Jul 9, 2020

Six Months

It's been a long six months. Six months since the last time I wrote here. Six months since I thought things had changed. They indeed have. The world is not what it used to be. I'm not what I used to be.
COVID-19 is here to stay. It has changed the world. It's been almost four months since lock-down was first imposed in India and in Mumbai. We are still working from home. Possibly forever in some way or the other. Walking around without a mask, commuting for leisure, going to the movies, performing and watching live music, dining out, and vacations/travel all seem so unattainable. Maybe we'll never go back to how things used to be. I don't think my plans to pursue higher education will ever materialize. I don't think I will be able to move out of Mumbai/India.

J has stayed over at my place most of these four months of lock-down. It started as a regular weekend stay over at my place. Then came the lock-downs. Initially, we both struggled to come to grip with sharing spaces with someone else, with both having lived by ourselves alone most of our adult lives. It took a while for us to settle into a routine. The routine itself was fun, sans the arguments and stress. We watched a lot of good stuff, the best among which was the sensational TV drama The Wire. He had so many wonderful meals. On most days, we had tea on the balcony with the backdrop of a cleaner, quieter, and greener Mumbai. During these months, J did help me put together a lot of things that have improved my workflow, both for editing/writing related work and for music.

Work-from-home just means more actual work hours than ever before. At work, I'm working on creating a course for junior editors. This means that I never feel I have done enough. This coupled with the fact that I am trying to put in a solid 3 to 4 hours of music or related work most days and have almost 2 hours of cleaning housekeeping to do every day, I am sleeping less and I'm more stressed and wound up than I have ever been before. Maybe it is the stress of having lived together with someone for so long after so long. No matter how much ever I seem to be doing better, I just seem to get more an more unhappy and unsatisfied with what I do. As my friend put it, I will never ever be happy. I'll always figure out more things to worry about and feel unhappy about.

I got back to some of the Berklee courses for music production that I have been meaning to finish. I have also invested in some good quality gear for my home studio. Finally, I am learning more (from better quality sources) regarding music writing and production. All of this means that I am writing better music than ever, and I'm getting better at production and mixing. Hell, I'm even getting better at singing. And yet there is no certainty in when I'll be able to release the music that I have been writing. Just before lock-down, things looked promising. My close friends who I write and perform with for a project had finalized on a producer/engineer, who was excited to be working with us. We were expecting to cut several EPs starting in May 2020. Considering the way things have turned out, nothing is certain. Maybe this is how things will be. Or maybe I need to figure out getting even better and release some music of my own. All-in-one and DIY.

It's been over a year since my Mom passed. Two years since my father did. I thought their passing would make things more straightforward in a very selfish kinda way. I won't have to worry about them falling ill or needing to reschedule things to be with them. That sounds so wrong, and yet so right. Even though I winced while I typed this in, I long for a clear path (the home run) to my immediate goals, and I thought not having the added responsibility of taking care of my ailing parents would make things easier. It might have but I don't feel it one bit. Life seems to be more challenging than it has ever been.

My sister started writing for fun. Not a book or a blog, but simply writing to express herself. It started with a piece that she was expected to write for a college reunion. She did the drafting and I did a substantive edit on it. It was fun for me to read her thoughts expressed in the way that only she could, especially because they were vivid memories from my childhood and adolescence back in Kerala. These days, I don't get to talk to her much, and the occasional communications that we have are around these micro-journal entries that she shares with me, often in Malayalam.

I have been working on text generated by two of my travel mates and close friends. Blummer is writing an autobiography, and the couple of chapters that I have had the pleasure to read were such windows to his remarkable life! Mickles3 has sought my help in putting together a chapter for a scholarly publication. Both of these, along with the experience that I had with my sister, make me want to start writing again. Maybe I need to aim higher than a blog. Maybe a book or two? Maybe.

Along with that...
  • I have fallen in love with fountain pens all over again.
  • I feel inspired to write Bowie/Depeche Mode type music.
  • Blu(menthal) is just gorgeous but is an arsheole.
  • I'm not young anymore.
  • I want my sister/friends to know that I want a do-not-resuscitate order if I get severe COVID-19.
  • I want to read books, but where do I find time?

Jan 18, 2020

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

When I saw the poster for A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood on BookMyShow, I thought that it looked funny. Throwback color schemes, Tom Hanks looking overly a in a light red sweater, and the words neighbor, icon, friend in an oversized font.

Source: https://cdn.flickeringmyth.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/a-beautiful-day-in-the-neighborhood-600x889.png

The movie was one of the three running last week that seemed worth watching. Judging by the relatively sparse listings, it was also the most "indie" among the three. Unlike most passionate movie-goers, I don't do much research on movies before I go watch them. Because it is the Oscar season, I generally end up having even better experiences by immersing myself in something that seemed to have happened more by chance than by meticulous planning, which is what my life seems to be more than I'd like to admit it is. And this is why I decided to try and gobble the movie up as the first chance I could, despite the scheduling gymnastics that I needed to do.

The movie began with an '80s looking shot of Mr. Rogers--the character Tom Hanks plays--sounding and looking funny. It was fairly obvious that his intended audience was not people like me. I guess the director wanted people like me to feel just that because I fell for it hook, line, and sinker. I guess I ought to clarify that I had no idea what I was getting into. Mr. Rogers was not a thing in my childhood, which technically started in late '79 and must have ended in the early '90s. My household was without a television until 1987 and without cable television until '94. The first thing that I remember looking forward to watching on TV was Giant Robot and Friendly Neighborhood Spiderman, that too on the national broadcaster Doordarshan. Since then, almost all of my non-sporting leisure time was usurped by the once-great MTV once I had cable.

In other words, I was an absolute virgin for Mr. Rogers and his famous TV show for kids. In fact, the movie is about a character--the jaded journalist Lloyd Vogel--who was pretty much in the same headspace as I was at the beginning of the movie. Lloyd is a cynic/critic who writes harsh articles about celebrities in Esquire, who, when given the assignment of writing a 400-word flattering piece on Mr. Rogers, reacts with a mixture of shock and disappointment. He thinks Mr. Rogers is just a TV show host putting on a fake character to get fame. I might have felt like Lloyd at the beginning of the movie, but by its end, I was like Lloyd's wife Andrea, who cherished the show and had uplifting moments in her childhood because of the show.

Lloyd is an interesting character--from my perspective--himself. His cynical self is probably a result of a troubled childhood/early adulthood thanks to a traumatic relationship with his father. Lloyd is still recovering from the trauma of watching his mother succumb to cancer after a painful terminal phase. He feels betrayed because his father Jerry wasn't there to support the family during this phase. Jerry, on the other hand, seeks help from other avenues of support while grappling with the loss of his wife, ends up in a relationship with a woman (too soon for the likes of his son), and eventually marries her. Lloyd also has an elder sister with whom he shares a complex relationship. Lloyd is married to Andrea, a grounded woman with a different upbringing, and is now coming to grips with the responsibilities of a father.

It is at this phase when Lloyd's employer assigns this task. Over several interviews with Mr. Rogers, Lloyd begins to unravel the mystery of the charm behind Mr. Rogers. At the same time, Lloyd also gets perspectives on his life, his relationships, and his responsibilities, thanks to the sagely insights that Mr. Rogers offers. Lloyd loses the cagey skepticism about Mr. Rogers and also about such people in general--the people who find a way to be empathic to others no matter what the situation is.

Mr. Rogers was/is everything that I wanted/want in my life to set things in perspective. He seems to have a bottomless well of kindness and is a master at making people he meets and interacts at ease. He is someone who can talk about something and would make sense to both children and adults without making either group uncomfortable in the way they are being talked to. The body language, the expressions, the choice of words, the tone of voice--everything seems to be perfect for an empathic connection. On top of all of this, Mr. Rogers is an actor, performer, musician, composer, songwriter, and much more. The topics that he addresses are dark concepts like anger, jealousy, death, hospitals, friendship. And yet, the words and the phrases that he chooses to use in his songs are available for everyone.

Fred Rogers seems to have been every bit what the poster said: a neighbor, an icon, and a friend. Mr. Rogers, through his show, its characters, its songs, and its conversations would end up educating children about the mysterious, difficult world that they were being ushered into without much preparation. This is the sort of thing that everyone needs, regardless of the time they are in or the age they find themselves in. Like Lloyd, I felt like watching clips of the show and learning more.

There is nothing more in the world that I seem to want than someone like Mr. Rogers in my life. Someone to help me find my empathy and lose my eternal cynicism.

Jan 13, 2020

Movies and Moments

Some of my most cherished moments in life are set in movie theaters while watching movies. Most of these times are when I go to watch movies on my own, but that could be because most of the time I go to movies without company.

In fact, I think that watching movies alone is the best way to watch good-to-great movies. By that, I mean that I have a lower threshold than most movie connoisseurs (or critics) for what I consider as high quality. Strangely, I have a high threshold for people who I consider as quality, and to be honest, an extremely small number of the people that I know have made the cut.

I am very often overcome with emotions--mostly positive--while watching non-blockbuster movies. For someone who struggles to find anything meaningfully moving in life, these are precious.

Today, I went to the movies with J to watch Ford vs. Ferrari. This was one of the few movies that we end up watching that we both badly wanted to watch. But we couldn't figure logistics out to watch when it initially released. In such cases, I'm the one who regularly checks listings for movies that pique my interest on my IMDB browsings.

Thanks to the locality that I live in, which features within walking distance three of the best movie theaters in Mumbai in terms of the variety and show options, we were able to get ourselves to the lone afternoon show.

I'm not too much into cars and automobiles. So I wasn't too chuffed to have finally managed to get myself to go watch it. Well at least until the movie started. Each time Ken Miles and Carroll Shelby overcame the odds and adversities, I cried. Must have been four or five times.
Source: https://i.redd.it/t3tktn59m2x31.jpg
The last time I cried in a non-movie setting was about 2 years ago when the ambulance with my father's corpse rolled out of my sister's apartment building complex and my sister and mother started wailing. I was strong and I was able to get a handle on my tears in a few seconds.

Side Notes:
  1. While I was writing this post, I realized that there is a pattern to these. I started having such momements around the time my first official depression episode. It's almost as if my depression puts a cap on my emotions which is popped open only when I find myself in an immersive state of watching/reading well-enacted/well-written powerful stories with very little "trim-the-fat" requirements.
  2. J wonders whether my lack of empathy and inaccessibility to regular emotions is because of antidepressant medications. Unlikely, because I'm on a mood stabilizer that does not seem to have such side effects.
  3. I want to move out of fucking Mumbai. To the middle of nowhere. Where there are less people and there is less noise. And I think I'll be at least less unhappy in such a place. The only thing that I'll miss Bombay for is the movie-going luxury--that is if can't find this in where I would move to.
  4. The movies that I have had such experiences that I immediately recall are:
    1. 12 Years a Slave
    2. Article 15
    3. A Star is Born
    4. A Single Man
    5. Babel
    6. Bohemian Rhapsody
    7. Brokeback Mountain
    8. Capote
    9. Crash
    10. Gully Boy
    11. Imitation Game
    12. Interstellar
    13. La La Land
    14. Little Miss Sunshine
    15. Midnight in Paris
    16. Milk
    17. Munich
    18. Rocket-man
    19. Sideways
    20. Silver Linings Playbook
    21. The Aviator
    22. The Departed
    23. The Green Book
    24. The Theory of EverythingThree Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
    25. Whiplash

Jan 3, 2020

The constancy of disappointment

Pretty much everything ends in a disappointment. Happiness is a mirage for those who have figured out a way to set their expectations for everything at manageable levels. For themselves. For those who they surround themselves with. For things you do. For things you are supposed to do well.

No matter what you would like to tell yourself, the things that you end up doing and the things that you are supposed to do well is a mixed bag of things that you did not have much control over. You might be a lawyer or a painter. If you are lucky (read privileged), you might have been able to make this decision yourself without worrying about personal, monetary, and social security. I am sure you would like to think that you had a say in deciding that for yourself.

Sure, a lot of people (including me) had opportunities to make these decisions. But who is to say that these decisions are indeed independent.

What if I tell you that while making the seemingly independent decision to pursue a career, you were influenced by all the things that you have experienced until that decision-making point. And all of that is influenced by the place you grew up in, the people you shared your childhood with you, the stuff you read, the placed where you had your education, and shows you watched on TV, the songs you grew up dancing to, and so on.

For example, maybe if the six-year-old me had not accepted the invitation to play cricket with two grown men who lived in the house behind where I lived, I wouldn't have been a medical doctor or a musician. "How" is an interesting question. The house that I went to play in had kittens and cats and one of two grown men had a great music cassette/CD collection.
  • Getting exposed to kittens and cats, handling them, getting used to animals, having pets, liking zoology and botany, studying these, giving the entrance test for medicine, enjoy handling/taking care of human beings.
  • Getting exposed to music [being born in a family with musicians, getting lessons in Carnatic music], borrowing CDs of '70s/'80s/'90s music, listening to these on my hi-fi, meeting friends/neighbors who enjoyed similar music, wanting to emulate some of the music by playing drums on tabletops, picking up guitar after my sister forced me to, enjoying learning songs, feeling great about writing songs, recording/producing songs, moving to Mumbai and exploring a career as a musician, playing live music in Mumbai.
So many things had an influence. Now I am several decades past the decision-making stage. I am left with is a pervasive feeling of disappointment. At least, my life is something that I can see through the filter of disappointment.

I'm not disappointed with my decisions themselves. On the contrary, I'm proud of making these decisions. I'm even okay with the difficult decision of having to give up practice for pursuing music and editing. What I'm not okay with is the inability to help the people who seek guidance from me regarding their health problems. I can help them to a certain extent, but I don't have knowledge/skills and tools/resources to help them the way that I want.

For example, J wants a cure for the dozen or so ailments that he seems to have. I can't give him that. My sister wants a cure for the speech/learning disability that my niece has. I can't help her much other than reading up about some details that she shares. Even if I could have an opportunity to spend more time with my niece and may physically be around her to help my sister with whatever she needs to do for my niece, I can't because of my tendencies to need alone time.

On the other hand, with music, despite my feeling happy/proud of the stuff that I have achieved, I'm constantly disappointed with the improvements that I have not been able to make as a musician and the inability to release the tracks after professionally recording/producing them. When I try to write new stuff, I disappoint myself by not being able to come up with even better stuff that I can come up with.

A year or so back, I was absolutely excited about writing/publishing more music. I was also thrilled at the possibility of exploring higher studies abroad and settling somewhere nice. Around that time, I went out for drinks with a couple of friends. It was a farewell thing for one of the two moving abroad. Somewhere in the conversation, I had said that I thought I would be happier and contended if I were to move abroad and find a place where there are not so many things that annoy me like how Bombay does.

My friend had said, "No. You will find things to get annoyed by. You will find things to worry about. You will not be happy." I saw some truth in this at that time. Since then, I have done close to nothing to change my state of affairs.

Now, I am starting to realize that I'll never be happy. Whatever I do, I'll be dissatisfied with myself. Whatever, I get good at, I'll find ways to be more self-critical than I should be.

Situations could change but disappointment is a constant.

Jan 1, 2020

What does one do?

What does one do when the phrase "Happy New Year" sounds even more ludicrous than it has ever sounded? What does one do when despite being convinced about the sheer pointlessness of celebrating the turn of the year, one happens to have memories associated with the event that are attributed to the associated holidays, which coincide with vacations, and the relatively pleasant weather in the subtropical Northern Hemisphere at that time? What does one do when these memories are laced with people who once used to make sense to you—or that it made sense for you to inhabit the same space with them at some time in the past—who still want to make more sense with you when you are absolutely convinced that the sense that they made was more nonsense than anything else? What does one do when those people interact with you while being immersed in the sense of well-being that this phenomenon tends to bring about while one is bereft of such feelings? How does one stop being disappointed and stop disappointing others in these communications? What does one do when ever communication that you engage with is so loaded with the feeling how you fake it feels when reacting with a sense of political correctness and social righteousness? What does one do when, after spending the evening doing something that one thinks they ought to be good at, one is convinced that they aren't really good at what they think they are good at? What does one everything they look at or think about is loaded with memories of feeling of ineptitude and lack of self-worth?
I guess one thinks about make one's loved ones sit at a table and ask leave from them for life—to disappear somewhere and start over.

Dec 29, 2019

The artist/creator conundrum

Yet another outstation gig. More time to listen to what you created in the past few years. So many interesting things that were thought of and executed. The realization that somehow you have managed to create things that you are currently proud of and what you could continue to be proud of.

There are very few such things in my life.

I have no idea how I have managed the creation bit so far. In such phases, I don’t even understand how I could have created those things in the first place. I often wonder if the things that I think I should be proud of are things that are actually mediocre.

Yet, I am proud of them.

In the past, when the sense of pride overtakes the self-doubt, creativity was straightforward. You just get stuck to what you have to do. No realistic roadblock that you can’t overcome.

So what’s changed now?

Well, the things that I have to do at work—that never seems to go away. I still do things that I don’t think I should be doing. I know that day by day, the time that I could possibly devote to creating is diminishing. I know that with every moment, the likelihood of what I can create is losing its relevance in the world.

I want things to be simple. Straightforward. You want to do something—you do it. Nothing much gets in the way.

Maybe it is middle age. Maybe I don’t have it in me anymore. Maybe I never had it in me.

Dec 25, 2019


Everything nudges you. Sometimes ever so slightly. Things that you see, read, do, and think--all of it does. And I guess these nudges change you.

Technically, everyone you meet and interact with you should too. In my case, it's not so. Probably because I go out of my way to limit my interactions with people. People are one of the most consistently disappointing things that I encounter in my daily life--the reason could be high expectations that I set for them, low returns that I get from them, or a combination of both. I find myself checking out of conversations somewhere between 20 minutes and 45 minutes after meeting someone. Even with people I love and that I care about.

And yet, at least one such interaction has resulted in a nudge.

A few days ago, J told me that he was moved after reading my then last post on the blog. He, I guess, could relate more to me as a person through my post because I'm particularly pitiful in conveying emotions in real life. I appear cold and distant. But it is representative of what I feel like these days.

J also said he was exploring some of the older posts after having conversations with AV. They get along well with each other on Facebook, thanks to their shared interest in photography. In fact, they interact way more with each other than I manage to interact with AV.

When I asked J about what they were talking about, J said that it was not about my depression. AV had brought up some issues that he was having with some posts on my blog with him and that's why he had started reading my blog.

Parallelly, AV and I have also been having conversations about how to get people to not find those posts about him on the blog. He said he gets a lot of shit from antagonists on Facebook photography groups, where he posts his idiosyncratically brilliant photographs and engages with people in fiery comment threads (with questionable political correctness). He now wants me to ensure that such posts don't show up on Google searches.

One of my most popular posts was a photobiography of his life. This was my attempt at showcasing his art to the world. His photography, through which his incredible mind shines, had remained more or less inaccessible to the real world thanks to his social anxiety/phobia. Within a few months of meeting him in 2007, I wanted to help him display his photographs in an art gallery in New York. I thought I could do it. I thought I could help him leave a legacy in the real world.

He had scoffed at my cherubic optimism. I couldn't do it like how I wanted to, but I did manage to push him into opening accounts on Flickr and Facebook. His Flickr stint didn't last too long, but he stuck with Facebook. It is probably what keeps him going these days. He uses Facebook to post photos and get comments and reactions from his friends and, more importantly, from strangers. And some of these strangers look him up when they are upset with something he posts or says, and that leads to my blog posts.

I have been naive and careless about the internet all my life. In 1997, I started warming up to HTML. In 2002, I created a website for my medical school batchmates. I had copied all the content available in a book that was published after we graduated and then started posting updates on their whereabouts. The website was hosted on GeoCities and the content still comes up on Google searches. Some of my classmates are pissed by it, and I'm still trying to find my way out of that mess.

Back to nudges. I guess everyone is figuring out how to find a way out of their labyrinthine miseries. Like how I am trying to get past my current low phase. I have heard a lot of people talk their way out of things with superfluous stuff like, "It's all about the journey and not the destination." Thanks to these nudges, the path that I take (and thus the journey) deviates ever so slightly from what seems like a course of certain doom. Mabye the destination doesn't change and it's just a slight detour. But the journey does. Or it has.

Back to J. So when J brought up my blog, I felt a certain sense of pride. I have always felt that I communicated better in writing than I could ever do in any other mode of communication. Hell, I have met more people by making people laugh and entertaining them on gay social networking chat rooms. So I went back to the blog(s). I hadn't posted in a while. And then I posted All I Want is SolitudeSlide-show, and The Last Best Things.

I felt satisfied. I felt closer to how to I used to feel. I felt like I had done something meaningful. I don't feel that too often.

There were other nudges too. Two weeks ago, during the commute to an outstation gig, I spent most of my time listening to an audiobook. It was the audio version of Judas Unchained by Peter Hamilton--a book I had started three years back. Sometime during the ride, I felt like switching to something else.

I looked for music in my dumber of my two smartphones. It's dumber because it's older and it does not have access to mobile internet. It is a Nexus 5 whose motherboard must feel like a teenager thanks to the number of fixes it needed to keep it going. It does not have a functioning mobile radio antenna and hence does not have a SIM card. It might be dumber, but it is the one that I'm more fond of and feel more safe with. I feel that it is safer because it is not the phone on which I have to interact with people. People tend to bring bad news. Communicating with people make me anxious. That overwhelming sense of expectations and responsibility.

So my dumber phone functions like an iPod. It has everything that I might want to listen to. The vast majority of what I want to listen to is podcasts--on combat sports, science, technology, astronomy, skepticism, conspiracy theories, etc. Audiobooks occupy a much lesser, but significant, chunk of its limited memory. I have a few folders in it with some music. Mostly music that I have to listen to for preparing my sets. But there are also some folders with versions of some of my songs. I keep these folders so that I can remind myself that I can be creative.

I switched to listening to my songs. Mainly because I wanted to check out how they sounded on my new Bluetooth headphones, which have the necklace thing along with the earbuds. As I guess is the case when artists revisit their unfinished pieces after a long time, I was pleasantly surprised. I was enjoying listening to the songs that I had written, recorded, and produced. They were so out of my consciousness that I was intrigued by them initially. I remember smiling and chuckling at the lyrics that I had come up with. If you are wondering, I can't remember my lyrics to save my life.

This whole experience was another little nudge because I had revisited something that I was proud of. I felt like I had done something worthwhile and I was capable of doing something that could also help me leave a legacy. I don't think I much care(d) about leaving a legacy, but I have always wanted to showcase what I could do—at what I think I'm good at doing—to the world. I guess I would also like some recognition, but that's not the most important reason. I would like to think that I want people to feel what I have felt, and I truly hope that I have translated my feelings and thoughts sufficiently adeptly into these songs.

Another nudge happened around that time. Since starting Judas Unchained in 2017, I have just finished about 400 pages. It is the only book I'm officially reading. It's fair to say that I was not reading much. At J's best friend's farewell party, which I reluctantly agreed to go for,  I found myself checking out of people and conversations fast. In the middle of the party, in one of several attempts to separate myself from the raucous conversation, I walked into J's friend's bedroom and found a copy of Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil. I read the the first 30-odd pages. The sheer pleasure of opening a paperback, sifting through pages, enjoying the different angles that one could gaze the pages at, and getting lost in that brilliant chapter are all cliched mediocre aspects of reading a physical book. But for me, it was another nudge. I had suddenly rediscovered the joy of reading a new book, which opened up the possibility of reading many more.

The next night, I found my Kindle Paperwhite and charged it. I logged out of my .com Amazon account and logged in with my .in account so that I can access the books that I have been reading on my other Kindle.

Yes, I have two Kindles. The Paperwhite is mine, and the other (a much older one with a physical keyboard) is a gift from Blummer. It was Blummer's father's and Blummer gave it to me after his passing. In the last three years, I have preferred reading on the older Kindle because it felt more like reading a physical book (because it does not have a backlight) and because I loved its physical page-turn buttons. But it is a problem if I wanted to read in bed with the lights turned off. I either have to use my dumber smartphone (because it has kickback stand in its case) or the Paperwhite.

After the Narcopolis experience, I wanted to get back to being on my Paperwhite because I could read in bed and drift to sleep. Instead of watching something and having to turn that thing off. Since then, apart from continuing Judas Unchained, I started a John le Carre book. Some progress.

Reading goes hand in hand with writing. The more I read, the more I want to write. That meant more posts, of which this, hopefully, will be the fourth.

There have been other nudges too in these past two weeks.

Buying those necklace headphones meant that I could listen to my podcasts with my helmet on while riding my bicycle, which I primarily use for commuting to work and grocery shopping. Listening to podcasts while cycling is liberating!

In another conversation three weeks ago, J had asked me to figure out a way to restart therapy and make it more regular. I had managed to get the first session done two days after I posted my first post in a long time. I don't consider the therapy itself as a nudge, but my efforts for fomdomg a fix to remedy my current situation was one.

My maid has been giving me a fresh set of problems since she started coming a few months back. Despite me requesting her several times to do dusting and other types of cleaning more than sweep/swab and doing the dishes, she was just following her usual routines. This past week, I had a conversation with her explaining what I wanted her to do. The next day was a no-show from her. I was frustrated and I wanted to set an example.

I spent about five hours in cleaning up the apartment so that she could see how things looked if things were done properly. The next day, I did the dishes and cleaned the counter and made the bed before I left for work. She must have been surprised that I had done all of that. Today I met her and explained that things are not working out the way they are being done. I proposed an alternate strategy of focusing way more on dusting and deep cleaning on a fortnightly rotating basis around the apartment. I also said that I'll continue doing the things that I can.

The five-hour cleaning run was a nudge. I felt good after doing it. I had tangible results of something that I had a lot of fun doing. I have always felt a sense of satisfaction and pride after cleaning. This feeling is why I volunteer to do dishes when I go to my friends' place for dinner.

So many nudges. Most will sound inconsequential to many. But they did change the way I was doing things. The way I was thinking about things. Those nudges changed me and my future. There I said it. Every time I come across a sci-fi reference about the lack of free will, I chuckle on the inside. I guess I chuckle(d) a lot when I used to watch Passengers or think about Trafalmadorians.

Last night, I found myself telling J that I might be past my current phase's nadir. Maybe I have. That's where I am now. Feeling better. Thanks to these nudges.