My eggplant and tomatoes are baking in the toaster oven and I sit here, my stomach grumbling in wait. Remember when I said I would stop buying books for a while and get to reading? When I said I wont buy another warm book until I’ve read all my pending books in my book list? Well, I lied. I think it’s better to just come clean to myself right here and right now: I can’t stop buying books. That’s the problem. But the bigger problem is, I don’t want to. Perhaps I am unconsciously building my own library and I just don’t know it yet… Last Saturday after my philosophy class, I took my route home and stopped by the secondhand bookshop that my daily commute passes by. I got down and told myself, I will just look around. But I ended up with a copy of The New Yorker, a collection of Henry James’ short stories, and, finally, Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. By then, I was already thinking, There is just no point. I will always love books. I cannot put a stop to acquiring them, because I know deep inside that I don’t want to.
So there. And yesterday I went grocery shopping with my dad. I had no list in mind; a first in many many months, because I never set out and go on about my day without a list, so I didn’t really know what I was going to buy. Or at least, I havent had the time to sit down and thinking about what I needed to buy. So I went around and just grabbed whatever I thought I needed: a fat Korean radish, two eggplants, three bundles of spinach, three bundles of basil, two blocks of white cheese, chili bean paste, a jar of kimchi, and… four-ply tissue paper. While my dad was paying I told him I’ll head on over to the bookshop and just have a look; of course I ended up buying some books again. I got a special issue of Granta magazine and Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye; while I was paying, I spotted a Salman Rushdie by the counter and asked the cashier if they had any other Rushdies around. He told me it was the only one. I felt my insides wince; I saw a battered copy of Midnight’s Children in that same bookshop two months ago and hid it in the very back of the highest shelf, and now it’s gone. I was naively hoping it would still be there, but any wise man would never pass up Midnight’s Children upon seeing it. Especially when it’s for two fucking bucks. My dad, seeing my disappointed face, pointed at the Rushdie book and asked me, “Do you want this?” I thought about it for one second; “Sure!” I said, even though I’ve never heard of that Rushdie book. It’s called The Ground Beneath Her Feet; it’s not really my priority Rushdies in terms of having; I wanted to get a copy of Midnight’s Children and The Satanic Verses before anything, but still, The Ground Beneath Her Feet’s had stellar reviews, and I’m excited to read it. And who knows, perhaps I would love it.
My eggplant and tomato bake is finished and I am eating it. It’s 10:36 am. The reason why I am eating breakfast so late is because I made my own pesto this morning and it took far longer than I wanted it to take. I washed the basil and spinach until no mote of dirt was present in the water and I blended and blended until it resembled a very creamy mousse. Yes, not ideal pesto texture, but whatever. I guess I can call this a brunch instead. I am loving it thus far, creating my own food. It’s why I rarely eat out nowadays; there’s something so intimate in knowing and touching and slicing and washing every ingredient I will use in my dish, and being aware of everything that goes in it gives me conciliation. I love cooking so much; I’m not very good at it, but it’s so meditative for me. I am eating my eggplant with a slice of coconut pie; it’s nothing special, I think our helper got it from one of those tourist souvenir shops and she got a box. It will do; I warmed it a bit and drowned it in four tablespoons of sweetened cream—with no regard to my waistline whatsoever.
Yes, I am indulging myself. No, this isn’t vegan. The egg and white cheese on my eggplant bake is not vegan as well. I’d like to air this out because it’s something that’s been nagging me for the longest time. My foray into veganism has never been easy, and never linear. My attempt at veganism has been going on for about a year and 5 months now, but I’d be lying if I said I did it perfectly. There were a lot of slip-ups, some accidentally, and most were deliberate. I wouldn’t call myself a vegan spokesperson, nor would I go around preaching to my friends and people on why they should go vegan. I try to share what I know when they ask, but that is all. I try to stick to a strict vegan diet, but I will be honest: Sometimes, I just hate it. Not veganism in itself, but I hate it when I put a leash on something, whether it’s myself or something else, as an act of controlling or curbing it. I know there are alternatives, but sometimes I just want the taste of cheese and egg in my mouth, even though I know where it comes from and is not ethical at all. Sometimes I want to eat dessert and it has cream and I’d still want it. And eat it. Do I still say I’m vegan when people ask? Yes, I do. But perhaps I should say, Struggling Vegan instead. Most would say I am vegetarian, with what I am doing and eating. Perhaps, but I’d prefer to call it Hypocrisy. The animal activists from PETA do not have to call me a hypocrite; I’d be the first to call myself one. And that is what I am. A Hypocrite. Someday, I hope, when I’m not ensnared anymore by my endless frailties and fallibilities and hypocrisies, when I am not enshrouded by social pressure, perhaps then it would be easier. But right now, it is a struggle, a constant struggle, and I’m starting to think that perhaps in this journey, and any other journey, of mine and of others, struggle is always a constant thing. I’ve finished my eggplant and tomato bake and my coconut pie, by the way. I ate it all. I loved it all.
Moving on. Yesterday was my last day at the MET museum. I do not want to linger on this; it was a good ending, and we parted ways with “See you soons” and none of “Goodbyes”. And I will see them soon, mind you, especially since I now have free access to the MET at all times, lectures and workshops included… I cant wait! Last week was also the opening of our new exhibit from the Venice Biennale; I do not wish to linger on this as well, but it was a long long night of hors d’oeuvres and many glasses of wine. Being part of the curatorial team was a fulfilling experience for me. I’ve learned so so much, that I can say. On my last day yesterday, my friend and I had our last lunch together and we indulged ourselves in cups of ice cream. I do not regret it. He’s been a great companion thus far, and I will not miss him; we promised we’ll see each other again, and I’ll see him soon, this December, and we’ll visit the MET together. I’m looking forward to that.
I also switched emails by the way. I am having problems with my AOL email, which is my default email, and I’m afraid I will be locked out soon because I cannot access my recovery email anymore because apparently my recovery email has been breached due to hacking and security reasons (or lack thereof! I’m looking at you, Yahoo and Google Mail!) and now I cannot log into any of them, so if my AOL gets locked out, I have no way of accessing it again. So to put an end to all of this—and the nagging worries in my head post-Snowden—I finally made a ProtonMail account and plan on using it as my default email from now on. I spent an entire day researching about ProtonMail and I think it is the best choice for me. I am loving it thus far and I am ready to make this change. If you wish to know more about Proton, you should check out their site. I wouldn’t trust myself; I am not very good in articulation, but their servers are based in Switzerland, which have very strict security laws, you have the choice to use a domain that isn’t .com (which is under the US, so if the USA filed a case and brought ProtonMail, they can seize all their data), the creators themselves do not have a copy of your emails nor of your password; everything is encrypted, so they only have encrypted data, so should the US bring them to court and seize their data, all they can give is encrypted data. The creators themselves cannot access your email, so if you get locked out, you are locked out forever and since everything is encrypted, your emails are sent with a password for the receiver to access and you must find a way to give them the password, through phone or text, so they can read your email. Lastly, all e-mails are destroyed within 28 days, if I remember correctly, or earlier, depending on your Settings. These are enough reasons for me to switch, knowing how paranoid I am. Yes, I will probably still use Google and its many features, such as Google Drive and Google Docs, but I’ll make a throwaway email just for that. I am not comfortable with Google spying on my emails and even though you can encrypt your emails in Google, they can still access your message because they have the decryption key; that’s why they can plug those stupid ads on your emails! They totally do not care for privacy, at all, and when it comes to privacy, you can never be too safe. Financial and banking wise, ProtonMail is the way to go, but I’d use it for everything. Mind you, I am not paid to advertise them ha-ha, I am just very paranoid with security so suddenly and made the impulse change last night. I know it’s such a mundane thing, switching emails, but this is so momentous for me. Sorry hahaha
I sent pitches a couple of weeks ago to this new local arts and culture magazine and the editor in chief replied to me after a week and told me to see her today. So I’m meeting her after lunch and I don’t know if I should feel nervous or not. Either way, I am excited. I want to write again, and it’s been a few weeks of dormancy. I hope it goes well.
My flight is also in three days and I have not packed my bags, nor do I have any plans to do so until the very last minute.
What else? I finally convinced my brother to help me with my little project. He’s a Fine Arts student and between the both of us, I have to agree—painfully—that he is the more talented one when it comes to visual arts. My special friend who is in the process of grieving his younger brother’s suicide is in despair. He wants to die and sees no point in life anymore. I want to do something for him in hopes of making things a little lighter for him, even though I know there’s no certainty that it would. There is so much to live for, and it breaks my heart seeing my friend hurt so silently. I was planning on giving him a book, but it would be too banal. I thought of something the other night and was adamant about it. I’m going to give him an art piece. I don’t want to give it away, but I’m going to make a sculpture. I wont reveal anymore because I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but I am writing it here to remind me that I must finish this project and give it to him come Christmastime. With the help of my brother, I think we can do it. I am confident. I’m so excited. I hope my friend likes it.
I am not the best in words, can never articulate myself well enough, but I hope in this little attempt he would know that I thought so much about this and put everything I wanted to say but couldn’t in this project. My only problem: I cannot use my stoneware clay. I do not have a kiln and some glazes. It would be so nice to use ceramic clay, but I’d have to resort to polymer clay for this one. My other problem: I don’t think I can make a life sized bust sculpture, because I’m not sure if it would fit in the gas oven. We’ll have to see, but I am really adamant about this. I don’t want to be ambitious, but I am more pigheaded than I care to admit, and I will make sure this project is successful. For my friend. As a visual letter to tell him, There is so much to live for. There is still laughter and beauty in this life, there’s still dance and song and love. And I will beat myself so hard to make this right and beautiful because I do not ever want my friend to wish to die again. And I want him to know that I am so worried about him and I hate seeing him hurt so silently, that he doesn’t have to suffer alone because we can share the burden, we can share his personal hell, that he can trust me, and I can only hope my sentiment and intention will show because there is no point, no point in all of this, if my friend still doesn’t feel any different. To hear someone say they wish to die because nothing matters in this life anymore—that is something I never take lightly. I have so much reverence for life, but I’d be lying if I said there aren’t any days I don’t wish to die. Life is so cruel and unsparing, with all this clubfooted morality and random injustices, but I do not draw breath everyday only to scream myself hoarse for death to come take me because that’s not what living is about. So I will do my best for my friend. Any real friend would do the same.
It’s 11:24. I have to read a bit of Man and His Symbols for our exam tomorrow, and get ready for my meeting with the editor in chief. I shall be fine.