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.

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wishful thinking: book wishlist

some books and graphic novels i am yearning to have. hopefully sooner than soon ahhhhh

Graphic Novels

From Hell-Alan Moore

Sleepwalk and Other Stories- Adrian Tomine

Killing and Dying-Adrian Tomine

Shortcomings-Adrian Tomine

Sandman slipcase set-Neil Gaiman

Here by Richard McGuire

Creepshow by Stephen King

The Complete Persepolis-Marjane Satrapi

The Complete Maus-Art Spiegelman

Swamp Thing (Book 1-6)-Alan Moore

V for Vendetta-Alan Moore

Black Hole-Charles Burns

Habibi-Craig Thompson

Frankenstein-Bernie Wrightson

Through the Woods-Emily Carroll

Wytches- Scott Snyder

Nimona-Noelle Stevenson

Books

In Search of Duende- Federico Lorca

Kitchen-Banana Yoshimoto

Devil on the Cross-Ngugi Wa Thiong’o

Nervous Conditions-Tsitsi Dangarembga

Human Wishes-Robert Hass

The Stories v.1- Ray Bradbury

Essays (Everyman’s Library Contemporary Classics Series)-George Orwell

Diaries by George Orwell

The Letters of Ernest Hemingway-Ernest Hemingway

Welcome to the Monkey House-Kurt Vonnegut

The Collected Poems-Federico Lorca

Interpreter of Maladies-Jhumpa Lahiri

Book of Mercy-Leonard Cohen

Poems 1962-2012-Louise Gluck

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body-Roxane Gay

Tarantula-Bob Dylan

Complete Poems, 1904-1962-e.e. cummings

Love is a Dog From Hell-Charles Bukowski

Letters of Marcel Proust-Marcel Proust

Night Sky with Exit Wounds-Ocean Vuong

Bright Dead Things: Poems-Ada Limon

Prisons We Choose to Live Inside-Doris Lessing

Visions of Cody-Jack Kerouac

On Cats-Doris Lessing

On Cats-Charles Bukowski

The Cat Inside-William S. Burroughs

I Am A Cat-Natsume Sosteki

Catwings-Ursula Le Guin

Millions of Cats-Wanda Gag

(i may or may not have recently caught the cat obsession)

life currently

Reading– too many books at once. I started with The Illustrated Man a month ago and am still not halfway done with it because I started on Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore at the same time, read a few pages, put it down, then started on Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking, did the same, and am now reading the first few pages of another book by a local writer. Honestly, this habit makes me so angry at myself because I cannot multitask with my reading. I have to focus. I pushed the other books away, and am now back to Bradbury’s The Illustrated Man. I can finish this today if I really put my mind into it. No reading other books until I finish what I started with first sigh

Writing– the review of related literature of my thesis. scared and paranoid at the same time, because academic writing is so different from the writing that i usually do. it’s so…cold and unfeeling. it’s a challenge, but i think i can cope with it. it’s the researching of past material that’s killing me.

Listening– to Racing Glaciers’s Moths with tears in my eyes. I love this song so, so much.

Thinking– about my future, what I want to do, whether I will graduate on time in October or not, if happiness will ever be constant for me, my wellbeing, why i’m not trying hard enough and excelling enough and achieving enough and doing enough and being enough

Hoping- always for better days and good moods.

Wanting- to be left alone and at the same time be held so tight. wanting to be more expressive with my emotions, more open to people, exude more warmth. i’m trying, perhaps not my hardest, but i’m trying

Feeling- heavy and invasive, as if i’m taking up too much space with my being. feeling afraid for reasons unknown. feeling upset about my parents and ended up crying after they left. feeling depressed over everything in my life, but also feeling a bit happy that a lot of my staff writers went to storyboard yesterday. it was great. missed their faces.

Eating- a good breakfast. well, maybe brunch, because i heaved myself from bed at 11 am. brewed a cup of coffee and toasted two slices of walnut wheat bread and gave it a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkling of basil and a pinch of salt. the simplest breakfasts are the best.

Needing- to get my shit together. i cannot wait to get “into the swing of things” and should just force myself to do my responsibilities without complaining and being whiny. most of all, without being affected by my depressive state of mind.

Loving- my gel highlighter pen. it’s so smooth like a crayon!! i’ve used marker highlighters my whole life and absolutely hated the bleeding pages. this is revolutionary! also on my 3rd day of bullet journal-ing. it’s crude and messy and definitely not Pinterest-worthy but i’m loving it so far.

Dreading- my debate later in class. yesterday we had to do public speaking in another class and i was h-o-r-r-i-b-l-e. totally forgot what i was going to say and just stood there like an idiot for many painful seconds. i detest speaking in front of people. give me a pen and paper any fucking day.

patience

i popped three vitamin e pills open this morning. i squeezed the oil from its soft gels, slathered it all over my face, and left it to work its whatever while i hunched over my laptop. finals week is finally over and all i have to do is wait for my grades to be released before i can fully wallow in my short holiday break from university. i hate waiting so much; i am the most impatient person i know and, believe me, i’ve encountered countless rude and irate people, but my impatience is too great to be surpassed. this is a bad thing, by the way, i am not bragging about my impatience. if anything, it’s one of my major flaws i want to get rid of. i’ve been trying so hard to be patient with people—strangers and loved ones alike—but when people make me wait, a huge wave of primal anger just possesses me.

the anger is so great that i find it difficult to control and i end up running away to a comfort room or an empty hall to release my tears. i always convert my anger to tears—only because i’d rather cry than be violent. if i don’t cry, i try to calm myself down with breathing exercises and distract my thoughts; this seems to work, but only for a while. it just keeps the anger at bay, but some times the anger still bubbles and spills over. i pretty much surmised that if i deal with intense emotions, i always have to find some type of medium for release. i cannot just “be calm” or “control my thoughts”. it has never worked for me. so far i only have crying as my medium, which royally sucks, by the way, because i hate crying too. i know this whole loss of control over my emotions is just me being immature and unmindful of my self and being; if i were really mindful and conscious of my thoughts and feelings, i wouldn’t have lose my shit in the first place. which means *anticlimactic drum roll* i need to be more mindful. mindfulness. i’m starting to think that maybe i will never have full control of my thoughts and emotions. i try and try and try but at some point or another, i end up failing and crying or getting angry over something. i can read all these books on buddhism and meditation and mindfulness and i’ll still be nowhere near of being mindful!

whatever. i’m digressing. it’s a Saturday and i’m waiting for the release of my grades. it’s supposed to come out today or tomorrow, but i cannot sit still. this has been a difficult difficult term. i had a hard time balancing my time with majors, thesis, part-time work, internship, and my job as editor. throughout the term, i’ve only been to the library TWICE and only ate breakfast ONCE (last week before my test, actually). this term definitely put my health on the line and tested my patience for humanity.

i pretty much summed up that i will never like humans. ever. and what i mean by that is humans in groups. i love individuals and intimate groups of 3, but geez, put me in a group or a crowd and i will snap. as much as groups of people are capable of doing good, deny it or not, groups of people are also capable of collective stupidity and if there’s anything i hate more than an ignorant person it’s an entire group of ignorant assholes.

this is just me complaining but wow, i feel as if i need to spend the entire break indoors away from everybody because my soul is damaged. my heart feels so heavy, my mind is in its usual chaos but i feel as if i have no soul at all. i need to get back into reading and writing and biking just to feel alive again. i am all peopled out.

which is why i went to the bookstore a few days ago and got a few for cheap. i managed to find a battered copy of Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. it was buried under a pile of old cookbooks and ACT review books. it’s crumpled and torn, and the spine is hopeless but the pages are still perfect, i think. the name of the previous owner is written on the front page and i am tempted to search for them and reach out to them; every time i get a book from the thrift store and find its old owner’s name, i am compelled to find them just to tell them, “hey, i’m the new owner of this book. thanks for passing this on.” books are so beautiful; i love how it gets passed around, transcending one person to another, touching every soul it comes upon. i hope after i’ve exhausted this book in a few years, i get to pass it down to the next reader. this is how literature lives on.

it is now 11:48 am. my stomach is empty and it’s angry at me. i cannot go down, though, because my mother is in the kitchen. i haven’t spoken to her and my dad in a while. i’ve lost count of the days, actually. usually when we fight i count each day that has passed of me not talking to them, but this time i just stopped counting. i don’t think it matters, anyway, because it hurts the same. if they think i get satisfaction and happiness from ignoring them they are dead wrong, but i think this is how things will always be. i snuck down yesterday to try and make myself a sandwich, but due to my bad timing, i was caught in a crossfire. my mother was going up from the garage to the kitchen while my dad was going down from the deck. i was trapped. then my mom started yelling at my brother because he had to leave for a friend’s birthday (and according to her he’s not allowed to leave because there’s church tomorrow and we need a day to spiritually prepare ourselves fucking wow) and i just went back to my room because i didn’t want to get caught in all the shit. my stomach was still empty.

after my brother left, i immediately messaged him and asked him what happened. of course, it was the same damn thing that we harp on about. he’s tired of this house, he’s tired of the religion and the church, he’s tired of the dogmatic backwards beliefs they keep forcing down our throats. i tell him i feel the exact same way. and then he tells me how he wishes we can just be out of here and i told him to be patient because i’m working our way out.

it sucks that every time my brother and i talk it’s always about us being unhappy and depressed here, and of us dreaming of a great wide world out there, out of this house and out of this church, where we can be truly happy. our days are full of disquiet and rage, our nights sad and lonely, but fortunately for my brother, he has a hand to hold whenever things get tough—a special someone in his life who i have yet to meet. i think it doesn’t matter what other shit i go through as long as i see my brother happy and free. i told him, we can pool our money together and rent a cheap apartment by the time i finish college next year. by then i can get a job, sell my soul for a while to earn money for the rent, and then we can live together.

i know my dreams have to take a backseat. i know i will suffer even more, but if there’s anything i’m willing to be patient for, it’s our freedom. i’m willing to wait and bust my ass everyday as long as i get myself and my brother out of here. then we can start dreaming and living for real.

a quick write

I’m running late for my endorsement but when I promised myself I’ll try my best to write on my diary or online journal everyday for at least fifteen minutes, my only option is to be true to my word. It’s a Saturday and supposed to be a rest day, but I have to be in school in a bit. I cooked spinach pasta with garlic pesto sauce for breakfast and I realized it’s the first breakfast I’ve had in months. Due to my busy hours and hectic schedule, eating breakfast has become a luxury. Most days I only eat once a day, either in the afternoon or when I get home from work and school, around 10 pm, which is really bad for me. Nevertheless, finals week is approaching and it’ll be the holiday break soon, so that’s something I’m looking forward to. At least I can catch up with sleep and reading. Ah, reading. One of the greatest (and freest) things in this life. I went to school yesterday even though I didn’t have class just so I could stay in the library and read all afternoon. I also had an hour talk with a good friend before leaving school and it was good having to let out my emotions, because I never, but I know that I cannot keep things to myself forever, so I’m glad for good friends who are there to listen.

I finally finished Bradbury’s Golden Apples of the Sun yesterday (quite disappointed in myself for taking a week, actually, because it’s just over a hundred pages!) and lately I’ve been sticking to short stories instead of novels because I know my schedule wont permit me to devour a long winding novel in one sitting; reading short stories make me feel more accomplished with my reading goals because I get to finish a couple in just a few hours. In Bradbury’s Golden Apples of the Sun, a handful of stories moved and stuck with me, most especially the Fog Horn and A Sound of Thunder. My fixation and love for dinosaurs go a looooong way back—back when I was in first grade and memorized every scientific name of the dinosaurs from the Jurassic, Cretaceous and Triassic periods from my flash cards. These magnificent creatures affected me in a way no other animal ever has; I don’t exactly know what, but they are such beautiful and brilliant creatures. Whenever someone asks me what my favorite animal is and I say dinosaurs, they tell me, “But they’re dead.” And it annoys me so much because who cares? They’re majestic. I can blab about my love for dinosaurs all day long, but sadly I do not have all the time in the world anymore 😦

But yes, Golden Apples of the Sun, I’d say, is a 4/5 for me and I’d definitely read it again to go back to my favorite ones. There are other notable stories in there that I loved too, such as The Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl, The Murderer, The Great Wide World Over There, and The Pedestrian. I then borrowed The Martian Chronicles and quite excited to start with it today!!! (After my endorsement, I suppose ugh) even though I am also supposed to be studying for my oral exam on Monday and quiz on Tuesday so I guess I have to put it off for now…or stay up late and read around midnight. I also borrowed a collection of Elizabeth Bishop’s prose. I’ve never heard of her; I don’t know, maybe because I haven’t read every book in this world so I’m not really familiar with her, but there’s just something about the book that called to me, so I’m excited to read her too. Of course I am still with Neruda’s Odes to Common Things. This book, in particular, is one I never want to return. I want to keep it to myself forever, scribble down notes on the margins of the pages whenever I find a phrase or a piece that strikes me. But I have to return it soon, and just thinking of it breaks my heart. I hate saying goodbye to borrowed books, but I also know there’s a next reader waiting and they must must must be touched by Neruda.

I love Neruda; if there is any writer in this world that makes me love the most mundane things in life, really, it is Don Pablo. He makes me see the Beauty in life. No one else. No one else. From the way he writes poetry about boxes of tea, bars of soap, scissors, plates, onions, tomatoes, a freaking spoon! He can make anything in this world magical with his words. It’s funny because every time I read Neruda, I am left overwhelmed, with a racing heart and tears in my eyes. What a man.