Fret Not, My Heart

Thank you to all my readers who have been on here, while I have been inactive. It means a lot to me!

My heart is heavy with grief today. I revealed my feelings for a friend yesterday and she doesn’t feel the same way. I waited a long time – a year – to do this. Waiting didn’t make it easier, neither did revealing the feelings. There is some relief that it’s out in the open, but there is some gnawing sadness, holding onto its leg.

I’m glad I did this, that I conquered the fear and that I am honest with this friend.

But, my heart is heavy with grief. And it’s now going through all the memories and mind-pictures that it thought were signs of mutual attraction… and it’s realizing that they were just the signs of a strong, kind woman who is able to express her affection for a man.

Fret not, my heart. You will recover from this, stronger and healthier.

Fret not, my heart. I won’t be unfaithful to you and try to escape by rushing the process of grieving, or seeking another person to medicate the pain. We’ll get through this together as partners and we’ll be just fine.

This woman was different. I can tell by how much you’re hurting, my heart. But I can also tell how much you’ve grown in how you were yesterday. You stayed honest and present. You listened. You responded. You were honest. You are an honest heart now.

Fret not, my heart. This too shall pass.

Looking Back on the Colories Series

What started off as a curiosity with what could be done with a rubber duck, became a month-long comics series. I have been really moved by people’s reception of the posts, the amount of new people I’ve met on there, and the range of people I’ve encountered.

Yesterday was the last post on Instagram.

seize the sky.
ep 30, Colories

I wanted to reflect on the process, my favorite posts, lessons learned, and what’s next.

The Process

The goal was to produce a piece within an hour or two every day, for as long as the idea or concept seemed interesting to me. I didn’t want to get bogged down in the production or execution or polish. I just wanted to make art every day.

I really enjoyed making this series. Sometimes, I would get the idea a few minutes before taking the photo. And at other times, an idea would come to me and simmer for a while.

There was no prior deliberation or preparation for the style or themes. I decided all that when I took the shot. This kept me out of my head and ensured that the idea would be simple.

A few times, I ran out of ideas and so I would play with a cultural reference, pun, or simple using a prop.

ep 27, Colories – can you guess the reference?
ep 24, Colories – “turnin’ trix on myself”
ep 20, Colories – “amongst the scraps”

My Favorite Posts

Episode 16

“I’m a shit sandwich”

Episode 8

It was fun making the double exposures in Photoshop.

                          “all over the place”

Episode 1

I found the card in some advertisements in my mail.

“we’re OK and you’re OK”

Episode 7

My first stop-motion animation film. I really became interested in the medium because of this episode. There’s a separate write-up here.

Lessons Learned

  1. Show up every day. I made this a part of my daily morning routine and it paid off. I looked forward to producing something, even on days where I felt low or empty. The process, rather than inspiration, carried me.
  2. Listen to the weirdest idea. This is risky at first because it’s counter-intuitive. I thought that weird had to be planned or part of some greater theme. But just noticing and then following through with a weird idea is satisfying.
  3. Don’t get bogged down in execution. Enforcing the external constraint of time (doing it quickly) helped me stay pragmatic in how I would make the episode.
  4. It doesn’t have to be episodic to be episodic. The whole series is more an exploration of feelings and states, rather than a conventional narrative of a rubber duck. Sometimes, it was about me and sometimes the duck personified an idea or a problem, or just a human struggle. Keeping it loose and going also helped me to stay current and just keep on producing.

What’s Next?

I’m about to finish a 30-day doodle challenge. I will write a similar post about that.

And then… I want to make more art! And learn how to draw. And paint digitally out in the world.

Keep checking back!

My Strained Relationship with Software Development

I wrote the original version of this piece, last year on Medium. This is an expanded and less guarded take.

I didn’t want to study software engineering in college. I first wanted to study English literature and drama. That wasn’t an option at home. So, I looked at the other things I had dreamed about since childhood – architecture. I put together a portfolio and applied to Bartlett School of Architecture in London. They hid the rejection letter from me and told me no. So, I fought them and the first compromise was computer-aided product design. I just wanted some art in whatever I studied.

There was none of that. It was all math, physics, and science.

Continue reading My Strained Relationship with Software Development

On Fantasy and Romantic Relationships with Others

I am open to be in a relationship with someone. I no longer think and feel that you have to be ready in order to be in a relationship. When you meet someone and a connection sprouts, there is no time to be ready or prepare. The call is to just put all in and see where it goes.

With this openness, which is new to me, comes a whole new world, light years away from how I conducted myself in relationships. That world is called no apps, no websites, no games, no bullshit, and no fantasy. I thought the first four would be the hardest to deal with because it had to do with other people and it’s easy to rail at others, who seem to be the cause of your misfortune. But that last one, no fantasy, that quiet guy holding a beer at your dinner party, taking up no space in conversation or energy, that is much, much harder. It’s harder because it’s about yourself and how you parse the world.

I’m not talking about sexual or erotic fantasy here. Rather, what I mean is the fantasies we engage in when we meet someone and our mind starts to wander from room to room, possibility to possibility, hypothetical scenario to hypothetical scenario. This ‘no fantasy’ idea is made seemingly inescapable by the way we spend talking to others — that is, via the Internet or digital words through phones. All we have is that person’s words and their other digital accessories — photos, tweets, updates.

The idea for this piece really came from a fantasy about someone with whom had been talking sporadically for a while. I kept on treating her like I knew her. My mind made every possible interaction or scenario seem familiar. I know her, right? I’m thinking about someone I know. Actually. I don’t. It’s just words. I know her words. I met her a long time ago for about 3 shakes to a millisecond and since then, it’s just been words.

Fantasy looks like reality because the words are real, coming from a real person with a data plan and a semi-interesting life. The bitter sweetness of fantasy is that it’s quaint and yet all happening in your mind, most probably far away from the person about whom you’re thinking. Fantasy seems to share the same bar stool with reality. Sitting next to each other, looking the same, drinking the same beer, but they’re two different people with two different sets of buttcheeks.

You have to change your perspective to know the difference.

When the thought of this woman, or any other person whom I barely know, or just saw on the bus, or caught her looking my way, comes to mind, I close the door. Every single door. And just like after all your guests have gone home, you turn around and look at your home. And you realize that it’s just you and this space.

Having no fantasies is lonely, grueling, and empty. It’s counter-cultural and it’s counter-intuitive. It’s the former because what’s wrong with a little daydream about that person you met seven months ago, going for an imaginary walk with you? And it’s the latter because it’s so much easier to go on the imaginary walk than deal with the possibility that your paths may never cross, that they’ll marry someone else.

So, I’m open to be with someone. And until that happens again, there will be no buffers, no antidotes, no human-sized fillers, no medication. It will be me, my empty home, and no fantasy.

Thank you for reading my work. I appreciate it when my readers hit the recommend button. Even more if you drop a comment to share their thoughts!

You can follow me on Twitter @minaddotcom and Instagram @minadimyan.

 

Posted in Essays by minademian

Recovering from a Freshly Ended Relationship

First, it was the hollowness in the messages trickling in on my screen. They felt like they had just survived another chemo session. At least there was a trickle, some kind of rapport being exchanged. Conversations could last all day and be infested with memes, but we laughed and laughing is glue.

Laughs dried up with the last messages that stopped coming.

Then, came the final meeting. When there’s been little, authentic talking and no meeting in person, a meeting is like a chug of cold water after a run. But the water was tepid and hard. There was no eye contact, no touch, no glimpse of giving this goodbye a decent burial.

Water on my face was gifts bought for her, returned to me. Amongst them was a gift to me, but I stared at the returned books. All hands were on deck pulling back the strings on my tongue.

It was now time to leave. Suitcases needed to be tucked to bed. Not a hug. Not a kiss. Not an excuse to walk to the car. It was a hug under duress.

There was no last phone call that she suggested. And there was nothing else in her words except a cold breeze that shut the door behind me.

As the plane rippled through the clouds, tears dropped and dried.

And now, life as I had it before I met her. Long days, no one to share puns and memes with. She made me appreciate both. No one to check in with and say hey, and to take in a ‘I love you’ like a snack bar. The small interesting things we see and find during the day, that you had grown accustomed to sharing with that person.

Today, I was on the train and I looked up from my flash cards. She had a face, carved with a miniature knife, delicate features and serene eyes. No real resemblance, but the same draw of my lover. I felt the draw and I missed her, for the first time in weeks.

Now, I just miss the ordinary moments where I found her there, where we would talk or jest or just ask questions until the day was over.

 

Posted in Essays by minademian

9 Ways of Being for Men Who Have Been Looking for Love For a Long Time

Congratulations. You met someone different — really different. He kisses like Lord Byron, and handles you with grace and quirkiness. You may have heard of him say, “It’s been a long time.” This somber list is for women in new relationships. Let it be your Lonely Planet to his lonely soul.

1. Alone time has become a jail

Attempts to weave confident, wise tales of contentment for himself about singlehood have failed. He’s tired. Alone time sucks. Friends are great, but they’re an oblong peg for a rectangle hole.

2. It’s easy to stop your life when you meet someone special

You’ll wonder why he’s willing to drop everything to be with you. Remember alone time and how much he loathes it? He may have a thanks-but-no-thanks approach to the solitary life now. This means that now you’re here, the mundane of his life can be suspended in air for a bit while he weaves his words and daily routines around your presence on his phone, computer screen, and couch. It just means you’re special and he wants to savor it.

3. The search has eroded sense of self

Maybe it just won’t happen, he’s said too many times. It didn’t happen before; hope seems out of reach. Every rejection and ruined relationship and failed fling has left a mark on his confidence and vigor.

4. He fears the “turn”

I heard this used by a friend. It’s that moment when something beautiful and crazy ends abruptly, your affections cool because he comes on too strong or is “too real, too soon”. He fears it coming because it’s always looming for him. Your man has had a dozen strong encounters and maybe twice as many “turns”. There is no “too soon” in his lexicon. So, extend grace.

5. Rushing into emotional, affectionate talk and outward forms of romance

You may only warm to holding hands after date six. He’s been thinking about it since minute 25 on date 1. Understand that the cry of his heart is for the first drop of affection, that first grip of flesh. You’re being wise and he’s being honest. You two will figure it out.

6. Rejection is both numbing and stinging

It’s happened so many times that it would be neurotic to deny it. But, it’s normal to let it wash over you. Most guys gave up after the first heartbreak, but this guy, like many others, kept on going until he got to you. Like the “turn”, the taste never leaves the back of his tongue, so bear with him if he brings up the fear of rejection.

7. Being in the moment is hard

You’ll pick up on this a lot. It’s not fake, but it’s a little odd. He’s there with his look and affection, but his mind is stuck in a some distant workshop, figuring out how to remain cool and desirable at all times, with the well-timed story, anecdote, and quip. All the previous points flow into this one; a lifetime spent in his head makes more sense to him than being present with you. He has stalkers — regret, his own faults and weaknesses, past mistakes, the past in general — trailing behind you two on every date, so don’t mind him if he steals away in his mind for a minute to look over his mind shoulders.

8. Looking into the (near) future is second nature

It would be out of character for him to talk about marriage or your children’s political beliefs, but he will talk about many, many future dates. He will mine your words for ideas, things to do together, and your random thoughtfarts for sweet ways to spend even more time with you. It’s tired-heart speak for, I want you.

9. Pornography and bro culture has marred his understanding of women

You don’t know about his relationship with pornography yet, whether it’s complicated or committed and steady. You will find out in time that he may be the sweetest man alive, but he may have some deeply held ideas about women that he’s never had challenged. These ideas will spill into everything he does with you; but, he’s here with you, which means that he’s also sick of that world. If he is edging, with a surgeon’s caution, towards a relationship with you, then there is space for you to call him out on his shit and encourage him to change himself.

Posted in Essays by minademian

The Job Search as Fire

We like to use spatial metaphors for matters pertaining to work, money, and employment — the process, the journey, the ways, the search. It belies our assumptions, that we’re ready, subject to incremental improvement and that the destination, along with the starting point, are arbitrary. I don’t have something, stuff is done, I get the something done or I achieve the something. Do a bunch of stuff, be the best version of yourself, persevere, and it will come.

I knew my A, unemployment, and my B, employment that promises a new career. I did all the transactional work of analyzing the past and seeing where I went wrong. I applied myself to the searched and networked. 7 months later, no result. More analysis. More searching. More transactional work. Nothing.

The questions were: What am I? What skills can I market? Which companies give me the most perks or pay?

I answered all those questions. I spruced up my LinkedIn. Still, nothing. I grew tired and frustrated, further burnt out by ranting and railing against the successful mission of the job market to keep me to be down-trodden.

“Rock-star developer with killer communication skills, passionate about [insert cause(s)], must know DevOps, great client handling skills, must make soufflés.”

I thought I was all that. I’m not. Opening myself up to a time of reflection and skills audit made me realize that my skills need deepening, need to be proven publicly, and my focus sharpened, too. Competition is rife and a thousand developers are punching out code — and getting paid for it — while I’m twiddling my toes.

The job search is no longer a search. It’s a sauna of fire, a refining fire. The focus is the person and who they are when they get out. Fire removes blemishes, scalds a person, gets a person to jump out of its way, or harness it.

It seems then that A and B don’t actually matter. Or, the A and B are there, but you’ve gotten to B and gone back to A, considered C, done D on a fluke, and now you want to get back to A. The destinations are irrelevant until the person is ready to compete in the market. To be ready, the person has to face themselves and be willing to be changed.

Face the fire.

On the Rejection of IM Read Receipts

Your imagined crises, brought on by nerves, too shall pass.


It was the hardest thing I’ve done. My natural inclination is to rush closer to her. And here I was putting a moat between us, while construction was in progress.

I turned off blue ticks on WhatsApp, a popular instant messaging app and a blackhole of my time. Things were becoming intense in a new relationship.

I didn’t do it for just her, to not fret after every delay or blue ticks without an immediate response. I did it to slay Derek the Dragon of Immediate Gratification. His other title is the Dragon of Fraught Moments of Imagined Impending Doom.

Blue ticks are a bulimic puppy, with a penchant for angst and pained waiting. Try waiting for those cute puppy ticks to turn blue and then no oncoming traffic carrying a message back. Just voidy nothingness until the reply comes. Your own eyes crash into each other. When blue ticks disappears, “typing…” is restored to its original state of being a verb, rather than the drum solo before the worst key change your neuroses can conjure up.

I haven’t been in this intense affection with someone in years. It’s the vulnerability Olympics, where you get dropped into first heat on day 1. And it’s also not too dissimilar to being a naked waiter, first day on the job, you don’t have time to stop and put on your pants, every word coming out like an arrow, and you want the person to catch it immediately. And maybe pay you a tip.

I turned off read receipts because I wanted to experience this growing bond as free as possible from the doomsday scenarios of my mind about every step on instant messaging.

She asked me about it today and I told her I did it for health reasons. It’s healthy not to have read receipts.

Epilogue

I turned them back on once I found some peace inside and nothing changed. We’re still together.

 

Posted in Essays by minademian

A Letter to Jennifer Aniston

Watching several episodes of Jennifer Aniston on Jimmy Kimmel reminded me of something I wanted to send to her when I was in high school.


Dear Jennifer,

I wrote you a letter in high school to ask you out to prom. The letter follows, but with a commentary from present me. In the olden days, they called this call and response. Original in bold, commentary in italics.

I guess I got this idea to write to you after I watched that one episode from Friends, where you go off to London to tell Ross that you love him. I probably watched that episode ten times; for the first time in my teen life, I found and related to a person truly and wholeheartedly.
 — This is no hyperbole, I worked that VHS tape to the bone. I thought you were real, like all good television. High school sucked and its people were demons, sent to this earth to copy homework and do shots. No one made sense except you performing a role thousands of kilometers away. I now know that this is called emptiness.

I started to look beyond Rachel and saw perhaps something so simple, yet beautiful. It was that little thing that makes all of us tick, the desire to love and to be loved. I really wanted to cry when you were having that conflict of going to London or not. Just from that one episode, I began to admire you and even Rachel. The admiration soon grew into an attraction and deep respect. But please, please don’t think that I’m a sick pervert.
 — I now know that that last sentence is a pubescent form of male weakness. I wasn’t sick, I was just hungry. At least I was aware that there was you and there was your character. Be informed that I had never had that conflict in Hell High and I only tasted that bitterness in my late 20’s. Ambition can come in forms, I suppose.

I’m just a normal 17 year old guy who’s been very, very unlucky in love and life. You see, I’ve lived my whole teenage life looking for relationships with girls and every time, I have been hurt. It was either the usual “I just want to be friends” or it was really the wrong girl to ask. After all this, I realized that I will never find love or the right person. It will happen someday. I hope.
 — Comforting to know now that this doesn’t change at all in adulthood.

For you though, I have one simple request; this May, it’s my senior prom and I will not have a date, I’m sure. I’m not trying to be negative here or asking for sympathy: I’m being very realistic. All I ask you.. if you could be my date.
 — I spent five paragraphs, spewing nothing but amputated negativity and then I do something crazy like deny it. Youth. I commend young me the balls to even write this paragraph. I’m glad this hasn’t changed either in adulthood, for me. Just not to actresses in Hollywood, though.

I know it’s an incredible request, but I hope you will understand that I want to be happy at this event, and not depressed like every other dance, where I sat and watched the girl I loved be with another guy. This is not a scam or some pervert’s sick dream; this is one young man’s request for happiness.
 — Second mention of pervert is a real winner. The rest is all true. I hated every dance, every social function, every gathering of soldiers of the Red One within the confines of secondary education. I think had you accepted and you joined me, you would have had a great time. I danced like the last day in hell.

I would be immensely honored and eternally enchanted with your presence as my date for that night. Waiting silently and patiently for your reply, even if you choose not to fulfill the request. A reply would be more than enough.
 — Nice touch to end off with Victorian chivalry. Perhaps mixed with Steve Carrell from the Office.

Epilogue: I did go alone for prom and I did dance like crazy. I’m in touch with no one really from high school and I haven’t written any other letters to American actresses or their favorite TV characters.

Congratulations on your recent wedding,

-Mina

Posted in Essays by minademian

On Living

I strive to write as if I’m on death row, with the execution in two hours, and my sentence decrees that all work must be burnt on my end.

There seems to be no other way to be in the age of social media, where we’re promised eternal recognition if we brand ourselves, package ourselves, and market ourselves. But that promise is false.

You can be marketable and timely, with no audience. You can have content and insight, and people scroll past you. You can even be living on the pulse of the zeitgeist and be forgotten when the beat disappears into the next.

Those dead writers knew something we don’t want to accept because it’s our greatest fear, that to write is a gamble that no one will give a shit, but you will continue to live.