Category Archives: Flying solo

On being single, on being an individual even if in a couple.

Call Me No Names

I’ve written about this before. They’re nets of words around a dimly grasped idea. Dim, partly because I’ve been learning about myself and about men. Also because everyone around me conspires to keep me from finding this out and having chanced upon it, to blame it on me. Because it doesn’t look good.

Let’s call this idea a few different names (mainly for creative vanity because I’ve toyed with it so long and I’m certain of it and other people’s excuses and fog-confusions don’t entertain me anymore). The Novelty Girl. The Character In Someone Else’s Coming of Age Story. The Manic Pixie Dream Girl. The Guilty Pleasure. The Bucket-list Woman.

The world is not getting better. Men are not growing up. Women are turning into men (in their behaviour). Patriarchy is winning, even if with other labels. The fight was always meant to make life better, easier for all of us. It was about helping us all relate better to each other. Not make us scareder of each other. Instead, the labels that were supposed to be parachutes out of a crashing system have turned into nooses on intimacy.

I’ve only ever met men who are come caveat-first and not one of them has actually been clear about what they wanted. And now it’s women and friendships and every manner of relationships too.

“I want it this way and anything else will be treated as deviation and not even considered.”

“I will only give XYZ” (sometimes this is in the form of numbers or percentages)

Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

Thirteen years ago, it was a man dropping a hot new word like it was the latest gizmo he’d acquired. “I’m committment-phobic” he pronounced, tasting each syllable like the wine in his hand. I’m sure he’d practiced both moves, the swirling wine glass and the slow glance in my direction. He also wanted us to ‘start dating’ on our second date. And write poetry about his ex. And write about the songs he played during our first kiss. It was a Milan Kundera novel (or so he thought – he’d only read one but at least he introduced me to an author I loved). I know where he’s gone from there and it’s a story as cheesy as its beginning. But never mind, I bear him no malice.

I know nobody likes to be seen as a type. And I know we can all be broadly categorised into some loose definitions. But even as a researcher, I knew this framework was a starting point at best, and a limited one at that. Human beings and how they behave cannot be predicted; it can only be anticipated and guessed at. Yet, everyone is in a tearing hurry to slot, to label, to microcategorise and to box. The ones doing this the most are also the ones that detest it being done to them. Do I do that too?

I don’t know what it says about me that I’m heartily tired of stories. I keep getting typecast as a certain kind of character. It’s not necessarily a bad one; it’s definitely better suited to me than most of the other roles in the cast. But well, I’m not a fictitious character, you know? When does the story telling stop and and the actual seeing begin?

I believe (and I struggle to keep my grasp on this when I’m being confusion-fog-gassed) that every human being is a grand adventure. These labels and these stories are not even crutches any more. They’re weapons. They stand in the way of intimacy. They keep us from being our truest selves and from letting each other discover that. I can’t do this alone. So I guess, I return to the stories too. Pass me my cue cards.

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

Coming Out Of Vertigo

I’m really enjoying the company of books and my plants. For the first time in my life, these don’t feel like temporary or even like escape from the loneliness between men. Because I’m realising my times with men have been my loneliest. I know I’ve probably had bad luck in this regard. I also believe it’s not really luck  because factually speaking, I live in a time and culture where my prospective mates are created and encouraged to be irresponsible, misogynist and cruel. To look at it mathematically, my chances of finding a man who is not these things and also matches my exacting standards of intelligence and values are slim. Knowing how things stack up against my being single and giving male humans what they want at any cost, this is average not bad luck that I’ve faced.

I don’t know where I go from here. I’m not sure I believe in the institution (legal, social) called marriage anymore, considering how badly skewed it is against my gender. I’ve also realised that I’m looking for love, for that special spark that makes one person stand out from the hundreds of others who also match up on those compatibility factors. And this is something that happens by the kind of chance that my knowledge of mathematics cannot predict. There’s no going looking for it; there’s only being open to the possibility of it happening.

There’s a comfortable peace about accepting all of these. I won’t say there isn’t pain. But that’s like old wounds that ache in bad weather. Stressful or tired times bring up bad memories. But there is even a comfort in knowing that these are old memories, a certain sepia-tinted peaceability in the knowledge that these situations have been lived through, thought over, labelled, addressed in the best ways I could and now must only be lived with.

I think I’ve always been this person, only I didn’t realise it because I was too used to living obediently according to the kind of moods and dreams I was supposed to have. I struggled to explain how this state in my life, whenever I went through it, was not misandry (or ‘man-hating’ as the people around me like to say). How can this be hate? These are the only times in my life when the dramatic, acid emotions like fear, rage and hatred don’t seem to touch me. In these moments in my life, I live in a world of pastels and soft, instrumental music and easy, comforting food. This time round, I don’t even feel the need to explain it to the ones challenging me because truly, they don’t matter.

I’m able to enjoy songs about heartbreak without feeling overcome with emotion. For the first time in my life, I’m starting to glimpse what they mean when they say sensitivity is a strength, not a fault. I can see the nuance of grief, the depth in heartbreak without being in pieces. It feels like being able to stand at the edge of the world and look into the darkness and say hello old friend, I hope you will find peace some day.

Peace, that’s all I’ve ever wanted. I feel it in the company of my plants. I have never felt it in the presence of another human being. Instead, my delicate, treasured peace is constantly disrupted and shattered by other people, most of all by romantic associations – my feelings undeniably a big part of it. It’s comfortable to have feelings that are like moonlight on a serene pool. I don’t know if and when they will be shattered by an enchanting voice or an engaging look. All I can do is feel gratitude for what I do have right now. And that is peace and contentment without a man.

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

I Don’t Celebrate Halloween, Can I Leave?

I thought about him yesterday. Not the angry, violent, horrible monster that the later times have made me need to remember of him, but the early times. I had to. He’s the source material for my romantic imagination. And my imagination is the only thing that rescues me from the quagmire of emotions.

I am trying to remember how love used to be, how I used to love. I have a better understanding of the second, including the ways in which my unbounded affections become toxic for some people. This is the reality of it. It’s limiting to think of myself as bad or weak or love as a poisonous thing in total. Some things suit some people and they cause others to erupt in blisters or choke or turn into monsters. Who knows that better than an allergy-sufferer?

“I don’t think he ever actually liked me,”

I told a friend last week. Incredulous, he asked me, then why was he with you? I think (I reasoned as I spoke) that I fit a picture of what he thought he wanted – slightly older and dark skinned to annoy his family, bantery enough to feel like he was an intelligent guy, pedigreed to suit the Kolkata intellectual aesthetic and as a last consideration, packaged adequately well to not terribly annoy any lingering physical consideration. I scan myself mentally the way Hollywood films show men scanning women – body, background and messy human traits to be managed.

Some times this helps, being able to put myself inside what I think of, as that cruel, unforgiving, utterly unempathetic, uncaring eye of the person I loved. It helps me re-establish him as that person in my head.

But other days like yesterday, it’s harder. I must admit that most people do not look that deeply into another person, even people they claim to love. Men, least of all, given their boundless capacity for self-absorption and erasure of women. Men, especially in their twenties are not even required (by fashionable politics or by experiences with women like me) to think that much about why they chase who they chase.

Maybe there is some romance in that uncaring, naive, selfish, superficial glance. These adjectives are all things I’ve associated with romance, any way. Which completes my circle of thought, then. Do I want this? Did I ever? No.

Companionship seems to be a different thing but I keep getting pushed into the romance bazaar to look for it. I was looking for some cooling balm and I’m in a place hawking Halloween masks. That is a problem with the world and I have to find a way to get out of the wrong store. It is time to leave the monsters behind.

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

The Heads Or Tails Of Digital Dating

I switched dating apps. No, this time it wasn’t because awful people drove me away. It’s because Tinder kept demanding my phone number and wouldn’t let me login without it. I’ve never indulged corporations that think they can hold me to ransom, especially when I have a choice. So my reasons are purely business/ethics based, not personal.

I think there’s something about a newer interface that makes it possible for me to carry in a new approach. It’s like being in a new room so even if the people in it are likely to be no different from the ones in the room you were last in, you can approach them with a fresh outlook. And perhaps people do use the other apps a little differently – a little more effort in building bios, a little less of entitlement in their first messages.

I received the following opening message from one person:

“You were my boss at so-and-so company.”

At first, I couldn’t place him. He was referring to my first time as a manager, where I inherited a large team of rapidly moving people. Then I deducted a decade, added some gawkiness, removed experience-based confidence and tacked on an eager-to-please smile onto his pictures. And there he was. It’s a lovely thing to be able to remember people’s origins and then realise how far they’ve come. Then I remembered that this was on a dating app and it got weird.

I connected with someone else, deciding to meet for a coffee a little later. I suppose I was wondering if it would be like my one 8-hour-look-where-did-the-time-fly date. It wasn’t. For starters, I mistook someone else standing outside the restaurant for this person. Is it just my generation that finds that “Hi, ABC?”, “No, sorry” interaction awkward? The mistaken person didn’t appear ruffled or even judgemental. He just went back to staring at his phone and I briefly debated asking if he’d like to be said person instead. Then I pulled my manners and age together and walked in. It wasn’t a bad conversation, though a tad reserved. It made me think of how much harder this whole thing must be for people who aren’t naturally extroverted or vivacious. We chatted for about an hour after which he had a work thing. And no, that probably wasn’t an excuse to get away since he messaged a few times after that.

There have been a few irritants. I’m rapidly realising that the kind of men who demand ‘interesting conversations, not if u typ lyk dis’ are also the likeliest to be inadequate conversationalists themselves, with the extent of their loquaciousness being “LOL, gimme your number I wanna Whatsapp”. True story. We demand from the world what we do not posses or do not feel like trying for and where is this truer than in how most men treat women?

I am liking that there’s been nary a ripple in my emotional balance from these last couple of months of dating experiences. There is the occasional ‘Sigh, it would be nice to have somebody’ but I get over that pretty quickly. I’m working on the idea that not every relationship will turn into the damaged nightmare I was in last time and it’s taking. But I’m afraid it will stop being fun. I know now that making an effort with dressing up my body and my mind will always help in keeping my life exciting and fun. But I doubt most men (or people for that matter) have the inclination or capacity to do that. And when other people aren’t as committed to a life of joy, it doesn’t take long for your own to sink. This kind of casual dating lets me get away before other people’s lack of alignment with my own way of life sabotages mine.

I saw this thread on Twitter this morning…

…talking about how a lot of people who don’t enjoy dating apps are just choosing to just not date. I guess I’m headed in the same direction.

Eventually I’m realising love, joy, sparkle, romance, chemistry whatchamacallit are matters of complete chance. You can’t predict who, when or what. The laws of probability tell me that there’s some value in maximising my encounters with other people but there’s no real guarantee. Too long of the left-right swipe business and it can really dampen one’s good humour. People manage to find what they want without doing any of these things. And others don’t, even if they’ve done all the maximising they can think of. And I suppose that’s okay.

Heads or Tails, it’s just a coin flip anyway.

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

The Lowest Priority Box

Last week, I drew a line and said,

“I’m done. No more. Goodbye.”

I have lived through the dreadfulness of limbo, the sheer callousness of men who will not spend a minute reflecting on their feelings. And you know what? It is just not that important any more. 2017 wrecked such a heavy toll on me that I gave up (the last time I did this was in 2000). In my resigned surrender, something happened. I gave up the faith that the world of men has anything good for me.

I have not stopped feeling. But this feeling, this unresolved mess sits in an Odds & Ends box that is lowest priority in my life. Like most women, I have always prioritised the romantic relationship over everything else – my health, my career, my dreams, my ambitions, my family and friendships. I am done.

The person I’ve drawn that line for has made feeble attempts to get me to revoke it. Too little, too late – do men really not understand that this can become a thing? No, I guess they don’t. How could they, when their entire lives are taken up by their immediate demands? There is no room for anybody else or situational realities.

I say this with no hatred and all the resignation in the world. There is no point prioritising anything over a relationship with a man. That’s too big a gamble and guess what? The house of patriarchy always wins. I’m declaring a truce with male commitment-phobia, fuccboiness, mama’s boy syndrome, Madonna/Whore complexes and all other things male. I can’t eliminate you from this world. I can’t even keep you from entering my life. But I can relegate you to the lowest priority in my universe. Stay in the outhouse with your shit.

I cannot wait to stop wanting altogether. Maybe menopause will bring a pause in men too.

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

The Menstrual Cup As A Gauge For Wellbeing

The menstrual cup adventures and misadventures continue. It was to be expected. The menstrual system is a complex ones full of intricate levers and pulleys and hormones and what-not. All things considered, it really is an engineering marvel that works pretty much like clockwork for at least 30 years, adapts for pregnancy and sex life. And most of all, given all the different things that go through it, it is a self-cleaning system (a feat I imagine is virtually impossible in the world of machines). So yes, I appreciate my vagina and all things attached to it. The menstrual cup journey has certainly given me a newfound respect for this system that my body comes equipped with.

This has been my menstrual cup timeline so far:

  • July 2015: Started with a firm, medium sized, stemmed SilkyCup. It took me awhile to learn insertion and get comfortable with the cup. But leaks were still happening.
  • June 2016: Switched to a soft, medium sized, non-stemmed SheCup. I thought the leaks may be happening because the previous cup wasn’t unfurling properly. This cup was easier to put in. But it turned inside me a couple of times and once, fell into the toilet bowl when I was trying to get it out. It also leaked.
  • March 2017: Moved to large sized, stemmed WOW Freedom and ALX Care. WOW Freedom is a soft cup while ALX Care is a firm cup. I wanted to see if sizing up would prevent the leaks and after the turnover (turncoat?) cup, I felt safer having a stem. I’ve been using these alternately and have had good experiences with both. No more leaks, no difficulty putting in or removing and the cramps have reduced too.
  • March 2018: Experienced pain for the first time with the WOW Freedom. I was anticipating my period and had a day full of travel so I popped the cup in. I felt like my insides were being sucked in together and this goes beyond unpleasant when you have to endure it for 6 hours through a performance and a panel discussion. I tried it again the next day when I had a less busy day and the same pain persisted. I switched to my old medium sized SilkyCup (my first one). No pain but the leaks began again.
  • April 2018: Went through the whole period with WOW Freedom again. This time though, I inserted the cup while lying flat on my back, the way I used to in the early days. There was no pain throughout the period but there were some minor leaks.

I haven’t had any major physical changes in the past year. I’ve worked out sporadically. My exercise routine has changed from the gym trainer-led machines workout to my own combination of body weight exercises, yoga and cardio. I don’t ache as much, sleep better and eat better, at least when I am working out. As with most other things, I realise I know my body best and I’m best equipped to figure out what it needs.

I’ve lived with allergies, practically my whole life. Food allergies, respiratory allergies, skin allergies — I’ve seen them all. But I’ve learnt to live with them and not just with medication. I know high stress times spark off my attacks. In line with that, it seems logical that my period health would also reflect my internal wellbeing (or lack of it).

The year I spent with an abusive boyfriend, I also had the most painful periods I’ve ever had, which carried on for year after we had parted ways. I’ve always had high pain tolerance but this was excruciating enough for me to faint once. The next time I dealt with problematic periods was 2010–2012, right on schedule alongside another abusive, violent relationship. This time it was weakness, extreme sleepiness, nausea and pain. And the month we broke up, a delayed period as well (which gave him the opportunity to say, “It’s not my problem.”). I think it’s safe to assume my menstrual cycle is a good gauge of how healthy I actually am internally, regardless of what I look like on the outside.

I have been dealing with a lot of heavy emotional issues in recent times. The odd thing is, my period flow hasn’t been heavier or even delayed. But the symptoms vary and perhaps it has impacted my pain tolerance or maybe even my internal measurements. So now I know this happens. This system is a living, thriving being and it mirrors how I feel outside. The menstrual cup is but a tool. It has made it easier for me to understand the variations in my period (not just flow and schedule, which is what most people notice).

This month, I’m glad to say, the period was on schedule, no unforeseen aches, no crippling pain, no unexpected symptoms. I have to figure out how to get through these with zero leaks now. Maybe it’s time to invest in a small sized cup as well for tighter times.

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

The Love Adventure: Past Sell-By Date

What does falling in love feel like? I don’t remember. I am not talking about sex. I am not talking about the compromises people make for companionship. I’m not even talking about socially sanctioned labels and relationship statuses. I am talking about mind-knocked-over, nothing but this makes sense LOVE. I know I’ve glimpsed it, felt it, been touched by it, even if I am not the most gracious of hosts to love.

I have possibly been in love once, maybe twice in my life and even those I’m never entirely certain. I crush often and easily. I stopped agonising over these years ago. Lust became welcome in my mind sometime ago, making it easier for me to distinguish it from emotion. Attraction? That something plus the lust & compatibility checklists – I’ve been circling around it for years, in my writing, in my experiences and it’s a frenemy I’ve come to respect but not fear.

But these days, I find myself mildly disinterested. I have to work hard to feel attracted to someone. It’s not that there is a dearth of intelligent, nice-looking, friendly, accessible single men around. And by getting involved with someone years younger at 30, I opened up my mating pool to a wider group. But they all feel like more of the same. I’ve seen the moves, I’ve seen the fumbles, I’ve weathered the games, I’ve survived the mistakes. What’s new?

On the theory that attraction must precede love, I stoked up the dying embers for someone who’s been on the periphery of my life for years. It took effort to remind myself to communicate with him, to convince myself to overlook the sheer slowness that all of this takes. It’s not that he’s an unworthy person, as such matters go. Late 30s, intelligent, independent, adequately ‘my type’ as far on the lust meter, single and acquainted (maybe even friends) with me. We were talking about our work and the daily things that occupied us. I heard a note of something in his voice that I didn’t like.

“You don’t think this is a big deal, do you?”

I asked, my tone mild. But he’s wise enough to catch the challenge in my words, if he listens. If he listens. He said,

“I do think that a lot of the issues you’re stressing about are non-issues, yeah.”

And just like that the embers died.

I feel zero, zip, nada, NOTHING for him after that statement. Not anger. He doesn’t get it and he doesn’t have to. Not a burning desire to prove myself. Does it matter to me what he thinks? No, not much. I know relationships take effort. But should wanting to take that effort, itself be so much effort? Oh no.

It has been over a week since that conversation. I have barely thought about him since then. He texted a couple of times and I texted back. Both times we found excuses to not meet. Valid reasons but we’ve both lived long enough and bravely enough to overcome reason when we’ve wanted to. It seems neither of us wanted to, enough.

I guess I’m documenting this here just in case in the years that come up, I look back and wonder why I never considered him. I did. But there was nothing to take it forward. Damn. He was the best prospect in years and years.

Have I tired of men? Has my violently dramatic past burnt out any joy I can take in love, romance and attraction? I am not old enough to be at retirement age. But at the prime of my life when I enjoy a combination of experience-based confidence, hard-won privilege and good health, I feel so little inclination to use them in the humankind’s oldest endeavour – to seek love and companionship. Maybe there is a shelf life to one’s own capacity for wonder, a necessary component in love and attraction. Mine seems to have crossed its expiry date.

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Fairytale For Feminist Girls

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*If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

 

3AM Maneuvers

3AM maneuvers

Our waking moments in bed were fraught with clumsy moves and clunky negotiation. But at night, long after you’d fallen asleep, I would listen to you breathe.

Do you know how many trips I took around the bed, to judge AC draft & sound? I would fine tune air and sound and light to give you perfection in sleep that I never seem to be able to bring to your waking hours.

The nights after we’d fought the worst, you’d snore the hardest, while I lay awake, failing, even in your sleep.

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Okay 2017, I Concede. Let’s Wait It Out.

I want to write something simply because the topmost post on this blog for too long now, has been a painful memory that victimised me. I am not actually dwelling in the past. The present has had me too caught up to even think about the future, let alone the past. One major thing about the present is the books I’m reading and ‘When I Hit You’ was a part of that. Sometimes we can look back at our lives and see them in other ways, like examining old information in fresh light. Even the insights we gain may not be exactly new but the relooking allows us to establish it again, more strongly. And how can we hope to live in peace, unless our beliefs are strong?

I don’t really have much news to report. Or perhaps there is too much to say. As always, I’m a bit rusty when I start writing/sharing again after a long time. Half this year has gone and I’m coming to accept that 2017 is as difficult and brutal as 2012 was. I lost my idea of a great person. I lost a performing space and community that felt like home. In the past month I’ve lost two of my top five people. Yes, I have those or rather, had those. And perhaps, finally goaded on by what I think life was trying to tell me, I have let go of someone else I really wanted to be close to.

I do not believe men will treat me with respect and consideration for very long. I do not believe friends will want to stay true permanently, especially when they have easier or more benefit-giving relationships in their lives. I’m just not a great investment for people’s emotions and I can see that with some kind of detached clarity.

I do not want to be treated with adulation but with warmth. Yet, that is a role that falls on me. What people call ‘respect’ is putting me up on a pedestal but I cannot make them see that. And thus we come to a stalemate unless I accept that this is the way other human beings always will be.

This lesson keeps coming right back at me. You cannot make someone love you, no matter how loveable you make yourself. You cannot make a person treat you well, no matter how well you treat them. You cannot teach a person to treat themselves well, no matter how hard you wish it. And finally, you have no control over a single thing that life has or does or is. All one can do is, is try and stay grateful for the chance encounters that have brought some joy.

I’ve been tempted now and then to fall into bitter, pitch-black resentful rage. But it feels like such a dark, unwelcome place to go to, especially after the year-and-half I spent wondering if I was going mad. This also reminds me of how I got through that time – with some of these very same people who are tempting me to fall back into that place. Never mind justice, never mind what’s logical. I must not go back there for myself alone.

I’m not exactly sad because I think I’m still in some kind of numb shock. Or perhaps it’s resignation. Everything is slipping away. Everyone is hurting. Everybody is a monster, without being able to help themselves. All I can do is take one breath at a time. And wait for 2017 to be over. You be well too.

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*If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

 

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