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.

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a dirty room

Please be forgiving I am writing in a haze and I am not thinking. I hate it when I do this I hate me I am so tired of me I don’t recognize me I cant live with me. Overwhelmed and ashamed by the mess in my room, I do not know where to start. I’ve been trying to clean it for more than a week now, and still no success. I remember Anne Lamott and how I should take things bird by bird. So I start with one soiled shirt. A dress, turned inside out. And then, a skirt that no longer fits upon inspection and bodily trial; the skirt hitches on my fleshy thighs and stays there, unwilling to go on further. My body wont stop expanding and expanding, I am ashamed to say. My book towers are everywhere, precarious and teetering. I have far too many shirts and dresses. I don’t know anymore which is clean and dirty and what can still pass off as clean. A long plaid dress that looked perfect from the thrift rack lies balled up on the corner of my bed; it makes me look like a milkmaid. I’ve never worn it, but i wish i could. I want to see myself in it walking down the street; but i cannot carry it, i think i look wrong in it, funny in it. I contemplate if I should get it tailored to fit better or I should starve myself to lose all this excess. Perhaps the latter. it is always the latter. empty water bottles. Old readings that I’ve since unearthed from my drawer whose contents haven’t seen the light of day since my freshman year. I am graduating college in two months. It has been that long. Slowly making their acquaintance once more. I find a copy of Hemingway’s A Clean Well-lighted Place and feel overcome with shame because my room is not a clean well-lighted place at all. Joyce’s Araby, Ryunosuke Akutagawa’s In a Grove, and Doris Lessing’s A Sunrise on the Veld. There are various papers and index cards (i remember Anne Lamott again) and post it notes with scribbles of my own that I cannot read. Ideas. Some workable, some have potential, some are just futile in its rushed existence. My book towers are in various heights. there is a book tower on the left side of my desk, and two smaller ones on the right side. Another book tower on top of my shoe cabinet, a smaller book tower on the right side of my turntable, an even smaller one beside it, and just a heap—not even tower—of books on top of the turntable itself. they resemble jengga blocks on the brink of crumbling more than book towers. a plastic bag full of trash. hangers everywhere. my bathroom. notebooks and journals scattered, more paper asunder. drawers left gaping, my closet doors flung open, i can see the sleeves of my jackets peeking at me, jackets of yore, jackets I’ve failed to warm with my body. it is a reciprocal service for jackets to warm me and i to warm them in return. it is a damn shame that i am making them useless by rejecting their purpose. there is an empty mug on top of my desk, lined with the remains of my coffee from two hours ago. my eye drops and sleeping pills that I’ve been abusing. a sharpener. my jar of paper clips. fallen hair. i have so many things and waste. my book tower from the left side of my desk gives a little wobble as i type. I’m afraid of its collapse, the thick Les Miserables book the first to make contact with my screen if ever. i do not move to fix it. i should be cleaning my mess, but instead i am writing about my mess. I’ve been bitten by two small red ants on my forearm. i’ve created so much mess of things and of myself i do not have the heart to clean anymore. i remember my philosophy professor saying cleaning my room is like cleaning my psyche. perhaps this is why I’ve been so out of it this the past few weeks. my room is the chaos in my mind. I’m trying so hard, but i do not have the strength inside me to look after myself. i think of Socrates and what wisdom requires: gnothi sueaton (know thyself) and epimeleia heautou (self-care). I think of how i will never, ever be wise, because the latter has always been absent in me. the care of the self. i have never known it, i think. I am drowning. i feel crippled. cut at the knees. i want to lie down and sleep away, but there is no place in my bed for me. It wont make way for me, it hurts me. my lights are too bright, they blind me. my mess is pigheaded in its manifestation. i am pigheaded in my refusal to clean after myself. how much of myself have i compromised? my box of seeds lies on the floor. i think of my tomato plant, my lettuce plant, my chili plant and my mustard plant that have since germinated. i think of the world and how kind it is to my plants. i think of the world and how it cares for my pottery. why is it not kind to me, me specifically and respectively? it shines and rains for my plants, it upholds the laws of chemistry for the glazing and baking and bisquing of my works, but it cannot get me up from my chair, out of this snare. i cannot do the most simple thing. i feel tired to wash myself, to wash my soiled feet and my greasy hair and it’s 3 pm in the afternoon and i am disappointed in myself. and i think of my bathroom that i have to clean. and the many other things that i have to clean. my tub that needs scrubbing, my sink that needs washing. empty bottles to be thrown away. tiles to be mopped. towels to be replaced. my pregnant laundry basket. i do not have the strength to heave it out of my room for washing. i think even if i scrubbed myself red and raw i would still be dirty, and i will still be filled to the brim with all this mess. i try not to be angry at myself. when i said I should write for catharsis less, and write more to think things through and mull things over, i am doing the opposite. i am not thinking much about what i am writing. when i said i should write more formally, instead i am failing to pull myself together again, i am failing to be wise by being all over the place with all this stuff and lacking discipline. i am being ridiculous, it is laughable, that i cannot exert control on my own self. i feel insane writing this way. i feel like i should go back to every sentence, every word, and capitalize what should be capitalized, fix what should be fixed, and think things through. but a small part of me whispers let me, there is wisdom in this chaos and havoc. but it is making me hate myself, writing this way, unstoppered, ungraspable, incomprehensible. i am not making any sense. fragments of sentences. i cannot even string one that is complete and logical. feeling this jambalaya of feelings all at once. i would still hate myself, i think, still fail to recognize myself, even if i scrub myself and weigh myself and skin myself and devein myself and flay myself. perhaps if i lie on my floor and forget everything else (except my grammar), mold would manifest on my sundries and eventually, manifest on me, pull me under, and allow me to be quietly effaced from the face of the earth. this body, this body, perhaps cold, insentient, someday, one day, this body, lifeless, one day.

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.

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.

Of long talks, Jazz, and Virgina Woolf essays

Last night was a good night mainly, I think, because my little brother and I got to talk again. I love how even though he’s turning 19 soon, he still sits on the couch with me, holds my hand, and tells me about his day. I love how as we grow older, we also become closer and closer, and trusting of each other. We are best friends, and each other’s only family. I am so grateful for him. We’ve been wallowing in our depression the past few days, but he was different last night. He had an air of confidence and determination, and he was sure of himself. He told me about his realizations lately and why we should keep each other up whenever bouts of depression get the best of us. He told me he’s tired of feeling sorry for himself and giving up too fast; he actually made me promise that if ever I find myself in darkness and vice versa, one of us has to encourage the other and not affirm the other’s depression. We actually pinky promised about it. Last night when I was ranting about my woes again, he was scolding me and telling me to stop thinking so lowly of myself. It’s so nice knowing my brother looks out for me, and I to him; I don’t deserve his love, for sure, but here he is still loving me. He is the actual, absolute best, and I am so happy to see him happy last night and take control of his life. I’d rather be depressed than see him depressed; I’m glad he took reign of himself and changed the way he thought of himself. He’s doing great. He’ll be great. And he’ll be okay. He’s far stronger than I am.

As for me, well, I woke up late today, but I actually heaved myself up from bed without crying. I always feel old and lost and weary and aimless, but I think today is a good start. I had a big breakfast and a small cup of coffee, and am about to get ready to attend a forum and see one of my favorite journalists of all time. My brother told me last night to focus on daily goals instead of panicking over things that are still too far away. You know, just take it one day at a time. I think that’s better than worrying about next Sunday and the next two years. So today my goal is to finish this blog post, write a letter to my aunt, attend the forum, go for a run, read an essay by Virginia Woolf, and maybe drop by the museum if I have the time. Perhaps write a bit of my novel, too, if I stay up late.

I was able to write the first draft of the first chapter of my novel two days ago; it still requires ruthless, unforgiving editing, but it felt great to see progress, even if it’s little progress. I think instead of focusing too much and enumerating all my problems, it’s better if I just pat myself on the back for my little triumphs. My brother told me I cannot let depression get the best of me. I cannot condemn myself to the gutter; I have to help myself. It’s going to be a long, long life ahead of me—if I don’t die early—but I have to be steadfast and unwavering. My life is just starting, not on the cusp of ending, is it not?

Last night, when I was wallowing in my woes, I told my brother, “I’ll be suffering for a long, long time.”

He told me, instead, “No, you’ll be working for a long, long time, and it will be worth it.” True, but only if (and this is a big if) I love what I am working on and working with. And he’s right. I shouldn’t look at life as if it owes me a good life; it’s already a given that life’s unfair, but it doesn’t have to be futile. Yes, working hard and working honestly doesn’t guarantee a good life—deserving people still get shortchanged and cheaters and frauds get richer and successful—but that doesn’t mean life is futile. I think at the end of the day we are not measured by our achievements and awards, but whether we tried our best or not in what we did, regardless if we failed or not. It’s putting the best effort we are able to give in life. I give meaning to my life, and if I want life to be worth it, it will be. I really don’t know what I’d do without my brother. He’s my everything.

I also met with my thesis mentor two days ago and I think I judged him too fast, I must admit. We’ve finally reached a tradeoff and I realized he’s actually kinda pleasant, though a terribly, terribly busy man, but I appreciate him giving us fifteen minutes of his time for consultation. I’m excited and scared of thesis writing at the same time.

My editor in chief also told me yesterday he entered my article to the national student quill awards. I’m not expecting to win; I’ve already looked past the “prestige” of awards (I am not my awards), but for him to trust my work to actually submit my entry is more than enough. It definitely made my day.

Editor work is okay; I’m still grasping at straws. I don’t think there is a step-by-step guide on How To Be A Good Editor or How To Be A Good Writer, but I am doing my best to make time to write on my own and encourage my staff writers at the same time, but it’s a two-way thing. I can only help them if they also help themselves; and there are delinquents, of course, and there’s nothing I can do about those, if they refuse to do their best. I find it so heartwarming, though, when I see other staff writers enjoying what they do. Their zeal and commitment to the publication and to writing itself affirms why I love being editor, and writing—even though it’s a demanding and thankless job.

I’ve also started listening to jazz the other day. I’m new to the genre, but it’s something I’ve always found beautiful and interesting, though daunting enough to actually stay away from it all this time, but I finally started on a few greats. I listened to Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue album, John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme, and Thelonius Monk’s Monk’s Dream. They’re good albums to start with; I hope to expand my jazz knowledge in the future, of course. When I was listening to Coltrane’s Psalm, I paid attention to the saxophone solo, and it was as if it was speaking to me, and when I finally put Thelonius Monk on, I found it so good I actually took my shoes off (while in the library, mind you!).  I realized I liked jazz a lot; I love it’s unpredictability, and how it’s exciting and no piece is ever the same. Even the same piece is never the same when played again; it is always new and you find something different that you missed the first time. It reminds me of math rock, a genre that is also close to my heart. Jazz and math rock, for me, are endless unravelings and unwrappings, timeless efflorescences of astonishment and wonder that take the breath away, whether I look at it with unwinking eyes or listen to it continually. It’s inexplicable.

Ok, I have to get ready for the forum. Will write soon.

A pancakey morning

I was feeling pancakey this morning. I think it’s when you wake up and start singing, Pancakes, pancakes, gunna make some pankykessszzz to yourself, so I immediately went down to make myself some for breakfast. I made three layers of pancake blobs, topped it with cherries and strawberries, and realized half way through eating that I was mistaken and was not—after all—feeling pancakes in any way. I only ate half before feeling queasy; I hated the cloying sweetness and slimy syrup in my mouth, and remembered just how much I hate sweets in the morning. I put the rest away thinking, What a waste.

I’ve managed to calm myself down from yesterday’s proverbial morning. I will be off to school in an hour or two. I met my thesis mentor yesterday and realized in the first three minutes of meeting him that we weren’t going to see eye to eye. I already dislike the man. I don’t want to rule anything out yet and I’m trying to look at this in the most positive way I can, but a part of me feels like crumbling. He is such a closed-minded person (or maybe I’m the closed-minded one), but I hope this is only a challenge that would make me strive to do better and harder. Sad thing is we’re not allowed to change thesis mentors. I honestly don’t want to lose it in the end and break down. To save myself the heartbreak, I will be the one doing the adjusting (yes, this is so unbecoming of me), but he better work with me. If I see that I’m the only one doing all the work, I will call him out for his shit and file for grievance. I know it’s only been the first meeting and it wasn’t the best, but I’m hoping it gets better in the next few weeks. We really need to work together. Moreover, I must be expressive with my thoughts and feelings to my thesis group mates. I know I’ve always done excellently by myself for the longest time, but this time, I really cannot work alone. As much as I hate working with others, we’re a team and must work together. God, this all sounds so new age. Holism has got to go. Bye Baruch! Ha-ha oh my goodness sometimes I gross myself out…

Anyway, my brother came home this morning at 8 am. He told me the guard in his university didn’t let him inside the gates because his pants weren’t appropriate for class (his university has uniforms, gross). Good thing his first class was canceled so he went home to change before his 1pm class. He just left a few minutes ago, his giant headphones swallowing his ears. This is how he blocks the world’s noise and, perhaps, how he stills the chaos in his heart and head. He flashed me a peace sign before walking off; maybe I’ll get a chance to talk to him tonight. We barely do so during school week.

Lately I’ve been wanting to buy zinnias for my pottery shed; I sort of want to get into gardening and urban farming. I want to see flowers every morning. It’s only lately that I started appreciating flowers. I think they just look horrendous in a tight bouquet, but I like seeing them in pots and moist beds of soil. I found out that zinnias are one of the easiest to grow for a beginner, and also in our tropical climate! I haven’t found the time to explore actually, but have found a contact where I can get zinnia seeds. I can see my tiny pottery shed overflowing with random potted plants and herbs. I need to create a safe space for myself and, I think, my pottery shed behind my room can be one. The library in my university feels too cold nowadays for my liking; the newsroom is always too crowded; my room is alright, but my bed distracts me; my pottery shed right now is too bare; and the dining table is too open.

I’m thinking of taking a trip to the local library just five minutes walking distance from my house. It has always been there ever since I was born (and decades before) but I’ve never stepped foot in it. No one ever goes there; it’s a sad state in the plaza, to be honest. It’s surrounded with trash and its signage is unreadable. It just looks like an ordinary two-story old house with peeling paint, actually. Tricycles drivers and street food vendors and homeless people have invaded its vicinity and facade, but I know it’s still an active library because I checked the government site last week and it says it’s open every Monday to Friday—unless the government site isn’t updated. Maybe I should call the librarian before paying a visit. I’ve always wanted to be good friends with a librarian. The librarians I’ve encountered in the past weren’t that great, and the ones in my university don’t really care much for books. I need a librarian I can talk to for hours and hours on end about literature and philosophy and politics and all sorts of things. If this all works out perhaps this local library can be my new safe space. Crossing my fingers! I’ve never felt this excited for a while. I think my heart will break if I find out this library does not function anymore. I should note this down: Visit local library this week! 

At least the rotting lemons are now gone from the fruit platter. They have been replaced with four mangoes. I think this is a better sign than rotting lemons. How nice it would be to stare life’s lemons down, but I am nowhere near that kind of courage. Getting up and going through the day is always difficult for me, but I must know and be adamant about my worth. If I just tried, I can be so much more, so much more.