Pointless post

Today feels like a I.can.not.able.to.do kind of day.

In under an hour I’ve gone from feeling what I think are flashes of maternal feelings for the puppies we just got sterilised and released back in their home ground, to raging over tech difficulties updating my LinkedIn.

Is there a more unintuitive, non-user-friendly, lets-get-people-to-hate-us-completely platform that LinedIn? I think not.

Yesterday I was all wise and zen in talking A out of a panic attack where she thought she was the shittiest writer and really stupid for thinking she can do this freelancer gig thing. Today, I am in A’s place.

Can.not.able.to.do.

I had a massive breakthrough yesterday. A result of a nap I allowed myself to take, despite crazy amounts of work that were keeping me from succumbing to it for a full two hours before I actually gave in, and a conversation with R. I live for aha-moments of clarity like these.

I started writing out what I felt, in my notebook, as opposed to here. Half way through I stopped and wondered why. I don’t have an answer.

I’m headed to Bombay this weekend. It’s going to be a hectic trip, I just know it. I’m feeling travel inertia like nothing I’ve felt before. The thought of packing and taking a flight and everything else is making me want to just call the whole thing off. But I cant. And the only thought keeping me going is that I get to meet Niyuuuuuuu. And my folks.

Okay. Time to go fight the worst case of Imposter Syndrome I have had in a long, long time, before it paralyses me completely. Because this week is not the week for me to buckle under the pressure. I do not have the luxury of taking it easy or taking a break.

If you’re still reading, your morning is probably currently as pointless as mine.

Thank you for listening. Go work now, k? Bye.

Same time, last year: Day 46: Morning views

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Day 366: December

It doesn’t take a genius to read between the lines of the impossible levels of drivel I posted at the start of the month, and tell that I’ve been in a slump. My brain has been impossibly foggy for many weeks now, my motivation levels plummeted to lows I didn’t know possible, and it showed in all aspects of my life. If blogging through this year has been a study in the ups and downs of my state of mind, I hit an all new low at the start of December. This kind of unexplained, debilitating, chronic blues has hit hard, several times this year, but last month when I returned from Thailand, I felt myself slip a notch lower. As an otherwise naturally happy, easy going person, it has been particularly difficult to deal with this. For one, I haven’t known this level of dejection and disinterest that seems to have crept into everything. Second, the inability to put a finger on it has meant I’m slow to recover. Third, my usual recovery time to snap out of a lull is a few days, a week, at best. So this one has completely thrown things out of whack.

Finally, I was prompted to dig deeper, and follow through on a hunch that perhaps there was more to this – a physiological reason – than meets the (mind’s)eye. Turns out I was right, and taking this blood test was one of the best things I did this year, making me kick myself for not listening to my gut sooner. Which is not to say the things I’ve felt and gone through this past year were unwarranted or without other reasons. This has been one of the most trying years in recent time, a time of transition, the sort that only makes sense when you look at things in reverse. When you realise that every sucker-punch moment was a set up for what is to come. I’ve felt for a while that all this confusion, unsettledness and restlessness is not without purpose. That it is leading up to something. You may not recall, but I said it at the end of this post too. It really felt like November was a culmination of one phase. Like December was going to be a time of moving into a better, brighter, positive space. I had an inkling about some sense of a transition at the start of 2016, but I didn’t anticipate it would last all year long and make its presence felt as much as it did. But, the reason I reiterate this is because December felt like I was finally over the hurdle. The same one I have been painfully eyeing and struggling to get over all year.

I’m putting a lot of it down to the multivitamins kicking in and altering the chemicals in my body which have put my fatigue to rest, given me sounder sleep than I have had all year, and generally brought the spring back to my step. My motivation levels have shot up, which is to say, they’re back to normal. I feel upbeat, positive and happy. My moods are more evenly tempered and for the first time in a long, long time, I feel like myself again. All the layers of sadness, nostalgia, PMS, PTS, and dejection have lifted and I feel like the aliens have returned me to my place on this planet, just the way I used to be. (Inside joke: I’m beginning to think I was abducted for the most part of 2016 because I couldn’t recognise the person I had become. Yep, this might be your cue to unfollow this crazy lady.) I’ve dropped the oscillations from extreme highs to debilitating lows. And clarity, sweet, sweet clarity that has eluded me, is coming back to life.

Some part of this sudden upward swing was kicked into motion when I was suddenly jolted out of my misery seeing updates from some writers on a group I’m a part of. Nothing like a look back at the year gone by to really put things in perspective, no? It’s so easy to slip into a loop of negativity when you’re feeling shitty because it’s the most convenient thing to do. It’s easy, and getting up and out is unthinkable. But I was forced out of my lethargy and I had a pleasant and rather exhilarating realisation that despite it all, somehow I’ve had a good work year. From where I stand, looking back, I see so many gaps in my work style. I took so many unwanted breaks that put my progress back significantly, I was slowed down by rapidly dipping motivation levels, I was plagued by self doubt and had my confidence crushed by plenty unsavoury experiences. I ended the year knowing fully well that I hadn’t achieved exactly what I had set out to do at the start of the year. Yet, it wasn’t all bad, it seems. And that came as a very, very welcome silver lining.

A mildly altered morning schedule saw me waking up at 6 am every day this month, which while I dreaded, turned out to be a bit of a Godsend. Because it gave me a solid hour everyday to be by myself, at peace, reading. And I was able to really pick up the pace and finish up so many more books because of it.

Somewhere in between, a long-awaited and very special essay — another one about Indian women who have chosen to remain childfree — went live on The Establishment. It was the byproduct of a lot of data I had gathered for another essay, but was unable to use. So tada, I turned it into a whole different essay. Win.

There were more travels of course, the last of it to close the year. I ran away to Bangalore, and then to Coonoor with S, a trip that came about in the most spontaneous and speedy fashion. Four days in the hills, and a road trip up there and back to Bangalore was really the icing on the cake. I spent four days soaking in the mountain sun filtering through the mist, and questioned my love for the seaside. I saw mighty trees that made me feel oh so very small. And I saw a giddying variety of flowers, trees, fruit and vegetation of the kind that only mountain air can bear, and it made my head spin.

It’s been a year of tremendous travel. I may not have gone very far, but with every trip I snatched some lovely cherished moments and experiences, and have found something that my life was missing the past many years: camaraderie with just the right mix of closeness and space all in one. I came home with my heart feeling very full. It put a whole different spin on thoughts of distance, longing to be with friends I love, and the expanses of time between us. I returned to the news of George Michael’s passing, and it put me in a nostalgic, reflective mood.

But I also returned to renewed enthusiasm and a very refreshed, positive outlook. It feels like I’m over the bump. I was able to write so much in the second half of the month, spruce up the home that I have ignored for a better part of the year, stock up the house and I even spent four days getting prepped for the work weak ahead. I had some time to even reflect on what a surprisingly good year of reading it has been.

December marked the end of a shitfest of a year of course, but I’ll remember it as the month my vitamins kicked in and my body and mind began to behave like I owned it again. It’s the month I closed the door on 2016 in more ways than just the passing of 12 long months. I’m so ready for 2017.

Day 342: Mini breakthrough

Deep down, I knew this uncontrollable swinging from elation to utterly lost, confused and in a daze, was not me. Yes, there have been challenges, and I’ve pushed myself into a corner more often than not, this year. But that’s because I’ve allowed issues to surface, after they came knocking time and again. And rather than shut them out, I’m trying to face them. This, inevitably, has brought more lows than highs. I was prepared and in many way’s even resigned to feeling out of it more often than not. But nothing prepared me for the physically debilitating manifestations that has come with it. I have spent more days stuck, stiff in bed, listless and unable to function, think, or even figure what is making me feel so low. Truth be told, nothing about what I am going through, or my life, or anything in my environment is so catastrophic that it warrants the kind of utter sadness I have felt.

I’ve often confused this plummeting mood with PMS and/or fatigue. On way too many occasions, I’ve given in to the haze in my head, and gone with it. Often, it’s felt like I should just give up and let myself float. Or drown. But most times I’ve chosen the third option. I’ve beaten myself and struggled to stay afloat, at the very least.

The hardest thing has been with putting a finger on a potential cause. My sadness is exacerbated by the fact that I do not have clarity on that one thing that is causing it. Somewhere deep down, however, I have known that this is not normal. It’s not just the situation. It’s not just the transition. It’s not just this kind of self discovery that can cause the blues.

Nothing I am going through warrants the extreme lows in energy, the chronic need to nap, negative levels of motivation and enthusiasm to do anything at all, the intense dislike of social situations and company. This week I reached an impasse. Utterly frustrated with the see-saw between the lows and highs; the transient moments of steadiness and the fleeting clarity that just will not stay. So, I had some blood work done. Some basic blood counts, TSH panel, and essential vitamin levels that are crucial to optimum levels of happiness. While most of it is normal and the numbers are as they should be, it turns out I have severely low levels of vitamin b12. I am not entirely shocked because I have had a hunch (not strong enough to act on) for some time now, I was definitely a little surprised to see just how low it’s dropped. And surprise, surprise, a lack of vitamin b12 has a profound effect on brain function, is known to adversely affect moods and cause moderate-severe depression.

It’s a bit weird how the brain works because the lack of energy and motivation has attacked every facet of my life except exercise. And it is exercise that has been my saving grace. Perhaps deep down, I also knew that endorphins would keep me afloat, would give me the massive daily dose of energy I needed to get from one day to the next. Because, deep down, I knew this was not normal. That it wasn’t just brought on by situations. The intense lack of control I have felt in trying to understand where this abject sadness is stemming from, when nothing in my life or situations I am in can be called a legitimate cause, has doubly affected me.

The test results depressed me a wee bit :P Because it means potentially facing another fear – needles. And it means embracing the other thing I don’t particularly love – raw food. But I was also immensely relieved to know that I’m not fighting a lost battle. That the cause for the cloud over my head is partly physiological, and just knowing that it has a specific course of treatment, and can be corrected is reassuring. This feeling of all matters coming to a head, much of the clouds of confusion parting to make way for clarity, and the road ahead looking cleaner than ever before is playing out with uncanny accuracy. As the year comes to a close, a lot of the loose ends I’ve been untangling for so long now, are coming together neatly. I’d ask for nothing more than to begin the new year on an energetic, healthy and happy vibe.

Day 330: One number mini rant about Instagram

Duuudes, have you noticed a sudden spike in the number of pictures on instagram that are to do with clothes and fashion? I’m not talking about fashion blogging and the world of sponsored fashion for social influencers. I’m talking about regular people like you and me, who are evidently not as regular as I presume, because they go to some serious lengths to curate what they wear on a daily basis. And then they document it. Day upon day upon day after day after day. And I say curate because clothes are no longer just worn. They’re put together, paired, thrown together. Jewellery isn’t just worn, it’s taken out for a spin it seems. Shoes aren’t just made for walking, they’re made for matching, and for purposes of photogenic documentation. And all this is done with a deliberate, casual air that I might have believed if not for the awful lot of effort that goes into what is evidently just daily wear. Okay, that’s just boring old, uninterested-in-fashion-me talking . The first question that always springs to mind when I see these pictures: wow, where is he/she going all dressed up? Because to my untrained, extremely unrefined sartorial sensibility, everyone in these posts always looked overdressed. Or like they’re dressed to go someplace important. But it seems people are dressing up like this all the time, everyday, even if it is only to go to the front of the mirror and drag an unsuspecting piece of furniture into the frame, on which to drape themselves in order to take an adequately descriptive picture.

Has wearing clothes you love and enjoy, and taking pictures of yourself because you look good and you’re cool and confident enough to admit it, passe? What is this new fangled effort to couch good old vanity in fashion blogging a la instagram? Everybody is a fashion blogger these days. Even those who don’t call themselves that, and don’t use the right hashtags and don’t even bother to tag the right brands. Because what’s in a label or a hashtag? Except many don’t even have fashion blogs. Just a lot of vanity, time on their hands and an instagram account. Also, there needs to be a hashtag in there somewhere. I’m not sure where exactly.

Taking pictures of your clothes, the accessories and footwear you’re going to pair it with is the new wedding photography. Or foodblogging. Everybody wants in, and everybody is mediocre. Brand names and elaborate backstories are essential. Without that said fashion (non)blogging (or shall we say instablogging?) is totally worthless. Also critical is an elaborate backstory that has enough nuance and detail about how well-versed person is with the origins of the garment, the exact nature of the warp and weft, every little groove on the block that printed it, and how far it travelled to reach him/her. Stories of friendship, camaraderie, love, family, joy, sadness, hunger, poverty, insanity, that may somehow be force-fit and worked into it are a bonus. How much or how little he/she gives a fuck about the environment can be ascertained by how much or how little they managed to up-cycle or recycle elements of the ensemble. Captions, hashtags, so much coolth dripping from these elaborate descriptions of why the chosen attire made it into an instagram picture is evidently essential.

It’s simply not okay to just say “I think I look lovely today” or “I love this dress” or “I was gifted this saree” or “New shoes, baby!” Instead we are subjected to the misery that is reading these painfully tedious posts that really just come across as unnecessarily roundabout means to enjoy a moment of vanity, or show off their wardrobe. Actually, I lie. I’m not subjected to any such misery. I have the option to unfollow folks I follow who have suddenly taken to serially posting endless pictures of themselves and their clothes, and I’ve taken to using it liberally. But hey, I love instagram and Im not about to let this ruin it for me. So, since I’m also a champ at pruning my social media feeds to suit my ever changing whims and fancies, I’ve also figured instagram out! If you’re tired of the constant stream of this incredibly futile effort at contrived humblebragging, click the three little dots on the top right of every post and select “show fewer posts like this.” You’re welcome.

</rant>

Day 286: When the going is crazy

This is what I’ve felt like going at pretty much everything the last many weeks.

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(Most excellent gif that depicts my sense of purpose, but just will not play. Which, strangely, also depicts the state of things in my life right now.)

This is what I feel like, when I have recovered from ^^

And this is what it is really like around here. Once I’m done with the meltdown for the day, adding a fresh new angle to the level of crazy I’ve brought into our lives these past few weeks. After I’ve given VC a complete download of all the frustrating and exciting things I’ve been up to in excruciating detail. When I’ve made fresh promises to myself and managed to thrill and scare myself simultaneously. When I cannot handle any of it on my own. He stays, patiently listening, probably chuckling inwardly and reconsidering his decision to marry me every single day this month. But still, becomes this picture of calm that eventually rubs off on me.

 

 

Day 281: A picture

If I’d found this picture earlier this week, I’d have bunged it into my September post. Because this frame, right here, taken at the end of August was uncannily a sign of the month ahead of me. 


But. The good news is that from where I ended up at the close of the month, the only way out, is up.

I’m on it. 

Day 278: September

Alternate headline options:

  1. Shitty, shitty September.
  2. Wake me up when September ends.
  3. Good riddance to bad rubbish

Pretty much all of September was eclipsed by Mercury going into retrograde. And I really felt the effects of it completely this time around. Right from a breakdown of communication and misunderstandings in relationships at the start of the month, the inability to think in a calm manner and plan ahead that stayed right through the month, the sluggish energy on the work front with nothing new materialising, a technological emergency that couldn’t be fixed, down to significant sleep deprivation which then has a ripple effect leading to confusion, irritability and overall impatience. Additionally, there were the effects specific to this retrograde: being overly self-critical, especially when outcomes were less than perfect, way too much energy spent in over analysing the changes I want to bring, when really nothing was likely to move ahead until the entire phase had passed. That pretty much summed up my September.

If I’d read any of this before September began, I’d have put it down to knowing too much too soon and being paranoid. But I only found out a lot of this stuff yesterday. It is sometimes is a little ironic, but mostly uncanny when things play out entirely to a plan outside of us and our brains, that we have not too much control over, regardless of how we feel about that lack of power. And that in itself is something I felt resound in my head over and over again last month.

It was such a meh month, that I don’t even want to go over it. But as always, it’s only in retrospect that I am able to connect the dots. And I see now how every little insignificant, seemingly disjointed, shitty event was actually linked, building up to the way things peaked on 30th September. It bubbled over and on 1st October, I made a decision that has been the first step forward, outside of the confusion I’ve been feeling.

Overly emotional and thankful for my friends.

Disjointed thoughts that I gave up on.

So much up and down, and up and down again.

Morning moods. And ruminations.

Just emptiness.

When the self-doubt hit hard, I had thoughts about work, that were more a means to reassure myself than anyone else.

My very own control issues were explored. In not just one, but two parts.

Before I depress myself anymore, there was some good stuff too:

Our eighth anniversary, was the only bright spark all month, I think.

Books. And more books.

This assignment that was a staycation in disguise.

Music and good internet reading here, Coke Studio season 9 best picks here.

In which I also decided to stop being confused, and decided to start working it out.

Decision about doing a 100km cycle ride was taken, and it turned out to be the best decision ever.

OH, AND. I started a newsletter. Which you can sign up for by adding in your email id here.

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Here take, customary happy photo.

Bas, that’s all. Off with your head, September. Be gone, now!

Day 270: Control issues

An unexpected setback on Friday has thrown up several hurdles in my mind that I am busy working out. Smack in the middle of a busy day of knocking off some mini goals, my laptop died on me. Out of the blue, no warning, no signs. One moment I was banging out a story, and the next my screen was blank, and my laptop unresponsive. For a full five minutes after that I felt like my world had caved in, broke into a sweat and frantically tried a whole bunch of thing to elicit some reaction. But nada, the damn machine was dead as roadkill.  It’s not the kind of thing anyone is prepared to deal with at 2 pm on a working day, especially not the kind of day when for a change the demands were miraculously met with adequate motivation levels too.

And yet there I was. Rendered helpless by a damned machine that was working perfectly fine just the instant before it decided to die.

What followed was 2.5 days of complete restlessness. The computer fixit people figured it was a fried logic board which costs about as much as the laptop itself to fix. So I’m not going to be doing that. I managed to have all my data recovered so I guess I must thank my stars for small mercies. But my flow was broken, hacked, severed and killed. And it has caused all kinds of unexpected demons to rear their heads.

I had two deadlines to meet today, and my day began driving to Mapusa to lug back the dead computer and all my data. I couldn’t wait to get home and get working again. Thankfully, I have a back up system, a desktop at home that was lying largely unused, that meant I could pick up my work exactly where I left off.

The hurdle, though crossed almost as instantly as it cropped up, has left me questioning a lot of things. So many questions about how I’m using my time, my preoccupation with being busy, working harder and earning a living. Some where, at some point when I wasn’t looking these things have gone from being things to do, to things I am and it has caused a fair bit of restlessness. I realised it only in the absence of it. Somewhere in all of this, a lot of latent frustration about the compromises I’m making with my work have also surfaced. Things I have either overlooked or pushed aside to a corner of my mind have made their way to front and centre of my mind and I was no longer able to ignore it this weekend.

In a rather unbelievable turn of events (for the homebody that is me) I spent a major part of the weekend gallivanting outdoors, unable to make my way home to just sit still and be. Ordinarily weekends see me ignoring my laptop completely. So many times it doesn’t even come on. I have been using my weekends as deliberate down-time, and yet the fortuitous events leading to the absence of a laptop suddenly saw me itching to use the laptop only, and nothing else. My mind refused to tune off from the woes of whether my data would be recovered or how much the repairs would cost me. I suddenly wanted to listen to music, watch Greys Anatomy, catch up on work (*eye rolllll*), send out another newsletter and what not.

Amongst other plans for Friday, I wanted to send out my next newsletter and chalk out the next 3-4 issues, but that was not to be. I realised yet again the less control I have, and the more I try to regain it, even if I’m only clutching at straws, the more it runs away from me.

The more I try and stake my claim, take control, the more things seem to slip away. Yet again, I was reminded how little is really in my control. And how much I cannot ignore some fundamental thought processes buried deep in my mind. Every time I do, they raise their heads, forcing me to listen, pay attention and address them. Once again, I have been forced me to take a step back again, and re-evaluate something I set off to do at the start of the year, that I have somewhat steered away from. Once again I have been taught I need to learn to let my unrealistic levels of perfection go, that I must relinquish control because it was never mine to begin with.

Day 218: Stack overflow

July was one trying, tiring month, and I’m already thinking up what I’m going to do differently so August doesn’t see a repeat performance. A little introspection made me realise that ever since I gave up the cooking at home, I’ve been gripped by this irrational need to fill every one of those hours freed up with work. I don’t know if it’s my middle-class upbringing but I don’t know where this excessive and unreasonable sense of frugality has suddenly hit me. I realised after giving it some thought that I was unconsciously working harder in order to justify taking time off from cooking, and outsourcing it. Silly, really because this is the whole point of growing and moving on to bigger things. So you can let go of that which no longer interests you, holds your attention, or you cannot make time for. And in my case that doesn’t necessarily mean filling each of the hours freed up from domesticity, with work. I had somehow forgotten about taking advantage of a free hour to read. Or catch coffee with a friend. Or go for a drive. Or hit the beach. These are things I did not so long ago. When I remembered to get my ass off my work chair, and away from my desk.

I realise the ups and downs in my productivity are fairly predictable, perhaps I must just make my peace with it, and give up the perennial quest to balance it out. Maybe spikes and dips are the way to go, but I do want to even out those extreme highs and lows, so I don’t have to swing violently, as I do, between the extremes. The vast in between lies untouched, and it’s where I’d like to be. That is always a challenge. In some part, I’ve already accepted that this swinging between extremes is perhaps the workstyle that comes most naturally to me, and yet some part of me still wishes for less upheaval every time there is a low. Only too often, I find myself pushing myself so hard to one extreme that the only way out of there is down, so I come crashing down. And then, the way up again is usually a hard stop, before I pick myself up again.

Thankfully, most times an opportunity for a forced break presents itself – even if it is a surprise day off to turn my laptop off and spend the day quietly. But this time, I’m off to Bangalore tomorrow, en route to Kerala for a break with my family. Well timed. Much needed. So I’m taking this very timely intervention to cut back. After a very long time, it’s going to be just us – my folks, my sister and I – on holiday. And I’m looking forward to the famjam. Going away to the hills, out of range means I am going to be inaccessible. Which also means this is a great time for me to wipe that metaphoric board clean, recharge batteries and come back set to do things a little differently.

In a wonderful twist of events (again so timely), I managed to buy myself a Kindle this week. The order said it would take a week or ten days at best. But it has arrived, right in time to be loaded up for a week of vegging out.

Alvida.

Day 207: Gym rant

At the gym every morning, I’m the equivalent of the annoying student who we’d call a chomu in school. For those not in the know, a chomu is that overeager beaver, always aiming to over-achieve and please everyone by doing everything right, all the time. I’m that person at the gym. Which is to say I’m always asking for more. More reps, higher weights, more rounds of the circuit, more kickboxing, more time. And I very rarely slack off (if I do, then my trainer knows its time to be worried), or whine and complain loudly, or try and get out of finishing something I’ve started. I’m always striving for perfection, it’s a serious disease and I’m a self confessed endorphin junkie. Three times over, in fact. I rarely miss a class, bunking without reason is unheard of, so you understand why I’m comparing myself to that special breed of enthu cutlet we all love to hate.

Predictably, everyone around me hates this. Because it means they have to suffer the elf-inflicted pain of keeping up. It’s either that, or they have to feel inadequate. Neither is a favourable state to be in, so they take the easy way out and mock me for being the enthu cutlet that I am. Silent sniggers behind my back to loud giggles in my face, to snide comments about how everyone is made to suffer because of me – I’ve seen it all. None of it affects me. I don’t feel bad, mostly because I am unapologetic about how I want to spend my time at the gym. However, when it goes so far as to take the focus off form what I am there to do, and it eats into my productive time, then I get a little peeved.

Tough luck, I just happen to be someone who is serious about the time I spend at the gym. Sure I may be a little extreme with my enthusiasm, but at least I only inflict that on myself. I have a single-minded focus on making that one hour count, completely for myself.

The truth is, I don’t fully understand why people would want it any other way. It’s just that one hour in the day. And it’s one hour that I’m inclined to believe they’ve chosen to spend at the gym. Out of their conscious volition. I can’t think of too many people who find themselves at a gym because someone forced them into it and dragged them out there at 8 am everyday. So I don’t understand why some of the folks I work out with feel the need to come to the gym day after day and then complain about having to 1) work out 2) challenge their bodies 3) sweat it out.

It’s like they weren’t expecting it. And I can’t understand it at all! As a result I don’t have any sympathy either. So there’s only so much I can react to or participate in the inane comments and conversation that invariably occurs. Coupled with my general lack of interest and deliberate attempts to stay aloof, I’m hyper aware that I come of looking like a complete snob. I may have got the act of physically zoning this stuff out down to an art, because there are days when I just plain refuse to react even when I’m being spoken to.

Part of me feels I’d rather be thought of as a snob, than try and be polite and compromise on the 60 minutes that I get at the gym. But mostly I just don’t know how to react to some of the things I hear. Sample this, it’s just a selection from today alone.

“Oh god, I’m sweating so much!”

“This is really hard haan? Especially on a Monday” (at which point my trainer helpfully offered, “It’s hard everyday”)

“You mean I have to lift this?”

“How many more rounds? Can I skip this one?”

“Put your butt out” *giggle giggle giggle*

When asked to stay with the time and not stop before – “I’m not good at staying”  *giggle giggle giggle*

“Only my butt is getting bigger, I want other things to get bigger” (at this point my eyes rolled into the parallel universe and back)

“Why do we have to do this stretch?”

“Please have mercy, don’t you love us?”

I’m very curious why they even bother dragging themselves to the gym at all. The extra hour of sleep might actually do them more good than the half-assed attempt at working out can. What’s even funnier is the slightly backhanded appreciation I sometimes get. Semi-fake, mildly phoney admiration for the fact that I can lift more, stretch more, punch more.

I suppose the part where I work hard at it is lost on them. That might be an opportune time to suggest that the energy and effort expended in trying so hard to dodge their way out of every damned exercise could actually maybe, used to like, work out, you know? Lift those weights, sweat it out, get better at it, feel fitter. Maybe? 

No? Okay, no. Maybe not.

Rant over.

Day 200: Barely moving

The world is well and truly imploding. Literally every single day, something horrific happens. Five instances of terror in the last month alone. Kashmir. Alton Sterling. Qandeel Baloch. The FIR against Aklaq’s family. And closer home, LED bulbs being handed out in the run up to our next election (as if that’s all it takes to buy loyalty, they conveniently forgot about the power to light those bulbs up). The death trap of a main road. Some part of me is definitely turning numb. I see it in the reactions I have. Much of this, I process silently and it leaves me sometimes tormented, sometimes numb. But always deeply distressed. And restless. I suppress the feeling, as well as the way it always makes me feel little, pointless, shitty and helpless.

And then I move on. Deliberately keeping my social media timelines free of news. Steering away from politically fueled conversations with people I know I cannot engage with. Mostly using my own thoughts and words to fight these battles in my head, in private. To make sense of everything that seems to be fast escaping the realm sense, purpose and meaningfulness.

And then I move on.

I’m still down and out, and no, it hasn’t passed. Day 5 in bed today, with a persistent fever that abated only 24 hours ago. I guess I should be happy that I’m in a situation where I’ve been forced to stay in bed for five days now. But it’s no good when haven’t been able to do much with all that time. Reading a book or watching TV was out of the question due to severely blocked sinuses that made keeping my head up and focusing on anything near impossible.

Still despite all that, somewhere between then and now, a lot of has happened. I may or may not have used the words “a pain in my ass” to describe to a client the situation we’ve gotten ourselves in. I may or may not have cried copious amounts of tears that at one point I was afraid they just wouldn’t stop. I may or may not have told VC that I want to be a housewife because I am good for nothing. I can’t be sure.

What I can be sure of is that I had a persistent temperature that remained in the shadows of 99-100 degrees for two days straight and was beginning to worry me. Then when it spiked to 102 and VC had to resort to a cold compress on my forehead, I realised it was time to worry. That hasn’t happened since I was a child. A blood test was ordered, and that hasn’t happened in over 6 years now. A half-mile long list of medicines have been consumed with more regularity than I fancy, and it’s turned my stomach raw and my taste buds perpetually coated with a metallic taste. I honestly can’t remember the last time I was ill so bad that I couldn’t leave my bed for five days. VC was like a hawk and a chowkidar hovering over me all weekend, not letting me leave for anything. He brought me all my meals, endless cups of hot tea, and my medicines. He may have snuck in a packet of Nutties and a Snicker bar too. When he began to question me every time he saw me out of bed, even if I was merely going to the loo, I revolted.

So I’ve spent a lot of the last few days just moping and feeling more miserable than I actually am. It’s definitely added to the general state of ill-health. While it may have started with an itchy throat and a touch of fever, I had a work situation that caused something to snap in my head last week. It sent me on a downward spiral like I haven’t ever before been in a long, long time now. It’s not like me to break down over work issues, to cut communication and disappear into myself. But that’s just what happened. I didn’t want to talk to anyone, be around anyone. I just turned inwards and moped. Until VC shook me out of it partially on Friday night, when I began to see the light a little bit. Whether being physically ill aggravated my work stress or vice-versa, I’ll never know. But I feel like some part of this is my body telling my mind to chill the eff out. Or vice versa. But I need to examine it and fix it. Find that balance that I had regained temporarily, and have now lost again.

I opened facebook today after three whole days, to find something my friend V wrote and posted, right up top on my feed. V doesn’t post too often anymore, but when she does it always smacks the nail on the head. As it did just now too, bang on point, neatly summarising the inner turmoil I’ve been going through for the last 5 days now.

The two difficult forgivenesses:
1. Your gut, for not being loud enough.
2. Yourself, for not listening well.

Let that simmer a while longer. For now, I’m barely moving.

Day 171: I don’t feel sorry about posting pictures about my life

[Warning: This is a rant about a rant. Proceed only if you absolutely must.]

A few weeks ago this opinion piece from the Guardian did the rounds, as such articles tend to, in a rapid flurry of shares on facebook. Angst about how deep the far-reaching tentacles of social media run, is so common. We all have it from time to time. After every few weeks of mindless posting, it is essential to balance it out with a requisite number of omg-why-am-I-doing-this, why-am-I-on-fb, why-am-I-following-this-compulsive-posting-person, WHAT-IS-THE-POINT-OF-LIFE-EVEN posts. Ranting about the onslaught of social media has become as fashionable as using social media itself. Every few months someone must get agitated about how the curated life is all so futile, how our kids are frying their brains, and how it is so sad that we now consume everything off our screens. Someone will even go so far as to say all this possibly signals the death of curiosity and enquiry and nobody has the time to stop and smell the roses. Like Rana Dasgupta here. And the handful of people who shared this on my fb (who I noticed all have one thing in common – they’re mostly extremely averse to change and getting in with the new).

If I could sum up Dasgupta’s rant in the Guardian in one sentence it would be this: everything has changed, and I don’t understand it, so I don’t like it.

I get it. As someone who frequently questions how much I really need to use fb, routinely deletes things I’ve posted in retrospect, and who often overthinks a lot of what I share on fb and instagram so much, I get the general sentiment. I was an whiny worrier at one time. Heck my angst took me to eschew all social media for a good long while too. So, I get it can sometimes be scary. Because there’s change, and then there’s change in the digital world that is exponentially scarier because it is that much faster and harder to keep up with. And because it is digital, it hits in you in the face all the time. So I may even empathise, just a little bit, with the older folk who sometimes cannot wrap their heads it.

Dasgupta makes some valid points, things we all stop to ponder about very often. These are things many of us rant about on those very same platforms we are so filled with angst about. In public, for others to read, see, share their views about. And there are others who rant in private, claiming the need to back off and curtail how much of they put out there, even as they post a selfie of themselves deliberately dressed, or a view of a hyper-curated corner in their kitchen, or a shot of what they’re reading/eating/sniffing/doing, or even just another glorious sunset that they felt like documenting. (In case you missed the sarcasm, I’m talking about me. All me. I’ve done/do it all.) I think the angst about the apparent futility of excessive documentation that social media allows is universal. How we choose to deal it, how we wield the collective power of the beasts that are these platforms and how much or how little we choose to let them invade our lives, is entirely personal. And a matter of choice.

There are two things Dasgupta seems to be very upset about: 1) The range of media and the hyper documentation they allow. 2) The fact that posting vignettes is now so easy and accessible, just about anyone can document anything they wish – whether it is a view they want to snap to savour later, or a chocolate cake in a Parisian café, or a memory of a beach trip with friends.

I find them both problematic problems to have. First, human beings have been documenting their everyday realities since the beginning of time. We wouldn’t have art, books, poetry, music or movies, if it weren’t for people who tried to tell stories in every way they possibly could. People have been documenting all kinds of big and small things since pretty much the beginning of man. The tools and ways of doing it have evolved. And thank God for that.

Second, it just sounds to me like Dasgupta hasn’t figured out Instagram, and is experiencing FOMO. Again, I relate because I feel that way about snapchat. I just cannot figure it out. Never have I used such amore unintuitive and non-user-friendly application, so I dismiss it as something for “the millennials.” Thats my FOMO talking, I know it. But most of all, I just feel that although Dasgupta raises some really valid and sensible questions about the patterns of use, all of it is lost in the layers of condescension and disdain.

“Despite all the work that social media users do to document themselves from one day to the next, what is recorded is not life. Rather it is death-in-life: it is “existence” from which life has already fled, leaving behind a digital husk. Our social media footprint is an obituary we write ourselves – a set of remembrances we leave for future generations to give strength to this simple, spurious claim: that we lived.”

I want to tell Dasgupta, much like I wanted to tell the peeps who happily shared this piece on fb, expressing similar views as the author, perhaps cutting back just a wee bit on this extremely morbid take on what is essentially documenting, we could have a dialogue and make see that this (quote above) is true for all forms of storytelling –  from books to music and everything else in between.

So, I don’t feel sorry about curating my life in pictures. Because it helps me remember, it forms the basis for a lot of things I choose to write about, it helps me act on ideas that otherwise would be fleeting thoughts, and a lot of it just serves as a live account of things I did, places I went and what it made me feel. All of it is accessible, all the time, within reach. All I have to do is use my phone and I think that is incredibly exciting.

It reminded me of an image that was also shared on fb by a lot of the same lot, that someone then fixed to read:

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Day 169: Work things that make me chuckle

Not because they’re hilarious, but because I haven’t found a better response. Freelancing is not without its challenges. A lot of weird things happen that I find hard to explain. I used to pity and berate myself about missing something essential, because I find myself at the receiving end of this rubbish so often. Some experience and a lot of talking to others in the business, in India and around the world tells me stuff like this (and sometimes worse) is passe. It doesn’t make it any less frustrating though.

So these days when something wtf happens I chuckle, quickly remind myself not to expect any more/better and move on as soon as possible.

Sample these real situations:

You pitch a timely idea about a potentially very exciting thing, way in advance. Editor doesn’t concur, turns it down. You move on, find ways to do it for someone else. The perfect time for said exciting thing rolls along and everyone is writing about it. Unsurprisingly. (Because it is exciting, and I told you so, remember?) Suddenly spot multiple links on your fb for the exact same piece you pitched, written by the editor who turned you down.

You pitch ideas to a publication that has fast gained the reputation of being a game-changer. You’re trying to get a feel of what they might be looking for, so you’re expecting a rejection. The rejection comes with a rider about the publication only looking for ideas that have national relevance. In the weeks and months that follow you see multiple pieces published by them that make you wonder what they meant by national relevance. One piece is an 800 word rant about why mangoes suck and apples are better. Another is a self-righteous declaration about why it’s unreasonable to expect internet trolls to be kind. A third was a thought piece mildly mocking people who make videos about things as banal as everything you need to know about flatulence. Yeah, irony went poof, like a fart.

Freelancing is a true test of patience. Because it exposes you to extreme waiting periods. The whole game is basically a test in how long you can wait. Pitch, and wait to hear back. Write your piece, wait for edits. Complete piece, wait for it to be published. Raise invoice, wait to be paid. There is no saying which bits will be easier than others and there are usually a lot of unwanted surprises.

That said, I must say I have had better luck with timely responses, efficient systems of work and smooth, effortless payment processes with overseas publications. Many established

Hey, it’s been a month since I submitted that slightly time-sensitive piece. Publish it maybe? Or at least tell me it won’t work, so I can take it elsewhere?

*deathly email silence for a whole month*

Hey, it’s been <insert disproportionately large number> months since I submitted that piece, are we going to run it ever?

*extremely clever, non committal response that makes me think dayyuummn, I need to learn these skillz*

Hey, it’s been over a month since I raised an invoice (for work I delivered on time). Any idea why this is taking so long?

*asap*
*this week*
*tomorrow*
*now*

(I still haven’t been paid)

Hey, it’s been over 100 days since I invoiced you for a piece you ran more than four months ago. Pay me? Or tell me why you haven’t?

*it’s being processed*

*one month later: we lost your invoice*

It must say a lot about either the satisfaction writing can bring (or the lack of better opportunities), for so many freelancers to willingly put up with this all around, no?

Day 154: May

At the start of May, I wished that the month zips by. And when I made that wish, I forgot to enunciate that while a speedy passage of time was desirable, I didn’t fancy hurtling through it at breakneck speed, unable to stand still for justonemomentplease, thanks to the wheels strapped to my heels. Be careful what you wish for, folks. Because what I got, fresh off the back of a hectic April, was an even more hectic May.

It was chockfull and it zipped by, leaving me very, very exhausted. But in classic Revati-style, I didn’t realise it at the time. I tend to forget way too often for my own good, that I am not superman, and I don’t have to do it/have it all. Time and again I have to remind myself to slow down and fuck perfection. I get so consumed and swayed with the excitement in the present that diving in, head-first, is the easiest thing to do. These extreme crests of productivity only to be hit by boughs of exhaustion seem to be the norm around here and a struggle for measured balance looks like it will be a lifelong mission.

Friends over for a long weekend? YESSS lets go all out and hit the beach three days straight, no matter that it is the peak of summer! Feeling the beginnings of a cold but there’s a plan to go to the beach again? YES, I’m in! Packing bags for a trip to Bangalore and someone makes a last minute request for booze at 9 pm the night before my flight. Don’t worry, I got this! Calendar is full and you’re about to leave for the airport at 5 am, receive an email about writing an essay due in less than a week. YES, Im going to absofuckinglutely do this, even while I am on holiday with my hands and head full of family scenes.

Restraint, even in the midst of hectic times, is what I’m wishing for now.

It was birthday month! And I celebrated it with two cuties on the beach. Which then triggered major beach longing. So I followed it up with frequent visits, which will continue right until it rains. Which honestly at this point is looking more like, if it rains. Yeah, it’s that time of year when there are constant laments about a seeming endless summer torture and loud complains about how the monsoon cannot get here fast enough.

All the pain, irritation and annoyance was compounded this month thanks to the mega retrograde that was upon us. I was angsty and full of ranty opinions about everything. In the midst of it all, VC and I had a massive scrap over what is turning out to be a big deal-breaker in our lives — domestic chores. This has been a repeated topic of debate and discussion of late and matters constantly come to a head, but get diffused before we can sort things out. One day last month, however, I exploded. And not in a way that I am proud of. But the great thing about VC, and I am so grateful for it, is his proactive, action-oriented approach to any dispute. No matter how much we disagree or we fight it out, he usually doesn’t rest until we have worked out a way forward that positively impacts our relationship in some way. I’m seeing changes in the way we are, he is and I am, and the way things will pan out for us in the months to come, and I have my massive explosive outburst to thank for it. Heh.

I got through most of the retrograde pain-free, making do with quietly writing a post about everything that pissed me off. Just when I thought I dodged it, because it could have been much worse, I was hit. By a massive flu bug, 12 hours before I was scheduled to leave for Bangalore. I’d been fighting it for about four days, and was almost feeling better, when it struck and went from 0-90, in terms of severity, in about 3 hours. I woke up that morning bright and lucid, planning my packing, when by lunch time I was curled up in bed, delirious with a massive fever, a heavily clogged throat and a painful chest. I briefly contemplated cancelling the trip, but instead dragged my butt to the closest Chinese restaurant, loaded myself up on hot soup, doubled up on the antibiotics and paracetamol, packed my bags and hi the sack.

I made it to Bangalore and had an excellent trip after all. But before I left, I managed to pass on a little dose of the bug to VC, who fell ill right after I left. Nice and snot-filled, very eventful few days we had there.

As for the writing, it’s been a month of taking stock, reining in many pending payments and planning for the weeks to come. I had some moments of an audacious confidence I didn’t know I had. And I dug deeper to a level of perseverance I haven’t allowed myself to experience before. After pitching a publication four times, to no response, since the start of the year, I finally broke in with an essay I wrote for World Menstrual Hygiene Day. Whadya know? Fifth time’s a charm sometimes!

I completed ten whole years since I started writing this blog. I realised suddenly that it is absolutely the only pursuit that has held my attention. As a space to channel my writing, a journal in which to scribble every day, it’s really played a vital role in shaping my interest in writing. So I hope it continues to manifest more wonderful opportunities than my limited imagination allows me to perceive right now.

I’m at the brink of some exciting changes and witnessing a coming together of unlikely varied parts. There’s a bit of waiting involved, and as usual that part is the hardest. I have to constantly remind myself to slow down, stay calm and most importantly breathe. All I want in this time of navigating the possibilities is some restraint and a little bit of grace to make sure I don’t get ahead of myself as is known to happen when I am excited.

Day 125: Inside-out

A shitty work day sometimes needs perspectives to be realigned. Some pondering, some contemplation, some heated discussions with the hugsband, and I recalled this installation from an art exhibit I was at a few months ago.

insideout

Today I woke up to the realisation that I have been very disorganised in following up with pending payments. A quick calculation revealed just how grossly obscene the outstanding amount is.

It hit home hard and drove me to the point of blinking back tears as I glared at my excel sheet that was fast getting fuzzy, because I have worked super long and hard the past 6-8 weeks. Pushed myself in terms of longer hours, wider scope of work, dipped my toes into more than a couple of new things. I was feeling very good about it all until I realised this morning that all of that is for naught, if the billing on paper doesn’t make it into the bank in time.

I have felt the burden of being a one man show, of late. It’s getting very hard to play all the roles of business developer, researcher, pitching person, writer, accountant, admin at work, while also juggling home maker, cook and maintainer of domestic sanity around home.

Repeatedly, I find myself at the same crossroads, with the same toss up tearing me up inside. Choosing is hard. Letting go is harder still.

I needed a good fresh pair of eyes to look at the situation and the hugsband did the best thing anyone could have today. A good long conversation with him and I felt better, more in control of fixing this mess.

It involves Taking a few steps back. Redoing some things. Taking a couple of hard calls. Being brave. And most of all, letting go.

I realised again today, stepping back is an essential part of moving forward. Unlearning old habits is also a kind of learning. Sometimes upside down is actually the right way up.

Day 113: Stop

  
A long, tiring and somewhat trying week ended today. It was trying not because of any monumental challenges that I couldn’t face but because of tiny, niggling, annoying domestic fuck ups that just suck the life out of you. It’s always the smallest things that have the potential to be forgotten, that somehow take on gigantic proportions at the worst most inauspicious times. And then there is no mercy. No matter that the help is away for a month, worm is at its busiest, the hugsband has had wisdom teeth extracted and needs liquidized food, one has to manage it all in addition to seeing said domestic fuck ups through to some kind of resolution. 

By Thursday I was wilting.  Overworked,stretched and seriously feeling  overwhelmed, I always realise it too late. And my clinginess to VC is usually the first sign. 

So before it could bubble over and make a mess I pulled the plug. Force stop. Stack overflow. Time out. Call it whatever you want. I took it. Initially I made plans to get away. But soon resorted to the confines of my study itself. My laptop stayed off all day and I decided I was tgoingto be “away”. 

It was a good day. Just what I needed. Made better with a new book, dodging a nap, reading in the dappled afternoon light, an artificially cooled room, many cups of chai and fried snacks.

That’s all.