Untitled 2 (Common Things Series)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Untitled (Common Things Series)

My eggplant and tomatoes are baking in the toaster oven and I sit here, my stomach grumbling in wait. Remember when I said I would stop buying books for a while and get to reading? When I said I wont buy another warm book until I’ve read all my pending books in my book list? Well, I lied. I think it’s better to just come clean to myself right here and right now: I can’t stop buying books. That’s the problem. But the bigger problem is, I don’t want to. Perhaps I am unconsciously building my own library and I just don’t know it yet… Last Saturday after my philosophy class, I took my route home and stopped by the secondhand bookshop that my daily commute passes by. I got down and told myself, I will just look around. But I ended up with a copy of The New Yorker, a collection of Henry James’ short stories, and, finally, Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. By then, I was already thinking, There is just no point. I will always love books. I cannot put a stop to acquiring them, because I know deep inside that I don’t want to.

So there. And yesterday I went grocery shopping with my dad. I had no list in mind; a first in many many months, because I never set out and go on about my day without a list, so I didn’t really know what I was going to buy. Or at least, I havent had the time to sit down and thinking about what I needed to buy. So I went around and just grabbed whatever I thought I needed: a fat Korean radish, two eggplants, three bundles of spinach, three bundles of basil, two blocks of white cheese, chili bean paste, a jar of kimchi, and… four-ply tissue paper. While my dad was paying I told him I’ll head on over to the bookshop and just have a look; of course I ended up buying some books again. I got a special issue of Granta magazine and Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye; while I was paying, I spotted a Salman Rushdie by the counter and asked the cashier if they had any other Rushdies around. He told me it was the only one. I felt my insides wince; I saw a battered copy of Midnight’s Children in that same bookshop two months ago and hid it in the very back of the highest shelf, and now it’s gone. I was naively hoping it would still be there, but any wise man would never pass up Midnight’s Children upon seeing it. Especially when it’s for two fucking bucks. My dad, seeing my disappointed face, pointed at the Rushdie book and asked me, “Do you want this?” I thought about it for one second; “Sure!” I said, even though I’ve never heard of that Rushdie book. It’s called The Ground Beneath Her Feet; it’s not really my priority Rushdies in terms of having; I wanted to get a copy of Midnight’s Children and The Satanic Verses before anything, but still, The Ground Beneath Her Feet’s had stellar reviews, and I’m excited to read it. And who knows, perhaps I would love it.

My eggplant and tomato bake is finished and I am eating it. It’s 10:36 am. The reason why I am eating breakfast so late is because I made my own pesto this morning and it took far longer than I wanted it to take. I washed the basil and spinach until no mote of dirt was present in the water and I blended and blended until it  resembled a very creamy mousse. Yes, not ideal pesto texture, but whatever. I guess I can call this a brunch instead. I am loving it thus far, creating my own food. It’s why I rarely eat out nowadays; there’s something so intimate in knowing and touching and slicing and washing every ingredient I will use in my dish, and being aware of everything that goes in it gives me conciliation. I love cooking so much; I’m not very good at it, but it’s so meditative for me. I am eating my eggplant with a slice of coconut pie; it’s nothing special, I think our helper got it from one of those tourist souvenir shops and she got a box. It will do; I warmed it a bit and drowned it in four tablespoons of sweetened cream—with no regard to my waistline whatsoever.

Yes, I am indulging myself. No, this isn’t vegan. The egg and white cheese on my eggplant bake is not vegan as well. I’d like to air this out because it’s something that’s been nagging me for the longest time. My foray into veganism has never been easy, and never linear. My attempt at veganism has been going on for about a year and 5 months now, but I’d be lying if I said I did it perfectly. There were a lot of slip-ups, some accidentally, and most were deliberate. I wouldn’t call myself a vegan spokesperson, nor would I go around preaching to my friends and people on why they should go vegan. I try to share what I know when they ask, but that is all. I try to stick to a strict vegan diet, but I will be honest: Sometimes, I just hate it. Not veganism in itself, but I hate it when I put a leash on something, whether it’s myself or something else, as an act of controlling or curbing it. I know there are alternatives, but sometimes I just want the taste of cheese and egg in my mouth, even though I know where it comes from and is not ethical at all. Sometimes I want to eat dessert and it has cream and I’d still want it. And eat it. Do I still say I’m vegan when people ask? Yes, I do. But perhaps I should say, Struggling Vegan instead. Most would say I am vegetarian, with what I am doing and eating. Perhaps, but I’d prefer to call it Hypocrisy. The animal activists from PETA do not have to call me a hypocrite; I’d be the first to call myself one. And that is what I am. A Hypocrite. Someday, I hope, when I’m not ensnared anymore by my endless frailties and fallibilities and hypocrisies, when I am not enshrouded by social pressure, perhaps then it would be easier. But right now, it is a struggle, a constant struggle, and I’m starting to think that perhaps in this journey, and any other journey, of mine and of others, struggle is always a constant thing. I’ve finished my eggplant and tomato bake and my coconut pie, by the way. I ate it all. I loved it all.

Moving on. Yesterday was my last day at the MET museum. I do not want to linger on this; it was a good ending, and we parted ways with “See you soons” and none of “Goodbyes”. And I will see them soon, mind you, especially since I now have free access to the MET at all times, lectures and workshops included… I cant wait! Last week was also the opening of our new exhibit from the Venice Biennale; I do not wish to linger on this as well, but it was a long long night of hors d’oeuvres and many glasses of wine. Being part of the curatorial team was a fulfilling experience for me. I’ve learned so so much, that I can say. On my last day yesterday, my friend and I had our last lunch together and we indulged ourselves in cups of ice cream. I do not regret it. He’s been a great companion thus far, and I will not miss him; we promised we’ll see each other again, and I’ll see him soon, this December, and we’ll visit the MET together. I’m looking forward to that.

I also switched emails by the way. I am having problems with my AOL email, which is my default email, and I’m afraid I will be locked out soon because I cannot access my recovery email anymore because apparently my recovery email has been breached due to hacking and security reasons (or lack thereof! I’m looking at you, Yahoo and Google Mail!) and now I cannot log into any of them, so if my AOL gets locked out, I have no way of accessing it again. So to put an end to all of this—and the nagging worries in my head post-Snowden—I finally made a ProtonMail account and plan on using it as my default email from now on. I spent an entire day researching about ProtonMail and I think it is the best choice for me. I am loving it thus far and I am ready to make this change. If you wish to know more about Proton, you should check out their site. I wouldn’t trust myself; I am not very good in articulation, but their servers are based in Switzerland, which have very strict security laws, you have the choice to use a domain that isn’t .com (which is under the US, so if the USA filed a case and brought ProtonMail, they can  seize all their data), the creators themselves do not have a copy of your emails nor of your password; everything is encrypted, so they only have encrypted data, so should the US bring them to court and seize their data, all they can give is encrypted data. The creators themselves cannot access your email, so if you get locked out, you are locked out forever and since everything is encrypted, your emails are sent with a password for the receiver to access and you must find a way to give them the password, through phone or text, so they can read your email. Lastly, all e-mails are destroyed within 28 days, if I remember correctly, or earlier, depending on your Settings. These are enough reasons for me to switch, knowing how paranoid I am. Yes, I will probably still use Google and its many features, such as Google Drive and Google Docs, but I’ll make a throwaway email just for that. I am not comfortable with Google spying on my emails and even though you can encrypt your emails in Google, they can still access your message because they have the decryption key; that’s why they can plug those stupid ads on your emails! They totally do not care for privacy, at all, and when it comes to privacy, you can never be too safe. Financial and banking wise, ProtonMail is the way to go, but I’d use it for everything. Mind you, I am not paid to advertise them ha-ha, I am just very paranoid with security so suddenly and made the impulse change last night. I know it’s such a mundane thing, switching emails, but this is so momentous for me. Sorry hahaha

I sent pitches a couple of weeks ago to this new local arts and culture magazine and the editor in chief replied to me after a week and told me to see her today. So I’m meeting her after lunch and I don’t know if I should feel nervous or not. Either way, I am excited. I want to write again, and it’s been a few weeks of dormancy. I hope it goes well.

My flight is also in three days and I have not packed my bags, nor do I have any plans to do so until the very last minute.

What else? I finally convinced my brother to help me with my little project. He’s a Fine Arts student and between the both of us, I have to agree—painfully—that he is the more talented one when it comes to visual arts. My special friend who is in the process of grieving his younger brother’s suicide is in despair. He wants to die and sees no point in life anymore. I want to do something for him in  hopes of making things a little lighter for him, even though I know there’s no certainty that it would. There is so much to live for, and it breaks my heart seeing my friend hurt so silently. I was planning on giving him a book, but it would be too banal. I thought of something the other night and was adamant about it. I’m going to give him an art piece. I don’t want to give it away, but I’m going to make a sculpture. I wont reveal anymore because I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but I am writing it here to remind me that I must finish this project and give it to him come Christmastime. With the help of my brother, I think we can do it. I am confident. I’m so excited. I hope my friend likes it.

I am not the best in words, can never articulate myself well enough, but I hope in this little attempt he would know that I thought so much about this and put everything I wanted to say but couldn’t in this project. My only problem: I cannot use my stoneware clay. I do not have a kiln and some glazes. It would be so nice to use ceramic clay, but I’d have to resort to polymer clay for this one. My other problem: I don’t think I can make a life sized bust sculpture, because I’m not sure if it would fit in the gas oven. We’ll have to see, but I am really adamant about this. I don’t want to be ambitious, but I am more pigheaded than I care to admit, and I will make sure this project is successful. For my friend. As a visual letter to tell him, There is so much to live for. There is still laughter and beauty in this life, there’s still dance and song and love. And I will beat myself so hard to make this right and beautiful because I do not ever want my friend to wish  to die again. And I want him to know that I am so worried about him and I hate seeing him hurt so silently, that he doesn’t have to suffer alone because we can share the burden, we can share his personal hell, that he can trust me, and I can only hope my sentiment and intention will show because there is no point, no point in all of this, if my friend still doesn’t feel any different.  To hear someone say they wish to die because nothing matters in this life anymore—that is something I never take lightly. I have so much reverence for life, but I’d be lying if I said there aren’t any days I don’t wish to die. Life is so cruel and unsparing, with all this clubfooted morality and random injustices, but I do not draw breath everyday only to scream myself hoarse for death to come take me because that’s not what living is about. So I will do my best for my friend. Any real friend would do the same.

It’s 11:24. I have to read a bit of Man and His Symbols for our exam tomorrow, and get ready for my meeting with the editor in chief. I shall be fine.

Pappardelle affairs and modern dating anxieties

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quiet Wednesday

Listening to the background noise in The MET museum. There’s very little

Thinking about job applications, the future, and all the angst that goes into finding a job that is meaningful, that I can love

Trying not to panic over (not) hearing back from places I’ve sent my applications to

Again, thinking about the alchemy maxim, Solve et Coagula. Dissolve and coagulate. That something must be broken down before it can be built up.

Hoping for a calmer state of mind, a bit more kindness from myself, to myself

Feeling annoyed of my recurring back pain

Wanting to just get home and cook my dinner. I plan to bake onion and leek rolls and make a hearty pumpkin soup from scratch. Which reminds me, I have to go to the groceries  to pick up a pumpkin when I leave the MET in a couple of minutes

Stuck on: The warring hotness and coldness of this one person, chapter 4 of Alan Moore’s From Hell, chapter 6 of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, and chapter 1 of D.H. Lawrence’s Women in Love

Dreaming of sticky pistachio bundt cakes and a quiet solitary afternoon in a gallery

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.

The Other

I’ve been taking hourly naps everyday since uni break began, but I’ve also been waking up at later hours. It’s funny because I don’t even do much throughout the day, other than my usual workout in the morning, I just bum in front of my computer screen. So I took my hourly nap then woke up to have dinner out with my mom and younger brother. I must admit, the dinner was pretty great. The food was superb, the ambiance was perfect, and the three of us were all in a good mood. My dad left really early this morning for vacation, so my mom was feeling pretty lonely. She was in high spirits during the dinner though, which I think is because of the pizza and the sensational french onion soup.

So she was her usual self: Gushing over the delicious food, serving me and my brother food on our plates, cutting the pizza for me even though I can do it myself, making sure my water glass is never empty, checking out the other tables’ orders and commenting whether it looks delicious or not, telling me to be cautious of the candle near me because I might burn myself, swaying to the music…all of this while eating. I seriously cannot live without my mother’s naggery. Mothers, I have realized, are masters of multitasking.

My younger brother, on the other hand, is in love. Unf. And I can tell because throughout the car ride and dinner, he kept glancing down on his phone to reply to his best friend’s messages. He’s in love with his best friend, which I believe is a very beautiful thing. Who wouldn’t want to fall in love with their best friend? I want the same thing for me. Ha-ha. Frankly, I’ve never met the girl, but from the manner he speaks of her (and the frequency), it’s as if I already have. He is smitten. He also turned 18 two weeks ago.

No amount of observation can make me understand the feeling that he is feeling. Sure I can see the tiny smile curving on his lips when his phone vibrates, the furrow of his brows, the fast reflexes of his fingers to type back a reply, but I do not feel the emotions coursing through him when he reads her message, nor can I feel the emotions he feels every time he lies at night, thinking of her. I can only observe from the surface, which is something that I’ve been doing ever since. I realize, I can never really know a person’s feeling and emotions just by looking at them. Speaking to them about it doesn’t suffice either; our feelings are our own, and no one can take that away from us. I guess that’s the beauty of being an individual: Our feelings are private.

[Un]fortunately for me, I am not in love. Ha! So I was left to enjoy the food completely, my attention undivided. Food is love. I have never known love until I tasted tonight’s french onion soup. Really sensational stuff.

Onto more important things: Our national elections is this Monday. I have avoided Facebook due to the influx of posts about our presidential candidates, the black propagandas, the rants, the armchair activism—it is all too stressful. One thing is for sure: Our elected president is not our savior. Change comes from the individual, and it’s about time people stopped treating our president as if they are the messiah. Only the people are capable of changing the course of our country. So God bless the Philippines, if He hasn’t forsaken us yet.

I also applied for the assistant editorial position of my school paper. It took much coaxing from myself and fellow co-writers, but I gave in. I still haven’t decided if I will run for the executive board, but I dont want to think about that just yet. I still have a few weeks to ponder about it, and right now, well, I don’t want to touch on the subject. Ignorance is bliss lol. Anyway, at least I’ve taken the first step and applied as assistant feature editor. I realize, I cannot be afraid of change. I was rereading Paulo Coelho’s ‘By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept’ wherein he talks about The Other briefly. The Other is the one who taught us what we should be like, but not who we are. The Other, afraid of disappointment, keeps us from taking action.

For the longest time, The Other has ruled my mind and being. It is the voice in my head that holds me back, the ever-so-cautious tone the prevents me from doing anything risky or out of my comfort zone. The Other feeds on my weaknesses, banking on my fears and doubts then spews them all out during moments of self-reflection that often turns to self-deprecation. Maybe I should try that new dance class? Ask the guy I like out? Run for an editorial position? The Other rejects all these thoughts, constantly telling me to forget it. It is afraid of rejection and failure. What if I look stupid dancing? What if he doesn’t like me back? What if I lose in the EB race? I’m not smart enough. I’m better off here, thanks. Thus, The Other is also afraid of change and success. It thus, also, thrives on complacency and mediocrity.

And if there’s anything in this life that gives a sour taste in my mouth, it’s failure and cowardice. Whatever I endeavor in this life, I shall try to make a go for it and give all of me in the process of doing so. I admit, I haven’t banished The Other completely out of my life. It’s always at the back of my mind, waiting to see me fail and get rejected. I think I’m still a long way away from getting rid of The Other permanently, but right now I’ve managed to keep it under control. It isn’t ruling my mind anymore; I’ve sent it out of my head and is in the corner of my room, brooding. And that’s where it shall stay until, of course, I start losing my bearings once again. But right now The Other is out of my system, and I plan to retain it this way for the next couple of weeks. I need to be mentally strong. In fact, my mental game has to be at its strongest, especially since I have big things coming up for me in the next few months and I. Cannot. Afford. To. Fucking. Lose. My. Shit. Goddamn it.

I cannot be a “yes, but” person. Life, I think, is far too short for that. And my 11 year old self would scold me for being a coward instead of a lady with a little spice. So here’s to going out of comfort zones and trying out new things, regardless of the outcome. Here’s to becoming a lady with a little spice. It’s not really the goal that matters the most, I think, but the journey towards that goal and the wisdom we acquire throughout. I just need to keep this positivity at a constant and consistent level so I don’t feel great today, then a total downer the next day. My self-esteem has a tendency to wax and wane depending on my mood and the weather lol.

It’s already 12:57 a.m. I think part of the reason or the only reason why I am waking up at later hours since uni break is because I’ve been sleeping past midnight, because I finally found time to write down my thoughts and emotions during the late hours. But this isn’t really good for me. I need to hit the sack. Goodnight and don’t forget to banish your Other. At least for the meantime. 🙂