Everyone’s a Winner

When I stepped out into the snow this morning, my life was like a scene straight out of Frances Ha.

To recap, one of my close friends/gray area pseudo boyfriend type person has just cut me out of his life, this decision seeming to cause him remarkably little anguish, him of the little attachment. Me of the quite great attachments, it causes me great angst. Today is his birthday, there’s a party and of course I’m not invited. My roommate let me know with an “I love you darling, I’m sorry”, last night.

Then I had a stupid fight with the boyfriend late last night while working on the thesis project (which I have made zero headway on), which spilled over into the morning.

I woke up shivering, because the heater in our house is broken. And this being the middle of April and Spring, we all woke up to a pile of snow in the front yard and said collective, “What the FUCK, Canada?!”s.

Then I ran out to catch my bus in ballet flats and without gloves since I’ve packed away all my winter stuff.

But you know what? I’ve since been drinking a large coffee and listening to “You shook me all night long” on repeat. And I’m feeling better. It is impossible to be unhappy to this song. Scientific fact.

On Chemistry- or the lack thereof

I was talking to an ex recently. We had dated briefly, a couple of years ago over the course of a month, one summer in India. I was nineteen and he was twenty one. I was dropping by on vacation from university in Canada to visit family, and he was home for the summer from an engineering school in the South. He was one of those people the internet had dropped into my life. We’d met through Blogger. We had a few mutual acquaintances; I’d stumbled onto his blog through one of them, and had been amused by his particular brand of self deprecating humour and snide commentary. I’d left a comment, and he’d visited my blog in return.

We began chatting in the Winter, over Gtalk and Skype (but never webcamming)- and soon we were talking almost daily for an hour or so. I was charmed by the way he used big words nonchalantly, and the slightly awkward, verging-on-flirtation texts he sent me. Here was a boy who’d read Douglas Adams, who discussed Iron and Wine with me, who was actuallyfunny. Who going by Facebook, also appeared to be six feet tall and ripped. We were so compatible. We agreed to be each others’ back up if we were still unmarried at forty. As someone who’d been told throughout high school to save my vocabulary for an essay, I felt like a starving woman, suddenly told she was now a judge on Top Chef.

I had no idea what was going through his head, but I found myself crushing on himself in the way that a nineteen year old girl can crush on someone she’s only ever interacted with online.

The two of us made plans for the summer when we were finally going to be in the same place. Then suddenly, inexplicably, my crush wore out. By the time I was in Calcutta, sweaty and going to meet him for the first time at a chain coffee-place, it was only a vague memory. The conversation flowed easily that first day, as we sipped overpriced lemonade, and I listened somewhat uneasily to Akon singing about his Lamborghini Gallado. I commented on the unfortunate choice of music we were being subjected to, and he looked somewhat sheepish as he confessed that he quite liked Akon.

Okay. Was not expecting that.

Nevertheless I shook it off, as we left the coffee shop and started ambling down the dusty greenery of the city streets. We talked and laughed, our hands lingering by the invisible line that marked the space between our bodies, never working up enough courage to actually touch. I think I took his arm, in a brave attempt at crossing it. We repeated this sort of pseudo-date several times over the course of the next week, and then on one of these repeats we were joking about being back-ups when he said carelessly, “So do you want to try it out? For real?”

I froze in disbelief, mumbled something about needing to think about it and ran off home. As I rolled over the question in my head that evening, I wondered why I hadn’t just said yes.

Here was a boy who’d read Douglas Adams, who discussed Iron and Wine with me, who was actually funny. Who really was six feet tall and ripped. We were so compatible.

And yet, there was something missing. I called him over the phone and asked him why he was asking me out. “What do you mean?”, he said. I stuttered, trying to phrase it correctly. “I mean, there doesn’t seem to be any mush… does there?”.

I don’t remember his reply, but I ended up saying yes, and so we introduced our social circles to each other and went on actual dates. Then we kissed. Several times. And it became clear to me that this was not going to work. “It was like kissing a goldfish!”, I wailed to my friends. I had it on good authority that he was a good kisser- he’d dated a friend of a friend before- so it couldn’t be that. “Are you seriously going to break up with him because your kisses are shitty?”, my best friend asked me.

As it happened, I did. I wound up breaking up with him over the course of one of our long walks, and getting together with another boy- a musician with dimples, a fondness for distorted guitar riffs I didn’t understand, and a limited vocabulary (our kisses were altogether more satisfying). It wasn’t a terrible loss to the Ex though. As it turned out, he wasn’t quite over the friend-of-a-friend and asked her out again. It was quite an amicable break-up and we continued to talk over the years.

Here was a boy who’d read Douglas Adams, who discussed Iron and Wine with me, who was actually funny. Who really was six feet tall and ripped. We were so compatible.

But we have no chemistry”, I told him as I said goodbye.

We hadn’t talked in a while when he pinged me on Facebook a few days ago. I am now twenty two. I’ve believe that sexuality is fluid, and gender is performative. My taste in music has become more obscure, I’ve become a strident feminist, and I try to question the language I use and the cultural and social prejudices and expectations I’ve been taught to consider as the way things “should” be. I have also been dating a skinny, incredibly sarcastic Editor with the personality of a grumpy old man, for the greater part of the last two years. He looks nothing the suave pretty boys I used to date, he will probably never make a lot of money, our first kiss was terrible, and he doesn’tdo romantic gestures, but he makes me laugh. Two years on, we haven’t yet run out of things to talk about and I still find myself hooked. What I’m saying is that I’ve changed a fair amount.

The ex is single, and finds himself weary of hook ups; he wants a real relationship.

“I look around and suddenly everyone I know is in a long term relationship, and I’m thinking wtf have I been doing?”, he confessed to me the other day.

He doesn’t seem to have changed all that much, though he’s become more set in his tastes, and switched from Engineering to Management. I recomended OkCupid to him, while warning him of the creeps, and although it hasn’t really taken off in India yet, he messaged me to thank me for the suggestion, and asked me to check out his profile. I obliged and noted that the site screamed “You’re a 93% match!” at us.

“Just shows you how the algorithm can’t really account for chemistry”, I said.

He agreed, but added, “ It’s about place, time, state of mind, openness, objective at that point of time, and a lot of other things, which put together you call chemistry. It’s not like it could never exist between the two of us. It just didn’t back then, otherwise arranged marriages would never work.”

I privately thought that I’d changed so much since, that we wouldn’t really be compatible today, despite what OkCupid thought. On chat, I agreed with him, and he told me that the fact that we hadn’t had a chance to really spend time together hadn’t helped our case back then. Neither did we really have common friends.

“We were doomed to fail”, he said.

I disagreed with him. “You can like-like someone from online. We may have been compatible, but there was no real mush there, and that was the problem.”

He countered by insisting that you couldn’t possibly begin to connect with someone online.

I’d met the Editor only once (at a Farewell party for their graduating class ironically enough), and I’d started to like him from the long conversations we’d had on Facebook since then, before we met in person again. We’d had no common friends at the time.

“You have to be in the state of mind to really want a boyfriend at that point then”, the Ex said.

Again, not true. At the time, I hadn’t been looking for anything. I was once again, visiting India over the summer, and I had no intention of leading myself to heartbreak when I left. He wasn’t even in the same city for the majority of that summer.

“ But there are unconscious pressures, which you can ignore just as easily as give in to, like friends and their expectations, age, opportunity and curiosity again, the intangible part that’s difficult to reason”, the Ex argued. “There has to be some common ground to go on”.

At our first meeting, the Editor and I had barely spoken to each other, but I was strangely drawn to the scruffy, lanky man with glasses, who refused to step into the rain with the rest of the drunken rowdy bunch, and stubbornly swigged his beer inside the house, as he rolled joint after joint. I snuggled up to him briefly in my drunken haze, and gave him a kiss on the cheek before I left the party.

“Aha!”, said the Ex. “That was your common ground. Something to laugh about and bond over later.”

Not quite. When I remembered later, I was mortified, and as when I finally brought it up two weeks after we started talking on Facebook, it turned out that he didn’t even remember, given how drunk he had been. And when I hesitantly brought up my unexpected crush to my friends, the general reaction I received was one of bemused puzzlement.

“So no common ground, no common friends really, he wasn’t even my type”, I said.

We argued back and forth for a bit, both of us firm on our stance.

“My theory is chemistry is a state of mind”, the Ex declared, at the end of our conversation. I still disagreed, but it was late, and I was sleepy, so I said good night.

I am most decidedly not a romantic, but from my romantic misadventures, I’ve come to believe that whether two people connect or not is one of the more unpredictable, unexplainable things in life. Chemistry is either there, or it isn’t.

Companionship, sure, that can come with time, and it needs to if you’re looking for something long-term- but unless that indefinable something exists in the first place, that something that turns someone ordinary into someone whose every orifice the sun shines out of, compatibility isn’t going to quite cut it.

– Written for Medium 

It’s been a long time since I’ve written anything remotely romantic about the Boyfriend, so here’s one for the day.  A line I read from a favourite band singing some words that rang true:

I’ve got reservations about so many things, but not about you.

 

(while we’re being romantic, I’ve had this song in my head all day. it’s the way it makes me feel, not the lyrics, really.)

Bout of nostalgia

Annesha’s latest mix made me listen to the Gangs of Wasseypur soundtrack again. Right now I have ‘Womaniya’ blasting through my ears, and I want so, so badly to be back in Cal, on that day when I first watched the movie. That morning we reached Forum nearly three hours too early, crammed into the metro with a hundred other jostling, sweaty bodies. I was afraid that there was going to be a lot of awkwardness with someone who was there because of drunken antics that had happened a little while ago. There was no real awkwardness, and our motley assortment of people wandered Elgin Road searching for Crossword, taking the longest route possible. I remember sitting on the top floor with said person and looking out at this gigantic hoarding of Shahrukh Khan advertising some sort of vest(?) that bordered on the obscene. We were listening to these new-ish old songs and sharing a bowl of something or the other that was not enough for a single person, but we had no money. We kept getting the song names right, and then we wanted to look at the CD that was playing but the manager very firmly told us that it was against the rules. He took it out and let us stare at the CD cover though- lurid pink hearts and all. Then we walked back to the movie, and the Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi theme song began, and then the rest of the utterly brilliant movie followed. I was blown away by a Hindi movie after a long time, and when we staggered out into the sunlight, we were wobbly on our legs, and I was starving, but still broke so Chandrima fed me some sort of egg-fry thing from the roadside vendor on the footpath opposite Forum. It was delicious and then Squg turned up, glasses and all- and we debated for a long time where to go adventuring. Finally we let our stomachs guide us, and stopped at Sharma’s because K wanted kochuri and puri of which I stole some. Then A did his impression of Arunava which was incredibly spot on, and I laughed, and then I felt guilty for laughing, but it was all in good fun, so I laughed some more. We were back to wondering what to do next, and then someone started chanting ‘momos, momos’, so we started walking to the Metro Station to get to Denzong’s. I remember walking down the Gujarati part of the city for the first time and I was doing my usual thing, stopping to take pictures of cars, and saying ‘Byeee’ to random passersby on the street. Squg and I didn’t know each other as well back then, and she was torn between amusement and firmly taking me by the hand and dragging me along before I could cause any trouble. Anyway, so we wound up at Denzong’s and I remember texting N maybe(?)- we were always texting back then- and we settled down on the stairs/road next to the shop, and there was a cat mewling at us, and a turd somewhere close by, and ants too, but the momos were delicous, and salty, and the soup burned my tongue, and I wasn’t paying, so I sat down and gobbled a plate and a half. Then I went home, and I was very, very happy.

I loved Wasseypur 2 even more, if possible. N came along for that one, only the viewing experience was super uncomfortable for me. We watched it at some seedy, shady cinema hall- Roxy or something like that, with a coolio bar-lounge monstrosity on the top floor that said ‘On the Roxxx’. My seat was right in front of the AC vent, and I shivered through the entirety of the next three hours. I stuck my ice cold hands into N’s shirt out of desperation, which didn’t help much, and made him squirm. We’d just started dating though, so he didn’t say anything, just twitched his lips and looked amused. My favourite scene was at the end when Faisal just would not stop shooting at Ramadhir Singh’s body. Sweet, sweet release it was, and it fed my bloodlust, and man, Sneha K was a genius with the score.
I don’t really remember what we did before and after very well- I vaguely remember walking with N along New Market and trying (and failing) to pick out a decent tee for him at Sanjay’s. Chandrima and Squg were straggling behind us. When we got out of the theatre, blinking in the sunlight, we were starving as usual and we wanted to go to this place that Tridipta kept telling us about. So we walked all the way, but it was a Sunday, and it was closed, so we wound up eating roadside chowmein again. Then we wanted lassi, so I stole about half of N’s mango lassi. Then someone wanted shoes or something, so we walked along the tram line where Tridipta told N and I that if he ever had a girlfriend, he would like to sit with her on a tram and not get off for the entirety of the way, and just talk, talk, talk. I thought that this was great, and poetic, and all that, only I remembered some Splitsvilla episode or something equally heinous where one of the vapid girls on the show had to impress Rannvijay on a tram journey like they were hitting on him- so that ruined it a bit- but I didn’t say anything, just smiled and nodded.
I think about last summer sometimes, and it’s strange that it happened to me. It was so great, so much fun, so- life-altering- which is a grandiose statement to make, but it really was. It brought a bunch of people into my life who are now my people, and there were so many new things I tried, and just good emotions I felt. I guess if someday I have to remember being young, and being happy, that summer will stand out even though a lot of great stuff has happened since- stuff that has been a lot shinier, and a lot more exciting. We airbrush our memories though- I cried a bunch over summer, and did many stupid things- but I do know that last summer, I’d never been happier in my life.
I go home in a month. Everything has changed. People are now old and familiar, like ha’pant-genji, and I love them infinitely more. But there are people still to meet, and new experiences to have with the old ones. Chaa awaits, and aimless rambles, and stuffing face, and getting wet, and lazy afternoons with music and kulfi, and falling asleep happy together, if I can.

epiphany number eleventy

self love is more about doing than trying to reach this state of zen in your mind. actually, i’m not a 100 percent sure that this is true, but it sounds a lot more approachable. and i’m definitely a 100 percent sure that doing things for yourself is a huge part of it. condoning foolish behaviour and mindlessly indulging yourself isn’t. understanding is key. but what is also key, and what i’m going to try to implement in my life from now on is treating myself- including my body, my time, and my mind with respect. stuffing my face with a box of chocolate is not self-love, it is indulgence. also obesity, and possibly diarrhea. spending a zillion hours on the internet and going easy on myself for it? again, indulgence.

respect yourself. respect and love yourself enough to recognize that your time is important. the things that give you guilt pangs or make you feel like you’re wasting time are an abuse of yourself. the right thing is rarely ever easy, but it is so worth it.

Thank you to thoughtcatalog (ironically) and lifelessbullshit for helping me come to this realization.

on that note, have a song everyone.

helping me turn my grumypants into something more palatable. friday, you cannot possibly come soon enough.

Boston Chronicles 1.0

So life in Boston has settled into its own easy pace. Cambridge is being kind to me for now. Every day brings with it some sort of new discovery. Now if only I could find more permanent, affordable housing, everything would be perfect.

The hobo, contrary to all expectations remains in my life six months in. Less pressure with more effort seems to sum up the whole scene, as A. said. It seems contradictory, but makes more sense. I get to keep my sanity, and flirt with cute bostonboys? Yes please.

Friday: After a pretty unproductive day at the lab, I was supposed to go out with a new friend from the lab and two of her friends for a girl’s night that promised to be wild. Her friends decided to bail on her however (blasted flu), and so I decided to rescue the night and have a girl’s night with a completely different set of girls. I recruited J and P, and the four of us decided that it was Friday goddammit, and we were going to have some fun. After some mulling over possible places- drinks and good food without breaking the bank seems to be a tall order- we decided upon ‘Brown Sugar’. Token American aka the boss suggested Bon Chon but AH dismissed it as fast food, thoroughly upsetting him. So Brown Sugar it was, and we set out on the shuttle, clutching our coats, ushankas and scarves. We waited in the lobby for a good ten minutes, making eyes at the puffer fish, and violently coloured snaggle-tooths in their aquarium before we got a table. The food was excellent, and served in preposterous quantities. I ordered Fishman’s Madness which was basically an explosion of scallops, squid, shrimps, mussels, mushrooms and peppers in this delicious chilli-garlic gravy. I have discovered that I really dislike scallops- they remind me of the pork fat that hobo and company tricked me into eating, and taste like nothing but blandness and blobs. The texture itself puts me off. The squid was for some reason carved like pineapples, but the mussels were great. Post-dinner we dragged our Garfield like selves to this tiny Japanese place where I experienced the deliciousness of mochi for the first time. I liked it so much that on Saturday I walked for half an hour to Trader Joe’s to buy myself some, which sadly turned out to be nothing like the real deal. I now have a pack of mochi lying in the refrigerator, covered in flour , all gooey and gross.

Saturday was spent waking up late, frantically running to the dysfunctional T and reaching Boston Commons nearly an hour late for my ice-skating date with the labmates. The weather was unexpectedly warm and sunny, the speakers at Frog Pond played old 90’s music, and we spent a good three hours there. Now this was my very first time on the ice and considering that I can’t even walk in a straight line, ice skating was really… interesting. My labmates were super patient though, and the scene wound up being something like one at each side, holding my hand while the third skated behind us. Every time I would wobble, the three would zoom up and huddle around me. By the end of the day, we’d all become a lot more physically intimate than we would have expected. Good first date, I’d imagine.

So after ice skating we grabbed footlongs at Subway and then I ran to Vanderbilt Hall at Harvard for choir practice. I got roped into it by AH from lab. Here’s how it happened: Hey, you should come see my acapella group. It’s gonna be a shitshow, but it’ll be fun. Hey, what’s your range like? Hey, you should do liptorrals and sirens. Hey, you’re a soprano. Great, our group needs help.

And so I’m singing ‘Fields of Gold’ in harmony with the Harvard Heartbeats at their cadaver memorial on this Wednesday. What’s a cadaver memorial, you ask? Well, people donate their bodies to science, see? And this Wednesday the families of those dead bodies along with all of Harvard Med School are going to come to this program at Harvard and watch me sing a solo, and harmonize with 5 other girls (it’s going to be a complete shitshow, since very few of them can actually sing and we’re getting roughly one and a half rehearsals in before the show). Random, but it’s a thing.

The other highlight of Saturday was the walk to Trader Joe’s where I bought Green Tea mochi, a pack of three dark chocolates imported from Belgium, and Trader Joe’s own smooth peanut butter cups made of dark chocolate (Dear Reese’s, nothing compares to you). Came home to find a note on the fridge from the second roomie saying, “Help yourself to banana cake if you like”, which I obviously did, and boy was it delicious- full of pecans and almonds and chocolate chip and dusted sugar. 

Sunday has been pretty useless, in a not so terrible way. Woke up late, stayed home, talked to the hobo, and made my new year’s list which I hadn’t all this while because I’d started off the year completely miserable. I also read ’50 shades of grey’ which a friend sent me the ebook of, and it was completely fucking awful, like I knew it would be. So recommendations for good literary erotica are welcome. What, didn’t you know that this was an adult blog?

What I hope to do with the rest of my evening: shower, laundry, read papers and come up with a list of relevant questions, finish the new year list.

Other highlights of the week include visit to Rodney’s Bookstore where the guy at the counter, who is writing a book and draws comics for an indie newspaper, directed me to the underground music scene and gave me recommendations on where to live (Allston, baby!). Also lunch at cafe Au Bon Pain, where Robin Williams and whatsizname played chess in ‘Good Will Hunting’. Lunch consisted of rain and a salmon-wasabi bagel which was both delicioso and affordable. Trek to Somerville to look at a potential house which turned out to be completely unsuitable. Trek to Inman Square where I discovered the Bukoswki pub which I definitely intend to visit. Also multiple visits to Flour which is close to work, has hipster baristas, and  the most beautiful lamb sandwiches- gigantic, fresh and dripping with cranberry sauce.

In other news: I bought a guitar, and I’m getting a tatoo in March which is when T comes to visit. Life is definitely having a ‘What R did’ moment right now.

A Madness Past

Today I feel like pleasing you more than before
Today I know what I want to do but I don’t know what for
To be living for you is all I want to do
To be loving you it’ll all be there when my dreams come true
Today you’ll make me say that I somehow have changed
Today you’ll look into my eyes, I’m just not the same
To be anymore than all I am would be a lie
I’m so full of love I could burst apart and start to cry
Today everything you want, I swear it all will come true
Today I realize how much I’m in love with you
With you standing here I could tell the world what it means to love
To go on from here I can’t use words, they don’t say enought
Please, please listen to me
It’s taken so long to come true
And it’s all for you
all for you….
I love this song.

I love you, I’ve a drowning grip on your adoring face

I don’t know why I’ve turned into such a weepy mess of late, but I’m really grateful for this blog where I can vent without boring my readers who know me in real life. I discovered this song on Pratiti’s blog and it set me off again.

“Elope with me, Miss Private, and we’ll sail around the world
I will be your Ferdinand and you my wayward girl
How many nights of talking in hotel rooms can you take?
How many nights of limping around on pagan holidays?
Oh, elope with me in private and we’ll set something ablaze
A trail for the devil to erase ”

I don’t know why being in love should make me this unhappy. Unrequited love has always been a drag. If I could, I’d flick the switch on in your brain that’d make you feel the same, that’d make you understand this desperate, slightly insane mess that you’ve made of me. “Love me”, I’d say. “Love me the way I love you. Irrationally, clumsily, too much. Please feel the same. I could make you so happy, and you could make me happy too.”
Everything comes full circle, and my would-be-knight from many summers ago could rest easy knowing that I now go through this awful feeling, only he wouldn’t, cuz he’s such a nice guy, even when he’s trying not to be.

I’m terrified. I can’t write this off as high school bullshit anymore. I hate growing up. I hate Aristophanes’ legend of missing halves. I hate that the more organized I get in my professional life, the more I seem to fall apart in my head.

I’m really grateful for my friends and my family. I’m really grateful for the opportunities that I have, and for myself. It should be enough, but it isn’t. I want you. I will be miserable if you leave, please stay.

Music Blog

So there is a new blog that the boyfriend and I created as a lark last week. We live as far away from each other as it is humanly possible for two people to live. There are a few continents and about two oceans separating us, so we decided to share a music blog. It’s one of those things about which we have a lot to say.

Feel free to peruse and look through (and follow), if that’s your kinda thing.

hobofriendandcrazywomansinfiniteplaylist.wordpress.com

Also, Happy (Canadian) Thanksgiving, everyone. All the people I love live very far away, and the house is going to be pretty empty this weekend with everyone going home to their families. I’m going to be busy studying for a Zoology midterm coming up on Tuesday. Not the ideal thanksgiving, but it’ll do. And I’m going out to the Fox and the Fiddle with my room-mate tonight. Have been wanting to visit the bar for quite a while now, which may be due to the name. Maybe it’ll turn out to be one of those things in Waterloo that I actually like.

An epiphany I have had recently is, more urgently than ever, balance is KEY.