Searching for something

“I tell myself I am searching for something. But more and more, it feels like I am wandering, waiting for something to happen to me, something that will change everything, something that my whole life has been leading up to.”

― Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner: Playscript

Still worry.

“The hardest thing is to live richly in the present without letting it be tainted out of fear for the future or regret for the past.”

― Sylvia Plath

I have written about my anxiety and propensity to worry many many times. Here I am again. Sigh.

After a gruelling few months at work, exacerbated by my failure to book in adequate holiday throughout the year (though with the workload and lack of resources it wouldn’t have mattered); I finally got two weeks off and decided to spend it in Canada where my sister lives. I awaited my time off with excitement and bated breath, tumbling between happiness and nervousness about my trip. One on hand the thought of my forthcoming holiday was the only thing keeping me going, as I had completely lost all will to exist. On the other hand, the thought of travelling was nerve-racking. Thanks to COVID, travelling is subject to even more restrictions and I was thoroughly stressed out. I did all my research to understand all the documents needed and made sure to get all of them. Still I could not shake the nervousness. I prepared a list of things I needed to do before my trip- buy a suitcase, change some money into CAD, etc, and I ticked them off one by one. Still I could not shake the nervousness.

My friend who travelled to Canada a month prior told me of the long lines and how it took her hours to go through all the checks and how she just barely made her flight even though she was at the airport four hours early. This stressed me out even more and I planned to get to the airport 5 hours before, just in case. My flight was scheduled for 2pm so I decided to take the 8am coach to arrive at the airport at 9am. I woke up at 5am to ensure I had everything in order and aimed to leave the house by 7:30am. However by the time I had maneuvered my luggage down the stairs, it was already 7.45 and I started to panic as I desperately searched all the ride sharing apps for a driver. I was praying and panicking at the thought of missing my 8am coach which would then throw all my plans into disarray and ruin my life! (okay not quite that crazy but I was stressed). I finally managed to get a driver that was 3 minutes away and waited in agony as he took his time. Eventually he arrived with five minutes to spare and we began the mad dash to the coach station. We pulled in at exactly 8am, just in time to watch the coach pull away. I couldn’t help myself and I yelled out an expletive (and apologised to the driver). Thanks to COVID the coaches are no longer every twenty minutes but every hour and I was so distressed. Now I was going to get to the airport at 10ish which could possibly be too late ohmagawsh! I was tired as I had only slept for a few hours; I had two suitcases to check in and one carry on luggage but still felt that I didn’t pack enough and started worrying about that; I only had one jacket and two rings-ohmagawsh. Long story short, the coach left at 9am, I got to my terminal at 10:30, and by 10:45 I had completed all of the checks and was on my way to my gate. I was stunned. I have never been through the airport checks that quickly. Never.

I had hours to kill and was exhausted. I sat in the airport looking at myself, and wondering what all the worrying was for. Upon knowing that there was a real possibility of me missing the 8am coach, why did I not just chill and aim for the 9am? Why did I need to wake up at 5am? Why did I stress myself out so much? What is wrong with me? I cannot even pretend that I will learn from this because this happens all the time and I never learn.

I finally made it to Canada and the arrival checks were are bit longer due to the lines, but even that was nothing serious. Now I had to find something new to stress over and that was work. I had a lot of work which I was planning to wrap up before my trip but of course as usual I had placed unrealistic expectations on myself. I therefore decided to do as much as I could early in the morning of my first day of holiday. Of course my laptop battery died as I was working and I discovered that the pack of three travel adaptors I bought were for Australia, US, and Europe but none for Canada. Hello stress! I started to stress out so much it ruined my mood and I had to go lay down. I spent the next two days searching the local stores for an adaptor before finally ordering an expensive universal one on Amazon scheduled to arrive the next day. Except it didn’t. More stress! I kept worrying about not completing the work and possibly holding up the team. I had also been working on a document when my battery died so I worried all my work would be lost and I would have to start over. Eventually the adaptor arrived, much to my relief. The relief was short lived when I realised there was no “Canada” option. Omgomgomg what to do? After five seconds of flash hot panic, I tried the US option and it worked. Now wait a minute. I already had a US adaptor…..surely….it couldn’t be. I went and got the US adaptor that I brought with me and voila it worked. I could not believe myself. I had been stressing out for days, walked around to different stores, spent a lot of money on something I already had? I felt so foolish but I was too tired to really be mad at myself.

I eventually got around to updating the work and no one cared. I checked again today and the manager has not even looked at it. Why did I convince myself that if I didn’t run myself ragged trying to complete all the work, the world would fall apart? One of the best things one of my managers said to me was along the lines of “The work will never finish” meaning there will always be something to do so relax when you can.

Even on holiday it is difficult to fully turn off. I keep worrying that there’s something I should be doing and then I worry my holiday will be over and I will not have rested enough. So I try to relax-worry I should be doing something productive; I try to do something “productive”-worry I should be resting. By productive I don’t even mean something related to work, but really just anything; it could be researching new career opportunities, planning my life, doing some creative writing and so on.

Now I’m stressing out slightly about a domestic flight I have to take within Canada, and also booking a COVID test for my return to the UK. Oh I’m also not looking forward to the end of my holiday and having to return to work. I will try to apply lessons from my experiences and take things easy. Stress and worry are so futile, but I cannot help it. Nothing is really that big of a deal and I need to chill out.

I think I need a lifestyle and career change. I could be one of those people who transitioned from the corporate world into a creative space and have never been happier. One thing is for sure; this constant worry is not sustainable and I need to figure it out.

Oh to be carefree and wild.

Netflix and Crime: Killer Ratings

Netflix has been so good to me lately; by good I mean Netflix UK has offloaded a bunch of crime content not just from the USA as usual but around the world, particularly Brazil; by lately I mean in the past month which is when I started writing this post.

The first of this new batch of content that I watched is Killer Ratings. The tagline/synopsis whatever was all it took to draw me in and I was hooked from start to finish. “The true-life story of Brazilian TV host Wallace Souza, who was accused of literally killing for ratings, and using his crime TV show to cover up the grizzly truth.” How could I not watch it?

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In pursuit of happyness

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I try to be healthy, I really do but when life gets one down, all one can do is to nurse oneself back up, and food is a good way to do so. So while I struggle to do two consecutive sit-ups, I can walk thirty minutes to and fro in the pursuit of food. In fact the only exercise I do is my daily walks to the supermarket.

A week ago, I started craving cinnamon rolls. This is not unusual as the rolls/buns/swirls/nuggets are some of my favourite things, and during the pandemic induced baking frenzy I would make them often. But I’m in a battle against my sugar addiction and I have abstained from cinnamon pastry for a while. I saw a particularly juicy wet bun on instagram and I decided I would give in to temptation and go get some during the week.

Throughout the work day, one thought kept me going; cinnamon bunzzzzzzzzzzzz. I worked till 7pm before deciding to wrap it up lest all the buns disappear. There is a large supermarket which is a thirty minute walk from my house; it has more things than the ones in my neighbourhood and I walk there sometimes to convince myself that I am exercising and getting my steps in. This far away supermarket has my favourite cinnamon bites (which is the way I discovered the supermarket and the true reason I go there) and they also have this cinnamon tear and share bun platter which I never tried because I always told myself it was too much (you know how I like to delude myself about eating healthy). But on this day, the platter was exactly what I wanted. So off I went in the pouring rain at 7pm in pursuit of happyness. (This brings back fond memories of 6 years ago when I had a McDonald’s craving for the first and last time).

Now you may not know that I am a little psychic (ha!) so before I got to the supermarket I knew I was going to be disappointed, and I was. I stood in the bakery section for a good minute, staring at the empty spot where the cinnamon buns were supposed to be, not knowing what to do next. I bought a pack of my cinnamon bites, which are nice but were not what I was craving. I didn’t want the hard delicious bites but the soft chewy bun. I decided to walk 15 minutes to a smaller store where they might have the bun but was also disappointed. Right before the final hurdle home I stopped by the store three minutes from my house and voila, cinnamon buns! Not the big sharer one I was craving but still a bun regardless. I could have saved myself the trouble if I had gone to the nearby store in the first place but hey, at least I got my steps in.

Then I went home and ate everything in one go-the bites, the microwaved bun; all that cinnamon goodness.

Of course I had awoken the beast that had lain latent for months- the very next day I went out to the store for another bun but they didn’t have any so I had to make do with a cinnamon swirl (which I used to eat almost daily but does not compare to the bun). The day after that I made another trip and got two cinnamon buns! I heated only one in the hopes of saving the other for later but of course I just ended up eating the other one cold, right after.

On Friday I made another trip to the big store, making sure to leave earlier, and tada! packs and packs of the Cinnamon tear and share bun.

Of course this was not enough; while debating whether to get two packs of the tear&share, I saw a 2 pack of “super cinnamon scrolls” which I had never seen before. I threw it in my basket and was giddy as heck, debating which one to eat first (haha I ate both). Well the super cinnamon scrolls tested off, and made my mouth feel weird. I thought maybe it’s because I was eating them cold straight out of the pack. I had eaten all but one bite when it occurred to me that maybe it was meant to be cooked first in the oven. I put this one bite in the microwave and it didn’t change anything. I fished out the packaging from the bin and it did not mention anything about needing to be cooked. I googled it and turns out it is a vegan recipe *insert blank stare* What a waste of money and calories. The reviews on the website are not pleasant either so I’m not the only one. I’ve been coughing since I ate it (although this really could be due to literally anything else).

It even looks weird.

And that’s that. A whole post about nothing but my love for cinnamon buns. I just want to eat these warm soft buns everyday with no repercussions. Alas, life is unfair.

Inertia

1. A tendency to do nothing or to remain unchanged.
2. A property of matter by which it continues in its existing state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line, unless that state is changed by an external force.

One thing about me? I will remain in one position- a flat, a job, a city- for years on end until something forces me to change. I am a creature of habit and routine; I like what I like and it does not take much to keep me content (happy is a stretch). For a while I enjoy the normalcy but then life becomes stale and I become restless. I bear this restlessness with unease, wishing for a change but not actually taking any steps towards this. Change requires too much energy and it is easier to remain in the same spot, until it’s not.

While this has been my comfort zone for years, I now find myself stagnant in the later part of my twenties. Stagnant; like a body of water with no current or flow, my life has become dull, unmoving and unpleasant. Though I (claim to) enjoy my routine, the stagnancy has been eating away at my spirit for a while now. Deep down I am a social person whose social skills/desires have been blunted by years of solitude and inertia.

I moved into a flat-share back in almost five years ago and I have been here ever since. In this time I have seen probably twenty people move in and move out soon after to greener pastures. They have changed jobs, houses, even relationships and cities; and I am still here- in the same doggone flat watching as the house gets dirtier and dirtier with each new batch of tenants. I mostly stay in my room, avoiding the only communal area-the kitchen-as much as I can. I am not free here and my soul is not at rest. I have grown weary of welcoming new tenants- I don’t care to know any new people. I so badly long for a big cozy couch, and the freedom to have a house all to myself (or at the very least to not be with strangers). So why not just move out? That is what normal people would do right? Well I am highly abnormal. What’s the point of paying more money in rent when I could just buy my own place and pay mortgage. So I remain here, stagnant and unhappy.

My Job is another thing- I like it okay, and as I always say-things could be worse. Still everyone in my year group and most of the people in the year above have moved on to new jobs, and I’m still here. My mother recently suggested that I apply for new jobs just for a change, as this is what people typically do. A new job could mean higher pay and more opportunities, but as always the change frightens me and I really cannot be bothered to go through the stress of change. Do I really want to go through the stress of job application only to end up with a job which could be more stressful and less flexible than the one I currently have? A job is a job no? I don’t want to quit my job until I find my passion/raison d’etre and can do that. In addition to the effort, my fear with change is the possibility of regret-what if the grass is not greener on the other side and I start to wish I had stayed where I was?

Change happens when the pain of staying the same outweighs the pain of change.

Well, I have had enough. I have started looking for a new flat. What was the last straw? I’m tired of the revolving door of people, and there are two mouldy pots in the kitchen that no one is taking responsibility for (it could really only be one person). I have been casually searching for possible options but now I have put on my big girl pants and actually started organising viewings. Yes I will have to pay more each month, but what is the point of money if I cannot use it to make myself happy?

As for my job, I will stay on for a little bit longer. A steady income is nothing to take for granted, especially in these pandemic times. But rather than simply say things could be worse, I need to actively become aware of all my options, both in the corporate sphere and in the creative space. I am reminded of this quote:

Find something to work on, something that makes you excited, something you want to learn.

It’s not just the job that stifles me, it is the fact that I am doing nothing else. There is nothing that feeds my spirit and makes me excited, I am just existing day in day out. I would not be so bored, if I had something to look forward to after work. I met up with some people from work recently and one of my managers spent some time talking about her garden and all her babies-tomatoes, radishes, cucumbers, even sunflowers. She is also planning her wedding so there is so much for her to look forward to in addition to work. Whereas I just roll out of bed, start working, and roll back in at night. Stagnant.

The sheer possibility of a change has brightened my day and lifted my spirits. I remember how excited I was when I first moved into this house; the joy of having my own space. I held on to that for five years too long. As stressful as it can be, change is so necessary from time to time. I hope I never forget this.

War on drugs: Just Stop.

“I understand addiction now. I never did before, you know. How could a man (or a woman) do something so self-destructive, knowing that they’re hurting not only themselves, but the people they love? It seemed that it would be so incredibly easy for them to just not take that next drink. Just stop. It’s so simple, really. But as so often happens with me, my arrogance kept me from seeing the truth of the matter. I see it now though.
Marie SextonStrawberries for Dessert

Cocaine. Heroin. Meth. Bath salts. LSD. Alcohol. Sugar. All of these things are different and all of these things are the same. For so long I thought of addiction only in terms of illegal “hard” drugs; crackheads and methfaces were the definition of addiction. Then I added alcohol to this as I got older and realised alcoholism could be just as bad as heroin addiction. I have always prided myself on not having an addiction; no cigarettes, no weed, no alcohol, no drugs, nothing. I mean I don’t even drink coffee. It was not until very recently that I seriously included sugar in this.

For a while I definitely viewed addiction as a choice- why would you do drugs when you know they will ruin your life? Just stop drinking dammit! In recent years I have become more sympathetic to addiction, strangely due to watching My 600lb life. Still my sympathy was from a high horse- I, a non addict, feel sorry for these poor sad addicts. It turns out that I am not that much different from these poor addicts.

In December 2020 I was out with my friend and her friends; I don’t remember what we were talking about (probably drugs) but the question came up about whether I had an addictive/obsessive personality. Without any hesitation, my friend replied that I did and that took me by surprise. I wish I had asked her to provide more details on why she thought so, but she was right. When I like something I am obsessed with it for a little while until I tire of it. I have had a Haribo obsession, a flapjack obsession (which really did a number on my teeth and jaw) to name a few. This also goes for my crushes; I want to know everything and I spend days consuming all publicly available content about the crush, only to move on and never think of them again. This is also why when I have junk food around I can never just eat a bit and save the rest for later, I keep going until it is all gone.

All of this is to say; sugar is a drug and I am a poor addict.

My personal physician- WebMD– agrees with me. Here’s a quote from their page:

Sugar fuels every cell in the brain. Your brain also sees sugar as a reward, which makes you keep wanting more of it. If you often eat a lot of sugar, you’re reinforcing that reward, which can make it tough to break the habit.

Why do you get a rush when you eat a midday candy bar? The sugar in it — called a simple carbohydrate — is quickly turned into glucose in your bloodstream. Your blood sugar levels spike. Simple carbs are also found in fruits, veggies, and dairy products. But these have fiber and protein that slow the process. Syrup, soda, candy, and table sugar don’t.

Yesterday I went for a walk, as part of my pseudo exercise routine, and as I have mentioned all my walks involve me walking to a supermarket. Supermarkets are my kryptonite-especially the larger ones- as they have everything. I get in a fair number of steps walking up and down the aisles like a crackhead looking for her next fix. Entering a supermarket must be like entering a crackhouse for a an addict of the crack persuasion; must be like a marijuana fiend paying Snoop Dogg a visit. Everything jumps out to me; the big bowl of popcorn, the vanilla custard doughnuts, the gummy bears, the apple pie, steak pastry, the shortbread biscuits, ginger biscuits, the cookie dough ice cream, the chocolate chip muffins, the madeira loaf, the cinnamon rolls, flapjacks, brownies, toffee sweets, lollipops, even crisps which I usually don’t like become so alluring to me. I want it all! My body yearns for this and i try my hardest to fight the battle. I walk through the aisles slowly, picking up these lusty seductresses and staring at them as I will myself to put them back. On my last trip I even picked up a beef brisket that was on sale- why? what did I want to do with it? All I know is that I was craving everything. I almost pulled out my phone to do a quick google search for a beef brisket recipe. The people who review the security cameras must be bemused/confused to see this terribly dressed woman with horrendous posture walking briskly and aimlessly through the store, touching everything (my hands are sanitised!) and putting everything back.

In the olden days it never occurred to me to be mindful of sugar, let alone check the sugar content of the crap I was consuming. Yes we all know too much sugar is not good for you, I’ve heard this since I was a child. However I thought I was being good as I didn’t actually add sugar to anything. I never bought sugar and didn’t add it to my cereal so surely that means I’m sugar free? {This is why I was so shocked when the dentist told me I had a cavity and needed a filling. Me? I don’t eat sugar and I brush twice a day unfailingly. How could the gods be so cruel?”} Ha! It was horrifying to find out that one chocolate chip muffin has 26g of sugar, when in those days I would wolf down a pack of four in one inhale, and then start on the custard doughnuts while saving the hazelnut chocolate for the end. I would easily have been eating almost 200g of sugar daily. Crikey! It was not until my body starting revolting against my diet, via weight gain, crazy skin breakouts, and dental issues, that I was forced to take stock of my life. Without these physical reactions it would have never occurred to me to reduce my sugar intake. Nowadays I make a half hearted attempt of checking the health content at the back; 67g/100g of sugar? Oh no. Well this one is only 48g so that must be better.

The only thing that saved me during my last trip to the store was some good ol’ self introspection. I said to myself: You have been through this a thousand times. You give in to the temptation and when you do consume all of the junk it does not bring you joy. You’ll feel bloated and uncomfortable, your skin will break out like crazy, and you will say never again. Your brain is craving these things because it knows that they taste good but you don’t have to give in. The temptation is in this store and if you buy all these things the temptation will be in your room and that will be impossible to resist. How many times have you given in to the temptation, lying to yourself that you won’t eat them all at once; Iying to yourself that you’ll make sure the haul lasts the week knowing damn well that all of the food will be gone by evening. The craving is in this shop. You will not think of that lemon slice once you leave this store. Resist. Resist. Resist.

Folks, this is why I can never try crack.

In the words of Oscar Wilde, I can resist everything except temptation. I am proud of myself in that I managed to walk away with just two toffee sweets. I ate the first one through my mask on the way home and it was absolutely delicious. As a child with no self control, I immediately started on the second one when I got home and it didn’t taste as good as the first. Lesson learned.

Addiction is hard and difficult to dislodge, even harder when there is nothing to counterbalance it. In my case I think my addiction is definitely exacerbated by my loneliness. When I’m with friends and family, I find that I don’t crave sugar as much, and I am actually judgmental when people (ahem my little sister) can’t seem to stop eating sugar. This is the same with my phone addiction-when I’m with my friends I wonder how they can bare to look at their phone so much. Get off your phone and let’s chat. But when I’m alone in my room my eyes are permanently glued to a screen resulting in restlessness, lack of adequate sleep and general unhappiness.

My heart goes out to all the addicts out there. It is easy to say just stop doing what you’re doing, just say no. If I am finding it difficult to say no to sweets, I can only imagine how much tougher it is for someone on heroin. The first step is realising and admitting you have a problem. The third step is actually making changes. I’m progressing away from the second step- which is shrugging and saying oh well life is short and I am alone, I might as well indulge.

May God make it easy for us.

It’s not enough!

“Your rest is not rest. You are resting so that you can work. You are working so that you can rest. You are caught up in a circle.”
― Shunya

For five days a week we slave over a boring spreadsheet staring at screens until our retinas burn; painfully dragging ourselves through the week, completely tired and defeated, thirsty for a little bit of relief. Friday finally comes and we breathe a little; it’s the weekend, time to rest. We rest for a minute to catch our breath and wham! Monday slams us in the face like a wrecking ball. How is this acceptable? Five days on, two days off? It’s not enough!

To be completely honest, Saturday is the only true weekend-even though I spent it doing all my chores and worrying about not getting enough rest. Sunday for me is spent dreading Monday, my anxiety level rising to uncomfortable levels in anticipation of the chaos. The result of this is that I am barely able to relax and when Monday comes around I am exhausted rather than refreshed. I dislike it strongly. Who do I have to talk to about this?

At the very least I require a three day weekend-Saturday to recover from the stress of the week, Sunday to run errands, Monday to rest and mentally prepare for the new week. Hell, let’s have a four day weekend if we really care about our wellbeing. What is the point of all the technological advances if we cannot rest? There’s even talk in the sciencey circles that a two day weekend is literally ruining our health and consequently our lives, our future, and our destiny. Something to do with our circadian rhythm blah blah.

My days do not belong to me, and so I try to make up for it in the evenings and the weekends. Unfortunately for me, after work I have no motivation to do anything productive, so I just stay in bed and stare at my phone until my head hurts. Nighttime bedtime procrastination plays heavy into this. My day is not mine, so I’m going to stay up as long as I want,, doing nothing, even though it is ruining me.

The only silver lining with the weekend going by so quickly is that I know the week will go by as fast; though it does not seem that way at 9am Monday morning, the distance between Moody Monday and Fun Friday is just a twinkling. Of course this then taps into my existential fear of the passage of time and how it seems time is speeding by, leaving me in its wake. It’s Monday then it’s Friday and it’s Monday again, and I’m just here, sitting still in the midst of it all like a passenger in a bullet train. But I digress.

The world has seen quite a few movements in recent times, the next one has to be for work-life balance. #FreetheWeekend #IStandWiththeWeekend #Handsoffmyweekend

I desire nothing more than a deep restful sleep. I fear I’ll never get it.

I have no idea.

“All day I think about it, then at night I say it.
Where did I come from, and what am I supposed to be doing?
I have no idea.
My soul is from elsewhere, I’m sure of that,
And I intend to end up there.

This drunkenness began in some other tavern.
When I get back around to that place,
I’ll be completely sober. Meanwhile,
I’m like a bird from another continent, sitting in this aviary.
The day is coming when I fly off,
But who is it now in my ear who hears my voice?
Who says words with my mouth?

Who looks out with my eyes? What is the soul?
I cannot stop asking.
If I could taste one sip of an answer,
I could break out of this prison for drunks.
I didn’t come here of my own accord, and I can’t leave that way.
Whoever brought me here will have to take me home.

This poetry. I never know what I’m going to say.
I don’t plan it.
When I’m outside the saying of it, I get very quiet and rarely speak at all.

We have a huge barrel of wine, but no cups.
That’s fine with us. Every morning
We glow and in the evening we glow again.”

― Mawlana Jalal-al-Din Rumi

Third time’s the charm?

Last year when I was still in the throes of baking, before I was attacked by cystic acne and vicious tummy fat, I attempted to make orange pound cake. I tried this twice, and failed twice before giving up on this, and then giving up on baking altogether.

Still my fondness for baking has been ignited, and will not be completely extinguished so easily. Plus it was bank holiday Monday, and everyone was out enjoying the great outdoors so I figured I ought to commemorate the day as well, and what better way than to revisit an old nemesis? That kids, is how I ended up baking orange pound cake for the third time.

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