November 9, 2016


You may have noticed that uh…my country has made a terrible decision.

The fact that Donald Trump is the president elect made it hard to get out of bed this morning. Just existing today has been a struggle for so many of us; I’m afraid and angry and sad and disappointed and horrified. And the fact that I am not alone in my terror just seems to make it worse. I’m not only worried about myself and my rights, but the rights of millions of other minorities, people of color, LGBT+ people, immigrants, etc etc etc…

I want to shut down. I want to scream, I want to cry. I want to give in to the most primal parts of myself that are trying to tear me up from the inside out. And in a few ways I have. I left school early because I just couldn’t see straight. Breathing is hard. I’m trying to see the sunlight for the gift that it is, trying to smell the fall leaves and feel joy but…there’s a fog covering my brain and I don’t know when it’ll lift.

The only thing keeping me afloat is a sense of duty toward America. I want to take care of her now. I know a lot of people’s immediate reaction is to run away, to move elsewhere. And if that’s something you feel you have to do in order to be safe, then do it. Really. I promise I understand.

But I’ll be here, because I won’t abandon this country only to watch it be destroyed. When something you love is being abused and mistreated, you don’t leave. You support it. You love it. You take extra care of it. You fight for it. I never felt particularly patriotic before, because patriotism felt tainted by selfish, radical right wing politicians. But today, I feel the need to hold this country tighter to my heart than I ever have before. Because we need it. We need extra love, extra kindness, or we might just fall apart.

There are too many unknowns. I’m scared for my rights as a bisexual woman. I’m scared for the safety of those I love. But I promise you we will find a way to get through this. We’re gonna be okay. I don’t know when, and I’m not really sure how, but I’m gonna go with my gut on this one and say somehow it’ll all be okay.

Take care of yourself. Do things that make you feel alive and happy. Take care of your soul, lest it be crushed. Take a break from the news if you feel like you can. Do what is best for you. Eat well. Sleep if you can. Kiss your mother. Find a dog and pet it. Allow yourself a few moments to rebuild, then move forward. There’s a lot to do.

Its time to be there for this country and make sure everything we value is taken care of. I’m very angry, but anger has never solved anything. We have a chance to truly define who we are as a country, so act with grace and love. Let unity dominate your thoughts. Let your every action be driven by kindness, not hatred. Allow yourself to be afraid, and know that is valid. But try to be motivated positively by that fear and be productive, not destructive.

Be a beacon of light, because this is the darkest time we’ve faced in a long while. Remember that peace has gotten us through tough times before, and it won’t fail us now.

I love you all. Please take care of yourself and everyone you know. We are flawed, but that doesn’t mean we can’t rebuild.

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Summer Vacations Are Over


I just realized I’ll never have three solid months off for the summer ever again. And if we’re being totally honest, I’m not that sad about that. I never really loved summer vacation.

I grew up in a pretty rural area, but it wasn’t so rural that everyone else lived in a rural area….if that makes sense… Basically, I lived on 8.5 acres and my neighbors lived far away, but just a couple miles down the hill was a large development where tons of people lived pretty close to one another. We all went to school together, but I didn’t live close enough to them to spend hours upon hours every day making friends. I was a little bit of an outsider. While they all walked to each other’s houses every day in the summer, I stayed home with my sister and played in the yard, or did work in the little orchard we had, or made up stories by myself. My parents worked a lot, though they definitely did make efforts for me to have play dates with the other kids. It just wasn’t the same as living ten feet away from your best friend like all of the other kids did.

So my childhood was a little different from most kids’. I never minded much when I was little, because I didn’t realize there was an alternative. It helped me learn to entertain myself, and I got really comfortable being alone with my thoughts, which I think is super important and a little rare these days. I transferred to a high school in town when I was 14, and the same thing happened — I didn’t live near any of my friends, wasn’t able to just drop by. I loved high school and was really happy, so this wasn’t much of an issue, it was just different. My house was never the meeting place, because my house involved a 20 minute drive out of town.

Sometimes I drive through neighborhoods and see all the kids riding their bikes together, or walking to a corner mart, or just playing outside on someone’s lawn. I don’t know if I wish I’d had that childhood, really. It would’ve been nice to be able to be more social if I’d wanted, to have the typical high school experience you see in the movies where the best friend drops by all the time. But honestly, I’d be a different person. Those sorts of experiences change and shape you in ways we never really expect, so I don’t know who I’d be today. I’m sure I’d be lovely, but I happen to enjoy myself at the moment and I’m not terribly willing to change that.

So I didn’t care much for summer vacation, because summer vacation meant a lot of time alone. I’ll bet if I had those three months now I could find some really awesome things to do with some pretty awesome people, but I’m so excited to start my new job and make friends in this new city that there’s little that could make me want three months off of school or work.

It’s nice to be excited like this.

Cool It, People


Lately, I’ve had a few adults (and I say adults like I’m not one because they’re my parents’ age and also because I refuse to grow up) make sassy and inappropriate comments about my appearance. “Oh my goodness, what have you done to your hair? And you’ve got things in your nose!” When I hear these comments, I never quite know how to react, so I default to laughing a little and sort of ignoring the fact that I was just insulted tremendously by someone who should know better.

Maybe I should put them in their place, say, “Listen, sister, you better cool it because that’s rude and you’re clearly an ignorant moron.” Maybe I should forget everything I’ve ever learned and believed about nonviolence and just throw a glass of wine in their face — glass included. But today I’ve decided to just have a mini-rant on the internet because that’s what feels necessary. A little bebe PSA on how to act, because you’re an adult, and you know what you say is hurtful.

Yes, I choose to look this way. I choose to dye my hair and pierce my nose and have tattoos. But other people have a choice, too. They can either accept me for the way that I am, or judge me for what they see on the surface. They can choose to actually explore the creativity and kindness I have to offer the world, or they can — through willful ignorance — decide that they don’t care to expend any effort by getting to know me.

I’m pretty tame looking, if we’re being honest. I know people with so many tattoos and piercings you barely know what color their skin was originally. It takes all kinds of people to make this world as gorgeous as it is, and for people to expect everyone to look and act just like them is pretty unrealistic and frankly a little ridiculous. People are going to have to get used to seeing colored hair and piercings and style choices that they don’t like, because welcome to real life — things change. People don’t wear corsets and wigs anymore, thank goodness. Styles and tastes progress.

I think the most important thing to take away is this: if you see someone and you decide you don’t like their hair or their clothes or their septum piercing or their massive leg tattoo, get over it. Choose to not get a tattoo for yourself, but don’t put others down for their personal choices. Those choices are some of the few that will literally never hurt you personally — my nose piercing impacts zero percent of your life. Don’t get one yourself, sure — it would be pretty weird to see everyone wandering around with septum piercings and mooing like cows — but shut the hell up about mine.

I’m proud of myself for being an individual. I’m glad I don’t look like every other 21 year old white girl on this planet. I’m happy that when I walk out my door I do it with integrity and don’t try to pretend to be someone I’m not. As long as we’re all expressing our true selves, I say rock on. And if you’ve got an issue with that, go complain about it to someone else.

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One Time I Wrote Fanfic


It was awesome. There’s something really exhilarating about writing absolute tripe on the internet…maybe that’s why I like blogging. Anyway, it’s some of the most ridiculous nonsense I’ve ever written but I thought I’d share it with you here, because…because it’s Downton Abbey fanfic and Carson is sassy in it. So you’re welcome.

 

Midnight in the Library

In which Carson keeps it tight. Meow.

“Carson.” Thomas leaned against the doorframe, his sleeves rolled to the crook of his arm, vest buttons undone. His chest rose and fell quickly over labored breath. “Carson, I need you.”

Charles Carson looked up from his desk, his glasses at the tip of his nose. He pulled them off to chew tenderly on the end of his wire frames. “Oh?”

Thomas walked forward, leaning on the desk and pushing his face toward Carson’s. A small trickle of sweat ran down his temple, his hair disheveled, chest still heaving. “You’ve got no idea.”

This had become a common occurrence lately, as Thomas became more and more stressed with his duties serving Branson, so Carson was not particularly surprised to see him in disarray, panting above him. At first, Carson had disapproved of Thomas’ growing familiarity, running into his office at all hours of the evening, constantly needing advice or support of some kind. But loneliness gets the better of even the most upstanding men, and he’d begun to find Thomas’ adoration difficult to eschew. Carson was leaving tomorrow, anyway, without a word to anyone, not even Thomas. So no, it wasn’t surprising that Thomas arrived in Carson’s office at midnight, as the last bits of his candle flickered weakly. What was surprising, however, was that a desk still separated the two men.

Thomas led him into the library, fingers lightly grazing Carson’s hip through his jacket while he spoke. “I just can’t get these books straightened.” Never mind that book-straightening had never been an actual duty around Downton. Never mind that, had it been, Carson would have been even less capable of the task than Thomas. Never mind that they could be caught at any moment, suspiciously wandering the upstairs while the family slept. Nothing mattered now. Not now that Carson was leaving Downton forever. This was their last night together, and it would be spent in their place. It would be spent in the library.

It was too much. Carson found no reason to stay at Downton now, not now that he’d sullied his position and all it stood for. He’d loved every moment of his mischief, loved every warm breath that had passed from between Thomas’ beautiful lips, loved every second they’d spent alone in this darkened room. But he could no longer look Lord Grantham in the eye at dinner with these secrets ricocheting through his head. Given his propensity for telling the truth, no matter the cost, Carson knew he wouldn’t make it much longer without outing Thomas and himself as the sinners they were. The incandescent, passionate, sinning lovers they’d become.

It had been the false premises that intrigued him, always gave him that giddy fluttering in his stomach that he’d never experienced before. The questions Thomas had needed to ask him in the wee hours of the morning, drawing him from his bed in just a nightshirt. Before, he’d walked a tightrope of perfection that had thrilled him; polishing candlesticks had made his heart race in a way no woman ever had. But Thomas was an enigma, the most beautiful enigma, and now that he’d tasted freedom with Thomas, staying at Downton felt futile.

So he stood in the library, that same candle glimmering away in all its dying glory, his arm against a bookshelf as Thomas stood between him and so many classic pieces of literature, his breath catching in his throat, passion choking him as it never had before.

“Thomas,” Carson breathed. Thomas’ eyes twinkled wildly, his lips curled into the most glorious smirk he had ever seen. He exhaled heavily, leaning closer.

The candle flickered and, in a tiny burst of light, died.

On Diwali: Glorious, Magical, Bittersweet


Only the best restaurant I've ever eaten at in Bangalore.

Only the best restaurant I’ve ever eaten at in Bangalore.

It’s Diwali, and with that comes so much light and love and happiness for me as a Hindu. I continually learn about elements of my faith with each passing holiday, so I always have a hard time explaining Diwali to other people, but the most beautiful thing for me about Hinduism is that I feel it deep in my soul. I understand it there first, and then in my head. That doesn’t always sit well with others, but its what makes Hinduism mine. It’s why I am Hindu and not Jain or Sikh or Muslim or Jewish or anything else. I am inherently Hindu, deep through my core, and it bursts out of me in the most glorious ways. I am a human representation of the physical aspect of Diwali.

I am drawn, like that cliche moth to its mother flame, toward the light and love that Diwali represents, both in the material and spiritual worlds. But as I celebrate, I miss my mother. I miss India. I miss my spirit’s home. Hinduism and India, in my heart, are one.

So many things have reminded me of Bangalore this past week, even before I began celebrating the festival of light. My roommate bought a new hand soap that I’d used while I was in Bangalore, and every time I wash my hands I feel like crying a little as the scent reminds me of my time there. I watched a few videos of people celebrating Diwali in New Delhi and Bombay and once again felt like crying as I saw the trees wrapped in the most fluorescent lights known to mankind. I miss seeing those everywhere at night, simultaneously blinding and entrancing me. When I was in Bangalore, those lights comforted me even as I felt like dying from E. coli or homesickness for America, and remembering that they exist makes me want to jump aboard the nearest plane and endure 20 hours of air travel just so I can see them again.

India is magic. I miss the old men, laughing louder than I’d ever heard anyone laugh before, burping after they ate a good meal, looking at me like I was just a silly child when I got confused about directions. I miss rickshaws, those sassy little vehicles that simultaneously inspired terror and joy as they careened throughout the narrow side-streets. I miss women touching my blonde hair and telling me I was so tall. Mangoes. Everyone laughing at me. With me.

But in the same breath that I call India magical, I must also call it devastating. The duality of India is not lost on me: rich and poor living directly next to each other. Beggar children with no shoes standing atop piles of trash. Cattle wandering aimlessly, without owners or protection. Wild dogs, all of them with at least one injured limb, begging for food. Rabid. Begging. India begs, often without pride or ego, with the most desperate voice. It’s not something anyone can easily forget or ignore.

But it’s like a lover you can never leave behind. India. She appears in my dreams, calling out, begging me to return. And oh god, I would oblige if I only could. I don’t think I’d ever wept before, but I weep now for my companion. India is a physical representation of my god, my religion, the spirituality I feel deep within. And I need her now more than ever.

Diwali is glorious, shining, happy. I will celebrate and pray and love, of course, because this holiday is perfect. But this year, it is also tinged with sadness as I experience a longing for the home I never truly grew up in, wishing teleportation would hurry up and invent itself, because I’m homesick.

Henrietta


henrietta letters

Oh yeah, and I got some pretty sweet cat salt and pepper shakers, too. You’re welcome.

I’d never liked antiquing before — my mother half-dragging me around rooms full of musty nonsense that nobody wanted, my feet tired, my nose stinging a little from all that dust and “history.” History in quotes, of course, because much of it seems to be weird plastic crap from the 1970s that got tossed out of someone’s basement and somehow landed in a shop dubbed as an “antique.” But my family took a trip to a little town on the river and found an amazing shop with proper, beautiful antiques. Vases, gorgeous old pipes, well-preserved powder blue suitcases, lamps, a strangely huge collection of salt and pepper shakers and finally…a stack of old letters spanning from 1913 to 1935 chronicling the life of Henrietta, a woman from California whose husband died of influenza in 1918, whose children grew up and sent her postcards from their trips throughout the state, whose sister and disabled brother sent her darling letters, drawings, and times tables. My favorite envelope simply contains a newspaper clipping of a burned-down building, with the words “our old playgrounds are ruined” in thick pencil-scrawled cursive.

I hadn’t written or been inspired to write since I left India. Life has felt like a blur, and a not-so-pleasant one at that, since I returned. I miss my life in Bangalore, miss the way people treated me and loved me and randomly took photos with me, miss the bizarre hole-ridden sidewalks and too-strong milk in bags, miss the food (oh, the food), miss rickshaw rides through monsoons. I often find myself up at night wishing I were back there, even though I love being home in the states, where it’s actually quiet at night and I don’t have to wear long pants in 90 degrees with 80% humidity. I’m glad I don’t have E. coli anymore, which finally ended its long romp inside my intestines after 4 weeks of the most impressive diarrhea imaginable. But I want to go back. It’s particularly hard because I was supposed to be there for 10 weeks and left after 4 instead, so in my mind I’m supposed to be there, not here doing yard work at 7 a.m. or living in the country with only a few friends around. I got used to never being alone, always having something to look at or taste or laugh about (so many goats), and writing is such a solitary activity that I think I’ve been avoiding it.

But then…Henrietta. Henrietta has a story to tell, and I’ve been researching her family tree and census records, trying to get a timeline so I can imagine her life and recreate it on paper. She came to me on old, yellowed paper, wrapped in a pink ribbon, and it’s my job, my duty even, to do her justice. You’ll see the results. Not tomorrow, maybe not next year, but someday you’ll meet Henrietta.

Many thanks to my reader Hans, whose kind words and constant reassurance always add a little joy to my day! (Basically, he was like “Why don’t you write anymore” and I was like “Good question” and that was like…that.)

Good.


I never know how to explain this place to people when they ask, so I always just awkwardly say “good.” I thought maybe I hated it before, which was mostly due to the fact that I was basically living on a toilet dealing with some serious E. coli. But now, since my stomach is no longer rebelling against me, I understand India.

It’s hot here. People eat hot food and drink hot drinks, which at first defies all logic until you realize that the hotter the food is, the less likely it is to poison you.

It’s dusty and dirty and there’s trash on the road and cow pies everywhere and huge man-holes in the sidewalk…but they just keep me on my toes. Every day I survive is a small accomplishment, especially when I cross the street.

Everyone here stares at me, but it’s less weird now that it’s been happening for about 2 weeks. I’m tall, very pale, and blonde with blue eyes. I think I’ve seen one or two other people here who fit that description, so for once in my life I’m kind of exotic…it’s weird. Weird but kind of awesome. When we were stuck in traffic the other day, an entire family rolled down their windows to wave at me and a friend and ask us how we were doing. Sometimes it’s creepy, like when motorcycle drivers pull up next to us and lock us in solid, abnormal-for-America eye contact, but usually it’s borne from an intense curiosity and genuine interest. I’ll never mind.

I don’t know what it is…someone told me India is not love at first sight, but it grows on you. I think they might be right. Sometimes it feels awful living in this city, where everything smells a bit like decomposing trash, a bit like incense, and a bit like spicy food…where the rickshaws honk, the motorcycles beep, the buses basically sound like elephants…I live in the middle of fields back in the states. Cities are hard.

But then we go to villages and meet little children and fall in love and almost cry when we leave them behind. I see pictures of myself looking so exceedingly happy, so completely blissful, and I remember that the negative is only temporary, and I’ll miss this place when I’m gone. I go to Hindu temples, places I’ve only ever dreamed of experiencing, and am blessed by a little man in the corner, kneeling and bowing before him as he touches my head and sings something I’ll never understand but can feel within my soul, and I can still feel his fingertips on my head and the cold beneath my knees. I bow before Ganesh and ask him to help me, touch Shiva’s feet and let water run across my face and over my head, participate in traditions I didn’t even know existed. I give a priest an offering and am painted vermillion and it looks like a little head wound when I accidentally scratch it but in the most perfect sort of way, and I’m happy.

It’s good here.

Tummy Trouble


Warning: Diarrhea talk below.

It’s hard to love this place when it’s essentially eating your stomach. I’ve been having a pretty rough time for the last 36 hours, mostly sleeping and laying in my room, running to the bathroom every couple hours. But today is the first day of classes, so we walked 3 kilometers (about 45 minutes) to school this morning and I basically wanted to pass out on the side of the road. Diarrhea tummy and heat don’t really mix too well.

I don’t know how people here deal with the stomach flu or other things that make your stomach unsettled, because the food here isn’t really soothing for my nausea. I’m sure they have soups of some kind, but I had a hard time even venturing out of my apartment yesterday for fear of needing a bathroom and not being able to find one.

Lipton boxed chicken noodle soup has definitely saved me, so I’m not about to keel over from lack of nourishment, and I brought some Gatorade so at least I won’t die here! (It’s not really that bad, I just like being dramatic.)

Anyway, today should be exciting to say the least. Wish me luck!

God Bless You All (Day 3)


Religion in India is a way of life, and the people here practice it with an intensity I’ve never experienced before in America. We went to a Catholic cathedral today and I was almost in tears because everyone there was so focused on their devotion. It was a truly beautiful thing to see. The churches are crowded at every moment of the day, and people sit in silence in front of the many statues, often touching Jesus’ feet or holding their hands toward Mary. These people seemed happy to see us in their place of worship — at first some of us worried we would be obtrusive or invading their sacred space, but when an old man came over and said kindly, “God bless you all” I felt like he truly meant it…it came from his heart. We took our shoes off at one area of the church where people were sitting on the floor praying in front of statues. I want to capture the beauty of these moments better but I realize I’m failing. Honestly, it was one of the most moving experiences of my life, and it had nothing to do with Jesus or Mary or the church’s beauty. It was all because these people feel their religion so deeply, so wholly, that I couldn’t help but feel it too.

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We went to a Sikh Gurdwara later in the day, where we removed our shoes, washed our feet, and covered our heads before entering. The women sit at one side and the men at the other, and we sat on the floor for most of the time. I wasn’t sure exactly what was happening at first, but I realized the man and woman at the front were wearing clothes of matching fabrics and…we’d stumbled into a wedding ceremony. We were welcomed warmly by everyone, and were given some sort of food at the end of the ceremony which I still can’t really identify, but it was a paste of some kind and tasted amazing. I seriously have no idea what was going on that whole time, but I felt a lovely calm in the room. Everything was so bright and beautiful — the gold, the chandeliers, the light, the people. I’ve learned more and connected more by silently observing for the past few days than I ever did back at home blabbering away with other people.

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What I’ve found most of all is that religion is most people’s support system in this country. When you’re born into a religion, you form bonds with the other people at your temple/church/mosque and are supported for life. If you need food, you receive food. If you need help paying for school, you receive help. If you need a place to stay in another city, often the temple/church/mosque will provide it for free or at little cost. And these people spend an amazing time at their places of worship. We’re lucky in America if people make it to church once a week for an hour, but these people come for hours and hours, often multiple times a week. It truly is the backbone of their lives. And the amount of charity work done by most of these places is absolutely essential in this country, because the amount of poor and destitute Indians is so overwhelming that help from these large congregations is probably what keeps a lot of them alive.

The silent beauty radiating from these places is too much for words, but I think it really has changed my life forever. I’ve been practicing Hinduism for the past few years all by myself, because there isn’t a temple nearby at all, and I think I’ve missed out on the bonds and support I could’ve received. Hopefully someday I’ll find my place, but for now I’ll have to be my own temple. I look forward to going to Hindu temples here, because I know it will fill me in a way I’ve not yet experienced.

Brownie


Is she not the loveliest woman you've ever seen? The picture came out blue for some reason...but the beauty's still there.

Is she not the loveliest woman you’ve ever seen? The picture came out blue for some reason…but the beauty’s still there.

My grandmother turned 93 years old on Friday. 93 years old. Can you imagine? The wonderful and terrible things she’s seen…

She was born in 1920 in Delaware. Her mother died giving birth to her, and she was raised by her aunt and uncle (who she thought were her real parents until apparently she overheard that they weren’t but kept it a secret for a long time, poor darling). I’m named after her uncle, Charles Brown, who she called Cappy because “he was the captain of their ship” meaning their house, as he was not a sea captain but in fact a fruit farmer. She’s told me stories about the Depression, when times were especially tough since he didn’t have a set salary. Once, he brought a cart of apples into town to sell, and she watched as he brought the whole cart, still full, back that evening. No sale.

We can’t imagine what people went through back then. They saw the worst of times, and they bucked up and worked harder. My grandma got a job at Woolworths on Saturdays for 20 cents an hour in Dover. “Wasn’t that generous?” she laughed to me today, in her beautiful, high movie star voice. That’s one thing I’ve always loved about her — she was raised in Delaware in a time when everyone spoke like it was Hollywood. At least, that’s what I think. She has that beautiful, eloquent East Coast way of speaking, but it’s something I’ve never heard in anyone else; her accent is unique, even apart from my grandfather’s. He was from New York, son of Germans, and I’ve never heard anyone talk like he did either.

Pops and Brownie, we call them. Pops passed about 4 years ago, into his 90s, and Brownie carries on in her blue Keds, jeans and light long sleeve shirts, her lovely slender fingers worn with age but still as soft as they were when I was a toddler. Edna Brown, you darling woman. My sister has her nose, her fingers. I have her height, I suppose — she was 5’9″ at her peak, though I don’t know how much age has affected that. She played basketball in high school when very few girls ever did, went to nursing school and had a career when that was probably pretty rare, and voted for the first female Episcopal priest. My grandmother paved the way for so many women, in her small way.

She met my grandfather — I forget where or how — when she was in nursing school (I think…the stories run together sometimes, and I heard them when I was so little) and they went to a movie together. Apparently, Pops had fallen and bumped his knee quite badly a while before, and in the dark movie theatre, he told her to feel it. Her hand on his knee, inspecting his wound, she realized her friends were walking by and thinking she was being rather bold in the movie theatre, touching the knee of this handsome young man on their first date. She’d laugh whenever she told that story, and it might be my favorite one ever. How my grandparents got together…seconded only by how my parents met (in an elevator, where my father, gregarious and friendly as ever, thought my mom was cute and asked her which floor she worked on. He returned later to ask her on a date. They went sailing and then to a movie with a group of friends, and in typical idiot-boy fashion, my dad sat on the other end of the group, all the way across the row from my mom).

She taught me to play Rummy. She and I sewed a yellow fleece poncho together — I still have it, though it makes me look a bit like a duckling, especially when I put the hood on. She taught me to knit, and we’d eat Cheetos and drink ice water on the back porch in the summertime. Chee-toes, she calls them. We went to the flower nursery together; she’d look at potted plants, and I’d stare into the pond at the koi fish and name the pretty ones (original names like Goldie and Chocolate). We’d watch Paula Deen together and cringe over the pounds of butter she’d add to her food. Giada De Laurentiis (granddaughter of Dino De Laurentiis, movie producer and my father’s old boss) and her huge, scary smile usually made us click to the next channel almost immediately. We made red velvet cake together in 7th grade, and I’ve never been able to make one that good since.

All my favorite presents are from her. They’re little, random ones: a recipe keeping book that I cried in happiness over; a book of Emily Dickinson poems that I devoured in a few days. I nannied this past week and the little boy asked me what the best present I ever got was…I could barely explain. He wouldn’t understand. No one would understand. My grandmother understood. Cooking and reading…Brownie definitely understood.

I forget how deeply I love my grandma sometimes, because I don’t see her often anymore. But then I remember all these amazing times we had. I have my name because of her adoptive father. I have my height because of her (and my father and grandfather). I definitely got my fingers from someone else, cuz these babies are not slender. My nose is my mother’s. I am a combination of everyone who came before me, but I am ambitious and I am strong, just like Brownie was. I wish I had twenty more years with her, but I wouldn’t trade these last twenty for fifty more.

Happy Birthday, Brownie. You’re sweet and lovely and you make me smile, and I’ll always be your “precious child” even if I am a bit of a ding dong sometimes.

This will be mailed out to her, as computer literacy did not grace my grandmother as it did me — ha just kidding, I can’t do anything but type on this thing anyway. I might accidentally be as old a soul as she. I did get my love of Emily Dickinson from her, after all.