Hello my beautiful friends! I have been absent far too long again. I don’t know what it is, I mean to write a post every week, but somehow life gets in the way and I don’t seem to follow through. One of my teachers said something to the effect that the average person has only about 2000 words per day to get down on paper, and it certainly seems to be true in my case. Actually, I can’t seem to write past 750 words daily, no matter how hard I try. I already wrote my 750 words today, so this post is really pushing it.
However, I do have a fantastic giveaway. A compelling story about a young woman in search of her truth, written by my extremely gifted friend, Lori Tiron Pandit. Since I received this book for free, this giveaway is open to all my friends in the U.S. and the world over (yes, I will pay the shipping). Following is a short interview with Lori.
Spell of Blindness is a very complex story about a young woman in search of love, of truth, and of herself. What prompted you to write it?
I always knew that I wanted to write this book. The story of the young woman in search of love and meaning seemed like an essential one to write about, because it is something we all experience at a high level of intensity, and many times it shapes the whole trajectory of our lives. This search is an ongoing journey that does not end after adolescence or after even after we think we have found that love we had been looking for. I felt that young women need a different perspective—a story that tells them that life extends beyond romantic love and marriage, that their journeys will be more complex, richer, enlightening and more demanding than socially-approved fairy tales tell them to expect.
How long did it take you to write the book?
It has been one of those stories that lived with me for a long time before actually making it on paper. It changed throughout the years and it turned from the simple story of one young woman into a more encompassing tale of womanhood that I think I can allow myself to be proud of. It took me about seven years to finish it. Someone told me that it must have been important to me if it took so long. That’s how I’d rather look at it, than admit that I was slacking for a lot of that time, focusing more on raising my daughter than on writing my book, which again, is a very feminine approach to life, isn’t it?
Oh, I know all about that. One thing I love about Spell of Blindness is the richness of cultural history and religious traditions. Do you come from a religious background?
I do not actually. Not particularly religious. I was raised in Romania during communism, when religion was not something acceptable in society. Religion was not part of the modern, industrialized way of life envisioned by the communist leaders of the country. That didn’t mean that the old people did not preserve their beliefs and churchgoing ways, or transmit them to the new generations. I think that it was a more freeing way of being submersed into a religious system, however, because of the duality of the messages we received as children.
I remember hearing the stories of how unacceptable religion really was during communism. Which made me curious, how important is faith in your life?
Personally, I believe in the homo religiosus. I think we all have a deep need to believe in something bigger than us, something untouchable that will support us through hard times and will never let us down. I try to find spirituality in my life in different ways and from different directions, with the strong belief that there is truth is all the spiritual practices of the world. This wide and very personal search for truth and meaning is what I try to convey in my books also.
What are you working on next?
Thanks for asking that. I am actually deeply consumed by my second book at this time. It has always been very difficult for me to summarize a whole book concept in a few words. Seems so limiting and I am afraid of sounding too precious when I try to speak about the big ideas in the book. But I can say that this one is also set in Romania, although this time it is a more universal place that stems from Romanian realities however. It is about a group of women who put their energies together toward creating a community that represents more feminine ideals of compassion, tolerance, respect for ancient ways of living, peace and a little (or more) magic. It has many central characters that are beautiful women who live their lives by their own rules and I hope it is going to be a compelling book. I hope to be able to release it by the end of 2013, or beginning of 2014.
Anything else you can think of…
Thanks for allowing me to speak about my books on your blog. I appreciate the support and kindness. The publishing journey is not an easy one, and I am always grateful and amazed by how much generosity I am met with on the way, sometimes much more than we (my books and I) probably deserve. I especially appreciate it when women writers support other women writers. It feels like being part of a beautiful community. Thank you.
You know what to do to qualify, so leave a comment.
Yesterday I took my daughter in for her yearly check-up. As she had her vision tested I remembered when I had mine at her age, but not because it was mandatory, but because I was a naughty little girl. Two of my closest friends in my first grade class were wearing glasses. I wanted to be just like them. I wanted glasses too. My friends said that they had headaches from all the squinting they had done. They said their eyes hurt. They said their eyes turned red.
I went home and cried to my dad that my head was killing me, and that my eyes were so painful. I rubbed and rubbed at them, and my eyes became red and inflamed from all the rubbing I did. I walked around the house squinting and rubbing at my eyes. My parents were worried. Bad eyesight was a common occurrence in my dad’s family. Three of the seven siblings were wearing bifocals.
So my dad took me to see the eye doctor.
The doctor’s sitting room was filled with kids who, no doubt, had the same idea I did. There they all were in their blue and white school uniforms rubbing at their eyes and squinting. And there were the parents slapping the kids hands away from their eyes, looking worried.
I was sure I would come home with a pair of glasses. I was sure I could fool the doctor just as I had fooled my parents. I was sure that all I had to do was just squint and rub at my eyes. No one told me I had to make mistakes reading the eye chart. I was a first grader and proud to be reading already. I wanted the doctor to see how smart I was, and what a good reader I was, and that I was sure to receive a certificate from my teacher claiming that I was the smartest little girl in all of the first grade.
The doctor was impressed. Not with my reading as much as with my vision. My vision was perfect, he said. And (almost) perfect it remains to this day.
My daughter is happy she doesn’t need glasses. They’d only get in the way of soccer and ballet, she says. Sunglasses, on the other hand, she can’t have enough.
All children have expectations of their parents. The seeds of expectation are planted in a child’s infancy, by the first cry. From the first: I am hungry, feed me; I am wet, change me; I am scared, protect me, expectations are watered daily, and they grow. The roots go deep. Far into the earth. And whatever the outcome, disappointment follows.
I know all about disappointment, dashed expectations. Mines were dug out, set fire to, and destroyed when I was nine. That’s when my childhood stopped. One day I was a child and the next I wasn’t.
It wasn’t anybody’s fault.
When my parents came to the United States in 1981, with five children clinging to their legs ranging from two years old to nine, they worried more about what things to bring in their allotted two suitcases, than about how they would function in this country. Functioning in the United States, in fact, was never an issue. To their minds they were not the first immigrants and they would certainly not be the last. Besides, they had family here, to secure them a furnished rental house, an automobile, even a job for my father. Within a year or two, with hard work and many economies, they would even be able to buy their own home. So many immigrants with a strong work ethic did it. They would too.
And they did. My father had two, three jobs at a time. He worked from four in the morning to eleven at night. Monday through Saturday. Week after week after week. For years and years. He did this while my mother raised us five, gardened and cooked and drove us to school and to church and to wherever else we needed to go. All because they were determined that their children have a better life than they did. That they’d have better opportunities.
But it was the lack of English skills that they bumped against every single time they stepped out of the house: at the grocery store, at the bank, at the doctor’s office. And as the oldest child in the family, I became their interpreter. A parent to them, in a sense. Their confidant. The one privy to all their secrets and moles and blood clots and financial situations. I had more control over their lives than I understood. And maybe even more than they understood.
While my sisters and brothers chased each other in the rows of vegetables and fruit trees, while they splashed in a plastic blue kiddie pool in the shade of the backyard pomegranate tree, or read books, or played with bits of wood they imagined as dolls and action figures and cars under the scented lemon trees of the front yard, I was translating insurance forms or waiting on the line for the electric company. That’s when the seeds of responsibility were planted. One. By. One.
I did not know any better. I was raised to respect my elders.
If there was any resentment toward them, if there was any resentment that I didn’t have the freedoms of my siblings, it was buried deep within my body, somewhere in my toes, I think. It was the toes that always itched to run away when I heard my name called.
But I never ran. Responsibility had become a vine and I was ensnared within it.
The minute January 6th is over, and I take down the Christmas trees, I am done with winter. January’s a tough month. Possibly my least favorite month of the year. The older I get, the more I hate the cold. The older I get, the more I hate the rain, the grey skies, the fact that summer is a long, long way off.
It’s in January, usually on our morning walk to our favorite coffee shop, that my husband and I resurrect our daydream of moving to warmer places. You know, places like Miami or Scottsdale or San Diego. Places where the eternal mists of the Pacific Northwest winters are absent. Where the sun caresses the skin and warms the pavement beneath our feet. Where the flowers are the deepest magenta and the air smells like lemons.
And then we get inside the warmth of the coffee shop, and we think: we can’t leave this place. We laugh at our complains. To live in constant sunshine and the whir of air conditioners? That’s not for us! Not yet, anyway. We can wait until we retire. So we sip our cappuccinos and nibble on our croissants, say hello to the regulars who stop by our table, and admit to each other that we have a pretty good life here. A loving family, great friends, wonderful neighbors, jobs that we enjoy, a creative community we’re part of. Quite a lot to give up for a bit of blue sky.
I guess we’ll stay put for the moment. Have more coffee, more croissants, read another book, start another painting, work a little harder. Because life is beautiful. Right here. Right now.
During the chilly days of December, these are a few of our favorite things to do:
Starting the day with a buttery pain au chocolat and a delicious foamy cappuccino.
Baking Christmas cookies.
Decorating the tree with ornaments silly and precious.
Creating art. And posing with it.
Shopping for special gifts.
Wrapping. And more wrapping.
Journaling after everyone’s in bed. By the lamp’s golden light.
Writing… I wish I had my own office. Some place I could go to and lock the outside world out. I don’t. But I do have my own corner of the bedroom. This is where I sit and I write. Where I gaze out upon rain drenched gardens and mist-covered emerald forests.
And always before dreamland: reading.
Happy end of December. Happy end of 2012. A blessed 2013 to all of you!
The Advent season has begun, and this is my favorite time of the year. Our little family of four is big on rituals and festivals. This is a time of cozy fireside chats and rainy day board games, of starry evenings filled with music and lazy days of books, of intimate coffee dates with friends and parties into the wee hours of the morning, of sledding down snowy slopes and the making of homemade apple cider.
But this is also a time when the focus is inward. In the stillness of the house at midday when the children are in school, or in those early hours of the morning, when I’m the only one awake, this is the season when I peer into the deepest reaches of my heart. What greatness am I willing to allow be born within me during this time?
Wishing you all, my dear friends, a blessed Advent season. A time of joy, a time of peace, a time of love, a time of connecting to your true self, a time of allowing your light to shine into this dark and dreary world, a time for you to become the highest, best possible version of you.
My hair dresser thinks its absolutely normal for a woman to sleep with rollers in her hair, or a shower cap on, under which the hair is thickly coated with moroccan, olive or argon oil. When she told me that I should do this, I was absolutely horrified, to say the least. And not because she thinks my hair needs the extra hydration. What horrified me, is what it must do to her sex life if she goes to bed looking like a granny. She is young and newly married.
I can’t imagine looking so unsightly in my sleep. Can’t imagine subjecting my husband to that. All I would probably need to complete the look is drool coming out of the side of my mouth. Not that it doesn’t happen. But if it does, it isn’t intentional.
For me it’s a question of respect. Out of respect for myself and out of respect for my husband, I don’t walk around the house in tattered sweats, or those gross looking pajamas that college kids consider outerwear. Out of respect for my marriage I make the extra effort to look nice. For him. And my husband does the same. For me.
I would not put up with a man who would walk around the house in his underwear, torn socks, stained shirts, baseball cap, scratching at his privates, belching, and so on. I would not want to have sex with him. I don’t even want to be subjected to watch a man brush his teeth, floss, check out the size of his pores, or the pimples on his back. Or worse yet, have me squeeze out the puss.
But I had coffee with some friends who believe not all things can be avoided in the daily life of a couple living together. Very true there. They also believe that after a person is married, how one half of the couple presents itself to the other half isn’t as important as before. That once a couple is married there should be unconditional love, acceptance and admiration in the matter of personal appearance. Not sure about that. But then it could be just me.
So my question is, what do you ladies think? How many of you do you stop caring what you look like, not to the outside world, but to your spouse? Or if you don’t stop caring, how many of you make exceptions for beauty’s sake?
Ok, so this post’s all about me. Yes. Sorry about that. But, in less than a month I’m turning 40, and from all accounts I should be just a tad more obsessed with aging than I am. Of course, I already spend a great portion of time staring at myself in any mirror I come across. Or any window. At my face. At my skin. At my breasts and my butt. And all the while I think: do I need Botox, fillers, a nip here, a tuck there? I mean, let’s face it. Skin at 40 grows all sorts of little hairs where little hairs have no business of being, or little skin folds where little skin folds have no business of being. And yes, my roots are grayer than they’ve ever been. And yes also, my breasts are nowhere near perky. Nor is my behind.
But I am 40, not 20. And I’ve been pregnant several times, and gave birth twice.
Should I be more worried than I am?
I had lunch with a friend of mine who also turned 40, and she told me that she’s been getting Botox for the last 6 years. To prevent wrinkles. What? And also another friend who turned 40 said that her dermatologist told her that there’s very little Botox can do to the lines on her forehead as they already are too deep. Too deep? At 40? According to them, it may be too late for me to start with the Botox.
I AM vain. And deep down I know that I will do whatever it takes to NOT become invisible. Whatever it takes. But I don’t like the idea of wasting my forties obsessing about every little wrinkle. Of course it’s possible that I’ll change my mind, but for now, I want to worry about things that make sense: that I won’t die before my children reach adulthood and that my children never, ever doubt my love for them.
Still, if you ever see me in the next decade or so, dressing too young for my age, or having an impossibly round tush, or tiny waist, or frozen forehead, or lips that stretch to both of my ears, kindly take me aside and tell me how ridiculous I look. But do it gently. Because to resort to such extremes my ego must be very fragile. And it will only respond to gentleness.
No matter how busy I am throughout the year, I always make time to slow down in the summer. I make time to pamper myself and those I love. I make time to relax. To laugh. I make time to be present in the daily moments of wonder, of gratitude and of beauty.
So here’s my recipe for a magical summer:
Daily one-on-one time with my sweetie;
Eating well: pasta, seafood and an abundance of fresh vegetables and fruits;
Long talks with my gorgeous and brilliant children. Far into the night;
Creating. Playing. Relaxing;
Ice cream dates. Every day. Why not?
Get-togethers with friends. The conversations, the laughter, the ease of being with people who love me.
Reading. Reading. And more reading. Inside. Outside. On a blanket at the beach. On a blanket in a field. Anywhere. Anytime.
How about you? What are your recipes for a great summer?
I did the whole numbers in a hat thing, and Ms. Moon, the owner of comment number 8, is the lucky winner of Blackbird! I hope you enjoy it just as much as I did, Ms. Moon. Please send an email with your address to: angiemuresan(at)gmail(dot)com, and the book will be on the way to you.
Thanks to all of you, my lovely friends, for the warm welcome back, and for participating in this giveaway. I’ll stop by for a visit soon, and also have a new post ready in the next week or so. Until then, I hope the rest of your weekend is fabulous!