Walk with me

Why is suffering a part of making decisions and which part of me suffers? I can feel it today, the pain and pleasure cutting through me viscerally. The sun and the spring waking me, I walked the two blocks to my favourite bagel store today. A walk I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do just two months ago and today I made it without a problem. When I walked out, the familiar feeling of being on my feet with somewhere nice to go was so raw and familiar, like an old friend. What is freedom if I can’t run away? What if I don’t live and risk my own dreams?

What of marriage and being one? One goal, one vision, two partners trying to convince each other of the paths to take. So painful to compromise, I had never been one for sacrifices and it turned out I was already making them as soon as I wed without even realizing it. How I had wanted to strike out on my own – I will accept my own selfishness. It has always been about me. It took me three years to fully feel committed to this boy who did the most and the toughest things for me. We proved ourselves to each other over and over again in our triumphs and failures, making our own story. Three years to believe that our lives always better be entwined this way and I will do my best to make that happen. Yet admittedly I duck out from time to time to yearn for myself. What did I want? Am I okay?

We can’t stay suspended here in this spring. Can I carry you with me?

On birthdays and such

People in their 30s say that they feel the same as they did when they were 27-28. I have also heard people say that they feel younger in their head than their actual age. Before my 30th birthday (and admittedly still), I read those annoying procrastination articles titled along the lines of ’30 things to know before you’re 30’. Through this process, I have actually come across some good lists that I will share with you here.

As for me, I feel like I have crossed a river and there’s no going back. A door has very firmly closed. I do not feel 27-28, I feel like I’m just a very confused ‘old’. If I were 27 I would feel like I have all the time in the world. Those end-20s felt like a great desperate race, one that I knew I had sort of lost. I was nowhere near where I wanted to be professionally, financially or hell physically. Now that I look back I feel like the months surrounding my birthday felt like I had been thrown across a wide canyon. I am on the other side but I lost many things along the way. I think I have landed though. The changes and opportunities are coming fast and thick and really that’s what I wanted. So I didn’t make it there before 30, I hope it doesn’t hurt me later on.

Here are the best three articles I read. The last 2 are not necessarily the quickest read and actually have more depth to them.

http://www.glamour.com/entertainment/2013/08/olivia-wilde-s-advice-for-turning-30

10 Life Lessons to Excel in Your 30s

10 Life Lessons I Learned from Surviving My 20s

An end-winter night’s dream

I remember writing about a start of winter once that caught me by surprise. I found myself caught in cold winds shivering at the train station. Going home and curling up warmly with a book on Friday night was all I wanted to do. I also remember those cold nights that I went out relentlessly. Cold, rain, gloom, it didn’t matter, one could shiver at the tube station or wait for a cab.

I also feel like NYC encourages that kind of relentlessness. It reminds me of that London self who had no concept of what her body needed at times. I feel like people here are like extroverts constantly distracted and over-booked. Of course, it annoys people like me who choose their timetables with care. I cannot imagine saying yes to 2 or 3 events for 1 night. Why would anyway want to do that to themselves? I now know that that is no way for me to enjoy myself. What am I maximizing, pleasure, fulfillment of responsibilities or just cramming on auto-pilot?

Hence after enjoying the first warm Saturday in a long time, I am now curled up in bed, sorting out books to read and stuff to watch, catching that moment of contentment I so needed in the sea of turbulence that has been this winter.

True Grit

It seems like the worst happened and then I realized that of course that’s not true. There is plenty, plenty left to lose… but in terms of material possessions I can say that we lost our most prized possessions – our laptops, and in terms of sheer administrative nightmares – we lost our ID documents, AND in terms of sheer discomfort – I lost my glasses. Stolen to be exact and may the thief suffer. Suffer more than me anyway, as I move about in pain trying to get on with my life.

This isn’t a post about ruminating on what’s lost though, it’s about how we get over losing and how funny humans are that they have the power to go on. It’s about strength in physical pain and it’s about emotional strength too. I cannot say that it’s all me and that I do it alone but I am grateful for all things, circumstances and people that enable to get on. As I struggled to get on with daily life with the limited mobility, I realized that this is my challenge, my marathon. I am not one who can hike for months or climb a mountain; my body will not take that right now, those are not my achievements. My achievements are getting the daily chores done everyday and being optimistic nonetheless.

A book that helped me not only pass the time but also give me purpose and courage is Wild by Cheryl Strayed. I started reading it just in time when this disaster happened and I had nothing else to distract me. I have to say that reading about her physical endurance helped me bear my load too. I too felt strong vicariously going about my challenges, even if they were more of the getting out of bed kind rather than hiking the Pacific Crest Trail kind.

The second thing I learned from it is that we humans are funny in how we can be broken emotionally and how we can let that get in the way of everything else in our lives. Like a virus on a computer we can mess up all our programs without showing any outward signs of damage. It reminds me to be a bit kinder and a bit more understanding towards others. I don’t know if we heal from the death of loved ones but I sure know it’s not enough to just attend a funeral and pay your respects. How do you go on providing and asking for support time after time, year after year?

I remembered that saying about how the worst times in your life show you who your real friends are. I suppose that’s sort of true but as always I will see many sides in to this issue. Mainly, I believe that some people are just better at certain things than others. If you need the kind of help where you just need another pair or hands because you cannot move, only certain kinds of people will provide that. The kind of friend I do find most frustrating is the fair weather friend. They are still friends though, I mean you do need the kind of friends who will always come to your birthday party, or house party, or fondue party. You may well end up forging a bond with them over brunches and shopping and you may fool yourself into thinking that you will be there for each other when really you are the only one who follows up if the other is sick or sad. You can just lie there in your time of need while the friend chooses another party over bringing you some groceries and some entertainment.

I sound bitter about that but really I am not upset. That is just the way some people are and you need all kinds in your life. Some are just pointless in emergencies but some will be surprisingly tough and resilient… like me. 🙂

It’s official I suck. That should be my facebook status. I am completely and utterly useless. Well that isn’t true, just today I cleaned almost the entire apartment. I got some important emails out of the way and I read a very interesting book. I’ll be ok. I can’t really type that well because I have considerable pain when I sit down and I can’t walk or stand for long periods. These activities take up so much of my existence, I don’t have much of a life outside the home. I am pretty confined in New York instead of free. I am scared and embarrassed to admit defeat. I am embarrassed to not take advantage and enjoy the greatest city in the world. I am embarrassed at the stress I feel when I think of going out. I read this novel last year in which a young mom develops agoraphobia and is unable to leave her house all of a sudden. she developed it during a stressful period In her life, right after she came back from a trip to New York where she had begged her rich and alienated father for some money for her ill son’s treatment.

Sometimes the world seems like too big and scary a place, but I have seen so much of it, why shrink down to my four walls now?

Things have changed, that is to say the least. I am writing to procrastinate which means that I really must not want to work. I am sitting in so hipster a café in Brooklyn that I had trouble finding it initially because it didn’t have a sign in front of it. Also, I just ordered in French and two of the four walls have exposed brick and bookshelves in them. All this ‘ natural style’ feels so pretentious that I feel embarrassed. But I should back up and take you back to that late summer day.

One day late in the summer, HD confirmed that he got the NY job.  After that, I swear everything hung in the most perfect happy balance for a few days. It was warm but not humid, the sky bright and the breeze cool. I remember the work tour that we took and then we sat outside in a local café eating burgers with locally sourced ingredients. That’s when we told our friends, we’re moving to New York! Blog readers know that I have wanted to move to a bigger city for a while and the excitement of NY and the change in the air was just too much. It was like a heady dream.

And then the change happened. I walked in to my office building to find a trail of leaves taking me from the entrance right to my office door. When did the leaves start falling? I wondered surprised. At lunchtime I found more evidence of autumn when I walked back outside to see the ground littered with tiny yellow leaves. The trees that lined the sidewalks were shedding.

Since then in a few months, autumn has come and almost gone. The trees turned all different shades to show their fiery magnificence, a soothing sight as we did some stressful trips back and forth from Connecticut to New York. I said goodbye to my boss and spent an emotional day confused and trying to get over it. I drove from my previous home to the new one in Brooklyn for the first time and felt proud. And it doesn’t end here. Getting used to city life and my handicap here is still an issue. What I wouldn’t give to let loose here. To walk out one day without having to think about the pain and factor it in to my day. I also missed my big apartment from before and imagined myself in the comfort of my old bedroom sometimes. I don’t do that anymore though, I move on quickly. Even when the sounds from the crazy neighbor go particularly crazy, I calmly consider making plans to drive to New Jersey to stay with family while we wait to get our new apartment yet again. Ah more change. Finally, this is what I’d been waiting for all along.

Dream of Californication

It was awesome. I am not feeling as inspired anymore but I have to say I loved our California vacation. I guess it was just like in the movies except that I was too busy to notice that.

I love love love Northern California. I could live and die there (whatever that means). It feels like the edge of the world. The most Western point on the map. Everywhere I need to be and everyone I love is so far from there. And yet I would happily settle there. The thought makes me feel guilty and I didn’t lost the sense of being far away but it felt so good and homey at the same time. Movies I tell ya.

We went to the Napa Valley, San Francisco, Berkeley, Menlo Park, and we were passing in front of the Facebook building and only noticed it at the last minute. I swear it’s the edge of my world but it felt like it was its source. Yes I know how that sounds. Stanford University is like a resort. I checked out the law school, it seemed like the ideal vacation spot. Why oh why did I do my studies in rainy London?

We didn’t get a drop top for the Pacific Coast Highway drive but we were in a Prius so that was nice. We saw hard core hippies, vegans, fair trade activists and environmentalists. Oh and an IT guy. I also love love love that California is so advanced in terms of environmental protection. I love that they charge you for plastic bags and I love that if you are asking to taste an ice-cream flavor at an ice-cream shop first, they’ll give you a regular spoon to taste with not a plastic one to throw away. They collect them back and wash them. How fucking hard is that oh rest of the world? Collect your trash in your own living room why don’t you. I digress…

LA was dusty, dirty, hot and crowded. I didn’t get to see much wealth and celebrity, lacking those things myself. We did drive along Mulholand Drive and the Hollywood Hills and the song “She’s so Hollywood” kept playing in my head. It was fun but I felt like you had better loved your art and have passion for it to deal with the shit here. Imagine moving here and living in this shit-hole hoping you’ll make it one day and get to move on to the Hill.

It was definitely one of my most memorable vacations ever, I think I am absolutely digging this discovering the US thing. A couple of things I came away with:

A week away is enough to get both HD and me recharged and raring to get back home. We were both feeling pretty inspired by then and didn’t need the extra 3 days. Future vacations need not be so long especially if not going too far.

I was barely on fb and spent a lot less time feeling good/bad/sad/angry/weird about stuff on there. Came back with a resolution to only check it twice a day. I’m kind of sticking to it, although it is an epic fail sometimes. But not all the time.

It IS inspiring to instagram. That savior of all ugly and pointless photos makes you feel like a Picasso (or whoever your preferred brand of artistic genius is). I must continue to do more of this in regular life.

Vacationing is also like a forced break from my to-do list which I am always running over in my head. It’s really a bad habit and one that I should really work on. I’ve got to practice letting go and enjoying the moment like I do when I’m away from home. Or just take a quick weekend getaway to clear my head. Whatever.