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Monday, August 18, 2008

end of summer reading

What with taking on far too many projects this summer, I haven't had nearly enough time to read, but there are two books I must recommend in the few days before school starts.

One is Foreskin's Lament, by the genius memoirist Shalom Auslander . I zipped through this in one night and one Boston-New York train ride. Auslander writes of being "raised like a veal" in an orthodox Jewish family in New York.

The other, which I've barely begun, but which is almost unbearably gripping, is "Love You to Pieces," a collection of essays by mothers raising "special needs" children.

What most of all unites both books is a breathtaking honesty. I can't get enough of it...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

a swami in tecate

Serendipity? Or a sign from the universe?

Each year for the past decade or so, I've been taking my mother to a wondrously offbeat spa in Mexico called Rancho la Puerta, where I talk about books or writing to help pay our bills.(This year I've introduced a three-day workshop called "Cardiac Writing" which has been the most fun of all.) Together, we indulge in a unique combination of food that somehow manages to be both decadent and vegetarian, hikes on the purportedly sacred Mount Kuchumaa, the kinds of mother-daughter talks you can only have when you're sharing a room together for a week, and, increasingly, meditation. This year, our visit completely accidentally coincided with an unprecedented program involving a Hindu meditation group called the Himalayan Yoga Tradition, one gift of which is that I just, this morning, witnessed my 81-year-old mother sit through an hour-long meditation followed by an inspiring lecture based on the Upanishads, one of the main points of which was that we may think we are parts of individual rivers, but we all flow into the same ocean. You get the idea... "He's got such a sweet face," my mom said later of our teacher, Swami Veda Bharati. "He looks a lot like my brother-in-law."
As I work on my current project this year, a memoir of raising a child with ADD, all roads uncannily seem to be leading toward the ashram, or if not that, the kind of insight that might help me, finally, tone down my lifelong hotheadedness. Little did I know I'd be taking not only my son along but my mother....