A Vacuum For Good Vibes

25 Sep

I had an interesting day yesterday. Deadlines at work were chaotic, the materials I needed were missing, and shortlists for two award shows were released. My entries didn’t make it. Bam. Sledgehammer to my chest.

For the first time, in a really long time, I felt frustrated. Unlucky. Mad at myself. But mostly, frustrated.

I needed to clear my mind. I needed to step out of the office. I was asking the universe if I was really, truly, madly, deeply going anywhere. But the universe would never answer. I will be left to fend for myself, to lick my wounds, as usual.

I was wrong.

When the elevator door opened, there it was, the answer I needed: a Nilfisk Alto Vacuum Cleaner. Enlightenment from a vacuum, what the hell right? But before you take me for a complete retard, let me explain myself.

ODD BEGINNINGS.

Image courtesy of the Google Gods. May not be the exact model in our office building but you get the picture.

Image courtesy of the Google Gods. May not be the exact model in our office building but you get the picture.

When I was an intern in a web-outsourcing firm, years ago, I was assigned to the Nilfisk Alto account.

We were revamping their website and I was tasked to change the logo on each of their product shots. They updated their logo and I guess it was cheaper to ‘shop their new logo onto the photos versus having to reshoot all of it. Plus I was an intern, so labor was free. 

I had to edit thousands of photos with different layouts and perspectives. From their vacuum cleaners, to their pressure washers, to their floor sweepers, I edited them all. There was a man cleaning a warehouse, a woman cleaning a mall, a floor sweeper in front of a scenic mountain background — a Nilfisk machine for all occasions.

I could code. I could design. I could make websites. I could make games. But no, I was digitally sticking logos on vacuum cleaners. It felt horrible. It felt like I was never going anywhere.

BYE BAD JUJU.

Push lang.

Don’t stop.

The frustration I had yesterday tasted familiar but was altogether different. Like a two-week old pizza you left to ferment in the fridge. When I saw that vacuum cleaner however, the frustration was sucked out of me. It took away the fear. It was a gentle reminder that no matter how frustrated I am, I am no longer editing vacuum cleaner photos.

Goodbye bad juju.

I am in a better place today than I was then. I am going somewhere. I’ve just got to suck it up and keep pushing harder.

I am no longer a drone. I create. I ideate.

I may not be in this year’s shortlist, but at least I’ve come up with work that was good enough to become an entry. Work that stood a chance. I didn’t get in this year but I will, someday. I may even win it.

So thank you, Nilfisk. Thank you, universe. Thank you Lord. I am once again humbled. And I truly am a fan of your wicked sense of humor.

 

Love, Poppet.

13 Aug

Growing up with a strict specification for family was tough. There was always the dad, the mom, the grandparents, and the kids. My family didn’t follow the natural order and it felt like I got the short end of the stick. I was too young and too smart for my own good. I grew detached, disconnected.

Soon, I became the outsider looking in. Family dinners and reunions were a blur. And no amount of toys or chocolates could satiate my hunger for escape. There were so many ‘whys’ in my head, too many ‘whys’ for a child.

I was 4; four and desperate for a rainbow; four and searching for pixie dust. I calculated the number of milk cans I needed to bring if I took my infant brother with me. And every night, I would hope and pray for Rainbow Brite or Peter Pan.

They never came.

I figured that both Rainbow Land and Neverland didn’t exist, and it was time for Plan B.

The easiest solution: grow up.

I grew up fast. I grew up angry. And I was dying to turn 7.

Seven, based on my research – before Google was available – was the age when you could pick where you would stay. My mind was set on my grandfather. I would request to be under his custody and I would take my little brother with me. I was formulating the arguments I would make, wondering if they would let a 7-year old make an appeal in court. Whatever it took, I was going to break free of the Frankenstein family tree I was in.

Before I could put my plans into action, I met this old, Scottish lady with sparkling blue eyes. She loved to dance with her vacuum and on occasion, would fish dentures out of her champagne. She too, had a family that was almost as absurd as mine – zoo animals and all.

With tatas on fire, she showed me that I didn’t get the short end of the stick, that I wasn’t alone. She explained that there were all sorts of different families; no one size fits all.

My seven-year old mind was blown. Run over. Flattened by a truck like a latex mask on cold concrete.

I was balling like a child with the emotional baggage of a thrice-divorced, 60-year old. It was like someone threw an orange at me, tree included. My mind was as messy as her apartment and yet, with her magic, my Plan B became mere scribbles on a chalkboard. My anger melted like a snow cone in Phoenix. With puffy eyes, for the first time, in a long time, I felt like a child; that I had every right to feel the way that I did. And that it wasn’t my fault.

Thank you, Mrs. Doubtfire. Thank you for showing me that as long as there’s love – and restaurants with delivery service – I will always have a family.

And yes, I did turn out all right.

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#RIPRobinWilliams. You are awesome.

Funny Mrs Doubtfire memes on Buzzfeed.

Growing up brown

19 Jul

I live in a country where white skin is beautiful and brown is ugly. Where flawless white starlets reign the boob tube, the catwalk and the billboards, while their morena counterparts are left with tidbit exposure. Where only a handful of beautiful olive-skinned ladies get the attention, while the darker skinned beauties barely see the spotlight. Where little girls, tweens, with beautiful chocolate skin are hoping to become vanilla. It saddens me that no matter how often some people try to reverse this foul tasting concept, white is king in our country.
So, I’ve decided to add my voice.

I’m morena and damn proud of it. But I still have friends who, at our age, aren’t proud of their morena complexion. They always try different whitening products, from lotions to pills to skin treatments, and I always find myself asking them to stop. I wasn’t always like this. Growing up, I too, fell victim to the taunts of society and the dictates of the media. I was just lucky enough to have a mom who, no matter how freakishly white she was, adored brown. There are three things she told me about beauty, three lessons that I would forever carry in my heart. Hopefully they’ll tug a heartstring or two.

1. Don’t believe people when they say colors don’t suit you. You have the skin color of earth, of soil. Maybe if they come up with a color that didn’t originally exist on Earth, then maybe that’s when we’ll find a color that doesn’t suit you.

She told me this after I came running to her, crying, when I was seven years old. I had playmates who were mean and told me that I look stupid in yellow. They said I was maitim (dark) so I didn’t have the right to wear such colors.

2. Beauty is not about the color of your skin. You just have to be comfortable with yourself, every feature, every flaw. Try imagining yourself whiter, do you still look pretty? Yes? See. How about darker? Yes? See. Embrace your natural complexion. Don’t you dare turn Michael Jackson on me.

She told me this when I was 8 and we were in the grocery. I was begging, pleading, got down on my knees crying, asking her to buy me a bottle of whitening lotion. Yes, I was throwing a tantrum in the grocery. Only because I found out my crush liked the fair skinned girl in our class.

3. To hell with what the world thinks. If you want to wear red lipstick, wear red lipstick. Be proud of your decisions.

I think the lesson there was ‘to hell with what the world thinks’ or ‘be proud of your decisions’. But what stuck first was ‘if you want to wear red lipstick, wear red lipstick.’ I was 14 years old, and I only ever used lip balm and lip gloss. Colorless ones at that. I borrowed her red lipstick and wore it when we went to church (to church of all places) but when we got to the parking lot, I found myself chickening out and pleading if I could just stay in the car. She hauled me into church and decided to sit in the front row.

Fast forward to a few years, and I’ve become a proud morena who is just so damn tired of the onslaught of ‘white is beautiful’. I don’t want to see my unborn children thinking like the rest of the rotten lot. I want my daughter(s) to feel beautiful inside and out, no matter what shade their skin might be. I want them to know that beauty is not dictated by your color or the colors you’re wearing, its about being comfortable in your own skin and wearing your decisions proud. I want them to be strong enough to throw a middle finger at the world when it tells them to use a whitening product.

I want to be like my mom.

Brown is gorgeous. And someone’s got to help morenas feel pretty too. If I could make even just one person feel beautiful and for a second forget the dictates of society via this blog, I’d be happy.

I know I’m beautiful. I feel beautiful.
You should too.