sorry girls... and maybe even boys.

I know it's been a while... things are so crazy now that school and job #2 have re-started. being sucked into the vortex, as I compared it to in my last post, is an understatement. I took today off of work because I am already feeling overwhelmed. there are so many things I want to write about, but I just don' t have the energy or the time. it kind of makes me want to cry, but as my counselor once told me, I tend to sabotage myself and put myself into these situations, so I guess the intelligent side of me thinks I should stop whining.

lali went and got her first professional grooming today - her hair was out of control on her face - like she couldn't even see, and I was too afraid I would poke her eye out if I tried to cut it. she looks so cute and ewokkie.

I went to check out the Philly temple last night and am 99% sure I'm going to start going there on a regular basis. the sunday school seems nice and I like the atmosphere. ultimately I would love to be going to brooklyn every sunday, but the drive is so stressful and the program runs really late. and even better than that would be if I felt any connection to the edison center here in nj, but I don't. so that's not really an option either. oh well.

ok, I have to go to bed, for real. tomorrow is another long ass day.


what dreams may come... or something cheesy like that.

the other day I was on the phone with a friend and she asked me what I planned to do once I finished school... or actually, a step further, just plain what the heck did I want to do with the rest of my life. ultimately, I don't want to be a school counselor. I like being in the public education system because the benefits are good and I more or less have the same daily schedule as madhavi. but now the state is changing our benefits, and soon they will suck ass (yea, that harsh). and really, who the heck wants to be a guidance counselor? I used to think I wanted that - to just sit behind and desk and push papers.... but once I got started in my counseling MA program, I realized I really want to be a counselor - but a real counselor, one that actually counsels - not does student scheduling and college applications. that's not to say that school counselors don't counsel at all, but I think for the most part it's the crap work that no one wants to do, like scholarships and recommendations.

most of my life I have felt like one day I would like to have my own business. the other day while I was blow drying my hair I had this crazy daydream about having my own tea shop. that's all I would sell... tea. ok, maybe I would expand to sandwhiches and cake. but just simple. yummy tea. hot or cold. but then I thought that wouldn't be very lucrative, and while I want to do something I will enjoy, I need to make a little bit of money. plus, like I said, I want to be a counselor. maybe I should save the tea shop for when I retire.

I've also been thinking that I'd like to eventually go into private practice as a therapist and partner with others to open a full service holistic healing center. a mind/body/soul type of place. I would be the counselor, but I would also have yoga, and accupunture, and chinese medicine, and ayurveda, and massage, and spiritual stuff (that would be where the old spiritual espionage would come in to play...) and hey, maybe my dream tea shop could be attached to this little place. it would be all about helping people find balance - treating the whole person so to speak.
so what do you think? personally, I think a place like this would be all about location. if I stay in nj it would have to be like princeton, or red bank, or westfield. somewhere super ritzy, where people don't care if they are paying $125 an hour for me to listen to them talk. or whatever.
I need a catchy name too. the first think that popped into my head was "pranayam holistic health center" but I don't know how I like that...I'm not sure how the meaning fits in. any suggestions?

I ate a lot of cookies today. that made me a little bit depressed. then I said to myself (as madhavi so nicely coined) "don't be ridiculous, be fabulous!" so then I went to the gym (where I haven't been for like 6 months, even though I pay regardless of my attendance) and spent 55 minutes on the treadmill. I felt super good after that. it's funny how it's really hard to get to the gym, but once I'm there, I think, "why the heck don't I do this all of the time?!?!" so I want to try harder...both to stop eating too many cookies (which starts with not buying them!) and to get to the gym more.

my first class starts tomorrow. I feel the spring semester vortex opening and beginning to swallow me. sigh.



I had today off of work... I went to Brooklyn last night, which was really nice. it's funny, because whenever I get a chance to go there, I lament over how much I miss it, but when I am away for a long time, then I just hate NJ because it is so expensive, etc. in actuality, I don't really think I could live anywhere other than near my radha-govindaji.

so I slept super late this morning, which is both good and bad. I was watching oprah the other day and her new favorite doctor was saying how sometimes we really just need to sleep. the doctor was saying how if she really needs it she can sleep for like 15 hours. that seems kind of excessive to me, but I really can appreciate a good nights sleep. after having madhavi and then having chronic fatigue (which is symptomized by insomnia, ironically enough), I had the realization that sleep deprivation is truly the worst form of torture. I am seriously not fun to deal with when I haven't slept enough. anyway, I slept until like 8:45ish - very late for me, considering I get up around 5am for work, usually. when I woke up I kind of felt like a I had a hang over - which I attribute to either too much sleep or the possible msg in the prasdam last night. whatever...

then, somehow, I felt inspired to be productive. my husband had to work and asked me if I could wake gaura-nitai. sure thing! so I got myself together, cleaned a little a long the way... oh, gave lali a bath too... took a shower, then woke the deities. after that I put madhavi in the bath, chanted for a little while, took her out, and the set myself in cleaning mode. last week I cleaned out my clothes closet in order to make room for all of my new clothes from india. I got rid of 4 huge bags of stuff (how do you like the stuff, btw, kiriti??). that felt really good. today I organized my hall utility closet, which felt even better, because that closet has been haunting me for like two years. the sad part is that it didn't even take me that long to clean/organize. I also washed all of my bedding... which was actually kind of annoying because I had a ton of other laundry to do, and now it's almost 9pm, and it's still not done yet. but hey, I'm just really excited that I didn't waste the day. I could have easily just jumped back into bed and watched bad tv all day. oh, did I mention I went grocery shopping and made dinner too? just call me donna reed.

I'm also glad that I feel really prepared for the spring semester to start. that's not to say I want it to - that I haven't been relishing this time off - but I have all of my syllabi and course descriptions ready for the classes I'm teaching, and, well, there's not all that much I can do to prepare for the classes I'm taking. though, in addition to the two counseling classes I'm taking this semester, I'm also freshening up my bhakti-sastri knoweldge and taking a nectar of devotion class once a week that my godbrother, ekacakra, is teaching. this is nice because I love nectar of devotion and also it gives me a chance to read my guru maharaj's book. technically I read it when I took bhakti-sastri like a million years ago, but that was before it was published, when they were using it just as spiral bound study guide. anyway, I'm excited about that too.

so, now it's the countdown to presidents day weekend. that will be exciting for three reasons - 1. we're going to see ingrid michaelson that friday (yeay!!) 2. it's a four day weekend 3. it's one step closer to spring break - which is one step closer to the summer (double yeay!!).

so, thanks dr. martin luther king for the day off. and thank you krishna for inspiring me to be useful.


something to do while I wait for my queen helene mint julip face mask to dry.

I have to be honest, I don't have much to say. I've been kind of depressed for the past few days. I feel really fat and ugly. I'm also feeling really helpless and hopeless in light of me adding up all of my debt and realizing that even if I make the best budget/plan ever, I won't even be able to pay it all off in 4 years because the income just isn't there - even with working two mother f'ing jobs, plus my husbands income. it makes me hate living in america, oh hell, living in the material world. I often say to krishna, "listen," (and yes, I feel like I have a close enough relationship with the Supreme Being to tell Him to "listen")...."if You would just make me comfortable here I would be able to serve You so much better - and then we would both be happy." as if His happiness is reliant upon mine.
who do I think I'm fooling, any way???
I can't help it though. I have OCD problems. when I am in a store and I see something I like, there is no point in resisting it, because what will happen is that I will become obsessed with it and not be able to stop thinking about it until I have it. then, god forbid, I try to resist and decide to go back and get it later and then it's not there - then I am really in trouble. in my own defense, I'm not like those crazy ladies you see on Oprah, who spend like $500 in one trip and do that several times a week. I'm pretty small potatos compared to that - but the point is that it's getting to the point where soon I will just be making minimum payments... and that will lead to not being able to make payments at all... and then it will just get worse and worse. so I need to figure something out, and figure it out fast.
one of my conseling gurus told me (as I think I stated before) that the only person I'm deceiving is myself. I thought that if I added up all of the debt and made a plan that I would be making a step in the right direction. I considered posting the amount publicly as a way to hold myself accountable. I even considered having a t-shirt made saying something like, "I'm $xx,xxx in debt - stop me if I'm buying something!" but then I figured that would cost money. it's so embarrassing too. I've always tried to be the controller in my life (that's a whole other issue!!) and have realized that this is one thing I've failed to control. why can't I just stop, fix it? I don't know. I really don't.
this is so depressing.
and now my face is dry. I should go wash it off, the mask that is... not my face!


if I were a single man, I would move to this place and never leave.

as I mentioned in the post about the adventures in javat, the next and final stop was ter kadamba. after I gave the clothes to the pujari at radha-kanta and took some pictures of the deities, we all walked up to the roof of the temple, where we had a magnificant view of vraj mandal. we could see nanagram and varsana in the distance, as well as our path to ter kadamba. just as we were about to head back downstairs, seva priya pointed down to the temple room (which we could see because it was an open courtyard) and said, "umm, I think those kids are stealing our shoes." indeed, madhavi's hot pink faux crocs were gone (what was I thinking?), but everyone else's shoes were there. afterall, what's a poor indian village kid going to do with a man's size 9 1/2 pair of vans?
anywho, so we made our way to the same dirt path that srimati radharani would walk down to go to nandagram each morning to cook for krishna. maharaj told us about how durvasa muni gave srimati radharani the bendiction that whatever she cooked would taste just like nectar and give super-excellent health. when mother yasoda heard this, she begged radharani's mother-in-law, jatila, to let her come cook for krishna daily. somehow she convinced her, and each day srimati radharani would walk from javat to nandagram, past ter kadamba, to cook for krishna.
ter kadamba is special for so many reasons. for one thing, it was the place where krishna would sit in the kadamba trees and call all of his cows, using his 108 jewled mala. it is also the place where rupa goswami had his bhajan kutir, and also wrote his sacred texts.
there is also a very special pastime that occured there with rupa goswami and a mysterious gopi...
when we arrived at ter kadamba, hriskesha maharaj - the resident care taker - greeted us and joined in our kirtan. after kirtan we went out and sat underneath the beautiful trees near the babaji's krishna-balaram deities. my guru maharaj spoke about rupa goswami and the significance of the place. he then began to tell the story of rupa goswami and the mysterious gopi... I saw maharaj look at the baba kind of weird - I actually thought to myself that maybe the babaji was annoying maharaj, because he kept walking around... but I soon found out that they were in cahoots with one another. as maharaj began to tell how rupa goswami was beside himself about cooking sweet rice for guru, sanatana goswami, a mysterious and beautiful young girl came up to him (played by hrisikesa maharaj!). she had brought him sweet rice - but how did she know? he accepted the gift from the girl. when sanatana goswami came and tasted the sweet rice, he inquired from rupa goswami about where he got it. rupa goswami answered that a girl he did not recognize and had never seen before brought it to him. sanatana goswami, after tasting the nectarean sweet rice, realized that this young girl must have been srimati radharani! he wasn't happy, however. he told rupa goswami, "we are only trying to serve radha and krishna, and now you have accepted service directly from srimati radharani!" it was so sweet to see both maharaj's renact the pastime.
ter kadamba is a very special place, and it's easy to feel that when you are there. the babaji there takes such good care of the grounds. you can just tell he's meant to be there. he also put these really fragrant yellow flowers in our ears and explained how radha and krishna would do this to send each other signals about up coming meetings. if the flower was placed in the right ear facing forward, it would indicate a time and place...and so on. we were so foruntate to get his association. he also really liked madhavi - insisted that she was "sudevi" - and even gave her a flute to "call the cows".

this was our last parikram in vraj. thinking about it now, it all seems so surreal. I miss vrindavan so much it hurts. and I mean that sincerely, honestly, more than anything.


that's offensive, prabhu.

I'm still feeling pretty worn out, and I don't have a lot of energy to write tonight. so instead I thought I'd share a devotee joke that madhavi thought was the funniest thing ever. it's from the goloka joke book or "krishna started a joke", published by nectar books. brace yourself.

"the devotees at the temple had been feeding a stray cat krishna-prasadam for many years, and the cat finally expired one day out on the temple lawn. a little devotee girl, who had developed affection for the animal, was very sad when it left it's body. a mataji consoled the girl, saying, "it's all right - krishna has take the cat away." the girl sobbed, "but what in the world would krishna want with a dead cat?"

are you laughing? I didn't really get it either, but madhavi was hysterically laughing...maybe I'm not enough of an avadhuta.


I didn't really "get" the service, I kind of "stole" it.

around this time in 2001 - just about 7 years ago to be exact, I visited the radha-krishna temple in javat with my guru maharaj during his yearly parikram. I instantly fell in love with the village, with the crumbling temple (I recently found out it is called the radha-kanta temple), and most especially the deity of srimati radharani. it is a very old village - I mean it is the place where srimati radharani would live 6 months out of the year with her "husband" abimanyu. it is a poor village, which is very evident in the temple's overall state and especially in the lack of opulence in the worship of the deities there. I don't say that critically, but rather in a way that the pujari worships the best way he can. but I digress. so during that visit, I thought to myself that I should do something nice for these beautiful forms of radha and krishna. I was going to be in vraj for a while (it was supposed to be almost three months, but that was cut to 6 weeks...) so I decided I would come back to the temple before I left. when I got back to vrindavana I bought some really nice silk and made plans to go back to javat. my godsister who was living there at the temple arranged a car and to bring a translator. off we went. when we arrived I handed the cloth to the pujari and had the translator explain that I had purchased this nice silk and was going to give him money so he could have some nice clothes made with it for the dieties. the pujari frowned and told me that the silk was not enough to make a whole outfit. I was really despondent. there wouldn't be enough time for me to go back and get more. what could I do? the pujari went back into the darkness and then re-emerged with a bundle of cloth. he explained that he was going to give me some of the deity clothes for a sample and that I should go and have some clothes made. he said he was reluctant to do this because others had promised to do the same thing in the past, and then would never return. I promised that I would be back next year - that I would come back every year. he didn't have to worry, I would be back.
yea, well, krishna had other plans. when I came back from vraj that year stuff happened. a few months later I found myself pregnant. another trip to vrindavana was not in the near future. the clothes got put away...for seven long years.
but I didn't forget about my promise. it was always in the back of my mind. and I would joke that as so many material things got exceedingly worse and more complicated that the brahamana pujari had put a curse on me because I didn't come back. I was coming, I kept telling srimati radharani - I would be back!
and then we made plans. the time was right, and my main focus (yes this was my main focus, so don't make a shopping joke) was getting clothes made and personally delivering them. I realized that because my trip was going to be so short that I should send the clothes ahead of time to get them started. luckily seva priya was going a week before me, so I mailed them to her and she brought them to nanda kisor. I trusted her judgement. I told her to get as many outfits made for a certain amount of money. in the end three outfits, one blue, one yellow, and one maroon, were made. they were simple, but tasteful (I'm so not a fan of crazy sequins). seva priya told my guru maharaj about my plans before I got there and he agreed to take us all there on parikram so I could deliver the clothes. that made it even better.
I have to admit, in my head, I fantasized about this whole elaborate scene of how the pujari would remember me and would be so happy... it even went so far as him giving me a sila off the altar.... now I know, people, that's ridiculous. I wasn't really expecting that to happen, but you know how fantasies go - they get out of hand and are usually not at all realistic. but really, on the drive there I thought about how I didn't even remember what the pujari looked like. my guru even joked about how he was probably dead. we had no translator, so there was no way to even explain the situation. I knew it would be very uneventful. it was.
when we got there we had lots of kirtan. it was really nice. we sat down and maharaj spoke about the significance of the place. then we had more kirtan and maharaj told me I should give the clothes to the pujari. the pujari was super confused. he didn't know what to make of it. we explained a little and he finally figured it out. he invited me back onto the altar (the altar there is also the pujari's bedroom...it's hard to explain, you'd have to really see it) to show me the box where he was going to keep the clothes safe. he was happy, he said thank you, gave us all some maha, and let me take some pictures. that was it. no fireworks, no carrying me around on his shoulders. very simple, very nice.
I'm grateful that srimati radharani finally let me do this service for her. I wanted to do more. I wanted to give them lots of money. I wanted to help them fix their temple. I wanted to stay there. but life is what it is.
afterwards we walked down the same road srimati radharani would walk down to go and cook for krishna. we went to ter kadamba - which is a whole other story in itself.
I couldn't have asked for a better last-day-in-vraj.


up, up, and away in my beautiful balloon....

I've not felt very well for the past 24 hours. on my way home from work yesterday I suddenly realized that I felt yukkie. by the time I got home I just wanted to lay down. then my head ache got progressively worse and I started to feel disconnected from my body. it's all in my sinus area - lots of pressure. it's not fun. I can't really focus on much right now, so my vrindavana stories will have to wait. sorry. I hope they don't start to melt away all together, both for your sake and mine.


the extrvaganza

I'm sure you've been wondering about the shopping. after the vrindavana parikram, we went for lunch, then took little naps and then went off to class. I knew I had to get down to ganga prasad asap, so even though it was late and I was super tired, I decided to go that night. it's all a blur really. sunil, my customer service specialist, asked me where I had been... wasn't I supposed to be there two days ago?? it was nice to feel wanted. anyway, as I was saying, it was all a blur of fabric. madhavi was tired and cranky, my husband looked like he was going to pass out. it was two torturous hours. I was nowhere near finished. I finally asked sunil, as I sat in a pile of unfolded saris and ikats, if I could come back first thing in the morning to finish. he gave me the indian head shake, indicating it was no problem.

I did indeed go back the next morning, and proceeded to spend another four hours there... and pretty much killed an entire day at loi bazaar. after all, I still needed to go to the book store and the jewlery shop. shopping that day was not fun. not at all. the next morning when I was standing in front of sri sri radhe syama singing my little heart out (bolo hari hari, mukunda murari, rama krishna hayagrivaaaaa!) I thanked Krishna. I thought to myself, "I know what Your trying to do. You made shopping here so not fun. Thank you! Thank you for this purification, I really need it!" did I mention that next day I was going on my delhi shopping spree with seva priya... oh yea, I was.

so anyway, delhi was incredibly fun. so much for that purification. the sari's were beautiful... more than I could ever imagine. padakam, anokhi, fabindia, utsav....oh the list could go on and on! I was also really glad that I could spend some time with seva priya and get to know her better. I don't think she believes me, but really I was just as excited to get to hang out with her all day as I was to be able to shop.

all in all, I spent approximately... are you ready for this? do you really want to know? should I embarrass myself to this degree?
no, I'm not ready for it. just enjoy the pictures... and know that they do not do justice to the beauty of half of these saris....
(note: this is by no means a comprehensive set of photographs of everything I bought. it would have taken forever to do that!)
the sari on the top (maroon) is the one and only silk I bought from ganga prasad. sunil kind of guilted me into buying it. not intentionally, but I just felt like he really wanted to sell me one in this style, so I took it. it's nice though. the blue one on the bottom is very unique. it's from this shop called Tulsi. they claimed that this is a one of a kind design, only made by them. it's totally outside of my box, but as you will see, I was all about checks and stripes this trip.

this picture isn't very good. the sari on the top is gorgeous. it has huge borders on the top and bottom with really simple embroidery and beading. the choli is interesting too, as it is black on the one side and gold on the other. the marroon and silver/grey sari below that one is from this very nice little shop called utsav (which we almost didn't make it to!). this picture does not do it justice at all. it's very simple, but so elegant, and a very, very nice silk.

blue and gold check on the top, very beautiful. the red one on the bottom isn't really that red in person. it's more of a maroon I think. but it's striped and simple, but a heavy and elegant silk. I bought these two, plus that one above with the thick border at the same shop, padakam. it's very, very high class. I spent an insane amount of money in that shop. but so worth it. soooo worth it!
these are all of my simple cotton saris. the one on the very far left is from anokhi. the rest are from ganga prasad. I didn't realize until it was all over how much blue I did this year. so unlike me. but I really do love them all.

this sari is my most favorite buy of the whole trip. it's from fabindia, and it is indeed quite fab. it's a cotton, but a really nice cotton. stripey and kind of irridescent (sp?). I can't wait to wear it!

I got Madhavi an excessive amount of stuff. so much that even thinking about taking pictures of it all made me tired. but these are two of my favs that came out of the fabric mess at ganga prasad. I really liked how thes put the skirt fabric in the tops. very nice.

these are a few skirts I had made for myself. the green one came from some fabric I found at one of the state emporiums in delhi. the plaid one in the middle was a sari... I couldn't decide whether to keep it as a sari or make it into a skirt. it was a little much as a sari. sunil said, "you keep it a sari now, come back next year, make it a skirt." since I knew I probably wasn't coming back next year, I opted for the skirt now. the other is made from an orissan. I loved it as a sari, except the pallou (sp?) didn't feel right to me. so I opted for a skirt here too.

this final shot is of a dress I got at anokhi. I also got one in blue. I couldn't resist. I purchased a few other things there as well... but like I said, too lazy.

I'll try to make it more transcendental tomorrow. maybe.


only by her mercy

vrindavana was awesome. we were so lucky that we were able to go, especially without any difficulty. srimati radharani is so merciful. our flights were smooth, our drive from delhi to vraj uneventful, and the entrance sublime. I have to admit that I regret not going straight from delhi to vrindavana. I feel like I wasted a day in that regard. we arrived very late saturday night (really sunday morning) and stayed the night in a shotty hotel (never stay at the maharani!) so as to shop a bit in delhi the next day. that was a waste because most markets and stores are closed in delhi on sundays. we arrived in vrndavana on sunday evening, right into the traffic of the weekend. it was still nice. we some how ran into hari kirtan right away, who then took us over to maharaj's place (I had no idea where to find him). then it was off to the mvt for dinner and then a lovely sleep in anticipation of mangala aratik the next day.
we did vrindavana parikram the first day - maharaj said it was a good way to enter the dham. it was a nice walk, but I didn't really feel like I was entering the dham. without maharaj it felt like just a nice walk. we walked right passed so many places without even realizing it ("hey, isn't imli tal here somewhere???"). I was thinking about how fortunate I was to be able to do this same parikram with my guru so many years before. I can close my eyes and visualize him standing there on the parikram path, arms raised, singing the maha mantra in my most favorite tune (if I could explain it, I would, but it's just impossible). one nice bonus to this parikram was that it was exceptionally warm. that meant that the diety was in the tree at chira ghat! every other time I've been to vraj it's been too cold, but this time I was lucky enough to be able to take darshan. I went up to pay my obeisances. I thought I was smart - yes - I took my shoes off and paid my obeisances on top of them. Wait a minute - what was I doing wearing my shoes on parikram anyway?!? well, that was my afterthought - after the monkey swooped in and stole my birkie. I actually didn't care all that much - my very first thought was that this was Krsna chastising me for wearing shoes while trying to enter the dham. the monkey ran up into the tree and proceed to nibble on my faux-leather. it was actually kind of cute. some toasted snacks thrown up and the shoe came down. no harm.

(that's me in the blue sari on the lower left, looking up in the tree at that naughty monkey, who blends in to the point that you can't even see him!)

the monkey's only got naughtier. a few steps later and one hopped onto my husbands back and snatched his glasses. that was a little more annoying because my husband is practically blind without his glasses - what were we thinking, not bringing an older, less expensive pair??? we got them back, but scratched to the point that we have to get new ones.

but how can I complain? I would take shoe-and-glasses-rascally-stealing monkies any day if I could just be back in vraj.


soooo popular

hello all... hari hari! I know, it's been a while. for those of you who may not know (is there anyone???) I've been away for some time in India. I got back a week ago, but it's been a very rough transition back. my jet lag has been overwhelming... but today there was some hope. I somehow stayed up until almost 9pm last night and slept until 5am (gasp!) this morning. that's super late considering I was averaging 3:30am most mornings. I'm SUPERduper sleepy right now, and it's only 7:30... but I'm fighting it. I don't mind waking up early, but it's hard to function at work when I've been up since 3ish.

I know you're all thirsting for some vrindavana-realizations, but I am really tired. but I promise that I'm going to get back on the EDJW wagon....or maybe the every-otherDJW wagon. at any rate, I promise something more interesting tomorrow. I just though I would make a quick appearance.....