Chinchilla Time

On the first day of school, back in September, little A was thrilled.  “Our class has pet chinchillas, they are super cute and fluffy”, she exclaimed.  I smiled at my little one’s happiness but gave no further thought to the 5th grade fluffies.

Then came October.  Mrs. W sent out an email to the class parents asking if we wanted to host the chinchillas over Christmas.  Little A couldn’t believe that the fluffies were up for grabs, if only for a week or so.  I have told you before that we are not really pet people, and have successfully warded off requests for pets from the girls over the years.  Still, I couldn’t resist little A’s puppy eyes, so I wrote to the teacher offering to host the class pets.  But turned out I was too late.  The chinchillas had already made vacation plans with another family over Christmas (didn’t realize that there’s a line for everything in our Type A school district).

But Mrs. W held out another carrot.  “Little A can host the chinchillas over spring break, if she likes”, Mrs. W offered.  Little A was ecstatic at this second shot.  I thanked Mrs. W and agreed to host them during our 10 day spring break.  Which, back in October, seemed far, far away in the future.  But somehow spring break arrived. Yesterday.

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N was traveling, so little A and I brought them home from school, and little N helped me assemble everything.  It’s unbelievable how super cute and precious they are!!  There are four of them in there – Bam bam (the dad), and his kids Roseo, Puck, and the baby of the family, Simba.  The mom (Chi chi) passed away, apparently (that tidbit really tugged at my heartstrings, I have to say).

After mildly (ok, majorly) dreading the coming of spring break and wondering what extra work the chinchillas are going to pile on me (and whining about it to several groups of friends), I am so incredibly surprised at how much I am loving have them in our home.  I mean, I woke up smiling this morning, thinking of the chinchillas settled in downstairs.  Is this what they meant by kallum karaiyum? 😉

We’ve been to Disney Land, Provence, and Paris over spring break before, and we did some really cool things over there.  But I think I am with little A when she says, “this is going to be the best spring break ever”!! 🙂

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Revving Up

The last few weeks have been simply delicious – all that white space on my calendar, punctuated mainly by lunch outings with N and some friends, and long morning walks and bike rides.  Mmmm…. just idyllic.  I felt calmer, happier, and more relaxed than I have felt in years.  But everything eventually comes to an end, no?  So, here I am.  With just one day left of my three weeks of swinging solo at home.  Preparing endless to-do lists (which I do find oddly reassuring) as I stand at the cusp of starting my new job, ready to hit the ground running again.

Golu season is almost upon us as well.  Given everyone’s schedule, decided to start strong by hosting right at the beginning of the 10 days of celebrations.  Expecting around 40 women, roughly that many children, and likely a handful of brave (or super social) dads and visiting parents and in-laws at our place this Saturday.  I usually get my knickers in a bunch (is this the right term?) while planning big parties.  But being at home these past few weeks helped.  Shopped at leisure for outfits and accessories for myself and the munchkins (N is on his own, but this is anyway a women’s festival, no?).  Also spent hours (no, make that days) shopping for pretty little thamboolam bags and fillers, planning the menu, calling the caterer, etc., and really enjoyed shopping (which is not usual for me).  The girls and I haven’t learnt any songs this year, so we plan to talk our way to sundal instead.  Which I think we will do pretty well. 😉

Lots of celebrations coming up in the next three months – Navarathri, Deepavali, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Kaarthigai, Christmas (did I miss anything?).

Wish you a wonderful start to the holiday season!  Now, it’s your turn to wish me luck with my new gig. 🙂

Done

Today was my last day at work.  I was wide awake by 3:30 am, and couldn’t go back to sleep. Too much nerves, too much excitement.  After tossing and turning for several minutes, gave up and went downstairs to start on my to-do list for my last work day – finish last few project invoices, prepare a current status summary of projects for boss, etc., you get the picture.  N came downstairs a few minutes after me and (God bless him) made some super duper masala chai for the two of us.

With such an early start, I was done with everything that needed doing by mid-morning. Wandered around saying goodbyes for the rest of the morning, and started for home around 1:30 pm armed with balloons, cupcakes, and flowers from my lovely (now former) colleagues.  (Conveniently) remembered enroute that I hadn’t eaten yet, and stopped at our local HSB for a quick (and super yum, if solo) lunch.

I realized today that I am very excited about this change (did a few jigs around our kitchen this morning, much to N’s amusement).  I have made several friends at work, but I don’t particularly feel like I am leaving them behind.  I am still friends with several people that I worked with 15 years ago, so I know that I will continue to nurture my close relationships (you knew that too, didn’t you?).  I feel more excited for what’s coming than sad about what I am leaving behind.

One thing tugs at me, though, with this change.

The last time I switched jobs in April 2010, Appa came over from V’s place to help us with the kids during my transition.  Because of that, and perhaps since we lost Appa within a year of that transition, I have deeply felt Appa’s contribution to my professional success at this company.  I feel pangs thinking that I am changing something that Appa contributed so much to.  Like I am moving on to something that Appa won’t ever know about.  I tell myself that there will be many more such things in my life that I won’t be able to discuss with Appa.  And ask myself to trust that wherever he is, he is watching over me, and he knows.  But it’s hard to buy into that concept entirely.  You know what I mean.  So, I just let them sit, those little pangs in me.  Nothing wrong with a little discomfort.

I start at my new work place at the end of September, so I have a few weeks of sheer idleness stretching ahead of me.  If I would let that happen, that is.  The last time I switched jobs, I had two weeks at home in March of 2010 before I started work.  I could have been a lady of leisure for those two weeks.  But noooo.  Don’t exactly recall how I squandered those two weeks.  But distinctly remember doing at least a couple of dry run drives at peak time to my soon-to-be work place to exactly nail down my commute time (ada che!).  Now that I have become a Zen Master (ahem!), this is SO NOT how I intend to spend my time this time around.  I will reach my future work place when I reach it.  No dry run drive bulls^&t this time.

So what do I plan to do with this time, you ask?  You ready?

A bunch of insurance related paperwork (ugh, but needs to be done, no?), bike rides on weekday mornings with a friend after little A gets on her bus, lunches and walks with other friends, meet up with N near his work for lunch a couple of times, get car serviced (more che work!), write lots of blog posts (let’s see if this one pans out) – the possibilities are endless!

So, here I am on Day 0, with another 20 stretching luxuriously ahead of me.  Super excited! 🙂

August

August has been an incredibly busy month.

We went away on vacation in the beginning of the month.  How busy could vacation possibly be, you ask?  Oh, but it was.  Little N had an exam she was taking the day after our return (poor timing, yes, I know).  So, in between oohing and aahing over the sights, the girl spent several hours every day with her nose to the grind.  She did really well on the exam (no pain, no gain, right?).  But clearly, we will need to be more mindful about timing our future vacations – for the next eight years, in fact – given that little A will enter high school just as little N leaves for college.  Hmmmm…. some serious working years coming our way.

Celebrated two birthdays in the family (little N and myself), and remembered Appa’s birthday (he would have turned 78 on August 9th).  Little N turned 14 (seriously, where did the time go??), and I turned (ahem!) a year older.

Returned from vacation and gave notice at work (yes, you read that right).  I have been feeling antsy and ready to take on more for several months now.  The right opportunity came up, and I decided to reach for it.  Super excited about this new professional journey that I am about to take.  And hope it’s the right fit for me.  I gave three weeks notice.  V. generous – several people remarked – which made me wish that I had given the typical two.  Oh well.  I will still have a couple of weeks in September to relax at home between jobs.

Although.  “Relax” is a relative term.  Lady of leisure I am not, and never will be.  I have always felt a little lost, like my world is not right, if I am not being super productive.  I already have several projects lined up for September – a bunch of overdue paperwork (exciting – not!), decluttering our home, fitness plans (daily walks with my neighbor), watching old movies that N refuses to re-watch (Salangai Oli, here I come).  Aaah, the days are going to be packed. 🙂

The start of school is right around the corner.  Little A is ready with her school supplies and her pretty new backpack (love that Vera Bradley!).  Little N has high school orientation this morning.  Her new backpack is (hopefully) on its way to us in the mail. Soon, the hum of our year round routine will start.  Which, to be honest, I do find quite comforting.  But, before that, we are planning a mini get-away to NYC this weekend – to take in a museum, walk through Central Park, check out the latest at The Strand, eat some awesome food, and savor that last bit of summer before revving up our motors for the upcoming year.

Hope you had a wonderful summer, and are ready for September too! 🙂

(H)our Cycle

Saturday mornings usually find little N sleeping late.  And little A catching up on her TV watching.  So N and I have taken to biking for an hour on saturday mornings, just the two of us.  Two spanking new bikes keep us motivated.  At least for now.  So.  Got ready bright and early, and went to find N.  Except he had started a mini-project while waiting for me to get ready.  He was only trying to adjust the seat and add a water bottle holder to one of the bikes.  But the instant gratification part of me had kicked in big.  I didn’t want to wait a second.  So, instead of sitting around nagging while watching him fix the bottle holder (which I did do for a couple of minutes), decided to swing solo around our cul de sac instead.  As I was circling away, my mind did too (flash black, like in the movies!).  Went back all the way to my single digit ages at Vedachala Gardens.  When I was first learning to ride a bike.

One summer, suddenly, bikes (or cycles, as we used to call them), were all the rage.  An “hour cycle” shop opened up near our street.  I was never sure if it was called “Hour Cycle” or “Our Cycle”.  At any rate, the shop did not have a name.  It was a rough-looking shanty, housing bicycles of different sizes with one thing in common – they all looked old, beat up, and more than casually rusted.  That didn’t deter us, though.  V, me, and a few of our friends would head out in the middle of the hot summer afternoons (after thulping thayir sadam and manga thokku provided by paati) to the Hour Cycle shop, praying that a cycle should be available in the size that we wanted.  The tiny cycles (of course, my size, back then) were in super high demand.  At 50 paise for half an hour, it didn’t seem cheap either.  Some days, V and I would only get one cycle between the two of us, and would have to grudgingly take turns.  While envying our friends who got to the shop early enough in the day to get their pick.  On other days we would hit the lottery.  Amma would give us two rupees each to rent cycles, and several cycles would be available when we made our hopeful appearance at the shop.  The next two hours would be pure bliss, and we would come back home hot, hungry, dirty, with (more often than not) scraped knees, and supremely happy. Occasionally, we got even luckier and got an extra buckaroo to extend the cycle rental by another hour.  V and I would just go totally delirious with happiness.  And this was how we learned to bike.

I wrote a post a couple of years ago – something about remembering what you really really wanted to do when you were 10 years old, and pursuing that.  Since there’s something deeply truthful about who you are from what you were interested in doing when you were little.  I reflected on this idea, and came up with writing in my diary as something I was really into when I was 10.  That and reading everything in print that crossed my path.  But I had forgotten the sheer bliss of my hour cycles, biking for hours with the wind in my hair, breeze on my face, and no cares in the world.  A little childhood Utopia.

N and I biked leisurely for seven miles this morning.  I am totally re-discovering my joy of biking, and loving it!  My rear-end (which is, at this point, used to sitting continuously at my desk for several hours a day) is loving it too! 🙂

The Month of Giving

If you have read my posts over the years, you know that I sometimes come up with sudden ideas (mostly cockamamie) that I like to implement over a defined period.  Thirty days, that’s my magic number.  I’ve tried new recipes, walking 10,000 steps a day, learning new paatus, etc. with varying degrees of success and one thing in common.  They have all been religiously abandoned after a few months.  But one measly month at a time?  That has always seemed eminently doable.

So, what’s the plan now, you ask?  Duh, read the title again, dude!

This month, I will give something to others every day.  I was quite taken with the movie “Pay It Forward”, which we watched a couple of months back.  Had an unexpected block of free time today – N is at a conference in VT this week, little N had a violin lesson, and little A was playing at my neighbor’s place.  I was in our local Hot Breads store, loading up on paneer croissants to tide us over till next week (it’s a rough life, what can I say?).  Saw a load of butter biscuits on display.  My sister, V, loved these as a kid, and I meant to bring some to her place when I visited her last week.  But HB was closed when I stopped by before my Portland trip, so I couldn’t get any for her.  I also saw the tamil magazine “Thendral” prominently displayed at the front of the store.  Amma loves to read this magazine (though I personally find the closely spaced tamil words supremely overwhelming).  Decided to implement my own version of pay it forward.  Picked up both the biscuits and the book, and plan to mail them to V tomorrow enroute to work.  WTH – mailing small time stuff to your own family – this is not pay it forward, you say?  True, that.  But patience, my friend.  The idea is to practice thoughtfulness towards others on a consistent basis (now, if you are going to pretend that you do this all the time, I have nothing more to say to you).  Plus, note that tomorrow we’ll still be in June.  July is going to be my month of giving.  Tomorrow’s plan is just jujubi – merely a small trial.

Watch for weekly updates, ok? 🙂