33

The finale: When this Coffee met her Bagel.

This has been in-the-works for a while now(close to a year), but I took my own sweet time to put it down in words and this has been an exceptionally hard post to write. Meeting this boy was surreal and serendipitous and would not have happened without some strong intervention from fate, or intuition, if you will. Maybe the universe really does work in mysterious ways, and you catch feelings when you least expect it. Like stomach flu, but in a good way. No?

So, ladies and gentlemen, here’s Mr. PB!

It started from a state of being absolutely and totally over any kind of dating, including online matrimonial portals. I had met another boy(#7) that I haven’t written about who was eerily similar to Boy 6 and deserves minimal mentions. Yet, I gave him a few chances and the last dinner date at his place and a walk on the beach confirmed that I never wanted to see him again. Well, the cringe that I felt inside when he touched me, should have sealed the deal, but I was still giving him a chance of redemption. Anyways, I was done and I let him know that.

But me being me, I opened the Coffee Meets Bagel app for ‘one final time’ and came across this one profile. I cant say much about his pictures because to be honest, I wasn’t sure for a few dates which one was I dating! The dude had most of his pictures in sunglasses, OR with his similar looking brother! Sheesh. But something about his profile caught my eye and I decided to try and connect with him. Alas, that lasted for a day because once we exchanged hey’s, he asked me about my non-profit work, and I was blown off with a ‘That’s a nice story but I worked way too hard and I gotta crash’ text after my reply which was more or less like a 250 words essay. I was convinced that it was a lie, because, err, I may or may not have used that in the past. A few days later, after no communication between the two of us, CMB reminded him that it was the last day before the line was closed off. I had assumed this interaction to be the end of it, just like many other missed chances. But the notification seemed to have prompted him to leave his number to get in touch later. I saved his number, with no intention of texting back. Because, hey! Ego! Y’all know me well enough already.

A week or two later, my grad school buddies were in SD for the weekend, and I had S+A’s wedding to attend that Sunday in OC. Hilarious drinking ensued on all 3 nights with some heart to heart talks with my favorite girlfriends(and the boys too) across the table as well as continents, who somehow convinced me to give dating another shot. Some incidents on Saturday night, and the wedding itself, pushed me further towards his profile’s direction. The boy’s profile was looked at and judged by the girls ‘during’ tequila shots and I was hit in the head for not texting back. So I did. 🙂

As soon as we started texting, he asked me out for a drink and I suggested one of my favorite places for a Brewery event that I already had planned on attending that Saturday. Because God forbid, I have to change my plans for anything or anyone. Now that I think of it, I set the date up to be a failure, unknowingly. There was all that beer(he is a whiskey kind of a guy), the brewery is stuffed at that time(he prefers places we can talk in peace, or dance at!), my friends could have been there(dumbest idea ever, duh) and the event had only vegan food(only PB was a happy bunny here). I had already reached and was waiting for him to show up, and then he did…

I don’t really know how to express it all in words, but the fact that we spent almost 6 hours together, should tell you enough how the date really went. We left the brewery within the hour and walked over to a cocktail bar next door, and that place stands as witness to the most beautiful turn our lives were taking together. We spent the next many hours sitting on barstools there, where we had assumed we would be spending just the next hour perhaps. We drank cool charcoal cocktails, ate some yummy food, talked about all things sundry, while my heart did backflips everytime he laughed and clapped his hands together! His eyes caught his smile and it was making me flutter. He drove me back home and dropped me just outside my apartment. We said bye, I went in and I panicked. I had caught feelings…

We met, and we couldn’t stop meeting. I missed him when I couldn’t see him, and when I saw him, I couldn’t have enough of him. And, he really was busy at work and not bluffing, as I initially thought. Dude’s a workaholic! I haven’t told him this yet, but I was falling so hard for him, that I was losing sleep! We attributed it to stress at that time, but I knew what was up with me. I was losing my appetite(that’s the most obnoxious sign), I was failing to understand jokes and I could not stop thinking about him. I really hoped that he was feeling the same way about me, like my soul depended on it. Post some amazing cocktails, an adoption event by my dog rescue, a movie where I tried hard not to cry, a beautiful evening at Mt. Soledad, a Cinco de Mayo with homemade tacos, some Ramen and Pho, a dash of dancing, some weekend trips to snow clad mountains, a first international trip together, here we are.

We have had an amazing year together, and I still have the giddy school girl feeling inside me when I think about him, see him and snuggle into him. He loves reading, traveling and sports, and plays cricket for the local league. He has a curious and intelligent mind, with a will to leave more positive impacts on the world. He has never lived with dogs before, but his compassion towards them, and towards people, makes me happy. One of the best things about him is his emotional availability that makes him very expressive with words and they have so much sincerity in them. He is an absolutely wonderful friend and family boy. He loves to laugh freely, sing loudly and is not afraid of showing emotions. He is very expressive about showering me with love, irrespective of us being alone, or with another hundred people. When he squeezes my hand, or me, I feel that all is right in the world. And, oh so handsome! This gorgeous and wonderful boy is mine, and I am his.

I feel like he gets me. He gets my silences, and my laughter. I have opened up like never before, and although this vulnerability freaks the bejesus out of me, I don’t mind it. I do have my moments though, of course. My famously thin skin, the ability to take each and every word to heart and then stewing over it and my bucket loads of insecurities are making this all pretty fun too. Ask him! He calls himself an overcommunicator, and I tend to shut down, so he is making me come out of my shell. I am learning to express myself in ways that I never have. The calm that he brings over me, remains unmatched. He is the stillness to my turbulence, the words to my silences, and a perfectly suitable ear to my rants. We couldn’t be more opposite to each other, yet we somehow ‘meet in the middle’, and will hopefully continue to. So, this was what the heavens had planned for me, and I truly am grateful for this wait. We are in love with each other, completely and hopelessly.

Finishing up this story that I have held to my heart for almost a year now, I feel a beautiful energy surrounding me. Being newly engaged, and so deeply in love, I somehow cannot think of having it any other way. He is the most spectacularly amazing thing that is happening to me, and I cannot wait to see how we shape up together. Our story has just begun and hopefully we live a beautiful life together. Me and mi amor…

4

Of “Not being enough”

 
This boulder of insecurities,
Questions and doubts,
The load of unwanted answers,
And sullen silent bouts.

Rearing up an ugly head,
Feeding with a passion,
Like parasitic vines,  
And turning into obsession.

"Not being enough",
This unnecessary belief,
Pushing down the path,
To inexplicable grief.

Turmoil and darkness,
When we wanted light,
There is a monster within,
Ready to incite a fight.

What really is the cause,
And what is the cure?
Focusing on the present,
And relishing moments so pure.

A reminder to overcome
The insecurities galore,
"I may be not enough,
Yet I am some more."

Just some more darkness spewing from me, no big deal. Inspired by words that I tell myself pretty often and that unfortunately seem to have tattooed themselves on my psyche. “Not being enough”.

I have been trying to fight this triple headed monster inside me since a long, long time. Some days it is me who wins the fight, and some days, the monster flexes harder. But I have been working out, and lifting weights and I am all but ready to knock this POS dead.

8

Never too old to miss mummy…

When I am bored at work, I start looking at recipe videos to take a break from my mundane simulations. There is something about watching cooking videos that gives me a lot of comfort. I feel like I am almost eating that and it also inspires me to cook up a meal as and when time permits. I really enjoy planning on what to cook that evening and the weekends and that is why pre-prepping for meals does not work for me.

When we were 20-21 year old, fresh of the boat, grad students, most of us had never stepped into the kitchen before. I had a couple of roommates who were already adept at cooking, but for some of us, it was an absolutely new ball game. The only things that I knew how to make were some fancy things that I would look up and make at home. I had zero idea about the basic curries and rotis. In the couple of months that I had between my final exams and leaving home for good(cue: fresh set of tears), my mum tried to teach me some recipes. I picked up the basic steps then, but even then, cooking largely remained a challenge for me. She tried hard, hiding her own emotional state about my imminent departure, and put her soul into prepping me for my journey ahead. She even made a little diary with recipe notes for me.

One of my biggest support during my endeavor to overcome that challenge was and is, a Marathi(my mother tongue) cookbook gifted by my mum’s best friend. ‘Ruchira’ remains a cult favorite and every so often, I bring it down from the shelf, specially during Diwali and other festivals. The other big supporter was obviously, Youtube. I can’t describe my obsession to look up all the recipes and jump from channel to channel, taking mental notes. Some of the channels that were my favorite were Veg Recipes of India, Madhura’s recipes for Mahrashtrian food, Sanjeev Kapoor for popular recipes, and one quaint channel called Nisha Madhulika. I used to follow her videos for traditional recipes because she actually used very classic, typical cooking methods and they worked for me. These channels took me over the mountain, and slowly, I really started enjoying cooking. I am not a Master Chef, but people appreciate what I make. I have also started enjoying potlucks and spending time thinking, prepping, and cooking for 10-12 people. I have hosted dinners for my non-Indian friends and cooked fun things for my Indian friend’ parties. Turns out, that my mom has also discovered youtube now and follows Nisha Madhulika and Madhura’s channels.

On a whim today, I looked up a video to make something that mum makes. The first video that I saw was Nisha Madhulika’s. Nisha auntie, I feel like fondly calling her now, went over the recipe step by step. If anyone has seen her videos, she has a peculiar, slow mannerism where she explains each step and teaches with a certain softness in her. By the time that video was done, I was a ball of tears and snot. I am not totally sure why, but I felt this gush of emotions towards her. And my mummy.

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The way Nisha auntie was explaining the recipe, was like a mother taking pains to teach her child how to cook. She explained what ingredients to use, any substitutions, the right way of adding them, and so on. I have seen countless videos by now, and no one has the mannerisms of this lady. It feels like she has put her emotions and passion into it. I started thinking of my mum, who taught me in the same way, and even now will answer my doubts when I FaceTime her while cooking. My mom isn’t actually that detail oriented so she will forget about some or the other thing and then I have to question her again! But nevertheless, I can tell that my mum loves the fact that I take pleasure in cooking now. In her new videos, I felt this jolt of realization that she even looks like my mummy! Her hair pulled back into a ponytail, her kurtas with long sleeves, and the way her face lights up when a recipe is done, is so much like my mama! Obviously this did not help my emotional state. My mum taught me a lot, and is still teaching me. But most importantly, she is teaching me to enjoy the process, and put love and care into it. I know she wants me to do more and so do I. I feel there should be someone to keep taking the small traditions ahead. The small rituals that make up Diwali, Holi, etc, also make our lives sweeter.

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It’s surreal how memories of home can rush back all at once, when you are least expecting it. I never thought that watching a cooking video will take me back into my home kitchen and refresh my senses with all the wondrous aromas. I was not prepared to have goosebumps watching someone like my mom talk, and then remembering my mom standing in her petite self, by the kitchen counter. The images of her making fresh rotis, stirring the curry, insisting on all of us sitting down and serving piping hot food, are all dancing in front of my eyes now. The lady takes immense pride in whipping up delicacies for people she cares about and making sure that no one leaves with a dot of space in their tummies. She thinks her job isn’t well done, until you lick your fingers and are deep into food coma. Oh, how I miss her!

This is my unintended mommy appreciation post. Here’s to my mom, and all of ours, who moved mountains to turn us little monsters into what we are today. They taught us with love, patience, and a little whack here and there, to give us this life. These are important life skills, and they taught us to mix them up with TLC and pass it on. Mamas are really the best! Give them a squeezy hug today when you see them, even if virtually! ❤

My sweet mummy, even if I achieve a 10% of what you are capable of putting on our plate, and in our lives, I will consider it my biggest achievement.

8

What not to eat on a V-Day/First date…

Here comes my most favorite time of the year after my birthday, parents’ birthday. Moony’s birthday, Diwali, Holi, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, New Years’s, random street aunty’s birthday, random uncle’s anniversary. You get the gist. Years ago, I started a campaign called Single Awareness Day also lovingly called S-A-D(may have been inspired but whatevs) and although I think 3 more people joined my SAD celebrations, it has been a resounding success. We are going to ignore my mum’s taunt from last year about how there could be one way I wouldn’t have to sit alone at home that day. Again, whatevs.

I think I have covered the gift suggestions in my past posts and you may have a fair idea on what to not give so as to avoid receiving a beating. While having my lunch salad, and then fishing to take the green pieces out of my teeth, I decided to suggest some food options to desperately avoid the said fishing in public. These also work fabulously as first date options.

Shall we?

  1. Green salads: I understand the need to not be bloated, but what to do. Imagine a nice big smile, and seeing a lovely piece of green stuck over your front, top incisor a la Ani and her cilantro in college. Right? Nope. Stick to Caesar salad if you must. You may fancy out to quinoa and stuff.
  2. Burger: If you are eating at a fancy place, chances are that the burger is going to be super loaded, and there will be dripping, the wrong kinds. And somehow I dont enjoy opening my mouth like a cave to devour all that stuff in one go. Also, I am not prissy enough to use a fork and knife for burgers. Just not ladylike, whatever the hell it means.
  3. Pizza: A date got into an argument with me because I usually have my slice folded up. I was not having it and argued back like my life depended on it. He wasn’t a tough loss because well, he chewed with his mouth open. But otherwise, a rather good option, if you can avoid the stupid arguments. And also if the date isn’t picky about toppings. Otherwise, you may as well have toasted bread with ketchup and cheese thrown on top.
  4. Seafood or Bbq: Homegirl doesnt eat meat and seafood places have, probably, ONE thing to order, and mostly created for the menu as an afterthought. Also, many *cough* girls refuse to kiss meaty mouths till they have brushed their teeth.
  5. Indian food: Unless you are going with a Desi guy, or someone who has experienced and enjoyed the cuisine before, it’s a bad idea. I have a tendency to focus on other people’s reaction at every bite if we are eating something or somewhere that I suggested. I will forget about my food and get jittery if I feel that they did not like it, and then will start a passive aggressive defense of the food. It’s quite mental actually and combined with my utmost love of desi food, chances are that i will take it personally. So if you are like me(i hope not!), pick another spot till a comfort level has set in and your craziness has been accepted.

These are kind of my top 5 not-to-have when out on a first date to avoid looking sloppy. The frizzy hair covers that aspect quite well. There are plenty of options that you could go for. Craft cocktails or breweries, as long as you are not falling of the bar, are always a good idea. Get some munchies, good drinks, and you are set for the next 5-6 hours. Thai food is good and tried and tasted. Sushi is nice, clean and pretty light on the tummy. Just be mindful of the wasabi because crying on a date is awkward, whatever the reason be. Italian is cute, romantic, and paired with wine, works out well. Mexican food or Ramen is definitely a winner because tacos and ramen are life!

Anyhoo, Happy V-Day to the oddballs who celebrate, and extra hugs for SAD celebrators, because y’all are way cooler anyways.

10

Some more randomness

1. In a drying rack, post washing dishes, I insist on keeping all the spoons, forks, butter knives with the handle down and eating part up. In my head, the bottom of the drying rack is teeming with cooties and muck and the eating side must never touch it. There have been countless arguments with the father and mother about this when they were visiting me. Of course, the question remains, why would I not throw away such a mucky rack?! The short answer is, it’s all in my head, people.

2. I keep count of how someone treats the gifts I give them because for me, that is directly proportional to the feelings involved. I keep all gifts, even buttons of old dresses, like precious items. Ani knows this very well, and yet she made the mistake of not keeping the flowers and card that we sent her on her wedding day. Preserving the flowers should have been her top priority on that day, obviously. It bothers me, way more than I admit, if I see my gift going unused, or worse, left behind. I am totally judging the gift-receiver at that moment. And it bothers me even more, if I give something and that is given away. I had given a bunch of makeup bags and makeup from Sephora to my mom, and all it took to blow my lid off, was to mention the idea of giving something out of that set to some family friend.

3. I am feeling very abandoned by some close friends and I hate how much it has affected me in the last one year. Anyhoo, this topic shall not be touched here.

4. My aversion to phone-calls still continues. I still find myself wishing, while the other side is ringing, that they miss the call! Oh Ani, I am sure you remember this!(2nd mention in the post, waah!) I get clammy, I feel tongue-tied, and I get just so awkward every time! Is there a phone-call-phobia, or any word for it? Even while I was attempting to date, I would get jittery when the guy would ask to talk on the phone. I have almost asked to continue dating on Whatsapp to keep things easier. Phone-calls are bad, and talking to people who I don’t really know well, makes it even worse. Also, thank god for online food orders now!

5. I have started enjoying collecting fun mugs. I don’t quite drink tea or coffee, but weekend mornings feel extra special these days as I get to have tea or filter coffee in a cute, hand-picked mug. It just feels nice to sit cozily with a nice mug. You know what I mean? Weekend rituals, perhaps.

Alrighty, that’s all for today folks! We shall continue with this random silliness when my brain freezes the next time.

29

Of tear-ible times…

Ever since I posted about my eye troubles in my new year post, I have not received a single question about it. So I am going to talk about it of my own accord. I know none of you care, BUT YOU MUST!

In the beginning of December, my contact lens started to get uncomfortable and I would be constantly blinking or trying to move my right contact around to make it sit better. I was washing my eyes all the time because there was this feeling that something is stuck in there. My eyes were drying out too like no tomorrow! That feeling of a foreign object being in my eye started growing into eye pain where keeping my lids open were really bothering me. I tried a couple of lubricating OTC drops, but there was no improvement.

Finally, I made an appointment with my primary care doctor, and I had to wait for 2 days, because legendary American healthcare system. I went in, got my eye prodded and poked at, dyed, rubbed vigorously with a Q-tip, but the doctor said there really wasn’t anything. She just asked me to continue with my OTC lubricant eye drops and discontinue contacts for some more time. She did give me an opthalmologist number, in case I didnt feel better in another week.

By the time that week ended, I was crying most evenings out of the pain. I would weep while driving to work, and bawled while driving back home, because the pain was becoming insufferable. My eyes are anyways too sensitive and the high prescription makes it even worse. I am pretty much blind without glasses or contacts and they do hinder my lifestyle in some way or the other. It’s a very sensitive subject for me, even if you leave the vanity part aside. My short sighted friends do agree that it definitely affects confidence and self-esteem. As shallow as that sounds, it is true.

Finally I took the eye doctor’s appointment and went in, another 2 days later. Meanwhile, my insurance decided to play games with me, and that very month increased specialist visit rates by $30. Again, legendary American healthcare.

The optometrist took a look at my eyes through a slit lamp and told me that my tears were evaporating as soon as they were forming, and my eyes were extremely dry as a result. The oil glands seemed to be underperforming majorly and she wrote down names of two more OTC eye lubricants. I noted that down, and asked if that would also make that foreign object feeling go away. She looked at me, and asked me to come back to the slit lamp. She flipped my lids over and declared that it was full of inflammation and bumps. She prescribed some anti-histamine eye drops and asked me to see her in another month and to not use contacts until then. She also asked me to heavily consider switching to disposable contacts in the near future. Holiday season, looking good, makeup, got flushed down the drain. I asked her about estimated recovery time and she gave me between a week to a month and said it was hard to say. Ugh, more bummage.

That evening after the doctor visit, I had to go to a shopping mall to finish some last minute holiday shopping. I think I bawled all the way to the mall and some more while I waited in my car at the parking lot. I spoke to my folks too, and there was a good deal of tears for around an hour. There was some more breakdown in a Banana Republic store, the classy chick that I am. I had had enough! My eyes were hurting like crazy, they were prickly, I had to continue looking dorky for holiday pictures, the drops were $200 and with insurance $80, and I had to handle all that sh*t by myself during that time. Meanwhile, I convinced myself that I am never going to get better and never be able to go back to contacts. I simply lost it.

I did calm down the next day and with a peaceful mind, started researching my condition and all my options. Turns out I have something along the lines of Giant Papillary Conjunctivitis(do not Google it!) which affects most soft contact lens users. Steroid drops, anti-histamines and disposable contact lens help with the condition. You could be wearing contacts for years, and one fine day, your eyes decide to go rogue on you. Such betrayal! My doctor did not prescribe steroids yet, so maybe it’s a good thing? I did some more research and have managed to find a substitute OTC anti-histamine till my drops get to San Diego through someone. Meanwhile the prescribed drops just got into my hands me through a friend, from my father, because they cost a paltry $5 in India! Yep! The same brand, some composition, and it even says manufactured in the US and imported to India! Once again, all hail American healthcare.

I have used my new drops for 2 days, and my eyes are in pain again. Probably because I had skipped a day to switch from OTC to prescribed and the irritation had started again. I am sitting here annoyed by the pain and I know I am being dramatic, but I feel like my life has come to a standstill. I was happily prancing around in my contacts everyday, and had a nice thing going on. It’s all gone out of the window. I don’t want to constantly whine about it to the people who I spend time with, but the fact that I can CONSTANTLY FEEL MY EYEBALL AND EYELID is extremely annoying. So, hopefully this post takes care of the crying and the whining part.

Atleast I have learned to swiftly take my glasses off whenever someone wants to take a picture of me. I am getting used to going to the gym in glasses, even though it’s a real pain to run blindly on the treadmill or risk shattering expensive glasses if they fly off my nose. It’s not the end of the world, and there are bigger problems in my life. With time, and medication, hopefully I can get back to my contacts, and perhaps think of a permanent solution to the problem. Let’s see how it goes.

Hope you all have the answers to the questions that you did not ask. Thanks for letting me rant!

PS- I know you all do care about me. 🙂 I promise, I was only joking when I accused you all of not asking anything, but the scolding seems to have brought all my old-timey favorites back! So yay! “My scolding brings all the bloggers to the yard…”

PPS- I had a follow-up on 1/21 and eyes are getting better but the bumps are still there. The doc prescribed new steroid drops to be used along with the anti-histamines and another visit which will include a prescription and new lens fitting exam. Post all my research about my condition, I had asked my dad to send another kind of drops with Pataday from India, just to be safe. Guess which one she prescribed? I am smart!

18

Happy 2019!

Hola, chicos!

Finally into the 3rd day of 2019, I have opened my wordpress and decided to write. As I started typing, I stared at the keyboard and actually drew a blank. Have my creative juices dried up? Or have I actually written about everything? That can’t be so. Ah well!

Last year was, eventful, to say the least. I did a few new things, explored a few new cities, and met new people. I met a LOT of dogs through my dog rescue and my new friends and that made my 2018 a resounding success! There was puppy love everywhere and I soaked it all up like a sponge. I do feel that I lost out on a wonderful doggie because I truly am not ready for the responsibility. But she found a great family, and that warms my heart. I may foster this year depending on my apartment situation. I also know when the time comes, Moony will help me meet my soul-dog. Waiting for that wet-nosed signal from the beyond. I wrote ads for 150 dogs, the last I checked, and all of them have been adopted. I am happy to have helped a teeny bit.

One of the biggest highlights of 2018 was skydiving! A gazillion people have done it before me, and it’s not even that rare anymore, but for me, it was SOMETHING! That rush of air as I tumbled out of the plane, that ‘whoop’ in the pit of my stomach, and my spit flying everywhere because my mouth was in a constant ‘YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA’ scream with a giant grin, remain unparalleled. That jump has made a lot more people believe that I am a badass, and I will strive to keep the facade on with other acts of faux daredevilry.

Mid-2018 saw Moo saunter off to her sasural wrapped in exquisite silks and gold, and she managed to do that without tripping. Thanks to her I also saw Kanyakumari in it’s full glory, and once’s enough, truly. None of us cried, even when I dropped the oil from the vada on my silk saree, I maintained my composure. She found love, and how! She scaled mountains to get there and couldn’t be more proud and happier! Now if only, we grow up mentally and stop doing what we do best, that would be great. Thank you very much.

I ticked off another major checklist item in 2018 but mum’s the word on it. Moo and SP, do not dare! Remember the comment has to be approved by me first.

With some motivation, I finally decided to enroll for a Spanish course at the university and I got an A! I can describe myself, tell and ask the time, look for bathrooms and food and supermarkets, and my hobbies. I do have a limited vocabulary so I stick to describing myself as muy bonita. Just agree with me, okay? Bien. Also, we have been only taught about the present tense, so just roll with it when I talk. Give me a few more months and Spanish 2 and 3, and then watch me describe the past and future activities!

2018 is going to be super special and close to my heart. It is going to be a favorite year for a long time to come, unless 2019 topples it off the chart. My heart, body and soul have been fuzzily happy through the year and a sense of calm has come into my life. I, obviously, still have my crazy moments, but I am learning how to communicate better. Instead of holding in thoughts that are constantly whirring through my head, i let ‘some’ out and we deal with that. It’s a change and it feels good! I haven’t been this happy in the longest time! *Knock on wood* May God grant us the power to beautify every moment, to revel in happiness, to accept things that we cannot change, and to use the ‘block’ feature on Facebook if everything fails. Amen.

Per every year, the end of 2018 has seen some piling on with respect to sweets, cheese and pounds. I have some major shedding to do, and have decided to be regular at the gym and with cardio. The puny amount that I run, helps only if it’s regular, so will focus on that too. And like I always say, vanity IS a major factor too. That new Zara skirt is not going to fit itself.

December has been sad for me healthwise. My eye and contact lens have been giving me trouble, and it made me miserable. I let my emotions and vulnerability take control of me during some special moments. I can’t wear contacts for a while till my eyes heal and then perhaps have to switch to disposable ones from my cheap annual ones. and sadly, glasses bring out the little bullied girl in me. It sounds really shallow, but these issues affect confidence and self-esteem. But I am taking it in my stride now, and hoping for a full recovery.

Professionally, I am alright. There shall be some improvements and changes but that will come when the time is right. I shall try not to fret over that.

I sincerely hope for the coming year to be even better than the last for me and you all! May the new year bring you all that you craved! We shall strive for a drop of insanity in that cauldron of peace. Here’s a toast to a healthy, adventurous and exciting 2019!

0

The power of educated acceptance

A new favorite, or perhaps life changing? I don’t quite know how to define this book that I recently finished reading. I am not doing a book review here, but just nudging people to pick this one up next, specially if you need some solid inspiration and motivation. The strongest emotion that comes screaming out, is that I feverishly wish this was a dystopian fiction and not an absolute reality of the writer’s life. Tara Westover has created a masterpiece, which unfortunately is the true story about her life. ‘Educated’. A monumental memoir.

It’s a very difficult book to read and I went through a varied range of emotions which made it even harder. I wanted to protect the little girl, rescue her away from the path she was put on. I wanted to nudge away the young woman from her belief of shame and worthlessness. I desired to take her on a real coffee date or to a library where we could sit and discuss the history of Mormonism, ethics, mental disorders, human rights, European history together. I wanted to learn from her raw intelligence. What that child went through is unthinkable, being taught to hoard for ‘The End of the World’, being shoved around by her bipolar father, a mother who was a doormat and the extreme physical abuse by her brother, and then being told that it was her fault.

I feel sheltered and protected. For every little fight about not wanting to wear what my mom picked out, to not leaving my shoes in the hallway, I want to hug them tight and tell them that I love them beyond the Universe. From reading about a childhood like Tara’s(she still dilutes it in interviews, out of family love and loyalty), I feel beyond blessed to have been able to have mine where the memories are sweet and sadness is far in between.

I googled her and listened to some of her interviews. She has been featured in magazines. This girl went from never going to school, to Cambridge and Harvard. She was a raw learner, completely unexposed. She took it and molded herself to go to these institutions with all the respect she deserved and more. The biggest success was, her being able to defeat her thoughts(passed down as concrete sayings by her father), shame and self-humiliation. She learned to ask for help. She learned to be okay with being a woman and to have dreams beyond the kitchen. She overcame. She learnt acceptance. When she says, it is possible to love someone and miss them, and also be glad that they are not a part of their life, I believe her.
Yet, there are two sides or ‘duality’ to her that I cannot shake off. The one from her book, and the other from her interviews. Although, I do find it okay to accept because that’s human nature.

When I researched her, I researched her families and their real names too. I have faces to give these characters now. And I shudder. The brother, I saw his Facebook page, gave me chills down my spine. Somehow not unpredictably, his Facebook is full of political and ideological support for the person who leads this powerful country. There is pure venom and loathing in the words he chooses, to side with him and the gun lobby among others. The men wear lifetime-member NRA caps. I don’t feel surprised. Her family has chosen to cut her off because she refused to forgive him post ‘Atonement’ and they have refused to seek any help for his disorders, instead, accusing her of lying. Unfortunately this is the truth for a huge population. She is considered a cancer that will tear the family apart, not the brother who used to maul his sisters and girlfriends like a vicious animal. The family is so brainwashed and gaslighted by the Dad, that they are discounting her memories and have an attorney. I have no words.

This book has given me hope and a lot more. I want to leave here some powerful quotes that I took away and that will remind me to keep moving. Hope it inspires you too.

Emancipate yourself from mental slavery

None but ourselves can free our minds

-Bob Marley, quoted in Educated by Tara Westover

I carried the books to my room and read through the night. I loved the fiery pages of Mary Wollstonecraft, but there was a single line written by John Stuart Mill that, when I read it, moved the world: “It is a subject on which nothing final can be known.” The subject Mill had in mind was the nature of women. Mill claimed that women have been coaxed, cajoled, shoved and squashed into a series of feminine contortions for so many centuries, that it is now quite impossible to define their natural abilities or aspirations.

Blood rushed to my brain; I felt an animating surge of adrenaline, of possibility, of a frontier being pushed outward. Of the nature of women, nothing final can be known. Never had I found such comfort in a void, in the black absence of knowledge. It seemed to say: whatever you are, you are woman.

-Educated by Tara Westover

The decisions I made after that moment were not the ones she should have made. They were the choices of a changed person, a new self. You could call this selfhood many things. Transformation. Metamorphosis. Falsity. Betrayal. I call it an education.

-Educated by Tara Westover
10

Seasonal insanity

Deck the hall with boughs of holly,
Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la!
Waiting for that kiss, oh golly,
Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la!
‘Tis the season to be jolly,
Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la!

What’s that you ask? That is just some more sugar rush from another piece of chocolate cake that some dude at work keeps bringing in. It really is that time of the year again, eh? My body has entered the hibernation mode, which is my polite way of saying that I have gained my 7-8 lbs and my cheeks are puffed up like the Pillsbury doughboy. Winter is upon us in the most California way that it can. It’s raining like cats and dogs outside, and we know this part of country needs it like yesterday!

I am just back from a beautiful Thanksgiving break in Mammoth lakes and I am dreaming of the snow, wine and the fireplace, while crunching up some analytical data. The couch at the AirBnB has a wonderful story to tell and the oven is still reeling under the impact of baking my mighty good lasagna. It was a nice, relaxing weekend but not so much for my feet, post a 5 mi hike. But I suppose the view at the end of it made it worth it. The evening post the hike, most definitely did.

The holiday season is here. I see a bunch of Facebook posts insisting that it should be called ‘Christmas’ and we must be wishing ‘Merry Christmas’ and nothing else. Who am I to argue? I will wish people whatever they want to be wished and move on while I get my order of Peppermint Latte in a cheery red and green cup. Christmas trees are springing up everywhere and people are sending invites for holiday potlucks and ice-rink parties. Major FOMO(Fear of missing out) has struck me, per usual, and I dont want to miss out on anything, but there doesn’t seem to be enough time anymore. I am here thinking, reminiscing of the beautiful moments I have had and even more amazing moments that I will be having. I definitely do feel full of gratitude and thankfulness. Will this season also make those relationships we lost, come back? Will we get everything we wanted? Is there something wonderfully new on the way? We never know but sure hope for the best.

This year running by feels like I am watching a contestant on Food Network’s Chopped who has a minute left and hasn’t even started plating yet! Ufff, the anxiety!

Anyways, will get through it all. But first, another spoon of this velvety mousse. Ummmm….