The Arrow

There are no answers; only choices.

Archive for December, 2008

2008: Good Riddance

Posted by thearrow on December 31, 2008

This year seems to have been quite tough for a lot of people. Not just because of the market meltdown, which, thankfully, hasn’t affected me too much. But it was a crappy year overall, with just a few sparkles of light. For me it started with an ill-timed trip with really bad consequences: I lost the friend who was the reason for the trip but with whom friendship and communication had become increasingly strained, so we had to end our friendship because it had turned toxic, and then I spent the whole year in debt, paying off that terrible trip.  It was awful. That was amplified by a ton of anxiety about my situation in general and the feeling that I wasn’t making much progress at least in my job either. That I could not raise my head above the relentless waves of work that kept coming my way and the nagging feeling that it was more my fault than anyone else’s. And then, to top it all, I lost my beloved dog, Flip.

Lessons learned? Listen to your gut and never again do something you’re not at peace with yourself doing, whatever the reason. Second lesson: the  universe does not revolve around you, even if everything seems to be conspiring against you. Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at will change. Of course, easier said than done. It doesn’t matter if you’ve heard the theory a thousand times and you agree with it; a light bulb has to suddenly fire up in your mind for you to see. Third lesson: enjoy the good times; don’t postpone that for a better later, which might never happen.

The lights that sparkled up the year were friends with whom I reconnected completely unexpectedly after many, many years; the few friends  who stood by my side and helped out; and new friends I gained through my blog, of all things, which is going to be one-year-old tomorrow. Which just goes to prove (if that is necessary) that blogs lead to like-minded people and that’s a blessing. And another light was finally buying the camera I’ve been wanting for so many years. Now I wonder why it took me so long.

Then, somehow miraculously, the storm in my mind has calmed down towards the end of the year. Like many other people, I’m thinking the next year can’t possibly be worse than the one we’re leaving behind. I am grateful every waking minute for being healthy and having my basic needs covered, but God knows we (I) need much more than that. I finally started feeling more appreciated at work; all this time I thought it was just words, but now I see it’s not and I actually believe the words, too.

My wishes for 2009? Several.

My greatest wish is to believe in myself again, to think that I will be ok because I’ve worked really hard and there has to be some reward for that.

Then, I’d like to be able to enjoy things like I once did, with my whole heart. The past several years have been a valley of sorrows and I just don’t want that any more. I want to be happy and confident that things can turn out well.

And, last but not least, where’s that million-dollar check? 🙂

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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Musings on Drugs

Posted by thearrow on December 27, 2008

Still fighting my sore throat with, what else, Tylenol. And it works, except I’m in la-la-land again and can’t really concentrate on doing anything. Today’s NYT column by Judith Warner, Living the Off-Label Life, did keep me focused, though. Warner asks us if we would be willing to take a drug that would enhance our brain’s performance under the everyday barrage of information, disruption, and tasks on our never ending to-do lists. She goes through the list of cons of cognitive enhancements, the main points being that they would render meritocracy and fairness meaningless, and that they still seem unnatural and inhuman.

But then she turns to the reasons why we should perhaps consider, as suggested by the authors of an article in the science journal Nature, accepting the “benefits of enhancement.” Life as we know it is not the life our brains have been prepared for. We are trapped in a rat race, whether we like it or not. In my job I have to cope with interruptions and new tasks all the time, regardless of what’s on my plate already. The workflow changes continuously. I feel overwhelmed and I don’t even have kids, which bring a whole new layer of complexity to your life. So I think I’d be very tempted to take one of those brain-performance enhancers.

That and the chip storing the images of the artworks I’ve seen, and I’d be the perfect cyborg :). Perfect until we’ve brought about some new challenge for ourselves, for which we have to invent some prosthetic device/drug to help us cope. The biggest problem is our feeling of inadequacy at not being able to do it all. And everyone around keeps marching on; no one yells “stop!”

Maybe we should just learn to say “no,” you know. But I think we’ll sooner start taking drugs than do that. As Warner said, “It’s disturbing to think that we just have to make do with the world we now live in. But to do otherwise is for most people an impossible luxury.”  Normality is fading rapidly into history.

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Austere Christmas

Posted by thearrow on December 25, 2008

I’m back among the living, although I have to say that the la-la-land where Tylenol (even the non-drowsy version) transports me is not a shabby place. I think I understand why some people make drugs out of these cold medicines :). The relaxation they induce is so deep that all you really care about is sleep. See? You even get to speak in rhymes.

My plans to hibernate this Christmas weekend haven’t exactly worked out. I received an unexpected invitation from one person I cannot refuse without being rude.  I couldn’t have said, “thank you, but I already have plans: I’m staying at home” :). And I still have a sore throat, so I’ll have to speak in haikus tonight; and, with one bus/hour, I’ll have to leave from home early and spend some time in a Metro station reading so that I don’t get there too early. I’m tired already.

Then, in lieu of a gift, last night I got a hefty bill that I thought my employer was supposed to pay. Now I’m racking my brains trying to figure out if maybe I misunderstood. Not a terribly happy Christmas but I’ll survive. To end on a happier note, I’ll post some pics with kitty.

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Later edit: I’m not feeling well, so I decided to stay home. Yaay for staying home, ugh for not feeling well. I’m afraid of a relapse if I don’t stay put, though. At least I have a reasonable excuse to decline the invitation. Also on the bright side, I can drink that wine myself and I can enjoy the flowers I bought for the host :).

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Double Whammy

Posted by thearrow on December 22, 2008

Death sore throat and insomnia. Great. I think I’ll work from home today. I got up at 3 am and the first thing I heard when going to the living room was, you guessed it, a meow. I think my heard-earned discipline just went out the door since I’m up at exactly the time when kitty used to wake me up. Makes you wonder who disciplined whom :). Best part: he didn’t even need to yell to achieve this.

A little earlier kitty was sprawled over me in the dish chair and I was typing with my left hand over him. Then he took things to new heights and put his head on my right arm. So there I was, contorted, trying to type in such a way so that I wouldn’t disturb His Highness, who was oozing charm and cuteness.

On second thought, it’s not bad at all to work in a dish chair with a kitty purring next to you.

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Third Time’s a Charm

Posted by thearrow on December 20, 2008

I was a zombie last night when I came home (late), having slept only two hours in 48 thanks to needy kitty, so I was determined to apply some discipline. It took getting out of the bed and yelling “Shut up!” three times, at approximately two-hour intervals, but it worked! Of course, I have yet to see if it happens again tonight :). I hope I don’t have to spend the next two weeks’ nights yelling. Of course, as soon as he ate this morning, he went up on the cupboard to sleep. I should be meowing in his ear all the time, to see how he likes it.

The good news is that I’ll have two movies to watch this weekend, which means kitty will plop himself on my lap and get all the attenshun he wants. Maybe that will appease him. But, as a friend of mine says, the more attention you give a cat, the more he wants. You can’t win :). Thank God we have the long Christmas weekend coming and the busiest time at work is over.

In other news, I got an unexpected raise for the new year, which is a clear sign they appreciate me. I expected very little given the nosediving economy and other personal circumstances, so I was very impressed. It’s not some huge amount of money, but it gives me some much-needed breathing room. Unless I decide to save everything and starve, like I’ve done for the past three years :). I’m very tempted to do that but I think I’ve finally got tired of it.

Yesterday I met with my former employer, who wanted to pick my brains for an event they’re having in January. I was exhausted and hadn’t even had a chance to see in detail what the whole thing was about. I was thinking that I wouldn’t be able to say anything intelligent or remotely coherent, but I surprised myself when stuff came out of my mouth that was really good. Wow, maybe I know some shit, you know? When you start from minus 100, like I did, you feel that you’re never going to get anywhere.

OK, kitty is awake and demanding some long-overdue attenshun with a soft paw. How can I resist that?

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Visiting Kitty = No Sleep

Posted by thearrow on December 19, 2008

Kitty came over chez my place again last night, after a very long day for me, and he deemed fit to start meowing around 2 a.m., so I only got two hours of sleep 😦 This is killing me. Another long day awaits me and I have no idea how I’m going to survive and utter words that will make sense. I’m injecting caffeine directly into my feeble brain right now, but I’m not sure how far it will take me. The worst part is that I have to meet with some people at 7:30 tonight; they specifically accommodated my gym schedule, so there’s no way I can wriggle out of this in a decent way. Especially since it’s always them suggesting that we meet; I can’t possibly cancel this at the last minute.

Did I mention I only got two hours of sleep?

Sigh.

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Firefox Wish

Posted by thearrow on December 16, 2008

Dear Santa Firefox,

I absolutely LOVE the fact that I can save my tabs and don’t have to start from scratch next time I turn the computer on. But, with one computer at work and two at home, this leads to another problem: I want to be able to access the different versions of my Firefox tabs on any of them. Sometimes at work I open up pages for which I don’t have time, but that I wouldn’t want to lose either. The only way around this is to bookmark them on del.icio.us, but I find that time-consuming and I end up not doing it. I’ve lost count of the number of articles I’ve saved and never got to read. And, even when I do that, I forget about them; del.icio.us turns me into a squirrel, except forgotten links don’t sprout leaves.

How about a Firefox account that would let me save different versions of my tabs and then accessing them from anywhere? When I’d open Firefox, a dialog box would pop up asking me which version I want.

Then the line between work and home would be even more blurred :).

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