Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

30 Sep 2010, 22:20 p.m.


Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2010 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

All I have is small thoughts, right now, in-between thoughts as I shower or eat or pause before reading another chapter to my mother. (The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. A Mahabharata retelling, which means that today I checked an incident with the C. Rajagopalachari and Amar Chitra Katha versions when I doubted Divakaruni's version. Nope, she didn't entirely make it up! And why did I never before connect the hatejoke "Die In A Fire" with the Pandavas' house of lac?)

Or sometimes I have a conversation with Mom or a friend and from that kneading and churning emerges a small idea. I discovered today, while talking with a friend about integrity, something about how I think about the value of truth-that-hurts. When an honest friend says something that reminds me of my faults, it hurts a little. Sometimes I can use that information to improve myself. But, even if I can't or won't or don't, I still take that pain as part of the price of honesty, as I would pay a regular insurance premium. I pay by taking those little cuts, because the promise inherent in that transaction is that if I need to ask an important question someday, to make a big claim, I can trust without question that my friend will answer it in good faith.


Of course "lavender" comes from the root "to wash." We just unwrapped and started using a block of lavender soap in our shower/bathtub, and after someone's bath the scent of it floats around in the bathroom like a blessing.

Elisa visited yesterday and talked with Mom and me about health, Fred Astaire, the lessons we learned while growing up, &c. She highly recommended The Band Wagon so we watched it that night. I called her during a pause to babble excitedly about how great it is. It's especially superlative if you've just watched a bunch of the interchangeable musicals like Follow the Fleet for contrast. (Huh, those & Agatha Christie & P.G. Wodehouse's Jeeves & Wooster stories: what 21st-century media is like that, enjoyable, will sort of hold up decades from now, but all the individual stories blur together and the reader/viewer can't recall which ones she's seen?) The Band Wagon has complicated, unusual characters and dances, and a plot more mature and interesting than the run-of-the-mill. I loved: the stylized gangsters' getting-shot dance in a stylized Times Square subway station; the for-once unadorned silence after a "spontaneous" song-and-dance (the beer-drinking song at the cast party); Charisse and Astaire's silent "Central Park" dance. That last one nearly made me cry, it was so beautiful.

Tonight we watched Singin' in the Rain, which (no one told me!) was about artists trying to keep pace with technological change, and (like Band Wagon and Sullivan's Travels) about the superiority of comedy to drama. Melinda and Melinda was fairly unnecessary, it turns out. Singin' is fun, but Band Wagon made me want to watch it again immediately.

They aren't actually small thoughts, and I know that. They are little flashes and seedlings that grow when I am not looking. They pop up and shy away and ebb back in between warming tortillas and unfolding the sofa bed and thanking Rachel for recommending Regeneration. (I picked up Inherent Vice at the airport on the way to Australia, and Regeneration at an airport on the way back to New York. Loved the former -- read aloud a paragraph about a run-down casino to everyone I could buttonhole -- and am loving the latter. Then there's Trading in Danger, the entertaining-but-Mary-Sue-ish Elizabeth Moon I bought in Melbourne 50% on the strength of its cover. Before she said things I disagree with and need to discuss when I have time.)

They run away with me when I give them a chance, my thoughts; they are vines that grow in fast motion and ensnare me. This connects to that connects to the other, in a net, a web, and soon enough I don't want to say anything because it couldn't be enough. And everything I say is insufficient to the emotion in a single phrase my mother read aloud this morning, to the texture of the light bouncing off the ceiling light fixture this afternoon, glossy with a sheen like oil, like the fat in cream.

It's a different rhythm and cadence of thought I must sink into when I am caretaking, as different as travel is from work and work is from plain old unemployment.

I am writing this long blog entry because I haven't the time to write a short one. Or -- to blaspheme -- what else is there to do, when stuck, but to write long posts, have think long thoughts, and pray long prayers? So I can't seem to decide whether I have lots of time or none -- it's a temporal illusion, like an optical illusion, deceptively slicing up a quantity to make it change size. But shape does change size, experientially -- that's what affordances are all about.

Oh dear I'm rambling some more. Almost time to unfurl the sofa bed. Post.


11 Oct 2010, 11:26 a.m.

If you are in need of someone to rewatch The Bandwagon with, let me know! I've watched one dance sequence from it on youtube something approaching infinity times, but I have yet to see the entire movie.