The first few months of every year always have that crunchy freshness of wrapping paper stretched over a new present. You can either delicately tear away along the cello-tape neatly, slowly unwrapping the contents that lie beneath it, or you can rummage at it with the frenzy of a young child newly in possession of a shiny gift.
I think I did a bit of both with the first three months of the year. It feels squeaky new still, and some of my friends and I are *still* wishing each other happy new year and giggling every time we do it, like a bunch of teenagers. But there were days in between when time rushed by hungrily consuming me in it’s hectic flow. After a deliberately slow January and an easy February of dragging my feet back to some form of productivity and routine, March has surged ahead and filled itself out like a hungry piggie on a mission to get fat.
My work calendar got chalked out so full, so quick. I only realised it when I revamped this spreadsheet that I use to tally my invoices and accounts, such that it now also tells me the quantum of work I pitch, finish and bill for, in any given month. I don’t know why I didn’t do this earlier because goddamn I have worked a lot this month and it wasn’t even one of my busiest months.
I got a lot of invites to food events. It’s completely, ridiculously ironic, the sheer volume of PR invites that now reach me, because it’s a time when I feel like I’ve been there, done it too much and I no longer actively want to cover events, unless it’s something ridiculously compelling or can be a part of a larger food story than just a restaurant review or listicle. Part of it is because I’m oh so blooming bored of what is expected of a “food writer,” and part of it is also because I’ve been feeling seriously anti-social. My new challenge is to up the ante for myself and I’ve made baby steps by pitching new publications, and pitching wider than Goa-based stories.
As for feeling anti-social, it’s not so much a new feeling as a re-surfacing of an old and familiar one. I pondered a lot about peace and quiet and despite all that was happening, I managed to surround myself in the quietude. I barely got out, haven’t socialised, except until my folks arrived. It worked well because it was perfectly timed with my attempts to cut excess alcohol and sugar from my life, which meant we didn’t go out to eat that much anyway.
I’m also working out like a maniac. But even with all of that squished into it, March had balance. It’s been a peacefully busy month. There was some contemplation about life and about work, there was some clarity in slowly overcoming my inability to say no, and there were confessions and realisations.
And then, there was the bicycle. OH, the bicycle. And the newfound love to be out there, bicycling. Fitness aside, it feels like a step up in unlearning the fear I’ve harboured about being out in the open, reclaiming space, a new activity, a different kind of freedom. VC bought me the cycle in March, but I’m taking it as an early birthday present and I can already tell it will be one of the best gifts of the year. And I don’t mean just the gift of the cycle itself, I gift that is the sense of liberation, the adrenalin rush, the newness and the geekery surrounding it, being able to enjoy something with VC again – all of it.
I have continued to write a lot more. Cannot believe I reached the 80 post, pretty much without too many breaks. I wrote a lot more haikus, and not just to fill in the posts. What I didn’t do too much of in March however, was doodle. S sent me a gorgeous calligraphy set that I was so touched by. I opened it very enthusiastically, but got so intimidated by the paraphernalia that I packed it away all too soon. I need to get down to experimenting a little. I also didn’t read all that much, but here’s what I did read and manage to finish:
How To Sell Yourself, by Joe Girard based on VC’s recommendation, and all our conversations about my general struggles in owning up to what I am good at and selling my skills shamelessly and effortlessly. It was an easy read, perhaps all too easy, but didn’t do much for me because it’s a brand of self-help I cannot warm up to. Too much hard-sell, too much simplistic you-can-do-anything-you-put-your-mind-to kind of mumbo-jumbo which ultimately feels like common sense being peddled attractively. Also so hugely rooted in The American Dream, I couldn’t relate to the theme at the heart of it.
We Should All Be Feminists, by Chimamanda Adichie which I finished in an hour, only to realise it is also a TED talk I could have just watched. But no harm done, because it puts into succinct essay-form, the definition of feminism and what it means for us personally, on a daily level. It lists out real situations of inequality and discrimination faced by women like you and me, in our families, at work, in the cities we live in, while travelling. Very relatable situations, completely honest examples that make you feel like the women in the essay could very well be you, and a very, easy conversational style make this a good essay to read and digest.
Quiet: The Power Of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain that I wrote about here, which was so revelatory. It was like unwrapping and understanding a side of me I have never quite made complete peace with. By making introversion just another state of normal, it has made it okay and desirable for me. It helped me understand many difficult situations I have been in, caused by my introversion that is often dismissed or misinterpreted as timidity, snobbery or shyness. For a long time I have felt that I need to embrace my quiet side, accepting it as the way I am, with love and grace. But the general expectation is to fight it and replace it with an extra gregarious personality, and therein has always been my tussle. Reading this book turned that switch off for good. I now not only understand the ambivert that I am that much better, but I love and appreciate wholly, the introvert that VC is. This book has definitely made me look at his personality with a little more kindness than I have extended to him. And for that, it has strengthened the equation between us.
It’s the last few weeks before my birthday arrives, just around the corner. And that is inevitably what marks the turn around the halfway mark of the year for me, in my head of course. This is the general and brief course of every new year: NYE, January panic, February laziness, March frenzy, April anticipation, May birthday, four months of monsoon, an all too short “winter”, Christmas, NYE. Lather, rinse, repeat.
So yeah, the year is whizzing by on cue. Predictably.