My Life’s Rhythm

Writing 101 Day Three Prompt: Write about the three most important songs in your life — what do they mean to you?

1. The Strokes – I’ll try anything once

There’s something about this song that makes everything about it feel right, which is strange considering I will definitely not try everything once.

2. Brian Adams – Everything I do

This one is just something that takes me back to my childhood.

3. Jamie Cullum – Just one of those things

This song reminds me of certain days in 2009 and 2010 that were simply some of the best days of my life. I feel the urge to put a “:)” here.

What are your top three songs? Tell me in the comments, maybe?

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My Favourite Things: June 2014

My Favourite Things: June 2014

I haven’t done one of these posts in a very long time but now seems a good time as any to get back to it. So, here we go. My favourite things for June:

1. The Great Hunt

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This is the second book in The Wheel of Time series. I got into these books last month only, and already, I cannot get enough. For the uninitiated, The Wheel of Time is an epic, 15-book, fantasy series written by Robert Jordan. It’s set in a world where magic is in the form of the “One Power”, and starts with the protagonist, Rand al’Thor’s battle against the Dark One (who must not be named. I see now why JK Rowling got flack for some of her “inspirations”). This series will appeal to readers of the Lord of the Rings and A Song of Ice and Fire series. Also, please note that each book is around 700-800 pages long, so you really do have to be ready to commit to take on this beast. As I mentioned earlier, I’m only making my way through Book Two right now, but I think it’s worth the investment already.

2. The Strokes – Razorblade

Does anyone ever need to explain why The Strokes make it to their list of favourites? I think not. Fans of The Arctic Monkeys, The Kooks, The Zutons, and similar bands are going to love them. But if you’re a fan of any of those bands, chances are that you’re already a fan of The Strokes. So, let this be a reminder for you to re-listen to them. I’ve chosen Razorblade here only because it’s currently stuck in my head. Special mention should go to “I’ll Try Anything Once”, their demo version of what eventually became “You Only Live Once”, which is my favourite Strokes song of all time.

3. Swimming

Cairns_Lagoon

If you know me personally, you’ll know that this has been my favourite activity for quite a while now. However, I’ve had to take a break recently. So, I’m very excited to get back to it regularly now. I find it hard to believe these words even as I’m typing them—me, taking health things seriously! I suppose this is a by-product of old age. You finally realise that unlike your iPhone, you’re not going to be able to trade in your body for a new one. Though, it would be very nice to be able to do that, no? I’d get one without Siri though. I have enough voices in my head already.

4. Baking Bread

2009_Cinnabon_clone

I’ve tried cinnamon rolls and mini pretzels so far. Both have not been great successes. I basically didn’t add enough sugar to either. I thought I could get away with sneaking in a bit of “health consciousness” (I blame all the health freaks on the Internet who tell me substituting honey for sugar tastes the same. It does not.). I could not. These things taste the way they do because they’re not really good for us. And you know what, I’m going back to adding sugar as per the recipe. You can cheat on food if you work out later. That’s what I’m telling myself.

On the upside (or the downside?), I put together an excellent Upside Down Apple cake a while back. I recommend this recipe.

5. OS X Yosemite Beta Sign Up

Screen Shot 2014-06-04 at 1.45.20 am

There. I said it. I’m a little bit of a Mactard (for which I apologise), and I’m quite excited that Apple’s finally opening up Beta registrations for us “generals”, as I like to call us non-developers. I will make no apologies for my excitement. I’m genuinely looking forward to the new features of Spotlight, Safari, and iCloud Drive. I’m also pumped about Continuity. Gone will be the days when I have to actually lift my phone to answer a call when I’m on my Mac. The lazy person in me is rejoicing.

So, there you have it. Those are my picks for my favourite things for June. Let me know about yours in the comments or on Twitter @anujap.

Note: This post is a response to the Daily Post’s Writing 101 Day One Challenge

Make The Jump

© Eric Dufresne

© Eric Dufresne

The latest episode of HBO’s Girls (S03E06) really struck a chord with me. I generally find myself relating to Hannah’s stories but never has one struck so close to home as this time’s. For those who haven’t watched the episode yet, please note that this post contains MAJOR SPOILERS. So, please stop reading now. For those who’ve seen the episode (or don’t care enough), I beg your indulgence for a while. In this episode Hannah gets a job as an advertorial staff writer for GQ magazine. She ends up being surprisingly good at the job and her peers even think she could someday replace their boss. This immediately sets off warning bells in Hannah’s head and she argues that she, unlike the others, is a “real” writer, and is only doing this job as a temporary gig. Her peers knock her off the pedestal she placed herself on, and enlighten her about how they’ve actually been published in better publications than her, took up this job as a temporary gig themselves, and are quite definitely “real” writers. This is when Hannah feels these people have been sidelined from their dreams by the lure of corporate comforts, and agonised over not wanting to end up the same way. She quits but then is convinced into reconsidering by a peer who tells her she can do her personal writing on weekends and at night. The episode ends with her coming home, wanting to write, but being too tired and simply falling asleep.

It’s like they picked up my life and adapted it for this episode. I’m at a job that was supposed to be a “temporary gig”, for almost three years now. I thought I’d write on the side and maintain a blog and figure out what I really want to do, while working 9 to 5. I’ve barely done two of those things and I haven’t even done those regularly. On the show, Hannah is concerned that the money and the corporate perks will hold her back from quitting at a later point. I feared this as well. However, that’s not what will hold Hannah back later. I know this now because it struck me after watching that episode. It’s not the money that’s keeping me from pursuing my dreams and it’s not the perks. It’s the fear of not being good enough, or rather, capable enough to successfully follow my dreams.

I haven’t quit my job yet because I like the money or anything. I haven’t pursued my dreams because I’m afraid of failing at them. At this point, I don’t need anyone to tell me I’ll succeed, or give me an inspirational speech. What I need, and Hannah will as well, is a push. I need someone or something to come along and shove me over the deep end or else I’ll just be stuck here admiring the view off the edge. Scratch that. What I really need to do is make the jump myself.

Master Mixtape

This post has been written for the prompt: You make a new friend. Make them a mix tape (or playlist, for the younger folks) that tells them who you are through song.

I absolutely love this prompt! It’s been a while since I made a mixtape/playlist and I’ve never made one that describes me. Here we go:

Mixtape – Jaime Cullum

I’ll try anything once – The Strokes

The Upsetter – Jack Johnson

Love song for no one – John Mayer

Chasing pirates – Norah Jones

All at sea – Jaime Cullum

Caledonia – Paolo Nutini

You make my dreams come true – Hall & Oats

I love the whole world (boomdeyada) – Discovery Channel

If I ruled the world – Jaime Cullum version

Places to go – Leftover Cuties

Falling in love at a coffee shop – Landon Pigg

I know there’s a lot of Jaime Cullum in here, but it’s hard to resist his brilliance.

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On the path of life

This post is an answer to the prompt “You’ve been asked to speak at your high school alma marter—about the path of life (whoa). Draft the speech.

The path of life is defined by two constants—change and uncertainty. You may have it all figured out in your mind but things will most likely go a different way, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. As your life path twists and turns, you will too. With age and experience, ideas change, views change, situations change, means change, and longstanding dreams can also change.

When I was 13, I wanted to grow up to be an astronaut. By the time I was 16, I didn’t want to anymore. But you’ll say that’s ok, the resolutions we make as little children and teenagers almost always change, and I agree with you.

But then again, when I was 18, I wanted to be married by the time I was 24, I thought anything beyond that would be too late. I’m 25 and single now and I can’t imagine wanting to be married for a few more years. But who knows, maybe in a few years I’ll change again.

Life changed me, the decisions I made changed me, the experiences I had changed me, and quite importantly, the people I surrounded myself with changed me.

I currently work in writing and marketing. For almost four years now I have tried to decide between the two disciplines, and failed at picking just one. If you absolutely forced me to choose, I am still uncertain about which one I’d choose.

I realised that things started becoming more and more uncertain after I left school. Uncertainty was everywhere—which college I’d get into, which one I’d choose, what jobs I would apply for, so on and so forth.

I’m sure by now you get the gist of what I’m trying to say, especially because I’m sure you’ve heard it a million times before. And even though this might just be a reiteration, it doesn’t make it any less real or true.

So, what I’m saying is, you never know where the path of life will take you. If you are the type of person who likes to have a plan, go ahead and make one, but allow for inconsistances when it comes to implementation. This path will take you to some beautiful places and some horrible ones, some happy phases and some lonely ones, but know that it might change at any moment. I’m not going to end by asking you to enjoy the journey, because a lot of times it will be far from enjoyable, but I am asking you to remember that things change and when you feel uncertain, lost, and down and out the most, try to fret a little less because you could be next in line for change.

On figuring out what to do in life [unsolved]

I woke up this morning with a career plan. I’ve always wanted to study more, and recently read that the UK government was proposing new visa rules that would allow international students a good chance at work after a PhD. So, I was like—great, awesome, that settles it then! I’d started dreaming of my perfect student apartment in New Town, Edinburgh that I would share with a cool American undergrad and a Scottish postgrad. I thought I’d be the toast of the “consumption culture research” world, with my radicle papers on how embracing post-post modern consumption might just be the way ahead. And I’d imagined all the fancy dinner parties I’d be attending at my supervisor’s house, where apart from him and his lovely wife, I would meet other “cool” intellectuals like myself (ahem).

And then I read this article: The disposable academic which basically tells me that pursuing a PhD would be a wasted endeavour as there is more supply than demand in the market. The fact that this was posted by an acquaintance who is currently pursuing a PhD in Economics (a subject with far more potential than mine) added to my already vast disappointment.

So, what now? What am I supposed to do? There’s a little voice in my head that tells me I should go for it regardless of this one article. But I know this isn’t the only one, there are several out there, all saying the same thing. And this voice tells me “You’ll be better than the best! You’ll be the exception to the rule”, but I know that isn’t true. A very wise movie, and my experience with life, taught me that I am, in 99.9% of the cases, definitely the rule.

Image by Rijama

The thing is, it’s very difficult—this thing called “life”. One day you’re dreaming about bumping into Paolo Nutini on the streets of Edinburgh after nailing a class on Erik Erikson’s theory of stages of development, and the next you realise that not just the Paolo part, but all of that dream might not be possible. So then you start running through your back up plans—
I want to be a writer—No, there are too many writers out there who are far better than you.
I want to be a writer who finds a voice with which a niche audience can connect—No, there are already enough voices out there.
I want to be a travel writer—Have you seen twitter? Every third person there is a travel writer.
I want to become a musician—Get real, you’re not 12 anymore.
I want to become a singer in a jazz band—Get real, you can barely hold a tune.
I want to be a writer—It’s like you’re not even listening anymore!

So, what then? What am I supposed to do? They tell you you’re supposed to figure out what you can offer that is different from everyone else and then work with that. But, come on, when was the last time someone offered something completely different, anyway?

So, I circle back. I think that’s what you should do at times like these (note the Foo reference there), circle back to where you started and begin eliminating dead-ends that come disguised as options. Do your research, talk to people, and also try your hand at other things that are on your list of possibilities (perhaps try that writing thing again? write a blog post about your dilemma, maybe?). If you’re lucky,  and I hope you are, and if you work for something, or a few things, or even many things, hopefully one of those things, if not some or all of them, will work out.