Category Archives: Pointless pontificating

Unemployment greens, whore thoughts, and pontificating on Hard Work

Here be some thoughts on the minutiae of life, fucks.

The truly unfortunate thing about being unemployed is that it is so terribly, achingly similar to being jobless. And yet, it lacks the arcadian feeling of joblessness. The grass is green, and you can read a book lying down on it, sure. But you feel like you’re in a time lapse video and winter is coming like a wave and its going to turn that green grass into yellow strings of ex-grass in no time.

For those of us unfortunate enough to not have enough money to last our lives comfortably, being jobless is something that happens mainly in college. After college or whatever form of higher education one chooses to pursue, joblessness comes in small spurts – you get a jobless weekend, you get a jobless evening, you may even get a jobless week for a vacation.

The only long term joblessness one can get post collegiate life is if one decides to be a kept person – you know, someone pays for your apartment, and buys your clothes and food out of the kindness of their private parts, wink wink, nudge nudge. And believe me, the thought has occurred to me. There are several ways of being a kept person. You could be married, you could be what is generally known as a “mistress”, or you could just be a very demanding person in a relationship. I personally think I would be suited for being a mistress, though I could settle for marriage if its logically necessary. Either way, there’s no shame in any of the three choices. As Sherman T. Potter once said, “There’s a right way and a wrong way to do everything. And the wrong way is to keep trying to make everybody else do it the right way.”

I have also considered the fact that I will be a very good prostitute/ mistress so long as its one of those high class deals where I decide who and when and where and how much. You know, the pretty woman way. Think about it – I’m great at the rumpy pumpy, I demand nothing in terms of emotions as long as I’m not involved emotionally, I don’t go around expressing feelings like a loose cannon (most of the time), and I am just a delight to have around the house. At least I delight myself most of the time.

I have many skills
*Smirk

But all of this, of course, was in theory. To begin with, I’m in a new city. Well, an old city, but Bombay’s new for me. The point is, I’m not even sure where one would begin to prostitute oneself. Is one supposed to find a club frequented by men going through menopause? Or are there certain neighborhoods that cater to the unloved and lusty? Who knows?

Then of course, there’s the fact that I’m too lazy to actually go about acquainting myself with the in and outs (so to speak) of a whole new profession, especially if said profession involves a lot of standing around in uncomfortable clothes. Third, I kind of had things in the pipeline when I started out with the unemployment so there was really no need to seriously consider prostitution.

But I was unemployed for a whole month. It was simultaneously relaxing and petrifying.

It was relaxing not having to wake up at 8:30 in the morning. It was petrifying to wake up at 1 in the afternoon, realizing that that’s another day when you did nothing in life.

Group krumping
On the plus side, you get to do shit like this all day.

It was amazing not deciding what to wear in the morning, but when at 6 in the evening, you’ve to tuck your T-shirt between your underboob and your torso because you’re braless, its kind of a sobering thought that you spent the whole day hunched over your laptop and that at 25, your posture is not going to be good for the future of your breasts.

It’s fantastic to stay up late not caring about alarms and such, but night-time is the worst time when you have such gems of thoughts as “Holy crap, you’re never going to find a job. You’d better arrange to die soon for the burden you are on the earth.” Of course, when those thoughts occur to you, its good to write them down for posterity, and then move on to the next funny show or movie you have with you.

But there is some beauty in the joblessness of unemployment. You can meet your friends when you want. You can read whenever you want. You can be available for emergencies. You get to clean your house more often. And more to the point of where I’m going, being unemployed really makes you think about working hard. And hold on to your capitalist horses, because this is not going to be one of those pieces on the limitless ecstasy of a hard day’s work, if there be such a thing.

I moved to Bombay five months ago, and people here love working hard. They also love talking about working hard. Especially if you mention that you have no interest in appearing to be available for work at 6 in the morning just to impress someone, you will immediately get told by your mid-level superior that he/she once appeared available at 5.

Its basically the work equivalent of you telling someone your dog died, and having them tell you that that’s nothing compared to their horse dying the week before.

Balloon Finger

How the hell is your miserable life and pathetic choices supposed to encourage me to make the same pathetic choices you did? Believe me, it does not. Every time I see a 28 year old who looks closer to 40 than 30, I shudder and hope I have the temerity to quit before I join the ranks of the zombie work force.

I love this city. It’s charming, has some beautifully well-worn buildings, leaves you alone when you want to be alone, and in the right places, is full of people who are often fun to hang out with. When it comes to work culture, however, Bombay romanticizes exhaustion to the point of … exhaustion.

Being passionate about one’s work is a privilege. Most people in the world don’t get to pick work that they’re passionate about. Most people do the work that needs doing, from being bankers and accountants to garbagemen and housewives. For those of us who have the privilege of having an education that teaches us to think beyond the obvious, and the even greater privilege of earning a living outside of the obvious, perhaps there is something to working hard.

But even so, I place more premium on being marginally healthy, getting to read a certain amount of books and watch a certain number of shows and movies, and being able to meet people I give a turd about. I suppose I’m just not an ambitious person. As long as I like what I’m doing, I see no need to torture myself with how big I want to be while doing it. And I certainly don’t understand institutions that seem to think that only those who want to be on top should be anywhere. The world depends on people in the middle. Why is a normal life, lacking in fame and fortune and making a name for yourself, such a terrible thing?

Of course, these are the thoughts that run through my head when I’m unemployed. Starting December, I am employed, and as such I suspect I will have more interesting things to think about, like pleasing my superiors beyond question (is someone from the new work place going to read this?), or what to wear in the mornings or panicking about how I’m going to balance working with thinking about a blog topic every week.

Yes, the weekly schedule is back on, I promise with a rising sense of dread. I shall have to post something every week on penalty of telling a terrible/ embarrassing secret, and believe me, over the year and a half of my absence, I have amassed a few. As per usual, I suspect the telling of embarrassing secrets, or thinking about them, will fuel posts where I have nothing to say. Such has been life, and such it will be, no doubt.

I don't care typing
Le Writing process

As for why I have been absent, I choose to keep that information to myself for the time being. Its got a lot to do with feeling blue, and possibly black, and its terribly boring and self-indulgent for me to talk about it, so I shan’t. Also, believe you me, its been done to death.

Overall, I’m aiming for the coming posts to be better than this one. This one, I would give about a 4 out of 10. I’m rusty, but I have to start somewhere. Whatever’s next will hopefully be funnier and more relevant. Or you know, I have reached the height of my potential and should give up on life.

We’ll see.

Ta, loves.

Is my development arrested? And other mind-mastrubatory thoughts. While walking.

I have gone walking for the past two mornings. I don’t mind it but its one of the last things I would pick for a regular exercise regime. However I have no choice because my foot was in a cast less than three months ago and apparently I can’t afford to stress it. Usually I don’t agree with what doctors tell me to do unless there is some overt pain or discomfort, but this was the first time I was ever in a cast and I don’t care to repeat the experience by far. So instead of jogging and pretending to be healthy in the giant park we frequent, I’m stuck walking and because of the short stumpy nature of my legs I’m barely able to walk faster than uncle-aunty speed at the park. Which is a giant shame what with the existence of fifty-year old (I’m guessing) men who jog past me with round, protruding bellies. I don’t know how that happens, but it is simultaneously comical and disheartening given my walking pace.

But the good part about walking is that unlike while jogging I’m not constantly thinking “oh fuck oh fuck, man this is hard. Just imagine yourself with Jennifer Lawrence’s body. A shorter version. Nope not encouraging enough. Crap my lungs, MY LUNGS, WHY IT NO FUNCTION? I DON’T SMOKE, WHY IS THIS SO HARD ON MY LUNGS?? Ok relax, it’s functioning. Motherfucking ball crushers, this is hard. Ok ok, time to bring out a hot guy from TV running in front of me, just out of reach. Who will it be? Louis? No, I love him but that’d be funny-sad. Colbert? Not today. OOOOH. Matt Smith. Matt Smith is doing his jaunt, walk, cheeky smile thing at me from right ahead. Jog towards him, Billy. Jog right at him. Get to him and you can be the next Good Queen Bess. And you can try and sneak into the TARDIS. Oh yeah…”

Instead, because of the lack of strain on my lungs (can’t say the same for my calves) I can actually think random thoughts that stop just short of profound. And like with pre-sleep conscious dreams (there’s a scientific word for those that I can look up on SciShow but I can’t afford to be distracted by Youtube right now) the thoughts are usually about whatever I was obsessing about just the night before. In yesterday’s case, this was Arrested Development. I re-watched the third season and then watched the fourth. Somewhere in the middle of the latter, I began to think of it less as comedy and more as morbidly funny social commentary on the American ease of life. Not because it wasn’t funny but because it was funny about exactly what the title says – the manner in which people remain stuck, not growing, never really learning, primarily because for some reason everything you do is to affect other people, specific people who will also never really change and so you’ll just never grow.

If you didn’t notice, somewhere in there, as always happens, my brain made me the center of this problem. What if I’m stuck? Is it to family? To college? To friends? What if I have never learnt anything? It’s possible. My teenage diaries are very embarrassing to me right now, but the basic way in which I think has not really changed much, has it? But now, I may be aware of it, so have I not changed? Whhiiinnne. Mehmememememe. And that of course brings it back to why all of us do things we do.

Personally, if I really examine myself, I think my need to write and not compromise on that wish is based primarily on my innate lack of appreciation for permanence. This is something that took all of my resources and tears over many different sessions of “talks” with my parents to convince them of. I don’t think they’re (primarily my mom. My dad just thinks I’ll probably change my mind) really comfortable with or even believe that I don’t plan to get married. Very few people in India are unaware of the pressures of getting married. It’s practically a necessity here and sooner or later my mother will want to broach the subject seriously. Or maybe she brings it up jokingly every three to six months in the hope that one day me or my sister will answer without giving her a Lucille Bluth look.

But that’s about a quarter of the issue. As I mentioned in my previous blog, my family isn’t rich. We’re comfortable; and luckier than most people. But we’re not rich. Opting for things that are not immediately rewarding economically have to be weighed carefully. Not because we really want to be rich but because we don’t have trust funds or nest eggs or whatever you call a giant bank account full of crazy money that is given to young people when they’re twenty-one.

So it was an uphill battle. It was complicated and uncomfortable to explain to my parents that I can be and have been severely down in the dumps with bi-daily suicidal thoughts and crying sessions because of certain career choices that I forced myself to make, namely law and law school. It was equally weird to declare in a mildly sob-y but determined manner that I actually don’t plan to get married and I won’t be having kids. I’m not against marriage but I think its unlikely and its not one of the things in the list of stuff I want to do in life. Which means I don’t plan on anything happening in that area. I have no ambition there. And since getting married, having children and having a comfortable, settled life is not part of the plan, surely I can aim high and play the stakes as far as the rest of my life is concerned. My obstinate teenage self feels like I have the right to refuse to compromise on the one thing for which I do have plans. For which the argument is that I can’t starve while I “find myself” etc. etc.

It’s not that I don’t plan to not settle down with a normal job (even if its dull. I actually don’t mind dull work. My friends could always count on me to edit, number pages on their moot compendiums, stuff like that. Wow, this is one way of putting my years in law school into perspective) to make a living. But I don’t intend to find out at thirty that I can no longer go to college and do a post-graduate course that I like and at least try to find out if I can actually make something useful out of what I like doing – writing.

That is what finally got through to my dad. He said something about never having tried to go for football, which he was really good at, because he got too busy being a good student. I think he’ll regret mentioning that to me. He has a pattern of saying things like that and regretting it a few months later when I quote him back to him.

So here I am, living with my parents, writing entrance exams for interesting post-graduate courses and hoping for a positive result. If that doesn’t happen this year due to a number of reasons, I’ll be working for a year at an already determined office and then try again. At least that much is settled.

Which brings us back to arrested development. During the walk I got to wondering who my plans were for. Not romantically, but generally, who are they trying to impress? Maybe its my parents. Or my friends. Or maybe everyone who ever made me feel little. I could be a complete shite and start saying “I intend to impress myself” but that’s complete shite. Maybe I just want to be immortal before I die. Careful, my Godard is showing.

But speaking of movies, I’d just prefer to go the Roger Ebert way – I’ll make myself happy and tried not to make others unhappy. Blerg. Maybe. Tsk. Really, I can’t really speak too well to my intentions or inspirations. I don’t think it matters much. I’m no shrink and even if I was I’m pretty sure there’s a rule against mental masturbation. Too Late. This whole post seems a bit like me on a Saturday morning. Oh well.

 

I know I’m supposed to post twice a week but I realized I can’t. What with preparations, mopeyness and no stimulus, I will only be able to pop out pure drivel worse than this. But for last week, here’s the embarrassing secret – I had a weird dream where my college’s VC made a kissing move on me. I didn’t push away and it stopped in like 5 seconds. And I chastised him for it with a very marmy sexual harassment lecture. But I woke up and wanted to hammer my head in. Maybe it was my brain reacting to the excellent grades he gave me for his seminar? Doesn’t make it better.

I’m going to go watch a silly Comedy film or The Skin I Live In to get that off my brain.

Ok.

 

– Billy

Kirrin Islands and Bad Adult Decisions

One of the many magicks of books, apart from what Carl Sagan wrote, and what I will always hope to accomplish, is nostalgia – the great human weakness, second only to the neck. As far as I can see, there are different types of nostalgia books can give you, of which I have managed to experience two. I don’t know if there are any more types, but I’m assuming there are, purely for science reasons.

The first one I experienced is weird, not to mention highly dubious in its categorization as “nostalgia”. Without going the Oxford dictionary route, I assume nostalgia is longing for a bygone experience. The kind I’m talking about here is not really for your own past experience. To get really technical, its longing for the bygone nature of what our collective consciousness tells us we should have experienced. I realized a few years ago that I have reached the age where it is impossible for me to read Enid Blyton’s children’s stories, by which I mean stories like “Ricky the Magic Pixie pays Daisy Bumble an erotic visit” without shuddering at how innocent we all used to be. And this is very likely true for stories like Famous Five and the Five Fine Doubters (hehe) as well. But as soon as I do read them, especially the ones where parents seem to have no concern for their children’s safety, I feel utterly nostalgic.

Which is weird because my parents never let me go off and have adventures with cousins who were rather progressively supportive of my transgender identity. In fact my parents insisted that the world was no place for people below the age of eighteen to go wandering off by themselves in. Assholes. But despite this lack of adventure, I nostalged. I know that’s not a word. And as I discovered with my friends a few months ago, we would always feel that way when we even think about the Fine Doubters (and Dog, actually) or the Adventure kids or the O’Sullivan twins for that matter.

We were in Palolem beach in Goa on vacation and when we went on a boat ride to spot dolphins (we saw their fins but not their bodies. That was enough to cancel out the money-back-if-you-don’t-see-dolphins guarantee) we kept asking the boat guy if he would take us to Kirrin Island. One of our friends, who seemed to have not been brought up right, asked us how we knew the island we had been eyeing was called Kirrin Island. And we all looked at him as if he were an alien. Because in a way he was. It was like he never shared in the experience of knowing what Kirrin Island was, and how we all longed to go there.

None of us got to go to Kirrin Island as kids. But as kids, we were all nostalgic and longing for friendships that would take us to Kirrin Island. I doubt any of us had that. We got a chance to relive, or really just live the Kirrin Island experience, just by mentioning it, with friends, on a trip, without adults. We never really got to Kirrin Island in Goa either. The boat guys were not authorized to stop and let us live precious memories, apparently. I think I would have cried of happiness if they had let us get off and stroll around any of the beaches we saw on the numerous Kirrin Islands we saw on that boat trip.

So that’s one kind of nostalgia that books get you. Where the things you see remind you of books, and somehow it makes you nostalgic for the experience of the book even though you never lived it. This really happens up to a certain point. Till you’re a certain age, or more importantly, till you’re a few experiences short in your life, everything in a book is the first you know of whatever its about. That’s probably the reason there was such sweet magicks in reading at a certain point of time in your life, before you have lived enough of life to start being reminded of yourself in everything you read. Or maybe that’s just because after a certain age, all of us become self-obsessed, which I think is the true goal of post-modernism. But at some point, we get there. You live enough and you will already have experienced things you read in books.

And this applies to everything – love, friendship, success, loss, sex, felony, failure, notoriety – you name it, you’ve felt it. And so when you read it in a book, it either becomes a revealing memory of your own experience, or a disappointingly untruthful rendition of your experience. The latter is extremely true of sex. Sex is very perfect in books and porn. Nothing goes awry and everything works like clockwork for the most part. Sex in real life is not perfect. And it’s a lot more fun than perfect porn sex could ever afford. As for the other experiences, even if you’ve not felt them, you have some inkling of how they work, probably because your friends have felt them.

That’s Type 2 Book/ Movie/ TV Nostalgia – where what you read makes you cry not because its unimaginably beautiful and you’ve never felt it, but because its horrifyingly true and you have felt it. You pick up Judy Blume’s Just As Long As We’re Together and you start crying because your friends seem to have left you, at least you thought they did, and really that was the book, wasn’t it? You watch Dead Poet’s Society and you start thinking about all the ways in which you gave up on the life of your dreams for the sake of safety, or in my case, stubbornness and pride. You watch The Oranges, and you start wondering about all the lives you’ve blown through like a leaf on the wind, wreaking havoc, breaking happiness and doing things you shouldn’t have done. You read Eleven Minutes, and you think about the time you put on the dress and the red light and walked the streets for money…. Raaawwwxanne. You read Summer Sisters and you cry because you have sisters – biological and virtual.

You read The Book Thief, and suddenly you’re twelve years old again, and here’s a book which brings you new experiences, none of which you know, not all of which you want, but you can’t stop reading it because you long so much for a life worth reading about. Or in my case, you long so much to write things worth reading.

Either way, books (and movies and songs and TV shows and really, anything made by pot-smoking writers in dark rooms) leave you wanting more. More of what you didn’t have as a child and will probably never have. And more of what you already lived through, just for the chance of doing it right this time – this time you’ll have the guts to leave the place that makes you unhappy, this time you’ll talk to your friends rather than assume they left you, this time you won’t hurt people, this time you’ll go to the boy who loved you since he knew you and not put on the red dress. And they make you want so much more from life – you want to climb mountains after Paths of Glory, make movies after Hitchcock, live bravely after Doctor Who and keep friends after Harry Potter.

And you would think we’d hate things that make us dream of more without ever telling us that we may not get there, but as the Tenth Doctor said, that’s not how human beings function. It’s not just the mountaineers that want to climb mountains “because it’s there”. It’s all of us that want more – because it’s there, waiting for us to make up things like “love” and “friendship” and “chicken nuggets” and once we make it, we want to grab for it, because it’s there and why shouldn’t we? And then we graduate to bigger things like “happiness” and “failure” and “pizza”, because why not? It’s there, waiting to be made, given definition and to be grabbed.

All of which goes to show that (1) We’re very magpie-like, us lot, aren’t we?; (2) Books and TV and movies are awesome; and (3) I’m really into Doctor Who these days.

–          Billy

ME: This is not very funny. I stopped wanting to read this mid-way.

me: I know. I’ve not gone out of the house for the past two weeks except for essential activities. Very little source material except for books and TV. And I can hardly write, “Did you watch the Office Finale? It made me laugh and cry. It was awesome.”

ME: Shut up. You don’t even have good excuses. You better have something funny and awesome for the next post.

me: You can write the next one. I’m sure the internet doesn’t have enough vitriol in it. I’m sure that’ll be a welcome change for people.

ME: …… Shut up.

Here’s some fun stuff

Abed Batman Poster

Abed, You're a god.

The Office

And for those who don’t know me, and don’t know what more to expect from this blog…

Degeneration of My Mind

Kbai.