Thursday, July 31, 2014

Randomness and all its components

So I have Pandora on, an Internet radio station.  I put it on Indigo Girls, but truly I’m sick of the Indigo Girls (I know that’s very unfeminist of me).  But I love their radio station.  I like all the other songs.  Can you choose an artist and say everyone who sounds like them except the artist themselves?  Who knows, sounds like a computer program to me.

I’m getting annoyed that I get up at six everyday to deliver my blog, it’s like delivering a newspaper.  Can someone figure out how to have it deliver itself at six a.m. so I can sleep?  Anyone that can figure that out on blogger gets a prize.  I promise it will be good!

What would I give out as a prize on my blog?  What would you want?  I mean I can’t exactly give you ice cream…I could give you a free copy of my unpublished book.  Can you believe some website had my real name and my book’s name on there and it looked like they were selling my book!!! I got it removed but I’m pissed.  They said they didn’t have the book, but I’m suspicious of this Internet and all it’s capabilities. 

And what about my intimate messaging conversations on Facebook? Do the workers at Facebook or Zuckerman read those for fun?  I wonder sometimes.  Somebody is watching.  Someone is always watching.  Remember that next time you sext.  Of course I know nothing about that. 

Someone was telling me writing is like bullshitting for a living.  It’s professional bullshit I like to think. I’ve been cleaning toilets all day today at home.  Writing vs. toilet cleaning—both will help you get the shit out that’s for sure.    

You know my dad fought for me to have an easy name for Americans to say.  In fact my mom wanted my name to be Paramjeet.  Can you imagine me as a Paramjeet? I would have a really long braid I think.  I would be nicer.  I would probably be a better person.  I think I would be less wild.

Who knows if those name theories are correct?  Maybe I’d just be the same person.  But there is freedom in having an international name like nina.  At least I’m not named Apple, isn’t like Gwyneth Paltrow’s kid’s name Apple?  Some celebrity kid is named Apple.  Poor kid.  I mean I’m all for giving your kids unique names, but have a heart.  I mean if you are going to give your kid a funky name, it better be for a good reason.  Not because you are so rich and famous you can’t handle yourself.

So what else is there to say in this world?  What else can I say?  Everyone is gay!  That’s from a song by Nirvana.  I don’t actually think everyone is gay, but I think there are more people who think about it than we know.  Some of my closest friends are gay so I am really and truly offended by anyone who hates gays.  Just want to put that out there.  That’s all I have to say about that.

I’m trying really hard to watch TV and I’m just not good at it anymore.  I get bored so easily; it’s weird.  I grew up watching the shit out of TV.  I mean me and the tube were buds.  Besties in fact.  Now I turn it on and it’s like some strange reality show or some kind of contest for talent.  What happened to shows?   Just shows with actors and scripts and an audience.  If I wanted reality, I would not watch TV and just live my life.

I left my clothes in the washing machine for hours; I forgot to put them in the dryer.  That smell of the clothes all wet and yucky: is like nails on a chalkboard.

So this good friend of mine said my blog is a blog about nothing.  I want to take that as a compliment.  It’s kind of a backhanded compliment though.  Is this all about nothing?  He called it the Seinfeld Blog.  That’s kind of a compliment.

I mean this post is truly random.  I don’t really even have any transitions between my thoughts.  I kind of like it like that.  What do you think?

I think our real thoughts are completely random, there is no rhyme or reason to most of them and they don’t really have good transitions either.  We go from one thought to the next.  The thoughts can be repetitive and boring and meaningless. They really have a mind of their own, our thoughts. 

Sometimes I think I can think away my life.  But just thinking is not enough.  I need to think about what I’m thinking.  I read this book that said the part of your brain that does all the negative, random thinking is like your roommate that won’t shut up. 

I had a blind roommate the first year of college.  She wasn’t actually blind, the situation was blind: we didn’t know each other at all.  We ended up not liking each other at all also.  That was probably the first time in my life that I purposely did mean things to someone.  To annoy her I would heat up Indian food and put it in the garbage because I knew she couldn’t handle the smell.  She would not give me any of my phone messages, especially the ones from the guy I liked. It was a mess.

One time her boyfriend came into town and we had a bunk bed.  Let’s just say I had to leave for home that weekend.  Why do I bring this up?  Because again I think the guy who is thinking in your head is like a bitchy roommate.  Those thoughts can make you do mean things for no reason; they make you do things that are not really you. 

The randomness of your thoughts are not who you are.  I don’t really know we are, but we are not our thoughts.  If we were our thoughts than I am something like this:  “I have to go to Staples to return that cartridge, will they return it since I opened it and don’t have the receipt?  I have to clean my bathroom, I hate cleaning my bathroom…I ate too much yesterday I’m sure I gained a pound.”  If all of that garbage that goes through my head is who I am, I don’t really like myself.

But it’s not who I am.  It’s just a part of me. 

The universe is more random than my blog.  One day it will make you laugh, another it will make you think.  So don’t be mad at yourself if nothing ever makes any sense, I don’t think it was set up to make sense. 

That’s just my two cents.


Image courtesy of Master isolated images/

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Phenomenal People Interview: Megan Cyrulewski

Megan Cyrulewski with her daughter.
What can I say about Megan Cyrulewski?  She is one of the bravest and strongest women I know.  She managed to fight emotional abuse and domestic violence and file for divorce in order to save herself and her daughter from further abuse.  She battled postpartum depression with grace even through stays at a psychiatric ward.  Through all of this she has triumphed by writing down her story so the world can benefit and learn from her experiences. 

The name of her book, “Who am I” is already available on Amazon.  Of course the first question I had to ask her is, “Who are you?”

Her answers were humble, “Who am I now?  I’m a mom; I’m a mom first.  I’m also an attorney and an author.  I’m also a lot different than I was three years ago.”

Megan has gown exponentially as a human being and as a mother in the past three years. I asked her how she is different now:  “I had a l lot of therapy to deal with the postpartum and emotional abuse from my ex-husband.  I grew up…I’m more careful, more careful when it comes to relationships either friends or dating.  I’m careful who I bring around Madelyne  (her daughter).  She is first and foremost in my life.  I don’t really want to date at this time in my life.  I want to spend time with Madelyne and my friends.”  

I asked her then to tell her story, for those of you who are new to it: 

“Well I wrote about a crazy period of time in my life, where it seemed like everything happened at one time.  The postpartum depression, the domestic violence, emotional abuse, psych ward, divorce and child custody battle.  This all happened while I was in Law School.  I start my book out when me and my ex-husband met…however the story really starts when Madelyne was born.” 

Those kinds of experiences can change anyone.  I asked Megan what kind of person these experiences have made her?  “It has definitely made me more open, I wrote a book about it.  I let myself open up and allow myself to tell my story.  Postpartum has a nasty stigma; I wanted to get my story out there for others to know about.  Emotional abuse is a side of domestic violence—not a lot of people know that it even exists—it made me want to open up about myself.  If I could help a couple woman recognize it and get help earlier than I was able to then I have done my job.”

Since writing the book has clearly impacted her life I wanted to know the real reasons she wrote the book:  “Everyone was telling me I should tell the story.  I thought it was time to write it down and get it out, and it was therapeutic and gave me closure.  My ex and his girlfriend ripped me apart in court--- and I didn’t get to retaliate because my lawyer said I shouldn’t.  I wanted to get those things out.  In the book I explain how in those moments, what I was thinking and what I wanted to do. The book is a little bit of a verbal response to him.

Did I write it to get back at him---absolutely not.  I spent four years of our marriage and did not get to say what I wanted to say...I finally got my voice out there for people to read.  Finally I got my closure.  I can laugh at the crazy shit that my ex and his wife do now.”

At this point I had to wonder, how was Megan’s daughter Madelyne affected by all of this?  “She doesn’t know her dad.  Once she goes to school now days there are single parents and gay couples who are parents.  It’s not as unusual for her to say her family is her mom and her grandparents.  Because of the things that her father has done now, there is no way Madelyne will be in contact with him.  I don’t know what I will say when the day comes and she asks about her dad.  I don’t even know.”  She will obviously cross that bridge when she comes to it.

I then wanted to know if Megan was worried that her ex would retaliate in some manner about her book:  “I would not be surprised if a lawsuit shows up in my mailbox.  He tries to find a way to make money quickly, but he has no case.  The best defense to writing a memoir is the truth, and I wrote that.”

What does Megan want people to take away from her book:” Whatever your situation is, if you want things to change and you see that hope and that hope alone gives you the power to change anything.  Never give up hope.  As long as you have a little bit of hope that the life you are living now is not what you want you can do it—I wanted a better life me and Madelyne and I got that life.”

How is her life now?  “I’m the most content that I have ever been.  I am calm and peaceful; this is where I’m at in my life.  I have a great family and support system from friends. With a child you see the world through a whole new set of eyes.  I’m taking advantage of that now until she gets older and doesn’t want to be around me.”

But who wouldn’t want to be around Megan with all her wisdom and insight?  I asked her if she considered herself an activist:  “Yeah definitely for postpartum depression and domestic violence.  I would love to work on both.  Right now I’m working on getting my book out there and name out there.  But someday I would love to do public speaking or anything really.”  Who says writing a book about an important subject is not activism?

So is she writing any more books?  “I am now writing a crime fiction book.  I would like to do that.  I enjoy the law and writing about that.  I enjoy the nuances about law that people don’t know about.  Writing fiction is fun.  Writing a memoir was like reliving the situation.  I had to step away from my computer for a couple of days a couple of times. Someone said my book is very raw and it is.  I was at the bottom and wanted to kill myself.”

How has Megan become so mentally strong since then? “Accepting what happened in the past, turning a negative situation into a positive one.  Doing something positive.  And of course therapy and prescription drugs.  2013 was my last therapy session.  Therapy helped me realize that my ex didn’t just have anger issues but my ex was an emotional abuser.  I thought maybe I did something wrong, but that is who he is and he will not seek help for it.  I am not the reason; I didn’t make him angry all the time. I’m not worthless and a piece of crap and this was his issue to begin with---he exploited my feelings of worthlessness.”

But now Megan’s daughter makes all those negative feelings a true thing of the past:
“Madelyne is feisty, incredibly intelligent and hilarious.  She tries to make us laugh.  She is happy.  Fun to be around. “

Does Megan regret the path that she took? “ I don’t regret marrying my ex, everything I’ve done in my life has led to me having Madelyne.  I was to meant to be her mom.”

What does Megan want to leave you with in the end?  “I would not wish postpartum on my worst enemy.  You think you are not a good enough mom.  You know you love this child, but you think you are not good enough.  You think I should kill myself.  If Madelyne spit up, that was my fault.  I was very sensitive to every little thing that normal babies do.  Anytime anything happened I thought, ‘she hates me, I’m horrible.”’

What would she say to anyone experiencing these symptoms?  “See your doctor immediately, I sought treatment in a hospital, it was right for me in the situation.  Some women just have to take an anti-depressant.  If it starts with not wanting to get out of bed, or something is off—go see your doctor.”

Megan has one last piece of advice about emotional abuse:  “I want to tell people about the emotional abuse signs: if your spouse is cutting you down, name calling, telling you no one else would marry you.  If it is constant and he is belittling you:  Talk to someone you feel comfortable talking with.  I kept quiet.  Confide in somebody, get someone else’s perspective. Get help.” 

To check out her memoir, please click on the link:  

Megan's Memoir

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Me: serving food and coffee and selling knives, bras and children’s apparel...

So let me tell you about my stints as a server.  I might be the world’s worse server, or waitress.  I worked for a hot minute at Olive Garden; it was a disaster from the beginning.  First of all, the guy who interviewed me said I spoke good English.  I came in with an English DEGREE from University of Michigan, why was he surprised that I spoke good English?  I was more upset because he was Black and didn’t know he was being racist!

So he gave me the job because he was so impressed with my "English."  The year before I got hired someone died at Olive Garden, a fact totally unrelated to me being hired.  However they told me that they keep their bathrooms clean, because if a customer sees a dirty toilet they will think they have a dirty kitchen.  Speaking of being anal, they would measure the temperature of their food to a certain degree to ensure that everything was properly cooked and no one else was murdered due to eating there.  I was, shall we say, not so impressed by all that. 

What I wasn’t was very apt at was the whole computer system.  I thought waitressing would be an easy, no brainer.  Apparently computers are involved and multitasking with food and beverages requires quite a bit of brainpower.  I can barely eat and drink at the same time much less, serve food and compute.  I couldn’t seem to get the orders in on time, and get to the next table, and get to serving the next meal.  I never dropped any food on anyone’s head per say.  But one couple waited three hours for a steak.  Don’t ask me how I managed that.  Don’t ask me why they serve steak at Olive Garden.

I once managed a café in a Jewish nursing home in Spanish Harlem.  Yes there was actually a Jewish nursing home in Spanish Harlem many years ago.  I don’t know if it still exists.  You can't make this stuff up.   

I think I would have more patience in the nursing home now; but back then I would get annoyed at the patients who came in and told me my coffee tasted like gasoline.  A lot of them smelled like Bengay, but that wasn’t the real problem.  The real problem was that they were a cranky crowd.

Everyone in there had a personality, and even though it was self-serve, I served many of them because their hands would shake.  Now I would think it was a brilliant opportunity for me to serve people.  Then I just thought it was pure annoyance.  These two very snarky women would actually talk about me right in front of my face, “She made my coffee all wrong!”  “Oh she’s a blithering idiot!”  Really I’m not kidding.

There was a very bitter old couple that I refused to let self-serve.  They were diabetic and I was not allowed to give them sugar.  Although I was not a nurse or doctor, I didn’t want to kill someone via sugar.  Murder by sugar:  don’t think I didn’t consider it a time or two.   Probably because the man in the couple would ask me for sugar and I would tell him no.  “That wench won’t give me sugar!” he would scream to his wife.  They were both hard of hearing.  “My coffee is not hot!” she would scream back. 

I wanted to scream at them all.  But I maintained my composure.  I had a very anal boss too.  Once I lost the key to the ice cream machine.  I got really nervous and didn’t want to tell him because I thought he would yell at me.  So I just stopped selling ice cream to old people.  I figured none of them needed the sugar or fat.

Someone came into my café and told me that my manager used to be a drug addict.  Personally I didn’t care nor did I hold it against him.  The only thing that bothered me about him was him micromanaging me.  His heroine habit had nothing to do with me hating him.  Sure I might have been making international calls to my cousin who lived in Russia, but that was not really his issue.  That was a bone I had to chew with nursing home itself.  When they got their phone bill I’m sure they were thinking it was some random patient who was Russian.  There are Russian Jews.  Not that I’m trying to blame the Jews for anything…don’t mince my words…  

Did I tell you about the time in my senior year of high school that I tried to sell knives door to door?  It was a nightmare.  The knife set cost more than six hundred dollars. My entire savings was about six hundred dollars. Truthfully and honestly I didn’t believe anyone should buy a knife set for more than like twenty bucks.  I had no concept of the bourgeoisie at that time.  To top it all off, I tried to sell these expensive knives to Indian people. 

My friend’s mom returned one knife because it cut her finger.  She said it was too sharp.  No one wanted to buy these knives, but sometimes they would buy one just to be nice.  My own parents didn’t buy a set because they thought it was a crazy waste of money.  It came to a point where I wanted to stab someone in the eye with one of those expensive knives if they didn’t buy one.  I think at some point people bought a knife just to keep me sane.  You can see how well that turned out…

Way before these two jobs I had a job at a store called Jacobson’s in Birmingham, Michigan.  I worked in the kid’s clothes section.  Let’s just say I like kids, but am not at all interested in their clothing that sells for like more than my clothes.  I don’t understand the concept of buying expensive clothes for kids who will grow out of them in five minutes.  My parents bought me clothes from Kmart when I was a kid.  I grew up fine.  Or so I like to think.

This one old braud who worked there told our boss, that she, “didn’t trust me.”  For no good reason, other than I despised expensive children’s clothing.  She knew; she was smart.  The boss yelled at me one day because apparently it’s not working ‘over time’ if you just work an extra day the next week or something I did not understand.  Anyways…a man was running a department for little girls.  Do you see anything wrong with that picture or is it just me?  Men don’t know anything about little girl’s clothes nor should they.  I hate men for running everything…

Then after that little stint I worked at Victoria’s Secret one year.  I was flattered when I discovered that at the time they only hired pretty women with good tits. Now I think it’s discrimination. What I didn’t know was that you had to promote your breasts, meaning stick em up in people’s faces and ask them if they needed any help.  They put me in the front, and I was to ask: You know that stupid question, “Can I help you with anything?” I had to ask it, over and over again.  I was so bad at asking that question because I sounded like I didn’t mean it.  I hated when people asked me if I needed help before I even barely entered a store.  They gave me the job of a total ditz and then they were mad when I didn’t make good sales.

I got some nice lingerie out of the deal, but besides that and giving my discount to all my friends, it was a nightmare working with high-strung women who were trying to sell overpriced bras.  The women there were scary, they were obsessed.  They were playing orchestra music and I mentioned how soothing the music was, and this girl who did inventory was like, “The music matches the mood of the store.”  The mood of the store is sex, honey.  Selling sex.  We are here to sell pretty sex.  Do you realize that, you freak?  Stop romanticizing it!  Anyone who shops or works at Vicky’s wants to get laid in style, let’s call a spade a spade.  By the way, when is their semi-annual sale again?

So the moral of the story is, I’m no good at serving or retail jobs. 

I don’t know if I’m really good at jobs in general.  I will be teaching soon so we will see how soon I get fired and have a good story to tell.  Here’s hoping I won’t have another war story about employment to tell you…


Image courtesy of renjith krishnan/

Monday, July 28, 2014

Guest Blogger: Roy Sexton 'But movies transport me.'


But movies transport me.

Movies have always been an important part of my life.
I like to read books (more accurately comic books these days, as I seem to now have the attention span of a tsetse fly), and I adore music. Television is fine, and I’ve spent many hours traipsing the boards of theatres across the Midwest. But movies transport me.
I love the fact that a film is an encapsulated medium. Whether 90 minutes or three hours, a movie tells one story – beginning, middle, and end – introducing you to new friends and enemies and locales in an efficiently designed delivery mechanism. With a good film, you get the experience of reading a novel (whether or not the film is in fact based on any work of literature) in a highly compressed fashion. 
Your brain leaves your body for a bit, you take a mini-vacation to places you might not otherwise ever see, and you return to your regularly scheduled life a bit changed, perhaps enlightened, and hopefully re-energized.
I stop reading email, answering calls, or monitoring social media…and just blessedly check out…for a bit.
My parents cultivated appreciation for the arts by filling our home with movies and music and books and love. I’ve groused in the past about wanting, as a child, to play with my Star Wars action figures in the solitude of my toy-lined room and being forced instead to sit in our den with my parents and watch some creaky B&W classic movie on Fort Wayne’s Channel 55. And I am so grateful now for that.
My appreciation for classic cinema resulted from these years basking in the glow of our old RCA color TV. And when we could finally afford a VCR and could now watch any movie of our choosing, I was already hooked on the story-telling of vintage movies with their requisite arch wit, dramatic stakes, whimsical joys, and belief that anything was possible.
However, not everything was high art in our house. The advent of HBO in the early 80s and its repetitive showings of whatever junk Hollywood had most recently cranked out shaped my tastes for better or worse as well. I’m a sucker for the movie train wreck – the more star-studded, over-budget, under-written, and garish the better. Some of my most beloved films are among the most notoriously awful of all time: Xanadu, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Wiz, Popeye, Flash Gordon. The Black Hole, Raggedy Ann and Andy’s Musical Adventure, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Return to Oz, Battle Beyond the Stars, Krull, The Neverending Story, and so on. 
If it was a flop and it was shown ad nauseum one mid-afternoon following another on HBO in the 1980s, then I fell in love with it. Like self-imposed water torture on my nascent aesthetic. 
As time went by and I stomped through my high school and college know-it-all years (some might argue I’m still stuck in them), I learned from both my parents and some wonderful teachers the tools of critique and criticism. What is the intent of the piece? What is the context for its creation? How effective is its structure, composition, impact? Where did it go awry or where did it cross over into something classic? 
It’s all highly subjective and a bit arrogant, I suppose, but I can’t help it. I’m entertained by the act of analysis.
In more recent years, Facebook gave me an outlet to connect with my inner-Ebert. I started posting status statements summarizing in glib, condensed fashion my take on whatever flick we had just enjoyed … or endured. My kind-hearted and patient partner John has suffered through a lot of movies over the years, many he enjoyed … and even more he did not. 
We still bicker about his departure from Moulin Rouge after twenty minutes with nary an explanation. I found him after the movie in the lobby reading a newspaper – I don’t know what is more telling: that he was too kind to want to ruin the movie for me by alerting me how much he hated it, or the fact that I stayed to the end without checking on his safety and security!

My friends and colleagues enjoyed these little “squibs” I posted on social media. I suppose I was aspiring to capture the grace and insight of Leonard Maltin’s “micro reviews” that I consumed voraciously as a child every January when we bought his latest edition. (The paper on those early volumes was always of some strange newspaper-esque stock prone to smudging and was pulpily aromatic. I will never forget that musty, fabulous smell.)
John always asks plaintively, “Didn’t they know this movie was bad when they were making it?!”
Perhaps I keep trying to solve that riddle, with the false confidence that my $10 movie ticket entitles me to a shot at armchair quarterbacking. Perhaps the failed actor in me is still trying to reclaim some artistic glory. Or perhaps I’m just a wise-ass with too many opinions and without the good sense to keep them respectfully to myself.
My pals told me, “Set up a blog. Capture these Facebook reviews for future reference. They’re great; they’re fun! Blah blah blah.” I have to admit that eventually my ego got the better of me, and, one late night, I explored the wonders that WordPress holds (albeit not that many) and set up ReelRoyReviews as a diary of sorts, detailing my adventures in the cinema.
Here’s the funny thing. Nobody read them. Nobody. At least for quite a while. 
Well, that’s not entirely true. My mom was an avid reader and supporter and was always the first to offer an encouraging comment: “My son writes the best reviews and everyone should love them.” So there!
But you know what? Something interesting happened along the way. I stopped caring and just started writing for myself. And I started having fun. And people started reading.
Life is way too short (and exasperating) to get too intense about entertainment, so I try to take a light and conversational approach with my reviews. And I try to respect that (for the most part) these are show business professionals putting (ideally) their best feet forward and that they are human beings with hearts and souls and feelings. I hope I never seem cruel. I don’t mean to be. These writings are off-the-cuff and journal-style and come from as positive a place as I can muster.
Approach everything and everyone honestly and with positive intent and offer candid feedback with an open heart and as much kindness as possible.
Please check out my latest reviews hereDawn of the Planet of the Apes, Transformers: Age of Extinction, Edge of Tomorrow, 22 Jump Street, The Fault in our Stars, and Tammy and more …]
Reel Roy Reviews is now a book! Thanks to BroadwayWorld for this coverage – click here to view. In addition to online ordering at Amazon or from the publisher Open Books, the book currently is being carried by Bookbound, Common Language Bookstore, and Crazy Wisdom Bookstore and Tea Room in Ann Arbor, Michigan and by Green Brain Comics in Dearborn, Michigan. My mom Susie Duncan Sexton’s Secrets of an Old Typewriter series is also available on Amazon and at Bookbound and Common Language.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Strange Encounters with Strangers

So I’m 24,  sitting in a bus to North Carolina, minding my own business when this dude who is sitting in front of me starts talking to me.  He seems rather normal, but talking to complete strangers is not normal.  We start talking about some thing or another and then he ends up sitting next to me.  He told me there were secrets that the president knew about aliens and stuff he could not talk about.  He said he had worked for the white house.

I believed him because I was young.  We also started talking to me about the fact that I was a virgin.  Don’t ask me how it came up, I don’t remember.  All I know is I told some random dude on a bus that I was a virgin in my early twenties. 

Strangers like to talk to me, like once I was sitting in Espresso Royale in Ann Arbor, Michigan and this man told me he talked to Mary.  Mary, Mary.  ‘Wow,’ I said.  Maybe I look like I care, that’s the problem.  Sometimes I actually am interested, another problem.  ‘She was probably about your size,’ he said to me.  Excuse me?  Mary was my size.  I was a decent size, but why was he telling me that?  What did it mean?  I got up and left when he said that because I all of a sudden realize how weird he was. 

One summer I worked at Victoria’s Secret in college.  This Indian man came in looking for a bra for his wife, he of course came directly to me. I tried to avoid him but he wasn’t having it.  So asked what size she was, ‘About your size,’ is what he said.  Ewwww, creepy. 

So why am I telling you creepy guy stories?  Because creepy men are everywhere, and for some reason they know who will humor them.  Women like me.  I used to have a problem with older men hitting on me, don’t you worry: I didn’t have a problem with men my age hitting on me.  It was always older creepy dudes.  My therapist said it happens because maybe I’m mature.  I don’t think I’m that ‘old’ inside, am I?

One time I was sitting on a bench and this man starting talking to me.  Somehow my father came up in conversation and I mentioned that he was blind but worked at EDS.   The man said to me, “If I blind man can get a job, I suppose a Black man can get a job.”  I will never forget that, he was probably my father’s age.  

I listen to these people because there is wisdom in the streets.  Wisdom is everywhere. 

When I was in the hospital I broke bread with homeless people.  My mom doesn’t think I should advertise that.  I once saw a guy I had lunch with at the hospital literally looking for food in a garbage can in New York City after I got out of the hospital.  I said ‘hi’ to him and he didn’t even seem embarrassed or anything.  He asked how I was feeling.  He asked how I was!  He was nice.  He was real.  He ate garbage.

I once even dated a guy from the psych ward once.  He had a lot of tattoos.  I liked it though.  He was a drug dealer.  I didn’t know that though.  I didn’t know that until he took me in my car to a random house in Detroit to sell painkillers.  He then told me he was once in jail for selling drugs.  Before I knew about that, I lent him $1,200.  Do you think I’m a little stupid.  Just a little bit?

Maybe.  I used to trust people a lot.  I still trust people, but I’m a lot more careful now.  I still talk to strangers every now and then, but I don’t get too involved.  I look a little wearier of their stories.  I’m not as interested.  I used to want to carry around a tape recorder and record a man on the street interview.  In fact all of a sudden that sounds like a brilliant idea.  I love the people on the street.  Or at a café or bookstore or bar.  I don’t have to stand in the middle of the street to get quick interviews from strangers.  Strangers are funny and real and smart. 

I used to be friends with a café manager at this café in Birmingham, Michigan. He was so intelligent, he loved history and politics.  He lived in Hamtramck with his girlfriend and his parents.  There are a lot of Bengali’s there, and he would tell me interesting stories.  We would chat for hours.  He took a bus to work, I don’t think he had a car.  I saw him daily on and off for years.  That café has closed down and I don’t know what his last name is.  I have no idea how to find him.  He was a friend, I even invited him to a party I was having.  He didn’t show up probably because he didn’t know any of my friends, but he was real and solid.  He was always cleaning tables so thoroughly as we talked.  He was a good man. 

I met a young dude at that same café.  He wanted to be an actor and he was hot.  In fact I brought him to my birthday party and everyone thought we were dating.  Everyone thought he was gorgeous.  He was a charmer too, he charmed my friends with his humor.  We never went out because he only wanted casual sex and I don’t do that, so it didn’t work.  But a couple of friends asked me why I don’t do that.  I’m not sure at this point…I’m not sure…

When I lived in Chicago I met an Argentinian man who was super intelligent and spoke Japanese at a local café.  We dated for a little while…he told me later that someone at the café bet him he could get me in bed.  I didn’t even get mad when I heard that…I don’t know why.

Strangers can be interesting, they can also be dangerous. 

Tell me your stranger stories.  Put them in the comments or private message me. 


Image courtesy of phanlop88/

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Letters to the Editor


Dear CNN:

Stop showing us madness; we have enough in our own minds.  Every time you show us suffering show us peace, we want to see real life not just terror.  We want to see regular citizens living real lives, not just people who are famous or who you think are important.

We would like to see the ‘real’ problems in this world.  We think there are people starving in this world, in a lot of different places in this world, that we do not even know about. There are human rights violations and human trafficking.   Show us the forgotten people sometimes. 

Then show us good things also, a blend of good and bad.  You seem like you are currently brainwashing the world that the end is coming.  You chew on the bad news.

I’m a minority.  When is the last time you covered news about Sikhs? Do you even know what a Sikh is?   

You are making celebrities out of shooters; they think that if they commit these horrible crimes they will become famous.

Stop it.


Dear World,

Stop being so bad.  I’m serious; we are turning into a bad, bad world.  What happened to human kindness?  Love?  Charity?

What happened to us?  Where exactly did we go wrong?  Why are there so many bad stories to report? 

I’m not suggesting we all hold hands and sing ‘Kumbyaa!’  I am suggesting we calm down. 

We as a society are creating the rapists, the murderers, and the mass shooters.  Even the terrorists, we are to blame for them. 

What are we doing wrong?

Look at our entertainment.  Is art reflecting life or is life reflecting art?  Either way, it’s bad news.  Movies don’t sell without some sort of twisted violence.  We are obsessed with superheroes in comic strips, because we cannot handle the reality:  there are no superheroes and the bad guys are winning.

I know you don’t think you are not a bad guy, you who are reading this, but how good are you?  We could all benefit from looking in the mirror and seeing our true nature.  If we were all good there would not be this chaos in the world.


Dear god,

What’s up?  You created a monster.  This creature you call a human being is doing horrible things.  If we were created in your image, what does this say about you?  Are you really good or is there this sick twisted side to you as well? If you are everything than you are the bad stuff too.  If there is no opposite of god, then you embody all that is beautiful and all that is terrible.  What’s up with that?

I have to interrogate you as I would interrogate any other being of suspicion.  I’m suspicious of you.  We hear you are made of love, but where did all the love go?

You want us to worship you?  What does that say about you?  Maybe it’s just a myth that you want to be worshipped.  I think you just want to be loved.  Like the rest of us, I think sometimes you get lonely.  I don’t think you are so different than us. 

Why did you make this mess?  What is the point of it?  Why are we here?

I’ve heard, word on the spiritual street is that we are here to experience love.  That we have to experience it’s opposite in order to understand it.  I don’t understand why there is such extreme violence and hate: I just don’t get it.  Why did you create that side to us?  It’s getting so bad that there are those living in absolute fear, violence and misery.  How can we have signed up for this?  Why was this even an option in your creation?

I blame you, for it all, in this way.  This is your show.  The show is taking a turn for the worse.  Is it going to be cancelled?

I know you are pure love and truth.  So why all this madness: not the good kind of madness.  Why all the hate and violence? 

Is this the eventually result of free will of people whose souls are made of love.  Give love a choice and it will do wrong?  Is that the way it goes?

I don’t understand why, I just don’t get it.


Dear nina,

What are you doing with your life?  You were given a good home, good people, good friends, an education, a beautiful body and soul.  Why are you not living up to your potential?  Do you even know what your potential is?

It’s OK I understand that some things went wrong some of the time, but things go wrong some of the time for everyone.  Now is the time to fix up those things.  Now is the only time to do what you need to do.

You don’t have to have a husband or kids to fulfill yourself.  Your cup should be full, then you can share it with other people.  The greatest people have fallen down many times, it’s time to stand up regardless. 

You are doing great.  You could always do better.  Think about your mind, body and soul and work on all three together. 

You are perfect just the way you are.  You are wonderful exactly as you are. 

Be happy.



Dear Reader,

Who are you I wonder?  What do you think about?  What do you think about when you read all this weird jargon I spread? 

Do you want to express yourself too?  Why don’t you?  Do you give yourself permission to be yourself? 

What’s your favorite color?  Your favorite word?  Your favorite person?

Do you think you know me because you’ve read about it?  Do you really think you can read someone and know them?

What is the craziest thing you have ever done?  What is the best thing you have ever done?

Do you wish you could be crazier?  Do you want to be better?

Why do you sit where you sit, why do you stand where you stand?

Do you wish you were kinder and maybe nicer?  Do you wish you were younger and thinner?  Do you ever wish that you weren’t you? 

Who would you want to be?  What would you want to be?

Are you sad?  Do you know why you’re sad? 

You could be happy.  I promise you that.


Image courtesy of iosphere/

Friday, July 25, 2014

You can Call me Queen Bee!


I was having an existential crisis the other day.  What does that mean you ask?  It means I was questioning the reason for my very existence.  I guess I was wondering what the reason is I am living.  That sounds more suicidal than it really is.  It’s not that I want to die, just that I’m not sure what I’m living for.  Are you?

I mean then I thought, I don’t have any kids, no husband, so who am I living for?  Although in my rational mind I know it’s a mistake to live your life for anyone but yourself.  I realize that and know it to be true, but sometimes I get curious as to what the universe wants from me.  I can’t live for my work; I can’t live to write.  You can’t live for your work because we all know that will end badly. 

Then what are you supposed to live for?  I do have people that I love: I’m no stranger to love, that’s really not the problem.  I even feel like I have a purpose.  What I don’t understand is the reason.

I think I came on this earth to experience something.  Well sometimes I get sick of the experiences, because sometimes they suck.  Sometimes experience is a real bitch.  But then there is the beauty of the sun, and a close friend of mine telling me her deepest secret, and the trees holding the sun in their leaves.  Sometimes I do know that it is these moments that I live for, these moments are part of the reason I’m alive.

Then there is my purpose, which is to express myself and inspire others to express themselves.  I want to show people and teach people how to be themselves, really and truly.  But trust me that doesn’t always feel like enough of a reason to live.  Being myself, really and truly expressing who I am deep inside, now there is a reason. 

Do you ever have this issue, this issue of why you are alive?  Maybe it’s just me but I suspect others may have these same questions.  I want to say I live for love, but that’s sounds so cheesy.  However there really is some truth to that.  Whether it is love of self or love of others, or both, I live for that.  I also live for beauty and meaning.  I think there is beauty meaning even in a broken down liquor store in downtown Detroit.  People come in there, beautiful people with beautiful lives and beautiful problems.  Who am I not to see the beauty in a drunk? 

Maybe the reason to live is just to live as so many have said before me.  Maybe the reasons are not necessary.  I want to really and truly live.  That doesn’t necessarily mean climbing mountains, it can mean eating an apple.  But really tasting that apple.  If I could really eat an apple, I can do anything, really.

Believe me there are mountains I want to climb, metaphorical mountains.  But most of all I want to enjoy freedom.  I am free.  I may not even know how free I am but I am free.  God created free will.  And I think we created us in the image of that free will.  I think god is free will and free will is god.  I should worship freedom: ‘freedom’ should be my new mantra. 

I should live for myself, for me myself and I. Living for anything besides myself, for anything else is probably not going to work.  But they say also that you should live to serve others.  I’m not sure exactly how to serve.  I don’t know if laying my thoughts on the table here is serving.  It might be.  It should be. 

Sometimes I live for small things, like a cup of coffee early in the morning when the sun rises and there is the promise of the day.  Sometimes I live for a late night walk when the stars call out to me that my dreams are real.  Sometimes I just want to walk, walk over to my real life, as if this one I’m living is not real enough for me.  Sometimes I want to walk away from all this and make a new life somewhere, I don’t know where.  I want to leave this Podunk town in Michigan and go somewhere.  But what is going to change?  I will still be taking me with me.

If I’m not happy here, I won’t be happy anywhere.  This just may be as good as it gets and as real as it gets.  Most of my friends and family are here, living in my state.  I need them.  But I need me more than I need them.

When am I going to come alive?  Really and truly come alive? 

I think I may be afraid of life itself.  You never know what life is going to give you, I mean I wish it were like a box of chocolates cause I love chocolate and I would take any one of those chocolates and enjoy it.  But life is more like a box of random stuff and you close your eyes and pull out something every day.  It’s always interesting and it’s rarely boring.

Sometimes I think I don’t know what life really is or who I really am.  I know that I am not my life.  I am something different than this.  I think I’m more than my life. 

But what is that thing that I am?  I like to think that I’m really truth and love.  I am what I am.  I know this may sound radical, but I don’t think Goddess and me are separate and sometimes I think I am a goddess too.  We are all gods of our own lives and we create them.  The difference between this and being egotistical is that I don’t want to be the goddess of your life.  Just mine. 

You know that song Royal, ‘we will never be royal?’ I think we will always be royal. 

I think we rule this mutha!



Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/

Thursday, July 24, 2014

List of Lists

Image by Raymond Huerta

Nowadays there is a list for everything.  Ten ways to be happy. Ten ways to be happier than happy.  Because I’m happy!!!!! Happy!  I mean it’s kind of like that song.  How about I make a list of why I hate lists.  I am an anomaly I understand.  And I’m just truly trying on discipline for size.  But I haven’t gotten to lists yet. 

Call me a rebel. 

It all starts with the fact that I don’t really like numbers to begin with.  There are always numbers involved with lists.  Why do we have to numerically represent our lives?  Why can’t we be free?  If you can’t remember to do your laundry you won’t have clean underwear at some point and nothing to wear.  Do you really need to put on a list:  do laundry?

OK I’m a hypocrite, a total hypocrite.  Because I like Franklin Planners.  They are different kind of lists though.  I mean I don’t mind lists with meaning.  Like the kind of Franklin Planner that covers your social and spiritual needs.  That is cool.

I know I know, make a decision. 

To list or not to list?

This may surprise you but I’m not particularly organized.  I wrote a five hundred-page novel without making an outline.  I just think outlining would have impeded my creative flow.  I NEVER considered doing it, nor were we taught to do that in grad school.  Write they said to us.  Just write.  Keep writing and write more.

When I first entered school my professor told me I was terrible.  She was later fired.  Then the second semester I had another professor who asked me if I wanted to take a break from school she thought I was so bad.  She was also fired a year later.

The next professor I had wanted to work with me on my novel, she liked my work.  The last professor I had told me I might be the best writer in the program and said he didn’t know if he could run his class without me.

My point?  I could make a list of reasons all these things happened to me.  Maybe I did suck my first year.  I truly don’t think I did, but I was told I did.  Maybe I was a rock star in the end, well if I’m so good why is my book not published?

Ahhh, but it’s one book.  Do you know how many books there are in the world?  Let’s make a list shall we?  In the whole scheme of the world it’s nothing.  I will write another one and then another one. 

My point?  Can you really numerically define your life?  Some mathematicians think that you can.  I don’t particularly disagree or particularly understand myself.  Math was the bane of my existence in school; in fact I think they would not let me out of honors math because I was Indian.  I’m not kidding, I asked my counselor and she looked at me funny when I said I could not do math.  She said it was better for me to stay in advanced math and do bad, then go into regular math.  I don’t believe her. 

It’s in my blood people.  I mean it actually is: my father is a math genius. 

However, both my grandfathers were very good at writing.  In fact my one grandfather who lived to be nighty-eight wrote the Indian government letters until he was nighty-eight about getting his pension.  They of course assumed he was dead, but he was not.  He also wrote Bill Clinton letters, he was amazing.

My mother’s father wrote all the time.  He wrote translations of the Sikh scriptures and other awesome things.  His vocabulary and diction were outstanding; he makes me seem like a heathen.  I mean my speak is a little bit colloquial at best, a little ungrammerly at worst.  I don’t know if he would really ‘get’ my blog style of writing.  Not sure. 

Both my grandfathers, and my father and mother are list makers.  My father now uses Siri to make lists because he can’t see.  My mother uses scraps of paper. 

This has in no way convinced me yet to be a list maker.  My two best friends have tried to encourage me to make lists when I was depressed.  I did do that, for like a day and then I just threw the lists away.  I don’t know if that was the best idea.  I mean I do well with discipline. 

At one point I was really into the Franklin planner and thought I could plan my way to enlightenment.  I’m not sure about that anymore, but you never know. 

I could turn my blog posts into lists, like they do now in most publications.  We stopped having conversations in magazines and just list out everything.  It bores me. 

I’ll tell you why:

1.     I hate lists
2.     I’m not organized
3.     I hate numbers
4.     I’m a hypocrite

That is what my blog would be if I listed it up.  I think lists represent the first world problems in this way.  I think it is very how should I say this, American, to make lists about every single thing.  People just do in other countries.  They just are. 

I mean I know I’m extreme; I don’t even use a calendar.  I write my appointments on scraps of paper, which I often lose.  I try to remember my social plans, but I’m starting to forget.  I know; I’m a hot mess. 

Get it together nina.  That’s what you want to say to me, isn’t it?  Well I’m trying, and I might at least try to use my digital calendar now and then, especially since I have people writing blogs for me and doing interviews.  How does one keep all that straight?  God knows.  Do you think god is a lister?  I mean talk about someone who has got things to do.  Or maybe he doesn’t do anything, maybe he just observes.  Who knows?

Santa Clause definitely has a list. 

Maybe I’ll list who’s naughty or nice.

Naughty, talk about a word I haven’t used in a long time.  It’s kind of a dirty word now. 

I should have a list of ideas to blog about, I usually just work from thin air.  I’m so random. 

How about a bucket list?  This is what I would put on it:

1.     Eat Thai curry from a coconut in Thailand
2.     Stay in a hut on the beach in Bali
3.     Learn and practice the Kama Sutra
4.     Become enlightened
5.     Help with world peace
6.     Sell at least one bestselling book
7.     Win Nobel Prize in Literature

There is more to that list but I can’t think anymore today…

How about a fuck it list?  This is what it would be like:

1.     Alarm Clocks---fuck them
2.     Being stood up on a date---Fuck him
3.     Ruining the Environment---Fuck the world
4.     War---Fuck those who initiate it
5.     People who don’t read—Fuck stupidity
6.     Depression—Fuck It
7.     Find a husband Fuck it
8.     Learn Photoshop—Fuck it
9.     Make a scrapbook—Fuck it
10. Work for the man---Fuck him  (not literally)
11. Clean up contact/address book---Fuck it
12. Read spam emails---fuck it
13. Respond to candy crush requests---FUCK THAT
14. Delete apps on my phone—Fuck it
15. Clean up computer hard drive---Fuck it
16.  How many times can I say the word ‘Fuck’ in one post?---Fuck it

And I could go on and on…

What’s your favorite thing to list?  Share it with us: