Thursday, June 04, 2020

Coolly forgetful

For the past couple of weeks, the workday ended anywhere between 03:30 and 07:00.

Not that I couldn't work through the day, but there would be several interactions with people, and I prefer to address dependencies before getting onto my own tasks. That way, no other work gets blocked or I don't become a bottleneck for a bunch of tasks. The first thing I'd do in the morning, around 11:00-12:00 is check for messages with barely one eye open, rub them both open if there was anything useful/interesting, stretch a bit, get out of bed and into the shower--instead of walking around the house and looking for chores or some tidying up to do as has been my habit--and then have a leisurely meal while watching some stand up comedy--or some subscribed YouTube channels, note my gratitude in the journal, and then get to work between 13:00-14:00.

No matter what, I'd step out for cycling or a walk at sunset and come back when I felt contented with the activity I chose to do. Then, supper over watching some videos again, a little bit of Kalimba or coloring, some more writing, and then back for the night shift.

The milestone for which this routine was being followed was achieved on Monday, and I thought it would take me a couple of days to rest and reset my body clock.

However, I was so calm, content, and clear-headed throughout this period of focused, critical work, that my mind/body didn't need any recuperation. Achieving the milestone gave me a teensy bit of a high and that night I was in bed by 11:30! Even though I actually fell asleep somehwere around 01:00, I opened my eyes around 05:40, and felt fresh enough to go for a walk. After 4 kms of that, I was bored, and so I went cycling again for another 12 kms and returned a happy puppy.

Had my leisurely breakfast, watched some more standup, journalled, and got to a few more hours of focused work. My cousin came over to stay for a day, and we spent the next nine hours chattering away like monkeys. When he went to sleep, I instinctually logged on, and there was just enough work for me do be able to quickly and happily finish. Thereafter, I slept for seven hours, which was the longest in two weeks. Since the cuz was around, there was no plan to work in the morning. We chattered some more as I cooked/cleaned and we had brunch. Then it was nap time, after which I logged on and did a bit of work. Later, the power went off and didn't return for a few hours. I doodled a bit, but the outdoors had been calling out to me since the morning.

So, I got my sippy bottle ready, the batteries for the safety lights were fully charged the previous day, and all I needed to do was get on the cycle and go as far as I felt like. Instead, as I started off on the road, I remembered that I hadn't worn the scarf that serves as a face mask, so I went back for it. As I entered the house, I remembered that the power bank was discharged too, so I decided to use the outing today to get that and my cellphone charged, and maybe even work a little, while they got charged at my other house, where there's an inverter backup. I happily wrapped everything in plastic, slung my bag on the shoulders and stepped out, only to realize, yet again, that I had forgotten the scarf. This time, I felt like all was well until about four kilometers later when I realized that I had forgotten the water bottle. Thankfully, it was raining and I can anyway go about 20-25 kms, even on a dry day, before I feel like I should hydrate myself. I let the music in my ears wash away that minor irritation at my forgetfulness and pedalled on happily for another 4-5 kms. As the street lights came on, I realized that I had forgotten to strap the charged portable lights onto the bike. More eyerolling-at-self happened, but the weather was so good, I didn't feel like indulging in any more self-flaggelation.

17 kms later, thoroughly drenched, I was asking the STOBEH to lay a plastic sheet down on the sofa-chair for me to sit on as I worked while the devices were being charged. He asked me to change instead, and so, this time, instead of being a smartass--and remembering the scatterbrainedness from earlier--I had a nice shower, cleaned all the dirt from the clothes and the bag, and sat down to chat with him for a bit. Attempted some work, but by then, the laptop's battery had drained, and in all my awesomeness, and I had forgotten to bring along its charger. I also complained but my mouse's broken scroll button, so he gave me the one he doesn't use, except for gaming on his laptop. Bless his heart, poor fella, he not only tolerates me randomly showing up at his door, he also indulges me when I ask for help (which is rare, btw, and I've done enough to balance it out).

I gave up all pretense of being awesome, and we decided to watch Angrezi Medium instead. Such a disappointment considering it's precursor, Hindi Medium. An hour of watching with intermittent forwarding later, we gave up. I wrapped up my Duolingo and MemRise practice, and then thought of noting all of this here. You know, just to remind my future self of all the delusions I have about my coolness and to keep myself grounded in the reality of my forgetfulness. So there.

That doesn't mean I can't share some World Cycling Day swag, though...
Even though I didn't know that it was that day while I was cycling. I am totally cool with cherry picking what days to celebrate and what days to be a Grinch about.

Saturday, April 18, 2020


This has been an unexpectedly calm day. I wasn't productive or efficient or any such thing, but I don't feel any throbbing guilt about it, nor am I disappointed in myself. In fact, looking in the mirror, I caught myself thinking about how each one of us is free to find ways to make peace with the world and the reality of everything, as opposed to some utopian dream, and therefore to make peace with ourselves. Yes, we're all eventually going to evolve into something else, maybe better, but that might happen over a dozen or more lifespans. No point rushing to attain nirvana during this one. Learning happens at its own pace, depending on how hungry or how desperate you are to learn (or maybe something else that I haven't perceived yet). As of now, all I am looking forward to is my Phoebe tattoo on Saturday night. I'm looking forward to that pain, and I want to spend those hours thinking about her and the love and lessons she brought for me while being the one true manifestation of unconditional love in my life.

Monday, April 13, 2020


'All over the place' is how my life is right now. And so are my thoughts. In fact, the latter influence the former.

The very next second, a totally contradictory thought appeared--my life is on the verge of a big change; all the things I've done so far have lined up to form this event that is on the cusp of happening.

It goes to show that it's all about perspective. I can call it a mess or I can see a pattern that is leading to a certain kind of outcome. The patterns are all present, but we have to look at them from various angles to notice them.

It's also about how we choose to feel about the patterns and/or their outcomes. For example, "I'm about to be abc, xyz, and in search of a new life," versus, "I'm about to be pqr and free to make a life that I really want." Or, for example, "I've been lost and unfocused and have stumbled my way through life to get to this point," versus, "Every time I had a choice, I went with whatever was doable at the moment. At times I took the easy route, at times I used a little foresight and swam against the current, and I found that the latter took me to places that were more interesting and rewarding."

When I awakened today, the first thought I had was to write down my patterns--healthy versus unhealthy, productive versus counterproductive, useful/helpful versus useless/unhelpful. I guess each of my habits can be put into these categories (given a context) and then I can choose to replace the unhealthy/counterproductive/unhelpful ones with the healthy/productive/helpful ones over time. However, as I think about or enlist the former, the statements feel like self-beliefs and that scares me into inaction. I need to remind myself that the whole point of the exercise is to change those very self-beliefs by a constant, intentional chipping-away, until those thoughts or statements begin to resemble the latter.

So, when I think of an unhelpful habit or pattern, it is only an initial state, not a permanent truth about myself. Similarly, when I think of a helpful habit or pattern as a desirable outcome, it is an achievable state that I maintain over time with less and less effort; that too is not a permanent truth, because we fall back into our old patterns from time to time, when efforts need to be temporarily increased in some other area of life. If this is done with awareness, it is easier to feel self-appreciation and to reiterate efforts in the desired area of life.

There are certain habits, which if you focus on cultivating on a daily basis, can help almost every other aspect of life run smoothly. Health, for example, both mental and physical. If I do something to maintain my health on a daily basis, however small, it lays the foundation for me to pick up more and more tasks with greater ease. I can also better distinguish between the important versus the urgent ones and the ones that can be set aside or delegated; what we call prioritization.

Basically, making better choices lets you make better choices. (I'll be happy to be quoted on this one some day. (giggle))

And, being alone is better than being in unhealthy company. (This seemingly unrelated thought came to me in a flash as I wrote this, and it crystallized the reasoning for a very important life decision.)

(And then, I actually said this: "Thank you for the insights, self!" Super corny, I know, but hey, I did get to this point with a lot of help from myself after being inspired by other people and their stories. So there. :))

Friday, April 10, 2020


Grateful for how things turned around over the past couple of days. Better each day. Received good advice at counseling, which I now consciously implement--decoupling the exhaustion of carrying the XYZ burden for ## years from the tasks that need to be done on the journey to independence. Also, the journey is the destination--I am living the life I want, a little each day, not waiting for a specific task to be completed to start a new life. Change happens gently, slowly, organically. Enlist all the tasks that you can think of and expect that they'll be orchestrated intermittently, parallely. There's no assembly-line approach here, and inclines and plateaus are all part of the natural landscape. Plateaus are breathing spaces, rest-and-recovery phases, not time wasted or whiled away. Do a little each day. The changes and growth and patterns will become apparent in retrospect. Have a wonderful day, love!

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

I feel a familiar ache

A very tangible one, in my heart. The one one feels when they miss someone. I miss my dogs right now. Often, these days, it feels unreal that I was a mother to four-legged creatures just a few months ago. I thought I'd feel a void when they're gone. But when Phoebe passed away, the time was taken up by providing extra care for Mojo. And when Mojo left, I took on several projects, determined not to dwell on the feeling of loss.

I happened to look at a picture of Mojo propped up against one wall of the balcony. Propped up because he didn't have the physical strength or the neurological ability to stand by himself. I was preparing to help him pee. Something we did about 5-6 times a day. The picture reminded me of the physical feeling of touching a dog. Then, specifically, his bony butt. And I miss it all.

I looked at more pictures. Some of them from the clinic where we used to take him for his weekly treatments. He used to whine loudly all the way there and during the 2-3 hours we spent there each time. I even miss those annoying sounds. No, he didn't hate the clinic or the caregivers. It was pretty much his only outing and he did enjoy getting fussed over and pampered there. It was just him vocalizing his excitement at being out and his annoyance at having to lay down on the table as the various treatments--none of them intrusive or painful--were administered as opposed to frolicking with the other creatures.

The moment we got into the car to return home, he would go quiet, as if a switch had been turned off.  It was hilarious! The memory makes me laugh out loud.

They were both like that. I can't stay sad for more than a couple of minutes when I think of them. Which is why it's rare for me to feel this ache. This might sound masochistic, but I want to bask in the feeling while it lasts. It makes me feel alive in a way. Otherwise, I'm quite stoic, maybe even heartless in some ways.

I miss Phoebe's gentle, persistent whining, asking me to get off the couch and pay attention to her or to play with her. Not because she wanted to be entertained, but because moving around was good for me. She was always teaching me lessons I refused to learn. So I made it a point to remember and to act after she passed away.

And then Mojo left after making sure that I was doing what I needed to do. He made sure I took the time to prepare myself for what I had to do next in my life.

So, as always, muchas gracias por mis perros, Universo! <3

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Emptiness and epiphanies

As I was walking into my building premises at 1:45 am, I found a dog lying on its side, in an odd position. The parking light wasn't bright enough for me to see the details, but I immediately sensed that it had suffered some form of brain trauma and died. Since noone would respond at the time of the night, I made a mental note to call the municipal corporation's dead animal pickup service, and walked by. As I entered the house and locked up, I was struck by how matter-of-factly I took it. Where were my emotions? How did I not feel anything at the sight of a sentient dead animal, especially a dog, when my own four-legged boy had passed away in a very similar manner just 4 months ago?

I went through the motions of changing, doing my routine journaling, brushing, etc, and slept well enough. Went cycling early in the morning, and when it was closer to the time at which the municipal corporation starts answering calls, I dialed the number. Surprisingly, a well-mannered person responded in an efficient manner--asking for my name, number, and location, and letting me know that they will arrive sometime in the day--they could't predict the exact time, but they would call me an hour before they could reach the spot. By then, it looked like noone from the neighborhood had realized that a dead dog was lying in the compound. I made a hand-written note about having called the pickup service, mentioned their contact number for follow-up, and stuck it on the ground next to the body, just in case someone was curious enough to inquire.

Even though I had no tasks to do before bathing and leaving for work, I felt inclined to lie down and rest for a while. I went out to the balcony intermittently, so I could see whether anyone else had taken note of the event. About an hour later, I finally saw a woman kneeling next to the dog, so I went out to talk to her. She--let's call her PD--was crying profusely, because, it turns out, she had been looking after the dog since she was a puppy. PD told me they called her Kaali--easy to remember because of her coloring. Kaali was a sweet, gentle dog. I took down PD's number and asked her whether I could help in a any way besides making sure that Kaali was picked up. PD wanted to bury her in an empty plot at the back of the colony, instead. So I offered to load Kaali up in the car, and deliver her to the spot.

PD went away to get the tools needed for the burial and another animal-friendly person from the colony came by to assist a few minutes later. In the few minutes that I stood alone outside the car, looking at Kaali lying on the seat, I welled up. Not with emotion--okay, maybe a little,--but mostly with a sense of purpose. It felt right. Like, this is what I am supposed to do. The instinct to stay back home and to not rush to work even though I had a bunch of tasks awaiting me, served this purpose. I was meant to do this little bit of service. I would have even stayed back and helped them with the burial if it was a holiday. But even that little bit that I could do, of making sure that Kaali was moved away with a modicum of dignity, gave my life a meaning.

If the pickup service had not come through by evening, I had planned to take the dog to the cremation facility myself. That was an obvious action that I would take, to see this to completion. But the little help I could offer to the lady and the dog made me feel like--I was, for that slice of time at least--a piece of the puzzle that fit perfectly where it should. Like, feeling a strong emotion may not really be my thing, but acting on something where it makes a difference, or being effective in some way is what I am here for. And that gave me closure.

What a morbid, weirdly satisfying way to start my 40th year on this planet.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Three months ago

...this day, our remaining baby moved on.

This was an hour before he left...

We had force-fed him a little bit of the mush that we used to call food. I wanted with all my heart to let him be, not to torture him, and to let his body heal itself. I wasn't strong enough to act on my instincts. This will serve as a reminder--yet another one--to do what I know in my gut to be right for me and my loved ones.