family day

Me.

Melissa. 34. Live in Atlanta, GA (Kirkwood) with my husband and dog.

Liberal. Jew. Amateur genealogist. Industrial Psychology data junkie.

(semi updated 6/3/19)
botticelli

This entry is in progress

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While chatting on the phone with my mom a few days ago, I mentioned that we were headed to an Indian wedding this weekend, “and I’m going to wear a saree!”

She paused for a moment and then said, “isn’t that culture— cultural –” She paused for a moment to find that exact phrase, and it’s no wonder. Cultural appropriation wasn’t really a *thing* when she was younger. It’s a newer concept, thought about often by people who try not to offend, usually noted by white people to other white people about non-white people things.

I assured her I had done my research. When my husband and I were invited to the wedding, I originally had googled “what do I wear to an Indian wedding as a guest?” and the vast internets told me that many [non-Indian/white] people wear traditional Indian garb as a way of embracing the culture. Everything seemed to point me in the direction of it being great to wear a saree to a wedding, no matter who you are. A saree worn at an Indian wedding by a non-Indian person is seen as a pretty outfit and is definitely not only okay, but encouraged.

I get it. I know why it feels not okay. And I’m possibly hypocritical about it. My husband has a facebook friend who is a Christian and likes to post pictures of himself wearing a tallit, a fringed garment worn by Jews, sometimes referred to as a prayer shawl. I wear my tallit at synagogue if I attend any morning prayers, starting from the day I became a Bat Mitzvah. I hold the fringes in my fingers during certain prayers. I use the corner fringe to kiss the Torah when I am called for an aliyah. I definitely find it bizarre, and dare I say, inappropriate, for someone who isn’t Jewish to be wearing a tallis. Is it that it's a religious garment? Or is it that I'm overly sensitive to appropriation of my own culture? But I digress.

All of the articles that said it was okay or encouraged to wear a saree to an Indian wedding if you’re not Indian were written by Indians. The sites with paragraphs about what not to wear said things like “don’t wear red, because that’s reserved for the bride,” and “stay away from white or black, as these are colors for mourning or funerals.” Other articles mentioned to wear bright colors – this is a celebration!

The groom in this wedding is an old co-worker of my husband’s. There’s a group of them that had their first law jobs together at a law firm that didn’t treat their employees well. The group bonded hardcore, as people in that sort of bad work environment tend to do. Still, they don’t talk super often, and the wedding invite was a little bit of a surprise, as no one knew the groom was even dating anyone. Suffice it to say, I couldn’t really just text him and ask. And I’m pretty sure he’s nicely busy right now, a few days before his wedding.

Without conclusive evidence that I definitely wouldn’t offend anyone, I found out one of the other attorneys in this friend group called the groom. “Hey man, what are we supposed to wear? Indian clothes? Western?” The groom, who is perhaps a bit aloof to begin with, said he didn’t care and that people would be in both. When we scoured the website for any clues on what to wear, it says “Attire: anything from prom to your own wedding.” I decided not to wear my wedding dress.

But I had decided I wanted to wear a saree. The men in the friend group weren’t as excited about dressing in traditional Indian garb, but I and the two other women going – one of them an attorney at the firm where everyone worked, and the other one a wife of one of those attorneys that is also an attorney herself - decided we would go try some on.

Luckily, there’s a saree store pretty close to where we all live, and we went there after work. I got stuck in traffic from my commute, and the other two girls got started. When I arrived, one of them was wearing a beautiful and flowing orange saree with a gold blouse, and the other girl had already tried hers on, she held a blue saree in her arms.

A lady was helping them and we were all talking, and I asked her whether it was definitely okay to wear a saree even though we weren’t Indian (one of the girls I was with is white, the other is black). She assured me that it was definitely okay, and that it was honoring the Indian culture. She said how beautiful we would all look. Then again, she was also about to make a fairly big sale.

When it was my turn, the lady took me over to where the sarees were. “The ones that already have the clips so you don’t have to know how to drape them.” She looked at me with a critical eye and then said, “size pink.”

As I write this, I’m mostly sure that this specific store only carries specific sizes of each color of the easy-to-drape sarees for convenience, but at the time, I was definitely wondering if everyone at the wedding would see me in pink and know exactly how much I weighed.

She clipped the saree at my waist, on top of my jeans, folded the fabric so it hung perfectly, and wrapped me. Even on the easy sarees, I’m not sure I could recreate that. It fit perfectly – I am definitely a size pink.

Then, she looked me up and down again, handed me a gold beaded blouse, and ushered me into a dressing room. I started to try it all on together and immediately realized the blouse was too small. She brought me a larger size. Also too small. I half opened the door from the dressing room to let her know I needed a larger size still and she said “Really? That one really doesn’t fit? So I showed her. There was no way that thing was going to hold my bust. So then she brings in the next size up, and it finally fits around the bust, but the arm holes are huge, and instead of being close to my skin where the top hits my stomach, it’s way too loose. “We are going to have to do a LOT of alterations on you.” Lovely. But she says she can have it ready by the next day, which is great, because the procrastinator in me is leaving for the wedding the morning after that.

Once we all decided on our tops and our sarees, we were brought over to the jewelry area. The woman seemed a bit sad when I told her that I couldn't wear the larger earrings she kept showing me because it would bother my ears, but I was excited about the small but intricate ones I picked out. She did, however, seem to agree that with how adorned my gold top was, that I didn’t necessarily need a necklace.

Bangles, though, we were not allowed to not do without. She sized our wrists and on mine, she kept having to try sizes down. I wasn’t size pink in bangles, but rather size 280, whatever that means. I picked out some nice gold ones. She also briefly showed me hair jewelry but told me it was “optional.” Since I was already spending a good bit, I took the option to not.

After we each paid, the two of us needing alterations to our tops were measured. One woman, the one who helped us earlier, had the measuring tape and was measuring around the top of our chest, our busts, and our stomachs, and another employee had alteration slips where she was writing down the information. I am sure Indian women, like all humans, have breasts that come in all shapes and sizes. I also know that the woman writing down the measurements confirmed it multiple times incredulously. “Are you sure? That seems too big on the middle measurement?” A third woman came over to help measure me, too. Alas, it was correct.

Other than the fact that apparently my body type simply doesn’t get to wear un-altered saree tops, we left feeling pretty confident that not only were we appropriate in wearing sarees to the wedding, but that we were embracing the culture. And still knowing that we’d need each other's help in getting dressed, and that we also needed to all walk in together. Just in case.

When I texted a [white] friend this morning that I had gotten a saree, I heard back what I thought I would hear – “is that okay to do?”


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I believe this concern over ensuring we don’t accidentally offend anyone is a good thing. Being hyper-sensitive to making sure everyone is comfortable is good and necessary, after a time where it wasn’t even thought about.

But in this world of politically-correct occasionally-overbearing rules, we can’t forget to embrace each other’s cultures and experience them. Eat food you've never had. Go to church with your Catholic friend. Attend a Bat Mitzvah. Be the only white person somewhere. Be a minority. Attend a Gay-Straight Alliance meeting. Be open.

Don’t rely on people of one demographic to know what’s appropriate in another.

If you want to know something: ask someone of that ethnicity/religion/sexual orientation. And if you're asked a question? Answer. Don’t be offended. Don’t encourage a lack of knowledge.

America isn’t a melting pot. We don’t all just mix in together to one homogeneous culture. We are, in the words of a favorite English teacher, a tossed salad. The cucumber retains its distinct flavor from the tomato, but a cucumber in tomato juice is tasty and perfect. We're more delicious when we mingle.
botticelli

huh. happy or sad or existential crisis

I was taking an online survey that asked me, "Are the clothes that you wear that others see more expressive of who you are, or the clothes that (most) others don't see?" (I took the second part to be undergarments / bed clothes).

And it made me think - my clothes don't ever really express my personality? I choose clothing based on "I look really pretty in this" or "this makes me look skinny" or "this will be comfy to sleep in" but never really anything specifically about self expression.

My work clothes don't really express me, other than "she likes polka dots" or that I dress in business-like attire. I wear clothing that fits well, has colors that complement my hair color and skin tone, and clothes that are nice for work.

I'm not rich enough to have clothing made that makes me look like a butterfly (if I thought I was a butterfly, and I don't)

I realized, many people -- more easily men -- wear t-shirts for self expression. Sometimes as an undershirt (where women, because of the fit of the clothes, generally don't wear anything but plain) in a more professional environment. And sometimes as casual wear.

I rarely wear t-shirts at all -- I'm usually in work/nice clothes or sleeping. But even my t-shirts that I do own aren't about a fandom or a joke or a cause. They're plain or patterned, or occasionally have a print (for instance, I own this shirt).

I used to, though. I used to have SCL/Latin shirts, Harry Potter shirts, a few band shirts. A family shirt, a Harvard shirt, shirts from activities I was involved in. Also things I found funny or expressive or things I liked. But why not anymore? My list of excuses: I'm not really in the SCL/Latin scene anymore, which means I don't have opportunity to wear or ability to purchase such things. I'm not obsessive about Harry Potter anymore. I don't like / don't listen to those bands anymore. I wear my family shirt only very occasionally, when with entire family. I did not attend and never will attend Harvard. People also wear shirts for the schools they attend. I don't attend school.

I guess I have a 2015 Kirkwood Spring Fling shirt? I wore it at the 2015 Kirkwood Spring Fling.

Huh.


T-shirts of yore:












botticelli

Because I'm on an LJ spree, that's why.

Passover is going to be interesting this year. My dad is mid-radiation, so my mom wanted to have the seders in Gainesville. My dad isn't up for that, and I can't miss class, so that won't work.

So it looks like my optimal situation is having an extra seder, a day early, Sunday night. Then my dad can spend Pesach with us and still go to radiation on Monday.

Then, we'll have another seder Monday night sans Daddy, and then my mom and sister might go up to Atlanta and spend the 2nd/3rd night there on their way to UNC Chapel HIll (for Deb to visit).

Matthew and Kalina aren't coming this year, but I think I'm going up to visit them in Baltimore after finals.

They'll be down soon after though, on June 1st, because MY LITTLE SISTER IS GRADUATING FROM HIGH SCHOOL. She's such a grown up.

Maybe more in a little while. I feel like writing today.
botticelli

(no subject)

A light bulb just popped.

It was a regular energy-efficient bulb. I think one of the ones that is "60" watts. The bulb started making a crackling noise, and them boom. Popped. Fell. Smells like burnt light bulb. Freaked me out. A lot.
botticelli

(no subject)

I'm back into my LJ, reset my password. Try figuring it out NOW, suckers! If anyone sees anything odd or suspicious, it's probably not me. I don't keep anything super secret on here, so I don't really care, except that it was rude and stupid-- and "pervasive and creepy" for sure.

Okay, now onto real things. I did terribly on my last Latin exam and will likely have to drop the course. Really. I'm really bummed about it and thinking about it makes me want to puke. I am so ready to graduate. Argh.

My windows that I had put in still aren't finished, so instead of waiting any longer, I need to call US Bank to see if there's any news on me getting my money back, and then I'll hire someone else to do it.

Today has been a bit sucktardy. I am going to go running.
botticelli

Daddy!

My dad is now tubeless and bandageless! He can now swallow, and everything goes into the right place :) He can start eating pureed food tomorrow! So it's probably almost time for a soup making party now.

He can also talk now, without danger of messing up anything. So that will make life much much easier, although it probably still hurts him a little.

The scar isn't too bad at all. Definitely there, but its from behind his ear around his neck, and not visible when you look at him from the front. His beard will probably almost entirely cover it.

I'm so glad that everything is going well. He'll get to heal for a few more weeks, and then he starts radiation.
botticelli

(no subject)

I'm letting the jury be out for awhile on Google Buzz. It seems like a Twitter/Facebook hybrid of sorts. We'll see. I guess Google just wants a piece of the action. Shouldn't they just merge with Facebook already?

I'm looking for people I was in Fiddler on the Roof with in 1998. Deb, do you remember the guy that played the Rabbi that used to drive us to rehearsal? And the other guy that rode with us, the Constable? How cool would it be to find them again!

Fuzzy chewed my eee cord. I guess she did last time, too. This is getting ridiculous. And I hate her poo. Luckily, there's an adoption fair at Petsmart on Sunday. So we'll see.

I slept all afternoon and I'm exhausted.

And I gave into Comcast. I'm getting real cable. I want the food network. They'll be here in the morning. And then I'm going to my parents' house to be with my daddy. And then school. And then dinner with Aaron. And then party with Sara. I should really go to sleep now.