Thursday, November 25, 2010

Pre-nuptial strip malls, big boots and liberty for all.

We made it to ye ole Virginny, landed Tuesday and have been strip mall shopping our way through Thanksgiving. Karma is a "good sport," as my mom likes to say, and has pushed carts, carried bags and not once complained since arriving. Miracle man? I think so.

He was particularly shocked to see Tibetan things for sale at World Market, although I'm sure it would make more sense to him if he actually knew the name of the store.... He got his first pair of shoes from DSW (shoe heaven from child labor?) and I can't get the man out of his sweatpants and slippers (he referred to them as his "best friends" last night). It's a little cold here, so who could blame the guy?

Today he met my Granny N. (dad's mother) for the first time. She's the one who co-sponsored him with me to come over here, and he said he felt "sad, but not in a bad way." I think he just didn't have the right word in English to describe his experience. He got teary eyed when they met and, later, kept referring to how it's his karma to be here (perhaps some may say "his fate")... I was continually amazed at how outgoing he was, talking to almost everyone today and really engaging them.

A lot of firsts this week. He'd never seen a four post bed before and asked if I would swing on them when I practice my "kung fu." He also learned how to use a whip cream can, which he'd never seen before. While doing a job for my mom this evening, he saw a kitty litter box for the first time and when we went to my grandparent's house and saw all my grandfather's cars (i.e. "projects") in the driveway, he asked, "How many people live here?"
For those of you that know my grandpa (one might say he's a "hoarder" of sorts), this could be particularly funny.

My mom asked him to say "grace" today before we ate and what he really wanted people to hear is that we should look beyond our religious differences and into our own hearts--he and I both got teary-eyed during that. He was thanking everyone for helping him come here, for being there today and for his first Thanksgiving meal (and, hopefully, not his last). He ate more today than I've seen him eat since he arrived, so I know he approved!

My parents have been so amazingly supportive, especially this week. They're really trying to connect with Karma and, I think, they're impressed with his efforts and enjoy his company. My dad gave the most touching speech before we ate, "welcoming" him into the family. I cried (duh). This whole experience has only brought me closer to him. As our wedding day draws nearer, I'm getting more and more excited. I'm not nervous.

While we're here, Karma REALLY wants to have our photo taken in front of the White House, which is something I don't think I've ever done. He even picked out an outfit for me while we were packing to come and said "You have to wear this when we have our photo taken in front of the White House. You'll look like a real American girl." For the record, a "real American girl" would apparently wear knee-high boots. He's in love with women's boots, which I just think is hilarious and adorable. Needless to say, I packed the boots and will wear the outfit in our White House photo, so stay tuned.

Tomorrow my cousins from LA are flying in for the wedding. They're the closest family I have to siblings (my only first cousins) and they have a 6 month old daughter, whom I've never met, but am an "auntie" to. My bet is that Karma will steal the child, or at least horde all the lap time he can get with her...the man loves kids. He also speaks to them in a mix of English and Tibetan and then looks surprised when they don't understand. Ha!

This adventure in familyville continues to unfold....

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Diary of a Cavewoman

My name is Caroline and I'm an addict.

Well, this is true in many senses and, for those of you who've known me for a long time, know that I've been in recovery for almost 4 years (on the 27th of this month).

That said, I may no longer be addicted to alcohol or whatever sounded fun for a night, but I am certainly addicted to my emotions and to my self. This is what the Buddha described as the human condition....but before I start launching into some philosophical, self-analyzation, I'd better just cut to the chase. I can be such a bitch.

I'm bringing this point up in this particular instance because my dear, sweet, gentle fiance (very very soon-to-be-husband) doesn't know how to react when I'm speaking from a place of pure emotion (i.e. zero awareness) and when he doesn't react "the right way" (Don't be fooled! There IS no right way when I'm in that's a trap, Karma, run for your life!!!), well, that's when the fire-breathing, incoherent reasoning starts....and then snappy words, fueled by the adrenaline of anger and then, *AH* it happens...the high.

But we all know what happens when we have a high of some sort (have you ever eaten a doughnut?)...yep, we come doooooooown. And that's when the self-hatred and judgment of character come in...and before you know it you're recycling insults you've been using against yourself since you were 13.

How in the world did this whole rant begin, you ask? Hummus. Yes, you heard me right, the mashed up, chickpeas and tahini that taste delightfully salty.

Karma forgot to put his hummus from lunch in the refrigerator when he got home from school and it sat, unrefrigerated all day. And this, my friends, was when I proceeded to use my best cavewoman abilities to react.

Me: "You've ruined the hummus."
Karma: Silence with a very curious look on his face.
Me: "You're wasting my money. This hummus is ruined."
Karma: More curiosity and silence.
Me: "Whatever, it's no big deal." (meanwhile my body language is signaling that it's the biggest deal)

Karma leaves the room and doesn't return.

15 minutes later I go find him silently sitting in the other room studying English. Leave well enough alone you say? Clearly that's the best plan of action...but not if you're a cavewoman.

Me: "Are you mad at me?"
Karma: Silence and motioning me to sit.
Me: "Why didn't you tell me you were mad?"
Karma: Bewildered and silent.
Me (starting to get angry again): "We're both adults here--tell me when you're angry!" Then storming off.

*Sigh* This is very humbling to write out. It sounds absolutely ridiculous.

All will be well in the Rinchen-Netschert household, but when will I learn to think before acting like a cavewoman? And who will teach Karma to stand up to me when I'm having these "episodes?" Perhaps silence is the best answer.

Other than this evenings outburst, things have been truly amazing. The wedding is all planned. The reception is all planned. We're both excited to go to Virginia for Thanksgiving. We're leaving on Monday (11/22) are returning Thursday (12/2) with my mom in tow. I also created a wedding website, if you're at all interested.

Karma's been studying like crazy and his English is vastly improving. I'm so impressed. He isn't as shocked by American culture as much as when he first landed, well, besides the cross-dressed servers at the funky diner we went to last night. He couldn't keep his eyes off the guy in fishnet stockings with a blonde bob wig on (who looked very much so like a man in a dress). He wasn't judging him, he was just sooo intrigued.

He wrote a letter for his friend to give to his main teacher at the monastery where he was living in India (who was, and still is, traveling when Karma left in October). He told him that he's living in America and is no longer a monk and asked him if he thinks he should teach the Buddhadharma (or what he thinks he should do). He's very eager to get an answer, although he says he's not nervous. I'm curious to see what he suggests as well.

I intend on being less cavewomanly and being nice to the nicest guy I know!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Dance for Any Day of the Week

Well......that's it people....I'm marry a crazy man.........CRAZY AWESOME, that is!

I swear, I have never laughed so much and so hard in my life. He is such a goofball and, as most of you know, that's my M.O.

Before I share these little nuggets of golden hilarity, I want to pick up where I left off in my last post regarding The Wedding. I think it deserves to be capitalized, considering all the attention it's getting these days.

Things are pretty much set for the small gathering in Virginia on the 29th. My mom and I have been enjoying the planning process and I seriously haven't felt stressed about it. The reception has morphed into a 100+ people party at my house in Berkeley, which I'm surprisingly not freaked out about either. I'm excited! My mom's flying out with us for the reception, which I'm extra excited about! It's going to be an insane week. We fly back on a Thursday night and the reception is a day and a half later on that Saturday.
But my roommate's have a professional karaoke machine, I've ordered vegan what could possibly go wrong?  (seriously praying for no rain!)

Karma has NO idea what kind of planning I'm doing for both these events, although he knows that my mom emails me at least once a day regarding food, which he thinks is hilarious. The world he comes from doesn't spend so much time obsessing over food. He thinks I spend almost every moment thinking about...he's pretty much right.

We got him a suit and some shiny, new (vegan) shoes, which he pranced around our bedroom in saying (in Tibetan), "Wow, now I'm a young dude." LOL.

Our rings are sized and ready for action. I'm going to have my grandfather's wedding ring (father's side), since I'm the last Netschert in that line (I'm keeping my name). Karma is getting my great-grandmother's ring (mother's, mother's side). They're both simple gold bands, mine has my grandparent's initials and wedding date engraved inside.

One of the most arduous tasks for me was registering. It reminded me of a study conducted by psychologist Barry Schwartz (The Paradox of Choice) that I learned about from my boss, Christine Carter. Anyways, without getting into the details of it, he gave out samples of jam at the supermarket and in one study gave people a huge array of choices and in the other study he only gave them a few. Guess who was happier with their jam when they got home? Yep, you guessed it, the people who had fewer choices.

Seriously, it took me weeks to figure out what KNIVES to register for. That was my biggest dilemma! Every night when I'd settle down and hop online, I'd think, "I'm just going to DO IT (register)," but then when I typed in "knives" to Amazon, William Sonoma, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Sur La Table...well, it was meltdown a la mode with a side of tight-chest and a headache on top.
When Karma saw me surfing the web with all these windows open with pictures of knives....he said, "Between your kung fu classes (aka kickboxing at the Y) and all these knives...should I be scared??"

I finally just went for it and stopped obsessing. I seriously feel FREE and have a lot more time on my hands for more important things, like surfing Facebook and shopping for eco-friendly thank you notes.

Overall, I am doing an inner happy dance (it's the robot) just thinking about all this! I can honestly say that I am SO glad I'm marrying Karma. He's just superterrifichappyhour awesome (anyone catch the Seinfeld reference?). I hope each of you can celebrate with us! AND we're going to Texas next spring to see all my dear ones there!

Okay, now to get down to business.

Karma's Goings Ons
Karma has crossed the one month line and is still in love with life in America in the Bay area (yippee!) We drove to Mt. Diablo last Saturday (about 30 min from my house) and he took about a million and one photos. He said it looked just like Tibet. (This is great to know if anyone wants to visit Tibet on a low budget. I can gather some Tibetan friends to sherpa and pretend they don't understand English, just to get the full effect...hehe)

Here are some photos he took from our journey (he's pretty good!):

This one he said looks a lot like Tibet. They have the same golden grass.

I love the shadows of the clouds.

Karma seriously needs some shades! He kept squinting when he faced the camera, so he finally had to pose like that. 

A Dance for Any Day of the Week
Karma has a hypothesis based on his experience in America thus far. It's that we have a dance for every activity. Why is that you ask? Well, he's got some good proof to back it.

1. My friend Chelsea's birthday party-- A LOT  of dancing was done there. This has been deemed, "Party dancing."
2. His English teacher in the afternoon does an excited/shuffle/butt shaking dance. This has been deemed, "School/Class dancing."
3. We went to a kirtan (Indian singing/praying concert) with Jai Uttal. In India people usually meditate through this singing practice, but because we live in Berkeley there were people dancing. This has been deemed, "Meditation dancing." (For the record he was making fun of the hippies like nobody's business...I was so proud.)
4. There is a young guy who works for Little Caesar's Pizza and holds their sign on the corner of San Pablo and University while he dances (he's a GREAT pop and locker, btw). This has been deemed, "Street dancing." 

So, there you have it folks, Karma's largest impression has been how often he sees people dance here. I didn't even mention that I routinely dance, both in the privacy of our home and in public, such as grocery stores and parking lots....he's no longer phased by it. =)

Last night we were driving and he reached over and turned up the radio. What was playing? Oh, none other than a little ditty by Far East Movement called, "Like a G6." You know, that song playing constantly on the Top 40 stations that makes you want to hurl yourself in front of the next oncoming truck? Yep, that one. I tried not to laugh, but he already knew my opinion on the song from a previous conversation when I was feeling a little judgmental (aka crazy and PMS and went on a 10 minute rant about how much I dislike that song and how it only promotes drinking and driving and getting wasted...). Anyways, I asked him, 
"Do you like that song?" It was too late, I was already laughing. He was too. He answered, 
"Yes. I like it A LOT!" He then went on to say (in Tibetan), 
"I think this song has wonderful words, beautiful words, sacred words, perfect words...." I played along for a minute, but we both totally lost it laughing. Just another example of him being goofy. 

Last Thoughts
Okay, this post is seriously long. I'm sorry, I wish I could write less and write more often, but this seems to be my style (for now).

Anyways, Karma was just on the phone with his mother in Tibet and apparently she's doing better (she was in the hospital, but she's out and feels good), BUT his father is really sick. He looks worried, which takes a lot for him to be, so please pray for his father. 

I also just suggested to him that he should wash his face (we have differing opinions on hygiene) and he did kung fu to a pillow (whilst laughing) to show his disdain for this idea...although he went ahead and did it. My stomach aches from laughing...yet again....