on sylvia plath and cultural sensitivity

tonight we discussed sylvia plath at length in the college class I teach. we discussed 'daddy', 'lady lazarus', and 'morning song'. if you know anything about sylvia plath, then you probably know that she often used the holocaust in her poems - for comparisons, metaphors, etc. I have often had students misinterpret plath's intention and message. actually, one student once told me that her anti-semitism disgusted him, and he couldn't even talk about her (this was in reaction to 'the thin people', I believe). for the most part I feel really comfortable discussing plath's work. she's so fascinating... and if you don't know anything about her, she's not anti-semetic at all. I mean, there's just something about lines like: "Dying /Is an art, like everything else./I do it exceptionally well." dying... is an art... like everything else. !!! anyway, I digress. I don't mean to get all poetry-nerdy on you.
so, back to where I was going - this semester I have an orthodox jewish woman in my class. this is the second class of mine she has been in. I love her. she's a fantastic and bright student. I've had a few orthodox women in the past, too - the town I teach/live in is right on the border of another town that has a huge orthodox community. but this is the first time I've had an orthodox student in an english II class - the class where we talk about sylvia plath. I went into the class with hesitation - knowing that there was a possibility that she might misinterpret plath - or something worse. so we listened to plath reading 'daddy' - and every time she said the word 'jew', I shuddered a little, really hoping that my student wouldn't be offended. long story short, she wasn't - or at least didn't seem to be. she was amazed, after our discussion, to learn that plath's father wasn't a nazi. but she seemed unphased by everything else.

so, what't my point, I bet you're wondering... I was thinking to myself about this hesitation that I had. and I've felt it before - like when we read flannery o'connor and she uses the 'n' word. or when I talk to my students about the civil rights movement. there is something strangely uncomfortable there for me. like I'm afraid I'm going to say something to offend a jewish or african american, or any other minority student. or worse yet, I might say something wrong and they will think I'm racist.

I feel like I work hard to be non-judgmental, to be equal and fair in my mind to all people - regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, etc. I don't want to offend anyone, especially not out of ignorance (haha, like, if I'm going to offend you, I want it to be with all of my intelligence!). but I think my biggest realization (after all of that babbling) is that I worry more about what others will think of me. is my cultural sensitivity really in the best interest of others, or myself? it's kind of like that old saying: 'it's not what I think, or what you think, but what I think you think.' hmm, but I have a hard time swallowing this. if I was really that self-centered I wouldn't care if the other person was offended. and I do care. really, I do. and I don't think it's out of some superficial political-correctness, either. I think, deep down, I truly believe in the 'do unto others' mentality.

I know, this all just seems like blibbity blabbity. but this is where I'm at - in this moment.


happy birthday to my snookums

today is my husband's birthday. we celebrated yesterday by dropping the little ladies off at the grandparents and going out for our first alone date in a year and a half. it was so nice to spend time together!!

so happy birthday to my honey - the best father and husband evvvvvvver. xoxoxo!!


saturday in pictures

I finally came into this decade and downloaded the instagram app. I've been playing around with it for the past two days and decided to do the s/i/p using it. the filters are fun, and I like the idea of the stream. feel free to follow me @kmalagutierrez.


freaky (black) friday vlog!

get ready to go on a shopping journey... yes, I ventured out on black friday. got some suuupppper deals toooooo! and I actually went back out with jd and gita a few hours after I came home from my morning outing. kaaaaaa-raaaaaaay-zaaaaaay!


random thursday: irony, gratitude, and turkey guts

well hidie-ho neighbors. I'm finally feeling almost back to normal, for whatever that is worth. today is thanksgiving round these parts - which, if you're reading this from another country where this holiday is not celebrated, thanksgiving is basically the day we americans celebrate not only the mass slaughter of thousands of indigenous people, but the mass slaughter of hundreds of thousands of innocent turkeys. yeay! (please note the sarcasm...) oh, it is also the day that officially kicks off the other biggest holiday in america - the christmas season, aka the biggest excuse to go out and buy a buttload of stuff you don't need. wheeeee!
but hey, listen, I'm not trying to hate on gluttony and consumerism (well, except the killing of turkeys, that's just stupid and unnecessary). I love eating until I feel like I want to puke and buying lots of stuff I totally don't need just as much as the next girl, so don't get me wrong. I guess sometimes I just don't get american culture. it's so weird. like what is it? wait, this post is going a totally different direction than I wanted it to... ok, nevermind... let's move on.

so today on the way to my parent's house, I played the song 'kill the turkey' by gregory and the hawk for madhavi. after it was over I said to her, "do you get the irony of the song?" and she was all, "what's irony?" and I was all, "what are they teaching you in school?! how do you not know what irony is?" ok, ok, she's only nine, maybe it's too early to know that - but still. so then jd said it was kind of a hard thing to define and then referenced that alanis morissette song - you know the one - and then a discussion ensued as to what the real meaning of irony is and whether or not any of the things in that song are even ironic. we decided that really, that song should be called 'bad karma' instead. isn't it ironic that none of that stuff is ironic? haha!

then as we were driving a group of wild turkeys was trying to cross the road, and jd said that was kind of ironic, because we were listening to that song and it was thanksgiving and they were turkeys. but really, it wasn't ironic. just funny. or coincidental. or weird. but definitely not ironic.

why did the turkey cross the road? to get the f' outta there!

as much as I really hate thanksgiving - like really, it's my least favorite holiday; right up there with easter - I think it doesn't hurt to focus on the gratitude portion of it. before dinner I challenged everyone in my family to say one thing that s/he was thankful for - and they couldn't say family, health, or food - because those are all too easy and obvious (like, duh, of course we're thankful for those!). my two favorite answers: stanley, my ten-year-old nephew said simply, "technology". where would we be without it?! and my husband said he was thankful that "our solar system isn't next to a black hole." indeed!
interestingly enough, I came up with the idea but had a hard time coming up with something I am grateful for. I think this is because I'm really an ungrateful sloth... but come on. there has to be something!! ok. here are five random things I am grateful for...

1. being a vegetarian. carcasses are nasty.
2. that women are allowed to wear pants. isn't it weird that once upon a time women only wore dresses?!
3. books.
4. finding a real kindred spirit friend.
5. that john mccain didn't win. dude. just think about that one. shudder.

ironically, I am holding the book upside down.


loot-goodies from art star craft bazaar!

heya folks. sorry I've been m.i.a for the past little while. we've had an awesome cold going around our house and pretty much everyone has been lucky enough to experience it... well, except lali (our dog).

but I sucked it up yesterday, because I had been dreaming about november 20th for months. no little itty bitty cold was going to keep me from going to the art star craft bazaar. oh, heck no. I packed my tissues and ricolas and hit the atm. there was serious shopping to be done!!

I will be the first to admit that usually I am a crazy shopper. like impulse, just see it, love it, buy it kind of shopping. I was lucky that my friend lynn was with me. her practical energy kept me grounded. our shopping strategy was to look around the whole bazaar first, and then go in for the kill. I think this saved me lots of money and buyer's remorse. because there was at least ten things I saw on my first go-around that I was sure I was going to buy - but by the time I came around a third time, I had talked myself out of. I didn't spend nearly as much money as I thought I was going to (or wanted to!). but I do feel like the things I did get were totally worth it. and on top of the tangible things, I felt some inspiration for ideas to make some things myself....uh, yea, we'll see if that ever happens though! here's a little peak into my bazaar booty...

set of noosed kitty magnets. got these at the art star booth. I really wanted the prints, but felt they were impractical. these are just as cute and were much more cost effective - just sad they didn't have the wrestler one as a magnet!
'i love you more than zombies love brains' mug by foldedpigs. also purchased at the art star booth. I was kind of sad to not get the matching plate as well, but now that I've found their etsy shop, I know the possibilities are endless!
portable fortitude playing cards by corina dross. these are just a few of my favorite cards, but I really love them all. I love her style and her humor. they're so beautiful! I would have much rather had some frameable prints, but, again, the practicality of that... hmmph.
totally love at first sight when I saw this inspirational 2012 calendar by spread the love. I don't know who the mountain goats are, but they are very wise.

there were so many other great craftspeople there... and so many awesome things. it was really a willpower test for me, and I think I did pretty good. but I totally can't wait until it happens again in the spring!!

to see other vendors that were there, click here.


[not so] random thursday: whole living q&a

I used to subscribe to whole living magazine (back when it was body+soul). I found it one night when I was in barnes and noble and fell in love with its zen-like quality. I didn't even realize back then that it was a martha stewart publication - though I should have known with all its perfectness that it was martha. I haven't gotten it in the mail in some time, but picked up a copy in whole foods a few weeks ago so I would have something to read while waiting for madhavi at ballet. I just finished looking through it tonight and in the back of this particular issue there is a q&a with judy collins (who is apparently a folk singer? sorry, never heard of her...). I haven't been feeling so great the past few days, so I thought this would make for an easy post. and heck, let's be honest, I like talking about myself. I mean, if I didn't this blog wouldn't even exist. hurrrloooo! ok, so here it goes...

when I was 16, I thought...I knew everything about everything, including myself. I thought I knew who I was and who I wanted to be. if I could go back and tell 16-year-old me anything, I would tell me to not be so sure about everything. I would tell me to question more. oh my god, so many things I would tell me!

16ish-year-old-me, self portrait
my favorite time of day is...hmm, this is hard. I think my favorite time of day is the twenty minutes I have to myself on my drive to work in the morning. I actually hate the morning - definitely not a morning person - but it's the one time of the day that I have absolutely to myself. I drink my tea and listen to music and (unless I'm running late) generally don't feel any stress.

proudest career moment...I don't know if I've had one of these yet. I'm always proud when I know that a student has gotten "it", whatever the "it" of the moment is. and I don't feel proud because I feel like I've taught him/her something - but rather because I feel like I've been a part of his/her learning process. I think, in general, I feel the most accomplished when students walk away from my class feeling like they've been exposed to a something (like a poem or a story) that perhaps they wouldn't have ever read before - love it or hate it, it's just something new.

the song that changed my life...I don't think there was just one song. when I discovered tori amos is high school, I would say for sure that I felt a huge shift in my world. I mean, I felt her with every fiber of my being. the first song that pops into my mind is little earthquakes - the title track of her first album. but really, that album was amazing to me back then. but for me, she's really that period of my life - so I don't really listen to her anymore. while she holds a special place in me, it's hard for me to listen to her now and go back there.
might as well have been me in that box

guiltiest pleasure...eating... omg, eating. anything chocolate, really. but I could think of a hundred different food items that I would consider "guilty pleasures". I'm such a glutton. like, for real!

my favorite item of clothing...can't go wrong with a black cardigan. I must have a dozen in varying cuts and styles.

I still get nervous when...I go in for the first day of the semester. I've done it a bazillion times, but I always worry that the students won't like me. or they'll think I'm crazy, but in a bad way.

daily practice...my daily cup of green (tazo zen) tea. I can't function without it, and if I have to it's in a very cranky manner.

words I live by..."this too shall pass" helps me remember that this life and these moments are fleeting and temporary.

what makes me truly happy...getting to be with my self. I'm really very introverted and introspective. I like being in my head, even though it's to my detriment most of the time. I like walking alone, or being alone in public. like most people feel weird going to the movies or to dinner alone. I like it. that is peace to me. honestly, I'm a pretty selfish person. not so much a virtue, I know.

the lesson I keep learning...I am not the controller.

coffee or tea...tea, always and forever.

you can never have too many...black cardigans! (or any black clothing, to be honest)

favorite city...I don't know if vrindavan is technically a city, but it is my favorite place on earth. and I'm not just saying that because it's the devotee/hare krishna thing to say. it really is the one place that I feel at peace and at home - despite it's sewage-y-ness and third-world-ish-ness. like, really, at the heart of vrindavan, at its core, is complete and total calm and beauty. it's another world. completely.

yamuna boat ride, vrindavan

whole living means...being authentic. being true to myself. I think I'm trying to figure out what that means for the me of right now. I feel like I am evolving in some ways but I don't know what to do with or about it yet. I think mostly I don't like change - it means giving up something about the past and being ready for the future - while still being in the moment. how scary is that?!


...and the winner is...

today is the day! thank you to everyone who entered the amazing gopi skirts by radhika give-away! and thank you to radhika for being so generous!

and the winner is....

congratulations bird! I will be in touch shortly!!

again, thank you to everyone who entered!

pleaaassse stay tuned for another exciting give-away. remember in my original post when I said I had approached another fantastic artist for a different give-away?? well, I just happen to get an email from her and I have a feeling it's going to be awesome. yeeaaaayyy!!



when my friend told me she felt cheated her first time around giving birth, I didn't understand why. we had both had c-sections for the births of our first children, mine a few years before hers and both for similar yet different reasons. I don't know about her, but I was petrified to give birth naturally - but even still, during my first pregnancy I started my prenatal care with a midwife and had plans to pushpushpush at a birthing center. heck, I was down for a water birth (don't they say those hurt less??).  when I was a week past my due date and my midwife told me she was sending me to the hospital to get induced, yes, I was disappointed. the baby was really big and they didn't want to take any chances of her getting even bigger. ok, I guess I bought that. and then after the cervidel and the pitocin and the twenty-four hours of labor with no progression and lots of demarol induced laughter, sure I'll agree to a c-section. just get that baby out!

pregnancy numero uno, right before the cervidil

but I have to tell you. honestly. even after the crappy post-op recovery and a pooch that won't go away, I didn't feel cheated. I felt... well... a little... relieved. that baby - my first daughter, madhavi - was huge. 9lbs 1.5 oz. with a big head. seriously. big.

when I found out I was pregnant again in 2009 the idea of a vbac didn't even cross my mind to be honest. everything about giving birth in my mind was ruled by fear - fear that I would have another big baby, fear that my uterus would explode, fear that it would hurt. screw a water birth. just cut that baby out!

when my friend (the one I mentioned above) found out she was pregnant too (we were only days apart in our due dates) we were so excited! when she told me she was going to have a vbac I thought she was a little bit crazy. but hey, to each her own, right? and she really wanted to do it. like really. and honestly, I didn't think it would happen for her. but when it did, I was so happy for her. I never really thought about it much until this past week...

rewind to last year - oprah is having her farewell shows and one of them is a reunion of all of the legendary talk-show hosts - geraldo, sally jesse, donahue, and of course - ricki lake. during the segment with ricki lake they very briefly mentioned a film that she had produced called the business of being born. it looked kind of good, and I love a documentary as much as the next feminist-liberal, so I added it to my netflix que. fast forward to this weekend. I'm bored. I see the film is available for instant streaming. I watch.

and I am sad.

everything in that film about how women get pressured to have c-sections was my story - to the induction, to the use of drugs, all of it. it was my original story. and the second time around not one doctor suggested that I might try a vbac. not one. I watched birth after birth in that movie, and with each one I became more and more sad. and while I know things happen for a reason and that growing another person in your body, no matter how s/he comes out is an accomplishment and that I can't change anything now, there is a little part of me that feels cheated. cheated out of the experience, cheated out of that accomplishment. on top of it all, gita was smaller than madhavi at birth - by almost 2 lbs! and she had a tiny little head that every time I looked at, I couldn't help but think, "I could of pushed that out..." sigh. oh well.

and no, if you're wondering, I don't feel cheated enough to have more children. :)

but really, see this film. see this film if you're a woman who had a c-section. see this film if you're pregnant. see this film if you want to have children. really, just see this film!

pregnancy numero dos, after fasting for almost 15 hours for a scheduled c-section


a gopi in autumn

did you know that radhika also makes gopi skirts for children? I have to confess that I've only ever ordered skirts for my daughter madhavi. ever since my last pregnancy I've been very self-conscious about my mid-drift, so I've been living vicariously through her. I wanted you to know that I'm not promoting radhika's skirts "just because". I'm promoting them because I've ordered from her before and love what she does. and she offers the best costumer service. I really can't say enough good things about her or her skirts.

here is a little photo essay: a gopi in autumn. madhavi is wearing a beautiful iridescent printed purple cotton skirt with a beaded cream chiffon duppata from none other than gopi skirts by radhika (I believe this skirt is still available for purchase. also, here is a link to madhavi wearing another skirt by radhika).


spinning, dancing, running, jumping, or just thinking about krishna.