I am Pizza Rat

If you haven’t heard of Pizza Rat, you’re probably living either under a rock or a dark subway stairwell – not unlike Pizza Rat herself*. Pizza Rat went viral yesterday when someone took a video of her dragging a large slice of pizza down cement steps leading to an underground subway station in New York. The video is hilarious, and was instantly shared and viewed millions of times by the social media generation loud-and-proudly proclaiming, “Pizza Rat is me!” – mostly because who would waste a slice of pizza? (Probably me.)

But Pizza Rat spoke to me in a deep existential way. Maybe it’s because I, much like other millennial twenty-somethings like me, am also trying to drag a “slice of pizza” to satiate a hunger of some sort. Pizza Rat is the epitome of millennials, stuck in their post-college quagmire of limitless – yet somehow limited – opportunities.

I was born to parents who didn’t have the opportunity to choose their future. Two engineering degrees and one arranged marriage later, they decided to raise their daughters with an overdose of choice. My sister and I got to choose where we went to college, what we studied, and whom we married/dated. One of us went on to live a well-adjusted life, studying a sensible vocation and settling down in good time. One of us, and you know where I’m headed with this, ended up “following my dreams,” making my way through an artsy bachelor’s degree and an MFA that rendered me, in my mid-twenties, lost and confused, and to a great extent, unemployable.

At the time of this writing, Pizza Rat has over 2.5 million views. I myself have contributed about a hundred views to that video. But while my friends and boyfriend, and probably all of the internet, watch that video and LOL, there forms a lump in my throat that I find impossible to swallow. I watch as she drags the slice determinedly down two stairs, each time the slice proving too heavy for the tiny creature, but not insurmountable. Until finally, she gives up and disappears down the bottom. But something happens in the final second of the video. The tiny, pointed nose and beady eyes reappear behind the cement stairs. She stares hungrily at the slice, that unattainable goal. In that millisecond, I picture myself in that rat. Staring at my dream of being fulfilled and happy, the dream that I dragged down two college degrees and countless sleep-deprived nights, the dream that suddenly feels too big and too heavy and too impossible to drag down the side of the subway stairs into the darkness of my soul.

Then suddenly, the video ends and I’m thrown back into my real life. The countless versions of my overqualified résumé stare back at me. I feel my heart sink. I close the windows and gaze at the generic sunset scene on my laptop screen. I re-watch the video. After about another twenty views, I begin to wonder about that abrupt ending. What happened after we were cut access to this rat’s story? Did she disappear, leaving her dreams behind? Did she come back and take another go at it before abandoning the slice forever?

Or did she take a little break and return, rejuvenated, to grab at her slice with both sets of teeth, giving it all she had in her soul no matter how tough it got, and make it all the way back to the darkness of her home, where she enjoyed the whole slice, relishing every single bite, knowing that she had been knocked down, she had been stepped on, but she had earned every single bite of savoury success?

We will never know if Pizza Rat was successful in realizing her dream of a hearty meal, but I know that she taught me a lesson (which I mostly made up because, let’s face it, she was just a hungry rat), that will stay with me long after she stops being viral.

*Yes, I think Pizza Rat is a she.

Lost & Found

Year One.

I was lost. Literally. It was my second day on campus. I had attended the international students’ orientation which, on the map, was less than a mile from my apartment. I stood at an intersection, debating which way to go, knowing I had a terrible sense of direction (literally and metaphorically), without a smartphone to guide me because I had just landed in August and wanted to wait until Octoberfor the new iPhone. I played a little game of “you first” with a driver at the intersection, the concept of “right of way” still so alien to me, the alien non-immigrant in this country. I shouted out, “Please go, I have no idea where I’m going.” I was rewarded with an annoyed sigh and a whoosh of tires. I obviously hadn’t met Los Angeles drivers before.

My first screenwriting class went pretty much the same way. Having been raised on a solid dose of bad Hindi movies and worse Hindi television, I was clueless. Everyone else had either been in the industry for a while, had been writing screenplays since they were teenagers, or had been obsessed with Hollywood for a long, long time. Me? I had written short stories, watched Friends, and coolly decided I could write for Hollywood. It was a harsh wake up call. I spent a rough night googling every name mentioned that day, trying to cram everyone’s résumés and credits into my still-jetlagged brain. I didn’t even think about the fact that I had literally no idea how to write a screenplay. I was lost, again.

I thought about home a lot the first few weeks. About how easy it was to just walk up to a stranger and ask for help. About how it had been so easy to do well without trying too hard. About how everyone had expected me to be successful, but I still felt like a fraud in my heart. About how I didn’t want to let anyone down. There may or may not have been one too many tearful nights. But I pulled through. Don’t give me any credit though.

Just after I had sent off my application on November 1st 2011, I started prowling the internets, looking for clues about when I could expect to hear back. I stumbled upon the studentfilm forum and joined a thread following the application process for the UCLA MFA programme. It was thrilling to be a part of a secret group with a shared experience. To those that don’t know me, I’m not the most social person and I’ve always had trouble making friends. But in that group – strangely – I felt at home. It is no surprise to me today that the people that I met in that forum, online, before I knew any of their names or what they all looked like, are some of the best friends I have ever made in L.A., and in my life. These are the people who defined my life at UCLA, and in Los Angeles. These are the people who pulled me through – one word at a time, one script at a time, one piece of life-affirming advice at a time.

studentfilmforum support system + honorary member Kiley.
studentfilmforum support system + honorary member Kiley.

There is something about having friends who have gone/are going through your same journey. I didn’t feel the need to explain. I didn’t feel the need to hide. My “weirdness” was appreciated and understood. I spoke to people who finally understood the vague abstracts in which I had always thought my whole life. Through them I learnt the fundamentals of friendly competition, of generosity of spirit, of creative compassion. I learnt that writing is a lifelong struggle. That “kill your darlings” wasn’t just a cute, quaint expression. That being truly helped is opening myself up to questions that I was maybe not prepared to answer. That I will have to tear apart and stitch back pieces of myself with every word I wrote. That it was all okay when I had amazing friends who always, always, always had my back.

Of course, I still felt alien, I still missed references, I still don’t really “get” Beyoncé. But, surrounded by these guys, I no longer felt lost.

They made it easy to be found.

Dreams, drama, and one too many drinks. Spring Break ’13, Malibu with my most favourite people of all.
‘Repeat after me, “I am not suckatude.”‘ My writing therapist.

The Funeral

I wasn’t supposed to be here. If anyone saw me peeking out from between these long wheat stalks, I would be dragged out, screaming and crying, and told off in front of everyone. But I couldn’t stay away. Not when it was Grandmother.

I watched as they lay the logs one above the other. Why were they doing this the traditional way? It feels barbaric. I felt uneasy as the pile of logs grew bigger. I pulled my eyes away from the funeral pyre to the people.

A group of men stood around trying to look stoic and unmoved. Where I come from, women aren’t allowed to attend funerals. At the head, stood Dad and Grandfather. I squinted at Dad. Was he going to cry? I had never seen my father cry. Ever. A hard, dry lump formed in my throat. I forced it down and turned my attention back to Grandmother.

She lay on a cotton bed to the side. She looked like she was sleeping. I had a wild thought. What if they had made a mistake? I imagined jumping out of the field and running into the crematorium, Grandmother waking up in the commotion, and everyone praising me for saving her life. I shook my head. They must have checked. She’s really dead.

My feet were tired from all the standing and waiting and peeping, so I decided to sit, cross-legged on the ground. I quickly realized that I had lost my vantage point of the funeral, but I decided it was okay.

I heard the grunt of men lifting Grandmother onto the pyre and thought of all the summers I had spent on her lap, listening to stories. She made me want to be a storyteller. I heard the crackle of a log catching on fire and thought of her soft voice as I fell asleep to the Kings being victorious. I heard the primal howl emanating from my father’s throat, the smell of charred wood and skin. I closed my eyes and thought of all the ways I would try to make Dad feel better back home. I realized nothing could.

I thought again of Grandmother and her peaceful smile. My chest felt tight. I decided I was okay with women not attending funerals. I never wanted to go to one ever again. I didn’t know then that the worst comes after the funeral.

(*I wrote this on assignment in an hour last night. My grandmother died when I was fifteen. I missed her funeral.)

Dreamless Sleep

[Published here and on ashramswithinanut.tumblr.com for the terribleminds.com Flash Fiction Challenge.]

Do we wake up on the morning of our deaths and know that it is coming? Is there a sort of deep, animal, gut feeling, honed over years and years of Darwinian self-preservation, that wakes us with a jolt at perhaps five a.m. with the powerless knowledge that, “this is it, my life is over”?

She never had time for that kind of thought. Feelings of powerlessness never existed in her emotional knapsack. If you talked to her co-workers, the first thing they would say about her, after they have waxed eloquent about her thoughtfulness and righteousness, would be her unflinching, unwavering quest for power. She never questioned her goals. She was ambitious and she went for what she wanted.

If you’re thinking “ruthless ambition,” you would be wrong. Sarah O’Connor was determined in the dogged pursuit of her goal, but she was never ruthless. She was cool, never cold. “Thawed openness,” said a journalist once – one of those young Ivy League graduates that feel the need to speak in contradicting linguistic imagery to prove their intellectuality, as though the ability to write in simple but cohesive sentences was almost uncivilized – which she detested for its unabashed overreaching but respected for its accuracy. She was a woman who loved to love and cared for the well-being of her employees and friends, but on her terms.

But that morning, the morning of July 18th, that unseasonably cold and rainy morning, she woke up with a jolt almost an hour before her alarm normally went off. She wracked her brain for the dream she had been having, wondering if something in it had woken her. But it was almost as though she had had a completely dreamless sleep. This was strange, because for as long as she could remember, Sarah had always recollected her dreams. She knew this because the day she realized this, sometime in her mid-twenties, she had begun keeping a journal.

It was always the same journal. For the past fifteen years, she had bought the same moleskin notebook (in deep-red leather with a white string), once every few months when the previous journal run out of pages. It never occurred to her to buy more than one at a time; she wasn’t the kind of person who believed in planning that far in advance in her personal life.

But this morning was different. She woke up with a hum in her chest and a completely blank mind. She thought hard for a few minutes. Nothing. She finally gave up and got out of bed. “Ouch,” she yelped as she stubbed her toe on her bedside table. She crossed her right leg on her left knee and kneaded her big toe, brows furrowed. This was not a good start to the day. But then, she shook her head. She wasn’t one for superstitions. She gave a final massage to her toe, then headed towards the bathroom.

She didn’t think about her dreamless sleep again until she was in her car, driving to work. She wondered what it meant. That her mind had just decided to stop making up memories for her. Of course, dreams aren’t memories, she reminded herself. Yet, it bothered her. Most days, she drove to work thinking about her dreams. Thinking of ways they could have been more crazy, or more embarrassing, or more believable. But today, her mind was drawing a blank. She felt as though she had no thoughts left. She laughed at her own perceived silliness.

It was an ordinary day at work. Really, nothing different. The same people came by, smiled, made presentations, argued points, debated ideas, discussed strategies. She paid attention to most of it, but she also daydreamed through a lot of it. By daydream, of course, she tried to recollect her dream from the night before. Why did it bother her so much? It was just a silly dream, not like she had forgotten the name of her mother. Wait, what was her mom’s name? Oh yes, Helen. Phew. That was close. What’s he saying?

“Do you think this is the right way to go?”
She looked around for signs to help her know what he’s talking about. Nothing.

After a painstakingly long silence, she finally responded, “You know. I think I need to think that over.”

She noticed the mixture of relief and disappointment in his face, an expression well familiar to her. After preparing something for days, you want the response to be immediate or very delayed. You either want to be heralded as a genius right away, or be crushed much later. She gave him an encouraging smile. No point making him panic.

The drive back home, she saw all the twinkling streetlights whoosh by. She counted every single one of them. She didn’t know what else to do. Every few lights, she’d think of what she was doing and shake her head. What was wrong with her? But she continued anyway. Between her workplace and her office, she counted six hundred and two lights.

She watched a movie that night. She hadn’t watched one in years, and they said “Election” was finally on Netflix. So, she bought herself a subscription to Netflix and settled in to re-watch her favourite director’s best movie (in her opinion). She laughed at all the right moments. Shook her head at all the satirical ones. When it was over, she went to bed thinking how unexpectedly dark it had been.

As she got out of her robe that night, she thought about how fortunate she was. About all the people depending on her at work. About her mother, her best friends. She tried to cram as many thoughts in her mind as possible so she had a good dream that night.

Finally satisfied with all her thoughts, she carefully placed her dream journal right next to her head on the nightstand and went to sleep looking at it.

It was a few days before they finally found her.

[For the record, my “random phrase” was Thawed Openness.]

Brown Eyed Girl

(also published on www.shrutiswaminathan.com; written for Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge on http://www.terribleminds.com)

The first time I saw him, “Brown Eyed Girl” was playing on the radio. I remember the day like it was yesterday.

I was at home. “Home” was a tiny 10 x 12 I shared with my roommate and sometimes lover at the time. Her name was Melinda. We were in California. Our room was littered with “peace” signs from the war protest that we had been attending all week. The Beatles had Guest of Honour status on our walls, looking down benevolently. The rest is a haze. Not because it has been so long since I lived in that cramped room. It was the sixties, you know?

That small transistor radio was my favourite, if not only, possession at the time. I listened to all my shows religiously. It wasn’t called classic rock in our time. We just called it popular music. Our parents called it the music of the devil. I remember the radio host – his name eludes me – going on a long, funny diatribe against the “old” generation. I used to think a lot of my parents in rural Minnesota. Religious churchgoers. Rule followers. They hadn’t been happy when I decided to come to California for college, but they never stopped me. When I listened to the host, I used to think of them.

My parents were High School sweethearts. They were married the day before he left for the War. My mother was among the first women in her town to start working when the men were gone. She was pregnant but she still drove ten miles every day to work at the factory. I was born eight months after they were married. I used to wonder if I was the reason they got married. I look at her fresh-faced smile in their wedding picture from time-to-time. Did she know then?

Mother was a pioneer. But she was also among the first women to drop out and stop working when the men came back. I asked her once why she stopped. She’d just shrugged. “I didn’t have to stay.” I think it bothered me a little. Maybe.

What would they think of my lifestyle? They might have been shocked. Most people were. But my parents were rocks. When father came back from the war, he used to wake up screaming at nights, drenched in sweat. I used to run to their room and stand in the open doorway. Watching my mother hold him and gently rock him back and forth until his breath slowed and he was ready to sleep again. In the morning, they betrayed no emotion; no signs of having seen me witness the scene. They were Immovable. Soon, they started sleeping with their doors closed. “What goes on behind closed doors…” was an opened-ended sentence my mother loved to leave hanging in the air.

The first time I saw him, I was sitting on the small ledge outside my window, smoking. It was a precarious ledge – only about a foot wide. A little miscalculation and I would go flying through the air ten storeys down. But that was part of the charm for me. Many a day was spent on that ledge, imagining what it would feel like to go hurtling through the air, no way to go but down. How long would it take? Would time stand still as I flashed back to my past and pictured every friend, every lover I had ever had? Or would it be over in a flash? Would it hurt? I used to look down at the concrete pavement and imagine my skull cracked open and people gathering around my lifeless body.

I had been enjoying an hour of listening to The Doors. I loved Jim Morrison. My friends and I had been planning a road trip to Los Angeles. I had heard that the man living in his old dorm room at UCLA had been letting people visit his room for a fee. I wondered if his room had a ledge like mine. I imagined him sitting on that ledge, the sharp L.A. sun blinding him as he thought of songs. I wondered how he came up with his songs.

A glint caught my eye and I peered down through the gap between my feet at the ground. A small puddle of water had gathered on the pavement underneath. I wanted to crane my neck to see what was dripping, but some kind of self-preservative instinct didn’t let me. So I busied myself instead by staring at the slow, ripples spreading out evenly, only to be disturbed by the next drop, and then the next.

Suddenly, “Brown Eyed Girl” came on. I was briefly disappointed that The Doors hour was over. I blamed myself irrationally for a moment. I had gotten distracted from my Jim Morrison daydream so they’d stopped playing. Then I laughed at myself and continued watching the puddle, humming along with the song.

Out of nowhere, a foot stomped right in the middle of my puddle. Droplets scattered, spreading all over the pavement. I yelled out angrily, “Hey!” The foot froze. And he looked up.

Brown eyed girl. Lala la la la la la la la la lala.

He had the most beautiful brown eyes I had ever seen. A light coffee brown that when caught the sun in just the right angle, looked almost amber. I’d never seen eyes like his before. Honest, steadfast, with an infinite capacity to love. In the five seconds that I stared into his eyes, I imagined the next fifty years of my life waking up to those eyes every night.

Then, just as suddenly as it had started, the song ended. I broke eye contact and climbed back into my room, embarrassed.

Did he stay and wait for me to come back out? Did he keep walking? Does he remember that day just as clearly as I do? Does he think of me every time he listens to “Brown Eyed Girl?” Does he know me?

Cloud Atlas – an analysis

This analysis of Cloud Atlas (my favourite film of 2012) was written as an assignment for my Film Structure class at U.C.L.A. taught by Professor Emeritus Howard Suber.

‘Our lives are not our own. We are bound to others,

past and present. And by each crime and every kindness,

we birth our future.’

Cloud Atlas is an epic story of love, kindness, and the circle of life. It is the story of how our actions in the present resonate for years to come, and how our lives are bound to others not just at this point, but in the future. The movie deals with this overarching subject by exploring the lives of six groups of people over six eras – through the Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing, the letters by Robert Frobisher to Rufus Sixsmith, Half-Lives – A Louisa Rey mystery, The ghastly ordeals of Timothy Cavendish, Revelations of Sonmi-451 and the story being told by Zachry to his grandchildren. Each story, while bring physically connected through books, letters and stories, is also inexorably linked to the other by a bond of compassion and human suffering. While they don’t realise it then, by their effort to challenge the existing social order, they inspire each other. Adam’s Journal keeps Frobisher company and gives him the courage to complete his composition. Frobisher’s letters and music inspire Louisa to fight for a man she barely knows. Louisa’s story inspires Cavendish to go against the establishment, who in turn powers Sonmi to refuse being subjected to ‘criminal abuse’. Sonmi comes to be revered as a Goddess, whose revelations become the tenets that the valleyfolk live by.

‘There is a natural order to this world, and those who try to upend it do not fare well.’ Each story begins with a description of the world it is set in, a world with a pre-existing social order. From slavery at the time of Adam Ewing, to ‘replicants’ serving ‘consumers’ (purebloods) in 2144 – every human era has one social order – the strong rule over the weak. Even in the years after The Fall, the Meronyms are considered a higher social order over the valley folk, which live in fear of the cannibal tribes, the Kona. (Not surprisingly, in this story, the more advanced race are dark-skinned, reflecting the idea of circle of life.) The Hero in each story, in the beginning, understands this ‘natural order’ and complies with it, quelling all internal doubts. Adam Ewing pretends to understand the ‘natural order’ of slavery in spite of being uncomfortable with the idea. The rebel, outcaste musician, Robert Frobisher understands the laws of his society that is governed by reputation and does not approve of his sexual orientation. He knows that the only way for him to gain credit is to work with a master musician. Louisa Rey lives in an era where her sex resigns her to report for gossip magazines instead of serious journalistic work. Timothy Cavendish is forced into Aurora House, where age and strength are all against him – is they were in the outside world as well. Sonmi-451 understands the governing catechisms of the replicants’ lives and is an ideal server at Papa Song’s. Zachry, tormented by the devil and terrified of the Kona, allows his brother in law to die at their hands.

‘Just trying to understand why we keep making the same mistakes, over and over.’ All the characters realise fundamentally the uneven balance of power. But they are all reluctant to be the catalyst for that change. They have a seed of compassion, however, that leads them to the inevitable trap. Adam saves Autua and allows him to hide in his storage cabin with him, thus forging a forbidden friendship between a white man and a black slave. Robert begins work on his own composition, braving the future and a potentially harsh society. Louisa decides to explore the mystery surrounding Sixsmith’s death in spite of knowing that this mystery was probably the cause. Cavendish decides to join the alliance with some other inmates and makes plans to escape. Sonmi-451 does not report her friend’s transgressions as a replicant and instead keeps them a secret. Zachry offers to take Meronym to the mountains even though he believes the devil lives there, so that she would save his niece.

‘The weak are meat, and the strong do eat.’ Eventually, they all find themselves trapped between their own actions and the social order, where the strong hold power. Adam is trapped between his act of compassion and the men on board, as well as his friend, Dr. Goose. Similarly, when Vyvyan forces Frobisher to allow him to take primary credit for the Cloud Atlas Sextet, Frobisher is trapped between his dream and his reputation in society. Louisa is trapped between the need to expose the dangerous truth behind the Swannekee project and her life. Cavendish is trapped within Aurora House due to his former misdeeds and by the dictatorial staff. Sonmi-451 is trapped between staying behind and getting discovered, or escaping to the outside world illegally. Zachry is trapped between his fear of the devil and his curiosity and promise to Meronym.

‘I am not genomed to alter reality.’ – ‘No revolutionary ever was.’ Through reading and knowing of each other’s travails, our heroes begin to question the so-called natural order. They realise the innate cruelty within the order, the skewed reality and misconceptions that abound. They begin to face and conquer their fears. The creation of an order has been an oft-repeated mistake over generations, but if the order had changed before, it surely could change now. Adam’s life is saved from the clutches of the man he considered a friend by the slave Autua, changing his perceptions of the man he considered barbaric. Frobisher accidentally shoots Vyvyan and runs away with his composition, finishing it alone in a hotel room. Louisa overcomes the attempts on her life and goes in search of Sixsmith’s niece. Cavendish, along with his mates, plans and executes his escape from Aurora House. Sonmi, having realised the cruel nature of her existence, decides to reveal the truth and to lead the revolution. Zachry overcomes his fear of the devil and the cannibals, fighting and killing them in the woods.

‘What is an ocean, but a multitude of drops?’ Each hero understands that his actions alone may never make a dent, but even if it affects all but one other person, their act of rebellion will not be in vain. Adam knows he alone cannot end slavery, but his action will count towards it. Frobisher knows that many may not hear his music, ‘I’m a spent firework, but at least I have been a firework’. Louisa knows that her attempts may kill her, but also that if she did not try, thousands would be killed. Cavendish knows he can never go back to the city, but now understands that ‘it is attitude, not years, that condemns one to the ranks of the undead.’ Sonmi knows her mission is bound to fail and people may not believe her truth, but someone already does. Zachry is aware that Meronym’s call for help may never be answered by the offshore colonies, but he moves with her for a better life and future and away from what remains of his home.

10 Things I Must Do Before I Turn 25 (or my resolutions for the second half of 2015)

[I gave in. I made a listicle. Gah.]

It’s easy to say, “I need to get my shit together.” It’s a lot harder when one has no idea what that shit even is. I have no clue. Sure there are the usual things that every twenty-something wants. A job, a partner, an identity, an apartment, I don’t know. Vague and ephemeral buzzwords that you hear as a child and think, “I won’t have to worry about that until I’m a grown up.”

Well, now I am. And they still sound like buzzwords.

The point of all of this is, when I sat down to write this, I quickly realised that what I truly needed wasn’t any of those buzzwords. Wait, who am I kidding? I definitely need a job and an apartment. But what I also need, is a sense of Identity. Who am I? Who do I want to be? What do I want to do in order to be who I want to be?

So in service of that, things I Must Do In the Next Six Months that will further the cause of my Self Identity. (This listicle changes titles every paragraph. It’s amorphous like that.)

1.     Read the classics. Not the usual suspects, your Jane Austens and your Shakespeares. But the ones that should have been introduced to me/us in school, like Virginia Woolfe, Thoreau, Proust, Hemingway.

2.     Start writing my dream project (more on that when the time comes). I don’t need to finish a draft – besides, when is a draft ever finished? But start it. Love it. Nurture it. And NOT GIVE UP ON IT.

3.     Educate myself on things I care about. Read up on feminism, socialism, economics, the Middle East. Have an intelligent conversation with knowledge to back me up as opposed to emotions. People always take you more seriously when you appear logical instead of tearily saying, “but look at how sad this is!”

4.     Be more focussed on a healthy lifestyle. I’m not overweight and I’m not skinny. I don’t suffer from body image issues, necessarily, but I do suffer from low self control (I type this as I tear into a box of Häagen-Dazs), and it’s probably time to work on that.

5.     Stop comparing myself to other, more successful people. Everyone has their own journey, their own paths. My choices and decisions have brought me this far, but worrying about others’ life choices and decisions only serve to derail my purpose and direction.

6.     Travel. I have gotten myself out there a lot this past year. I took a solo trip through the big cities of North East America and I loved it (check out #EastCoastShenanigans!). I want to do more of it. I want to travel places. Eat different cuisines. Experience the world – and by extension, experience myself.

7.     Learn how to make gifs! And learn how to find them in the first place. Gifs are hilarious and amazing and while cute-cat humour is totally lost on me (I’m a dog person, obs), I love anything that makes me feel like I’m looking at the Daily Prophet! (If you don’t get the Harry Potter reference we can’t be friends.)

8.     Watch all the movies on my Netflix list! Catch up on the TV I’ve missed. Be able to actually contribute to a conversation about Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, House of Cards, and EVERYTHINGELSEEVER without having to politely excuse myself.

9.     Get back to acting/dancing/performing. I don’t care if that means joining a hip-hop class in the neighbourhood or a play on-stage, or The Groundlings, or even singing on a street corner. Just get the hell out there and BE.

10.  Find the thing I love. See, over the past month, I have done quite a bit of soul searching, and I realised something. There are a lot of things I like. In fact, I like everything. But I love nothing. I read everything, I follow nothing. I’m not passionate about any cause, activity, sport, or hobby to want to devote my time to it – and isn’t that an incomplete way to live?

Six (seven-ish) months ‘til I turn twenty five. Here’s to nothing.


I’ve walked this way many times before. Haven’t ever found you at the end of it. How do I then know that you are there? That, if I walked this road enough, I would find you someday?

I remember that day vividly. Like it was just yesterday – though it has been many sleepless nights since then. The same black and white meadow, the same path. The same unreal whisper of a world not complete. The same leaves whistling a windless song. The black, stoic in it’s all-knowing stands stark against the white, joyful in it’s disregard for knowledge. Me. Dressed in a cacophony of colours that shrink back to stand out. There is courage in cowardice too, they tell me. I’m puzzled, but I nod back. My feet move involuntarily on the tiles, my eyes take in everything. I sense a deja vu. Like, I’ve been here before, but can’t place it.

Something scurries across my tracks and I stop. It’s a tiny squirrel, almost like a black and white cartoon. Lost before I can find it. I notice something from the corner of my eye. Something amiss in the pure black and white-ness. A streak of red on the white tiles. Tracing out the path the squirrel took. I follow it gingerly, unsure of what I’ll find. I follow the red to the trunk of a tree, at the bottom of which lay a tiny bird. The red stopped here, but the bird has no traces of it. I consider going around the tree to see what the red leads to, but give up when I catch a closer look at the bird. It is a strange little thing, this bird. Black beak, white feathers, beady eyes. All normal. But it has the strangest claws. Almost, coloured. Somewhere between being and not being, he is caught in between worlds, probably wandering in from someone else’s. I softly hold him for a while, till he loses all colour and becomes a part of mine. Then I open my hands, blow a kiss and let him go.

I look back to my path, but it seems a long way off. I make my way back to it slowly, the bird having alerted me. Perhaps there were others that might have wandered here. I look for signs of company. Walking alone becomes tiring after awhile. I start noticing signs of encroachment. The leaves that seem to rustle to a hint of a wind. The path that loops to places I don’t recognise. I quicken my footsteps. I need to find the source before I get lost, or worse – wake up. I look under stones – it could be an insect. I look into mounds of earth – it could be a mole. I peep into windows – maybe it is another person? I hear a distant bell. My time is running out. I begin to run. I am struck by an urge to know. Suddenly, I trip and find myself catapulting through the air. As my eyes slowly focus to the world spinning, they see you upside down. Lying without a care in the world, grinning lopsidedly at the idiot who tripped into your dream. I begin to smile back, but by the time I finish, I’m facing the other way around. The next cycle, you aren’t there anymore, and before I can try and figure out where you could have possibly gone, I land.

And, I wake up.


I dance in ecstasy, I dance in pain,
I dance in fear, sometimes in vain.
I dance for knowledge, I dance for gain,
I dance for release, often for restraint.
I dance to remember, I dance to forget,
I dance to awake, awaken the dead.
I dance in creation, I dance in narration,
I dance in elation, for no occassion.
Dance is for the world, for the world to see, Dance is mine, Dance is me.


A quiet night. Cold, cold fingers moving swiftly against the keyboard. Characters, scenes, plots swirl around the head, materialising and vanishing just like the words on the screen. Nothing feels right. Everything is misty.

How does a character get created? I see a shadow of a person sitting next to me at the table, without a chair. I nudge. I don’t know if it is a him or her. But suddenly, I feel a swish of nearly invisible hair. It is a girl. Smiling vaguely, lost, empty. As though without any thoughts. I look at her for a while. Then I realise. This is the woman I’ve been writing. Empty and lost. Thoughtless, for I haven’t put any thoughts. But shouldn’t characters have thoughts for themselves? I suppose you have to start them off first, though.

Let’s see. What do we put first? A childhood memory, perhaps. Playing with a toy. Maybe it breaks, maybe she cries. Maybe she feels betrayed by the friend she thought she had in that toy. Sad.

I look up at her. She seems to be more real now. She is cradling something in her hands. I ask her to show it. It is the broken pieces of the toy.

The story is beginning.