andante | 2016

Another year, slow, wading through treacle, but with many memories of the beautiful and the wild.

There was Yosemite, under crystal clear skies, on rocks that loomed over the winding river and many waterfalls.

There was music and opera, in the first half of the year, and Sibelius racked up enough Delta and Jet Blue miles to travel the world in eighty ways. I walked the streets of Manhattan and took the subway, ate arepas at the street-corners, and browsed many bookshops. Saw a Bernie Sanders rally, and was swept by a movement that had embraced many, many thousands. I witnessed Trump’s New York election victory speech, during the first round of the Republican nominee part, and had marveled at his complexion which had stood out even from my far vantage point in Central Park. Sibelius took me to beloved places, to Boston and Vermont, to Connecticut and Maine, to Rhode Island, to Cape Cod and to Martha’s Vineyard. There was plenty of clam chowder and oysters.  There were whale skeletons. There were men who smelled of salt, of fish, and of the sea.

September had two eclipses, and I stayed up to watch one with much curiosity, and with the eclipses came a Kafka of sorts. Being dunked in existentialism and cynicism was quite jarring to my ways of life, especially as I generally try to avoid armchair philosophers, but life went on.

The second half of the year was quiet, though the past few weeks have been hectic. I am planning my holidays, planning what I need to do for the next year, planning to wrap up the little projects I had for this year. I am writing more. It hasn’t been easy to find the time and the quiet to do that, but I have become remarkably better at managing time over the last few years.

I spent Friday night eating foie gras on white tablecloths. I may very well end up breaking my  many-year record of losing weight over the holiday season. 2016 has been a year of many surprises, after all.

Saturday was slow and soft, and there was wine and cheese, with dear company. I enjoyed the food, and the conversation. It was one of those rare glimpses of meaning and connection that seem to be hard to find, coming on the heels of a hectic set of years weighed down by stagnation and oft-futile attempts to break through to a better place.

I have a new book!  I like receiving books as gifts, because they are personal, because they mean something to the person who gifts, or to the person who gets it. I am usually wary of gifting books myself, and stick to the safer side by giving Amazon gift-cards.

I have an appointment for a hair-cut. I hope that they will not attempt to give me bangs again. It hadn’t worked out too well that last time, when I  had been talked into it by a very beautiful hair-stylist lady, and I was repeatedly told by friends later that I looked like a Pomeranian, but my hair recovered fast and returned to the usual state of blissful chaos in the span of a few weeks.

Today, I spent time going over the annual entries of the last few years: 2015 (i and ii), 2014, 2013 (i and ii), 20122011, and took stock of the general state of affairs.

I have been promised that there will be tiramisu tonight.

I will go to the local park tonight to watch the super-moon. I hope others don’t get the same idea. I have had an eclipse on my birthday before, a few years ago. Dearly loved ones have expressed a wish that the full moon brings in better things, in as much as astronomical motion brings anything.

Discovered an excellent omelette place today, ambling through the local downtown area. Eggs for breakfast is one of my guiltier weekend pleasures, and one that I hadn’t indulged in for quite a long time.

A friend of mine quit her job and went hustling for DJ gigs in Las Vegas. I am quite impressed by her guts, and trust that her brilliance and skill will take her to success. It is frightening, to risk, to take that leap of faith, but I am happy whenever I see someone doing it. My own risk-taking has had an inverse connection with age. Maybe when that mid-life crisis hits, I will take my next set of risks.

Haskell has been my language of the year. I had toyed with it before, but this year had given me more time to learn, and I have so enjoyed the language. Perhaps due to my fondness for Lisp, I can program better in the functional paradigm than in the others. Haskell is easier than SML, and lovelier than OCAML. I like the libraries, and Euterpea is my favorite for lazy Sunday afternoons, like this one, to write weird and useless ideas in.

My gardening skills amaze me. I haven’t killed any of the plants yet. They are in bloom, the hummingbirds have claimed ownership of them, and there is no Miracle Gro so far.

Bowie and Cohen are both dead. I predicted Brexit and failed to see the outcome of the latest election here. This year has been one of flux and tumult, on many levels, for many of us.

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Last November had found me lighting candles in a church in Newark. I had wanted a new job, a new place to stay, a new group of people to meet. Everything had been stagnant. I had been impatient for changes.

I had earlier taken a walk by the marshes, bundled up against the winds, sipping cold latte, wondering why stagnation was the theme of the year.

I had gone home, tired, to find Sibelius at my door, with tiramisu. Tiramisu let me set aside the weightier concerns of life.

This year has been a scattered time, of longing for a respite from dysfunctional work settings, of longing for home and a foundation, of longing for a partner, an equal, as remarkable as Nabokov’s Vera.

I did change my employer, eventually, half-way through the year.  So that is movement forward. The new place is much better, for me, in terms of the people I get to work with.

Change has been hard to bring about, and there is still a lot of stagnation. I am concerned about the lack of direction I have in my career – I feel that I carry my divergence within me, standing always at the crossroads of numbers and words. A birthday brings that home hard, harder with each passing year, and the uncertainty pertaining to where I can be long-term located is difficult to work around.

I have been trying to keep my head up, to take a step or three back, to look at what has been achieved, and at what needs to be done still. I am learning to pick my battles, to speak only what is absolutely necessary, and only when it is absolutely necessary. I am trying to temper my optimism with reality, curbing hopefulness that veers into sheer folly at times, about what can work and what can’t.

It is odd, but I feel that the next year will be calmer and more to my liking. The stagnation is a problem, but I am getting used to working around it, to put aside frustration and to focus on the changeable. Life can’t be held in limbo today just because of the uncertainty of the tomorrows.

Andante is my favorite tempo, to compose and to play. I am beginning to relish it as a way life too, after prolonged initial resistance. Living slowly is fine, I know now, as long as I live well.

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