Losing OneNote

Over the last two weeks, I had to knuckle down and focus on a singular project that consumed me. While I did relax, and carry out other leisurely activities, most of my work time was taken up by this individual project. As a result, I didn’t really feel like I needed the daily planner I usually used on OneNote. I relied on an approximation of what the day needed to look like to slot out the time I had on hand and figure out how best to spend it. I used my whiteboard to keep track of anything that came in which demanded priority. Speaking to my parents and recounting my day to them helped me keep check of whether I had actually done what I set out to do. I completed the project I had to complete, but in the process, not using OneNote for 14 days, after using it religiously for 6 months felt like quite a shock.

I didn’t see any impact of this move on my habits – because I think they’d formed by then already. As a result, I still woke up early, tried exercising a little each day, played my instruments and learned new things. I didn’t notice a dip in my happiness – which was very gratifying in a sense. One of the fears I had with daily logging is that I’d associate all my happiness with ticking things off a list, but it was nice to know that I was able to keep myself happy without searching for an external validation or metric/measure of that joy.

One of the things I did observe though, is that I have no record of how I’ve progressed in the last two weeks on some of the bigger things I want to do with my time.

For me, what I’ve taken comfort out of in the last four months or so is being able to track how I’m doing against the kind of things I want to be doing. Some measure of progress of some kind. I never felt anything out of this, but it helped me see how much the small things I did on a daily basis led to immense learnings in the long-run. The guitar, for example –  I wouldn’t have been able to appreciate how much 15 minutes of one activity daily could influence a larger goal as much if I didn’t keep track of it.

That’s what I’ve missed in the last two weeks. I can roughly say I’ve made progress, but on what – and how much? I have no clue.

It’s nice that I’ve hit reset at the start of a new month. Back to OneNote I go.

Writing Fatigue

Over the last two weeks, my time has been spent writing applications of different kinds. As a result, I haven’t blogged about anything. Most days I’ve felt like there hasn’t been anything to write about, but on the days where I felt I did have a story to share, the amount of energy spent on writing application essays, or e-mails drained me. I haven’t experienced that as much in the past three years. When I started out this blog, I felt like I’d never tire of writing, or of sharing. Yet now, spending so much time in front of my computer, with my keyboard, I do feel drained.

There are different ways to address this I suppose. Taking time away from writing has helped me out in the past, and there’s nothing to suggest that won’t work this time around. However, there’s also the other angle to everything – that if I don’t write, and I continue to use my fatigue as an excuse for not writing, I may perpetuate an everlasting cycle of not writing at all. That wouldn’t sit well with me, particularly given my affinity for attempting to catch my rainbows with this blog.

Naturally, I’m going to force myself back into my writing.

I’m also doing this because I’m acutely aware of what the next month might bring with it – and it’s not something I want to leave uncaptured.

The Writing Habit

This writing habit of mine is a funny thing. I say habit, but I break it every once in a while and end up coming to the same conclusions. At this point, this is probably the tenth time on the blog that I’m writing about breaking my writing habit and the kind of things it has made me think about. However, each time, although the conclusion is the same (that I need to write), I find that it is a different thing that triggers the break. Recognizing those triggers for me is as important as anything else I do, because if, one-day, I ever read my own blogs again, I’ll be able to understand why there was a random gap between posts when I considered myself to be a daily blogger.

So, why’d I end up on this break? Three things happened all at once in the past two weeks:

  1. Fear: I was talking to a high school friend of mine when I first vocalized this fear building up inside of me that I would run out of stories to tell, particularly given that most of my stories, and most of my writing revolves entirely on observations I make in a given day. During this lockdown I’ve been really fortunate to have found a routine that works for me, and I’ve stuck to it almost religiously, but being slightly confined, I began to get scared that my writing would reflect a broken tape-recorder, with the same observations about the kitchen, or maybe something else I found in the house, but not much else. My friend told me this wouldn’t be the case, especially because I notice new things so frequently, but I wasn’t entirely convinced by that. The realization I’ve come to now is that life will go on, and this blog has essentially always been a chronicling of the things I find fascinating on the day to day. Letting that fear stop me from writing, and this is something I’ve felt before as well, is premeditating that nothing story-worthy will happen in my life henceforth, which is simply not true. Life goes on, things will keep happening, so I shall continue to weave stories out of them.
  2. Longer conversations with parents: My parents and my family are the most ardent readers of this blog. It’s weird to think that now, especially given the kind of things I write about, but I’ve never been conscious of my audience while writing here – given that I am not writing for an audience in particular, so there’s never been a filter on content. Over the last few weeks, my parents and I have spoken for longer durations each evening. It’s a combination of things again, but they are free-er at the end of the day, as am I, and we have these free-wheeling conversations about everything under the sun. I usually end up telling them my stories, and they’re the best private audience to observations I’ve made throughout the day. Writing about them almost feels repetitive. In short, I became lazy. If a story is good enough, there’s no harm in saying it twice. In fact, I think my parents will get the preview to all future blog posts, because it’ll probably be one strand of the conversation that ends up making it here.
  3. Lull: The last two weeks have been a lull for me in terms of actual productive output. There’s been a blip. I’ve been consuming more content, but I’ve not reflected or written about it. In some ways, that’s because I’ve been changing up my routine – which has tired me out a lot. In other ways, it’s because I’ve not noticed where the time has gone. For example, it actually only occurred to me yesterday that I hadn’t written for over 10 days now. Inconsistency is easy to cultivate I think, especially without fixed, tangible deadlines. Hobbies don’t have those unless you really want to set them. Lulls seem a part of life as well, you know, but I think the ambition moving forward is to have stories in reserve – those longer stories that deserve telling when there is time on our sides.

Time to write away.

Playing Catch-Up

Over the past three years, writing has become an integral part of my life. Days feel incomplete without it, because it feels like I have failed to articulate or structure, or really do anything with my day. On days that I write, even if I’ve spent the entire day on RuneScape, or watching Netflix, I feel accomplished, instead of looking at the time that seems to have flown past with terrible graphics and a lot of nostalgia. However, like I’ve mentioned on this blog before, I procrastinate from time to time. Last week was just one of those weeks, where every day, writing seemed like a struggle.

I didn’t even realize a whole week had gone past. A combination of the lockdown and a lack of effectively implemented deadlines (or strictly implemented, rather), has meant that my only actual realization of how long it has been. It’s been close to a month since the lockdown began – and to this date, it has now been one month since my last University in-person lecture took place.

I didn’t write for close to a week. Then I decided it was time to write, that my lethargy really could not, and should not, last any longer. Today was the day I played catch-up with myself. Honestly, the way I saw it was that I could have ignored all the writing I missed. It would not have affected anybody at all – particularly because I don’t think too many people read this blog religiously anyway. For me though, taking that easy route out would have represented giving into the challenging times this lockdown has placed me in. You see, for me, working and consistently doing things – being on the move, so to speak, gives me the most joy. I can sit still and quiet down when I need to, but I thrive more, in terms of happiness, when I have the opportunity to express myself.

I’m privileged to be safe and healthy at present. I need to keep expressing myself for my own mental health at this point, because otherwise I will give into the fact that my hobbies cannot replace traditional notions of work. That is untrue, fundamentally, because my hobbies are enough to keep me going. Writing everyday serves as a reminder of that.

Writing today, I’m determined not to play catch-up ever again because it makes me feel insincere to this craft I am trying to doggedly pursue and perfect.

Plus, honestly, writing more than these posts a day is quite exhausting. There’s no need to do so much in one day when you can consistently do a little each day.

GloPoWriMo 2020: 5/30

Today’s prompt is honestly the toughest prompt I’ve seen the good folks over at NaPoWriMo put out.

It’s called the “Twenty Little Poetry Projects,” and was originally developed by Jim Simmerman. The challenge is to use/do all of the following in the same poem. Of course,  if you can’t fit all twenty projects into your poem, or a few of them get your poem going, that is just fine too!

  1. Begin the poem with a metaphor.
  2. Say something specific but utterly preposterous.
  3. Use at least one image for each of the five senses, either in succession or scattered randomly throughout the poem.
  4. Use one example of synesthesia (mixing the senses).
  5. Use the proper name of a person and the proper name of a place.
  6. Contradict something you said earlier in the poem.
  7. Change direction or digress from the last thing you said.
  8. Use a word (slang?) you’ve never seen in a poem.
  9. Use an example of false cause-effect logic.
  10. Use a piece of talk you’ve actually heard (preferably in dialect and/or which you don’t understand).
  11. Create a metaphor using the following construction: “The (adjective) (concrete noun) of (abstract noun) . . .”
  12. Use an image in such a way as to reverse its usual associative qualities.
  13. Make the persona or character in the poem do something he or she could not do in “real life.”
  14. Refer to yourself by nickname and in the third person.
  15. Write in the future tense, such that part of the poem seems to be a prediction.
  16. Modify a noun with an unlikely adjective.
  17. Make a declarative assertion that sounds convincing but that finally makes no sense.
  18. Use a phrase from a language other than English.
  19. Make a non-human object say or do something human (personification).
  20. Close the poem with a vivid image that makes no statement, but that “echoes” an image from earlier in the poem.

I do not see myself weaving all 20 of these into a singular piece – for the most part because that does not interest me. Thus, I will be incorporating one of these things.

Peach Perfect 

“You’re a peach!”,
Merriam-Webster exclaims is the best example of a metaphor,
To call someone pleasing.
Au contraire, my peachy friend,
Peaches are not pleasing,
Their colour, in fact, they’re merely leasing,
Their appearance?
Round gluteus maxima, I say.

Oh, and the descriptions of their taste,
“Juicy orbs of sunburst deliciousness”,
Clearly, you pick fruit with haste,
But, come now, we must do our due diligence –
and spot the fur from a mile, nay, a marathon away.

You may think we’re brothers,
Maybe the hair gives you that notion,
In reality, we’re third cousins,
My genes contain some of the worse portions – and
as a result my appearance is a gag,
“A potato with fur”,
“A haggly sack”

I so dislike this peachy business,
Why must he get all the praise,
The next time you see someone please you,
Please call them a kiwi, I say.
“You’re a kiwi!”
You see, it rolls off the tongue,
Kiwi is two syllables,
While peach is just one.

GloPoWriMo 2020: 4/30

Today’s prompt asks me to write a poem based on an image from a dream.

I get this recurring dream of me floating around in space after having a heavy meal – a literal gas giant, if you will. It isn’t so bad, I’m enjoying my life up there, till I realize nobody has the power or ability to bring me down. Quite often that is where the dream stops, and it’s what I’ve chosen to depict today, tugged along by Wordsworth dearest.

Gas Giant

Ballooned up,
No strings attached –
I floated around in empty space,
Without the ability to move around freely
Something kept me in place,
Unbeknownst to me,
I caused a crisis,
An eclipse
Preventing the sun’s rays from brightening up
Anyone’s days,
I lingered,
Lonely as a cloud.

 

GloPoWriMo 2020: 2/30

Today’s prompt is to write about a specific place.

School

Primary school was a 3-minute drive from home,
Exit the car park,
Take a left,
Take a right,
Make a U-turn,
Take a right,
You have arrived.
Every morning, I’d be a passenger, witness to this route in my semi-dazed state,
Each afternoon, I’d be a compatriot to my father, awake and
Describing every minute of my day.
Take a left,
Make a U-turn,
Take a left,
Take a right,
Enter the car park,
You are home.
In those 3 minutes, I’d fill my dad’s ears with all sorts of stories,
Excitedly babbling away – never paying attention,
To the road that he’d take,
If only I had,
Perhaps I would have recognized,
That the shortest route to my school,
Was just a straight line.
Unfortunately, that was not to be,
My grandfather and I walked, in 40 degrees,
We exited the car park,
Took a left,
Took a right,
Made a U-turn,
Took a right,
We had arrived.

Holding a Fountain Pen

My left-handedness has made this world a strange place to navigate. This comes with everyday things – including the use of scissors and nailcutters. The most frustrating thing I have to overcome though, genuinely, is the art of writing. There are so many obstacles as a left-hander. Desks in science labs are always on the wrong side. Spiral bound books affect your ability to write smoothly. You can’t see what you’ve written before because your gargantuan hand and the angle you hold pens in covers everything you write. It’s very frustrating. As a child, I used to come home with black hands because my hand would smudge lead from my pencil all over. It was awful.

When I graduated to using fountain pens, I started to discover angles at which I could make this art form of writing work reasonably enough. I practiced writing every day, using the opinion-editorial pieces from newspapers as things I would write out. It got me into the habit of reading the news, improved my handwriting and improved the speed of my writing – which is still devastatingly slow.

My handwriting went through several iterations of cursive before settling on what it is today. In Grade 9, my mother suggested I switch over to black ink and write straight and small cursive. In Grade 11, I rebelled by writing in the slopiest cursive imaginable. My cursive today sits at a pleasant 45 degree angle to the line I write on. Sometimes it goes even further.

All of this context is because this morning, I started studying for tomorrow afternoon’s examination. I realized, in that process, that I hadn’t picked up a pen all year – till today. All notes I’ve taken have been digital. Including the notes I take at meetings. So today was the first time I dusted off the pen, filled it with ink – scratched on multiple pieces of paper to get the ink flowing and started writing again.

Jee whiz is my handwriting terrible. In a way, that’s a good thing – it’ll mask some of the faffery I am bound to do in tomorrow’s exam. In other ways, it’s not so good. Maybe the next three days will be the duration in which I make a return to neat handwriting.

Weekend Mastery

Mastering a weekend, to me, is the art of telling yourself that you’ve got two days to catch up on everything you need to catch up on – and not beginning till Sunday evening, before it’s too late and it’s the Monday. At least, that’s been the story of my weekend thus far. It may improve a little over the next couple of hours, but even if it doesn’t, and this is all my weekend is – I have loved every minute of it. I’ve slept a lot, managed to read a fair number of books. Life is swell.