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. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Dear 26

Dear 26,

The last letter I've written was from my bed in London, this time I'm trying to sit comfortably on the one in Muscat. I got so used to sleeping on a double bed that my king size bed now feels too big for my thin body. I'm grateful for my sister who is currently too lazy to move to her own room and is sharing it with me.

A lot has happened and nothing has changed since I started writing these letters 2 years back. I still dwell in my insecurities. I've become more anxious and worried about things that matter and others that don't. I find myself constantly trying to pause the present because I'm too scared to face the future and what it has for me. I still hate uncertainties and still try to organise and label and categorise everything that comes my way. I still hide behind 500 paged books, swallow black coffee that understands my bitterness and eat less as the days pass. Before I know it I'll be back to 50 kilos (if not less), and I'm hoping for at least my thoughts to get lighter with it. I'm probably a coward, but I'm satisfied with the present and rather not lose it.

But that's not fair, I'm always my harshest critic. I'm now more focused I feel, more determined and more sure about certain topics. I have a tiny bit of self confidence back and I share things much easier than before. I've become goal oriented more than ever before and I think it's doing me good. I passed my MSc with Merit and while that might be a sign of failing to meet expectations I'm kinda satisfied with it, I just have to remind myself not to compare. I have a little bit more knowledge up my sleeve and that's always a good thing. And most importantly, I as a person changed and change is healthy.

The other day I was thinking I might want to start my PhD by the time I reach you. We'll see how things will go.

Best wishes,
The confused 24 year old

Friday, September 30, 2016

Documenting My Life | September

September was good to me and I can't seem to find the right words to document it. It has been an eventful month, I found myself in 4 different countries and reached my degree's end point. I'm now back in Oman and it's the first time I document this series from here. 

I woke up early on the 1st of September in Sevilla to catch a train to Cordoba. It was our last day in Spain and wanted to make the most out of it and see as much as we could. We took a 45 minute train to Cordoba, we took a quick walk in its old streets, bought myself a souvenir with my name in ceramic and visited the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba. In terms of architecture, the Mosque-Cathedral was not as beautiful as other buildings we visited but I guess its understandable as its meant to be a place of worship. We spent less than 2 hours and we decided to head back to Sevilla to visit the Royal Palace. The palace was breathtaking and I can't explain the beauty of the details in the interior. Sevilla was definitely my kind of city and I can't wait to go back again. We ended the day by going to the airport to catch our flight to Portugal.

Our flight to Lisbon was in a propeller and I'd be lying if I didn't find it a bit scary. But we made it safely and now I could say that I've been in one and survived it. We did a lot of walking in Lisbon, visited the oldest bookshop in the world and bought a few books by Saramago, which is fitting since we were in Portugal. We walked up hill to the castle with a breathtaking view and walked around as well. We saw the old yellow tram, admired the azulejo covered buildings and enjoyed our surroundings. We had lunch at the Time Out which has some local restaurants and businesses under one roof. Our last stop was the National Azulejo museum, my favourite part of the trip. I loved seeing all the tiles in one place and I really wish I could turn one of the walls in my room into an azulejo collage! At night we headed to the airport to catch our flight back to London.

September was also the month my sister got rid of Twiggy, the wooden mannequin she has been carrying around and taking pictures of for 3 years. We went to visit Newcastle and she saw it fitting to leave him there, where it all started. My sister extended her stay for Eid and it was really nice to have her around longer. I spent my mornings in the library studying for my viva and my afternoons and evenings with my sister. Before she left, we filled her bag with as many books as possible so I have less things to ship back. 

On the 16th of September I did a practice viva with my supervisor followed by a farewell lunch with the lab group. It was really nice to see them all after almost 3 weeks and catching up with everything including my trip. My supervisor prepared me well and on the 20th of September I defended my thesis and was officially done with my MSc. I still can't believe the year has passed and I'm done! I'm very proud of my progress this past year, I've learned a lot from skill to more about myself. It feels good to know that the main aim of going to do my MSc has been fulfilled, I'm now more comfortable and confident in the lab. 

I'm now back in Oman and I feel I have rushed my trip  back. I should have stayed longer and eased myself into coming back. The future is scary but I'll take it one day at a time until I sort things out. October might be tough, I'm already worried but as my favourite quote says: "“Somehow, something always happens just before things get to the very worst... The worse thing never quite comes.”