bad teeth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

patience

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

houses and homes

A few days ago I smashed my ceramic pottery out of anger. It was anger I’ve never felt before; I felt it swell and pulse in my breast, then spiral inward and inward and inward into my chest like a corkscrew, until it turned about, ready for release. Hot salty tears blinded me. I kicked and raged in my bed, screamed into the night, my voice echoing about in my ears. I grabbed one lopsided pot and threw it against the wall. It shattered into pieces, the part and parcel of what was once whole skidding in different directions. I took a ceramic plate and hurled it down my tiled balcony floor with all my might. It shattered too. I broke the rest, feeling my anger subside with every smashing sound, yet I secretly hated myself even more. Minutes and hours of pottery practice, now scattered in smithereens, gone. After I’ve exhausted myself I fell to my floor in a heap, silently sobbing myself to sleep. I woke on the same floor with dust on my face, soiled feet, and a bitter taste in my mouth. I spent the morning crying and the rest of the day in a somber mood, feeling as if I’m carrying the whole world on my shoulders.

Today is a holiday. I have barred myself from the whole world with one slam of the door. I’ve been feeling worse and worse every day, and I am so tired of walking inside the same house, tiptoeing my way in because I do not feel at home in my own home. I am outside in my balcony, trying to write my feelings away because I have no one to talk to. Or, perhaps, because I always refuse to talk to somebody. I am sitting on my cooler/makeshift chair, my laptop resting on top of my pottery work table, Pablo Neruda’s Odes to Common Things lying beside me. I feel so lost. I’m looking at the things around me: My pottery wheel, my pots and bowls, my clay, my tools, this lamp. I cry for these inanimate things; someday I would have to say goodbye to all of this, knowing full well that this house won’t be home anymore some time soon. I think of all the people in this world, those with no families, those who left everything behind to build a new life, starting from nothing — as if reborn again — but this time without the hands of their parents to support them and teach them how to walk. How did they do it? What if I can’t do it? What if I fail? And I think of all the people who don’t really have homes; and of people whose only homes are themselves. Like snails. Like me.

What makes a home? Is it the presence of a family? Of one’s favorite things? Peace and quiet? Solitude? A welcoming doormat? Does home pertain to the contents of one’s cupboard and books gathering dust on the shelf or the kind of flowers in the foyer vase? Is it the notes held by magnets on the fridge, ‘Remember to buy eggs and creamer’ — or is it the photographs hanging silently on the wall, silent, but speaks a thousand words? Is it the soiled shoes stowed away behind doors, evident of the day’s adventure, or is it the hamper filled to the brim with dirty clothes, or the waste basket with its certain sundries, each piece of trash personal and distinctive to its maker?

I’m only twenty yet I feel so so old, as if I’ve been around forever. And I feel so so weary, as if I can sleep forever. I’d like to believe my life is just starting, not ending, even though I always feel like it is. I’m still trying to make out what home really is and what it really means; what I have right now, I’ve surmised, is not home.

When I think of home, I think of myself living alone in a quaint, tiny apartment with secondhand antiques. There would be a comfy bed and endless stacks and stacks of books and novels and almanacs and maps; I would have a clean, well-lighted desk for my writing and rumination, a work area for my pottery, and a small kitchen. Maybe there would be a tin can of tea bags or two, a couple of mismatched spoon and forks, and teacups — not wineglasses. I want to have a big canvas bag for my trips to the wet market, and maybe a nice woven hat; a pair of sharp scissors in my bathroom for my monthly trim, and a large jar of olive and castor oil for my face. I won’t have television, nor a landline and a doorbell, save for maybe an internet router, a little cellular phone, and my trusty laptop. I must have sheaves and sheaves of good paper, envelopes, and a giant box full of pens and pencils and erasers and sharpeners and more pens. A small space for my sad excuse of “yoga” and a heater. I want a wall of herbs lining my balcony, and a few potted edible plants for my own convenience. I want to grow a tomato tree and a chili tree, and I must have a water filter so the water man doesn’t have to bother me every week. I’ll have a small cupboard for spices, and magnets on my humble fridge. I won’t have instant food in my house. And I want one bureau for all of my clothing and nothing more. I want a window by my bed; not too big for the whole world to see me in, but big enough so I can look out and watch people and still be clandestine. My Smith & Corona typewriter will be in my bedroom, along with my vinyl pieces and cassette tapes, and my favorite Neruda and Bradbury and Szymborska on my bedside table with my journal and #2 pencil. I won’t have a car but I must have a bike. I won’t have an alarm clock because by this time, I hope, I’d have mastered and disciplined myself to get up at the right hour of the day to fulfill my responsibilities. I’ll have two extra pillows for when the night gets cold, and an extra long blanket to cover the tips of my toes. A medicine cabinet. A calendar. An umbrella stand. A library card. A sudoku book!!! A sheet of sleeping pills. An extra key for my lover. A lover.

And he can come by any hour, any day, of the week. And he can stow his shoes behind my door and sleep beside me until the time he has to leave again…and come back to me again. Secretly I want to wake up with his arm around my waist and his mouth leaving trails of kisses on my shoulder and neck and I’ll just know it will be a good day, and I will slip my arm–numb and swarming with imaginary pins–from underneath his sleeping head but, I think, I think, I cannot have everything. But we can sit by my sorry couch for a while and talk about life over wine (or orange juice), and kiss over wine (or orange juice), and see and know and touch and drink and eat of each other’s love, love from the marrow of our bones, the very essence of our souls. And by this time I will know love and what it truly means, and I will return it tenfold to every person I come across in this Life. And when I speak, I’d speak with spontaneity and not have to turn to my stash of ready-made retorts. And when I walk down the street for my daily afternoon walk, I won’t be wringing my hands because I will have, by then, not store-bought confidence but real esteem. I won’t be a “Yes, but” person, but a woman with a little spice, and I won’t have to wonder if I’m living for my eulogy or my resumé because I will be living for neither. And perhaps I will still talk to walls and inanimate things and write every beginning sentence with a coordinating conjunction, but when I turn my key in my door I’d turn it with no hesitation and when I walk inside, it won’t have to feel foreign (as if I was invading someone else’s space) because home will finally feel like home.

Life… Life, you’re beautiful, but most days you just fail to take my breath away. You just can’t get any more fecund, rainbowy, more anthillful, changeful, contriving, or uncertain-y. Sometimes I walk by flowers and think, “What a waste!” When you think about how much effort was spent on perfecting this precise petal, that precise pistil and scent, all for a one-time appearance, so short-lived yet vulnerably proud. And I look at myself, after all, why me and not the rest? Sewn up in skin and not fur or scales, topped off not by leaves but with eaves of hair and a face, this precise self–sinful not divine–not in a nest, but in a house, a house but not a home?

mess and noise (or lack, thereof)

today was a good day. i’d go as far as saying it’s one of the better ones i’ve had lately. i’ve been practicing pottery this weekend and have finally gotten back my mojo (in centering, at least). i haven’t properly focused on pottery the past few months due to all the chaos going on in my life and have, unfortunately, lost my muscle memory when it came to throwing on the wheel. i made sure to go back to the basics and spent hours this weekend looking for that familiar feeling. today i was able to center and lift with ease. the familiarity is back and i hope to never lose it again. of course i wouldn’t say it’s perfect, but i was able to make two bowls and one plate without repeating. i hope to start lifting higher walls in the next few weeks and actually throw a tall vase, but i need to clock in more hours of practice. i made a giant mess out of my balcony, but it felt great. the thing i love about pottery is i am encouraged to create a mess out of everything; i love it most especially because i’ve spent my whole life being told not to make any mess and finding a medium where my mess is celebrated is so liberating for me. i haven’t really established my own style and technique in pottery; i am still mastering the basics, but i hope i can branch out in the near future and be able to do sculpting as well. i wish to know clay so intimately to the point that i will be able to throw pots and sculpt even with my eyes closed.  a big hairy ambitious goal indeed, but i long to be in that state. i sometimes still feel frustrated and aggravated whenever i do pottery. this isn’t just limited to pottery though;  i am frustrated and in pain when i write as well. i am aiming for some kind of perfection. not perfection in denotation because that is impossible, but perfection in my own terms. what that is and how i will be able to achieve it is hazy to me, but i believe its entirety can be achieved with persistence and practice…and more practice. either way, i found myself at peace with the world today. no anxiety or paranoia or any turbulent thoughts; no feeling as if i am being rushed or forced to do something. i was happy doing my craft and basking in solitude, in silence, once again.sometimes i find myself afraid of the silence because it is the crucial time wherein i hear my own noise. i am faced with noise every day; from honking cars to loud conversations and barking mongrels, but it is the noise from within that frightens me the most. my anger, hatred, frustrations, insecurities, and little annoyances—all these noises that contribute to the degradation of my mental health. i face these everyday with no escape, but today was different. there was no voice in my head telling me i wasn’t good enough, no surge of depression, no anxiety over a petty thing. i am so grateful for today; days like this make me see the beauty of Life, that, perhaps, Life isn’t so futile after all and it actually has meaning. sometimes i wish it was like this everyday, sometimes i wish i didn’t have to cry myself to sleep and cry again the moment i wake up out of fear of life itself, sometimes i wish i never had to wake up feeling as if i’m carrying the whole world on my shoulders, but most days i still do and i’m trying to live with that reality, but it’s such a good feeling having none of that today. i’m cherishing it and writing it down because i don’t know when i’ll have days like this again.

Hatred

I saw my dad eating lunch alone on the dining table today so I sat with him because I hate seeing anyone eating alone, but we didn’t talk. I think it will always be awkward between my dad and I; we’re just not close, I suppose. I hate his aloofness and denial, his habit of brushing things off and pretending everything is alright, his black and white thinking when it comes to religion, and his tendency to make smalltalk just to fill the awkward silence.

I hate my mother and her coke and cigarettes, the disgusting smell of smoke every time I step in the door, how it lingers in all the crevices of the household and permanently stays there, always stinging my nose and dizzying me. It doesn’t matter where she hides herself, the pungent smell always finds me and it’s depressing.

I hate my younger brother and how he bars the whole world from him with just one slam of a door, always going home late from his friends’ house, his moodiness that always annoys the shit out of me, his warring emotions and wavering trust, how he can open his heart to me today and ignore me the next.

I hate my older brother for dropping out of college to pursue ministry, how he left home when i was just in high school, how the role of the eldest child was passed on and drilled to me by my parents, how we never talked again after he left, the estrangement thanks to the years we missed out on because he had to follow his dumb calling, and the reality that I don’t really know anything about him and he’s just as good as dead. I hate his self-righteousness and how he thinks he can preach over me, and how he will never understand that his god is only powerful to the next believer. and I’ve stopped believing a long time ago.

I hate my street, because even though it is called Freedom Street, there is really no freedom in it. And I hate my neighbors, how they act indifferent and uninterested but start whispering at the slightest hint of scandal.

I hate the daily commute and how I can never walk out of my house in peace, thanks to the omnipresent slimy stares of men.

I hate people and how no one is ever consistent with anything, that I am really alone in this life and no one can be trusted 100 percent, that i can never count on anybody’s word

I hate myself for my avoidant behavior, purposely evading responsibilities and tasks because i’m a piece of shit.

I hate my maladaptive daydreaming and how i believe whatever my imagination can conjure is better than real life

I hate my unrealistic high standards and expectations for myself, my hypocrisy for appreciating people for who they are, but cannot apply the same thing to myself.

I hate my warring emotions, torn between wanting to find someone who understands me and just wanting to be left alone forever.

I hate that I think too much and do too little, and I seethe about this all day.

I hate my mathematical incompetency, how I panic first when faced with a problem before actually solving it, but most times I just stare down at my paper, dumbfounded, because I am incapable of doing math, even the most basic of it. perhaps that’s why I’ve failed my math classes ever since.

I hate my impatience and inability to wait around for others. And I hate myself for never being able to sit still.

I hate my habit of never being content, of my never-ending desire to be better, and the nagging feeling that I’m never doing enough, that I will never amount to anything. I hate my desire to do everything, only to be disappointed because I know I cannot ever. It overwhelms and frustrates me.