All posts by Mary Anne Mohanraj

Couches

My parents have a big finished basement, and have moved various pieces of furniture down there. Here is the 70s (red and cream zigzags, quite worn), here are the 80s (massive blue-grey sectional), here are the 90s (little flowered loveseat). In the living room, there’s the peach set (also from the 80s, I think), a long couch paired with little comfy chairs on wheels.

In the family room is the small black apartment set that Kevin’s parents got for him, that we passed to Mirna when we needed bigger furniture after Kavya was born, that Mirna passed on to my parents because two of the pieces were still good, eventually paired with another long black couch. And now I’m scoping out that set and wondering whether it’ll still be good when Kavya goes off to college and needs her first apartment afterwards.

You could do a history of our family in couches.

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Book Book

Talked to Steve at Lethe Press, and if all goes well, we should have pre-order links live soon for Perennial (garden / cancer / romance) and A Taste of Serendib, 2nd edition (the cookbook), with the books scheduled to be out before Christmas. Mark your holiday gift lists and wish lists.

The cookbook is going to be on the expensive side for the print edition, since it’s twice as big as last time, and POD printing means we don’t get the economies of scale that regular printing would. But on the plus side, Lethe is planning to send everyone who buys the print edition a copy of the e-book as well (the e-book will have all the photos, which are too expensive for us to print; I’m also planning to have the photos available on my website, in case that’s helpful).

So a print book that’s nice and cozy to curl up and read, and an e-book that’s handy for pulling up recipes on your tablet in the kitchen, if that’s how you roll. Best of both worlds, hopefully.

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Sunny California

Heading back to Chicago today, after eight days visiting Kevin’s family and our friends in the Bay Area. Pics below from lunch yesterday with Jed at Social Policy. I love the pretty crosswalks in downtown San Jose — are those supposed to be circuit boards? Cool.

Thanks to everyone who came out to board games at Jed’s on Saturday — I didn’t take any photos because I was so busy (and so happy) talking to you all. Great to catch up with Thida, Susan, Debbie, Dan, Nadya, Kam, Kevin, Cliff, Shannon, Alex, and oh, I’m forgetting some people, sorry, my mind is a rush of packing right now. Particularly great seeing all your gorgeous kids, who have gotten SO BIG. Some of them are taller than me already. I can’t even. And thanks to Jed for hosting!

Also great doing more board games with Alex and Jed yesterday (Fleet Command is fun, even though I lost both times — I did fight a valiant rear-guard action to the bitter end, though). It’s been a lovely trip, and we hope to come back soon.

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Banned

Pleased to invite you to hear me read as part of Censored: A Banned Books Reading & ACLU Benefit, at the Public House Theatre, 3914 N. Clark, on Monday, October 2, 2017, 7-9 p.m.

Ticketing details are still being finalized, will post when they are, but please save the date. It’s a big space, so let’s pack the house and raise some money for the ACLU! They could use it right now.

Presented by Third Coast Review/Kill Your Darlings. I’m tentatively planning to read from _This One Summer_, a YA graphic novel by Mariko Tamaki, one of the top ten challenged books of 2016.

“This young adult graphic novel, winner of both a Printz and a Caldecott Honor Award, was restricted, relocated, and banned because it includes LGBT characters, drug use, and profanity, and it was considered sexually explicit with mature themes.” (http://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/NLW-Top10)

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Tail end of summer

Wrote a new scene in the novel, another 1000+ words. Feels good. I have this silly fantasy that in the next few weeks before school starts I’ll somehow spend 8-12 hours / day writing and finish a draft of the novel, no, this is not going to happen, I know, I know, and yet. AND YET.

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With avocado

In California, visiting Kevin’s family for a week. We arrived yesterday and settled into his parents’ condo in San Jose, which has a pool that is 3.5 ft. deep the whole length, exceedingly delighting the children. They spent an hour in it last night, and then another hour and a half this morning. Kavi is sad that we are not going to get a pool of our very own — sorry, kid. Wish we could.

It’s beautiful here, per usual, and Kev and I talked a bit wistfully about how it’s a shame we didn’t find academic jobs in the area. Of course, even if we had, we’d only be able to afford a tiny little place, but this weather! Might be worth it. Maybe we’ll retire here. The kids were eating tomatoes from his dad’s garden off the counter and were amazed at how yummy they were to just bite into. Yup, those are what tomatoes are supposed to taste like, kids. We might get some ripe ones at the end of the summer in Chicago; we’ll see. Some years yes, some years no.

I’ve now driven Kev and the kids down to his sister’s place in Los Gatos, where they’ll play with the cousins, and have abandoned them to come work for a few hours. Jed’s going to come down and grab lunch with me before he goes to work. I’ve settled into Los Gatos Coffee Roasting with my chai, and am looking forward to a sandwich with lots of avocado. California is nice.

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Cheesy

Kavi just took Anand a little plate with his allotment of four apple-cheddar croissants. I told her she was a nice Acca, and she laughed and said, “I’m doing this so I’m not tempted to eat his too.”

(Pillsbury crescent rolls wrapped around a slice of apple and some pre-grated cheddar, bake for about 12 minutes @ 350. V. easy, v. fast.)

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Cancer log 189: Reconstruction, round 3

I went in today to consult with the doc about whether to do another round of post-lumpectomy fat transfer. He had told me at the beginning that it typically takes 3-4 rounds to gCancer log 189: Reconstruction, round 3.et to symmetry. I honestly hadn’t been sure if I would come back for a third surgery, because he’s released the worst of the scarring and improved the appearance notably. But esp. in a swimsuit, or a form-fitting top worn without a bra, the difference is still pretty notable, and it does bother me.

We talked today, and it was a little bit of a ‘let’s be realistic’ conversation. He think he probably can’t get it perfectly symmetrical, because given the scarring and the radiation, the ‘envelope’ that he can insert fat into just isn’t very elastic. There was apparently this kind of fancy bra contraption, called Brava, that for a while people were using to stretch out the skin of the breast, but for whatever reason it’s mostly unavailable right now, which clearly frustrates the heck out of him, because he brings it up every time we meet.

But that said, he does think he can at least reduce the scar tissue a little more, and add a bit more volume; I decided to go for it. Waiting to talk to the scheduler now, so not sure yet when exactly this will be.

I continue to have ongoing complex feelings about plastic surgery as a woman, as a feminist. I glanced at brochures while I was waiting — for breast lifts, for facial skin tightening procedures. I am so glad I had the original breast reduction in 2011 — it made my life much more comfortable, made me more capable of physical activity. That one was simple, because it was a choice in the direction of comfort, of pain reduction, and I honestly didn’t care whether it made me more or less attractive.

These other choices are more tempting, more dangerous. What kind of example do I want to set for my daughter? What kind of woman will I be, in the community of women? The lines are getting blurrier, and I am unnerved by how blasé I am becoming about surgeries.  The facial youthening procedures were surprisingly tempting — not actually for dating, but for professional reasons. Author photos, book tours, academic promotions. Beauty and youth sell.

I’m going to try to just concentrate on writing better books, though.

I’ll leave you with this, as the author considered gastric bypass surgery:

“What those doctors offered was so tempting, so seductive: this notion that we could fall asleep for a few hours, and within a year of waking up, most of our problems would be solved, at least according to the medical establishment. That is, of course, if we continued to delude ourselves that our bodies were our biggest problem.

After the presentation there was a question-and-answer session. I had neither questions nor answers, but the woman to my right, the woman who clearly did not need to be there because she was no more than forty or so pounds overweight, dominated the session, asking intimate, personal questions that broke my heart. As she interrogated the doctors, her husband sat next to her, smirking. It became clear why she was there It was all about him and how he saw her body. *There is nothing sadder,* I thought, choosing to ignore why I was sitting in that same room, choosing to ignore that there were a great many people in my own life who saw my body before they ever saw or considered me.”

– Roxane Gay, _Hunger_

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Fellow

Okay, SAF fellowship application done. I don’t usually do applications with fees (this was $15), but it’s all going to the jurors, so I decided I could cope with that. Application took about an hour, getting my materials together; it would’ve been faster if I’d applied for anything else recently, but it’s been a few years, actually. Not sure how that happened. I need to research a list of grants to apply for, and then put them all in my calendar. No more leaving money on the table.

The most satisfying part was putting together the 15 page writing sample, from the memoir. I found six sections from the draft that I was reasonably happy with and juxtaposed them. I think maybe the whole is greater than the sum of the parts? We’ll see — I’m going to be arranging and rearranging them in a frenzy before this is done, I’m sure. Current order: Passing, Boundaries, Anniversary Party, Kaviarasi, Puppy-Nai, Road Map.

This is about an hour past my regular bedtime, but I had a little energy and I thought I’d best get it done. You know what I didn’t do tonight? The dishes or the laundry. Because I am leaving them for the assistant to do in the morning.

Feels weird, like having a wife. No wonder all those famous male writers got so much done.

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