Untitled 2 (Common Things Series)

It’s 9 pm. I am wondering how long I can keep ranting until I start to doze off, having swilled down some sleeping pills with cherry Nyquil. I’ve never had a peaceful night of sleep, always waking up twice or thrice in the middle of the night and staying awake for two to three hours. I’ve done everything, and the only thing that seems to help are the pills. What do I say. Well, I just got back from a little shopping and got three new trousers and a pair of shoes. For breakfast, I had a hawaiian roll. For lunch, I had a cup of squash soup and half a turkey and fuji apple sandwich. At 3pm, my aunt gave me a small cup of grass jelly and lychee sugar water. At half past three, I had my cold pressed beet juice. In the car, at 5:30 pm, I drank my cold pressed spinach juice. I had some crab legs, wanton soup, turkey neck, steamed bokchoy with XO sauce, and sticky apple pie for dinner. It seems I’ve been eating with no regard to ethics–and my waistline–whatsoever, but I also lost a pant size, apparently. I’m now a size 8–if half-starving/on good days. Most days, I feel like a 10. Or a 12. Most days I just feel like a whale and refuse to go out because I don’t have enough esteem and I slouch too much.

Eh, enough self deprecation. I am almost/halfway into Richard Flanagan’s Gould’s Book of Fish. I’m loving it so much; if you could see the pages, there won’t be any without stripes of underlines. Today I read a bit about Yvonne Rainer. And Godard. And Barthes’ obtuse meaning and Susan Sontag’s radical juxtaposition. Today I looked at the trees and saw the leaves were a full green, tapering to a yellow and finally a soft red at the top, and I wonder why I never found decay so interesting. (Interesting, because Sontag said Beautiful has become too banal). The fallen leaves on the pavement are brown and crunchy. I bought three new books from the secondhand bookshop in San Mateo a week ago: Bukowski’s Women, Roy’s The God of Small Things, and Lahiri’s The Namesake. Two days ago, I finally convinced myself to splurge on some books–a personal graduation gift to myself–so I got on Amazon and got used ones available for Amazon Prime. Let’s see if I remember them all: Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow, 100 Tales of Ray Bradbury, Adrian Tomine’s complete Optic Nerve comics, Black Hole (can’t remember the author), Robert Hass’ Human Wishes, short stories of Alice Munro, and Jack Kerouac’s journals. I don’t regret anything. I am also getting some books from my cousin; she told me to get whatever I want from her shelf before she disposes of them, so being self-indulgent, I grabbed all that I wanted. But I cannot remember all of them now, though there is a beautiful illustrated copy of Jane Eyre, David Sedaris’ Me Talk Pretty One Day, The Godfather, a hardcover of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, The Birth of Venus, Flowers for Algernon, Memoirs of a Geisha, Richard Wright’s The Native Son, Sophocles’ plays, and many many more. I’m so excited. My book haul deserves a separate post, obviously, so I’ll stfu and save it for that!

Elizabeth Fraser croons in the background; she is singing Cherry-Coloured Funk from her Heaven or Las Vegas album. I love her so much, but I love her Treasure album more, and her duet with Jeff Buckley in All Flowers in Time, perhaps one of my most favorite songs in this world. Next to Hallelujah (Jeff Buckley’s and Imogen Heap’s versions duhhh). And Eva Cassidy’s Wade in the Water. And Gabor Szabo’s Galatea’s Guitar. And Ryo Fukui’s Mellow Dream.

Two days ago, I hung out with my girl cousins with their boyfriends… It wasn’t as bad as I thought. We had Chinese food, and then went to a beer garden after. I had a strawberry bellini; it was gross. Or maybe because I find liquor gross in general. I liked the guacamole and fries a lot though. We might go out again next weekend…

I deleted my Facebook because my best friend is too toxic, I have realized. Sometimes she is shallow and conceited and it ruins my state of mind and most times I wonder if I’m more peaceful without one, if people are just lying to themselves when they compromise and accept a person’s “uglies” because apparently nobody is perfect (but if i may, let me say, we should never enable someone in manifesting their terrible qualities), if I really need a best friend, and if our search for a “best friend” in this life is really just our sorry, pathetic, and futile attempt to either reach for some kind of perfection in self actualization or a sad excuse of a bandaid to cover the gaping hole that is our personal inadequacies. Sorry, but I am neither.

It’s 9:39 pm. I’m yawning. I think the pills and Nyquil concoction worked. My mom is bringing my grandma to the hospital tomorrow for check up, so I will be alone with the dogs, Dimitri ad Benjie. Perhaps I’ll go to the library when my mom gets back and walk the entire 10 kilometers. Goodnight.

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Untitled (Common Things Series)

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.

Pappardelle affairs and modern dating anxieties

I caved in, people. It was Monday night when I finally brought out the huge bag of flour from the pantry and started rolling to make fresh pappardelle pasta, despite the boxes and boxes of different pasta shapes on the shelves. I was so desperate and my craving atrociously strong that I couldnt stop myself, but it was worth the hassle. Mind you, I didn’t have a rolling pin so I used a Japanese ceramic tea cup instead……. Don’t ask me how (it’s an experiential thing) but to cut it short, it went well. Perhaps I could’ve rolled the pasta a tad thinner, but all in all, it came out great and soft, and paired with my experimental sriracha bolognese sauce, I’d like to say the gastronomic affair was an orgasm in my mouth. And I finished everything in 15 minutes (compared to the 1 hour and 30 minutes of preparation).

On another note, I’d like to believe my “I have my shit together!” moment is when I am finally living alone in a wallpapered middle-kla$$ apartment and able to cook perfect fresh pappardelle for dinner while looking like 1980s Suzanna Vega—cropped hair and little pretty Tinkerbell face and all. And while my pappardelle bubbles on the stove, I—slim, feline, and doorframe-leaning—will announce, “It is I, Solitude Standing.” Self Transcendence! I mean OK I’ve got the fresh pappardelle down, I just need a proper rolling pin.  And perhaps lose a bit of my jigglies. And be more graceful. And a lover who can come by any time with cheap wine. Or not. Ahhah I gross myself out.

Or, you know, if I end up becoming a bum, at least I’d have an excuse to look like trash and dye my hair orange and wear blue eyeshadow and call myself Cyndi Lauper, you know??? I’ve accepted my two possible Fates, but I really need to cut it down on the carbs because I’ve been overeating pasta and bread everyday since Monday. It’s because it’s that time of the month; I’ve fallen to the Communists….. (please don’t make me explain this terrible joke further).

Anyway, I was just thinking and I realized I’m 21 and I’ve never been on a (romantic) date and never had anyone to call Beloved or whatever, although I’ve hung out with guy friends alone that felt inadvertently romantic, but those don’t count because there’s no agreement saying we both know and acknowledge that it is a romantic date. Am I making sense? Not that I’m bummed about it or desperate or anything because I don’t need an other half the way people look at other halves; I’d like to believe I’ve been whole my entire life; how can you only be half of yourself? But my best friend was messaging me last Monday night (while I was making fresh pappardelle) and she was on the way to a hotel to meet some horse-dicked guy she met on Tinder and apparently they were going to have loads of fun playing Chess all night or god knows what (Aha) and well, I just couldn’t relate…. At all…. So I told her, I’ll stay up all night, if you don’t call me at 3 am I’m calling the cops! So she gave me the hotel and the room number and she texted me around 12:30 am, but I—lame and a  terrible best friend—fell asleep and only got back to her around 2 am when I woke up from the scratching sound of a baby mouse trapped inside my Post-it box (and before you clutch your pearls, FYI the baby mouse was harmless and was far too cute to exterminate, so I set him free, believing that it knows Compassion and Gratitude and will one day help me create the best ratatouille in town. I’m probably reaching here, but it’s why I don’t eat animals, Deborah). So all my fears didn’t come true. She wasn’t raped and murdered and thrown in a barrel and covered with cement and dumped in a ditch, and I don’t have to be summoned by Forensics and look at my best friend’s body, see her dangling falsies, and identify that it is her, but well, I told her to be safe anyway. There are far scarier things than death. Like STDs. And pregnancy. And internal bleeding. And a bruised cervix. And feelings. I’m joking, if you couldn’t tell… Don’t hate me.

So let me cut this senseless rant short. The reason why I’ve never dated is because… I never really tried. I mean, I never sought it out, so I cant really sigh and say, Aw I’ve never been on a date, because I’ve put everyone at arms length all my life. But, I mean, what if I do go out on a date? And what if the guy I go out with isn’t… human?

What if he purchases things in MSRP? What if he laughs at me upon discovering that I’ve read only the Garnett translation of Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov and not the Pevear and Volokhonsky? What if he doesn’t read Dostoevsky? (Forgivable!) What if he doesn’t get my Bradbury and Alan Moore references? (Unforgivable!) What if he asks me where I want to eat and I can’t answer because I can never decide where and what I want to eat and have to do extensive research days before eating out? What if he’s bothered with my teeth grinding when I sleep? What if he doesn’t like long, winding handwritten letters? Would he hate poetry too? What if he likes cars? What if he finds out I hate cars and is the reason why I’ll never learn driving or bother with a license? What if he doesn’t like pappardelle pasta? What if he’s loud? What if he doesn’t like Japanese jazz and Gabor Szabo? What if he isn’t openminded to listen to Japanese jazz and Gabor Szabo? What if he doesn’t love Eva Cassidy’s effervescence in Wade in the Water? What if he doesn’t read, at all?! What if he asks me about Game of Thrones or some other popular TV series or movie and I wont have anything to say not because I think I’m too edgy for such things (ha-ha) but because I don’t have cable TV, paying for a Netflix subscription gives me so much anxiety, and I super abhor the concept of Torrent? What if he uses Twitter and Instagram? (Just kidding, social media whores!) But what if he works a corporate job? How bureautragic! (Ha-ha, just kidding corporate slaves!) What if he gets grossed out by my seasonal eczema? What if he doesn’t like being the small spoon? WHAT IF HIS NICENESS TOWARDS THE WAITER IS ONLY PRETEND??!??!

Bah! Why bother! I have to read Man and His Symbols before going to The MET in an hour. I have more than a hundred pages to go and my quiz is in two days. I simply wont have the time tonight since tonight is the opening of our new exhibit so I’ll be overstaying for cocktails and fake small talk with a bunch of bougie millionaire saps from the government and the private sector. I don’t mean any offense; it’s just that it sucks that when we cry, they get to use hundred dollar bills to wipe their tears away while I only have Kleenex. Hopefully I’ll find me a rich single Senator who doesn’t believe in buying things in manufacturer’s suggested retail price. Did I mention I was joking? I hate Senators. Goodbye.

PS: Here’s something way way way cooler and more exciting than romantic dates. My reading list for today! Read them with me!

Camus’ The Myth of Sisyphus- http://dbanach.com/sisyphus.htm

Emerson on Self Reliance- https://www.owleyes.org/text/self-reliance/read/self-reliance#root-219808-3

Chesterton on Wisdom and the Weather- http://www.online-literature.com/chesterton/wrong-with-the-world/13/

Pablo Neruda’s Ode to Keeping Quiet- http://www.ginnyhamiltonyoga.com/ode-to-keeping-quiet-by-pablo-neruda-2/

Sullivan Ballou’s letter to his wife- http://www.pbs.org/kenburns/civil-war/war/historical-documents/sullivan-ballou-letter/

Pared-down Book List

I’ll be flying to San Francisco, California in three weeks to visit my mother and her family. I told myself I’ll set out and buy a few books while I’m there so I took a look at my book list a few minutes ago to go over the books I want to buy and realized that when I said “few”, I was really underestimating. I have 67 books on my list… I’ve already accepted that I cannot buy them all no matter how much I scream myself hoarse to the heavens, so I’ve pared them down to twenty and twenty is already stretching it. I’m not happy about this number. I want to add more, but at the same time, I know twenty is still far too much. But here is my tentative list:

From Hell by Alan Moore

Sleepwalk and Other Stories by Adrian Tomine

Killing and Dying by Adrian Tomine

The Complete Optic Nerve Mini-Comics by Adrian Tomine

Human Wishes by Robert Hass

In Search of Duende by Federico Lorca

Windblown World: The Journals of Jack Kerouac

Hunger by Roxanne Gay

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Machado

My Life in France by Julia Child

Staring at the Sun: Overcoming the Terror of Death by Irvin Yalom

100 Tales of Ray Bradbury

Complete Poems of e.e. cummings

Letters of Marcel Proust

Honey From a Weed by Patience Gray

Reborn: Journals and Notebooks by Susan Sontag

The Complete Essays of George Orwell

As Consciousness is Harnessed to Flesh by Susan Sontag

What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver

Selected Stories of Alice Munro

As you can see they’re a mixed bag of nonfiction essays, memoirs, journals, graphic novels, fiction, correspondences, and poetry. I’m still going to pare these down because I think it is impractical to buy twenty books on one trip, but….. Well, we’ll see. I’ll definitely put aside the authors I’ve read before so I have more room for new authors. Honestly, it’s times like this when I wish I were a billionaire. I’d buy all the books I want and not feel guilty for spending at all!

When I Said I Wasn’t Going to Spend Money on Books This Month

I lied. I was quite surprised when I went over my purchases for the last month and realized that I had bought fifteen books in less than 30 days… but, well, I don’t really have any vices other than reading, and buying and borrowing books, so I thought this was better than, oh I don’t know, snorting lines of coke up my nostrils or nymphomania. So I passed by a secondhand bookshop on my way home today and told myself I was just going to have a browse. An hour later, however, I already had a stack of books that I wanted to buy propped up in my arms. Of course I had to kick myself and force myself to only get one, but after debating with myself for a couple more minutes, I finally settled on two: Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes and Selected Fiction by Henry James. I had to put Sue Monk Kidd, Leo Tolstoy’s biography, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and a collection of letters penned by soldiers during the Vietnam War on the back burner for now, much to my heartbreak.

To be honest, though, the real real reason why I went to the bookshop today was to look for the book I hid there a month ago. I was planning to buy it, but never got around to because 1). I was already buying too many books at that time so I thought I should just go back for it some other day and 2). At that time, the book didn’t call out to me as strongly. I was adamant on going back for it today though, in hopes of still finding it. I wanted to give it to this really special friend of mine whose younger brother took his own life just this week. The book is called An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness and I searched and searched and searched with pigheaded devotion until my fingers were covered in soot, but I couldn’t find the book anymore. I’m honestly so heartbroken that I won’t be able to give it to my special friend, but I’m looking at other options. I am not the best in comforting and communicating my emotions, and most of the time I wish I knew the right words to say, so when I show my concern and love to others, I’m not very upfront about it, and I hope the warmth that I want to convey shows through little things I do such as penning long and winding letters and giving books that I believe is a perfect match to the receiver because spoken words always fail me. I can only hope, but hope is never lost.

Rereading Wislawa Szymborska’s New and Collected poetry collection. This poetry collection is the closest thing I have to a bible, and Szymborska is my favorite writer. If I were to choose only one writer across multitudes of genres–although I hope no one would ever make me do that because that’s fucking criminal–Szymborska would always be top of my list, right next to the Dons of my dreams Pablo Neruda and Federico Garcia Lorcaaaaa!!

Reading Man and his Symbols by Carl Jung (for my Philosophy of the Unconscious graduate class)

Continuing When Nietzsche Wept by Irvin Yalom

Something mundane: I finally utilized the full potential of my Evernote and made a separate notebook for all of my terrible poetry drafts and fragmented thoughts, AND made a separate note for each poetry draft. This is it, this is my life coming together… hahaaaa I hope to work on these soon so I don’t continue hating myself.

My forever mantra: Dr. Manhattan’s monologue on Mars. As I was on my way home today, I couldn’t help but feel heartbroken over what my friend is going through. I will never know his pain, and I will never know what it feels like to lose my younger brother, but in these darkest hours I believe that my friend is more resilient than he thinks, with an unmatched reverence and vitality for Life. I know he will keep on. I have the utmost confidence and faith in him. And so, while I was lost in my reveries, I pulled out the small folded paper from my ID case to read while walking; I keep this with me every single day, for times such as this. It’s got Daily Mantra scribbled on it. Here is what it says:

Thermodynamic miracles, events with odds against so astronomical they’re effectively impossible, like oxygen spontaneously becoming gold. I long to observe such a thing. And yet, in each human coupling, a thousand million sperm vie for a single egg. Multiply those odds by countless generations, against the odds of your ancestors being alive; meeting; siring this precise son; that exact daughter… Until your mother loves a man she has every reason to hate, and of that union, of the thousand million children competing for fertilization, it was you, only you, that emerged. To distill so specific a form from that chaos of improbability, like turning air to gold… that is the crowning unlikelihood. The thermodynamic miracle.

But the world is so full of people, so crowded with these miracles that they become commonplace and we forget… I forget. We gaze continually at the world and it grows dull in our perceptions. Yet seen from another’s vantage point, as if new, it may still take our breath away. Come… dry your eyes. For you are life, rarer than a quark and unpredictable beyond the dreams of Heisenberg; the clay in which the forces that shape all things leave their fingerprints most clearly. Dry your eyes… and let’s go home.

Most days I try to be like Dr. Manhattan and improvise a monologue in my head while, say, walking or sitting by myself during the morning commute, but I never sound as poetic as him, and never as articulate. But I try.

Monday Currently + book haul

Reading way too many books all at once again. Such is the life of a haphazard reader; I cannot ever just stick to one book throughout. Right now I am reading When Nietzsche Wept by Irvin Yalom, Women in love by D.H. Lawrence, It Must’ve Been Something I Ate by Jeffrey Steingarten, and Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. Just finished Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke three days ago and I keep forgetting how cruel and unsparing it is. What a fucking writer, Alan Moore.

Writing this blog post. I haven’t written anything to completion these past couple of weeks and I’m still trying my best not to hate myself for that.

Listening to Alice by Cocteau Twins. I’ve been listening to Cocteau Twins for the entire week and my favorites so far: Cherry-Colored Funk, Pandora, Blue Bell Knoll, Ivo, Donimo, Alice, Carolyn’s Fingers, All Flowers In Time (DUH!!!!!!! I know it’s not Cocteau Twins but it’s still Elizabeth Fraser! And Jeff Buckley is just LOVE)

Thinking about how this Monday is going to be. I woke up relatively early, around 6:00 am but got up around 6:45.

Hoping to figure things out soon. My graduation is this Saturday. I canceled my attendance, so I wont be marching. I don’t have the patience for rituals and ceremonial bullshit; of course finishing university means a lot to me, but the marching I just cannot fucking understand. Well, now I am trying to figure out what I want to do and I find myself lost.

Wanting to speak to and see this certain person more… Ahhhh why am I so meek! Why am I so afraid of coming clean with my feelings! Why! Why! Why!

Feeling a jambalaya of feelings!!! So I’m enjoying Irvin Yalom the most right now, I would totally recommend him. I haven’t read anyone like him; secretly I want to be like Lou Salome in the book.

I’ve pared down my duties to only one—to perpetuate my freedom. Marriage and its entourage of possession and jealousy enslave the spirit. They will never have dominion over me. I hope, Doctor Breuer, the time will come when neither men nor women are tyrannized by each other’s frailties.

and

I hope too, you and I will become friends. I have many faults, as you’ve seen: I am impulsive, I shock you, I am unconventional. But I also have strengths. I have an excellent eye for nobility of spirit in a man. And when I have found such a man I prefer not to lose him. 

I mean?!?!?! God, if I were as brave as Lou Salome then I’d never have to feel anxious around this man I have feelings for! I could just go up to him and say, HEY, I DONT NEED ANYTHING FROM YOU, BUT I LIKE YOU. A LOT…… Ahha sometimes i gross myself out ngeuhhh

I am also past the first 100 pages of Lolita and I don’t know how much of Vladimir’s beautiful prose I can take to excuse the content. Truth be told, I am getting squirmy and squeamish reading about Humbert Humbert’s affairs with little Lo and now I am just angry at Humbert and don’t find the book that enjoyable anymore, but I am adamant about finishing it. I am still on the first pages of Women in Love and I’m still trying to get into the swing of Lawrence’s writing. As for Steingarten, I adore his food essays thus far. He’s the food critic of Vogue if I’m not mistaken? And happening upon his book was mere chance. I dropped a coin and when I picked it up, my eyes landed on his book, which was hiding beneath the shelves of the book thrift store. The pea cover attracted me and, well, I bought it. I’m really into food literature right now and have a couple of others lined up for my next purchase. There’s just something about food in literature! Reading about food, it always feels like home, even though I do not really have a home in the physical sense because this house does not feel like home, there is always that warmth in reading about food.

Eating nothing. I don’t eat breakfast because I get lethargic when I’m full. I’ll probably drink white tea later though.

Loving these perfect pair of trousers. I’ve been thrifting a lot of clothes lately and I found THE perfect pair of pants. I’m still debating with myself whether its color is burgundy, shiraz, maroon, or dark cherry red but who fucking cares, they fit perfectly and elongate my legs and it was such a steal. It’s very very difficult for me to find a good pair of pants, so finding this pair is like finding a best friend. Lol.

I also thrifted a lot of books and magazines. Sometimes I feel guilty for buying so many books and the occasional clothes, but I tell myself most of what I buy is thrifted anyway, and that’s the cheapest I can get them so I try not to feel too bad…. Everything is thrifted except for The Dispossessed and The Ocean at the End of the Lane, which I got from a commercial bookstore.  Here’s what I bought these past two weeks:

Skeleton Crew by Stephen King- bought this the same week I watched It. Feels good to be reunited with my favorite childhood writer. I was never brought up on the classics, but read a lot of Stephen King and Gaiman in grade school and high school.

Wired magazine’s one and only scifi issue

Conde Nast Muhammad Ali special commemorative edition

It Must’ve Been Something I Ate by Jeffrey Steingarten

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery- I’ve read this in my second year in university as a PDF version and loved it so much. I cried when Renee died and I cried when Palome promised she’d never try to kill herself or try to ever burn a thing again because from now on, she will look for moments of always within never–Beauty in this life, and I cried when the book ended so there you go. I love this book so much. :((

Volume 1 of John Betjeman’s letters

The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin- I figured I needed another scifi gem to satiate me while I wait for my Bradbury short story collection

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman- Bought another Gaiman. Just because.

The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard Morais- the movie was just alright so I thought to read the book, because books are always better…… ahha you didn’t hear that from me though!

Women in Love by D.H. Lawrence

Two New Yorkers from the past two years

The Simple Things magazine

Regeneration by Pat Barker

Gould’s Book of Fish by Richard Flanagan- I regret putting this book down because the first paragraph reeled me in. His prose is such a joy to read, but since I am reading so many books right now, I told myself I’d just read him once I finish Lolita.

Will start soon with: 

John Betjeman’s letters

On the Genealogy of Morals by Friedrich Nietzsche

Some other things I am grateful for: 

My brother. He’s my rock. Last night we stayed up until midnight just talking. Of course, we talked about his emotions. We need to do this constantly, because I hate the idea of him keeping everything to himself and not knowing who to run to when he’s fed up with everything about life. He is doing well with his affairs; his ex is being crazy and is spreading rumors about him in class to ruin him, so he’s been avoiding everyone… Why do people do this? When you break up with someone, how can you be so cruel and ruin them to other people as an act of punishment? Why cant you just let them live? Why can’t you just move on? His ex supposedly still loves him and wants him back, but my brother is soooo done with her manipulative narcissistic bullshit. Rightly so because he doesn’t deserve swine like that. Sigh sigh. Anyway, I also taught my brother how to play Dungeons & Dragons last night and he is floored. He’s jealous, obviously, because I didn’t teach him sooner. I’ve yet to teach him how to create a character, but at least I’d have someone to play with now!!!! Life doesn’t have to be so lonely

common things

I’d like to remember things. One day, when I’m old, I’d want to remember things, so I’ve resigned myself to writing diary entries every now and then (not as often as I’d like, to be honest, but I’m working on that) to remember ordinary happenings and common things in my life. While most would write about their most memorable experiences, I would like to remember some of the most mundane things in my life. Sometimes, really, it is the quotidian that is sublime.

Nothing much has been happening in my life lately, but I don’t sit around waiting and wringing my hands for an adventure. As trite as it sounds, I’d like to think everyday is an adventure as long as I decide that it will be. Personally, nothing major has happened, but I’ve been talking to my brother a lot these days. He is recuperating from his heartbreak and he’s been so resilient throughout, but there are small moments when the gravity of it all weighs on him and I can see the weariness in his eyes. He talks about his emotions with me, something I find very special because it is so rare, I’d like to believe, for men to open up their emotions to someone. I think men are conditioned to keep everything in and not talk about feelings and as a result, a lot of things are repressed, but I think that’s quite dangerous. It hurts me, though, when I see him so hurt. How he hurts so silently, my younger brother, and so as his sister, I find that this is a special role I must play, in filling that void, his emotional suppression. I’ve never been lucky enough to fall in love yet, but I am learning so much from his own heartbreak. Yes, perhaps there was love, perhaps it didn’t work out because they are young and confused and have a lot of things to figure out for themselves, but the primal emotions are there. The girl has since moved on and is going out with a new prospect. My brother, on the other hand, has resigned himself to solitude. It’s funny, this thing we have in common. We have this affinity with writing long letters, and when he told me he wrote his ex a long letter, I had flashbacks of times when I wrote long winding letters for people. Some were for friends, some for ex-friends, rare were for special friends, and some were letters that I will just never send because I am far too meek. It’s definitely uncommon these days, but letter writing is something so special I cherish it and only give it to people who mean to me. For my brother, it was cathartic more than a thinking-through or a mulling-over, but he needed the release all the same. I know he is not the kind of person to throw a pity party for himself and I can see he is trying his best to gain back his sense of power and confidence. A couple of days ago he asked me for help; he plans to write and illustrate an illustrated dystopian book for his thesis on his final year and asked me if I had any book recommendations for him. Being the only bibliophile in this house, of course I had a couple up my sleeve. I lent him my copy of Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, and the classics, 1984, Animal Farm, The Handmaid’s Tale, and some Stephen Kings such as The Long Walk and The Running Man. For illustrated books, I showed him a copy of my Alice in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass, and The Little Prince. I plan to make him read a couple of graphic novels in the next few weeks too. As you can tell, I am excited for my brother’s reading journey! I’ve been reading for as long as I can remember, and writing just as long, and to see him, a non reader, explore this world is so special for me. I mean, what is life without books? You tell me. It’s nothing.

I also started my internship at the MET museum a few weeks ago. It’s been alright so far, but I cannot help but be affected by ennui every now and then, and it’s something I’m having a hard time with. Regardless, I am learning so much and I cannot complain about that. There is wisdom in everything, yes, and in this listlessness there is something to learn too. Something curious happened a week ago though, while I was in the museum. This dragonfly, somehow, managed to find its way inside the museum and it freaked everyone out. They were screaming and swatting at it, but of course the dragonfly kept flying higher and higher above our heads and settled on the ceilings, but it stayed in the office the entire day. Around lunch time it started to flutter towards me and perched on the lower part of the wall behind me and it stayed there for the remainder of the afternoon. And here’s when it gets curious: Around 5pm, while I was preparing to go home, I hear something clatter to the floor (the office is very quiet by the way) that sounded like a bunch of metal paper clips. So I turn and saw the dragonfly on the floor, stiff. I take it in my palms and its wings flutter a bit before finally dying. I thought there was something so huge and overwhelming with this little dragonfly’s death and it affected me so much that I started tearing up. I’ve since brought the dragonfly home and am planning to preserve and mount it soon on a frame. Did I mention that this entire thing happened while I was making an Instagram account so I can document my foray into vernacular entomology? Because I’ve been wanting to collect bugs again as a hobby and at that time, I was googling how to preserve different types of insects, and it was so uncanny that the dragonfly just died there, next to me, while I was doing that. So is this synchronicity? Is it also synchronicity, I must digress, when I was choosing a random poem by Louise Gluck to read and found one about spring, and when I chose another random poem to read, this time by Robert Hass, it was also a poem about spring? What is it about spring? But going back to the dearly departed dragonfly: I thought it so strange, so curious, and so meaningful. There was something so eerie about it, too, and at the same time, something poignant. Personally, I found its death momentous. I am still affected by it. God knows why I do not cry at people’s funerals but this dragonfly’s death touched me beyond comprehensibility.

Another curious thing that happened to me last week. I dreamt about Umberto Eco, but I find it uncanny because I’ve never read Umberto Eco, ever! But in my dream, I knew it was him. I was sitting on a monoblock chair outside the Student Media Office in school when Umberto passed me. He smiles at me and walks on; I don’t know how I knew him as Umberto Eco, but I identified him as him in my dream. Somehow, I just knew and named him. After a while he went out of the office and started talking to the people and students around us. He was writing something on a blank sheet of paper and teaching something to the people, god knows what, but it was in a different language that I cannot understand, but I know that Umberto Eco is Italian (I googled it after I woke up). However, when I looked at his paper, I saw that his spelling was off. Among other words, he misspelled the word “cognitive” as “cvgnitive” with a letter V. (So he cant have been writing Italian here, right? Because I recognized the misspelled words, but I only remember cvgnitive) So, I showed him how to spell cognitive in English and wrote it down on his paper. He smiled at me and then… that’s it, I don’t remember the rest. I think I woke up. Again, prior to this dream, I have never read Umberto Eco in my life, but I just suddenly knew in my dream that it was him. It’s so weird, but perhaps I ought to read him. He is known for his difficult and dense postmodern works, but perhaps my unconscious is trying to tell me something. I’ve since gotten a copy of The Name of the Rose and planning to have a go at it soon. By the way, this isn’t the first time I’ve dreamt of a writer. I dreamt of Nick Joaquin once, and we were talking while walking in the rain at night (no umbrellas) and he was telling me something, but I couldnt hear him because of the rain, but his face looked serious and grave. I was struggling to hear him, but I really couldnt make out anything and it was so frustrating when I woke up because I wished so badly to know what he was telling me, what if it was an important message? And I remember, everything was black and white in that dream and the end of it was he brought me home in a dark car, I stepped out to my gate and then… that’s it. I find all this so peculiar, dreaming of revered writers. I don’t know what my unconscious is trying to tell me or show me, but I also know that I have to write. A lot. And be serious with my writing, otherwise I would be sacrificing it. I can’t seem to bring anything to completion these days, preferring to bank on the unsteady influx of fickle inspiration and motivation, but I know I have to put more worth and value and seriousness in pursuing writing. There’s no other way.

What other common things? Well, I am graduating from university this October (I am seriously considering not marching since I’m not proud of myself at all. I am not graduating with honors, I must painfully admit, and I have no patience at all for rituals and ceremonies); my lettuce, chili, mustard and tomato seeds have since germinated and they are looking great; I am contemplating if I should submit my application letter for the daily newspaper. It’s pretty huge, among the top 3 in the country, but I don’t know if I want to be a content strategist, I mean, is it taking me further away from writing fiction and creative nonfiction? Although I don’t think it’s bad for my first job, I guess. Oh, and I started sitting-in at my professor’s Philosophy of the Unconscious grad school class for this term, so it’s something I’m looking forward to. I wanted to sit-in because I also want to see what a master’s class is like and if it works out, maybe I can take my master’s degree sooner or later. It’s a mature class and I’m loving it thus far; the students are much, much older than me! Perhaps around their late twenties, thirties to fifties! And I’m only 21 and do not know much at all, and I like the atmosphere, being in a class with people who are much much smarter than me, people who know so much more, and have more experience in life than I’ve ever had! And even more, I am taking the class with a really special friend! If everything were right in the world, I would choose among an MA in Philosophy, Anthropology, or Literature, but not much is right with my life right now to be honest, and I’d hate to give up on my dreams for practicality’s sake, but I guess we’ll just have to see. I’d like to have some kind of balance some day; I am not thinking about the money, but the “life”. What kind of life do I want to live? It’s so hard trying to live a meaningful life doing meaningful work. And in terms of my future, I’m honestly not so sure where to go from here. I really have no idea at all. I am grasping at straws, though it isn’t as scary as I once thought. I’ve since accepted that life is just a bunch of “I don’t knows.” It’s small, but it flies on mighty wings. (Szymborska, 1996). And it is in uncertainty and unknowingness wherein I will truly learn. I know only that I know nothing (Socrates, Of Yore lol).

Lastly, I’ve been struggling with a couple of reads lately. The problem with being a haphazard reader is I read books all at the same time. Right now I am reading Pablo Neruda’s posthumous poetry collection, Michael Shaara’s The Killer Angels, Salman Rushdie’s The Moor’s Last Sigh, Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita, Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49, and Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cuisine recipe book. So help me.