The Masked Defender of the Internet- PART I

It was the year 2400 and after years of explosive bickering, security threats, and passive aggressive messaging,  all of the world’s remaining countries came to the conclusion that the Internet itself desperately needed a government to maintain order.

Solemnly gathered at a vast oval table, hundreds of balding heads hunched over and engaged in serious discussion.

“We’ve tried everything! Televised coverage! Newspaper articles! Radio broadcasts! Anything to get the word out! And yet only a small portion of the world’s population supports our decision to institute a government for the Internet. I just don’t understand.”

“How else are we to prevent freedom of expression?” a gangly man in an ill-fitting suit asked, emphatically adjusting his spectacles.

“Freedom of expression!” a woman across from him shrieked in horror, clapping her hand to her head.

“There, there, Mildred. We all know about how terrible that was. Individuals using profanity, slandering those they disliked, spewing venom over the Internet! Why before our efforts to stop such madness, they were even exchanging ideas and thoughts in a free and unrestricted manner!”

The room collectively shuddered.

“And it’s not just freedom of expression we have to worry about.” a deeper voice boomed, a short and broad-shouldered man stepped out from the shadows.

“What about them talking trash about you guys?” the man asked, pointing a questioning finger at a row of startled government officials.

“Whatever do you mean, Colonel Sanders?” a rather stuffy-looking man in the front replied, puffing out his chest in indignant rage.

Pleased that he has gotten someone’s attention, the colonel smiled a little as he fixed his icy blue eyes on the questioner.

“What about them criticizing your agenda? Checking your facts and figures to see if they were true? Undermining your image? Making absurd mews-no, that’s not it-meeples-er”

“Memes, sir,” a young guard standing in the back of the room added.

“Yes, memes!” the colonel slammed his fist on the table, making everyone jump in their chairs.

“Making fun of all of our little flaws with hilarious little sayings! Making us look like fools! Well I’ve had enough of it!”

Colonel Sanders suddenly grew quiet quiet as he wiped the perspiration from his forehead.

Sufficiently impressed, a mustached official rumbled, “Your spirit and condemnation of free will and government is quite impressive, Sanders. Have you thought about running for the position of prime minister?  We could use someone with your strong will.”

Will Colonel Sanders seize the position of power, ultimately becoming a global tyrant? Will freedom of expression be forever silenced under his reign? To be continued…

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Change

Sometimes I wish I could go back in time to find a younger Anusha, shake her vigorously by the shoulders, alert her of the numerous mistakes she is yet to make, and advise her to do otherwise. But at the same time, I wonder what I would have lost had I decided to play it safe, to follow the well-meaning advice of my elders, to refuse to make  those same missteps. Therefore, I have decided that rather than curse my past blunders that I must celebrate and accept them for the constructive experiences that they were and are (that is, until scientists build a working time machine).

Now that I’ve said all of this, you’d probably like a more concrete example of something I’ve done with far-reaching consequences. Something that has fundamentally altered my perception of the world and the people that populate it. Well, here it is:

I was a young and impressionable freshman at a prominent public institution. And as many freshmen do on the first day, I desperately clung to the people I met in fear of drowning in a new and unfamiliar undergraduate ocean. It was nearly absurd how hard I would try to relate to people that I veritably had very little in common with. My painfully awkward conversations would usually go something like this:

Person A: Hi there!

Me: Hello! Do you like coffee or tea better? I personally love coffee, I don’t know how I’d ever live without-”

Person A: I actually hate coffee.

Me: Oh! Hey, I do too! It’s so overrated. Haha what kind of losers like coffee?

Alas, it was a strange and desperate time. But eventually, after several of such painfully awkward and stilted conversations, I struck gold! I found someone who lived on my floor and was kind, intelligent, and funny! It was amazing! I had found (dare I say it) my first college best-friend. If only it would stay that way. Cue dramatic music.

Throughout my first year of college we’d do everything together- we went to our first (and last) party, we did study sessions even if we weren’t in the same classes, we’d spend hours talking about how our days went, hell, we even had tea parties.

It was a magical time. Because of this, I dreamt of the day when we too could one day become roommates the following school year like all of the other brilliant college-best-friends! For you see- I was currently living with someone else with whom I had very little in common – and let’s just say that we had very different life styles and also perceptions of what was okay to do in the room in the other’s presence. At this point, you may be curious about what I am referring to, but I don’t think I can handle reliving the experience and will leave it to your astute imagination.

But this new friend of mine. She was different. We were friends. We enjoyed spending time together and we would be amazing roommates the following year. And as it so often happens with things that are too good to be true…it was.

When we finally became roommates the next year, something had changed between us. I’m not quite sure why or how it happened, but now that we shared the same living space, she no longer wanted to hang out as much. But why? Didn’t we initially decide to become roommates because we liked hanging out with each other? I thought in uncomfortable protest. Gradually, we began to speak less and less to each other and ultimately only saw each other when we had both returned to the room. I’d like to say that I took this sudden change like a champ, brushing it off my shoulder like a few stray breadcrumbs. But I didn’t. Truthfully, it really hurt.

Noticing how our once vivacious and nonsensical conversations had suddenly become indifferent and clipped exchanges, I felt my stomach turn on itself. While I tried talking to her about it, the words came out uncertain and unconvincing. How exactly do you address the fact that your once college-best-friend has become a distant acquaintance in a matter of a few months? Ultimately, our discussions led to no satisfying resolution, and feeling as if I had been punched in the stomach, I resolved to distance myself from this person and move on. I realized that I needed to expand my social circle so that the loss of our friendship would hurt less. I purposefully texted my roommate less frequently, further destroying the vestiges of our previous relationship.

Although it was difficult, I found myself reaching out more to the people in my clubs and classes. I was making new friends, trying new things, and feeling better about myself than I did before.

In retrospect, I’d like to say the end of our friendship was not exclusively either of our faults – I definitely played a role in extending the distance between us once I felt that things had changed. I think it was just a strange and unfortunate situation, and that possibly if I had invested more time and effort in bettering the circumstances, it could have ended differently. And although this was a difficult experience for me, I feel that I’ve learned a lot from it- specifically to never ever have roommates! I’m only (partially) kidding about that, but I guess I learned that not everyone is as they seem when you first meet and befriend them and that your friends will not necessarily make exceptional roommates. I’ve also learned how to forgive myself and others and ultimately come out for the better.

With regards to my roommate situation, while it can be frightening to make mistakes and lose a comrade, I believe that we have to keep trying to make connections outside of ourselves in spite of the risk of failure and rejection. We have to become more comfortable with taking risks and change.

 

 

 

 

Conflict

I spend a lot of time thinking. What am I thinking about – you may ask. And well, I could be thinking about a number of things – love, anger, disappointment, life and its mystery, death and its certainty – but most of the time I’m thinking about what I’m going to be having for lunch or dinner or how I’m planning to tackle my next pressing assignment.

I find it funny when I think of people as bumbling, sentient blobs, each struggling with their own insecurities and fears. But strangely it is these feelings of desolation that draw us towards each other in hopes of forming a collective whole. But enough of my rambling – what really perplexes me is how we communicate (or more often fail to communicate) with one another.

One minute everything is wonderful – you’re laughing with your friends, having a great time, reveling in your companionship and sense of belonging – and the next – something is off. You’ve received a passive aggressive text message. Your friend’s words are short and blunt, and their face is flushed an angry pinkish color, and you’re not sure why. And of course – 90% of the time we have some vague idea of what we have done to trigger such an unfortunate turn of events. But I sincerely wish that people would be more forthright with how they’re feeling.

As someone who cares about the affected party’s well-being, I’d like to know what I’ve done that’s caused you so much distress. Did I misspell your name at some point? Step on your toes by accident? Wage a bloodthirsty battle on your village and loved ones for my own selfish purposes (if I did this to you, you would have a very good reason to be upset with me)? And I have done anything to transgress the bounds of our friendship and violate your trust, please tell me.

Although I would absolutely love to have superpowers (specifically, teleportation), I can’t read minds.  And as someone who occasionally has trouble reading people and their motives, it is incredibly helpful when someone out rightly tells me what they are feeling. There is nearly nothing as infuriating as getting the cold shoulder or a passive aggressive sticky-note/text message when you’re not sure what specially you have done to irk the other party. What’s even worse is when this passive aggressive behavior does not align with your actions in person. If you’re cold and terse with me via text and then warm and benevolent in person, I will be left flabbergasted. Utterly flummoxed. (Are you enjoying my whimsical vocabulary?) Did I do something wrong? Is everything fine? Was I imagining our conflict?  Am I being overly sensitive? 

Thus rather than causing hours of  confused anguish and unrest, I implore everyone and their mothers to desist this sort of petty behavior. If you’re upset with me, so be it. Let’s resolve this sticky situation like champions, with our boxing gloves held high and at the ready (we don’t necessarily have to settle things with boxing, but if you want to-that’s fine with me). All I’m saying is that I think we need to use more open and honest communication in our relationships. Who knows? We might both come out for the better!

 

Friends

Friends are somewhat fickle things. I’m not saying that they’re unnecessary or malicious, but sometimes I find the concept of friendship confounding, and at times frustrating. At this, one might think that I’m an angry, dissatisfied loner or perhaps that I need better friends. You might also think- What provoked this? Has this moody writer been wronged by one of her fickle pals? And I would like to think that the answer to both questions is a solid no. However, I do find some of the dynamics and realities of friendship to be interesting and somewhat baffling: Firstly,  friendship generally consists of an easy companionship between individuals with a mutual (platonic) affection for each other. As such, there are certain rituals and protocols that ensue: spending time with each other at almost anywhere anytime, laughing about something together until the point of tears and a stomachache, playfully teasing each other about your personal lives, relentlessly texting each other about the good, the bad, and the ugly that has transpired in your day, until one day…it happens.

There is a sudden shift in circumstances or behavior and your friendship has fundamentally changed. Many times this change could describe moving onto another phase of life (going to college or graduate school, graduating and getting a job or getting married). The people whom you’ve seen and talked to on nearly a daily basis no longer share the same environment. Everyone is so fiercely pursuing their dreams and ambitions that it seems that they have entirely forgotten about your friendship. *cue sad music*. And I’m not saying it’s unjustified to chase after your dreams or to charge ahead fearlessly, it’s just disorienting to see everything change so fast.

To this, one could could say that rekindling and maintaining friendships requires effort,  diligence, and communication, and I agree; there are many people who successfully do this. I believe that it is possible for people to maintain strong relationships by purposefully making contact over the years – meeting up with each other once every week or so, texting each other regularly, keeping each other posted on major and minor events. But I think I’m bad at this. While we promise to keep in touch when we part ways, I have a tendency to let things slip. Days become weeks. Weeks become months, and suddenly it’s been four years and I have no idea what you’re doing. But to these people I’ve let slip away –  I appreciate you and what we shared even if it’s something I don’t often say.

It’s been a while

It’s been a while since I’ve last written on this blog- approximately 1.5 years to be more precise. With my third year of undergrad and first year as a resident assistant (successfully?) completed, I’ve found myself in a strange and unfamiliar situation – rest. Having been finishing finals and hosting frantic study sessions that lasted  for more than 10 hours, it’s strange to think that it’s finally over. In fact, when I woke up this morning, this intense feeling of anxiety swept over me. Do I have finals? Did I forget about them? Or wait- do I have classes? What’s it today? And then I stopped for a moment. Only to remember that it was Sunday – or rather two days since I had taken my last final. Incredulous and still a bit shaken, I laughed to myself, thinking that it would be an interesting next few days.

It’s interesting to think about how I tend to go on auto-pilot when things get hectic. During the school year, it feels like I’m putting out multiple fires and just need to assess which one has the greatest potential for causing the most damage. For instance: Oh, I have a final tomorrow for an elective in less than 8 hours…BUT I also have an exam for mammalian physiology in three days that could potentially destroy me…Mam phys it is then! And now the moment that I never thought would come is upon me – I have met all of my academic and professional responsibilities. In essence, I am free.

Like in Plato’s cave where the prisoner has finally stepped into the light, squinting his eyes in the burning sunlight, I feel I must do the same. There is more than just studying endlessly for the next exam. It’s time that I desist from hunching over my laptop, furiously recopying my notes, and take a look around.

I’m thinking it’s been far too long since I’ve last written and would like to try make more of a habit of it. So be prepared to see a lot more of me in the next few weeks! Thank you for reading!

Rest

As a student, I sometimes feel as if my life is in a flux. Rushing to meet several pressing deadlines. Pressuring my group members to begin the project that is due within the next six hours. Studying for what feels like every waking minute of the day. Couple this with a part time job, friends, and family and you have a recipe for what looks like a complete disaster.

Amidst the chaos and flurry of frantic activity, there comes a time when I am forced to shift to autopilot.  Start one assignment, struggle, finish, move on to the next, and repeat. The part of me that usually resists, saying “Come on- give it a rest why don’t you?” suddenly disappears and I am left only with an overwhelming desire to complete my assignments. I believe this is what they call “tunnel vision”.

And while tunnel vision is powerful and intense, it is also exhausting. In the ferocious intensity with which I attack my impending deadlines, I often forget to take care of myself. I forget to understand the limits of my own time and resources. I forget my friends and family. I forget myself.

But I’ve found that when a tidal wave crashes into your shore, overwhelming you with its sheer force and power, it also just as surely recedes. I am at a point where I have found some respite after an intense academic semester- the calm after the storm.

While I initially chafed at the idea of resting, I’ve found that my resistance has been quick to disappear. There is something comforting, something humbling, something reassuring about letting your guard down. Within all of the frustration, anger, exasperation, and exhaustion I was experiencing during the semester, I had forgotten one critical piece- Rest.

Bruised Clementines

I’ve bruised more clementines than I can count. I keep a steady pace as I try to keep three clementines circling through the air in  fluid motion, striving to reach a tenuous kinetic balance. 1.2.3. 1.2.3. 1.2.3.1…2…and I’ve dropped another clementine onto the hard wooden floor. It rolls to a distant corner of the room and I’m forced to retrieve it for what feels like the hundredth time. And while I’m struck with irritation and guilt for having damaged a vulnerable clementine, before I realize what is happening, the clementines are up in the air again, again striving to achieve perfect balance.

Time and time again I drop the clementines against the floor in my addictive conquest for rhythm and balance. Why do I do this? Why don’t I stop when I’m already ahead? What causes me to persistently juggle the clementines, repeatedly retrieving them from the  cold, unforgiving floor until they are soft and bursting from the seams?

The momentary pleasure of achieving dynamic equilibrium. The feeling of complete control when I have successfully kept the clementines from the floor and sailing smoothly in the air for a substantial period of time.

And yet I believe that the complex and addictive practice of juggling wouldn’t be as fun if I didn’t drop the clementines so frequently. I believe what I love about juggling is the high risk of failure that defines it. Essentially, juggling is an act of defiance against gravity, a constant and powerful force that- as long as we are even remotely close to the Earth’s orbit- will win. But within the span of those exhilarating thirty seconds where I’ve managed to keep the clementines suspended in a beautiful, dynamic balance, I have achieved a momentary victory against gravity. And while my arms will eventually grow tired from the strain and I will catch the clementines in my hands or allow them to fall to the ground, I will try again.

Fading Twilight

The twilight gracefully fades into the cool darkness of night. Quivering with a gentle breeze, the leaves seem to be in tune with a soft hum, a subtle rhythm of the evening. The sharp defiant cries of a swallow still penetrate into the still, welcoming air. The remnants of a cotton candy sunset are offset by somber clouds.

A Little Rusty

Hello everyone! I know it has been an unacceptably long time since I have last written on WordPress. And I could say that it was all because of work and a lack of time, but I think that’s a flimsy excuse. And anyone who ever was kind enough to read my whimsical thoughts deserves better. Honestly, it has been a combination of the craziness of college and lethargy. After winter break hit, it was as if I had been put under a heavy, comfortable, and incapacitating slumber. When I previously been putting my blood, sweat, and tears into my final exams, I found that I could not so much as move from my bed when I came home. And I’m by no means trying to illicit sympathy for my inertia, just providing you with a more comprehensive idea of my mental state post fall semester.

Now, I sincerely apologize for my extended absence from the internet. Although I am unsure if I will ever be able to compete with my previous one post per day, I should step up my current game from one post per year.

Additionally, a lot has changed since the last time I was here. I have a new roommate. Donald J. Trump is President of the United States. Organic chemistry will be no more than a distant and challenging memory of my youth. It’s funny actually. People use ghosts and ghouls as the subject of horror stories to terrify children by the campfire. Personally, I think it’d be enough to flip through some of my orgo notes and watch naïve eyes grow wide with fear and total incomprehension. That’s how it was for my friends and I the first time we’d ever been in orgo lecture. Alright- perhaps, I am exaggerating a bit, but that was a difficult class and I’m glad to put it behind me.

But look at me now! I’ve gotten woefully off topic- It may seem that my writing no longer flows as it once did- but has become shorter and more frenetic.  Hopefully, I’ve just gotten a little rusty. All in all, I thank you sincerely for your time and patience with me as I resume my journey on this rusty site.

The Essential Condiment of Failure- PART II

Previously on The Essential Condiment of  Failure, young Anusha desperately wants to learn how to ride a bike. But alas, there is always a price to pay before attaining success: failure. 

I toppled off the bicycle, scraping my knees against the concrete. An unmistakable surge of pain took hold of both my legs and arms, which I had stretched out in front of me to prevent the worst. My cousins, who were stunned into inaction by the travesty that had just unfolded before them, rushed to my aid.

After several frantic, “Are-you-okays?” and unprofessional medical exams , I slowly rose to my feet, brushed myself off, and went inside for cookies and milk.

At this point you may be thinking-Seriously? Cookies and milk? That was your heroic comeback after a harrowing defeat?

And to this snarky and judgmental remark,  I would say of course it was. As the young and easily bruised (literally) child that I was, I needed some time to recover from my mild and superficial injuries.

Nonetheless, several chocolate chip cookies, two band aids, two knee pads, and a helmet later, I returned to the daunting two-wheeled monster with renewed confidence. Although my cousins exchanged  uncertain glances as I saddled on the small seat, this time I was sure; yes, this time I would surely master the art of riding a bike!

Unable to contain myself, I took several confident steps forward, carefully guiding the bicycle across the sidewalk. And for a couple of seconds, I actually attained balance. I felt the sidewalk move steadily past my feet, the cool air rush in my ears, all before experiencing the all-too-familiar sensations of imbalance, disorientation, and fear of the imminent fallAs I felt the old and cruel pull of gravity pull the side of my bike, I quickly leapt from it to avoid the fall.

Having been abandoned of its master, the poor red beast careened across the sidewalk until it slammed against the pavement with resounding finality. Displeased by my second failure, I gave an exasperated sigh. But because I had not sustained any injuries, there was nothing that stopped me from trying again (Envision young Anusha falling off her bike). And again (Young Anusha frantically chases her bike down a hill).  And again (Crash).

Needless to say, I failed an innumerable number of times in my efforts to ride a bike. Everyday after school, I would confront the red bike, glowing in all of its fury and bright consternation.

You think you can ride me? What makes you think I’d take you anywhere? the slender, metallic beast seemed to spit venomously at the sight of me.

Determined to prove the derisive voice wrong, I continually endured the pain and humiliation of habitual defeat. Until at last, I found myself steadily balancing on the bike for an extended period of time. I tentatively peddled to find that I pushed myself forward with ease, feeling the cool air rush past my ears.

Exhilarated by the fact that I had not yet been acquainted with the concrete as I had been so many times before, I peddled with increased vigor and incredible excitement. I was riding a bike! Not a tricycle! A BI-cycle! That meant it had two wheels! This was for adults!

I was so overcome from my victory that I rode around my neighborhood several times, practically in a perpetual state of bliss and disbelief, until I finally came to a stop. My legs aching from the strain, I leaned against the side of a brick building, exhausted but incredibly happy.

After weeks of unending failure, I had finally been rewarded with shining success. If we would go back to the idea that “failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor,” mastering the art of riding a bike would be like an ice cream sundae, and failure would be the thick, chocolate syrup drizzled on top. It would be the rainbow sprinkles that gave it its crunch and appeal. It would be the maraschino cherry, dyed and sweetened beyond recognition. At this point, if I haven’t instilled you with either a great appreciation of the importance of failure or a desperate need for ice cream, then I don’t think I’ve done my job.