Sunday, August 23, 2015

Anxiety pays no heed to time or reason

One week of school has passed, and I'm already starting to panic about what I'm going to do when I graduate next year.  I just feel so unaccomplished at this age of my life, and I feel like I should no longer be still doubting the fact that I can get an adult job and prove to the world that I finally actually am an adult instead of just a perpetual student, locked in a refusal to leave academia in my past.  But academia doesn't pay my bills, and when I graduate, I will have to find a real job.  Dreaming about working at the ACLU just seems silly, but maybe it's not bad to dream?  I think I'm just so afraid to dream, even when it comes to my legal career, because I spent so much of my life naively believing in my ability to survive as an artist, and I don't want to give up yet another dream.  I don't want to disappoint myself again.  I don't want to disappoint anyone else either, but my standards have always been the highest.  I fear failure so much I walk right into it because I was staring at it instead of the goal for which I should've been aiming.  I cannot let my fear of failure bring me down this time.  I have to make it.  Make it or break it; right?  I don't know.  I just wish my path were a little smoother because I don't have anything with which to clear the brush, and I am tired of falling into bushes of thorns.  I hope I've finally acquired the proper tools to clear some land and build a figurative house.

Here's some prose poetry I wrote based on a dream I had a little while back--

I sit at the bail hearing in my subconscious and stare into the space before them.  He sits next to me in ghost form, and only I can see him.  He is laughing, and his wound has healed without a sign of damage.  He shows me how he doesn't hurt, and we laugh together like Medusa finally free from the real monsters, and I realize I was never really a pillar of salt, frozen in the past.  When I die and they cut me open, they will find his name engraved upon my heart, but I haven't died yet and still have heart left to give yet, and no one ever said those we keep in our hearts have to be like jealous gods.  There can be more than one.  There has to be more than one, because my heart has been doing yoga, and all these sun salutations have to be good for something.  My heart is limber and open and making space for everyone.  If I love the feeling of loving so much, I might as well indulge because no dragon will ever compare to that first hit of love, and addicts need fixes while people need love.  I can kill two birds with one stone, although I never really liked that metaphor.  Why compare innocent, convenient brevity with such violence?  When did I get this shotgun?  And why would I ever shoot birds?  I'm a vegetarian; that makes no sense.

So I'll unlock two cars with one key and take you for a ride on the highways of my subconscious so you can see the vacillations I experience on a daily basis, when I struggle to keep it together, between who I was and who I am, what I miss and what I want, where I've been and where I'm going.  You can see the flashes of my past that invade my present and threaten my future with tears and internal screams.  You can see the determination in my depths--to do more than merely survive--that crawls out through my eyes when I think I might cry about him, about us, about then; what a fuss.  But fussing gets tiring, and no one wants to hear it.

So then, you can see me pull up my proverbial big girl panties and deal with the hand life has dealt me this round with ease and calm and a flare of the comic because if we don't laugh, we cry, and laughter offers a far more socially palatable release.  So I will laugh all the way to hell, if that is where I'm destined, but I will not go quietly.  I will tug and pull on my way down at every imperfection in myself and in my society until we've gained enough momentum to evolve like the smart species we are, and at least now I know for sure nothing can stop me.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Electric Culture Shock Therapy

Yesterday was my first day of my last day of school for what might likely be the rest of my life, which means a lot to me considering I've been in school for over two decades.  But I think I've finally reached my schooling limit and after this year can no longer get away with escaping the inevitable haze of joining the drone workforce by running into the judgmental, cutthroat arms of the refreshingly challenging academia.  But at least I have this year to savor between my tongue and my teeth before the institution of education spits me out into the gutters of minimum wage and "overqualified."

I have gotten two questions a lot since being back that are perfectly normal questions but I don't know how to answer--How was India? and How does it feel to be back?  To answer the first question in anything but an hour long presentation complete with a slide show, some Bollywood clips, and my tears feels like a dishonesty to the experience, but nobody has the time even if I had the energy.  So instead, I just say "Amazing" with a sigh and stare into the distance, getting trapped in memories of turmeric staining my fingernails as I eat with my hands or chai tea burning my tongue as I try to chug it as quickly as the Indians do or that cab rushing up the side of the mountain as I photographed the horizon to avoid looking down at the steep cliff below.  How was India?  I'll never be the same.  How was India?  Exactly and nothing like what you'd expect.  How was India?  I buried pieces of my heart under a tree in a forest behind my apartment there, and now my soul stretches across oceans in search of home.  How was India?  Amazing.

How does it feel to be back?  Weird.  The closest comparison I can contrive would be like returning to "the matrix" but if the outside world were full of beautiful silks and spices, and the matrix with manicured lawns and shiny, happy people holding hands to keep from stabbing each other in the back.  In Delhi, people embrace the imperfections of life, but in America, we slap some Minecraft squares of fake grass on top of them like an old bandage.  But the blood of our capitalistic wound is seeping through the cloth and onto the tips of the sharp, green blades, and soon everyone will know that even though this house may look like a home, it's more like one of those model homes in the suburbs where all the fruit in the baskets is plastic and all of the furniture is hollow.  Empty houses full of empty people having empty conversations with their ghosts.  Delhi was alive.  In contrast, America feels dead.  Maybe I need to move to New York or something now, but I don't think even that concrete jungle would feed me the way the Indian energy did.  I don't know where I'll go after I graduate, but I just don't want to waste away inside this matrix.

Anyway, here's a little verse of purple prose I wrote:

Weave your fingers between mine, and brush your thumb across the pressure point between my thumb and my index finger.  Press the palm of your hand against my jaw, and kiss my cheek first before your lips crawl down my face to meet mine.  Rest your arm touching my thigh ever so slightly when we sit next to one another, and leave it there long enough to make clear your intentions.  Give me room to fall, and hold my hand as I pick myself up.  Do these things, and I will love you forever so make sure you know what you’re doing.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

I'm not sure what to do with this now

I've been back home from Delhi for a few days now, and I miss blogging but am not quite sure what the purpose of this blog should be anymore so I'll just talk about what it's been like coming back to the States.  Short answer--it's been weirdly normal.  Long answer--

I went to Target the morning after I got back and just went to Publix and CVS this morning, and all I did was wander through the stores, wide-eyed and conflicted.  As I stood in the aisle of Publix, staring at shelves upon shelves of too many choices of bread, flashbacks of the Delhi market kept popping into my mind, and I cannot even begin to describe the contrast.  On the one hand, there weren't any flies buzzing around the snacks as I tried to listen to my appetite, but on the other hand, I have no idea where my eggs came from or what kind of shit they were fed.  I got in a heated debate with my psychiatrist yesterday about cultural relativity versus universality in human rights.  Capitalism has become a slightly more foreign concept, and I keep expecting everyone to share everything.  But yet, there I was in CVS, buying lipstick and nail polish and marveling at America, the land of consumer choices, or driving to the store when I could've ridden my bike or possibly even walked.  The heat feels like nothing, and I even had to buy a cardigan the other day because I was so cold in my dress.  The traffic makes too much sense, and the buildings are too clean.  I dyed the tips of my hair neon yellow, and I've been wearing shorts every chance I get.  I missed walking into a bar and knowing many of the people there, and I am bathing in the warmth of all the familiar faces.

Yet, at the same time, small towns make it hard to interpret whether the eyes on me warmly welcome me or watch and wait for me to make the same mistakes, slip into the same old self-destructive patterns, be the same, masochistic me they knew three months ago.  Eyes literally followed me down the street in India, and I'm beginning to think, metaphorically, there actually isn't much difference between that and living in a small town.  Delhi gave me the space and the freedom to be me, which is ironic considering how crowded it is, but here, I think I'm going to have to fight for that space and that freedom.  Maybe my experience was unique, but for me, Delhi lacked something only the charm of a small town can carry with it--judgment.  And as much as I have grown in many ways, dealing with judgment is not one of them because I grew unaccustomed to it in Delhi.  I guess it's time to truly internalize my favorite thing about India, the land where zero fucks are given.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Day 94 in Delhi: See you later, Delhi

10 August 2015:  I can't believe today was my last day in Delhi.  I'm waiting to leave for the airport in a bit now just reminiscing on all the amazing times I had and people I met here.  I could not be more thankful for these past three months, which have taught me more about my self-worth, independence, creativity, passion, and strength than anything has in a long time.  I came here still struggling, unbeknownst to me, with death and loss and heartbreak, which I finally had the opportunity to fully experience on my own, alone, in a foreign place, where I couldn't help but face all my fears and anxieties.  If I thought I was strong before I got to India, I know I am now.  I have overcome an immense amount of grief and sadness throughout my time here, and I have rekindled my creativity and imagination.  I don't know if it was Delhi, or the people I met here, or just the timing in my life, or all three, but I have found a home inside myself here, I have found my own sense of comfort and belonging, and I have really grown into more of myself during my time here.  I'm so thankful to all the amazing friends I have made here, you all know who you are, and I wish I could put you all in my pocket and take you all home with me, but you're much bigger than my pocket is so instead, I'll carry you in my heart, which has managed to stretch across oceans and continents in the past three months.

I just looked back at day 1 of my blog, and I cannot believe how much has happened since that day.  I have made lifetime connections, I have learned how to use my shower properly, my AC has not caught on fire at all since that first day, and finding the market as well as my office became the least of my directional worries.  What an odd feeling it is to look back on myself not that long ago and feel like a totally different person.  I am so grateful for this experience, and I still cannot believe it is ending.

But also I cannot wait to see my family and friends (and cat, duh) back home, and bittersweet does not even begin to describe the emotion I am currently having.  I have fallen in love with Delhi, and I have fallen in love with myself.  I have fallen in love with the people I have met too, and I will always think of this place fondly and hopefully return very soon.  And because no goodbye ever suffices, and I dislike the finality of goodbye so much anyway, I will see you later, Delhi, and all the lovely people in this amazing city and country.  I love you all so much.

P.S. Because everything comes full circle, just like the new ouroboros I have on my shoulder, as I'm writing this, my AC just sparked and caught on fire again.  But don't worry; all is well.  :)

Day 93 in Delhi: Married to India

9 August 2015:  Today I slept in super late and then went to my friend's house to prepare for my wedding.  Then we had a wedding ceremony in Jahanpanah Forest, and it was beautiful.  There are a couple of reasons I had this wedding--1. I never got to see an Indian wedding while I was here so my friends said they'd throw me one; 2. I'm "manglik" in Hindu astrology, which basically means bad things will happen to my husband unless I first marry a tree or a dog, and a tree was obviously a better choice; and 3. If I'm married to India, I'll be sure to come back!  So yes, some of it was playing into superstition, but some of it was just for fun and some was more of a ceremonial ritual for myself to give thanks to India for providing me with such an amazing experience and possibly plant a seed that will grow into my return in the future.

After the ceremony, we had delicious South Indian food and a goodbye party at my friend's house.  I felt so loved, and it was so nice to be around such amazing people.  I have made such valuable, wonderful, genuine friends here for which I am so terribly grateful.  I am very blessed to have had this summer experience.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Day 92 in Delhi: A day of wonder

8 August 2015:  It's actually 2:30 am on the 9th, and I just got home from touring Agra and seeing the Taj Mahal, among other places, including Agra Fort and Krishna's birthplace.  So it's late, and I'm exhausted and don't have the energy for a long blog post today.  I had an amazing day touring Agra, though, and have included some pictures below.  I think the weirdest part of the day was having so many people ask to take their picture with me.  Being white in India is kind of like knowing what it's like to be famous, but I did nothing to deserve it and it's really uncomfortable.  Also, I was really proud of myself when the guy at the toilets asked me for 10 rupees and everyone else for "paanch" rupees, so I gave him five because I know 1-10 in Hindi.  He looked at me and almost asked for more, and I said "paanch," and he just smiled and waved me into the bathroom.  That was a fun moment.  Anyway, I'm off to bed.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Day 91 in Delhi: So close, but so far

7 August 2015:  Today I went to Old Delhi with my friend and a friend of hers, and we also went to Red Fort, but everything was closed off in preparation for Independence Day on 15 August.  Unfortunately, I'll be gone, so I won't get to see that celebration.  I cannot believe I'm leaving in 3 days.  It's breaking my heart to think about, and I still need to pack.  After Old Delhi, we did a little shopping in Connaught Place, and then I met another friend at a feminist bookstore called Zubban (spelling?) and got some books I'm super excited to read.  That friend and I had coffee over conversation about love and life and loss and detachment versus attachment.  I've learned so much from this friend, and I'm so thankful for her.  The friends I've made here are lifetime friends, and I really do hope I get to return to them someday.  After the bookstore, I met my previous friends for drinks, and now I'm home, getting ready for bed because tomorrow I got to Agra to see the Taj Mahal!  No time for prose poetry or any sort of long post, but here are some pictures of the fort I saw today.  Now it's time to go pack and sleep in preparation for a long day tomorrow!