Another month, another move

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It’s 7:15pm and I just want to crawl into my parents’ pull-out sofa bed and pass out.

12 hours earlier we left our spotless new apartment, with stars in our eyes and crumpled clothes on our backs. This was it, our first official workday from our new home.

It’s 7:18pm and we’re taking the familiar elevator up to my parent’s home to pick our son up and say no to my mum’s requests to have dinner with them – just twice, before we say yes.

We’re late because we went to buy groceries for the little guy, who starts school tomorrow. We stood in front of the vegetable aisle for 5 minutes trying to tell spinach apart from every other green leafy leaf. (It’s been 17 months since we last cooked. And last time we shopped, “spinach” was written in English. And we forgot.)

It’s 7:30pm and I’ve shamelessly handed over the freshly bought chicken and pasta to mum, asking her to cook my son’s school lunch.

It’s 7:31pm and I am so ashamed. I’ll chastise myself when I get that half an hour extra of sleep tomorrow night.

The last time I did this, it was so much fun. The novelty of sitting on the floor and eating pizzas, of picking clothes out of boxes and of imagining all the ways to fill up your corner space, is now replaced with a crippling case of nerves and fatigue. And fatigue.

It’s 8:05pm and we’ve been saying bye for about 6 minutes now. I don’t know what we’re expecting: for them to ask us to stay over tonight or to stay forever?

We enter the new place and are instantly glad to have our own space. Except when we see the kid’s lunch bowl and bottles in the sink. Why can he just use paper plates and cups like we do?

It’s 11.38pm and the only stars in my eyes now are the ones swirling around my head.

Kid’s school lunch only took about 2 hours of prep time. That should do – to impress the teachers, that is; he’s going to reject it anyway.

1t’s 12:18 and I’ve been awake for 18 hours and need to be up at I’ll-smash-that-goddamn-alarm o’clock. I’m writing this random piece because I’m overtired and cannot sleep.

Sorry, what were we talking about? I dozed off for a minute there.

Oh yeah, new house. Yay!

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The other day.

Just the other day, we were out window shopping when we got-on-a-flight-and-went-to-melbourne-and-returned-a-month-later-and-flew-out-to-muscat-for-the-weekend-and-signed-the-kid-up-for-school-and-found-an-apartment-and-got-into-a-super-intense-interior-decoration-mode-and-HOLYSHIT-I-FORGOT-ABOUT-THE-BLOG.

I’d apologise for my absence, but then I’d have to apologise for my insolence in assuming that my absence was felt. (Except for you lovely ladies; thank you for checking on me. And I’m sorry.)

Since I last wrote, I’ve been back home to Melbourne and back home to Kuwait, I’ve found a house to make our home again, my hair is blue-er and purple-er and turquoise-er, I got another tattoo, I’m finding my way out of the darkness, and I’m not much wiser than I was three months ago.

But I have been scribbling down incoherent sentences in disconnected places. Maybe at some point in the next few months I’ll be able to unpack my life and regroup my thoughts. Until then, these are the things I think of when the lights go off.

lights-go-out

  1. Meeting old friends is an emotional rocket in your pocket. Must do often.
  2. As Mufasa* wisely taught Simba: “It moves us all through despair and hope, through faith and love, till we find our place in the path unwinding. In the circle of life.” We go from school cliques to relationships to jobs. Before you know it, you’re attending weddings and helping friends move into new homes. And divorces. Then cribs and sleep training, and right back to school cliques. Whether you’re ahead or behind, you’re always in the circle.
  3. Moving homes/ jobs/ across the globe is a massive change. But as long as you’re doing the same old things in a new place, you haven’t moved at all.
  4. Forever is a cop out. Don’t promise to love forever. Promise to love every day.
  5. Anxiety is very real. Very lonely. Very scary. Very get-over-it-ed.
  6. Screw promises. Just get shit done.
  7. Life is hard work. Literally. It’s actual work. When you’re under-appreciated, under-valued and ill-treated, some mentally check out, some quit. Best bet is yourself. Be your own boss. When you figure that out, partner with people who make you happy and help you grow by helping themselves.
  8. Sometimes you need to go back around the world to see where you need to be. Other times, you need to go back around the world to see that there was always a happy place, and there always will be.
  9. You aren’t a bad person for wanting both – a safe home for every child, and a vintage chic yellow settee to go in your new living room.
  10. Me-time is not necessarily for self-discovery. It’s for mentally checking-out and checking other people out. Self-discovery mostly happens at peak stress levels, and perhaps on either side of me-time?
  11. Resentment truly is the poison they all say it is. But it isn’t as easy to let go off as they all ask you to do. Leeching is the way to go. Stick a proverbial worm on your self, let it drain out the bad blood, and don’t try to pull it out too soon. It is slow, painful and puts you off resenting anything for a while.
  12. The cliché, cheesy self-motivational quotes that you stashed away in your teens – DIG THEM OUT. Put them on your wall, mirror, desktop, phone screen. Read them every day.

Less ramblings and more coherent-ish thoughts from the next post on. I promise.

No, wait. I take it back. No promise. No deal. Next week is moving week and pre-kindy for the little guy. There will be no coherence of any sort.

 

*Disclaimer: I’m one of the 3 people in the world who never watched this movie. Luckily, Google.

Egos wherever I go.

Put it away, leave it behind, drop it, forget it, destroy it.

The word “ego” gets a worse rep than the ego itself. I’m convinced that people are more afraid of it rather than against it. Afraid in the way that people are of heights; because you felt you needed a weakness and this one seemed like a no-brainer.

Please let me, from my current not-so-full-of-myself vantage, tell you why you shouldn’t fear your own ego.

We’re never completely happy with our functional, healthy-ish body. It only takes a sharp look to shush our mind. We simply must comply. If you have a difference in opinion, you’re only doing it to rile everyone up. And failing that, we have an ego problem.

Yeah, no.

I’ve been going through some dark shit these past few months, but I love myself with the same intensity that I hate myself. That’s my prerogative. Having an ego lets me do that, and it also lets me stop the world from weighing in on the debate.

I put my foot in my mouth on a weekly basis, I make mistakes, I stumble and fall, I second-guess my every move. But I’m the boss of me. I decide when I get to celebrate, regret or repeat both my genius and my stupidity.

We’ve all been told this at some point in our lives: “For any relationship to work, you need to put your ego aside.”

If I put my ego aside to make a relationship work, then what am I putting into the relationship? By definition, I’ve just given up my sense of self-esteem. I’ve just given up the “I” in “I love you” or “I’ll respect you” or “I don’t want to”. That makes me nothing, and gives me nothing to put into my relationships.

Would you want to be with such a person?

Being with someone who respects themselves and knows what they stand for means that you don’t need to constantly validate their every move or think for them. You can both live and love as equals.

Having an ego even gives you the clarity to put someone else’s needs before your own.

Ergo, ego is good.

Ego

And no, Trump doesn’t have an ego problem, he has a mental problem. Kanye doesn’t have a giant ego, he is a giant arse.

I have occasional spurts of shaky ego. I don’t think that will ever go away completely, but that doesn’t “keep my ego in check,” it’s just a reminder that I still have a lot of learning and living to do.

Then there are instances when my ego takes a beating. I reckon that’s ok; much like tripping over my own foot. Or walking into a mirror. Shit happens. Contrary to smartarse opinions, it isn’t because I have my nose so high up in the air that I don’t see my own foot coming. Or mirror. Or beating.

Besides, your ego would only get a beating when you’re willing to go into unchartered territory. So, good on ya! Now dust yourself off and try again. You’re the only one who has to look yourself in the mirror when all is said and done. You’re the only one who you owe an explanation to. I say embrace your ego. Flaunt it, boost it, never stop working on it.

Yo’ mama needs a break.

He’s a skinny boy, with nary a growth spurt in sight. He’s crawled into our bed sometime between deep sleep and morning dreams, and has now taken over my space and sleep.

I carefully slip his warm weightless arm off mine and pick up my cold weightless phone. It doesn’t take a new-age embrace-your-child-or-ruin-them-forever mama to point out what was wrong there. So I toss my phone aside and pick up his little arm again.

Why stop there? Look at the little guy lying there, curled up beside me. All trusting and cushy. So I nudge closer and scoop him up in my arms. Oh his little frame so close against mine makes it feel like he is in my womb again. All mine, and mine alone.

He promptly kicks me in the groin and rolls away to a less needy pillow.

Little turd. Doesn’t he know I made him? And that I know several other mummy clichés?

  1. I wake up with bumps along my brow and cheekbones, because for a puny 2 year old, he head-butts like a pro-wrestler.
  1. Every muscle in my body aches from changing his clothes. It’s like trying to slip 4 pairs of wet tights on a wriggling octopus – blindfolded – with one hand tied behind my back.
  1. These days, when I gather him up after a fall to “take the pain away” with the age-old remedy of mama’s kisses, suddenly it’s: “Yucky. Too much kisses, mama. Don’t dooo that.” (While I thank M for passing on his ability to crack everyone up, I very proudly take credit for his witty comebacks. And oh how it has come back.)
  1. My body is a bean bag (put that in your song, John Mayer), and not just in reference to the shapelessness. When it comes to my lap, my son has called shotgun for eternity. Once seated on me, he proceeds to squish and squirm and jump and curl and stretch and wildly trash about as if possessed by the devil. His elbows, head and knees have a way of giving me a deep tissue massage from hell.
  1. When I try to reflect on my life and where I’m headed, the thoughts come unbidden to me. What’s for dinner, what’s in the pantry, what’s in the laundry, what should we do tomorrow to keep his mind active, all the ways I could be stifling him, all the ways I’m not nurturing him, everything I’ve not done for my husband that I used to and vice versa, all the free time I have that I don’t use…was that the baby crying?? I should go. I shouldn’t. Maybe just this once. One time can set a habit. Aaarrrgghhhhhhh.

Hence, this post.

Hence. This. Post.

There comes a time in every parent’s week. When you’ve been smacked, kicked and yelled at. When the naughty corner gives them enough time to come back with an apology, but doesn’t give you enough time to calm down. When all the cuteness in the world becomes a blur. And then, you lose it when they accidentally drop a pen.

You know you can’t be angry with anyone in particular, but you want to be. You know you’re not a victim, but every bit of you hurts. You’ve got a mostly calm and independent child, so saying you haven’t had any me-time just doesn’t feel right. Even when the most well-intentioned partner, parent or friend offers to help out, your brain cannot detach.

Which is why, even when the baby has been an angel, you still need an out. Except, you’re guilty to even say the words.

Come on mamas say it with me: I need time away from my child and that’s okay.

Even when my child has done nothing but sleep all day, I still need time away and that’s okay.

I’ve had a relaxing weekend and an easy week at work/ home, I still need time away and that’s okay.

I’ve spent all day at work, and come back to a whiney little sook. I momentarily wish I was still at work, and I hate myself for thinking that. That’s okay, too. On both counts.

They’re cute as hell and bottomless pits of love and adoration. The joy they give us is pure and overwhelming. And we still need time away and that’s okay.

In 2 days when it’s Mother’s Day and they make cutesy hand-drawn cards, but we secretly wish they gave us some solid baby-free, chore-free time – that’s okay, too.

Because if I’m not okay, they’re not okay.

mama

Happy Mother’s Day, ya’ll.

(Mostly to my mum, who’s had to endure us, and now our kids, without a minute’s break.)

Daymares (When day dreams go bad.)

I stumble out of the car, intertwined with my best people. We’re laughing uncontrollably about something that won’t be remotely funny to anyone who isn’t here.

It’s dusk and our shadows double over in laughter with us. I turn around, in a desperate bid to catch my breath, and my friends aren’t here anymore. Just a stranger with a dirty machete and a dirtier smile.

I wake up from the dream-turned-nightmare with a sinking feeling at the bottom of my soul, and spend the next hour trying to invoke good dreams. Trying to rewind my dream and end it at the happy part.

This would’ve been a good time for Leo to help me Inception my dream to wake up before it got scary.

And wouldn’t it be cool if we could do that with our life dreams before they turn weird?

WakeMeUp

Wake me up before I go-go crazy.

Like that course you took to fulfil your childhood dream. Except you grew up and the dream hadn’t. Shoulda got out before it started suffocating you.

Or like that true love you dreamed into life. Shoulda woken up right after the song and dance sequence, before the drama began.

Or the this-is-my-passion kind of dream that you’re just not sure about any more.

During my early years in advertising, I toiled for months on end to create what I thought was a portfolio of my most creative work. That little book is currently doing the rounds, as I crawl out of my maternity leave.

The other day, I was asked what I was most proud of in my folio. I mentally scanned through all the words and ideas I had strung together in my career.

The ones I was most proud of though, were the words and ideas I had taught my son to string together these past 2 years.

What folio does that go under?

I taught the kid to crack his first lame joke, to do a goofy victory dance every time the ball leaves his little hands, to say please, even at 2:30am.

And I’m not even particularly maternal! Yet, it feels like I’m fulfilling something. A purpose? A calling? A he’s-so-cute-I-must-be-dreaming kinda dream?

I admire the women who give up their careers to be stay-at-home mums and vice versa, or people who start new careers after 20 years in another. They’re brave humans who accept that one dream must end so another can begun.

See, I love what I do. It’s fun, it’s with fun people and it’s mostly for fun. But I’m not sure it’s my dream any more.

There are so many things I want to do with my life; I have a feeling that in a few years, my career path will look like the steps of a hopeless drunk trying to make it from the front door to the bathroom. I’m ok with that, as long as it doesn’t end up curled on the floor clutching the toilet bowl.

“Dream big,” they say. “Never give up on your dreams,” they goad.

Would it still be called giving up if you didn’t care anymore?

Most of us get stuck in our dreams – both personal and professional – because we remember how much me wanted it. We don’t owe it to faceless motivational posters to follow through on our fading dreams. But we owe it to ourselves to follow our heart – even when it changes.

I’m starting to realise that if I want to end my dream on the happy note it deserves, I should wake up sometime soon.

Because if you have a dream, by all means, you should chase it. But if your dream starts chasing you, WAKE UP BEFORE THE GODDAMN MACHETE APPEARS.

1 heart-2 bodies, and other such crap.

2gether

Yay to the high-school sweethearts who celebrated their 83rd anniversary, and the Obamas with their “we’re-just-your-average-everyday-power-couple”.

Yay to the BFFs with a split photo of them both all cheeky at 9-years-old and all giggly at 60, and the mum-besties who take exotic holidays together.

Yay to the profile photos, hazy filters and status updates that celebrate these relationships.

I’m very private about my relationships, and I’m not here to reflect on them. This is not a rant either, it’s an observation. Of sorts.

(I warned you about the dark side.)

In-your-face-book.

There’s a Lawrence Durrell quote that goes: “A diary is the last place to go if you wish to seek the truth about a person. Nobody dares to make the final confession to themselves on paper: or at least, not about love.”

Swap diary for Internet and paper for social media, and bam! You’ve got our whole over-sharing generation.

My facebook and instagram feeds poureth over with mush and goo. But when I put my phone down and look around, I see more toxic relationships and lonely people.

Geez. That sentence left a skid mark in my brain.

 

Hope is dope, yo!

To escape from all the negativity we see around us, we run back online. In fact, I think going online for a hit of hope is our current international pastime and/ or addiction.

And I do hope all of the relationships – platonic, romantic or confuse-ic – that are professed and flaunted online are true. I sincerely hope they are, for the sake of honesty and goodness.

 

Objects in the browser are not always how they appear

But see, I’m prone to the occasional stab of cynicism. And some of these 237-Like-photos cause entry and exit stab wounds, the size of my fist. It’s only a few seconds before the cynicism ferments into judgement. And then I curl up internally from the guilt and shame of being so petty.

Truth is, it’s 2016 and everyone knows not to take what we see online at face value. We’ve even been in some of those photos! But try as we may, we can’t help but let a bit of the negativity seep into our thoughts.

 

Move over, body-shaming. Hello, relationship-shaming.

Which is why, we need to start talking about relationship-image issues in the same vein as body-image issues. I bet it causes just as much depression, social anxiety and binge-eating/ crash-dieting.

Social media is the new Photoshop.

Conceal broken hearts and bruised egos, airbrush out emotional luggage, contour around any sign of disagreement. Post.

Except, we’re thrilled when models and celebrities say that what we see on magazine covers isn’t real. But when we share our lows, we have a volley of advice thrown at us or we’re shunned for being negative.

 

Don’t worry, be sad-dy.

Maybe we don’t need you to show us the light just yet, but just agree that sometimes relationships are more hard than hard-work. More All By Myself than Lean On Me

Let’s always extol the virtues of being positive and happy, but let’s not demonise loneliness and sadness. We need to normalise them.

There is no prescribed happiness, only your version of it. There is no perfect relationship (even pizza will let you down), only precious moments. Accept the highs and expect the lows. Be gracious or be ugly with it, it’s your call.

Like we’re taking ownership of our bodies, let’s take ownership of our relationships. Flaws and all.

And let’s also accept that sometimes, seeing friends or partners with their arms intertwined is more nauseating than heart-achingly cute.

(crickets chirping)

I’ve been silent for a while now. A month to be exact.

This time my excuse isn’t that I’m drawing a blank. In fact, the drawing is a bit out of control. And I won’t use the busy variety of excuse. That’s a given now; everyone is busy all the time.

And it isn’t even my inability to write. I’ve been writing. But as I read through each piece for the 100th time, I realise they’re all silent. Each one of them. No voice. No sound. Just a bunch of words thrown together.

Perhaps it’s because I’ve gone mute.

See, I’ve always been liked and hated for my chirpiness. It’s just what I do. Be chirpy, crack a few jokes, pass some faux wisdom and drop the mike. Some of my oldest (and nicest) friends have been in touch, wondering when the next blog post is due? When can they expect their dose of happy?

I’m sorry. I’ve got none to give right now.

independent

Life’s not easy, yawl. It’s like a long walk we’re all taking. Some of us are in a hurry, rest of us stop for a chilled beer every now and again. Some of us stop to smell the roses, rest of us avoid all clichéd proverbs. Some of us do all of it in one day. I’ve come to realise that the lonely parts are when those who were walking with you suddenly move ahead and you’re left behind smelling the goddamn roses.

And soon you lose your voice from having fallen into disuse.

If you’re lucky, a new bunch of people show up and you find your voice again. Or a better voice, as I have in the past. But you still secretly wish that the people who’ve raced ahead turn around and wave, as if to say they’re waiting for you. As if they still care.

Until one of that happens, I guess I need to embrace the quiet. And stop fighting it through a lethal combination of logic and counting-my-blessing-isms.

Today, I salute the quiet ones, the pessimist and the introverts. The clingy ones, the attention-seekers and the sooks.

I salute your courage to own your state of mind without crumbling under pressure from the positrons. Stay strong, my friends.

For a fiercely independent woman, I can turn into an affection-seeking hot mess in under 10 seconds. But I’m not shushing up and putting on a brave face. I’m going to accept my lows and embrace this voice until I start enjoying this walk by myself, if that’s what it takes. I’ll talk to the strangers and ones zooming past me; I may even holler out to those who’ve raced ahead.

Say hello to the dark side of Pigs, Figs & Higgs.