Friday, July 3, 2015

Day 56 in Delhi: Up for the challenge

3 July 2015:  No more NaPoWriMo, so what do I do with myself!  Don't worry though, I'll keep blogging.  Today was an emotional challenge for me in terms of the isolation I feel while here.  It's officially the longest I've been away from home (well will be in 4 days, but close enough), and I'm starting to feel like it's time to go home but still have a month left.  I can't let homesickness take over.  I have to stay strong.  I miss everyone back home like hell, but I want to make the most of the month I have left to enjoy Delhi and really be present here.  I've been working on myself a lot--doing yoga, meditating, reading, knitting, improving my hobbies, and learning how to enjoy my own company again.  It's been quite a challenge, but like my good friend Jessie said, I love a good challenge.  Now it's time for me to rise up to it.

I think I'm just ready for the weekend.  Tomorrow is America's birthday so I have a meeting for work in the afternoon, but if it ends on time, I'll likely be going to the U.S. Embassy to celebrate that.  I'm interested to see what that's like so I'll be sure to take pictures if I go.  Then Sunday I'm going to an International Mango Festival, and since mangoes are my favorite fruit, I'm hella psyched about that.  Pictures again will definitely come.  There are a million kinds of mangoes here we don't get in the U.S., and I think if I've found a religion in my time here, it's mangoes.  Haha.

Today was an average day at work aside from getting locked in the building and requiring a coworker wedge the lock open, which felt like the beginning of a horror movie but was over in minutes with no horror to ensue.  I had a decent amount of work to do, and staying busy is always a good thing.  Plus, it makes me feel important, which I often do not so that was nice.  I might even go to a show tonight if I can figure out how to get there!  We shall see.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Day 55 in Delhi: Happy Birthday Sister!

2 July 2015:  Happy birthday to my beautiful, wonderful sister whom I miss so so so much!  I hope you're celebrating in style :)

Today was an average day except for the fact that my internet wasn't working all day so I didn't get to post this until a day late.  I don't have much else to say besides that so onto poetry.

Today is the last day of NaPoWriMo!  Sad, but maybe I'll still keep doing something for the sake of this blog and my sanity.  Anyway, the prompt for day 30 was to write a poem backwards or flip a poem already written on its head so in the spirit of the ouroboros, I took the first poem I wrote for NaPoWriMo and flipped it upside down.

Comfort, Part II

Have you become me yet?  Have you learned to embody my essence in your lonely room without the company of another soul?

I saw you looking for me in television shows and books, but I told you I wouldn’t be there.  I even saw you try a movie once.  That ended in a disaster because you and I both know you don’t like movies.  They just make you emotional, and you don’t need any help unlocking those emotions. 

You never tried to define me, so that’s a start. 

You could no longer depend on the voice on the other end of the ocean, but you found your own voice in the leftover abyss.  I know you suffer from phantom cat syndrome and think you see a little fur ball scuffling across the floor when you awake, but I don’t see you reach for her anymore.  You didn’t even buy that singing bowl I saw you eyeing at the Tibetan market.

I smell the incense you burn, but you choose the scent blindly and your disinterest impresses me. 

I saw that chocolate phase through which you went too, but don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone.  And whiskey might go well with ginger tea, but you certainly found me before you made that discovery.  You never even ordered that Domino’s pizza for a taste of greasy home. 

Your eyes do not scan your surroundings for me but instead remain closed as you chant into a place of stillness. 

You sleep without anyone's arms around you, and you've even stopped pulling that pillow close behind you to mimic warmth.  You sleep with one pillow and one blanket and take cold showers, and none of that seems to bother you anymore.  You even rearranged your living space to make room for the peace you’ve found.

Color me impressed; I think you figured it out.



Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Day 54 in Delhi: "Us" and "them"

1 July 2015:  Happy July!  Today at work I thought a lot about the differences between India and the U.S.  I sat at lunch and listened to how "they" take things for granted and realized that I was the "they" about whom they were talking.  I'm not saying there wasn't truth in the statements.  I'm just saying it was an odd feeling, but maybe that's why I travel.  I get tired of being "us" and want to learn what it's like to be "them."  What a privileged way of thinking, though.  But how else can I think?  I am white.  I am American.  The only minority I can claim is being a woman, and as a white, American woman, does that even really count?  I guess this is what white guilt looks like.

Other than that, it was a nice day at work.  Then I had my last day of my online class!  Just one more lecture tomorrow, a few more assignments, and then it's exam time.  Yikes.  But then I get a month off, and I'm definitely looking forward to that.

The prompt for day 29 of NaPoWriMo was to write a review, so I wrote a review of my own writing based on the reviews I got during my master's program.


Self-Review

Pick a style and stick with it.  You have no continuity, and you are guaranteed to lose your reader.  Do you even write for a reader?  Do you know your audience at all?  You write as if you have no audience, and because of that, you will never have one.  I don’t care if your favorite color is purple, it has no place in prose.  If you want to write about pretty images, write a poem, but if you’re going to write a poem, get some discipline.  Learn verse.  Learn meter.  You don’t have to rhyme, but you do have to make sense.  Your prolixity will be your demise.  With every excess adverb and adjective, imagine one reader putting down your writing.  If that’s the case, you will have no readers left after the first few sentences of your writing.  Tell me a story; don’t just paint me a picture.  I don’t care how well you can describe a flower or a feeling or a nightmare you had last night.  Give me plot.  Diction and syntax are lost without a storyline.  Keep me interested, or don’t waste my time.  Your thoughts do not intrigue anyone but yourself.  You paint your narcissism, you smear your solipsism, you rub your ego across the page for no one to ever read but yourself.  Get over yourself, and tell a damn story.  Nobody cares how you feel when they sit down to read a story, so give them a story or give up.


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Day 53 in Delhi: FOMO

30 June 2015:  Today I'm in a particularly good mood.  Did yoga and stretched this morning and then did some homework.  Reconnected with a good friend who had a nasty wreck, and I'm so thankful she's alright.  Things like that always put the world in perspective.  Work wasn't bad either, and I took yet another different route home from work.  I didn't find anything exciting, but the newness of the route definitely takes away the monotony and makes it feel a lot shorter whether it really is or not.  I still have a bit of homework to do but not too much, so that's not bad either.  Plus, Shop Jeen is having a 90% off sale, so I bought myself a couple cute things to await me for when I return home to the states in a little over a month.  I can't believe I have just over a month left here.  I'm excited about going home, but I'm also anxious about not making enough of my time left I have here.  I guess it's FOMO all around (fear of missing out).  Best not to think of it that way and just live in the here and now like I've been trying to do all this time anyway.  

The prompt for day 28 of NaPoWriMo was to write a poem about a bridge, so here's mine:

Burnt Islands

I dream of burning bridges a lot—of running across an imaginary wooden bridge swinging over a chasm of jagged rocks between the island of me and the island of you, with an open can of gasoline tipped over my shoulder and a box of matches in my pocket.  When I get to the other side of you, I light the match and throw it, and our incendiary memories glow in the dark pupils of my eyes.  I dream of forgetting.

But truthfully, the light of the fire burns holes in my retinas I can never repair, and after all the bridges I’ve burned, my vision has become nothing but black spots with specs of light shining through like when you stand up too fast and see stars in the corner of your eyes.  And much like real stars, everything I see has already died long ago, and I hate it on this island full of nothing but the company of myself and a bunch of former balls of gas.  So I’ll chop down all the trees on my island and build new bridges between me and everyone I tried to forget, but they won’t be standing on the other side of those bridges anymore because that was the point, wasn’t it?  They’ll be long gone, and I’ll be left with no oxygen to breathe and too many places to sit on an island of stumps.

But John Donne was right—no man is an island.  Maybe I’ll build a bridge to him and beg him to show me which piece of the continent we call the human race makes up me so I can finally see where I belong in this mess.  No.  That won’t work.  He’s dead just like the stars.


Maybe I’ll build a boat, and I’ll sail the seas between everyone else’s islands until I find a friendly face who will let me ashore and I’ll tell them all my tales of deception and abandon and I’ll kneel at their feet and beg for their forgiveness for the sake of everyone I’ve hurt.  Maybe they’ll forgive me, and I’ll find a new god to worship.  Or maybe I’ll just find a friend.


Monday, June 29, 2015

Day 52 in Delhi: Shaking things up

29 June 2015:  Happy Monday!  Work was average, but that's a good thing---not too much work, not too little--a "Three Little Bears" kind of work day.  I even took a different route home from work today, mailed my last postcard, and discovered a house about which my friend told me that has an amazing mural of tribal art (I ignorantly don't know what it's called) painted across the top of the house!  It's amazing the things you find when you walk down a different street or go a different route.  Now that I'm not afraid of getting lost, I think I'm going to try to take a different route home from work everyday and see what I can find.

Now it's time to do some homework, but I am in a much better mood than I have been in the last couple days, so I'm not too stressed about school.  Plus, this is my last week before exams so hooray for almost being finished with summer classes!  I just hope I do well on exams, obviously.

The prompt for day 27 of NaPoWriMo was to write a made-up form of a poem (called a hay(na)ku), which consists of three lines--one word on the first line, two on the second, and three on the third.  I wrote a string of haynakus combined with a sort of acrostic where the first letter of each stanza spells the title.

THE WEDDING

Tragedy—
the self-loathers
fall in love.

Hate
mirrors love—
a two-sided coin.

Enigmatic,
bittersweet pain
hurts so good.

Wilting,
no flower
does ever last.

Earth
cannot hold
their special love.

Disaster
cannot wait.
Lose your heart.

Dionysus
reigns tonight.
Raise your glass!

Illicit
and dangerous—
our little secret.

Nihilists,
backs turned,
chug expensive champagne.

Grotesque,
the carnival.
Wear your mask.

Also, here's a poem a really good friend sent me that reminded her of my last post, which I really enjoyed by Emily Dickinson and wanted to share:

Part Four:  Time and Eternity

VII

EXULTATION is the going
Of an inland soul to sea,--
Past the houses, past the headlands,
Into deep eternity!

Bred as we, among the mountains,
Can the sailor understand
The divine intoxication
Of the first league out from land?

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Day 51 in Delhi: Losing sight of the shore

28 June 2015:  It's almost been two months since I arrived in Delhi, and it already feels like home.  I miss my other home a lot, that's for sure, but one of my friend's quotes for the day (yesterday, I think) was, "One doesn't discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time," by Andre Gide.  I don't think I realized I was consenting to lose sight of the shore when I left.  I think I thought I could hold onto a glimpse of it like a speck in the corner of my eye, but now that I'm over halfway through my journey, I'm finally realizing I haven't seen the shore in a really long time, and I'm becoming okay with that.  In fact, I'm finding a new shore, and as much as I can't wait to return to the old one, I'm really enjoying exploring this new one.  It just took a lot of letting go of the old to learn how to enjoy the new.  When I was in Bir at the Buddhist monastery, there was a quote that went something like, "Change is hard--we struggle to hold on, and we struggle to let go."  I think these past 2 months have been a struggle to do both, but I'm finally learning to stop struggling.  I'm not holding on, and I'm not letting go.  It's the inaction of the Tao.  I'm not struggling because life doesn't have to be a struggle.  I'm getting my priorities in line, and I'm consenting to lose sight of the shore, at least for another month, until I see it again.

I'm feeling a bit better today but still not 100%.  I've taken it slow and easy all day and just watched movies and knit.  I went to the market and might try to cook some Indian food tonight.  I'll let you know how that goes.  I'm writing this post a bit early in the day because I don't have much else to do and thought some poetry and rambling would productively fill some time.

The prompt for day 26 of NaPoWriMo was to write a persona poem, or a poem in the voice of someone else.  I chose my favorite fictional character:  Sarah Woodruff, from The French Lieutenant's Woman, someone who also struggled to let go and struggled to hold on as the man she loved lost sight of the shore forever.

The Jilted Whore Left on Shore


He said he’d come back for me.  He told me to wait.  But years have passed without the shore showing any glimpse of him or his ship, and I think I must accept that he might not return.  I gave him my heart, among other things.  Do you know what people call me now?  They call me his whore—“the French Lieutenant’s Whore.”  “Woman” just stupidly euphemizes the reality of who I am.  I am a whore.  Who will love me now that I’ve given myself to a man who will never return to love me back.  Charles?  That silly, existentialist man who doesn’t know in what to believe or how to love?  Who wants to leave his fiancĂ© for the idea of a broken women he might be able to fix?  But the pieces of me floated out into the ocean during all those years I spent staring into the sea on the wharf.  I am nothing but the black cloak I wrap around my empty soul now.  And he is not coming back to me.  He made me his whore and then left me to die alone.  But I did not die.  I still want love.  I still want passion.  I want what Charles has to offer if he weren’t so dim-witted and confused about what he wants.  And I don’t want to break Tina’s heart, but I think Charles has already done that on his own.  So what to do now…except alienate another man’s affections until he makes his fiancĂ© into just what I am—a jilted whore.  But maybe that’s the destiny of all women, and we must accept our fate and learn to love in spite of it.  After all, who loves without knowing that loss will inevitably follow?


Saturday, June 27, 2015

Day 50 in Delhi: My, what confusing consonants you have

27 June 2015:  Today I slept in for the first time in a while.  Then I relaxed around the house and rearranged the furniture in my room.  It's funny how therapeutic it feels to rearrange a space.  I feel like a new person.  Then my friend came over and taught me some Hindi, and I learned that I can't pronounce about 50% of the consonants in the Hindi language.  They all sound exactly the same to me, and If I can't hear the difference, I certainly can't enunciate it.  That got me frustrated because I don't like being bad at things I really want to learn, but that's a part of life.  Hindi is hard for me, and I have to accept that and remember I'm doing the best I can.

After lessons, I relaxed and knit for a while until I went to Jahanpanah Forest with my friend.  Jahanpanah, which I learned means something like "your majesty," was a beautiful forest, and I've attached some pics below.  I really enjoyed the walk we took though the forest, but on the way back to my friend's place, I started to feel like like my chest was attempting to give birth to an alien baby, and my friend let me rest in her room until I felt well enough to take an auto home.  I am finally home now and haven't the energy to write any more because although I feel better, I still feel like maybe the placenta or something is left to come out.  I'll just attach the poem I wrote earlier and call it a night.

The prompt for day 25 of NaPoWriMo was to write a Clerihew, or a rhymed, humorous quatrain involving a specific person's name.  I chose Virginia Woolf, and my poem is probably in very poor taste, as is the rest of everything I write and say.

Little Red Writing Hood

If little red riding hood stumbled upon this particular Woolf
"My, what a big room you have," would be nothing but a quip,
but just before Virginia, by the river, were engulfed,
"The better to write you with, my dear," would bubble from her lips.