Padawan lesson for the day

 Sometimes you’re the hammer, and sometimes you’re the nail.

I heard an amazing interview this morning on my way into work. Jeff Bridges was on The Howard Stern Show talking about his current movie, his life and his work. Stern is one of my all-time favorite interviewers, it’s like he knows exactly what I would ask a particular person. To me, his show shines when he interviews someone. It could be a celebrity, a musician, a hooker – whatever. He’s good at it. I’m almost always interested. Even when he brings on people I could care less about – the conversation sucks me in. 

Jeff Bridges was no exception. I like him as an actor. He’s been in some good stuff. But I’ve never had a burning desire to hear from him. Until now. Now he’s my Yoda. Don’t believe me? Google his quotes. He’s genius. He may be high, but he’s genius. 

He said lots of funny/interesting things this morning, but my favorite was the line above. He didn’t make that up, I’ve heard it before. But he said it in an upbeat, lively manner. In a way that implied he’s ok being both. Each has a job to do. One isn’t more powerful than the other. I’d always thought it meant that you were either succeeding or failing. I was wrong. To Jeff, it means you are doing different things successfully. 

Can you guess which one I was today? Which one were you?

Dear Howard, I’m not going to punk out!

Confession. Sometimes (not ALWAYS) I make plans and then cancel. I’m particularly guilty of ditching my friend Howard. Howie. Uncle Wowie to some. Here’s the formal definition of my disease:

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Retreating. It’s what I do best. Some folks also refer to this as “flaking”. I’m a flake. Sometimes. But not without a cause! I don’t just willy nilly cancel. I’m not a monster.
Here’s the reason I couldn’t come to the party, the cocktail hour, the dinner, the birthday, the birth of your first born (gulp):

- when I said yes, I meant it. I really wanted to be there. Then all of a sudden I didn’t, and it doesn’t mean I don’t love you. I do.
– sometimes I over estimate my ability to “make it happen”. For example, I thought I could work a week-long event, travel home and then go right to a party. Or… I thought I could drive the 10 hours for your baby shower, have cake, and then drive home.
– you wouldn’t have fun. Why? Because I suck at faking it. Loads of people do loads of things they don’t want to. Not me. No sir. I have no poker face. I’m a walking billboard of my emotional state.
– I thought I’d be able to volunteer for the PTA/show up for your make-up party/drive you to your friend’s house even though I work two states away and can’t ever be home by 3.
Good intentions people. Always good.
I’m lucky my friends and family don’t disown me. They all understand. Almost all do (ahem. Howard)
I’m also very understanding when friends cancel on me. I get it. I don’t judge you! I’m not mad! I may even be happy. Who knows. The point is, it’s ok.
But I don’t want to be the friend/wife/mother that cried plans. I vow to change! Or at least make fewer plans that I have to cancel.
I’ll see you tomorrow night Howard! Xoxo

RIP, RPM and Rahm

I cannot believe Robin Williams is dead. Heartbreaking. The first thing I did when I found out was text my husband. Not just to share the sad news, but to gloat that I knew before him.
For those of you who are in normal, healthy relationships, this is weird. How dare we compete with such a sensitive thing.
But those of you that are in similar, weirdo marriages – I won!! I won!! I beat the guy that’s told me about all the major deaths in recent news, including Mandela and Phillip Seymore Hoffman. Do you know how many times I’ve heard,”guess who died?”. I think Robin would have appreciated that.
I won!
Ok. Sorry. Back to being super sad.
I got the news in Chicago where I’m making a quick visit to a conference. We had a free night and decided to go to Juliana and Bill Ranci’s new place – RPM. You can throw a dart at this menu below and we probably ordered it. Mama Depandi would be proud. If you know who that is then you watch as much reality TV as me.
Finally- I can’t mention Chicago and not mention Rahm Emanuel. Sigh. I’d move to Chicago just to share the air.
I’ve talked about him before. I bet he doesn’t compete with his wife about announcing dead people.
So RIP Robin, thanks for the calories RPM, and till we not meet again Rahm.

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Bros before….you know

We had a busy weekend. We picked up a kid at camp. We drove 3 hours to upstate NY and had a fun day with friends, came home, slept and then headed west to Harrisburg to see my family (and pick up the other kid).
We were also there to celebrate two birthdays and an Indian celebration called Raksha Bandhan (we’re efficient that way).
To be clear, there are hundreds to Indian celebrations. What can I say, we like lots of Gods and lots of ways to worship them. And by WE I really mean my people, not me. Because as I’ve told you before, I’m religious light. I dabble. The Catholic Irish Ukrainian dude I married is the same way. We do the big things. Baptism so the kids get into heaven? Check. Making sure they know how the Indian god Ganesh got an elephant head? Done. Mortal soul secured.
So we approach holidays in both religions with some whimsy. Don’t you think some of the problems of the world would be resolved with some whimsy? Whimsy is undervalued.
Anyway, back to the weekend.
Basically the celebration is about the bond between a brother and a sister. She puts a sacred thread on his wrist, dots his head with a red mark called a Tilak (red powder dye and water. Think runny red lipstick) and she feeds him something sweet. He promises to protect and love her and gives her a small gift. Lovely.
What happens if you don’t have a brother like me and my sister? You’re screwed ! Just kiddin. Our cousins step into the role for us.
Here’s some pics from the celebration. The last pic is of my cousins who payed dual roles, our brothers and the birthday boys.
Notice my sons face as my daughter feeds him the Indian sweet. Maybe next year she can feed him an M&M or something.
And speaking of tweaking tradition, one of the sacred threads resembled a football – so we chose that for my son. He missed the subtle cultural fusion we tried to create.

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Instaready!

I finally joined Instagram. Again. And then again.
I’ve joined 3 times now. The first time I didn’t know that I really wanted to do a blog vs just post photos. The second time I just forgot the password, got sleepy and then never did it. But now I’ve decided that I’m basically just posting photos on my blog. So I’m back! Anyone care? Anyone?

So follow me peeps at nehakowal.

That’s my real name. Now you know. I’m an open book. An open, boring book.

Camera Ready

A couple of months ago my father-in-law gave us an old Polaroid camera.
It wasn’t for a birthday or anniversary or any milestone. As is his habit, he’ll periodically give something to one of the kids that he thinks is important for them to keep and carry on. Many times it’s a piece of jewelry that means something to him, or a pocket-knife that was passed down by his dad, or even a nifty flashlight/lantern combo (flashlights are important). Occasionally he’ll give some sort of a weapon. Nothing scary. There’s a certain bayonet that lives in our house, in case of, you know, a zombie apocalypse.
It’s a sweet tradition.
This camera came with a story. As almost all the gifts do. A family legend that involved money owed, the Montauk police, false accusations, corruption and bravery. I can’t do the story justice, you’ll have to ask him yourself. What I know is that the good guy won. And thank goodness. This camera would go on to take the photos that helped define my husband’s family. It was quite the thing to own back then. State of the art and high-end. But photos were always important to the family.

We love photos in this house too. We’ve loved them before you could take a thousand a day. They are the art in our home and the gifts that we give.
Some of my favorite photos of my husband and his childhood were taken with this camera.  I posted a few below.

The shot of him in Carl Schurz Park by the river as a baby – look at that fierce dress his mom is wearing! On a side note, for years I thought it was called Carlshultze park because of my hubbies’ thick NYC accent.
The other shot is of his dad, in Montauk, soon after he got the camera. I love that picture.
But my all-time favorite shot. The one that I still catch him looking at on a regular basis, is the one on the couch with his mom and one of his sisters. Laughing. Carefree. And completely happy.
I know it wasn’t the camera that did that. But it was there. It helped capture the moment. In that room. By the river. In the field.
So we put the camera where it belongs, right alongside these amazing pictures in our home.
I get a little sad thinking about what I’ll give to my kids. I imagine it going like this,” Kids, here’s my iPhone. The first one ever created. It’s -1G. It’s what I used to take shots without filters and without posting or tweeting. Cherish it.”
Oh well.

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The Nerve

window cleaner

When you are on the 19th floor of a high rise, seeing this dude outside your window is a bit unnerving. I did what any insane person would do, I grabbed my phone to take a picture.

As I was taking the pic I heard him say,”this ones takin’ a selfie!” to the other guy hanging on the building. I turned around and shouted to the sealed window,” no, no! I’m taking a picture of you!” “I was trying to take a picture of YOU not ME”.

He smiled, knodded and went about his business. Tonight he’ll tell his wife about the employee that take selfies instead of working, and they’ll both shake their heads in condemnation. Or maybe he stopped thinking about me a nano second after this happened. I dunno.

Just thought I’d share.

 

 

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