Monthly Archives: December 2018

Sentimental

I am not a particularly sentimental person. I do cry at movies and books but in real life I am often called stuff like “ice maiden”, “unromantic”, “too practical”, “unfun” and “scary”. But we all have our weak spot, mine is my kid. As she grows older I get more sentimental about her than before.

She turns another teen year tomorrow. My heart feels like jelly and I want to freeze this moment in time for eternity!

sigh!

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Where do I begin?

I have a long list of resolutions that crowd my head.  I don’t even know where to begin, and I have a sneaky suspicion that none of them may fruitify.  Still…no harm laying it out bare, someone may hold me accountable.

2018 began with a serious look at self care – both physical and emotional – but somewhere along the line, self took a back seat.  The effect has been that by the end of the year, I am not only unhealthy, but also chronically unhappy.  This should stop.  I have embarked on a journey of self preservation and care.   The following are the areas that need work, and I am documenting them for reference, reminder, help and accountability.

  1. I weighed 55 kgs when I returned to India from the USA, 3 months pregnant. Fifteen years since, I weigh 62 kgs.  To put it in a more serious perspective, I was 120 lbs when 3 months pregnant.  I am 136 lbs 15 years and 7 months hence (the kid was born on NYE).  No, I am not body shaming.  I am just worried that the essential organs, that are actually 15 years older than they were then, are now catering to  16 extra lbs now.  I am not putting numbers out there as my target because that would make me obsessive, but I am certain that at least some of the extra 16 will go.
  2. Two of my relatives, my dad’s brother, and my dad’s cousin have succumbed to serious dementia/Alzheimer’s, this year.   I had already lost another direct uncle to Parkinson’s a few years back.   My brain genes scare me.  I must work towards neural health.  How? I will develop a work plan for it, and put it out here, for reference.
  3. Mindfulness.  Where the heck did that one go? I practiced mindfulness for two full years, and knowing well that it helped me through a difficult phase of my life, how could I let that go?  I will resume.  Now.
  4. Compassion.  Towards myself, first.  I will stop judging myself harshly.
  5. Work.    I will be more diligent about the work I love – the media work and the science writing.  After all, “Karmanye Vadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kadachana”*.  That notwithstanding, I will not edit documents from students any more, because there is a difference between “doing things even though you don’t like it” and “doing things while wanting to gouge your eyes out”.
  6. I will ask for help when I need help.  There is a difference between being proud and being stupid.
  7. I will do one kind act every day.  I will not record it here.

 

Yes, we don’t need a new year or any occasion to come up with such lists, only to give them up in a few months.  I am using the new year as an excuse to get my act together.  I hope I follow up on these.

Happy New Year people.

 

 

* Verse from the Bhagavad Gita – “You have the right only to your work, not to its returns”.

Mental Megaserial*

*Megaserial:  Indian word for soap opera. The kind that never ends.

How does it feel to breathe?

The past two weeks, three weeks, three months, six months have been excruciating on the work front.  Not that the following weeks bode any better, but my saving graces are that (a) The next two months will be intensive science writing, which I love until it kills me and (b) I have resolved not to take on any editing work from students any more.  I know that as a language editor, I must not judge the content, but the science lover in me cringes at the kind of communication that pass as being scientific and I am torn between my love of words and love for science.  I had struggled with editing a thesis for a month – it took a long time to even decipher the matter in order to edit the language, which I don’t mind, it’s part of my job alright, but the utter insincerity of the work and dubiousness of the science were the last straws.

**

I met my fav blogger last weekend, she was sweet enough to drop into my city on the way back home from an overseas conference, with the only purpose of meeting me.  We have been blog-friends for a while now, and although we knew each other’s phone numbers, we communicated only by the written word.  Still, when we met, it was as if we’ve been friends since birth.  When I accompanied her to the airport to send her off, my family wondered if they need include me in their dinner plans, because considering how enamoured I had been all day with my “new” friend, they were sure I would call from her city that I decided to accompany her home and would return in a year or so.

Of the many things that resonated between us, was our common hatred of domesticity.  It is comforting that there are real life  women who detest house work like I do, but what impressed me about her was her utter refusal to feel guilty about it, unlike someone you know, who is her own best guide on that trip.  Gumption. That’s her.

**

Talking of domesticity, I read an article recently, titled “Women aren’t nags, we are just fed up” and it was like seeing light.  My family is not bad, they are supportive etc., and yet I have been, of late, having the biggest feeling of resentment towards them.  Whenever I have a melt down with them about the sheer volume of work I am doing, and I have had a lot of those recently – my family is always baffled  – “why are you so mad?  All you have to do is ask us to do something and we would”. And they really would.  If I was bored with cooking, I could always Swiggy the meal – my credit card has been having a lot of those entries lately – and I needn’t do anything I don’t want to, and yet, why was I angry all the time?

“That’s the point,” I said, now in tears, “I don’t want to have to ask.”

That sentence was my answer. Even if I was absolved of a chore, I was never absolved of the responsibility and 16 years of the “emotional labor” as it is called, has taken its toll.

I need to figure out how to offload some of the burden of emotional investment in daily life functioning.  I know the first way is to stop being hard on myself and my guilt complex.  Easy to write.

**

The kid’s first set of pre-board exams gets done today.  Yesterday, she was in tears with exhaustion of preparing for the exams, and couldn’t concentrate on her last exam. I can relate to her feeling.  Much as I loved school, education and exam, I have had a burn out episode too.  My last board exam in 12th was biology, and the last question was to draw the structure of the inner ear and describe its functions, for 3 marks.  I knew the answer to it, and had ample time to write it, but I just could not.  Like Balaam’s donkey, my mind refused to write that answer, being completely burnt out with the months of studying, and no matter how much I tried convincing myself that it would take me a maximum of 3 minutes to answer that question, I just couldn’t.  I turned in the paper without answering that question.  The irony was that I got 197/200 on that paper, the three marks lost on the question that I had simply refused to answer, for no good reason.

I sat with her all day, to help her through her studies, and we laughed like lunatics through most of it.  She has left for her last exam, vowing “I will go, I will see and I will blabber”.

**

Merry Christmas to those that celebrate.

 

Updates

You know how the home stretch is the longest?  I have a mini home-stretch of sorts, December through February are filled with such deadlines, and there is one on 17th, for which I am done 90%, but the last 10%…ugh.

I had taken on a national-scale assignment that I completed last week.  My media work takes a break this month and would resume in January.  I had four thesis to edit, and I completed the last of them today, resolving never to take on any editing work ever again..or at least for the next six months. I like editing work – there’s something satisfying about seeing a document fall into place, but the four thesis I edited were exceptionally bad, the worst I have seen yet.  I don’t mind them being erratic in language quality– it’s my job to clean up language – but all four were written by students with no sincerity or interest – no basic punctuations, no coherence of thoughts, in fact, no understanding of what they have been doing as research.  Perhaps I am being too judgmental, mine is to merely do and not ask questions, but it bothered me considerably .  So, I am going to be more careful about the type of editing work I take up henceforth.  The good thing is that I can afford to do so now, because it seems my name is up there in the academic circles as one of the best editors (a prof I don’t know personally, recently said that he is sending his paper to Nature, but won’t submit until I take a look at it, as long as it may take for me to get to it), and as conceited as I may be about it, it’s about time I valued my worth and not take up insincere work for editing.

I can see a shift in my attitude towards selfishness these days, as can be seen from the above paragraph.  I am seriously beginning to wonder if this whole karma thing is a sham – people who have been callous, insincere and downright useless in their life end up getting everything, so where is the need for altruism, compassion, hard work and all that rot?  But like Carol said in an earlier comment, I would never be able to live with myself without my basic scruples, and I must carry on as best as I see fit, but holding on to my scruples may not, henceforth be at the expense of self-preservation.

Perhaps the above spiritual (?)/moral questions that have plagued me in the recent past had its effect, or they were merely mid-life crisis, I fell ill last week.   When I say I fell ill, I am not quite clear about about what the illness was.  I had continuous dizziness for a week, and constant nausea, but my blood pressure and sugar levels were normal.  Checked my eyesight, but that was normal too, except for some nervous weakness.  My doctor said it was probably perimenopausal vestibular migraine, but it went away once I decided not to think about karma and all that, and just do my duty.  It was most likely psychosomatic.

I attended a writing workshop today. Can writing be taught?

I have been thinking a lot about memories – a sort of meta-memory thing, but the thoughts are not consolidated enough just yet for a post.  Probably soon..

I meet my favourite blogger tomorrow.

How have things been with you ?