W. Kamau Bell + Aithal Books + Farm Vids + Podcast: Grow w Miss Bekah

Writing/Cleaning + Miss Bekah’s Growth/Change Happiness Between Tails

#SelfImprovement #Books #Fiction #Pets #Blogging Are there things in your life you’re working hard to change? Miss Bekah runs two blogs to help readers find their best selves and to follow a healthy vegan lifestyle. Share your thoughts, experiences, and questions by recording them on my Anchor by Spotify page — or comment at HappinessBetweenTails.com — or email me. Like what you hear? Buy me a coffee. buymeacoffee.com/SupportHBT Time Stamps (where segments begin): HBT introduction Intro to today’s topic and guest 1:05 Writing/Cleaning + Miss Bekah's Growth/Change My question for you HBT outro Links used for the HBT blog post of this episode: Original blog post for this episode at Happiness Between Tails. About my own novels in progress. Rebekah of MissBekah Productions Photos available at the HBT post for this show: Miss Bekah A photo by Miss Bekah. Book covers of books I reviewed. A photo of my dear doggie. — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/depe9/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/depe9/support

Click H-E-R-E for my new podcast page at AnchorFM. This week’s audio show is Writing/Cleaning + Miss Bekah’s Growth/Change, which you can also read the blog post for.

At the Happiness Between Tails podcast page, you’ll also find links to subscribe, hear, and share it via most any platform, from Spotify and Apple Podcasts, to Google Podcasts and Pocket Casts, along with RadioPublic and Castbox and Stitcher and more, plus an RSS feed. The full list of 50+ places is at LinkTree.

Ever feel like you’re swimming through molasses? Last week, I had a headachy cold that kept me up nights and too tired to write more than a little. Recording my audiobook had to wait until my voice wasn’t scratchy, drippy, and stuffy.

It was my first cold since the pandemic. How weird to think, “at least it wasn’t Covid again.” This week has been a trial to get back into the groove.

Fortunately Khashayar and I were well just barely in time to perform at our friend’s annual dance bash, the one where we all put on shows for each other. Neither of us had much energy to rehearse while we were sick, but we did our best with a couple of Argentine Tangos.

When one is laid out, thank goodness for audiobooks and TV!

The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell: Tales of a 6′ 4″, African American, Heterosexual, Cisgender, Left-Leaning, Asthmatic, Black and Proud Blerd, Mama’s Boy, Dad, and Stand-Up Comedian is his endearing and thoroughly personal account of what it’s like to strive to do good work and to be a good person. (btw, “blerd” = black nerd) He doesn’t pretend he’s never misstepped. Instead, he admits his mistakes, and then demonstrates how we can all change — if we want to. The gold is in keeping humble and open-hearted enough to learn from each other while courageously speaking against injustice. A few months ago, he also published Do the Work!: An Antiracist Activity Book, which includes stickers, coloring pages, and more!

Cover of The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell

On stuck-in-bed days, thank goodness for TV, too. And the Los Angeles Public Library for The Biggest Little Farm. Hope does exist! The documentary shows how regenerative farming is the answer. Rather than poison and kill, regenerative farmers turn challenges into nature’s gifts. Got a parcel of land so burned out that a sledgehammer can barely dent it? Enter diversity. The more kinds of plants and animals, the better. Gorgeously filmed, it illustrates how, over only seven years, a ruined parcel of land transformed into paradise. This trailer shows it better than words…

There’s a Biggest Little Farm: The Return out, though I haven’t gotten a chance to watch it. Co-farmer/co-producer John Chester also produced these ultra charming shorts about the farm, starting with Meet Chris…

And Poodle Roo…

And The Guardians…

This week’s guest, Aithal, has been a Happiness Between Tails guest here and here before. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two children, and self-published a multi-genre slew of books. His latest is on pre-order, Confessions of an Indian Immigrant: Dawn of IT Opportunities in the Land of Promise.

Know anything about blog tours? Please share in the comments. In the meantime, I’m calling this post the first leg of his blog tour.

Cover of Confessions of an Indian Immigrant: Dawn of IT Opportunities in the Land of Promise by Aithal

Excerpt from Confessions of an Indian Immigrant: Dawn of IT Opportunities in the Land of Promise, written by Aithal and illustrated by Darshini

Suddenly, I hear a man shout. Startled, I looked behind. Ours was the last row, but behind us was a narrow passageway connecting the two aisles. I see a turbaned man with a thick beard. He was wearing a white robe. He had covered his ears with his palms. He was doing his namaz (Muslim prayers). Many passengers, too, were startled by the commotion, while others were unfazed. They were used to seeing this on a plane. Kuwait Airways belonging to a Muslim country was extremely accommodating to a Muslim’s needs.

Remember, this was pre-9/11. I’m sure these Middle-eastern airlines have since modified their rules to be more sensitive to others’ needs.

<Begin pre-9/11>

9/11 has changed airline travel. Once, before 9/11, I was flying back to Mumbai via Lufthansa. I requested the air hostess to allow me to witness the plane landing from the cockpit. To my pleasant surprise, I was ushered to the cockpit, where the pilot asked me to sit behind him and wear headphones so that I could hear the conversation between the plane and the air traffic control. It was a mesmerizing experience that I’ll remember for the rest of my life. 

The 9/11 terrorists robbed this from many (like me) who just wanted to experience a plane landing.

</End pre-9/11>

After the four-hour flight to Kuwait, we had a layover, where we changed planes and braced ourselves for the fourteen-hour haul to New York.

<Begin confession>

Since it was my first plane ride, fourteen hours didn’t sound that bad. However, when I look back, I shudder whenever I think about it. However, it’s two hours shorter than the sixteen-hour nonstop flight I take now from Los Angeles to Dubai.

</End confession>

Finally, the activities picked up as we neared our destination. Eventually, I heard the familiar noise of the motors as the tires lowered themselves from the plane’s belly. I felt the bottom of my stomach drop as the plane lowered. After a few judders and shakes, I lurched as the tires touched the runway. The engines reversed to recede the speed. I gulped hard. My ears popped to adjust the altitude.

I was in the US of A.

Aithal’s description of his book

In the always-connected, always-online digital age and social media world, we tend to forget how life was before the ubiquity of laptops, tablets, mobile devices, smartwatches, and so on. The terms such as outsourcing, offshoring, nearshoring, and many more did not exist. The Indian IT industry was in its infancy.

Aithal takes us on an exciting walk down memory lane as he weaves his narration to pen his experiences migrating from Mumbai to New York—a culture shock. As the title suggests, the story combines his experiences in settling down in America and the dawn of IT opportunities. Both, adjusting to the social life in the US—where he faces the challenges of day-to-day life–and the professional life.

Peppered with humorous anecdotes in his early years of settling down in the US, the story makes an easy read with revealing details that many second-generation Indian-Americans are unaware of.

My Journey by Aithal

I came to New York, USA, from Mumbai, India, in 1989. I’m sure every Indian (or any immigrant from other countries) has a story to tell. And their children—born here—roll their eyes, thinking, “here we go again. Yet another snooze-fest.” However, I always think of it as an 80-20 rule…80% goes in from one ear and out of the other. However, they absorb 20% of our stories. I, too, am a culprit of repeating my experiences several times (after I crossed fifty, I hope I’m forgiven.) “Dad, I’ve heard this a million times,” our daughter would say as she would look at our son and roll her eyes. They would quickly exchange a ‘here-we-go-again’ look. However, I know that they would absorb at least 20%. 

Things were way different back then. Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, was a 5-year-old. Google founders Larry Page and Sergei Brin were at the ripe age of sixteen. I came to this country when there was no email (technically, it existed but was not widely used. It was mostly used in the universities), no social media, and no smartphones (the current generation has no clue what Thomas Guide is or what a TripTik is.) Pagers were just getting pervasive, and folks were getting used to them. There were phone booths on every street corner. Manhattan’s 42nd Street was infested with peep shows. Mugging was rampant. The famous assault now known to us as Central Park 5 had occurred just a few days before I arrived in this country and had not completed its ‘news cycle’ and was still making its rounds in the media. It was a culture shock, coming from a country devoid of gun culture to one that loved guns.

I decided to pen my experiences in the form of a memoir. I’ve titled it Confessions of an Indian Immigrant: Dawn of IT Opportunities in Land of Promise.

** Aithal’s updates after posting this: 1) Why am I advising you to check out this link here? Because Rishi Sunak’s father-in-law is Narayana Murthy. The same guy who I write about in my book. 2) Here’s a great review of my book. **

Read or watched anything interesting lately?

Sci-fi Icon, Octavia E. Butler (and we’re over Covid)

Book-lover/library-lover Octavia at home. (c) Patti Perret/The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens.

Please note: From the bottom of my heart, thank you everyone for your kind wishes for my husband and me while we were sick with Covid. Fortunately we’re well now and hope you and yours are staying safe. For anyone who thinks Covid is a simple flu, this is absolutely not the case. While it may start off mildly, it can quickly take a terrible turn. Please get vaccinated if you have the opportunity. Our doctor advises us to be as careful as ever as no conclusive evidence confirms that having been ill with it has gives us one iota of immunity, especially against the newer versions arising.

Savaged by self-doubt? Dry spells getting between you and your goals, including ones for writing your novel? You and I have brilliant company!

A first edition of Kindred, by Octavia E. Butler, 1979. Huntington Library, (c) Estate of Octavia E. Butler.
A first edition of Kindred, by Octavia E. Butler, 1979. Huntington Library, (c) Estate of Octavia E. Butler.

Octavia E. Butler, the first African-American woman sci-fi writer, wrote herself many pep talks. She suffered through crummy jobs (potato chip quality control, anyone?) and years of crappy pay to attain her writing aspirations.

Octavia cemented her goals inside a notebook cover in 1988. Octavia E. Butler papers. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Copyright Estate of Octavia E. Butler.
Octavia cemented her goals inside a notebook cover in 1988. Octavia E. Butler papers. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Copyright Estate of Octavia E. Butler.

Talk about paying off! She was the first science fiction author to receive the MacArthur Fellowship’s “Genius Grant”! And she was a multiple Hugo Award and Nebula Award winner!

One of Octavia's many self-reminders, this note regards forging credible characters and worlds. (c) Estate of Octavia E. Butler/The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens.
One of Octavia’s many self-reminders, this note regards forging credible characters and worlds. (c) Estate of Octavia E. Butler/The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens.

All that and still she continued to work hard at bolstering herself. Proof is within her donation to The Huntington Library’s Art Collections in Los Angeles, a collection ranging from extensive drafts, notes, and research materials to more than a dozen novels, numerous short stories, essays, correspondence, ephemera, and assorted books.

Detail from Octavia’s notes for the Oankali, characters from the Xenogenesis trilogy. (c) Estate of Octavia E. Butler/The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens.
Detail from Octavia’s notes for the Oankali, characters from the Xenogenesis trilogy. (c) Estate of Octavia E. Butler/The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens.

Born in Pasadena, CA, on June 22, 1947, she grew up poor. She watched her single mom endure racism and classism while cleaning homes to raise her daughter. Octavia towered over her classmates and grappled with dyslexia.

Octavia at around 15. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. © Estate of Octavia E. Butler.
Octavia at around 15. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. © Estate of Octavia E. Butler.

Her peers bullied her for not being more like them. As an only child most comfortable among adults, she spent her time at the public library, reading, and writing. Later she attended writing classes and workshops. Check out this cool interactive link the Los Angeles Times created regarding her stomping grounds.

In a 2000 interview for the New York Times, she said, “When I began writing science fiction, when I began reading, heck, I wasn’t in any of this stuff I read. The only black people you found were occasional characters or characters who were so feeble-witted that they couldn’t manage anything, anyway. I wrote myself in, since I’m me and I’m here and I’m writing.”

In 1979, with the publishing of Kindred, she chartered fresh territory for how to relay history. The protagonist is an African American woman who vaporizes from the Los Angeles apartment she shares with her Anglo boyfriend. She careens between the pre-Civil War slave era and back, a harrowing ride to put it mildly. Did Octavia dream of the present, when these days mixed couples are common and now high school teachers assign Kindred to their students?

Photo of Science Fiction novel writer Octavia E. Butler near Mt. Shuksan, in Washington state, 2001. Photographer unknown.
Octavia near Mt. Shuksan, in Washington state, 2001. Photographer unknown.

Octavia was taken from us in 2006, at a far too young 58. She was staving off depression and writer’s block to finish a trilogy that remains incomplete. Her fans continue to grow.

Her advice to writers: Keep writing, no matter how you feel about your work.

Three months before she passed away, here she chatted with investigative journalist Amy Goodman, who heads Democracy Now (a fantastic video and radio news show, by the way) and co-host Juan González.

This fellow blogger’s post features 15 anecdotes about Octavia. Within it, a video link includes an interview with another stellar African-American woman sci-fi and fantasy writer, N. K. Jemisin.

How do you reckon with self-doubt?