I am afraid to learn myself, afraid to find what’s in it. Perhaps it is a universal struggle, loving ourselves. This bigness, this thickness, all this excess! I do not know what to do with it. To have so much of me taking up more space than necessary, limbs longer than anyone else’s, I keep expanding and growing and invading, trespassing—my body—trespassing other people’s spaces. And I limit movement, constrain and hold back all of this, this muchness, as a futile attempt at daintiness, a pitiful attempt at grace. Clunky and awkward, my feet and hands too large, bumping my head and stabbing my elbows into somebody else;s flesh was a quotidian thing. Perhaps my only purpose was to reach things from high places and crane my neck to look for who is lost because I do not ball, do not pose, do not wave like a lush pageant girl: half white and unknowing of her own father’s identity. I’ve been filling up voids with my size, as if the world were afraid of being empty, of empty spaces, and in this fear I was created, to soothe this horror vacui and take up the corners and spaces and invade, manifest. But this is all a waste. Anything more than necessary is a waste.
I met with a book dealer, a new one, a few hours ago for transaction. Well, they’re actually just strangers who sell their old books or give them away for free because who knows why, but I call them book dealers because it sounds cooler. My default book dealer, who I will refer to as G, is a tall, lithe, birdlike man with a scruffy beard. He teaches yoga and is, perhaps, one of the most interesting people out there. And I don’t even know him as much as I want, but I can tell he’s a very profound guy. A couple of my favorite books came from his own collection that he was downsizing, actually, so I know he has good taste in literature. My other book dealer, the one I met earlier, is K. She is a pregnant woman who wears all black. She’s actually a vegan and is a practitioner of zero waste living, so she’s been getting rid of a lot of her stuff to minimize her waste, and also to make way and give space for her baby. One of the things she was getting rid of were her books so she gave them away for free. My heart hurt a bit; I’m a vegan and want to get into zero waste (failed attempts so far, but who’s counting?!) but I cant get into the whole minimalism thing when it comes to books. I can give away anything, but books I really can’t. I know I should get rid of my clothes and shoes. I have way too many, and far too few that I actually put to use. I’m thinking of giving them all away and just buying/thrifting same sets of everything: dark jeans and trousers, white button ups, black shirts and turtlenecks. Never been a fan of fashion to be honest, and I have way too many clothes picking up dust in my closet. Perhaps after my graduation this October!
Anyway, I felt guilty of taking advantage of my book dealer’s kindness (she had a couple of books up for the taking, but I unabashedly and selfishly took four when I know I should’ve just stuck to one or two, because for sure other people want these books as well, but well, the idea of free books was just too tempting, sorry!!!) But yeah, I felt guilty so in exchange for the books that I asked for, I gave her a bunch of oranges in return, which didn’t really cost a lot. I got the following from K:
New copies of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain.
I was never brought up on the classics and reading for me has been a solitary thing ever since, so the things I read from my childhood were all from my own discovery, which means I read a lot of contemporaries. I’m acquainting myself with the classics bit by bit, and I’ve heard Twain’s writing is way ahead of his time, so my fear of being alienated from his language is kept at bay. The books were still sealed with plastic and have never been read, and I thought K was crazy for giving them away, so I snatched them up and told her I’d take them. They are in perfect condition!
Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami.
I am on the fence with Murakami. I enjoyed South of the Border, West of the Sun very much, as well as his short stories, but I couldn’t get into After Dark even after I finished it. I tried Kafka on the Shore and Hardboiled Wonderland and gave up on them as well. I don’t exactly know what’s wrong; perhaps my eyes and judgments are clouded, but I tried so hard to get into the last three books to no avail. So here’s hoping I like Norwegian Wood! Anyway, I got it for free and it’s still in very good condition, so I’m definitely not complaining!
Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman.
It’s a battered copy and has definitely seen better days. The cover is completely ripped apart, it’s totally gone, and the book itself is split in half, unhinged from its spine. But hey, free is free and it’s what’s inside that matters, plus I already fixed it with masking tape! I love it either way. I can tell this is a well loved book. I’ve had numerous paperbacks give up on me for being abused and read so many times, so this Anansi book isn’t really surprising to me. It would’ve ended up the same way, would be the imago of the book should I get it brand new. I never liked mint condition books anyway. Those are sad books because you know they’ve never been read, and books are lonely when you don’t spread their pages apart to reveal their secrets. A battered book is a happy book!
Also, I just find it so funny because buying another Gaiman reminded me of this encounter I had with my staff writer weeks ago. She asked me why I’ve never read Sylvia Plath and she was shocked that I’ve never read The Bell Jar in my teens. She said, and I quote, “Whaaat? You’ve never read The Bell Jar?! But it’s every sad teenage girl’s story…”
To be true, I was a sad, prepubescent girl, okay, I had my emo phase, but let’s not get into that… BUT I was more of a Gaiman-Tolkien-King girl during those times. High fantasy, urban fantasy, and horror were my shit. My reading tastes back then weren’t sad at all, even though I was terribly sad and alone in real life. Perhaps I channeled my energies to the weird and the angry, the macabre and the violent, the angsty and the Other instead of wallowing in sadness even more. I got those from Gaiman and King. Coraline, The Sandman, Fragile Things, Pet Sematary, The Shining, Duma Key, It, Carrie, The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, these were my teenage companions! I was a sad prepubescent girl, but my literature was never sad. I guess I didn’t want to wallow in my sadness so I didn’t search for it in the books I read, which is great and all because I think if I read Plath during those dark hours, I would’ve gotten it all wrong. I would’ve romanticized suicide and thought it was all cool to be depressed and to be cutting myself. Maybe at that precarious prepubescent mind I would’ve been driven to do something unthinkable, like stick my head in a gas oven or something, and think it’s cool. Knowing my idiotic self back then, I would’ve done just that and thought it was cool, so I’m totally not complaining about growing up on Gaiman and King and Tolkien instead of Plath. If I were to read Plath, I’d like to do it now since I’m older, more mature, grounded, and have a stronger sense of self. But right, I’ve never had that sad teenage Bell Jar girl phase… that would’ve been interesting to see… I did have a Carrie stage though!!! I believed I was Carrie and could control people with telekinesis and read and communicate with other minds with my telepathy snort snort but let’s not get into that I am cringing so hard (tho to be fair, Carrie will always occupy a special space in my heart!)
Anyway, after meeting with my book dealer, of course I just had to indulge myself even more and head next to the book thrift store to get two more books! The good books were stacked at the very top of the shelf, as if the people in the book thrift store didn’t want them to be bought off, but thanks to my 5’9 height I was able to pry them off from the top shelf by standing on tiptoe. I bought The Moor’s Last Sigh by Salman Rushdie and New Selected Poems by Seamus Heaney! They’re still in good condition, though they’ve totally been read through. Still, they are holding shape and, like what I said, I hate cookie cutter perfect books since those aren’t well loved books.
The Heaney poetry collection’s got scribbles on every page and I am swooning. I love it when past owners do this!!! Someone left their bookmark in the Rushdie book though, probably its last owner? The book has an address from India. The bookmark says INCY BELLA THE BOOK SHOP and it’s in Jew Town, Synagogue Lane, Cochin in Kerala, India. Wow… this book’s traveled to so many places. I hope I can visit that Indian book shop one day! I’m imagining that the bookshop is a small, independent bookshop, thriving and transcending against all the big business and corporations. It’s probably a little two-story brick house with the ground floor converted into a bookshop, in the middle of a bustling street… Ahhh that would be so cool. I wish I owned my own independent book shop.
The Moors Last Sigh is something I’m looking forward to read. Every time I read Salman Rushdie, it is always during a hectic time at school; it’s a bad idea because his books are these huge, thick monsters and the deadlines always catch up to me and I don’t get to finish them even if I want to. But now I wont have the library’s due dates and my academic deadlines looming over me so I can read Rushdie in peace, finally! (Past failed attempts: The Satanic Verses and Midnight’s Children).
On another note that is just as important than my book haul, I regret to admit that I had plonked Sontag and Soseki down… I hate myself, but this is how I read, haphazard, full of impulse and pigheadedness. I read Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel in one sitting the other day—something I didn’t plan at all—which frustrated me because I told myself I wasn’t done with my other books. Welp, my reading has never been linear so I don’t understand why I even bothered to follow a reading list strictly when it’s bound to fail. I told myself I wouldn’t read anything else until I’m done with Sontag and Soseki, but my arbitrary reading nature comes out. Of course I am not ruling them out! Sontag’s book is a collection of essays so I can read one anytime, but I cant read all of them in one sitting, and I don’t think I want to. Soseki on the other hand, well I feel bad for not finishing Sanshiro. I don’t hate it at all, it’s just that I need palate cleansers every now and then. He’s not boring, it’s just my reading nature, I guess, to read everything at once, at the same time; the experience is better for me. So that’s a failed attempt at focusing on books linearly sigh sigh. I always complain about the disarray that is my life, but I cannot even sort out my own reading list! Should I even bother or just let nature’s patterns take their course? Sigh sigh
Right now I am also lingering on the first pages of Jung’s Man and His Symbols, but at the same time, I want to focus on Norwegian Wood, The Moor’s Last Sigh and start on a few poems by Heaney. If push comes to shove (gosh, who even stresses about their book list like this?!) I’d probably put Norwegian Wood and Man and His Symbols first, then Heaney’s poems a close second. I think Rushdie can wait for me; he’s always been, and I don’t want to be disrespectful here, but Rushdie can wait a little bit more, I think! We’ll see! I also read over the weekend some short stories by Guy Maupassant and Isaac Asimov, and a book of haikus; this was during the time the power went out due to the relentless rain. It was so hot and I was sticky with sweat so I read in the candlelight, naked. There was nothing else to do. My eyes hurt from the low light, but I didn’t mind because I love Maupassant; his tales of terror fit perfectly in that rainy, candlelit Saturday night! Asimov, well, he’s regarded as one of the best, if not the best scifi writer of all time, but there’s something about him…. I guess it’s my fault. I am always searching for Bradbury’s poetry in scifi and I know people will argue that Ray Bradbury isn’t even science fiction, but well, I also beg to differ! Ray Bradbury can hold his own in scifi! He made everything in the quotidian so sublime! Form and content are both important of course, but personally, I find Asimov lacking in the form department, of course this is my opinion, you can challenge me if you disagree. Maybe because I compare him to Bradbury? Which isn’t fair, but Asimov is just dry week-old bread compared to Bradbury. I just…if Asimov’s scifi then Bradbury’s magic. but Bradbury wasn’t afraid to be ascientific, if not ascientific. But whatever. It’s what makes you feel in the end anyway, and Bradbury’s made me cry so many times and feel so many heavy things in his shortest of stories, and Asimov, well, I don’t feel anything when I read him. The Last Question was supposedly brilliant, but when I read it, I just didn’t feel anything. Am I not scientific enough? Are my eyes clouded? Am I reading him wrong? Perhaps I need to be more patient with Asimov. I am the same with Kerouac and Murakami. Kerouac, I had to read On the Road TWICE just to appreciate where he was coming from, and now I love Kerouac. So I think I need to be more patient with Asimov and Murakami. Patience, patience, patience.
(i have a major exam tomorrow so obviously i’m writing about my fear of dentists, my mother, childhood, nostalgia, and other things that have no connection whatsoever with my exam)
i never liked dentists. my mother is a dentist. as a child i would often go to her clinic for my monthly cleaning. her clinic was in the middle of the busy town market, across the butcher shop and vegetable stalls, on the second floor of the rundown apartment complex we owned. there she’d sit me up on her chair and probe and poke around my mouth with her foreign metal tools. every time i am there she would scold me for my bleedy gums and cavities, and how i always have cavities even though she reminds me to brush my teeth every night. up, down, side to side, the backs of the teeth, the corners, the in-betweens, the tongue, never forget the tongue! yet i still had bad teeth, worse than my brothers who never ate fruits and vegetables. from this she surmised that i was just that: a child who never cared about my teeth. but she was wrong. i was very much obsessed with my teeth. or, perhaps, very much obsessed with ruining them. i’ve lost five permanent tooths since then, mainly because of all the sweets i secretly devoured. i couldve given her the brightest smile, but instead i gave her rotten teeth. perhaps unconsciously i was ruining my teeth on purpose so i’d get her attention, because even though she’d scold me, i know she was still focusing on me. only me. and that was what i wanted. it was only during my cleanings with her that i found tenderness and closeness. she made me nervous and afraid when she’d sit on her stool in her white, characterless coat, wearing soury rubber gloves and a mask that hid the planes and features of her face. i would feel nauseous. i hated the clinical feeling of it all, but in my head she was still my mother. i was being probed and examined and i felt naked and guilty, but this was still my mother.
and perhaps why i never liked dentists was because i always thought the insides of my mouth were only for my mother’s eyes. and i cannot let others touch my teeth and see the worsts of my mouth because only my mother can know of my secrets. because it’s for her. i still don’t see other dentists. i don’t think i ever can, because when my mother examines my mouth and prods it with her tools and fills my cavities with filling, she is gentle and soft. and if it was some other dentist it wont feel the same way because they wont have tenderness for me and they wont have the softness of my mother’s hands, they wont have the familiarity of it all. because if i look up at them from my seat, i wont have longingness for them. because when my mother fills the hollowness of my cavities, it was her filling the empty spaces inside of me that have always been crying for her. because even though she’s angry at me for not brushing my teeth, i know that if i scream or exaggerate my pain, she would caress my cheek and soothe me with her voice, and here i’d feel her love. because the only time i saw tenderness from her was when she’d wipe my drool away and tell me to gargle well and not spill, when she’d touch my cheek and my chin and ask me if it hurt. when, deep inside, i wanted her to ask me instead if her distance hurt more, if it hurt me more to be right there next to her and still feel her detachment, as if we were never umbilically connected once, because she doesn’t know that when i open my mouth for her, i am letting her love me, that this is me reaching out to her. and that when she works on me, she is so close to me that i wonder if i may just be able to hug her and touch her hair if i reached up.
and i always dreaded the time when she’d finish with me, when she’d take off my bib and push me up from the chair and make me gargle one last time, because i know it would all be over. and as a child i wished our cleanings would last all afternoon, but they almost always took only an hour, and then i’d have to wait another month again to feel her. it felt too fast and ended too soon, and being a child i figured that if i had more cavities, she’d spend more time working on me, being with me. because when it was over, i knew she would go back to her awkward person, unsure and uncertain of how to love me.
perhaps because i push her away, perhaps because i am something she cannot figure out, because she isn’t like me. or i am not like her, or what she wishes me to be. because when she asked for a daughter, she wanted a daughter the way she wanted a daughter exactly, and not what ever i was going to turn out to be. because when she prayed for a perfect and unique model, what she got was an ugly pastiche. because i am not a box she can put things in with whatever she wants and adorn with frills and ribbons. because i am a stubborn box that refuses to open to her. because i do not want to be like her, do not want her failures to be my insecurity and failures. but it happens the other way, and i find myself becoming more and more like her—the worst of her. and i hate it. i hate it so much. because i am more pigheaded than i believe, because i said i will be my own person, because i said i will break the cycle. because if theres anything i don’t want to be, it’s to be like her. but here i am, and i am just that: an awkward person, uncertain of how to love and show my softness and tenderness to other people, and so i stand here, helplessly wringing my hands.
i’m 20 now. i think i am a young woman now. i don’t remember the last time i had a cleaning with her. i have a cavity or two that needs checking and filling, but i am afraid to go to the school dentist because they will only scoop my eyes out and judge me for all eternity. and i am deathly afraid of reaching out to my mother, because i am not a child anymore. i cannot pretend to be in pain and demand for her caress, because i know she will smell my phoniness., most of all, i am afraid—really, really afraid— that if i sit on her dentist’s chair again, i wont find love and tenderness there anymore.
five books i am currently, desperately, painfully, pigheadedly longing to get my hands on!!!
Human Wishes by Robert Hass
The Seven Ages by Louise Gluck
Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
Gourmet Rhapsody by Muriel Barbery
i need to write i think i’m gonna explode i am not having the best day, people! i wasn’t satisfied with my productivity over the weekend. i told myself i was going to get a lot of important things done, but i ended up doing, perhaps, just one out of the multitude that i had to get done! monday was another suspension of classes due to the transport strike (it’s becoming frequent now, it’s been happening every week! the masses are really angry!) and i was supposed to write and research and send pitches, and i ended up lying down in bed daydreaming and listening to Alan Watt’s audio lectures…
i know leisure time is just as important as work, and i wish that i could balance both. perhaps this is just me being horrible to myself agin because it is the weekend and a time of unwinding, but i wanted to get so many things done. not that i regret listening to Alan Watts because his audio lectures, i find, are very very enlightening. It’s called Out of Your Mind and i’ve started on the first ones, and so far I’m loving him. I might write a separate piece on him over the weekend, because i would hate myself if i didn’t. I have so many things to say about this man!!! but I feel like I need to be more acquainted with his works before i even give justice to him, so i’d have to listen to a couple more podcasts. so that’s what i did yesterday, yeah. not the most productive, but it definitely gave me some time for much needed headspace. i wasn’t able to send my pitches and applications though, which i should’ve done yesterday, but well, i don’t know. i’m such a lazy fucker.
i have class in 30 minutes and should be editing my article for our special issue, but instead i’m here ranting. today was supposed to be a productive day and believe me, i’ve tried, but i think this day isn’t just cooperating. because at 9 am i already met with my group mates to work on the last of our thesis but there was a fire drill and we had to vacate the faculty center and it last for about an hour, and by the time we got back the internet wasn’t working anymore and we couldnt access our google docs. and we transferred to the library and went around many floors to look for a place to work, but everything else was taken and the wifi wasn’t working and by then, my group mates just decided to fuck it, we’ll work on it tonight, because i could tell they were in a pissy mood also, and it’s never nice to work in a pissy mood… so i went to the newsroom and decided to mull things over, but one of my staff writers was sitting across me and i thought, i’d hate myself if i let the chance to talk to him pass by because i’d rather wallow in my solitude. you know how i always complain about this sense of Otherness that i feel pretty much all the time when I’m around everybody? but i realize that this sense of Otherness that i so often feel is all because of me, it’s all my fault, that i’m to blame. so instead of reading my Natsume book i decided to strike a conversation with him instead and i checked up on him and it lasted for i think around 10-15 mins but it didn’t feel dreadful at all. it was actually a good conversation and he was pretty cheery. and just when i was done with that and ready to read in my corner, another staff writer of mine went up to me to talk to me so of course i had to talk back to her because i cannot ignore her, and of course as her editor, my ears should always be ready for her, but this conversation with her lasted even longer, i think almost 30 minutes, though it didn’t feel dreadful also, but by the time it was over, i was already worrying because i lost reading time and i have class in less than an hour and i was looking forward to clear my head…and i just didn’t want to edit articles anymore and decided to rant because yes, i am a jaded fucker and need an outlet for my anxious encounters with people everyday which normal people don’t even rant about because this is such a huge deal to me, and this can either make or break my psyche and free writing just calms me… but now I’m worrying that I’m not making any sense and my grammar is all wrong but i don’t want to be dreadful to myself!!!
what am i saying even… i have 15 minutes before class. i think we’re getting the results of our exam today. of course i passed, it was easy, but it’s more of me passing or getting perfect, and i don’t think i got perfect at all. sigh sigh.
last night i was able to arrange all my story ideas and pitches in one file and i’m happy that even though I’ve been flayed and stripped this past year, my ideas are still pretty ace and i haven’t lost myself completely. I can still recognize myself. I’m excited to write them and pitch them; not that I’m trying to raise my own bench, but i’m feeling really good about them and am confident enough to pitch them to editors. i just need to polish and expound on them more and make an outline just to gauge its feasibility, though knowing the nature of these stories, i’ve already gauged their feasibility months ago, though i need to develop my angle and focus. i’v gotten a call also from the PR firm that i applied to and I’m starting my internship some time in August after my finals exams. i applied to other companies though and have yet to hear back form them, so i don’t want to be too certain about this one, but i’m still looking forward to it, even though it’s corporate, i think i need to expose myself more to new things. it’s not like i’m selling out or shifting my dreams, more of like expanding my dreams and getting as much experience as i can. life is about experiences after all, and by encasing myself in these walls, i am cutting myself at the knees and curtailing the things i can learn from all these people. so I’m definitely gearing myself up for all the interaction and learning ill be getting from these new people. of course I’m managing my expectations but at the same time, I’m just trying to listen to Imago.
did i mention? Imago is my inner goddess…. well, i was reading this book by Jean Bolen about Goddesses in Everywoman and Gods in Everyman, like how we identify with gods and goddesses inside of us because we find some kind of familiarity in them and these gods and goddesses—these archetypes—serve as our different personas. i decided to make my own goddess and named one of the goddesses living inside me Imago. if i were to have a default persona, it must be Imago. it must be her. I’ve always liked the name; if i could choose my name, I’d name myself just that. And Imago is my goddess of Curiosity and Wonder, and she is my default. and i figured and i fully agree to this, that to be able to live a full life, i have to forever live with curiosity and wonder. to always have that lust for life, of never-ending curiosity, to look at every thing with wonder and awe, regardless if it’s quotidian or the sublime. i have to find—must try very very very hard to find–the sublime in life’s ordinariness, and that’s what i plan to do for the rest of my days, i think. i’ve been trying to listen to Imago these past few days and so far, it’s going alright. i’m still skeptic about this whole thing, but i’m trying to learn and appreciate everything around me. it’s difficult because i’ve looked at life with clouded eyes my whole life, and easing myself into this new lifestyle is definitely challenging me and bringing out the worst—and best—in me. i think it’s very important to look at life with a child’s eyes, with that innocent, impish nature, and I’m trying to reawaken that inner child in me. i’m reexamining everything around me and changing and double checking every perspective and opinion and feelings i have of and for every thing—negative or otherwise. because i realize that i have to look up at everything around me, and by “look up” i mean treat everything with respect and tenderness and awe. i have to let go of this jadedness and otherness, and by training myself to “look up” at my surroundings and the people around me, i am allowing myself to open up and take more of the world in. and perhaps this way i am also getting rid of that sense of Otherness that has been taking refuge inside me since, idk, since i was a child. and so far, it’s great. no, I’m not being foolish or naive. i know the world’s evils and my personal evils, but i don’t want to carry this hatred inside me. and i have to carry this curiosity and wonder inside me at all times. it’s the only way to help myself, it’s the only way to make things easier for me. i notice that exposing myself to the vernacular has been such a great help. i find that i love the common people more than the Somebodies anyway. i don’t think id ever have tenderness for the Somebodies with a capital S. well, perhaps not the same level of tenderness i have for the common people. perhaps it’s my bias, but common people are more interesting and easier to love. i’d rather stay in the periphery than the center, only because i can see so much from the cheap seats that the Somebodies themselves can never ever see. and by cutting myself from that kind of insulation and by staying in the periphery, i am able to see more. and know more. and learn more. I am also trying to be tender with everything around me. yes, including myself! it’s hard, but i’m trying my darnedest. i am trying to love and learn the world the way i am trying to accept myself, and it’s so hard. but i’m not giving up on life, and I’m not giving up on myself any time soon either.
gosh, I’m ramblingggg. i have class now, but it feels so good letting all these things out! i think i needed this. it’s not like people actually read this ha-ha so i don’t have to feel so ashamed! i have to get to class. this has been a really good ramble. farewell!
some books (graphic novels included!!!) i’ve read this year, starting January, just to keep myself on track. excluding, of course, the essays and articles i read since i read far too many of those that i cannot keep up with everything. perhaps ill try to make short reviews of these books in the near future!
Books Finished, 2017:
Snows of Kilimanjaro and Other Stories by Ernest Hemingway
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
I Am A Cat by Natsume Soseki
The Feast of the Goat by Mario Vargas Llosa
Book of Longing by Leonard Cohen
Gods in Everyman by Jean Bolen
Goddesses in Everywoman by Jean Bolen
Bird by Bird by Ann Lamott
How to Write Like Chekhov by Anton Chekhov
In Praise of the Stepmother by Mario Vargas Llosa
Making Waves by Mario Vargas Llosa
Harry Potter books 1-7by JK Rowling (i missed the wizarding world and reread all these obsessively in 1.5 weeks during my April break! crazy!!)
The Undiscovered Self by Carl Jung
Full Woman, Fleshly Apple, Hot Moon by Pablo Neruda
The Heart of a Woman by Maya Angelou
Run With the Hunted by Charles Bukowski
reread The Little Prince by Antoine De St. Exupery
Death: The High Cost of Living by Neil Gaiman
South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami
After Dark by Haruki Murakami
Daytripper by Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba
Blankets by Craig Thompson
Habibi by Craig Thompson
Lost Girls by Alan Moore
I still haven’t read Proust…when I promised his magnum opus, In Search of Lost Time, would be my focus this year…
WHAT I’M READING NOW:
Sanshiro by Natsume Soseki
At the Same Time by Susan Sontag
I’m trying not to read so many books at the same time–no matter how tempting it may be–in fear of overwhelming and distressing myself again lol, so I’m focusing on two books for now. After these two, I plan to start on another Bukowski (still haven’t decided what!), another Alan Moore (thinking of From Hell), and One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez! Of course knowing myself, changes in the order are anticipated D:
i need to rant. i went to an awarding ceremony today and was dressed down for it; i felt inadequate being there, with everybody wearing gowns and tuxedos, surrounded by a bunch of faces i did not care for. i didn’t take the dress code seriously and came in a polo tucked under a casual dress. my feature story was nominated for Top Award, but didn’t win. i won an Award of Excellence though, which i think is okay. i didn’t want to go initially because i was afraid. i thought that if i went, they’d tell me everything was a huge mistake and that they got it all wrong and that i didn’t really win the award and if i could just return the award and go back home please. i was afraid that they’d see me as the phony that i am, that i don’t really know anything, and that’ I’m not deserving of the award because i’m a quack. at the same time, i felt bothered because a part of me wanted to win the top award, but a part of me felt like an impostor. the feeling is obsessive. i am caught between my fear of losing and fear of winning. my pride makes me fear rejection and failure, yet at the same time, i fear achievement. how do you comprehend such a thing?
i will admit, i was disappointed i didn’t win top award. i was hoping i would, but we lose some and win some. the award went to a literary folio instead. the criteria is weird and apparently, you can only be nominated for top award if you win an award of excellence. i won that, so that’s one award. i guess a part of me was just hoping i’d make the top. apparently not.
but it’s really funny. it’s funny because i still feel the same. awards, i thought before, are something that would make me happy. it’s a slap to the face because what i thought would make me happy in this world doesn’t make me happy at all. with or with no writing award, i still feel like utter shit. i honestly really don’t know what makes me happy. not the top award. not recognition, not fame, not power. not money, though it would make things a little bit easier, i guess, but it wont make me happy, no. not a boat full of friends and admirers, even.
i don’t understand. i’m not speaking out of bitterness, i won an award myself, but it just gives a bad taste in my mouth how people make such a huge deal out of themselves. i was almost embarrassed going up the stage with my award. i don’t understand how anyone can think of themselves as being “up there”. i don’t understand arrogance. how can you be that way up in your head when you know that you don’t really know much? it’s a writing award and i should be happy and proud and i am, i suppose, i don’t mean to sound ungrateful or self deprecating (which is just as bad), but when i see people in award ceremonies, i cant help but cringe. it’s a night of glamour, yes, but when it’s over, we go back to our simple lives and we are not, all of a sudden, better writers. i still go back to a broken home, sit on my desk and break my back every night, forcing myself to write, hating myself more and more. this is what people don’t see. they don’t see that i don’t feel confident at all when i sit in front of a blank sheet of paper. i wish they saw this, so we can admit to ourselves that all these awards are nothing but white noise. it wont make me bankable or kinder nor will it make me love myself more. it’s just another thing to add on my resumé and i’ve decided long ago that i don’t want to live for my resumé or eulogy.
i read a poem by Charles Bukowski and it spoke to me because it is so real. the poem’s title is “this”. here’s a fragment of it:
self congratulatory nonsense
as the famous gather to applaud their seeming greatness
as the deathly talentless bow to accolades
as the fools are fooled again
you wonder where the real ones are.
if there are real ones.
i think we are all fools. i think we don’t really know anything and the more we learn and the more degrees and awards we accumulate, the more we should realize that we don’t really know much and cant ever know everything. and this shouldn’t give us a license for arrogance. not even a license to think that we are, in any way, close to being good.
i went to wabi sabi after the awarding. it’s a small restaurant in the ugly part of the city, inside a nondescript warehouse, a little ways past the costume shop down a dim alley. i always keep coming back to this place. i thought the place is so apropos for me. wabi sabi. welcoming imperfection like an old friend. accepting it. living with it. i go there every week and order the same steaming cup of suanong and, sometimes, a bowl of tantanmen or pho, depending if i want something rich or something light.
i always sit by the single-diner table, facing the wall, beside the stack of old magazines with rat droppings sandwiched between each one for never being read. it saves me from the awkwardness and prying eyes of people in groups, which doesn’t happen too often because the place is almost always empty or occupied by single diners as well. it was raining hard and it was flooding outside. the rain’s still going and going—it’s persistent in its mission to keep me out of the house.
of course, i didnt tell my parents about this award. not that they care or anything, because they show no interest or support whatsoever with my writing. i don’t mind though. i’ve surmised a long time ago that this is something i have to do alone. i cannot dream around my parents. most of the time, they make me feel guilty for being alive. and they will never get the best of me. and i will never let them see the best of me. and i will continue working and transcending and i wont pay them any mind. i will continue to dream.
and my dreams scare me. they scare me so so much. i cannot even write them down here. i cannot even say them out loud. but they’re always in my mind, always. i will be flayed, stripped, and undone, but i guess it cant be called dreaming if it weren’t painful, if it didn’t break my spirit like nothing else can. i am so desperate to challenge myself beyond the blinkers of the little i know. though, i think, i unconsciously know what i want. i think it’s why i am here. i think my unconscious guides me to where i am headed, wherever that is. i cannot be doing all of this randomly, don’t you think? perhaps there are inner workings of myself, working on its own, as if unbidden, as if it has its own person. or, perhaps, it is me, still me, just an undiscovered side of me. well whatever it may be, i think it is unconsciously guiding me there. wherever there is, even though most days i fail to recognize myself.
it was a good time, being alone, by the way. the coffee came with a single cup filter and it was hot just how i liked it hot. the condensed milk rested at the bottom, and i watched as the coffee turned lighter and lighter with every swing of the spoon. bittersweet, just like this day. the pho had soft glass noodles, its broth minty, light, and refreshing, topped with little flags of cabbage and of celery, and bean sprouts crunchy and perfect the way they are. a dash of fish sauce and a nice squeeze of calamansi. i like talking about food this way, as if they were friends. i learned that from Pablo Neruda, who saw the beauty in everything, from a bar of soap to a chair to an artichoke and an onion! i think a good bowl of soup is quiet in its magnificence. comforting, like a long-awaited hug from someone familiar.
let me go back to what i said earlier, when i said i do not really know what makes me happy. i am not demanding for love or someone to complete me. i would hate it if i lived my life carrying everywhere a sense of lack that i so long to fill. i don’t think i am fragmented in any way. i think i am a whole person, and do not need an other half in the way people look at other halves. i think i am already whole. i’ve always been. i mean, how can you be only half of yourself? i suppose i just do not know how to accept this wholeness of mine, in all its nakedness and convolutions and complications. i am still learning to accept it, still trying to know it, and discover and be surprised in all its secrets (there are things i have yet to discover from my Self). i am still trying to love it, show it kindness, this wholeness of mine. i have jabbed it with hatred for so long it’s not fair. i wish i didn’t feel ashamed of it.
what i really want is tenderness. warm, brown hands that are always willing, ready, to take me into them. in spite of the bad days and bouts of doubt and insecurity and self hatred. i long for tenderness.