2 January 2016

I can’t sleep.

I went (came?) to bed eight hours ago, and I am now more awake than ever. I tossed and turned. I counted sheep. I lost count of sheep. Nothing worked.

Why can’t I sleep? That’s the question I’m asking myself. And I have a pretty good idea what the answer is.

The blended Thai milky tea I had at half past six yesterday evening, is why. I knew I was asking for trouble, but I went for it anyways. I have nothing but my gluttony and lack of self control to blame.

Talking about those two things, this holiday season is going to be the death of my weight loss progress. I’ve been stuffing myself silly using the holidays as an excuse. And I’ve gained so many kilos (well, two, to be exact – might not sound like a lot but takes hell to lose). Monday will be a rude awakening. No more carbs. No more sugar. At least until the next weigh-in at the monthly hospital visit.

Oh why oh why do I live in extremes. Moderation is certainly not my strong suit.

Now let’s move on to better and brighter things…

It’s 2016 babeh!

Two good things are happening already in 2016. (Three if you count intaking a lot of cakes and cookies and various other forms of calories.)

One: I have my first French student. How is the teaching going, you ask? It is slowly taking shape. I am learning to branch out, try different techniques, and set the right prices. Price setting has been the biggest challenge so far. But hopefully the latest adjustment has solved that issue for the time being.

So yes, first French student. And an online one at that. Exciting days! I can envisage how the lesson is going to unfold, and I can’t wait for next Saturday to see the class through. Fingers crossed all goes well and the student is happy with how I handle distance teaching.

Two: I reached out to the people I wronged in the past year, specifically during my mania in December 2014/January 2015. Apologies were made, sincerely if somewhat awkwardly. I feel like a school kid trying to make up in the playground after knocking over another student’s lunch. It’s weird apologising for what you only vaguely remember you did. But blaming it all on brain chemicals didn’t seem like the right way to go. So yes, I said sorry to a number of people. And I hope that they will forgive me. If not, then there is nothing I can do but graciously accept that that’s how things are going to be.

Oh I do hope that at least some of them will be understanding. None of them have read my message yet. I am most certainly going to be reduced to a pile of nerves when I check in on the messages later today. Thankfully it’s still the holidays and my parents are both home. So we’re going into the city and exploring the new mall. That would take my mind off the dreaded responses a little. Imagine that this time tomorrow I will have found out whether I’ve alienated some of my closest friends for good. That is a terrifying prospect.

Better not think about it now. As Scarlett said, “I’ll think about it to-morrow”.

It’s a quarter to six. The sky outside is still dark. I am waiting for the first light to go downstairs and officially start living my Saturday. I will be operating on zero sleep, but there’s nothing I can do about that now. Also there’s nothing much left to do. In the eight hours that I’ve been in bed, I have been so productive that I finished most of the tasks I had to do before Monday.

I guess the productivity spike is one good thing about sleepless nights. If only I could sleep properly and spread the productivity throughout the week though… Life would be so much better. I would certainly feel much better about myself.

2016. It’s an arbitrary new start. A fresh page to write my story. I think I know what I have to deal with first: no more mid-day naps and putting off my learning and teaching tasks. More productive days will do wonders for my recovery, and it’s about time I fully recover from my mental setback. I can’t be a floor potato (new word!) forever.

Side note: sleeping on a cold hard floor is strangely very satisfying. Don’t ask me why. It just is.

2016! I hope it turns out to be a wonderful year for all of us. As wonderful as the last, and the one before, and the one before, so on and so forth. One’s life can never be too full of wonder.

It may seem like my life has been on standby, but I’ve come a long way in 2015. Mentally. If not yet physically (diet goes on…).

Let’s continue to move forward in 2016.

Love,

Pig-bellied Val

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11 October 2015

Boredom is a curious thing.

You get bored when you do nothing. And you get bored when you do too much of something. Isn’t that weird?

For me, boredom comes from monotony. It’s the brain’s way of protesting that it is being used too monotonously – doing nothing all the time and doing something all the time.

Most curious indeed.

Why am I suddenly speaking of boredom? It is because, three weeks into writing my novel, I have reached that curious state of boredom. It’s sad but undeniable. Each day I find myself procrastinating, thinking “this evening I’ll do some writing” and, when evening comes and I cannot find the inspiration to write, “tomorrow morning I will feel refreshed and then, I will write”. Needless to mention, the same train of thought continues the next day, and the next.

The novel has been frozen for a week now. I have almost finished the second chapter; there is one scene left.

I wonder why I’m suddenly bored of it. I don’t usually get bored of writing. When I started writing my main blog back in 2013, I was writing every day and yet I always found something I wanted to write about. I remember my brain overflowing with entry ideas. In fact I had so many of them that two years later I still have a long list left.

For some reason, stringing words together to create my fantastical universe no longer gives me the thrill it did one chapter ago. I have two theories to explain the situation. One, the quality of my writing has dipped and I am no longer satisfied with what I am producing, hence the boredom. Two, I am dreading having to come up with new ideas. As I write, I am inching closer and closer to the point at which I stopped writing nine years ago. As it happens, the one scene I have left in chapter two is a pivotal one. Maybe I am scared of writing it, in fear that I would make a fatal mistake and set the novel on a course I cannot see through. Maybe.

So yes, for either of these reasons or for another unknown to me, I have been procrastinating. It does not help that I have been glued to a novel I’m re-reading, Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind one of my favourite novels of all time. So instead of writing my own novel, I have been happily immersing myself in another’s. I’m currently on page 593 of 1011. It’s a long book – perfect for the purpose of procrastination.

You know what I need to get the novel going? A gentle yet persistent daily warning like Duolingo‘s. I find the mechanism highly effective. I am currently learning German (you guessed it – another way to procrastinate from my book) on Duolingo, and I am doing the exercises every day without fail. The more days I accumulate in my streak (I am currently on ten), the more determined I am to keep going. It’s really quite fascinating how easy I am to trick.

Öffentlichkeit

That’s the most difficult word I’ve had to learn so far. German is notorious for long words, and though this is not the longest word I’ve learnt (that’s privatunterricht I think), it’s the trickiest. I find the arrangement of letters extremely unintuitive. I mean, what kind of a word is that? (It means public or the public sphere, by the way.) If only German words could be short and easy like English (it’s such an easy language I cannot help but think that people who find it difficult are just extremely lazy).

So yes, I think I need a system like Duolingo’s to get my novel going again. I wonder if anyone has thought of it. It could be a very useful tool for undisciplined writers everywhere, moi included.

Hmm… I should read a French novel next. There’s this book an old friend bought me from Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport (a strange location for buying a book, I know, but he was only passing through). It’s called La vérité sur l’affaire Harry Quebert. Not the most enticing title, but I’ve flipped through it and it seems like a fun novel. Now and again I pick up a French book to keep the language fresh in my mind. Plus, I really love the flow of French and reading anything written in French always puts me in a good mood. I hope to be able to do that one day with German – that’s the plan. It’s an ambitious goal, but by no means out of reach. I am certainly as enthusiastic about German as I am of French; I have been for a long time.

But then again I just dug up my third copy of Catch-22 (I lost the first copy, and I don’t know where I put the second one). I might read that instead. I’ve been reading it for three years, and still I have not finished it. Not that I find it boring (ha! how about that for going back to my supposed topic). I really like the book. It’s not easy to read, but it’s so laugh-out-loud funny I put in the effort to follow the novel as it jumps back and forth in time in the most random way. Or maybe I’ll just read both at the same time. I’ve been doing that lately. After a while I get bored of one book and jump to the other, then I get bored of the second book and come back to the first one. It works for me. Stops me from being bored.

Coming back to the novel, maybe what I need is to start writing a second one so I can jump between the two. Oh God no. That would be a nightmare. I can hardly muster up the effort to write one. I can’t imagine doing it for two.

So yes, boredom. It’s a curious thing. I’m hoping that at one point I will miss my novel and come back to it naturally. Maybe I just need a break, break the routine a bit and indulge my brain in a little diversity.

In the meantime, I shall go back to my novel (the one I’m reading, not the one I’m writing). I’ve done my German for the day (die Öffentlichkeit, das Publikum, der Bürger, etc.) and I think it’s now time I enjoy myself a little. (German is fun, but reading is even more fun.)

I’ll be back to let you know what happens with the novel (the one I’m writing, not the one I’m reading). Most likely when I’ve got it going again. I really don’t want to come back a second time and report on my ineffectiveness. I like to think of myself as disciplined, and writing this entry is shattering that self-image.

I hope you’re more disciplined than I am and succeeding in your endeavours.

Love, as always,

Val

 

8 October 2014

I learnt another important life lesson yesterday: communication, communication, communication.

I have always taken pride in my ability to express myself clearly. Then yesterday happened.

A message I had sent was misunderstood and cost me an opportunity I was looking to pursue. I do not regret my actions. I thought well and hard before sending that message, and I genuinely believed (I still do) that it was the right action to take.

But now that I re-read it with a fresh pair of eyes, I see how it could have been taken to mean something completely different. And I take responsibility for not having been clear enough. I could have worded it differently, been more explicit, so on and so forth. The next time I send a message of this sort, I’ll be sure to re-read it more than once (which is what I now do) before sending. Maybe sit on it for a few hours to see if I can come up with something better (which is to say, clearer).

This misunderstanding has been on my mind since yesterday afternoon. I am not so much frustrated at the missed opportunity as with myself for not having been sufficiently clear in my communications. In a way, though, I am grateful this happened. I’d rather discover this weakness now than later. Thanks to yesterday, I will now be more careful with all my future communications. You could say yesterday’s events opened my eyes.

I am glad I am experiencing this now, just before I enter the world of full-time employment. Where I am sure I will find myself in this particular situation countless times, and where I do not intend to repeat the same mistake. Not too many times at least.

It’s all about communication, communication, communication. Be clear. Be concise. Be ready to assume the consequences. (That’s my mantra of the day.)

I’m going to end with a quote from Dan Gilbert that I’m borrowing from Brain Pickings (a brilliant site where I constantly find inspiration and courage). A quote that resonates with me even more now after yesterday’s events.

Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished. The person you are right now is as transient, as fleeting and as temporary as all the people you’ve ever been. The one constant in our lives is change.

Love,

Val