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.

Of dysfunctional homes

I had a proverbial morning. The fruit platter across me held limes and lemons—soft and bruised and on the cusp of rotting. The problem is I don’t think anyone in this house plans to make lemonade any time soon because the sorry things are left to wither away. When life gives me lemons I don’t make lemonade either because I hate lemonade, so instead of being optimistic in the face of difficulty, I numb and repress myself, and turn a blind eye to my “lemons” until they rot. It gets tiring.

I had a long talk with my brother over midnight snacks two nights ago. We talked for two hours. It’s always the same thing: Trying to wrestle with our depression while making sure our parents’ depression and frustrations in life don’t drown us. My only stability is my brother; he is the only family I recognize. It hurts me to hear him say how he contemplates about suicide often, and if not suicide, of running away and disappearing forever. It’s hypocritical, though, because I am the same way, but am more affected when it comes from him. I cannot imagine what goes through his head every single day, but knowing myself and the chaos in my heart and head, it pains me to think that my brother is going through the same thing, if not worse.

When I twist and turn in bed every night I cry because I know my brother is doing the same thing in his room. And when we wake up, we wake up with storms inside our heads and hearts, with the world on our shoulders, and sometimes he masks his pain with loud music, and I with silence or silent crying or writing, but most days we try to stay out of the house as much as we can. It only hit me recently that the root of our anxiety and depression is our own family and religion.

We’re a dysfunctional family. Emotions are repressed, our parents are depressed and pretty much giving up on life, there’s no affection and intimacy, no encouragement, no support, just silence, but the wrong kind of silence. It breaks the spirit and makes you believe you don’t deserve any goodness in life. I’m so tired. My mom is unstable and shallow and paranoid. My dad’s just as emotionally impaired; he disappears in the shadows at the sight of conflict and is always in denial. My parents are both depressed and frustrated with life; perhaps they are not happy with the lives they’ve built. They’re always fighting. They’re always smoking. Until today, I flinch at the sound of raised voices. Until today, I recoil and cry over the stench of cigarettes.

We weren’t raised to be strong and courageous; we were raised to be ass-kissers and people-pleasers. As losers. That we should always follow someone and fear someone and eat from the hands of someone. To be raised this way and grow up in a household of such backwards thinking and toxicity takes a toll on you—no matter what my brother and I do to better ourselves, it’s always going to be our anchor pulling us down. To have this much insecurity and distrust of our own selves—it turns you into glass, and when held up into the light, you just shatter. I’m tired of the emotional manipulation, of the repression, and emotional neglect. I feel no security here.

Seeing your parents give up on life at such a young age…it just breaks the spirit. It’s this kind of upbringing  that made me so afraid of life and people. I hate confrontation. I never show my true emotions, I never let people get close. I get embarrassed and guilty over everything. I can’t explain to people why I go to the bathroom to cry in between classes because little things in class trigger my emotions. I can’t explain to people why I flinch when someone says my name or why i freeze when someone hugs me or touches me or why I’ve always fantasized about death since kindergarten or why I never call anyone “friend” because it feels undeserving for me or why I’m always conscious of being “too much” of anything or why every minute movement of mine is calculated or why i refuse all acts of kindness or why i put everyone at arms length and just cant seem to connect to anyone or why every little thing is overthought or why i’d rather cut ties than develop relationships or why im an impostor because i’m always putting an act or why i can’t commit to anyone or show warmth to anyone because I’ve never known it or why my brain’s wired to believe that everyone is either gonna hurt me or yell at me or why i can’t just fucking stop being afraid of anything because fear is the only constant thing in my life.

it’s so hard being invisible in my own suffering and it’s even harder to try to explain it to someone who will never listen and never understand. I know the way i was brought up isn’t my destiny, but it’s such a fucking heavy baggage to carry because it’ll always haunt me no matter what. it’s never gonna go away. to simply say, “Take the reigns and live the life you want to live” is so much easier said than done when choosing freedom means losing everything i have and starting from nothing and suffering even more.

Sometimes I get jealous of other families because I’ve never known such warmth. What I really want in this life is to just be held at night and sleep at ease, in peace. What I really want in this life is for someone to say my name full of warmth and love. What I really want is someone to hold my hand in silence. But life is futile and existence is random. I try to see life in a different light, perhaps if I look at life this way or that way, it will take my breath away, perhaps if I looked for those moments of always within never, with unclouded eyes, I will see the beauty of life. But I don’t. And it’s like grasping at straws everyday and I am just so so tired. I’m tired of the noise outside and within, I’m tired of people and faces, I’m so tired of the fake life I have to put up with, how I am never really myself anywhere, which makes me wonder if I really do know myself or I’m just taking up different identities depending on where I go or where I am or who I talk to and it makes me wonder, when I’m alone at night, who am I really? What identity am I taking up this time? Or do I have none—that even when alone, I still cannot stare myself down in the mirror?

Sometimes I have to give my brother the credit for even having the courage to go out and face the world, even with so much apprehension and fear, that he can still be so trusting and so kind, to not let the evil of the world embitter him because unlike me, i’ve given up so long ago, that i no longer see the goodness in anyone or anything, that my heart is hardened and I’ve become unforgiving and cold and untrusting and ruthless—to others and to myself—that i never show any love to anyone or anything. and so, when i am shown some kind of kindness, i feel defeated because i cannot be angry at it, and my response is always, “Stop helping me, do I look like I’m incapable? I don’t need your help fuck off stay away”

But my brother and I love talking about life. We look forward to hours of talking about life—maybe because we’ve never lived life the way we’ve always wanted, and so when we talk about life, we talk about how we want to live it and what we’d do differently. But it’s all talk. I think at the back of our heads, we’ve somewhat convinced ourselves that life will never get better, so we just talk about our dreams and what we want to do because we don’t see anything else going for us. We talk of life’s brevity, of death, we talk about our dreams and how they might just stay as dreams forever, of broken spirits and broken hearts, of not having the will to continue on because nothing makes sense, because life is so futile. It’s tiring.

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.