Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Dear 26

Dear 26,

There is something soothing about following a recipe. Its very well structured and the end result is usually something you're familiar with. There is something satisfying about using raw ingredients to come up with something completely different and tastes 10 times better. There is something about focusing on perfecting a recipe that helps your mind to just take a break from over thinking and focusing on whats in front of you.

Next time it gets a little too much, when your thoughts get out of control and you find it really hard to get out of bed. When the constant running of thoughts through your mind gives you a headache you don't know how to deal with. When no painkiller in the fridge helps and sleep is no longer an option, I suggest you turn to baking. Trust me, I've tried it today and I feel a bit better. Not better to the point of sleeping early or being back to my usual self, don't get too excited, but better. And for now, better is better than nothing.

When you decide to bake, I suggest you go for the hardest recipe you could think of. Something that requires a lot of effort and time. It's even better if you don't have all the ingredients in the kitchen, it'll force your to leave the house (sadly, I had all ingredients today).

I went for the honey cake today. I patiently waited for the sugar, honey and butter to melt and combine. I gradually added the eggs and whisked, giving no chance for any thoughts to pass my brain other than pouring and whisking. I added the baking soda and whisked until my eyes went a bit funny. And then came the part when I had to add the flour. Half a cup at a time I wished I had stronger muscles. The pain of folding the heavy dough, I can still feel it. It was good to feel frustrated at something other than myself, to be frustrated that the dough was still sticky. Then came the part where I had to bake all 8 layers, 2 at a time after having to roll them out into circles. That definitely didn't give me a chance to think about anything bothering me. And after all layers were baked, after burning myself a couple of times, it was time to make the frosting. The sound of the hand mixer silenced a lot of the thoughts that were trying to find a way to get my attention.

When I was done assembling that 8 layer honey cake I wasn't really ready to be done. I wanted something to be missing. To find another recipe or find any excuse to keep my mind busy. But it was over. And eventually everything will come to an end. There is always space for another happy ending.

Get baking

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Documenting My Life | December

At some point in the end of November and the beginning of December I decided that I shouldn't be going out. That decision was influenced by a lot of things happening in my surroundings that I found comfort in staying longer hours in my room, preferring to stay alone than meeting people. I somehow managed to convince myself that I shouldn't be enjoying my time and instead I should be focusing on one main task I've been trying to get to.

Back in January I had very high hopes for December. I imagined it in a very different way. I thought I would've figured things out by then. Have things sorted. To have things lifted off my shoulders and not just me alone. I absolutely hate it when things don't go according to plan, it makes my ignore everything good that ever happened and just focus on everything that didn't. It's normal I guess.

Negativity aside, December was the month I allowed my feet to touch the beach in a pretty long time. I felt the sand between my toes, the cold water after its rage and smelt that familiar salty smell that reminds me of my childhood.

I appreciated the time I spent alone more than I should. I asked myself so many questions and spent a lot of sleepless nights thinking of answers. I don't have a lot of them incase you're wondering. I journaled, although less than I hoped I would.

I saw my father as he slowly started sharing more. He seemed like in a good mood and shared stories from his childhood. He discussed with us random topics from economics to farming and water supply. We talked about land prices, investments and the future. We attended a lecture at the National Museum that allowed us to discuss topics on the history of Oman in more details. 

December was also the month that made me realise how lucky I am with the people I'm close with. The time I spend with my sister is something I always look forward to. My friends are great, always making sure I'm alright and taking that extra step to force me to go out, to let go of some things and just breathe. And my cousins, those whom I haven't seen in a while and when we meet its like we're 12 again watching Disney movies and waiting for my sister to tell us a story she made up. 

To be honest I'm glad December is over. I'm glad 2016 is over and I'm more than ready to the start the new year with more hope than I currently have. I documented a whole year by answering 365 questions in that Q&A journal, by documenting monthly and by journaling whenever I felt like it. I think I enjoyed it and I'll continue with it in 2017. Or at least I hope I will.

Happy New Year! And may 2017 be the best year yet :)

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Documenting My Life | November

I was hoping November will be better but it wasn't

As much as I want to dwell on the all the reasons why November was bad I'll try focusing on all the good things that happened.

November made me realise how I'm grateful for my friends and family. Throughout the month, my friends have been constantly around making the month more bearable. Everyone of them has their own way to deal with me and truly refreshing talking to them. And then my family and their random acts of kindness. Their support is always appreciated and it feels as good receiving gifts and even more when you least expect them.

Brunch is my favourite meal of the day and it seems to be done daily now that I wake up later than usual. We had brunch at my cousins' place and she cooked the most delicious food I had for a while. We all sat there remembering all the good memories we share, discussing our future while drinking a caramel latte. We watched a halloween movie and ended our day with a visit to the National History Museum, I was impressed with it and really enjoyed my time.

November was also all about new interests. After visiting the museum and seeing the 2 million year old artefact, I went to a lecture on the early settlement in Oman. I started reading more on old text, nations that lived in Oman across history and anything really to do with the early humans. I'm also almost done with reading Homo deus by Harari and his theories on the future of mankind. Let's see how long the interest will last.

I've had my first job interview since coming back and I was hoping their offer will be better. I don't have much to say about it right now, I used all my energy up complaining about it.

Note to future self: every once in a while pick up "How to win friends and influence people", it makes a good guide on how to deal with people.

December, please be better

Monday, November 07, 2016

Dear 26

Dear 26,

I've been forgetting a lot about you lately. You have been the furthest thing from my mind always skipping you when it comes to the future. You seem too short term which scares me a lot. The near future is something I've been worrying about and I try to avoid that feeling as much as possible.

For future reference, it takes you exactly a month before you start losing your mind due to lack of productivity. That's a month including the little patience you have. I'm hoping the 2 years until I get to you will help me be patient for longer than just a month. We both deserve breaks and we both don't know how much pressure we put ourselves in. Enjoy breaks as much as possible. And for our sake try to calm down and not worry much, everything will eventually be ok.

Also please remember our old self, the one that doesn't bottle things up. I've been getting a lot of headaches recently and I really think its due to the bottling up I constantly do.

I sometimes wonder 26 if you have everything I'm currently wishing for.

I hope you do.

Maria at 24

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Documenting My Life | October

After every high there is a low and I was wondering how long it will take for that low to hit. I hated October even though some good things happened. It was too slow for my liking. Too boring. Too bland. I'm glad it's over but at the same time I'm not looking forward for the rest of this year. I'm A day and 19 minutes late writing this but I already hate November and it just started.

October started happily, still continuing on the high of the previous month. I think being back didn't really hit me at that point. On the night of the first I watched one of my friends get married. She looked beautiful as always and I was so happy seeing her on her big day. I spent 4 years with her in Leeds, seeing her almost everyday. I've seen her smile, seen her cry, stressed and excited. And it was only fitting to see how she'll get along with her life. All the wedding details reflected her beautiful simplicity and I'm glad I shared the night with her.

It's difficult being back in Oman and continuously being asked to come back home, having to take permission to go out even if it's to the grocery store. I miss the independent life.

My MSc results came out in October. I can now tick off all the goals I set for myself. May I add successfully. It was nice identifying the feeling of success even if it didn't last long. This month I also finished reading 2 books that took longer than thy should: Sapines and I Capture The Castle.

It has been a month since I'm back and I still have no idea what I'll be doing. I sent an email asking for any job vacancies, I went for labs which might sound surprising. But so far I think it's the better choice.

Being back is killing any bit of creativity or willingness to write. I constantly find myself wanting to write to at least get some of that stress away but I never find the right words. Like I'm suddenly unable to clarify anything. And as the days passed I wonder what got me to this boring state of not being able to write anything I feel worth reading.

I need inspiration, I need muse. I need something to make me feel interesting. It's purely for me, I can't stand being another boring person that complain on the internet. And I can't seem to find the way out.

And finally, "I quite understood; when things mean a very great deal to you, exciting anticipation just isn't safe." - Cassandra, I Capture The Castle

I'm not looking forward to the rest of the year!

Monday, October 31, 2016

cancer, you suck!

Dear cancer,

Notice that I’ve called you “cancer” with a small c because I don’t think you deserve the tiniest bit of respect associated with starting a name with a capital letter.

I honestly tried to understand you, maybe given you what they call “benefit of the doubt” a couple of times. But really, you don’t deserve any of that. You’ve been getting a lot of attention recently, from the press, from medics and researchers, from everyone. And the more attention they give you the stronger you seem to get. You’re not shy of the bad attention. You don’t have the tiniest bit of self-respect to slow down a little bit, to let the hate die down a bit.

You still haven’t attacked my closest people. But I’ve seen you attack over and over again people I know, families of people I care about and I keep praying, everyday, that you don’t find a way to get to those I love, or anyone for that matter.

It’s enough already, die out!

You’re selfish, more than anyone I have ever seen. And over that, you’re greedy. Why can’t you just sit in one place, why do you have to spread? Isn’t it enough the damage you make in one place? Do you have to go on ruining a person’s health beyond repair? And what’s up with going and coming back? Why can’t you just leave for good? Why do you have to keep people on edge, anticipating your return in misery, and pop up when least expected?

And don't get me started when you take away a person's life. Murderer! 

What I’m trying to say is you’re not welcome. Have some dignity. Pack your things and just leave. Find another host to live on, not our loved ones.

Actually, take one for the universe and just leave.

With so much hate,

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

A Year in London

Its been a month since I found myself at the arrivals terminal in Muscat Airport. Usually I can’t help but smile while exiting the door to the waiting area. This time I was genuinely scared. I was scared of being back, for what’s waiting for me once I exit the airport. A month later, I’m still as scared if not more. 

The past year I’ve spent in London was a good one. I might even step out of my comfort zone and call it successful in so many levels. I’m back with a Master’s degree, with knowing more about myself and a little bit of self confidence. 

When I first arrived in London and this whole journey started I found my self-esteem, self confidence and everything related to how I view myself and my capabilities visibly fall like the autumn leaves. I felt as exposed as those shedding trees in the cold and gloomy London days. I continuously questioned myself and if I’ll make it through. That autumn I set my goals for the year, made new friends and put myself out there for London to do me good.

Then came the chilly winter with its strong winds. Sending me left and right with every huff and puff. I’ve never felt more scared about whether I’ll be able to make it past winter, past all the winter wonder labs and all the studying. The colder it got, the stronger my fears shivered and I felt them the most. No matter what I did, nothing kept those fears calm. Winter felt like it was spent between the library and cups of coffee. Coffee kept me going, it always did.

By spring I left all my fears behind. I knew I passed my exams that once kept me up all night. Although I was a bit disappointed, I was glad I made it through and it was time to focus on whats next. I learned to love labs that spring, the anticipation of whether PCRs worked, the excitement when it was time to analyse the sequences and learning to appreciate the calmness of the lab. There was always something to look forward to.

Then came summer and as the days passed I wanted them to stop. Everything was coming to an end. Starting to write my thesis was also an indication of the start of the end. The support I got from my lab mates and supervisor was beyond what I expected. They were what I needed and more. They kept me going and always there to motivate me. Leaving them was the hardest part.

My year in London was not just a time to know myself better. It was also a chance to know my friends more. I got to see a side of them I’m so grateful I got the chance to. Their endless support, motivation and care is something I will always remember and appreciate. 

And now I’m back and confused. I don’t have a place to sit at and start a new journal with clear goals. I’m still stuck somewhere and not sure how to get out of it. I’ll continue to write and hopefully find my way out.