don’t bend; don’t break; baby, don’t back down

If I were to improve just one thing about myself… That is one of those uncomfortable self-assessment questions that I hate. Because in order to truly answer it, you must look in a really unpleasant mirror. Most of the times, I single out my willpower for the “needs urgent improvement” award. But now that I think of it, it is not really that. I can get my act together, if I find sufficient reason to do so. My real issue is that it’s just a bright blaze that burns out quickly. I am not a long distance runner. I want either immediate results or fun in the process. Without any of those, my willpower just hisses and sputters and dies out like a lit match in a bucket of water.

I am attempting to dangle the proverbial carrot in front of my own nose. I am patting myself on the back for the little steps and calmly trying to explain to myself the thousand other little steps needed for the journey make a difference. But I need results. I need to taste the little victories. Something abstract like “you are now one step closer to the goal” doesn’t cut it. And if it doesn’t feel like I am moving in any direction… lord, please let it be fun at least. Let me feel good about it. But nope… nothing on that side either.

Still, nothing left to do but soldier on. Good little marching ant. Eyes on the prize. Keep calm, don’t let things get to you.

You better stand tall when they’re calling you out. Don’t bend, don’t break, baby, don’t back down.

Well, either that, or cuddle up and take a nap. It’s been a nap-heavy time lately…

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damn the government, damn their killings, damn their lies

There are a lot of different reasons why I left my home country. When I visit my former home (I have very much started to think of this as home now), invariably someone (the old neighbor from downstairs, the lady at the little grocer’s on the corner, or some skeptical co-worker) asks me: “Is it better over there?”. My answer is an unwavering “Yes, otherwise I wouldn’t have stayed.” It was a choice that benefited from a lot of luck, a lot of circumstances and hard work. But never really a choice I regretted.

Sometimes you can see a little light of recognition and a thoughtful “Yes, life is probably easier there.” I nod and let it drop. Am not sure that ‘easier’ would be my word of choice, but there is no point in continuing the discussion. Sometimes a skeptical “But do you like it?” follows. “Yes.” The same pointless discussion.

My personal theory is that it is about a person’s worth in the eyes of others – be it state institutions or random people you meet. Yes, I sometimes get the disappointed “ah” and slight cooling of attitude when I say where I am from. But mostly they can’t tell or by the time they find out, that particular label does not matter anymore.

In all other respects though… I am not made to feel that I am worth any less for any reason. I am not invalidated because of any beliefs or life choices. I am not lessened by a clerk behind a counter. I am not feeling like a nuisance to a cashier. I have not once been catcalled on the street. My new co-worker casually mentioned his engagement to his boyfriend during lunch the other day and no one batted an eyelid before congratulating him.

Meanwhile back ‘home’, a bunch of apes in Parliament refined the paragraph of the Constitution to define family as being based on the marriage between a man and a woman. Three million other folks had signed a petition because they couldn’t sleep at night for worry of who fucks whom. (I honestly don’t think they worry much about love in any form.) All that was done in the name of preserving traditional values, under the approving nods of priestly beards.

Soulmate dry your eyes… Soulmates never die.
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and if you listen very hard, the tune will come to you at last

So many things changed. And so many things stayed exactly the same. New horizons that immediately felt like home. Some friends stayed, some friends came, some friends went, some friends died. New jobs that are actually old jobs. New scars – some inked and pretty, some sown and ugly. Old loves that never die. New worries and ancient anxieties. Feelings of never having grown out of my old skin and feelings of having shed multiple layers since. Sometimes I don’t remember how the day has gone by and have no time to ponder it, some other days I do nothing but ponder on their passing. The same old demons visit me on quiet nights. Sometimes they whisper the same old stories that I know by heart, some other times they drip creative new innuendos in my ear. On some nights I slip away from them into the world of sleep, some others I lay awake and listen to them till the early hours of the morning.

It was many years ago and seemingly a lifetime away that during a long and quiet night shift, I was talking to a friend and trying to find words for the whirl of half-formed thoughts and feelings that I was choking on. I groped at other people’s words for help and mentioned some lines from Stairway to HeavenA decade later, the sheet music is etched in my skin and that verse has come to pass. And that sometimes feels too big, too scary, too crushing. Mostly though it is liberating, whatever the price.

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