The Road Washes Out in Spring: A Poets Memoir of Living Off the Grid

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You can be his friend, support him, and honor his choices, all without moving him into your own home, I said. I had grown quite used to life with one parent. I asked her to consider the reasons why she left him. I asked her if any of those reasons had changed, if anything about him had changed. And I knew that when she said no that I had won, that no, she would not be moving him back into our lives.

And now it seems so sad, so hollow for me to have done these things, to have said these things to my mother. It was her house, it was her life. It was her decision to leave him, it should have been her decision if she wanted to help him. Mamta itself is a word signifying motherly affection. Arabic takes it even further, taking Mamta and making her Mumtaz, the distinguished, the great, the excellent.

Others have been named Moumita, or Mamata, baby-babbling names, names meant to be cute and intimate and endearing on several occasions, my youngest and most sharp-tongued aunt has called her Mamata, in a long, jeering tone over the phone or from around the corner. The junk mail we received often read Mumta, Momta, Moomata, or, my personal favorite, Mumpta.

The Road Washes Out in Spring: A Poets Memoir of Living Off the Grid by Baron Wormser ()

But the source of motherness, the wellspring of affection, is Mamta. It is, interestingly enough, considered a fairly plain and common name in India. This last name comes from my father. He claimed it was so long it would take up the width of a full sheet of paper to write. Our ancestors had hit the nail plum on the head.

He once told me that if I had been born a girl, he would have named me after his favorite pond, and my first name would have been longer than my last name by a country mile. It was a difficult conversation to have, especially in a Taco Cabana. From what I can tell, both my first and last names are uncommon outside of India.

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My cousins and aunts swear the southeastern section of the subcontinent is rife with Ganesans, chock full of Vyasars. In my youth, I searched the yellow pages for Ganesans, possible family to round out the binary household I lived in. Ganesan is also the part of my name that people find the easiest to pronounce. This is largely due to the phonetics of the English language, which my name complies with enough for a reasonably large segment of the population.

Every once in a while, though, I hear gun-son, gains-sun, gannes-sone, and sometimes just straight up Ganesh, easily the most recognizable Hindu deity after black-skinned skull-splitting Kali. For south Indians, though, Ganesh is a deity of immense import. But in south India the temples of Ganesh are more elaborate, the murtis more resplendent, and celebrations involving him more complex. There, at the bottom of the waters, the murtis slowly crumble and turn to sediment over years and years, layering divinity into geological strata.

No, my father removes his own obstacles, for the most part. One could say that Ganesh gave him the power to remove his own obstacles, that Ganesh had removed the biggest obstacle from my father, he removed his sense of inadequacy, restraint, incapacity or whatever one wants to call it. One could say these things, but my father was incarcerated for 10 years on a murder conspiracy charge, shuffled around Texas state prisons like they were shuffling the deck, was stabbed, brutalized and mistreated in all manner of ways.

He refuses to talk about it. Certain obstacles, it seems, have foundations too strong for Ganesh, the currents, or the slow passage of time, to simply crumble away. It is in two parts. The first part, appa, is a common pet name for fathers and grandfathers in India, signifying respect and the position of the head of household in a cutesy, kid-friendly couple of syllables.

His name can be interpreted in a number of different ways, depending on your command of Hindi, knowledge of regional dialects, or personal bias towards the man. It can be read as father of kings, or king of fathers, or supreme patriarch, or the fatherland, or quite simply a conflation of the two, king-father, one who is both godlike ruler and domestic overlord. So for parents, I have the literal translation of father, appa, and mother, mamta. These parts of me come from my father, who was deeply religious in his youth, the kind of person who makes regular trips to the family shrine and wears a string around his body to remind him to be humble.

Religion holds that much severity for him, and the same firmness resonates in my name. But any softness or mild temperament that I enjoy has its roots in the middle, from my mother. My mother, the middle child with two sisters and two brothers, who gave me her name to be my middle name, is in the core of my name. She may not have been the perfect mother, but she did the things we believe mothers are supposed to do: protected me, cared for me, teased me, carried me, fed me, and prepared me for the day I had to make my own life. To do all of these gently is no small task. And I do not forget that it was Mamta, my mother, who told me the story of how the Vedas, the holiest scriptures in Hinduism, first came into being.

Ganesh accepted, but only on the terms that Ved Vyas could not stop speaking for as long as he wrote. Ved Vyas was quick to accept and add a term of his own—that Ganesh could not write a verse without fully understanding its meaning. In this way, she said, the saint could throw out a puzzler every hour or so, in case he had to use the bathroom or grab a snack.

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But the story is also about identity, the fundamental lesson that, before we tell a story, we must understand our relationship to that story. Before we have a relationship, we must have a sense of self. And before we have a self, we must have a name. Vyasar Ganesan is a writer from Austin, Texas.

His specific literary interests are amateur engineering, food writing, Indian life in America and travel writing, among other fields. I found this hat in the desert the head it belonged to was nowhere in sight I shook out the sand and believe any bugs that had called it home were thoroughly baked in the sun along with the previous owner.

The Road Washes Out in Spring: A Poet’s Memoir of Living Off the Grid

I imagine the previous owners were ranch hands if not gunslingers who proudly wore it years ago or more though the tag says Made in Thailand. The Celebrex bottle is child-proof much to the chagrin of the children hiding in shadows roaming the halls. I told him about the best day of the week in a hospice is always the day you get pudding for dessert. Alan Harris is a hospice volunteer and graduate student who helps hospice patients write memoirs, letters, and poetry. Harris is a two-time Pushcart nominee. For more info, visit www. An automatic response—a defense mechanism of sorts—to the question that everyone always asked , obliging him to confirm that yes, his name really was John Johnson.

His father, the most conservative of bureaucrats, or vice versa, and archetypal patriot was never at a loss to justify his decision and explain to his only son how unique his name actually was. If you think about it, you really are one in a million. Actually, his father never said that—and likely never thought it. Unoriginal on the surface, a cop-out; and yet, upon reflection, one of the few instances where a name actually signifies something.

Of course, people named John do not always call themselves John, and his father—or Jack, as most people knew him—was no exception. It did not merit explanation or justification, so when people asked, he simply told them the truth: his name was Jackson. And yet. What is there, after all, in a name?


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Not much, especially in America, a country where people consult best-selling books to help them determine which ones are historically acceptable, currently embraced or otherwise in vogue. A result is that the more familiar, common and safe your name, the more assured you can be that your parents complied with the mundane mores of their time, and treated the naming of their child almost exactly the way they would purchase clothes or choose a car: comfort and conformity above all.

The other trend, of course, was to choose the most outrageous, or mystic-sounding name: extremism that is another, equally unfortunate sign of acquiescence. Naming names is always important when recounting events that actually occurred and even more important when the events may not have occurred. Sometimes running away requires courage, because staying is the only thing a coward can consider. Jackson had more than his share of baggage, but he could carry all of it with him—in his car and in his head.

There were no desert island albums, or books; he needed all of them, he needed everything. He already lived on an island, anyway, and he found a way to make everything fit. The peripatetic existence of a perpetual student has its advantages, particularly in regards to traveling light.


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  • College, then graduate school, then Ph. All of which is to say, the circumstances of compulsory attrition enabled Jackson to fit everything he owned—his life—into one small car. Everyone around him, insulated in their imported armor, had a reason. They were all coming or going, it was just a matter of time. Welcome home to the real world. Nothing like a near-death experience to bring you back to earth and the ugly here and now of I The phallus-shaped vehicle that just upgraded its status from unruly tailgater to perilous leader of the pack was already moving down the road ninety miles per hour?

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    Had the highways—the world—changed this much in only two years? One thing was certain: the already near-extinct evidence of defensive driving had degenerated to the point of self-parody. Anger and impatience prevailed on the black and blue highway. Music, as always, should tame the savage beasts, but little relief was to be found on the radio.

    More talk than music talk radio?

    webdisk.lauren.reclaim.hosting/1101.php Who said there were no second-acts in American life? Has-been politicians, washed-up athletes, even once-respectable reporters were cashing in on the act, relishing their reincarnation as paid professional voices. And then, as if on cue, the car next to him made the noise cars owned by angry individuals make, so Jackson looked over at the miserable man, his mouth stuck to an Unlucky Strike.