Archives for posts with tag: things I read and loved

So this article  about Queen Elizabeth and her 4 cocktail a day habit made me smile several times this week.

 

STATE BANQUET IN HONOUR OF QUEEN ELIZABETH II AT THE ZENGHAUS, BERLIN, GERMANY - 02 NOV 2004 I also love that she start with a Gin BEFORE lunch and ends the day with a glass of champagne.

No amaretto sour but still impressive Your Majesty.

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My sister in action on the set of ” Honeygiver among the dogs” ( Photo credit: Jigme Tenzing)

 

My sister spent most of the last three years working on her first feature film, “Honeygiver among the dogs”  and it is really really really her baby. She wrote the script, cast everyone, assembled a team, cobbled together financing, directed it and then spent months editing it like the perfectionist she is. Start to finish, conception to final polish this was her film.

And then earlier this month it premiered at Busan International Film Festival  and got the glowing  review her hard work and passion and brilliance ( its such a smart beautiful film)  deserved in the Hollywood Reporter no less ( I googled it- its a big deal according to Wikipedia).  In the very first line the reviewer Clarence Tsui writes, ” A genre long associated with sex and sleaze, film noir receives a surprisingly spiritual and feminine reworking in Bhutanese filmmaker Dechen Roder’s beautiful and inventive debut.”

I can’t help but hope that is is beginning of many more people discovering this wonderful film and the depth of my sister’s talents.

( Below are a couple more picture of my sister on set and in action. All of them are taken by her talented Director of Photography Jigme Tenzing )

 

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( Photo credit: Jigme Tenzing) 

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Photo credit: Jigme Tenzing 

… so this happened a couple of weeks ago ( every train in my life is running a little behind schedule right now! ) but it still made me very very happy.

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Okay, so its not really about how many books I have read but I like the keeping track of the evidence of how much of my time I am spending BY CHOICE on reading.

As a quick aside the strangest and best part of this journey towards reading more is that what seems like a solitary activity has landed up being ( thanks in large part to social media) a way to renew old friendship and also make new friends.

And the best part.. we already have so much in common!

I was covering classes for a colleague this week and so I had to walk into class rooms that are not on my usual orbit. I walked into on classroom set my things down on the teacher’s desk and then noticed something stuck on the wall behind me :

 

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It took me a second or two but I quickly realized that the plot mapped out in the tree came from my mother’s novel. That the students in this class were studying her book.

 

Chills!

 

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After far, far, far too long Sarah and I had a long-distance D & M/ catch-up this morning. I have written before about how wonderful and refreshing these marathon conversations can be ( today, possible a new record at 4+ hours!) but today’s conversation reassured me more than ever that I am not “missing out” or some kind of awkward ” late bloomer” for not leading or even wanting to lead a more conventional life.

Over the years I have spent so much time and energy collecting stories of misfit and eccentrics hoping to see similarities,  find  advice for myself, a possible justification or even expected trajectory for my own quietly strange life (despite all evidence to the contrary  I swear I didn’t set out to be so odd). Roxane Gay’s wonderful book of essays” Bad Feminist” argues at one point that perhaps some of us have to make our own ways without any role models to fall back on when she write: “When you can’t find someone to follow, you have to find a way to lead by example.”  It’s not that Gay’s argument is a completely new one,  my sister has been saying something similar for years as we have worked through where we belong and what we want  and what is even possible for us  but I can’t tell you how hard this idea is for me/ I am such a natural rule follower, a wait-in-line kind of girl,  a happily -do-as-I-am-told-er. I am not interested in being unique or different or standing out. Really.

And yet I think increasingly as I start to become more comfortable with my life decisions and the odd directions they take me, I am less and less bothered with trying to find evidence that I am not so odd. Talking to Sarah about the counter-intuitive career choices we are making (or on the cusp of making), choices that might seem a step backwards or sideways or upside-down  but are absolutely the right choices for us right now, was reassuring.

Conventional success, conventional ambitions be damned, we are making our way. 

The below twitter exchange made me so so so happy today! ( and yes Rainbow Rowell  is the author of the book in the picture from  last week’s post)

 

 

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One  of my new year resolutions was to sloooow down. Unsurprisingly that hasn’t been easy to do once work restarted but I have carried back one habit from my 6 month break that has helped me to keep this resolution.

Prioritizing reading for pleasure.

The world does seem to pause while you sink into a good book ( or puzzle over a less good one).

I have been teaching my students in Social Psychology that  “attitude follows behavior”, in other words what you do shapes the way you think ( rather than the other way around). Making myself find time to read has changed the way I schedule my day and I am less and less likely to allow myself to decide ” I am too busy to spend time reading today”

Now, if only I could get myself to prioritize my writing in the same way!

 

 

 

I have been having such mixed feelings about being back at my teaching job. As we are back on campus planning for the semester, the vivid memories of the how awful it was are coming back to me more fully. But then almost every interaction I have had with a student reminds me of why I should be excited to be back.

Today one of them who made his first trip outside Bhutan over the break came to me with a small gift. I was embarrassed and also unsure if I should take it. He kept insisting so I did and then I went to check if it was okay for me to keep it. Everyone assured me that I should.

Later he sent this text:

Hi madam I couldn’t bring anything valuable for a person like you. It is not a matter of amount and neither a bribe but simply a gift from the core of my heart. Thank you very much for your kind acceptance.

 

My heart melted. Damn petty office politics and even more petty colleagues  I am excited to be back in classroom with these kids.

 

 

 

 

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Stochasticity by Utsav Khatiwara

Flecks of star dust

Recombined

In you and I

And every time you smile

We are drawn closer

Even in an expanding universe.

One of the things that has made me happy in the last couple of months has been the coming together of a poetry anthology ( “folded into a paper boat: a collection of poetry from Bhutan”) that I helped edit for our family publishing house Riyang Books. I loved the opportunity to get to know the two other editors better, I loved reading the poems and getting to know the poets, I loved the poems we finally picked and the beautiful cover my brother designed and than I loved  the cake my sister made for the launch earlier this month. She decorated it with 13 tiny little boats to stand in for the 13 poets ( including Utsav) featured in the book.

This project had nothing to do with my career  nor does the publishing house  expect to turn a profit (we might not even break even on this one) . We did it, I did it because I love poetry and the idea of there being more of it in the world is a very good thing.

 

 

 

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( The view into the Tang valley in Bumthang- site of my four month sabbatical)

 

It is strangely fitting that the only post I put up in 2015 was about my new year resolutions and that my first (of hopefully many) post of 2016 is again about my new year resolutions.

I cannot claim to have succeeded with all the resolutions I wrote in 2015, in part because I offered up no metric. And I want to continue to work on spontaneity, health, beauty and kindness but my last year demands a shift in focus.

2015 was a strange year for me. In terms of anything measurable, it was the year I did the least but it was also the most satisfying and successful year that I can remember in a long time.  The year started with me deciding that I needed to leave my job, which had increasingly made me unhappy and stressed. The year ended with me deciding to go back to my job, not with my tail between my legs but after having negotiated the terms and completely stepping away from the administrative responsibilities that made the last year so miserable.  In between I went “home”  and stayed with my parents in rural Bhutan where they are working on creating a heritage site in my mother’s ancestral home. Every day was busy but in many important ways, my almost 4 months with them let me sllloooooooow down. There was no internet, no TV and no social obligations or appointments.  I got time to read, write, think, pray and just sit and enjoy the (spectacular) view.   I am back in the city now and I start back at work in about 8 days but I feel changed. I am not a different person, instead I feel more like myself than I have in a long time. Of course, I am worried that I will slip back into an unhappy place and I see my resolutions for 2016 as a way to stop that as much as I can. I hope that knowing things can be different is the motivation I need. Fingers crossed!

 

  1. One of the things that I want to hang onto from my time away from the city is slowing down. I read a wonderful book by Christian McEwen  called “ World Enough and Time: On Creativity and Slowing Down”  and it is full of ideas about how to slow down in the face of all the ways in which contemporary life encourages us to be fast and busy.  One of her suggestions that I am making into a resolution is to make a list of enjoyable slow activities (like writing a letter to someone by hand) and then do at least one slow activity each week.

 

  1. I want to write more and get more of what I write out into the world. Before I left the city, I went to my very very first writing workshop and it was less frightening and more useful than I had imagined. For me this was like publicly acknowledging that I do what to write. While I was away, I read a lot of books about writing and they were largely helpful and thought-provoking. Several of them suggested that you have to write every single day. Natalie Goldberg in “ Writing down the Bone” talks about writing as “practice,” how not everything we write will land up being good enough to be read by others or published . Instead like anything you might be trying to learn to do well, the more you practice it, the better you will get. That’s one of the most liberating things anyone has ever told me because it takes off so much of the pressure to write perfectly every single time. Additionally I listened to a wonderful interview with the graphic novelist, Gene Luen Yang where he talked about how to combat the common fear writers have of getting things wrong “ with humility and with homework.”    I find the acknowledgement of the difficulty and hard work that goes into brave writing that aspires to be “right” so inspiring.
  1. My parents are the most generous and forgiving people I know and spending an extended period with them really reminded me of this. I was often infuriated at how frequently people take advantage of their kindness and I felt fiercely protective of them, of their time, their energy and their resources. But my parents are not stupid, they know when people are attempting to use them or cheat them and their response to this is an amazing blend of pragmatism and compassion.  When I came back to internet access I came across this great quote:  “When you have more than you need, build a longer table not a higher fence.”  That is exactly what my parents are doing, building a longer table, including more people instead of shutting them out.  I want to try and do that more often. I want to work toward being welcoming and inclusive. I worry that in recent years less than pleasant social and professional experiences have made me build barriers and blocks as a form of self-protection. In 2016 I want to try to take down my fences and expand my table.
  1. Last year I said I wanted to look after myself better and I think by quitting my job and leaving the stresses of city life I succeeded at this resolution more than I had imagine possible.  I want to continue to focus on this because well-being is a constantly moving target.  I was so inspired by Sarah’s decision to hike the Grand Canyon and the preparation and thought that she put into making it happen. After the hike she told me how the experience had changed the way she felt about her body, instead of thinking about its size or even shape she thought about what her body could do.  I love that and this year I want to make a stronger, healthier body my focus. Instead of only thinking about how it looks or what I can fit into, I want to focus on what I want my body to be able to do.