Words without brakes

It is surprising how reading a book inspires one to write. A fountain that was dried up seems to want to send out water again. A tap that ran dry seems to be waiting to be opened up and let flow. Poetry seems to be flowing out. Can there be magic in a pen and can magic transfer from one writer to another ? It would seem so.

When I post, usually I read and re-read and sometimes trash my posts because they have been written over days and the day I am ready to publish, the post does not resonate with my inner muse anymore. Time has changed my outlook on the same issue even though much time has not gone by. Even seconds can change one’s way of looking at the same thing. Writing a post for me is like capturing a moment on a photographic plate, slicing through my life at that point in time. In epidemiology, cross sectional studies are defined as those studies that report events as they are at a particular point of time- such are my usual blog posts. A few days later, the same post does not seem right enough as it did the day it was conceived. Am I driveling ? Perhaps I am. But I continue to write in order not to stop the flow of that muse that has seen drier days and lonelier nights.

The book I picked up at the airport on my way back is my inspiration. ” Second Thoughts” by Navtej Sarna. It is a book which should be a reader’s dream book. A book that speaks of the writer’s travels through the circumstances and sometimes the places where the writers of his choice once lived or wrote. Imagine having the freedom to go to places or sit on site at tables or in rooms where writers once wrote and imagine the thoughts that went into those writer’s minds as they wrote. Writing should be the most honest of crafts for if written as words are born in the mind, it should be a thread that connects the soul of the writer with the soul of the reader. When I began posting I was such a writer. Over years, a veil seems to have clouded my writing, I seem to go back and read over my words and decide certain words must go or some thought removed( often to not offend) and then the post becomes presentable. In the process it becomes far removed from what it should have been. I see now, that my posts in recent days have been dishonest.

I am inspired to look in my library for many of the books written about in ” Second Thoughts”. The book describes the book ” Breakfast at Tiffany’s” by Truman Capote,which probably will be the first book I will be looking for. And another book- Landour Days by Ruskin Bond, which I might have read before but am inspired to read again. Seems like Landour Days is like a collection of Bond’s ” Morning Pages”, if such can be, a rambling through his days in Landour, a hill station in the Himalayas. The words the book quotes from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” are the ones that have inspired me to look for the original –

“Never love a wild thing. A hawk with a hurt wing. One time it was a full grown bobcat with a broken leg. But you can’t give your heart to a wild thing: the more you do, the stronger they get.Until they are strong enough to run into the woods.Or fly into a tree. Then a taller tree. Then the sky. That’s how you will end up— If you let yourself love a wild thing. You will end up looking at the sky.”

As a mother who is probably going to lose her treasure to another, these words seem prophetic to me. Is that funny ? Is there even a comparison between a wild thing and a child ? Giving your heart to another living thing until one day that living thing leaves you and you are left looking at emptiness. If what remained was the blue sky, I would take it. If what remained was memories of good times together, I probably don’t want it. Does that mean one should not love to not be left holding the kite strings, once the kite has broken free ? When did I become a mother like this ? When did I change ?

Where do my rambling thoughts take me ? Mothers are funny creatures. They love and love and love, until surprisingly one day, the love seems to be a chain, a burden, a heavy weighted vest, which has to be cast off.

Airport experiences

I was writing my morning pages today when I thought about an experience I had coming through a major South Indian airport. My husband being an ERCP- ist had ordered radiation protection glasses to be shipped to my Indian address. The glasses arrived duly and were packed among other things in my check in baggage. Emigration and check in went on like clockwork. I was in the airport hoping to have a good shopping experience having saved some spending money during the trip. I was in the Duty Free shop when I heard my name being called the public announcement system. As is usual for me, I thought they were calling someone else until something about the name sounded familiar and it clicked in my brain that they were actually calling me. So I hurried towards the airlines counter, from where a girl accompanied me to the innards of the airport. I say innards because she led me far below the airport in its underground places. I hadn’t known such places existed. It was a long walk. The girl told me I was likely to lose my iPad which I had packed into my check in luggage, not wanting it on the flight.

Soon the girl guided me to the place and left me alone to deal with a security person or police woman there, who stood guarding my open suitcase. Heart beating I approached her. She asked me if I had packed any hard stuff in my suitcase- I couldn’t recall having done so. She said there seemed to be something in my stuff which was in the shape of spectacles. Suddenly it struck me- it was my husband’s radiation glasses that were causing the issue. It was not seen properly on the security cameras as it was made of lead. I explained why I carried it and she let me go. Since we had gotten pally by then, I told her I was worried she was going to throw my iPad away as it had to necessarily come through the check in luggage. Reassured by her, I walked the long journey back to the upper echelons of the airport. Needless to mention, I lost my appetite for shopping by then.

On my recent trip to California, in the US domestic flight security check ins, I was separated out to be pat checked. It happened on two domestic flights and I wondered what the camera could not see in my innards that needed me to be patted fondly by hand. It seemed there looked like something was hidden in my groin. Every time I was given the green chit. Perhaps they thought I was smuggling drugs or currency or even a small weapon- who knows ?

I really appreciate airport officials for doing their jobs thoroughly though for the time involved, I did go through some moments of anxiety. Have you had any airport security experiences ?

Hard work does break bones

Some children( read that adolescents) take on too much. My younger daughter, recently admitted to med school seems to be on a job spree. She wants to do everything. She tells me,” I don’t want to feel later that I have missed out something”. When she was just a year old, I remember her pottering around our house just looking for “naughtiness”. Its the same now- 18 years later. She used to avoid going to bed to not miss out on anything going on at home and would only sleep if her body absolutely refused to keep up. Somethings never change, it seems.

 In college, she auditioned for a dance and she was selected for the main event. She did well and a lot of people praised her dance moves. ( she is not a trained dancer but has always loved dancing, so she used to learn dance looking at the youtube). Ever since she has been selected for every dance in the college. The dance practices go on till late at night, so much  that she has no time to read her books. She is tired most of the time. Today she is in a dance that accompanies a carol- what child is this ? It seems carols have to have dances accompanying them in their college.

And then she is house captain for the Cochrane house. The job of the house captain is to gather people to come watch the various matches and even substitute as a player should there be a deficit in the number of players. This takes up a lot of her evening time. She tells me she has no time to do her laundry.

Finally, two days back all the stress got to her and she broke down while sitting on the sides cheering her Cochrane team during a volleyball match. The seniors sent her to to her room and advised her not to show up at the field for any match as she was doing too much. She got a good night’s rest that day. 

Where she studies is my alma mater too and I knew how things work there but children being what they are never listen to their mother’s-that is the rule of nature. So I kept quiet and let her learn to prioritise her duties and work on her own. Seems like she is learning a hard lesson.

 

Artist Date -first week of December

Per Julia Cameron’s book ” Its never too late to begin again”, I started writing the morning pages 6 days ago. The second item recommended by her in the process of knowing oneself is to have an artistic date with oneself. Take off on something that brings out the child inside a person. Its easy to wish an artist date and think about things I did as a child but have not been doing for a long time now.

Smiling, feeling free, no burdens or very few, jumping for joy when a happy something happened( I find it very difficult to jump now with my creaking knees) and so many more things. 

Feeling overwhelmed with the artist date, I decide to google it and look for ideas and there are so many sites that give out ideas- most of them doable. 

Started the clock at 12:15 pm yesterday and decided to stop at 1:15 pm- one hour. I took off to my office garden where  I keep a few plants on the balcony of the third floor which is the only outdoor space on the floor. Cut off a few withered rose flowers, trimmed some plants and cleaned up some flower pots. This is a date without social media or a phone- so I went without any electronic media to document my date. Fifteen minutes later,  I was done. 

What would I do for the other 45 minutes  ? I thought of the stacks of yarn sitting under my office desk and decided to start a crochet project. I have not been able to crochet for more than a year now- I can’t think of starting a project with an unhappy frame of mind. So I took up the book which I got a couple of years back – All American crochet Afghans- edited by Laura Scott and started off on a beginner project- by the time two rows were done, my 45 minutes had passed and without a care in my mind.

This artist date stuff seems to work. 

Feeling anti social ?

Our office won the best research office award- again- 6 times in 7 years. It is a record. The sponsors don’t know what to do with our office. The standards we set are too high.:)

As a sort of Thanksgiving for the office, we are set to go to lunch to a Mall about 20 kms away. Many of us don’t want to go- the long drive, the purposelessness of the venture, the lack of communication and true team spirit all boggles us down. Despite contrary opinions, most opted to go, to avoid confrontation with supervisors. I am too far gone to even care. 

I brought my lunch from home and decided to sit put at my desk till I go home. This is who I am- this is who I have become. There is no pleasure in social gatherings any more. And the sheer guts  I have in defying standards is surprising. There comes a time in everyone’s life when one cannot take things lying down and do things others expect them to do for society’s sake. 

I don’t care what people think any more. 

My inner censor

I am reading ” It’s never too late to begin again” by Julia Cameron recommended by a blogger whose writing I love so much- Molly Stevens.

I have had at least 3 blog posts started but not completed. I have carted all my yarn to my office, so I can keep my fingers busy and not stress over what might have been ( readers will know what I mean). In many unknown ways, my not going to do my Master’s has affected me- the first being my weight gain of over 10 kilos( 22 pounds) and my don’t care less attitude. There have been other stresses all of my own creation and nothing seems to count any more. I don’t have that positive attitude I used to have before that said I can do anything. Everything I try an inner censor comes and says – Oh, what’s the point ?”

Julia says that during work, there have always been colleagues who were critical of our work but as we near retirement, there is another stronger critic, our inner censor. In the chapter two, she says, when we say

” I’d love to design clothes” 

Censor says ” You can’t -you are too old to learn fashion design.

“I’d really love to design clothes”

Censor ” You are not fashionable. 

I’d really like to try, says you. 

Censor : ” What a terrible waste of money”.

” I can afford it”

Censor : You really are a fool

From Julia Cameron’s ” Its never too late to begin again”.

I have an inner censor too. The conversations in my head go on like this :

“I really want to study further, become somebody, make a few publications, become famous. I want to be able to go to my college reunions or school reunions as “somebody”.

Censor : You can’t do it. See what happened last time- you tried to get the visa and the visa woman rejected you. You had all the documents, the money everything in place, but she rejected you. You can’t do anything right. 

” I think I should try again. After all, they are holding my admission for me. Or I should apply to Harvard this time. If someone wants something strongly, the whole universe conspires to give him that said somebody famous. So I should try again.

Censor: No point trying. Even God is not in support of this venture. Your husband will be alone when you go.

” I’ll try to go for the summer course and come back after the summer”.

Censor: Even that won’t work. Just watch how you bungle even such a small thing up.

This weekend, I picked this book up again. I didn’t complete the first reading, though the book has been with me for ages, ever since the library bought it for me. Even reading a book has become a chore these days. If you ask me, am I depressed? Not outright but inside there is a deep, gnawing hurt that doesn’t seem to be going away. I pretend everything is ok and the tears don’t fall anymore but it is there.

Julia tells us to “shrink one’s censor”- describe it, how old is it, what does it look like, what are some of its favorite remarks, or even sketch it. Julia recommends that we name our Censor and this way, we can have conversations with a real named person and make a joke of it, if you will. 

I like this strategy. Over the weekend, an old senior plagued my dreams- her stinker and the way she bullied people around our hostel as Hygiene Secretary came back to me. I decided to name my censor ” Banani” and it is an apt name for my censor is not one- there seems to be a multitude of them, a veritable forest. “Banani” means forests. 

From the book :

“If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced”. -VINCENT VAN GOGH

What are things I cannot do ?or says Banani?

Banani says : 

” You cannot crochet again. Your left thenar area hurts so much.

” You cannot lose weight. You cannot control your appetite, even gluttony.”

” You daughters will not get married.”

” You will never return to your home country”.


Can it be ?

I was out of town for a week. While my husband attended his conference, I roamed Philadelphia on foot. Where I live, I miss the use of my two God given legs especially during the summer. I cannot bring myself to hoist myself from my chair and walk a few steps on most days. There are some days when I walk less than 500 steps a day( don’t be shocked- its true).

So I grabbed my chance when a whirlwind decision of my husband to take me along for the conference appeared. Now I could walk at least for a couple of days and the sights to see would be an additional bonus.

So armed with my two New Balance shoes I set out- on foot. Almost every day I walked- can’t say how many steps but it seemed like a lot. My legs screamed with pain and my feel swelled. But I kept on after a few minutes of rest. The jet lag didn’t affect us too much. We stayed at the Best Western hotel as the hotels near the Convention Center were all filled up( due to our very last minute decision). This was the best decision we made, it turns out. The rooms were clean, the towels folded perfect, the beds made daily, bathrooms spotless, all toiletries provided( I had forgotten toothpaste and they had it). To top it all the breakfast buffet was filling, keeping us full for almost the entire day and energizing me for my long walks.

I was back yesterday and the scale showed- drum roll- I had lost 4 kilos- 8.8 pounds- can it be ? I am not sure yet but that’s what the numbers are.