Sunday, 24 February 2008

Spinning

Every now and then we all need a break from our routines. A long time ago, in my first or second blog I wrote about routines and slipping into them, and how easy it was. Routines can be suffocating too. What happens, sometimes, is that the routine is so well-entrenched in your mind that you don’t even need to think about why you do something or what brought you to where you are. Everything becomes so automated that you start to forget the real reasons for what you do.

Reading Week or Spring Break or March Break or Feb Break or whatever it is we’ll all finally agree on calling it started on Friday afternoon. It’s the first break from the routine that we’ve had all term, the first chance to stop, breathe, and step back to asses the damage. I’d say the damage is fairly substantial. Maybe it’s the snow, the cold and the darkness, maybe it’s that I’ve been away from home a fairly long time now, maybe it’s that I started on the wrong foot and have been just a step or two behind this whole term. Maybe it’s nothing that can be explained away. The details are inconsequential. Let it suffice to say that the plan is to fix it.

Yesterday was my first Fix It day. I did laundry, cleaned my room, wrote LONG-overdue emails, shopped, did some homework and watched a movie. I also spent most of last week feeling pretty terrible because of a cold I picked up somewhere. A few nights of getting more than 4 hours of sleep did it a lot of good. As of this morning, apart from a stuffy nose, I’m feeling fine. So yesterday was a Fix It day. I feel like I attended to most aspects of my life. Me, my friends and family, my work … I thought it worked out pretty well. It felt like a day not wasted.

Today: more homework, another movie, soak in the sun that pours into my room and feel calm for a change. I realized that it’s not working that is, by nature, stressful. It’s the way in which we try and get our work done that’s stressful. So, now that I have this long and empty week in which to do nothing but be calm, I’m going to be calm while I get lots of work done.

Mt A is so different when mostly everyone is gone. I was saying to someone yesterday that, with everything so still and silent, I can’t decide whether it’s desolate or peaceful. I also said that my perception of it depends largely on the way I’m feeling at any given moment in time. I’m going to go with peaceful for now. I’m enjoying the solitude. Most of the time the world is spinning and churning around us and the only time we get to sort of step off the merry-go-round of chaos and lie still and alone and quiet for a while is in bed. And in the morning we hop right back on and go around and around in dizzying circles until it’s time for bed again.

So here I am: I’ve just stepped off the spinning madness, I stagger a little before I find my feet, and then I walk slowly away to sit and breathe before it all starts going in circles again.

Saturday, 16 February 2008

Wild World

Before I start, I’d like to apologize for my rather terrible posts the last couple of weeks. Things have been insane. I spent the entirety of Saturday and Sunday of both last weekend and the weekend before that in Meal Hall studying for midterms and, as I’m sure you can imagine, I wasn't really in the mood to write anything even half-way decent. Anyway. I apologize. I'm hoping things improve.

It’s a gorgeous Saturday morning. I was up just after 8:00, had a shower, went for breakfast with Nathan and now I’m in my room having quiet morning. It's really sunny out and, because of the the position of my room, I get sun coming in from around 9:00 in the morning right till the evening. It's really nice.

At breakfast this morning we talked about cartoons and kid shows from when we were growing up. A lot of the ones that came up were shows that never got aired in India but I had my own cartoons when I was growing up - and a lot of the same ones as here, too. By the time we left to come home, we were all feeling a little sad and nostalgic. It sucks not to be a kid.

On Thursday evening I was invited to Ron Byrne’s (the Vice Pesident – Student Affarirs) house for a reception. I was planning to just go in jeans and a sweatshirt but then it occurred to me that maybe I ought to put on something a little more decent. So I did that. And then I considered going to town quickly to pick up something to take but I decided I didn't need to. I left so I had enough time to get there just on time. On my way there it occurred to me that, even three or four years ago, when I was at home, it would have taken my mum to nag me into changing and making sure I was there on time and I was a little horrified at how I was all grown up. I did what I had to do without having any one to tell me.

This morning I was talking to Jonathan’s mum online and she was telling me that she could hear her sister trying to get Jonathan’s little cousin, Swati, to do her math homework and how it sounded like a rather fierce battle was about to ensue. It made me think of the calculus homework that I have to do and how, at some point this weekend, I’m going to sit down and do it, no matter how much I don’t want to. Because that’s what I need to do. There’s no one to tell me, no one to threaten me into doing it, no curfews, no nagging … just me, and knowing what I have to do.

I’m going to be 20 in a couple of months. 20 years old. Two whole decades. So really, I have no other choice but to be in control of my actions. And I want that control to a very large extent. I’m even deciding not to go home this summer for the same reason: I’m 20, it’s about time I tried to start taking care of myself, paying for myself, being in control … But on this beautiful Saturday morning I feel like I should be at home watching cartoons and waiting for my mum to nag me about something, instead of here in Canada, being in control of my life.

I miss being a kid. It’s not even the lack of responsibility that I miss because missing lack of responsibility is a completely retrospective feeling – I never appreciated the lack of responsibility then. What I miss is how I knew I was completely taken care of. If I didn’t know how to do a question my teacher had given me, there was someone to show me. If I couldn’t reach something on a shelf, there was someone to get it down for me. If I was a hungry, there was someone who’d make sure I had something to eat. If I was sad, there was someone to make me giggle. No matter what, I knew I was ok and that I’d be taken care of. And now? If things are falling apart I can’t stop, throw my head back and yell, “MUUUUUM!!!!!” and expect someone to come running to set everything right. I have to suck it up, and just deal with it. It’s sad. And awesome, too. Wasn’t it just this kind of independence that all that teenage angst was for? Oh the contradictions! Anyway. This morning I wanted to be a kid. So, in honour of that: here’s a song by Cat Stevens called Wild World. (Terrible video, by the way … you might want to just listen. I looked for a better one for ages and ages but it simply doesn’t exist – at least not for this version of the song.) The song might be about a man who’s lost his lover but to me, listening to my dad play it on the guitar and adoring him with every bit of me, it was always about my dad singing about me leaving home. So here’s to my dad, and home, and independence. Also, here’s six and a half glorious minutes of Tom and Jerry for those Saturday mornings of long ago.

p.s I've edited this since I first posted it on Saturday morning. I realized I'd made a few grammatical errors and the odd typo here and there. Also, the Tom and Jerry cartoon I first posted was called His Mouse Friday (like His Man Friday ... get?) and it was very racist so I changed it.



Saturday, 9 February 2008

Darling, I wish I were your derivative so I could lie tangent to your curves.


Calculus has consumed my life. But that’s entirely my fault because I’ve left my studying for the two days before the midterm and, once again, my procrastination has come full-circle and bitten me in the ass. Here’s another shout out to not learning from our mistakes!

I spent all day (starting at like 11:00) in Meal Hall studying today. It went pretty well though. I’m a little less than half-way through all the material and I seem to have absorbed it all and yea … it’s looking ok. I’m going to do a bit more after writing this and then I’m going to bed. And tomorrow will be a whole, new, wonderful Calculus-filled day. It’s going to be awesome.

I went out last night for the first time in a long time. (A month to the day, in fact.) FYI: the Olive Branch has cheap (but more expensive than last week) cocktails on Friday nights. If you’re looking for a night of mixing alcohol that comes in a rainbow of different colours and potential for hangovers, the Olive Branch is the place for you. I had four drinks in the span of about two and a half hours. It was a good time. And, just so you know, there was absolutely no trace of a hangover this morning. I did have a headache most of the afternoon but I’m going to credit that (probably quite fairly) to the Calculus. Anyway. Given the circumstances (i.e. the absence of Jonathan), it was a really good evening. All the right people, we were a smallish group, we had pleasant conversation, I got just the right buzz … it was good. And no hangover! Woot. I did miss out on Grease and Mary Poppins as the after-party but I guess after a point, I have to start making some sacrifices for Calculus. There’ll be other Friday nights. There’s a party in the Office tonight (I think I’ve mentioned this before but, the Office is the First Floor Lounge that, through the course of the year has somehow been named the Office). I’m not going for that either. More sacrifices. (Yes. I do think they should make me a saint and a martyr for Calculus. I can fairly guarantee that there’s no one who takes more pity on Calculus students than me. I truly feel their pain.)

I complain a lot. I know. It’s terrible, I really shouldn’t. Firstly, almost everything I complain about is something I’ve brought on myself and so, really, should have no right to complain about at all. And secondly, it’s really not as bad as I say it is. I get things done. Maybe I don’t sleep enough as I should but really, do we really need sleep? (I lie. I need sleep. I miss sleep.) And, I have lots of people who are there to keep me sane. Without them I probably would have reason to complain, but I do have them. And they’re all wonderful. (Ashra bursts into song …) “I get by with a little help from my friends …” No. Seriously.

Sigh. Anyway. Enough of that. I think I have a few more hours of Calc in me tonight. And then bed. Until next week …

(Here’s a picture from last night.)

Saturday, 2 February 2008

Care a Little ...

Welcome to my second attempt at this week’s blog. I tried last night with lots of very noble intentions of getting work done and being ahead on my to-do list etc etc but, as I exclaimed hyperbolically (Oh, what an awesome word!) to Jonathan, “I’ve got the worst writer’s block in the history of the world!!!” I ended up spending about two hours on it and then after about the 50th read-through, decided that it was the most horrible piece of writing I’ve ever produced (Yes, I often use exaggeration to prove a point; the 50th read-through bit is actually very possibly true.) and I deleted it all. I recently discovered it in my Recycle Bin and was overcome with renewed feelings of disgust. It was that bad. Truly.

My words are flowing a lot more effortlessly tonight. It’s because of the mood I’m in and the music I’m listening to. The mood is credit to a fairly decent day and the music is credit to iTunes (which allows sharing over the network) and Rhiana who owns the music I’m listening to – specifically, Michael BublĂ©. It’s mellow and it makes me want to be sitting by a fire on giant pillows with a lap to lay my head in and pleasant conversation. (Said lap, obviously, belongs to Jonathan.)

Fat chance. I am currently in the midst of pre-midterm panic and chaos. I spent all day today in Meal Hall studying for my Animal Biology midterm that’s on Monday morning. I also have a book to read, a paper to write and another midterm to study for. So no. No fires, no laps … just books and highlighter pens and fingers that hurt from writing too much.

My plan, at the start of term, was to (and I quote myself), “do everything I can to not make the same academic mistakes I made last semester.” But, instead of that, I went right ahead and made every single one of those same mistakes. Bueno! And it isn’t just me who falls into this trap. Everyone I know does this. So, I wonder how Homo sapiens sapiens managed to evolve into the 'pinnacle of creation' if it so consistently – as a species – fails to learn from its mistakes. They say history repeats itself. That’s another great example. And that’s even more extreme than just not doing homework on a regular basis. We’re talking mass extermination of millions of people, two World Wars. The point being that it’s not just the inconsequential mistakes that we make over and over again – it’s the really big ones too. I think we should all think about that. Just take some time to ponder these mistakes.

I think, at this point, I shall go off on a slight tangent and comment on Mt A’s current endeavour: the Campus Climate Challenge (C3). This is an inter-house competition to see which house can, during the month of February, reduce it’s consumption of energy (water, electricity, heat etc) the most. We had a house meeting and, through the entire meeting people, were muttering and shaking their heads the suggestion that they have to be a little more careful and considerate, just for a little while. God forbid any of us should make any effort! As a member EcoAction (the group that runs this event) and ‘Thornton’s Control Person’, I went around the house last night with signs (asking that lights be turned off when people leave the room) to put over the light switches in all the bathrooms, kitchens and lounges in the house. For the most part they’re being ignored. It might not even be as active as simply ignoring them. If told to turn off lights, most people would be fairly agreeable but the thing is that the suggestion has to be made. A sign above the light switch is too passive because one has to be aware of the switch before one will notice the sign above it. This is a rather long tangent. I’ll stop. My point is, how awesome it would be if people turned off lights when they left rooms? All I’m asking is that people care a little.

Sigh. That’s my mini rant for today. For now, in line with the theme of ‘Care a Little’, here’s one of my favourite songs: How to Save a Life by The Fray and a rather hilarious video called End of Ze World (I apologize for the bad language). Till next week …