Low

Someone once said that perhaps it’s those who are depressed who really see life for what it is. Barring health problems, accidents, murders, what do we really have? Some sixty, seventy, eighty years on this earth. Birth, growing up, schooling… really it’s only a means to train ourselves to work like a dog until death. It’s the knowledge of this, seeing past the trappings of a mortal life, that make it difficult for some of us to even get up in the morning and face the world, knowing what’s in store for us. When we trade rose-colored glasses for a harsh lens of ‘reality’ it’s impossible to put the pink back on. Once we see the world without prejudice, hopes, aspirations it’s just simply not easy to go back to a place of comfort and security without waiting for the other shoe to drop. Maybe that’s why so many of us with emotional problems have maladaptive coping methods. Drinking, drugs… it’s a way to alter our reality in order to escape the knowledge of what’s to inevitably come.

A joke I heard once runs thus: Elephants never forget… that’s why they drink. A silly statement, but doesn’t it really hold some truth? If you see past the curtain of life and are faced with the world staring back at you with cruel eyes, wouldn’t you try to forget too? But unfortunately it’s that forgetting that’s so difficult. Maybe it’s because I have a perfectionist streak in me that causes me to constantly replay past moments in my mind’s eye, wishing to change even the slightest bit of the past to reshape the future and the hell that I’ve constructed for myself. Trying to tear down the walls of my mental prison has proved to be the hardest task I’ve ever done. In college when I had the realization that I was attempting to undo over twenty years of self-inflicted psychological damage, I broke down inconsolably crying. When it comes to critics, I think usually we are our own worst: we’ve seen ourselves in highs and lows, successes and failures, the best of times and the worst of times. No one knows ourselves better than ourselves.

Sometimes I feel like therapy is really just picking off the scabs of half-healed wounds. I suppose a better anatomical analogy would be the necessity of re-breaking a mis-healed bone in order to reset it properly. But unfortunately, there’s no emotional morphine we can give ourselves. Maybe that’s why I drink too much: an anæsthetic to this deep, egregious wound I’ve caused myself. Maybe that’s why I did a lot of cocaine when I lived in LA: a way to numb the pain and to feel on top of the world in order to look past my own slights and problems. Of course, both of these carry with themselves their own baggage. Even though I kicked the $70-200-a-week cocaine habit, there’s still the guilt I carry with me of what I’ve done to my body. Even though I can’t seem to cut back on my drinking enough, it carries with it the intense guilty knowledge that, medication interactions aside, I shouldn’t be trying to numb the pain in this manner. Even though I’ve been doing two to eight hours of therapy a week, I can’t escape the thoughts of pure and utter failure at life.

To look past one’s faults and be ok with oneself is one of the hardest things I think anyone can do. ‘Normal’ people don’t seem to have a problem with this, but for me it’s pure torture. In my EFT ‘tapping’ therapy, the formulaic statement to repeat to oneself ends with “… I completely and totally love, accept, and forgive myself anyway.” Or, a modified version (that I have to use) is: “… I am willing to accept the possibility that I can love, accept, and forgive myself anyway.” It’s also said that in order to truly love another person you have to truly love yourself. I doubt the truth of that. I can’t stand to look inside myself and I certainly don’t love myself, but I feel such intense, burning love for other people that it’s a cognitive dissonance enough to rend me apart at the seams were I not so talented at slamming up mental shields every time the discrepancy comes to mind. My three closest friends, Marc, Jeff, and Chris each know they have my boundless love, affection, and support. Maybe since I’m such an empath I’m so empty of feelings for myself to be so full of feeling for other people. Maybe this is just an inherent part and flaw of my nature. A (nerdy) statement a friend of mine once said to me was “Sonyl, you’re the ultimate empath. You put Deanna Troi to shame.”

It’s good to be recognized as an empathic soul. I think part of my ability to feel and commiserate with others’ emotions comes from the fact that, from being bipolar, I’ve experienced the full gamut of human emotions, from mountain-topping joy to soul-crushing depression. And maybe I shouldn’t regard my bipolarity as a weakness, but rather a way to truly understand the nature of humanity and really, truly, understand what others are going through. I’ve never wished my disorder upon other people (except my parents in a fit of rage because they can’t understand me) but going through the intense rollercoaster of emotions makes it able for me to fully understand the kiddie rollercoaster that normal people go through. It’s a pure question of semantics, verbs, context: I understand, fully. I don’t have to give lip service when a friend cries on my shoulder. I go there with them and, just as I have pulled myself (barely) through the same emotions, I can serve as Virgil to guide them through the depths of their inferno and bring them to purgatory and paradise.

Maybe, just maybe, I have to look at my emotional problems as a strength, rather than a weakness. Provided I can force myself to get out of bed in the morning, maybe, just maybe, I can use the gamut of the emotions I’ve gone through for others’ good instead of constantly beating myself up for having to go through them. Maybe, just maybe, I can learn to love, accept, and forgive myself anyway.

Innocence Lost

Around the corner from my apartment is a grade school. In the mornings and afternoons I see children tromping to and from class, all bundled up in knit scarves and mittens and beanies. Part of me wants to run up to each of them and say “Just you wait, it gets better” and part of me wants to say “Enjoy it while it lasts! It’s all downhill from here.” Don’t we all look back to those times when life was as simple as building blocks, coloring, and nap time and have some sense of nostalgia?

School, whether grade school or college, offers us all a sense of security. Knowing there’s a schedule, structure, rhyme and reason to the day offers us a feeling of security that we’ll never recreate once we’ve left the doors of the halls of learning. Every day at noon is lunchtime, followed by recess. Every semester starts with schedules and school supplies and buying books. Every time we step into a classroom, we know what to expect: we’ve done it a hundred times before. Except for that very first day of preschool, we know exactly what’s going to happen over the whole school year. And once the years pass by, we never again have that uncertainty that we had on that very first day of stepping into a classroom and that memory fades. Sure, we all have those dreams on the day before class starts: going to a test naked, forgetting about what classes we’re taking, realizing at midterms that you haven’t been to a class all semester. But we’re still secure in our knowledge that we know exactly how the system works and that there’s a rhythm to our days.

Once we step out into the cold world, however, our thinking changes. We have to replace the protractors and textbooks with briefcases and the 9-5 grind. Now we aren’t working for grades: we’re working to put food on the table. Just the knowledge that our rent and meals and bills and recreation depends completely on one’s job performance is enough to overwhelm the brain of a new graduate. For most of us, getting through that hurdle is just a simple transition from one life to another; others of us struggle with it for years, still not ready to accept that life will never again be so easy, so comfortable in schedule, and never so innocent. Entering the ‘real world’ strips us our security blanket of leaving our lives in the hands of our teachers and thrusts it into our own sweaty palms. We’ve each spent the last twelve years and then four (or more) years basically training for what we’re going to do in the future. We’ve been training ourselves to suffer the grindstone of “work”… we’ve been learning how to make money. We learn how to live in the time between classes; nothing you can learn in a classroom can really prepare you for what you will experience once you exit those doors. There is no Life 101, no Paying Your Rent 102, no Relationship Advice 300.

So, after all those years of imbibing knowledge (and for many, imbibing other things) what are we really left with? In order to really understand ourselves and our place in life, what do we really know at the end of the day after the classrooms are dark and we no longer carry a backpack everywhere? We all survived the trial period of puberty and the hell years of middle school and/or high school and/or college, and hopefully we have come out stronger for the experiences.

Once we have to worry about credit reports and cable bills there’s really no going back. When we have started navigating ourselves through the world, at the helm of this ship called life, there’s really no way to return to port. Adrift on an endless sea, we must find a North Star and set our course from there. Once we have the rude awakening from the sheltering mountains of the Ivory Tower and have been released into the revelations of a new life, we can never really return to the where we were. From here on out, it’s up to ourselves to set our course with barely a sextant to keep us on our path. After the ship has taken us far away and we have to navigate by starlight, we can never go back. In life, whether or not you go back to school or stay in the world of academia, we will never again recapture the pure, unadulterated simplicity of recess and knit mittens.

Find your star.

Give Me the Strength—Anika Paris

From On Gardner Street

I’m driving to your house
My thoughts are turned up way too loud
There’s so much I wanna say
But I’m not feeling very proud

I wish this night were far behind me
I’m so scared to be alone
And I’m too tired to keep forgiving
Still it’s hard to let you go, to let you go

God give me the strength to leave you
Give me the strength to say goodbye
God give me the strength to leave you
Give Me the chance to save my pride
Cause sometimes love just ain’t enough, no no no

So I’m standing here outside
My heart is hanging by a thread
Don’t know what to do with how I feel
Oh I’m knocking on your door
Wish I could run away instead
Run run so far away

You greet me with the same old story
And ask me if there’s something wrong
You promise me oh baby this time it will be different
But I can’t stay for very long, for very long

Oh God give me the strength to leave you
Give me the strength to say goodbye
God give me the strength to leave you
Give Me the chance to save my pride
Cause sometimes love just ain’t enough, no no no

I wish this night were so far behind me
I’m so scared to be alone
And I’m too tired you know to keep forgiving
Still it’s hard to let you go, to let you go

God give me the strength to leave you
Give me the strength to say goodbye
God give me the strength to leave you
Give Me the chance to save my pride

Cause sometimes love just ain’t enough, no no no

Will I?—Lyrics from my favorite RENT song

Will I Lose My Dignity
Will Someone Care
Will I Wake Tomorrow
From This Nightmare?

New Beginnings

We’ve all flipped the calendar and for the first time in my life I’ve always remembered to write “2008” on checks, instead of slipping up and writing the previous year’s date for at least a month. I think perhaps it might be because I was so ready for the previous year to be over that I decided to hit the ground running with 2008. But isn’t it just a little odd that simply incrementing a number carries with it so much weight, importance, and significance? When it comes down to it, it’s an arbitrary number in a system of arbitrarily dividing our time into arbitrary units. Or perhaps it’s just an excuse to celebrate and reflect upon what has happened in our lives.

Last year I decided that I would term 2007 as “Year of Happiness.” Perhaps I jinxed myself. 2007 was certainly not the best year I’ve had, and the happiness factor was definitely not the overarching theme for the year. The laundry list of slip-ups, misfortune, ineptitude, and tragedy that the previous year threw at me is a bit much to recount. Suffice it to say that I’ve been seriously doubting my sanity lately. I’m just not sure how I managed to fuck up so much in the past year and how much happened that was completely outside my plans and my previous experiences. I find myself waking up each morning wishing that this whole year was nothing but a bad dream and I’d open my eyes to find myself in my old apartment in LA, with a job and sound mental health.

The transition to Chicago has been very rough on me, and it’s only because I have so many close friends here that I’ve been able to make it through and to look forward to the life changes a new city offers. Just the drive from LA to Chicago was an ordeal in and of itself. Since I’ve been here, I’ve been occupying my time mostly with a whole lot of therapy, trying to adjust to how my life seems to have decided to shape itself. I feel that I’m finally starting to get to the point where I’m the sculptor of my life instead of a passenger on a train to the future. I’m beginning to get back to a state in which I can actually do some design work without worrying about having a major panic attack. Even though I keep wishing it’s all been a bad dream, I think I’m ready to start taking an active role in my life and stop floating from one self-created mess to another and then another.

In keeping with my tradition, I’ve given 2008 a title, a theme by which to attempt to live the next 365 days. (Well, 366 since this is a leap year.) Keeping in mind my resolves to straighten up my life and try to live it to the fullest, I’ve termed this year Year of Motivation (it’s ok to reuse titles, right?). Now I finally feel like I can make active changes. I’m going to begin the job search and return to a full-time job for the first time in over a year. That itself will require considerable amount of motivation, as hunting for employment always takes. I’m going to get back to my yoga practice in an attempt not only to lose some of the weight I’ve gained from drinking too much beer but also to regain some sense of balance and peace in my life. Getting back into the groove with violin is another goal; one of my new friends here in Chicago is a pianist, so perhaps that goal of having a recital for my 30th birthday party will actually come to fruition.

But coupled with these plans for change there also is an element of moving into stillness. Sometimes motivation also involves accepting that all things can’t change overnight and that one must take the curveballs life throws at you and flow through them with grace. If life hands you lemons, ask for sugar too so your lemonade is tastier. If it hands you limes, ask for tequila. Sometimes you have to take the bull by the horns and instead of being a toreador you calm the raging toro and leave the ring together in peace. Sometimes it just requires a little bit of patience and the knowledge that the past is the past and one must live in the present moment and look forwards, not backwards. We are not all Nostradamus, but maybe we can glean a bit of what is to come by changing the attitude towards how we view the moment.

Living in the moment. This is something I’ve had difficulty in doing throughout my life. Perhaps it’s my nature as a creative and a perfectionist that makes me dwell on past mistakes, rehashing in my mind how a moment could have been handled better, changed, healed. I need to remember that the past is the past and, short of the invention of a time machine, one cannot alter what has happened. Indeed, as temporal theory would dictate, changing the past would change you fundamentally as a person and rewrite the good as well as the bad. We must take what has happened and look to the future to reshape our lives. Instead of dwelling on the bad in our past, we should relive the joyous moments and savor the good that has happened. This requires a lot of motivation, peaceful thoughts, and a lot of willpower—things I don’t really have in abundance. But I’m willing to work on it. There’s truth in the saying “Que será, será.”

Perhaps what really needs to happen is something less dramatic. Maybe what we need to do is merely look inside of ourselves to remember what truly makes us happy. Instead of constantly looking outside of ourselves for external reasons that our lives may not resemble our Master Plan, maybe we need to (forgive the expression) find inner peace. This process of self-reflection seems to be quite a problem for many people. It involves taking heavy stock of what is inside our soul and re-examining the bad as well as the good in order to separate wheat from chaff. As Descartes did, it requires breaking down our whole lives into the simplest bits, starting with Cogito ergo sum and building with small blocks from there. This meditation requires much willpower and it may not even be possible for a person to do but once in a lifetime. But aren’t the rewards as great as the effort? To find what truly makes our lives joyful is a basic way to ensure that our future will be bright and filled with light and sound.

Remember: sugar and tequila.

Stuart Davis—Swim

(Lyrics to my favorite Stuart Davis song, “Swim”. On Self Titled)

The only reason that it’s scary getting old
is people treat you like you’re too big to hold
and you still feel just like a kid

You call my bluff when I pretend to be at peace
You take the water that I finally release
Close your mouth, open your arms

That is why I reach for you so much
I think I’m drowning until we touch
Life is an ocean we fall in
When you hold me I can swim

In this hospital the beds are made of steel
and metal instruments are all some people feel
What you need is something soft against your skin

So you don’t have to pretend to be at peace
I’ll take the water that you finally release
Close your mouth, open your arms

That is why you reach for me so much
You think you’re drowning until we touch
Death is an ocean we fall in
I will hold you while you swim

Watching

There’s a great thing about living in a big city: you’re able to people watch incessantly. I have an odd habit. I don’t only watch people, but I make up names for them and their life stories. At the coffeeshop I see Claire, who’s escaping her apartment because it’s a big mess and is dreading cleaning it. I see Steve the investment banker who’s taking a break from looking at numbers. There’s Jim the medical student, frantically cramming anatomy for an exam. Say hi to Raul, who’s working at Starbucks to pay his way through culinary school. Angela is a complicated case: on the bus I hear her arguing with her husband over the phone about his lack of support for her ailing father, and I make up a story about her father. He’s a bricklayer who’s getting on in years and is battling cancer, but the prognosis isn’t good. Her husband is too focused on his career and has never been close to the in-laws.

In a city like Los Angeles or Chicago, where the anonymity of passers-by is a given, creating fictions of people’s life stories makes me feel a little more connected to the pulse of the urban jungle. There are stories all around us if we only look for them. The manner in which people carry themselves can give insight into their situation. If you catch a glimpse of their eyes it offers insight into their soul. We watch TV and read books to get a look into fictional lives, but we have our own, unscripted plots to explore. What might we see if we could really look into a person’s life just by a passing encounter?

Humanity. It’s a connection to each other, the knowledge that the tapestry of our lives has woven us together, even if for a single moment. When we fleetingly touch another person’s life, we’ve become part of their history, their story, even if just as the role of an extra. But you’ve permanently made a mark in their book, even if just as footnote. We might only hear what they’ve ordered at the deli, but that in and of itself tells us something about the other person. When we open the door to another person’s world we might see all sorts of things, for better or for worse.

And maybe it makes us feel less alone.

Gently Falling

Through the whole three years that I lived in Los Angeles, I never traveled back to the Midwest during winter. I avoided seeing snow and ice in favor of the moderate temperature of Southern California. However, now that I’ve moved to Chicago, I have to get my winter legs again. For those who have never experienced a snowy winter it can seem like an act just short of masochism to inhabit an area where just the elements outside can kill the unwary.

My first snowfall here in Chicago was nothing short of a small torture. I walked around the corner to get something to eat and had to trod lightly through the snowy parts to the side of the walk instead of through the middle which was much more icy. As I crossed the street, I had to give in to the elements as the wind blew me across the ice, my feet useless except to keep me upright. (I nearly was slammed into the building.) The still-falling snow rode the wind as a Valkyrie, prompting everyone to only stare at their feet and concentrate on their own footing. Food in hand, I walked back to my apartment against the wind and fell flat into the snow and ice for the first (but not the last) time of the season.

Yet there is nostalgia for this inclement weather. Seeing the small kids on their way to or from school, bundled in their knit stockingcaps and mittens, holding hands for stability, reminds me of the days spent outside as a child, frantically packing snowballs in an endless war against the other neighborhood kids. At that age, falling in snow is part of the fun, flopping on one’s back in new snow and making snow angels. We must have a greater tolerance for cold at that age, because the idea of staying out on the coldest days of winter to lob packed balls of the odious winter precipitation for fun seems as much fun as a root canal. But as we get older our tolerance for the inclement weather focuses more on four-letter words. Crawling across an icy parking lot to avoid falling every step is not outside the realm of possibility. It’s on these days we appreciate the scalding shower, the fireplace, the hot coco, the glass of brandy. Tasting the sharp mint of winter’s breath prompts a desire to stay indoors, wrapped the blanket of friends and family, and watching the snow fall while safely tucked away inside.

The snow can be beautiful. On even the gray days, the light reflects off the snowdrifts, brightening everything to the point of needing sunglasses. It mutes all colors, overexposing the photograph of the landscape. The eaves turn into caverns of icicles, menacing teeth always threatening to fall and impale the unwary. But one of my favorite memories of winter was sitting inside at my parent’s house and seeing the naked tree in the front yard perfectly veneered in a layer of shiny ice. The sunlight glinting off the frozen branches was perfect, blinding, pristine.

But at the end of the day, we stomp off the snow at our door and try in vain to keep the melting snow away from the rest of the house. On days like this it’s good to have something warm in your bed, a body or an electric blanket.

It’s getting cold.

View

It’s quite a departure from LA: from my apartment here in Chicago I can only see a bit of the sky. The main drawing point to my apartment in LA, apart from the brand new hardwood floors, was my huge south facing window: excellent natural light. I live on the lowest floor of a courtyard building now and my view of the sky is only a bit out of my back door. But in other ways, I see the city for what it is. The mile radius in which I live offer its own surprises and new experiences. Just going to Walgreen’s and having to get envelopes and stamps to mail my rent is new. Before in LA, all my buildings had drop boxes for rent. Such small changes, and yet new and different.

From my apartment, I see many dogs. I’m a complete dog freak, so seeing so many in my complex is wonderful. I pet the little terriers, the big huskeys, the labs, the mixed breeds, Soon, when I am more settled I shall get one of my own: hopefully a Scottie or a Scottie mix because I know their temperament. I grew up with a full-bred Scottish terrier, and he was the best dog I could have had growing up. It’s quite interesting; he died nearly ten years ago, and he still reappears in my dreams. He protects me, just like he did in life. We would do a little joke with him where my family or my friends would pretend to hit me, and he’d immediately jump on them and try to stop it. Such a pacifist dog he was, just like I am. He was great, and the fact that he still protects me in my dreams proves a bit that there is a doggie heaven, doesn’t it? He’s always there for me. I have lucid dreams where I fly, I change my dreams consciously, and I always call him up. The cancer wasn’t enough for him to live through, though we had the best veterinary surgeons in the area. It had metastasized though his entire system and there was nothing we could do. He didn’t survive the surgery.

We buried him in the backyard, with a stone at his head to remind us of where he was. Every time I’m at my parent’s house, I visit his grave and just tell him about my life. About how well I’m doing, or not. I know he can listen, because he’s still with me in my dreams. I still cry when I think about him. He was with me from elementary school until college. My biggest regret with him is that I couldn’t make it from work to the vet hospital in time to see him before he went into surgery. And nearly ten years later, I still cry about him. Every time I see a Scottish terrier, I cry. The last time I saw one I was still in college; she was half Scottie, half Westie, but she still reminded me of what I had lost that I broke down crying for a half hour and couldn’t drive back home. I think I missed a class, but it was worth it to just see a baby dog that reminded me of what I had lost.

Here in my new neighborhood, there are so many dogs. My apartment complex allows dogs, so most of the people who live here have one. But I still haven’t seen any Scotties. They’re rare dogs, with a fiercely loyal yet relaxed temperament. I always say that they’re a small dog with a big dog personality: fuck with me if you want, but I can still nip your ass and make you regret it. He was the best dog to grow up with. As they say, you get your dog and he/she fits your personality. My parents couldn’t have known when I was so young that Scots would have been the dog for me, but he was.

Doggie heaven. I don’t believe in heaven or hell, but I believe that every creature comes to the life force, the Gaia if you will, of the planet. But he’s still there for me.

I love him and miss him. Is that wrong, ten years later? He protects me still, just like when my family or friends would fake attack me.

New

Moving to a new city is beginning a relationship without really knowing the other person’s intricacies and quirks. No matter how many times you’ve visited a city, actually living there involves a whole new cadre of responsibilities and commitments. Leaving where you’re lived for years rips away the comfort of a routine: work, a neighborhood learned, friendships built, patterns established. Once again one must learn where the train of your life wants to go, where you can get off, where you the stops in your life are. For the first time, it might feel wrong, no matter the circumstances. And eventually it should feel right. If the place you’ve left makes you feel like two spoons together, it can be torture to leave that warm bed you’ve made and go to the purr of a new place. The climate is different, the trees, the sunsets, the sunrises, your schedule. Aligning with just how you softly navigate a new life is impossible to predict in time and scope.

But maybe for the first time it feels safe, like you deserve it. If you leave a city that’s not right for you and uproot your plans, maybe it just works. Maybe the whole uprooting process is enough to throw you into a new path in life. Maybe the move was prompted by a relationship, by work, or just to get out of a rut. It still has its merits. It always has its merits.

I left behind a lot when I left LA. Friends, comfort, a relationship. Why did I? Because I was in a rut. I had lost a job I loved (or was at least comfortable) and my income dwindled. I developed panic attacks due to my lack of finances and though I had monetary familial support, they couldn’t follow me to my darkness visible. The relationship I have with my family has always been rocky at best, and emotionally abusive at worst. Me being an artist from kin of doctors has always grated on them. When I was in college, my mother would always send me clippings of either failed artists or successful businesspeople, making six-figure incomes while still in their twenties. I tried to reassure them that graphic design was a noble profession, that I could show the world and not be another horror story to read in the papers. Still their scorn cut deeply. Until I went to college and decided I was learning for myself and not their approval, every low grade on a test was another strike in my book against myself. I stopped showing my parents my grades or discussing school early in high school, and it was both one of the hardest decisions for them to accept and one of the best that I ever made. Like most immigrant families, they only wanted me to be the best. They just didn’t understand that their opinion of my best and what I knew was best for me weren’t the same. They failed to understand my temperament and kept comparing me to my brother and sister and to my best friend who excelled at mathematics and sports. They didn’t realize that the verbal and artistic worlds and musical words were my passion.

A little mitigated in the future. When my best friend chose an artistic field (as I knew he would) his parents were supportive. His parents supported him in his theatre aspirations and I compared my parents to his, prompting the full wrath my parents were capable of. When they said “Indian children don’t do this!” and I replied with “I’m not Indian; I was raised in America and here we can do what we desire” … I was slapped with the full force that a fifty-five-year-old mother can muster.

That slap cut me to the core. It was not only a slap in the face at my rebellion but at my choices in life. Instead of being the high school valedictorian I was “supposed” to be, I was the gay artist of the family. I pursued my dreams in high school and college and ended up as the black sheep of the family. My brother and sister, a prosthetist and doctor, were the shining stars of the family and equally derisive, and when I came along, ten years later, I was immediately raised to ‘fix their mistakes’ as they had faltered in high school (which my parents thought continued through life, until they excelled in their chosen professions.) I was even called a “parasite” by my father, referring to the drain I had put upon the family. Did that affect me? You bet; no matter what, we still hope for our parents’ love and acceptance.

Bullshit. Early on, I had to accept that their expectations of me were just that: their expectations, and I that had to live my own life. I needed to know I was living my life, and not the life they wanted for me. It’s common in Indian families to have to live out the dreams of one’s parents instead of your own. I rejected it.

But yet… I moved to Chicago, on the advice of my parents. Being closer to family means… what? More scorn, more derision, more lectures. But I’m in a place away from the scorn and derision that comes with living in LA. In a land where everyone is beautiful or an aspiring actor, the drain on one’s soul and confidence comes easily. My friends in Chicago remind me that the scene is different here… people stand you up when you fall, they congratulate you on your successes. It helps, especially with how I feel about what I’ve lost from LA.

My life there isn’t waiting for me anymore. Everything would be different if I go back. But I live my life here in Chicago is a similar way… my life mostly has the four-block radius that I had in LA… just minus the car. I’m learning mass transit. I’m adjusting to having friends within a few walkable blocks, instead of a car ride away.

And I’m getting more comfortable.

Pieces about my life and other thoughts, for better or for worse. Mostly for worse.