anecdotes, life, stories, words, writing

Nerves

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“I am sorry…I…I….sorry,” she stammered as she scrounged around in her sack of a handbag, digging around to find whatever it was she was going to present to me. One by one she started to take things out of her bag, a pen, two pen, few pencils, a really old motorola phone – I didnt even think these kinds existed anymore – a small opaque plastic bag, which I didnt have to peek inside to know the contents of. The wafting foul smell of beetle nut and lime told me it was doma*, a Bhutanese favorite snack. She paused when she put it out onto my desk, and looked at me for a second like she was going to offer me some, but decided against it to continue her search through the abyss of her magical bag – it was amazing how many things fit in it.

“Ahh….here it is,” she exclaimed and handed me a tiny tiny USB drive. “Can you please open it on your computer?” she mumbled. Some consultant I thought to myself. It was one thing to ask for a favor and help her with her work, it was an entirely different thing to actually carry out the work for her.

“You see, I am running out of time, I am running out of time,” she repeated. Her relatively young round eyes filled with anxiety. “Right,” I nodded back and inserted the USB into my sleek laptop’s USB port. Her mangled key chain of what appeared to be an extremely dirty teddy bear hanging off the USB in stark contrast to the shiny silver of my macbook pro. The file opened to my utter horror of chaotic pdf files, excel sheets, word documents, movies, books, jpegs, neither in order nor appropriately named. My OCD kicked into high gear and if I knew her better than just being introduced through a mutual friend some one hour back, I would have offered to organize her files on the USB. As she looked through her files to look for whatever it was that she was going to show me and ask for my help, I noticed all her paraphernalia still scattered across my desk. Her slightly large tego** sleeves skimming over my desk zen garden. I inhaled a sharp breath of air in panic worrying her lovely purple sleeves would leave an uninvited line across the sand perfectly styled in symmetric curlicues.

“Umm….,” she mumbled and rested her face on her hands and her elbows uncomfortably close to me. “Here,” I said and got out of my chair allowing her to move closer to my laptop so she could look at the screen better, but also for myself because the smell of unsolicited beetle nut and her chaotic hair and slightly running mascara was irritating me, but also garnering some deep level of sympathy because she was everything I tried not to be. I felt guilty I was judging her in that moment. She paused and looked up like she remembered something, picked up her bag and starting digging through it again. She pulled out a notebook, a compact – which has obviously not touched her skin in the least bit today- and then some breath mints. “Here, have some,” she said and offered the mints to me. “Umm, no thanks,” I said and asked if she found the file. “I think its not here,” she said and smiled at me. “Anyway, I will go home and find it and will come back when I have it, if its okay with you,” she half asked and half declared rhetorically. “Okay….?” I responded quizzed by the coolness and ease and chaos with which this woman went about.

She moved across my desk, swiped her entire arm across my desk and literally chucked all her things back into her gunny sack of a hangbag. I handed her the USB, as she got up. “Thank you,” she said. “I really dont have time and now I wasted the last hour getting nothing done,” she said laughing. “Okay, will come back soon, thank you for your help,” she said and walked out of my office. I plonked myself down on my chair, energy drained by that whirlwind of a personality. The speed and chaos with which our interaction ensued confusing the hell out of me.

I never heard back from this woman.

doma* – In Bhutan the areca nut is called doma. The raw areca nut, which is soft and moist is very potent and when chewed can cause palpitation and vasoconstricting. This form is eaten in the lower regions of Bhutan and in North Bengal, where the nut is cut into half and put into a local paan leaf with a generous amount of lime.The fermented doma has a putrid odour, which can be smelled from miles.
tego** – Toego or Tego is a long-sleeved, short jacket-like garment worn over their traditional kira by women in Bhutan.

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fiction, life, stories, woman, writing

Waiting

The sound of pounding from all rubber stamps the tellers used drowned out the excruciating pain in the depths of her stomach. The wafting smell of ink and freshly printed paper adding to her nausea. Blinking back tears and breathing deeply telling herself she was going to be okay. She closed her eyes and for a few seconds she was able to just be. To become fully aware of her own being. To realize that at the end of the day, all she ever had was only herself, and it mattered that she realized that and give herself a little more attention than what he may have given her. She rolled her eyes inside her head to try and relieve some of the pressure in her head. Slowly losing herself in her thoughts that mattered to her before he had happened, and before every familiar face became a calculative measure of how it might be to be that person with many to love her and none to hurt.

When she slowly came to, and opened her eyes, the bank was dark. She worried maybe her grief had driven her to blindness. An upsurge of fear and panic emerged from the depths of her very expecting core, until the person sitting next to her shrugged and said, ‘imagine what a power outage like this is costing the market right now.’ A gentle unbidden smile in return before she got up, gathered her papers, and ran out of the bank lobby. The fresh air –unladen with the smell of ink– rushing into her lungs in deep breaths. First breath, burning, second breath, burning, third breath, chilling, fourth breath, adjusted chilling, fifth breath, calming, sixth breath, calming, seventh breath, normal.

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embracing yourself, lessons, life, relationships, thoughts, twenty-somethings

A friend in NEED is a friend indeed. A friend in WANT is whatever.

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I want to talk about this interesting, almost epiphany worthy, talk I had with a dear colleague of mine a few days ago. (On a side note – doesn’t saying “dear colleague” almost make you think I might be a middle aged wise lady with unisex dressing sense and an uncanny liking for elbow patches and cigarette holders/pipes? I like it!). In all my sense of being I have always thought that I have been blessed with the ability to bond with people with ease. I cherish the fact that most people I get to know beyond courtesy salutations always seem to find it easy to come and talk to me about more personal and deeper things that they might be contemplating or dealing with. And while it may not entirely reflect very well on myself, I took a certain level of satisfaction and comfort in knowing that when they did talk to me about their troubles and sought advice (or so I thought) I was doing all that I could in my ability to help them. That the mere fact that I was, at any given point in my life, being confided in by at least a few people was reflective of the effectiveness of the effort I put in to scraping at the bottom of my wisdom, knowledge, and experience barrel to share what I thought were comforting words, advice, and helpful suggestions. It would however appear that I may have been mistaken. I might have even been a bit too presumptuous in thinking I could mean anything more to these people in my life than just a listening ear, a dumping ground of sorts to just let out the one thing they find themselves struggling to hold on to and fearing to admit or talk about.

As my dear colleague so plainly put it, no one really needs someone there to just listen to what they have to say. People NEED tangible help, they WANT every other kind of help. At first I was a little shocked, how can the figure of speech such as ‘a shoulder to lean on’ or ‘lending an ear’ be so easily dismissed I thought. Being there doesn’t only ever have to be at the rate of material or physical help I argued in my mind. But as my quickly deflating sense of satisfaction from knowing I am a trustworthy person calmed down I realized he may be onto something. Well basically he might be right. Or, he is right. My advice, or my lending ear, or even my uncomfortable shoulders, don’t add up to jack at the end. I sometimes go out of my way just to be there for people…..in intangible ways. I have an important presentation tomorrow but my friend in Australia needs to skype so she can vent about the horrible break-up till 4am? I am there! Its my own birthday dinner party that I am already late to but my friend’s parents have thrown him an ultimatum which led to a big fight so he needs to talk? I will hear him out and give advice on how to deal with it! Sometimes always being there is exhausting. And maybe its this exhaustion that’s finally catching up that makes me believe my colleague when he says, in the end people will do what they want to do no matter what you tell them. So even if I spend hours every week hearing them out, handing them tissues, and putting in my two cents, should the day come when everything is okay, we may or may not still stay in touch and they will probably be okay with it. When I am not around, I apparently will not be leaving a large vacuum space…a black hole….like my narcissistic self assumed. They will find other ways to deal with it and move on.

I guess in the end, its really about finding balance. Balance between being there for others and being there for myself. It is also putting (what I now guess is) my high sense of self in check because I might think the fact that people want to come to me to talk about their personal lives makes me a little bit more important than the rest when in actuality, it may be that I am one of five other people they bounce their stories off of. Hear that?……..Yup! that’s the sound of my ‘amour propre’ deflating un petit peu.

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Another End to an End

Juxtaposed in my head
Subconsciously, Unconsciously
I compare and he wins
I reassess and he loses
This battle worth its decade
Worn to threads but still existing

Drowning out the analysis in my head
His smile, mischievous but familiar
Our bond, fractured but constant
The love, not real but habit
I filter its contents
Through the webs of truth and my reality

Juxtaposed in my head,
Subconsciously, Unconsciously
This a lacking
But that an abundant
Not the best but still a loss
I hold on and then let go

Lingering on those small moments
A little melancholia, but relief
Some disappointment, but closure
The relationship, metamorphosized
Sentiments labeled
Then filed in the crevices of my memories

No juxtapositions, No wins, No falls, Normal.

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Choose to be Happier

The thing I’ve learnt about life (you know, because I am so old and wise) is that any individual’s happiness is ultimately in their own hands. Yes, external circumstances might make it harder or easier to be happy, but what you do in that situation and how you decide to live your life is inevitably in the hands of only yourself and no one else or nothing else. Now fear, fear is the thing that will magnanimously turn out to be your worst enemy. Fear will rob your of what should be yours, and fear will cripple you and leave you there to slowly disintegrate into the worst version of yourself that you can be. But guess what, the thing about fear is that, it’s existence is, just as much in your own hands. Crush it! it can be done.

For me, my greatest fear, quite possibly linking directly to my lack of deep meaningful relationships, has been the fear of allowing myself to be vulnerable around another person who might (or might not, but I tend to focus on the ‘might’ as the inevitable) leave me hurt and shattered in the end. This is not an unfounded notion that I have. I have been in the past deeply heart-broken. It took me two years and a year away to get over this and find ways to put the pieces back together. At that time I didn’t think I would ever recover, but I did, and all on my own. Still, despite having moved past that, I found that I couldn’t let anyone else ever get close to me. It was my subconscious’ self preservation mechanism kicking in and I let it because I felt safe. But the reality was that I was not living in safety and security but in constant fear. Fear of being hurt by someone I would grow to deeply care about. Fear of being exposed to my every last vulnerability and then having the person betray me. But the truth is, even in those post ‘apocalyptic relationship’ safe years when I kept everyone at arms length did not make me any happier. I was in fact aloof and felt like life was a solitary mission. That was not normal or healthy. I’ve spent/wasted a great number of years trying to protect myself and it is only now that I realize how wrong my approach to life has been. Its still not perfect but I am much more open to letting people into my life. So I might get hurt or maybe even hurt someone, but that’s part of life. Nothing is perfect and wrinkle free. The bumps in the road are a risk we should be willing to take.

Despite a faint feeling that the person I have allowed back into my life is being given too much ammunition to eventually hurt me very badly, I still choose to give it a shot. He may hurt me, he may not, but in the process, I find myself happier. Laughing. Reminiscing. And this is infinitely better than being cautious and avoiding all possibilities of a broken me in the future. I figure I am already fractured and glued together in several places, whats another crack. Besides, it makes for a much more interesting portfolio.

Take chances, crush that fear, allow yourself to be happy, even if it means your odds are minimal. That one month, one week, one day, of sheer joy will ultimately be the only thing you will remember and get nostalgic about. Lets choose to allow ourselves to be happier, to be happy.

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End of An Encounter {Finale}

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“I ordered us breakfast, I hope that’s okay,” Josh says.
“That’s fine. Thank you,” Madilyn replies.

They stand there watching each other in awkward silence for a split second. He smiles, runs his hands through his thick brown mane and gestures towards the balcony. Madilyn nods weakly still a little shy and unsure of what is proper morning after behavior and walks out onto the balcony forgoing her initial idea of putting on a few more articles of clothing underneath the fluffy cotton bathrobe. The morning sun gleams down onto the table of fresh croissants, fruit platters, coffee, and orange juice. Her stomach rumbles in response.
“I guess I am hungry after the long night,” she says and blushes almost as soon as she says it. Shit! Madilyn thinks to herself, she meant she guesses she’s hungry because it had been a long time after the last time she ate and not because it was a long night of……you know, with him. Josh grins a wide grin noticing how uncomfortable Madilyn was making herself.

“Sit,” he says pulling out the chair, choosing not to respond and tease her.
“Thanks for getting all this,” she says looking out onto the narrow street lining the neighborhood and to the distant appearance of the Eiffel Tower. She is barely able to look directly into his eyes. Embarrassed and unused to very many random hook-ups with men, Madilyn chooses to pretend she is enjoying the view. This Paris view she has seen almost a hundred times before. Inexplicably Josh is able to read that about her.

“It’s called living in the moment,” Josh says.
She turns to face him, “Excuse me?” she says.
“You are clearly trying to justify last night in your head, unused to having to deal with the morning afters and all that. I wanted to catch you before you force yourself to categorize last night as having been anything more than something fun we both enjoyed doing. Last night was called living in the moment, if you must label it somehow,” he said.
She paused, trying to absorb what he said, and then she smiled, and then she laughed lightly.
“It is, isn’t it?” she responded. “Thank you for the moment,” she adds.
“Moments, plural, if I remember correctly,” he says, not allowing his teasing joking self to let this second moment to tease slide. Madilyn laughs in response. If this had come from the jock in college she might have reeled in disgust and seen it as the most crass comment, but somehow even though she didn’t know Josh so well, she was felt she knew him enough to know that’s just his playful side and that that was exactly how he meant it.
“Coffee? Or orange juice?” he asks holding a coffee cup in one hand and a nice glass of juice in the other.
“Coffee and then orange juice,” she responds grabbing both out of his hands. He surrenders them to her and smiles back glad he has been able to disarm her nerves a bit.

“Do you mind?” Josh asks, holding up a cigarette in his left hand and an engraved zippo lighter in the right.
“No,” Madilyn replies.
Josh lights up his cigarette, sips his coffee and looks out at the city that’s beginning to wake up from its moments from last night.
Madilyn sips her nice strong coffee just the way she likes it, and looks over at Josh. The pure whiteness of his t-shirt reflecting the bright sunlight making it hard to stare at it too long. “Living in the moment,” she repeats to herself watching him stretch his long tanned legs and crosses them at the ankles. His chocolate brown hair disheveled in a sexy mess on his head. She undoes her bun and lets her long dark hair dry in the sun. She notices him watching her from the corner of her eyes. She looks over at him and he smiles at her but says nothing. She pushes herself up off her chair, leans over the table and kisses him, surprising herself.

They continue to sit, mostly in silence, watching the city and watching each other. Smiling in affection and basically just living in another moment.

C’est Fin!

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End of An Encounter {Part Trois}

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I should be hurrying up, but I allow myself to stand under the water and think of all the different ways this could play out when I step out, assuming that he is still there. I thought I had heard the hotel room door open and close at some point but I couldn’t be too sure. I wonder if I am sure about thinking that he had been as interesting and wonderful as I had in my drunken state the earlier night. That’s the thing about going to these affairs that make you acutely aware of how few really truly interesting people you actually meet in life. Interesting to you, interested in you. I had met Josh at just the beginning of what would turn out to be my most drunken night in months, so I had enough clarity to remember that I thought he was really funny and we had laughed and talked endlessly over the bottles of champagne we had stolen from the bar. I remember being amazed by the level of comfort I found myself in in his company. I smile to myself, slightly embarrassed when I think of the way we had rushed into his hotel room tearing at each other in the hallway. God I really hope none of the hotel staff remember seeing me come in with Josh last night. I think it’s strange that I wouldn’t have worried about being seen and that for once, I was able to forget about what people might say or think. I smile thinking about the ease. This gives me enough courage to step out of the shower, hoping Josh is still there. I would like to see what he is like, without the champagne haze.

I dry myself, put on the bathroom again, pull my wet hair up in a bun on the top of my head and slowly unlock the bathroom door. A strange sensation of hope and fear flutter about in my chest and settle in the pit of my stomach. All knotted nerves, I inhale a deep breath and step out.

I see Madilyn from behind the translucent curtains leading out to the balcony where I am standing. She’s in the fluffy white hotel bathrobe and I immediately think about the alabaster skin underneath. Barefeet she steps forward looking around curiously with searching eyes. She is beautiful, just as I think I remember her. I almost want to step forward and loosen the bun on her head to unravel her long raven locks. I remember her hair distinctly from the night before. The obscure gleam of the blackness a stark contrast to her fair skin all the same time making her less noticeable and the most attractive in the room. I had stood by the bar glancing around the room full of people all dressed up and polished, and it wasn’t until my second glance around the room when I noticed her. She was laughing at something someone at her table had said and I could notice the flush of having had a little too much wine spreading across the nape of her neck. When she’d thrown her head back to laugh and glanced forward to make eye contact with me, I had been struck by her beauty. Not just in the way that her physical appearance had attracted me but in a way where I knew I needed to spend more time with her, to know a little more about her, to make sure I would have some shared memories with this girl. Funny how that happens and now that she is here, standing in my room, waiting to be discovered if need be and yet I fumble in my judgment. Nervous about interacting, nervous about not interacting, nervous I might have made a big mistake, but even more nervous that it might not infact be the familiar morning after regret.

His coat is still lying on the chair by the end of the bed so I know he’s still here but I don’t see him anywhere. I wonder if he’s stepped out of the room for something. Maybe to make a phonecall……to his friends? His girlfriend? His wife? I start to psych myself out again, as I always do. I know for a fact that there was no wedding ring, but really how many married men who show up to destination weddings by themselves really use that opportunity to hook up with random women? Could he be married and have conveniently slipped off the gold circle for the few days he is here? Whatever, either way, I am going to get out of here and that is it. I don’t need to deal with the enraged wife or girlfriend. I find myself getting unnecessarily flustered at the thought.

“Hey,” Josh calls out from behind me as I bend down to collect a few articles discarded around the bed. I snap up straight and turn around. He’s standing in front of the door leading to the balcony in his blue and white boxers and a plain white T. The light coming in from behind creating a blurry silhouette around his figure against the light. It almost looks like a halo for his entire body. I smile at him and say hey.

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