bad teeth

(i have a major exam tomorrow so obviously i’m writing about my fear of dentists, my mother, childhood, nostalgia, and other things that have no connection whatsoever with my exam)

i never liked dentists. my mother is a dentist. as a child i would often go to her clinic for my monthly cleaning. her clinic was in the middle of the busy town market, across the butcher shop and vegetable stalls, on the second floor of the rundown apartment complex we owned. there she’d sit me up on her chair and probe and poke around my mouth with her foreign metal tools. every time i am there she would scold me for my bleedy gums and cavities, and how i always have cavities even though she reminds me to brush my teeth every night. up, down, side to side, the backs of the teeth, the corners, the in-betweens, the tongue, never forget the tongue! yet i still had bad teeth, worse than my brothers who never ate fruits and vegetables. from this she surmised that i was just that: a child who never cared about my teeth. but she was wrong. i was very much obsessed with my teeth. or, perhaps, very much obsessed with ruining them. i’ve lost five permanent tooths since then, mainly because of all the sweets i secretly devoured. i couldve given her the brightest smile, but instead i gave her rotten teeth. perhaps unconsciously i was ruining my teeth on purpose so i’d get her attention, because even though she’d scold me, i know she was still focusing on me. only me. and that was what i wanted. it was only during my cleanings with her that i found tenderness and closeness. she made me nervous and afraid when she’d sit on her stool in her white, characterless coat, wearing soury rubber gloves and a mask that hid the planes and features of her face. i would feel nauseous. i hated the clinical feeling of it all, but in my head she was still my mother. i was being probed and examined and i felt naked and guilty, but this was still my mother.

and perhaps why i never liked dentists was because i always thought the insides of my mouth were only for my mother’s eyes. and i cannot let others touch my teeth and see the worsts of my mouth because only my mother can know of my secrets. because it’s for her. i still don’t see other dentists. i don’t think i ever can, because when my mother examines my mouth and prods it with her tools and fills my cavities with filling, she is gentle and soft. and if it was some other dentist it wont feel the same way because they wont have tenderness for me and they wont have the softness of my mother’s hands, they wont have the familiarity of it all. because if i look up at them from my seat, i wont have longingness for them. because when my mother fills the hollowness of my cavities, it was her filling the empty spaces inside of me that have always been crying for her. because even though she’s angry at me for not brushing my teeth, i know that if i scream or exaggerate my pain, she would caress my cheek and soothe me with her voice, and here i’d feel her love.  because the only time i saw tenderness from her was when she’d wipe my drool away and tell me to gargle well and not spill, when she’d touch my cheek and my chin and ask me if it hurt. when, deep inside, i wanted her to ask me instead if her distance hurt more, if it hurt me more to be right there next to her and still feel her detachment, as if we were never umbilically connected once, because she doesn’t know that when i open my mouth for her, i am letting her love me, that this is me reaching out to her. and that when she works on me, she is so close to me that i wonder if i may just be able to hug her and touch her hair if i reached up.

and i always dreaded the time when she’d finish with me, when she’d take off my bib and push me up from the chair and make me gargle one last time, because i know it would all be over. and as a child i wished our cleanings would last all afternoon, but they almost always took only an hour, and then i’d have to wait another month again to feel her. it felt too fast and ended too soon, and being a child i figured that if i had more cavities, she’d spend more time working on me, being with me. because when it was over, i knew she would go back to her awkward person, unsure and uncertain of how to love me.

perhaps because i push her away, perhaps because i am something she cannot figure out, because she isn’t like me. or i am not like her, or what she wishes me to be. because when she asked for a daughter, she wanted a daughter the way she wanted a daughter exactly, and not what ever i was going to turn out to be. because when she prayed for a perfect and unique model, what she got was an ugly pastiche. because i am not a box she can put things in with whatever she wants and adorn with frills and ribbons. because i am a stubborn box that refuses to open to her. because i do not want to be like her, do not want her failures to be my insecurity and failures. but it happens the other way, and i find myself becoming more and more like her—the worst of her. and i hate it. i hate it so much. because i am more pigheaded than i believe, because i said i will be my own person, because i said i will break the cycle. because if theres anything i don’t want to be, it’s to be like her. but here i am, and i am just that: an awkward person, uncertain of how to love and show my softness and tenderness to other people, and so i stand here, helplessly wringing my hands.

i’m 20 now. i think i am a young woman now. i don’t remember the last time i had a cleaning with her. i have a cavity or two that needs checking and filling, but i am afraid to go to the school dentist because they will only scoop my eyes out and judge me for all eternity. and i am deathly afraid of reaching out to my mother, because i am not a child anymore. i cannot pretend to be in pain and demand for her caress, because i know she will smell my phoniness., most of all, i am afraid—really, really afraid— that if i sit on her dentist’s chair again, i wont find love and tenderness there anymore.

tenderness

i need to rant. i went to an awarding ceremony today and was dressed down for it; i felt inadequate being there, with everybody wearing gowns and tuxedos, surrounded by a bunch of faces i did not care for. i didn’t take the dress code seriously and came in a polo tucked under a casual dress. my feature story was nominated for Top Award, but didn’t win. i won an Award of Excellence though, which i think is okay. i didn’t want to go initially because i was afraid. i thought that if i went, they’d tell me everything was a huge mistake and that they got it all wrong and that i didn’t really win the award and if i could just return the award and go back home please. i was afraid that they’d see me as the phony that i am, that i don’t really know anything, and that’ I’m not deserving of the award because i’m a quack. at the same time, i felt bothered because a part of me wanted to win the top award, but a part of me felt like an impostor. the feeling is obsessive. i am caught between my fear of losing and fear of winning. my pride makes me fear rejection and failure, yet at the same time, i fear achievement. how do you comprehend such a thing?

i will admit, i was disappointed i didn’t win top award. i was hoping i would, but we lose some and win some. the award went to a literary folio instead. the criteria is weird and apparently, you can only be nominated for top award if you win an award of excellence. i won that, so that’s one award. i guess a part of me was just hoping i’d make the top. apparently not.

but it’s really funny. it’s funny because i still feel the same. awards, i thought before, are something that would make me happy. it’s a slap to the face because what i thought would make me happy in this world doesn’t make me happy at all. with or with no writing award, i still feel like utter shit. i honestly really don’t know what makes me happy. not the top award. not recognition, not fame, not power. not money, though it would make things a little bit easier, i guess, but it wont make me happy, no. not a boat full of friends and admirers, even.

i don’t understand. i’m not speaking out of bitterness, i won an award myself, but it just gives a bad taste in my mouth how people make such a huge deal out of themselves. i was almost embarrassed going up the stage with my award. i don’t understand how anyone can think of themselves as being “up there”. i don’t understand arrogance. how can you be that way up in your head when you know that you don’t really know much? it’s a writing award and i should be happy and proud and i am, i suppose, i don’t mean to sound ungrateful or self deprecating (which is just as bad), but when i see people in award ceremonies, i cant help but cringe. it’s a night of glamour, yes, but when it’s over, we go back to our simple lives and we are not, all of a sudden, better writers. i still go back to a broken home, sit on my desk and break my back every night, forcing myself to write, hating myself more and more. this is what people don’t see. they don’t see that i don’t feel confident at all when i sit in front of a blank sheet of paper. i wish they saw this, so we can admit to ourselves that all these awards are nothing but white noise. it wont make me bankable or kinder nor will it make me love myself more. it’s just another thing to add on my resumé and i’ve decided long ago that i don’t want to live for my resumé or eulogy.

i read a poem by Charles Bukowski and it spoke to me because it is so real. the poem’s title is “this”. here’s a fragment of it:

self congratulatory nonsense

as the famous gather to applaud their seeming greatness

as the deathly talentless bow to accolades

as the fools are fooled again

you wonder where the real ones are.

if there are real ones.

i think we are all fools. i think we don’t really know anything and the more we learn and the more degrees and awards we accumulate, the more we should realize that we don’t really know much and cant ever know everything. and this shouldn’t give us a license for arrogance. not even a license to think that we are, in any way, close to being good.

i went to wabi sabi after the awarding. it’s a small restaurant in the ugly part of the city, inside a nondescript warehouse, a little ways past the costume shop down a dim alley. i always keep coming back to this place. i thought the place is so apropos for me. wabi sabi. welcoming imperfection like an old friend. accepting it. living with it. i go there every week and order the same steaming cup of suanong and, sometimes, a bowl of tantanmen or pho, depending if  i want something rich or something light.

i always sit by the single-diner table, facing the wall, beside the stack of old magazines with rat droppings sandwiched between each one for never being read. it saves me from the awkwardness and prying eyes of people in groups, which doesn’t happen too often because the place is almost always empty or occupied by single diners as well. it was raining hard and it was flooding outside. the rain’s still going and going—it’s persistent in its mission to keep me out of the house.

of course, i didnt tell my parents about this award. not that they care or anything, because they show no interest or support whatsoever with my writing. i don’t mind though. i’ve surmised a long time ago that this is something i have to do alone. i cannot dream around my parents. most of the time, they make me feel guilty for being alive. and they will never get the best of me. and i will never let them see the best of me. and i will continue working and transcending and i wont pay them any mind. i will continue to dream.

and my dreams scare me. they scare me so so much. i cannot even write them down here. i cannot even say them out loud. but they’re always in my mind, always. i will be flayed, stripped, and undone, but i guess it cant be called dreaming if it weren’t painful, if it didn’t break my spirit like nothing else can. i am so desperate to challenge myself beyond the blinkers of the little i know. though, i think, i unconsciously know what i want. i think it’s why i am here. i think my unconscious guides me to where i am headed, wherever that is. i cannot be doing all of this randomly, don’t you think? perhaps there are inner workings of myself, working on its own, as if unbidden, as if it has its own person. or, perhaps, it is me, still me, just an undiscovered side of me. well whatever it may be, i think it is unconsciously guiding me there. wherever there is, even though most days i fail to recognize myself.

it was a good time, being alone, by the way. the coffee came with a single cup filter and it was hot just how i liked it hot. the condensed milk rested at the bottom, and i watched as the coffee turned lighter and lighter with every swing of the spoon. bittersweet, just like this day. the pho had soft glass noodles, its broth minty, light, and refreshing, topped with little flags of cabbage and of celery, and bean sprouts crunchy and perfect the way they are. a dash of fish sauce and a nice squeeze of calamansi. i like talking about food this way, as if they were friends. i learned that from Pablo Neruda, who saw the beauty in everything, from a bar of soap to a chair to an artichoke and an onion! i think a good bowl of soup is quiet in its magnificence. comforting, like a long-awaited hug from someone familiar.

let me go back to what i said earlier, when i said i do not really know what makes me happy. i am not demanding for love or someone to complete me. i would hate it if i lived my life carrying everywhere a sense of lack that i so long to fill. i don’t think i am fragmented in any way. i think i am a whole person, and do not need an other half in the way people look at other halves. i think i am already whole. i’ve always been. i mean, how can you be only half of yourself? i suppose i just do not know how to accept this wholeness of mine, in all its nakedness and convolutions and complications. i am still learning to accept it, still trying to know it, and discover and be surprised in all its secrets (there are things i have yet to discover from my Self). i am still trying to love it, show it kindness, this wholeness of mine. i have jabbed it with hatred for so long it’s not fair. i wish i didn’t feel ashamed of it.

what i really want is tenderness. warm, brown hands that are always willing, ready, to take me into them. in spite of the bad days and bouts of doubt and insecurity and self hatred. i long for tenderness.

unstoppered thoughts and qualms in disarray

I need a release. I’m putting off my review of related literature to put my feelings and thoughts down. Here are some of the things happening to me lately:

~ I woke up this morning to the reminder from my phone that I am, apparently, estimated to ovulate today. I never cared about my periods, and what I mean about that is I never really tried to learn more about it. I know I’ve been irregular for as long as I can remember (though I think this was because of the worsening of my eating disorder in high school), and would only buy packs of napkins on the occasion when “time” of the month arrives—which used to be every two or three months. These days I’ve been having regular periods though thanks to a healthier diet!

Anyway, whenever I’d have my yearly medical check up and my doctor asks me about my menstruation, I would always have nothing to say because I never bothered to educate myself better. I wouldn’t know what to put on the forms when it would ask me when the last time I had my period because, to be honest, I don’t remember and I never cared.  It was only in December of last year that I started tracking my menstrual cycle with the help of this free app, and it definitely made things more interesting, to say the least. I’ve been discovering more and more about womanhood, and being familiar with my body better since then.

Ovulation usually occurs about two weeks before the next expected period and I learned that a woman can only get pregnant during her fertile window: A few days before ovulation and just two days past—though the odds vary.  A woman has greater possibility of getting pregnant when she tries to conceive a day before ovulation and a day after, because a woman’s egg can only live for 12-48 hours, though she can still get pregnant if she tries to conceive a couple of days before because sperm can live inside for up to 5 days.

I must confess, I initially thought a woman could get pregnant any day as long as she has unprotected sex. I never knew all this, and I know I have a lot to learn about my anatomy. I try to take in as much information as I can though, to be honest, I never had anyone explain this to me in my entire life. It definitely feels liberating.

~ I don’t think I’ll ever catch the coffee bug. I mean I don’t have to, but it’s something I’ve been trying to explore, what with all the third wave coffee shops sprouting in the metro like weeds, but I really cannot bring myself into. I find the process and the craft interesting, but every time I drink coffee, I always feel like I’m going to have a heart attack and it’s not like I shock my body with caffeine. I tried easing slowly into coffee, taking it one day at a time, first chock full of sugar then lessened it gradually over the months until I was just drinking plain, brewed, black coffee. I even went as far as buying my own french press and grinder and handpicking premium beans, but like what I said, every time I drink coffee—whether it’s plain black or dumped with non dairy creamer and sugar—I always feel like I’m going to drop dead. My heart races, I start sweating a lot and find it difficult to breathe, then I start getting anxious and fidgety. It happens every time and I don’t exactly know why, but if my body’s sending me signals like these then perhaps coffee isn’t just for me. Nowadays I only force myself to drink coffee when I need to work all night, but the heart palpitations and all the jitters that come with it really screw with me. It’s not worth it.

~ Pressurd with the revision of thesis’ review of related literature. I’d like to say this is normal, but thesis writing is sucking my soul. I honestly hate it, though I think it’s also because I had a rough start with my mentor. I’m not joking when I say it’s affecting me so much to the point that it has become the main trigger of my depression. I haven’t found any medium to keep it at bay, but I’m really trying, but my mental health is not at its best and I can only hope that I last until the end of academic year.

~I started working as a research assistant to the departmnt chair of my college. It’s okay; it’s only a few hours a day and I can work at home. It’s added work and stress (god i dont need any more of this!!!) but it’s paid. Measly, but money is money and I’m not wasting opportunities. Sometimes I hate myself for signing up to so many things, getting overwhelmed, then not being able to commit 100%, but I’m really trying. I just wish I stopped pressuring myself also. Whatever. I took the assistantship also because since I’m not having that great of a relationship with my thesis mentor, I’m hoping my department chair would give me a recommendation letter instead should I pursue grad school in the future. I cannot count on my mentor to write me a good recommendation; we’re not that close with each other anyway, but I’m not risking anything for my future endeavors. I still hope we can start on the same page and get into the swing of things and have a good relationship, but I’m not hopeful. This is going to be a long, painful journey to graduation.

~I haven’t been writing much. By that I mean writing for the paper and the other publications I contribute to, mainly because being editor has taken its toll on me. Though I try to love what I’m doing, I’m upset because it definitely keeps me away from writing on my own, especially when I have a ton of articles to edit every month. I honestly hate it; not the job, but the fact that I cannot have time to write and pursue stories and features and investigative reports. I’m not saying it’s crippled me, but I miss writing articles so much. Not just writing my thoughts down, but pursuing journalistic reports and stories. I am jealous when my staffers do fieldwork and interview interesting people for their articles and I can’t do any of that anymore because my job as editor is different; I get jealous when I read their drafts and know of their expereinces, because I used to do all those when I was a lowly staffwriter. It was always an adventure; now I’m stuck on my desk, editing their work. It’s not as fulfilling as writing, to be honest. Though my purpose is to polish their work and make it better, creating is still the best. Having an assistant is great and all, but it doesn’t give me that much leeway to pursue stories as much as I did. That’s all. I just really, really miss the adventure and discovery, the catch of the breath and the wonder and astonishment. I don’t want to just edit forever when I can do and create so much more.

~ The guy I like likes someone else. Yeah it’s not drastic or anything major, but I’m still gutted about it. He’s a friend; I don’t know where in the spectrum of friendship we stand, but he’s not a close or best friend (though I wish he was), but he’s not a an acquaintance either. I’d consider him a good friend still, but yeah, he likes someone else. I am totally bummed about it, but welp. He doesn’t know my feelings for him—which is great becaues it will stay that way—but it still hurts the same knowing he likes someone else. It’s a sucky feeling and, I won’t deny, ha-ha I am upset and want to cry about it because this person means so much to me and I don’t mean as much to him

~I’m teaching my 18 year old brother how to eat vegetables. In the family, I’ve pretty much surmised that I am the only one who ever really loves vegetables for real lol. I think I got it from my grandma because she loves vegetables and got me hooked on the green stuff since I was a kid, so eating veggies is pretty much second nature to me. My brother, however, is a carnivore and do not touch his fork with anything that has to do with vegetables… until this month, when he started having issues with his skin and found out it could have something to do with his all-meat diet, so he started training himself to like vegetables. It was hilarious watching him cry and gag over a piece of lettuce last night. I kept telling him it was just water, but he would drink a glass of water for every piece of lettuce he’d eat! He’s on the fence with it, but can tolerate the leaf when it has dressing and accompanied by fruit.

Then he started on a cube of raw tomato and a slice of cooked zucchini; so far he hasn’t bad reactions to the tomato (weird because I’m not so fond of the red, pleghmy thing) though he did choke on the zucchini!!! Weird, too, because zucchinis dont have much flavor to them when cooked, which is why it makes a great base. But yeah, so far I’m having a laugh over the catch-all of my brother’s vegetable journey.

~ Taking up too much space. I always feel like I am; I’m not sure if it’s because of my height (I’m 5’9), but I’m usually taller than my peers and it bothers me when it bothers people and they always point it out. I’m not skinny and lithe, and when I sit, I have rolls on my stomach. I have that extra softness everywhere that makes me jiggle—something I never really learned to accept. I feel ashamed and guilty for occupying more space than others when I stand and sit and move, when my legs take up the legroom (or lack, thereof) or more of the couch, always bumping and toppling over things and hitting my head and limbs on edges and corners and other people’s faces It definitely makes me conscious and insecure of my body. It doesn’t help either that I’m taller than most guys, and it seems to intimidate them. I know that’s not my problem; my problem is the fact that I always feel like I’m taking up too much space. I want to sprawl down and spill over on all my sides and outstretch my spine and legs and hands and not care if I’m being too much. I want to be like water, to stream forth and seep in all the crevices and crannies, boundless and penetrating. But most days I’m hunched over my desk, my shoulders drooped, slouching everywhere, my body curved inwards in hopes of making myself smaller and shorter…and eventually invisible and insignificant. Secretly I want to be a snail and carry a shell with me everywhere, to which I can retreat to for my liking.

~Of crippling depression. I had so much planned out for today. I woke up at 8 and started with today’s bullet journal to-do list. I was supposed to return my library books after lunch today because they were due yesterday and I didn’t want the extra fees to build up, but I had nothing done until 12 noon. I was lying in bed, crying, my hair greasy and unwashed. I was only forced to go to school when my dad offered to drive me, so I put on jeans and went off, determined even though my nose was stuffy and I had no ounce of make up on and I haven’t showered. It was so gross and I felt like shit, but I manage to return my books. I also finished reading Bradburys’s The Illustrated Man in the library restroom 5 minutes before surrendering it. I was glad I didn’t have to pay for the overdue fine; I thought that was weird, but the librarian assured me I didn’t have to. I took a picture of the receipt either way just in case they try to charge me in the future. But yeah, that was the first task of the day accomplished at 2pm. When I got home, I treated myself to a long bath, with a sugar scrub and aromatherapy candles and the whole shebang. I then read two articles: A Carmen Machado article in Guernica and Teresita Fernandez’s commencement speech. But then at 4pm I was lying in bed again, this time daydreaming about people and what I wished I could show and tell them. I drifted off to a long nap and woke up at 7pm, feeling energized though still upset because the day was over and I havent done anything.

I think this is what depression does. It keeps you from doing anything, even the most mundane things, even routines that are second nature to you. It’s difficult to keep at bay and I dont think I can ever keep it at bay forever, but it’s difficult and I hate it, I hate that it cripples me so much and I just feel so…powerless. Progress isnt perfect but my progress is so inifinitesimal and short-lived that it cannot even be called progress. I’m going around in circles and I’m sinking deeper in this quicksand turmoil faster than I can imagine.

It’s 1:32 am and I dont know. I’m longing for something and someone I dont know, I’m upset over everything and nothing, and cry over everything that triggers every emotion and I dont understand much of everything. I have yet to do my related literature and I want to sleep but I dont deserve rest because I haven’t done much and I honestly just hate this hopelessness and powerlessness. I cannot sit still and I cannot quiet down the rage and chaos inside me; it’s honestly eating me up inside and I don’t know how long I can last, but this is honestly so, so taxing and I don’t know. I dont know. I dont know. I’ve never known.

The start of tumult

Lately I’ve been avoiding doing anything productive. Lately I’ve been avoiding doing anything at all, even the things I enjoy. I don’t know what’s up with myself, but my depression took off around New Year’s Eve and I’ve been feeling horrible since then. Second term of Uni started this week and I didn’t go, I just hid in my room and holed myself up because I’m just not ready to face people and go back to work. It’s so difficult for me to get back into the swing of things after the holiday coma; I thought I would’ve hd enough time for headspace by now, but turns out I didn’t really get any headspace because I’ve been troubled even during my supposed holiday break. My deadline’s on Sunday and I have a bunch of my staff writers’ articles to edit as well as two stories I have yet to start on, but I feel no desire or energy to do anything productive. At all. I just want to lie in bed, cry, and wither away. I hate being so confusing and weak. The past few days I’ve done nothing but stare at my computer screen and get nothing done. I tried to force myself to do anything but found myself procrastinating and lost in my daydreams. I even tried to write down my feelings on my journal, but even that I’ve avoided to do. Until tonight. And I’m not feeling this either, but I don’t want to feel like a useless piece of shit. At least when I wake up tomorrow I can make myself feel better by saying, “Well I wrote last night, so I got something done.” Even though, in truth, this doesn’t really mean anything.

Writing will never be easy. I declare war with myself every time I write. It’s 80% self loathing, 10% staring at walls and ceilings, and 10% wringing my hands. I really don’t know what to do anymore. My to-do list is extensive and I don’t know if I’m just being anal about my list and writing everything that I think I must do to make myself believe I’m doing something with my life, or I really have to do these things and can’t afford to neglect anything. I know it’s a bad way to start the first week of the new year, but I am so full of self loathing right now.

Moreover, I find myself getting more and more annoyed of everybody. It doesn’t matter who or what they’re doing, everybody just irritates the shit out of me. I feel so horrible, because every time my dad would try to talk to me I would snap at him for no reason at all and I can’t help it, it’s as if it has became my defense mechanism, that every time someone tries to talk to me, I would snap. Every time my mother would talk to me, I would ignore her and not say a word and for some odd reason, I would feel a huge wave of annoyance or primal animosity deep within. I cannot explain it, and I fear that it may be a serious problem or just me being a hormonal moody ungrateful daughter. But I am not okay and I realize that I am not and feel deeply sorry and horrible and I admit that I am being unfair and that something is wrong, I just can’t fucking name it, I just can’t put a finger on what is actually wrong. It makes me even more depressed and guilty. Yesterday I spent the day crying. A few hours ago I was crying again and I don’t know why. I’ll probably cry myself to sleep again tonight. I just feel so overwhelmed and stressed over something I don’t know and I wish I knew what it was so I can have a lead on how to make myself feel better, but nothing seems to be working.

I am so frustrated and agitated by everything and everyone, and I cannot run or speak to anyone either because I’ve made myself believe that I cannot trust anybody. And, to be honest, I’m better off wrestling with my mind than worrying whether people will understand and listen to me or not. I don’t know why I am this way. Though to be fair, I really cannot explain what I feel ninety-nine percent of the time, sometimes I cannot even express my own emotions. I know I need to be more expressive with my emotions, but I just clam up and avoid dealing with it by cutting everything and everyone off. I feel so disgusting and useless. I have nothing to look forward to; my days are bleak and I am honestly losing hope for the future. Everyday I ask myself about the futility of life and every single day my belief that life really is meaningless just gets stronger and stronger. I don’t want to say I’ve given up, but I am not looking forward to the coming days. I just want to disappear from the face of earth with no trace. No one will know where I went to or what happened to me, I’ll just suddenly be gone and no one will hear from me ever again. I would give anything to vanish from here. I don’t really want to be here.

If you’re reading this, may your life be happier and far less complicated than mine.

Dark hours

I was trying to write my mortician feature story late last night, but found myself  blank and unable to write. Prior that, I spent the past three hours editing the articles of my staff writers for the November issue and realized, after breaking my back for hours, just how tough and thankless the job of an editor is. I am not complaining, by the way, it’s just a Truth I need to come to terms with. I think editors and writers in general feel in the beginning that writing is a thankless job. Unless you’re famous, no one comes up to you saying, “Thank you for writing, you changed my life.” It’s the type of work where you need tenure to actually get the respect you deserve—and sometimes, you don’t even get that respect, no matter how long you’ve been in the field. But here’s the principal question: Why do we still write?

I have no straight answer to that question. I’d like to believe that someday I will, but for now, I guess I cannot think of anything rational. It certainly isn’t a lucrative field; if I wanted to be rich, I would’ve chosen a different path, yet why are we still here, writing? I guess it’s because it’s the only way I can keep myself alive and amused, it’s the only way to make this life bearable. Writing from the cheap seats, to reflect the times, to release surges of emotions, to escape, and critique a profoundly sick society. I honestly believe we have too much of men in suits and less of teachers and writers and anthropologists and professors and researchers and historians and artists. And, I think, at the state of our world right now wherein violence and war is the answer to everything, we need these people now more than ever to remind us what it really means to be alive.

My parents, I must admit, always wanted a corporate job for me. And I don’t know how I’m going to tell them, Hey, I want to be a forensic anthropologist and spend the rest of my life in the fields, digging up bones, and confined in research labs, writing dissertations. I want to do research and teach in classrooms, I want to continue writing features and fiction stories on the side, what are you going to do about it? 

And it sucks, because I do not get the support I need from the people who should be my support system, and that’s okay, because we can’t have everything and I won’t demand for their support if they’re not willing to give it wholeheartedly. I know we should never compromise our finances—that is just absurd and irresponsible, but I don’t see the point in life if I am forced to live a life I have no interest in living.

I am actually doing my internship at a property management corporation right now, and this internship has helped me so much in realizing what I do not want to do in the future. Certainly I don’t want to spend the hours of my day trapped in a cubicle inside a cold, characterless, behemoth building. That I know for sure. The people have been great and regardless if it’s corporate, I am learning new things which I believe is always a good thing, either way. But a week ago, I was talking to my boss and my other colleagues and they all said the same thing: “This isn’t what I want to do.”

And I get that we have to sacrifice sometimes. Some people aren’t privileged enough to go about what they want, knowing they have families to feed and bills to pay. And it just makes me so sad that we have to suffer this way, giving up what we want and love to make way for something else, something that we don’t feel so strongly about in the first place. And I hate so much that some people are never able to live their dreams because of the sacrifices they made and they die lonely and unfulfilled because they never got to do what they really wanted to do, and it just makes me so depressed that even though I am saying all these things right now, there is always that possibility in the future that I will be a hypocrite to my own word and work a job I do not love and as much as I try to align my actions to my own principles, I have a fear that I will be betraying my own word. And I wish I never have to reach that point in my life wherein I have to sell out just because I am forced to. I will never forgive myself for that.

Sigh. To be honest, I think this whole mortician feature story is messing with my head. When I interviewed the mortician a Friday ago, we talked about life and death, and how his work has changed his entire life. But listen here. This mortician never wanted to be a mortician in the first place. He was studying engineering in university when he had to stop because of lack of funds. His father, a mortician, taught him the trade and he decided to just take his father’s job on his shoulders. Decades later and here he is now and he tells me he is happy with his job. So, I suppose, it is possible to get into a job we don’t initially love and learn to love it down the road, I guess? The mortician did tell me that although people still have a stigma towards the nature of their job, it’s important to be reminded that we all die in the end. And the phrase, memento mori, popped up in my head. Remember that you must die. 

We all die in the end. I am 20 and already feel really old, as if I’ve been here forever. I was contemplating the other day whether I wanted to die young or old. I realize I don’t want to die young, having achieved nothing, but I am also deathly afraid of getting old, to be honest. Of being wrinkly, and losing my mind to dementia, where it takes away the very essence of what makes me human. But I also know that I have a lot of things to learn, lots of books to read, lots of stories to write and tell, and of course, lots of people to love—and I want all that stretched out in decades. Not everyone has the privilege to reach an old age and share the wisdom they’ve learned throughout the years. I want to see myself at that point; wiser, more confident, more humble, with so much love for the world.

Perhaps I am overthinking things again, but I always tell myself it’s better to overthink than not think at all. I’d like to believe that this whole thing has been heightened by the mortician feature story I’m currently writing, but I cannot help myself. I always get attached to the stories I write and sometimes, these stories are too heavy to tell, but still need telling, to remind us that we are only human. Insignificant compared to the astronomical universe, but relevant to the tiny blips of people we matter to.

Maybe if we looked at life at a different vantage we’d appreciate it more. Eating, drinking, laughing, spending time with loved ones—these are things we so easily take advantage of. And I guess, what I’m trying to say is, I just want to be more appreciative and content with the things I have and do, because I am so tired of feeling like I will never amount to anything.

That there is absolutely no reason to beat myself up for going too slow or not doing the same things my peers are doing, that I am absolutely doing perfectly well at my own pace, that there is no need for me to compare myself to anybody but my yesterday-self, that I only have to worry about my possible future self, that I don’t have to mind other people’s lives and businesses, that I don’t have to be depressed every time I go out of my door, that I don’t have to be afraid all the time, that I will be fine as long as I keep walking, regardless if I do it with a limp or with two steady feet, that being insecure at times is fine, that being flawed is perfect because it always gives me something to strive for, that I don’t have to make life so difficult for me, that it’s fine to appreciate the mere fact of sitting down, breathing and just being alive, that I can take a rest and not feel guilty, that no matter what happens, no matter how conscious and angry I feel with myself, I can always pick up my pen and write, and that if I do find myself stubborn or weak at times to pick up my pen, I can always stow my shoes away, climb to bed, sleep, and wake up the next day to try again.

The Sunday Currently

olaf

The Sunday Currently

Reading Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon. I’m only on the first chapter and I am already hooked in; I can tell I’ll be devouring the entire thing today. I’m already excited to write about it when I’m finished because I can feel I’m going to love it. Do you ever get that feeling? When you’re starting on a new piece of literature and you just know you’ll love it, even though you haven’t finished it yet? That’s how I feel right now. Pretty crazy.

Writing in my journal again. Also rewriting and editing some of my staffers’ works—one of my many duties as editor now. It still hasn’t sunk in yet, but I hope I get used to this. Or not. I still feel jittery and excited! Leaning more towards the jitters though :<

Listening to Half Life by Imogen Heap. One of my favorites, a default piece that I replay over and over again on quiet afternoons like this.

Thinking about my future. I am so full of fear–fear of the future, fear of uncertainties, fear of life itself. I hate being neurotic and self-obsessed (something I got from my mother)

Hoping for a silver lining to get myself moving, even though I know for myself I shouldn’t have to wait for anything to start doing something.

Wanting to be away from everybody and everything. I’ll be having a 3 day team building activity this week and I’ve shut myself in avoiding all people, mentally preparing myself for the extended social interactions. so help me, universe. I am already dreading it. Wanting to start my novel as well, but can’t get myself to pick up my pen.

Feeling lost and stuck. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with my life, and I’m already putting too much pressure on myself as I am. I think it’s my mentality I need to change, but I also know I am stubborn.

Overall, I feel pretty disappointed in myself right now. Perhaps the next few days will be better. I keep reminding myself to take it easy. I still have one week left of uni break, and I need to breathe. I should take it easy.

8/26/16 – 8:21 pm

blinds

(from my journal)

A blank new page at last. I’ve missed writing down my thoughts, so this makes me happy. I’m writing with a pencil, as usual. I write with a pencil because, most times, my thoughts are all over the place and when my thoughts are all over the place I, most likely, will make a lot of errors and I am deathly afraid of errors. As a writer, it’s a pretty funny thing. Most writers I know love a good pen, but, I think, ink is too permanent–no matter how many times I cross out my errors, a pencil’s impermanency gives me more conciliation. Just like life, I guess. Someday I hope to overcome my fear of errors and write with unstoppered ink. But, for now, I will stick to my gummy eraser and trusty sharpener.

I don’t know what to make of the past few weeks. It has been hectic at home and at school. My parents are getting their bathroom renovated at the deck while my dad’s also setting up his studio so there’s a ton of junk around the house. School is no different. Tonight’s a relatively peaceful night because finals week just ended, but the weeks leading up to that have been chaotic. A week ago, a classmate of mine offered me money for my academic paper because he’s failing. I was gravely insulted and went off on him; I never thought anyone would actually stoop that low just to pass a class. What a loser.

Anyway, I am almost three months in as a strict vegan, and just found out a week ago that I won the position of Features Editor of my school paper so that’s something to keep my spirits up. I had a talk with my two predecessors/former editors and it was very…I don’t know, heartwarming, I guess? It’s just what I need to give me the right boost of morale. I am excited and scared at the same time. Excited because, hello, I’m finally editor?! I thought it was a pretty good level up from being a staff writer for two years, so I’d like to believe all my hard work paid off. I’m excited of all the stories I’ll write, of all the new people I’ll meet, and helping out my fellow writers to better their writing. I’m not just writing anymore, I realized. I have to keep reminding myself that I’m managing a team now and have bigger responsibilities that I cannot afford to neglect.

On the other hand, I am so afraid. Afraid of all the errors I’ll make, the conflict I may have with others, of being disliked by my peers. What if I don’t turn out as a good editor? How do you become a good editor anyway? It’s what I’ve been thinking of for the past few days and I have no answer. I don’t think anybody has it, to be honest. So I guess just have to trust myself. Whatever I endeavor in this life, I shall make a go for it and give my utmost best–regardless of the circumstances. And I shall not fail.

Ironically, I am listening to Elton John’s Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me. It sort of fits my situation. “…Although I search myself, there’s always someone else I see..”

This is my favorite song and it makes me feel like an impostor. It’s probably my favorite because it affirms my self-deprecation and denial. God, I am such a tool.

Anyway, never mind that. It is a beautiful song, really.

On to more important things! I am holding my first storyboard on Tuesday, so I’m looking forward to that (anxiously!!!) but I shouldn’t over think it (note to self!!!). I have a two week break from uni before the start of the new (and my last!!!) academic year and before official editor duties begin, so I have time to get back to working out. I’m also doing thesis and internship next academic year so my hands will be pretty full! I’m actually excited to be busy and have lots of things to do! I really don’t like being idle.

Also, tomorrow is my 20th birthday. I hope people don’t make a fuss. I only wish for quiet, solitary days. Maybe I’l end this superfluous rant here because I need to clean my room. I don’t want a messy room to sleep in all day for my birthday tomorrow. Either way, I missed writing my thoughts. I missed this, the feeling of urgency because I have so much to say, but my hand can only go so fast, the pain shooting in my arm from too much writing… I miss this. I love this. I live for this feeling.