Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder
In Which I Take A Sharp Left Turn In The Last Paragraph, Just Like The BSG Finale
Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2010 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.
Once I read, perhaps a webcomic or a short story or a joke, where one person showed off some collection, perhaps of antique mustard bottles, and another person asked whether there wasn't a less bulky and costly way he could display his crippling fear of death. Lazyweb request #1 of 2: anyone remember this?
Maybe because my dad died this year and I spent a bunch of time with my mom, or just because of the perspective that comes with age and experience, I'm seeing my family- and mortality-related neuroses more clearly. The armchair psychology soothes me, because of course if I can come up with a simplistic "x causes y" chain of dominoes, then I know my own true name and I can defeat myself! Wait, um, that isn't what I mean or want --
My family moved around a lot as a kid, so I got several of the "hey, surprise news, we're moving soon" speeches, and maybe that's why I flinch so hard at surprises.
We moved, and I didn't get to keep friends, so I kept things, read comfort books over and over with a fear of moving on to books I hadn't read before, stayed in my room, memorized the Star Trek universe, living in the mental space I could control since I couldn't control the physical spaces I lived.
Food. I had to eat as much South Indian food as my mother gave me nearly every day until I left home for college. I felt like saying no counted for nothing. I rather wonder that I did not develop a bona fide eating disorder; as it is, I just had an aversion to Indian food for about a decade. And you know how you're not supposed to shop for food when you're hungry, because you're more susceptible to marketers' tricks? Well, yesterday Leonard and I stopped by a health food store after lunch, and I was surrounded by all this food when I was already full, and I got a little nauseated and panicky. I hope this dies down when I've been away from India for a while.
My birth family told me I could and should achieve great things, write books, get a Ph.D., without taking risks. Not all together like that, of course, that would sound ridiculous. And I was just precocious enough to be ridiculous to everyone normal, but never truly iconoclastic and self-propelled and genius-level enough; or maybe I would have been, if they'd given me space or freedom or uninterrupted solitude, or if I'd felt I had enough agency to take it myself. And oh what a textbook case I had of extrinsic motivation destroying intrinsic.
Big giant honkin' fear of failure. Skill acquisition never made systematic sense to me; it was either under-my-nose No Big Deal or incomprehensible deep magic. My first semester of high school, I got a C in a class, and I was more ashamed of that than of anything else except my adolescent hormonal urges, and maybe even that's a fair fight. I got to university and took a computer science class, and debugging exhausted and humiliated me; I read it as constant failure topped by a meager teaspoon of success, instead of enjoying the challenge and reading each quest as a hero's journey. When I read entrepreneurs saying that of course you'll fail the first time you try something hard, or a comedian or chef saying that it's freeing to have a fresh opportunity to fail and improve in every set and every dish, their perspective feels disorienting and freeing.
So now I see the anxious grasping for control in my own perfectionism and completism. I can at least laugh at my own anxiety now when Leonard suggests watching a few episodes of Psych out of order.
That is all preface. Once upon a time I did triumph over my own petty completism, with the help of the Sci-Fi Channel marketing department, and watched the middle and end of Battlestar Galactica without seeing the beginning. Last night Leonard and I watched most of the introductory miniseries. Roslin and Starbuck are so awesome! Because we accidentally held vintage BSG in reserve, it is as though now we get a wonderful prequel with magically younger actors! Lazyweb request #2 of 2: Remember "Why Tom Zarek Was Right"? Where's the followup letter, from after the series finale, dissenting from the controversial decision to you-know-what?
21 Dec 2010, 16:04 p.m.
21 Dec 2010, 16:33 p.m.
21 Dec 2010, 17:46 p.m.
22 Dec 2010, 10:05 a.m.