscrutable expression. As a philosophy professor at a nearby university, his Intro to World Religions course is one of the most popular courses there, but never once in his 27-year tenure has he divulged his personal beliefs on religion. Then again, he doesn’t really believe in beliefs. He’s an open-minded skeptic who thinks faith is a bit of a cop-out. He’s not all that interested in organized religions and much prefers the sacred texts of thousands of years before. The Secrets of the Universe. Man-made (“Because if God did it, you’d think it would be a little clearer.”). Ancient man, with ancient scrolls and ancient methods of communication, indecipherable to a Google search, so complex and esoteric that my head hurt hearing him explain how to read Buddhist poems (or something like that).

The Fox doesn’t share secrets with the lazy. He wants his kids to work for them, to unlock the mysteries for themselves. He wants his students to read. Original sources, preferably. To learn from them how to argue, to reason, to critique, to think. He’s paranoid of a larger conspiracy to dumb down our young. People are all too eager to be told what to think, and it terrifies him. After all, stupid people are easier to control.

The Fox loves the subversion of teaching college students critical thinking through religion. “Like taking a 2×4 to the head. Because it’s is the one thing you’re taught not to question.”

So what exactly is religion? He defined it as the connections we make to things larger than ourselves. He couldn’t define God. The problem, he said, is people think they can.

I told the Fox that I grew up without religion, but that I wish I better understood my Hindu roots–and that I think about religion more, now that I am a parent. He said that happens frequently.

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I am not a witch

Remember when Christine O’Donnell went on national TV to say that? Why be so ashamed, Christine?! Embrace that shit!!

Except, of course, you spouted Tea Party nonsense, and I’m digressing completely. I might still be high.  Maybe I should do more high writing. Although I’m hesitant to, because my brain sometimes moves too fast for even me to keep up. Like Writer Me and Stoner Me and are having a weird confrontation.

Gah! See, right there. I’m high writing my thoughts. My dad told me today that my style of writing was “too conversational,” and I thought, “Whatever. It’s still good.” I get my arrogance from him.

But anyway…

Today. What a day. I think it was the Universe maybe rewarding me? I think Spiderman’s prophecy may have just come true. I’m still kinda like, whoa, wow, holy shit. In a good way.

All this time, I thought that if I worked really hard and poured my time and attention into the blog, then I’d get rewarded with an essay in the New York Times and a bunch of book deals in my inbox. As if that’s all it took. I was hustling without knowing the first fucking thing about the hustle.

The hustle starts with humility. If you want to be great, it begins by knowing that you aren’t, that greatness isn’t a state of being, but an existence that looms forever out of reach. The hustle is in rejection. It’s the job you thought you landed but didn’t get. It’s the “thanks, but no thanks” from the Times. It’s the 12-page project you completed overnight–the one that sat on your boss’ desk, unread, for weeks, as your dog died of cancer–only to be told that you never met a deadline in your performance appraisal the following year.

The hustle is nothing without the heart. The heart is honor and compassion and gratitude and kindness and all the good you aspire to be, even when you fail.

In two weeks, I’m going to have a new boss. I’m going to have everything I dreamed of happening at work, finally happen. (For the record, I didn’t just hope, I hustled.) Ms. Mahogany shook her head when she heard the news this afternoon.

“You strategic little bitch,” she said.

“I didn’t think it was going to happen,” I told her. “It’s new and crazy for me, too.”

“How are you feeling about it?”

“Excited. Nervous. I successfully orchestrated an office coup, and now I’m wondering if I did the right thing.”

“There’s a Bible verse you should remember: To whom much has been given, much is required.”

I don’t know if I fully understand what she meant, but I’m grateful for the words. I need the wisdom of her counsel and the goodness of her heart. I need to kick ass in this role. I need to hustle. I need to kill it unlike anything I’ve ever killed it before. And I probably need to start blogging less about work.

On that note, I hid the post about the time I thought I was turning into a witch and did that whole thing at the holiday party. I thought it was my $333 ticket to a book deal, but that may have been a bit foolish.

I am not a witch. Or maybe I am. Who the fuck knows.

(Note the change in Bitmoji attire… I’m dressing for the job I want and committing to be a more professional me!)

The altar of insecurity

No ceilings, motherfucker, good morning.

Dick in your mouth while you’re yawning, I’m going in.

That’s been stuck in my head all morning. Maybe because I woke up and gave Mr. D a beej. Then I asked if he wanted to smoke a morning bowl with me, which is something I never do, but I hadn’t smoked all week and figured, “Fuck it, it’s Saturday,” so now I’m high and Mr. D is the sober one.

Or maybe I’m not high anymore. It’s been, like, three hours. I made pancakes, watched a weird bukaki scene in a Disney movie, did the dishes, had a “red light, green light” dance party with the kiddos. Brainstormed possible essay topics on the relationship between ambition and arrogance, and then another about how the bukaki scene was really a metaphor for feminism and taking the hate our of your heart for the sake of your fart-crack. (The A’s invented that word yesterday, and it’s my new favorite. Superthathu must be wiping a heavenly tear with pride).

In my stoner reveries, I thought about how we all worship different gods and how I don’t want to worship at the altar of the God of Technology. That I love the gods of sex and food and love and intelligence. I think my love of education comes from the belief that god exists in knowledge.

My mother used to make me pray if my foot ever touched paper, and even as a child, I knew there was divinity in the written word, in books. That they carried knowledge, and therefore power.

Obama wrote Dreams from my Father when he was 33. He is a beautiful writer. He would have been brilliant in any career.

Tina Fey has been offered mother of the year awards by working-mom groups and mommy magazines, and she declines because “How could they possibly know if I’m a good mother? How can any of us know until the kid is about thirty-three and all the personality dust has really settled?”

That’s what’s so magical about 33, I think. It’s an age of coming into one’s own. With confidence.

Is arrogance perhaps a manifestation of insecurity? Does confidence radiate, while arrogance takes away?

My parents don’t read my blog. They know about it, and they knew I was a writer when I was in seventh grade. They still have my first essay. But they don’t read my writing.

I’ve always believed that if there was something I couldn’t tell them, then it must be something bad or illicit or wrong. I didn’t tell them about the holiday party. And they’re in India now, so I can’t even talk to them about the job offers and all of the work-related questions that have me wallowing and pining. I don’t know if they’d think I’m too brazen, too dangerously subversive… Or if they’d trust me.

Is Lil Wayne wrong for saying he’s the best to ever do it, motherfucker, he knows it, no ceilings, got dammit, now the fuckin’ sky showing, uh? Was Ariel wrong for wanting more than life beyond the ocean floor? How much more are we allowed to want?

On second thought, maybe I am still high.

I would love to walk on the moon

BJ Novak and I share the same favorite story from his debut novel, One More Thing.

For a while, I could quote it from memory, mostly because I’d read it to everyone. Or I’d shove the book in their face and say, “Read this! You have to! It’s only three pages, and it contains the most gorgeous prose I’ve ever read in my life.” I read it to my parents. To Mr. D. I would read it to Big A at night, and when she once announced her dreams of becoming an astronaut, I beamed like the light from a thousands moons.

When I met BJ Novak at a book signing last fall, I asked him to sign my favorite story from the collection, and he said it might just be his favorite one, too.

“That doesn’t surprise me,” I replied, pointing to the very subtle reference from the very last story of the book.

“I don’t think anyone has ever noticed that,” he said.

I’ve replayed our entire exchange many, many times since then, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I would only do two things differently were I able to travel back in time: I would have ordered another Book with No Pictures for him to sign (the ones at the event were too expensive, and my dog, in the late stages of bone cancer, had vomited all over our original copy), and I would have asked him to sign our favorite story as JC Audetat, a private joke all of our own.

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Mr. D knows I love BJ Novak. He even said, “I hope you get an interview” when I went to see his show. (I didn’t, though we did have that brief moment in the book sign line). I like to think of myself as the Mindy Kaling to Mr. D’s BJ Novak, the effervescent Indian counterpart to a supremely brilliant and hilarious White guy, but that may be where the similarities end. As much as I would love to see them get back together (they’d have the sweetest, funniest daughters!), I don’t know if BJ Novak feels like I do about love.

I’m judging this solely from his short story collection, of course, and more specifically, from the narrator’s second fantasy in “Sophia,” in which a woman’s head rests on a man’s shoulder as they look out into the world and see the same thing. I loaned my copy of One More Thing to my Weed Husband a few months back, so this is a tough theory to fact check at this very moment, but I’m pretty sure most of Novak’s love stories are connected by an underlying thread of shared experiences and, more so, shared outlooks: the couple who outraced the rain, the man with “a good problem to have,” the family who attended the world’s biggest rip-off. Even the most beautiful girl in the bookstore. Especially the most beautiful girl in the bookstore.

It’s a two-page story about a girl who loves a bookstore that sells books and and also sells things. Her boyfriend doesn’t quite understand her love for it, and they disagree on whether the books should be organized by color (they should not), or whether the store would be better with a photo booth (it absolutely would), and in the end, they break up because she could never shake the feeling that she was always his favorite thing in the bookstore.

The hopeless romantic in me hates this story. Like, what the hell, BJ Novak? Why did they have to break up? In the wise words of Carrie Bradshaw, “If you find someone to love the you that you love, well, that’s just fabulous.” Who cares if he didn’t love the bookstore? He loved her.

Or maybe that’s just what I’m telling myself now, at 12:46am, on the night of the Hunter’s Moon.

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8/31/16

I write so many essays while high. Just in my own head. All the words I want to put on paper but never actually do.

And I don’t know why. I know I can. I just don’t. Out of sheer laziness, maybe? Fear of not having anything worthwhile to say? I don’t know. I have a journal full of disconnected stoner insights that may one day serve as the basis for more posts.

But not tonight. For now, I plan to do what this blog started out as: the high mom diaries.

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