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.

Imago of Curiosity and Wonder

i need to write i think i’m gonna explode i am not having the best day, people! i wasn’t satisfied with my productivity over the weekend. i told myself i was going to get a lot of important things done, but i ended up doing, perhaps, just one out of the multitude that i had to get done! monday was another suspension of classes due to the transport strike (it’s becoming frequent now, it’s been happening every week! the masses are really angry!) and i was supposed to write and research and send pitches, and i ended up lying down in bed daydreaming and listening to Alan Watt’s audio lectures…

i know leisure time is just as important as work, and i wish that i could balance both. perhaps this is just me being horrible to myself agin because it is the weekend and a time of unwinding, but i wanted to get so many things done. not that i regret listening to Alan Watts because his audio lectures, i find, are very very enlightening. It’s called Out of Your Mind and i’ve started on the first ones, and so far I’m loving him. I might write a separate piece on him over the weekend, because i would hate myself if i didn’t. I have so many things to say about this man!!! but I feel like I need to be more acquainted with his works before i even give justice to him, so i’d have to listen to a couple more podcasts. so that’s what i did yesterday, yeah. not the most productive, but it definitely gave me some time for much needed headspace. i wasn’t able to send my pitches and applications though, which i should’ve done yesterday, but well, i don’t know. i’m such a lazy fucker.

i have class in 30 minutes and should be editing my article for our special issue, but instead i’m here ranting. today was supposed to be a productive day and believe me, i’ve tried, but i think this day isn’t just cooperating. because at 9 am i already met with my group mates to work on the last of our thesis but there was a fire drill and we had to vacate the faculty center and it last for about an hour, and by the time we got back the internet wasn’t working anymore and we couldnt access our google docs. and we transferred to the library and went around many floors to look for a place to work, but everything else was taken and the wifi wasn’t working and by then, my group mates just decided to fuck it, we’ll work on it tonight, because i could tell they were in a pissy mood also, and it’s never nice to work in a pissy mood… so i went to the newsroom and decided to mull things over, but one of my staff writers was sitting across me and i thought, i’d hate myself if i let the chance to talk to him pass by because i’d rather wallow in my solitude. you know how i always complain about this sense of Otherness that i feel pretty much all the time when I’m around everybody? but i realize that this sense of Otherness that i so often feel is all because of me, it’s all my fault, that i’m to blame. so instead of reading my Natsume book i decided to strike a conversation with him instead and i checked up on him and it lasted for i think around 10-15 mins but it didn’t feel dreadful at all. it was actually a good conversation and he was pretty cheery. and just when i was done with that and ready to read in my corner, another  staff writer of mine went up to me to talk to me so of course i had to talk back to her because i cannot ignore her, and of course as her editor, my ears should always be ready for her, but this conversation with her lasted even longer, i think almost 30 minutes, though it didn’t feel dreadful also, but by the time it was over, i was already worrying because i lost reading time and i have class in less than an hour and i was looking forward to clear my head…and i just didn’t want to edit articles anymore and decided to rant because yes, i am a jaded fucker and need an outlet for my anxious encounters with people everyday which normal people don’t even rant about because this is such a huge deal to me, and this can either make or break my psyche and free writing just calms me… but now I’m worrying that I’m not making any sense and my grammar is all wrong but i don’t want to be dreadful to myself!!!

what am i saying even… i have 15 minutes before class. i think we’re getting the results of our exam today. of course i passed, it was easy, but it’s more of me passing or getting perfect, and i don’t think i got perfect at all. sigh sigh.

last night i was able to arrange all my story ideas and pitches in one file and i’m happy that even though I’ve been flayed and stripped this past year, my ideas are still pretty ace and i haven’t lost myself completely. I can still recognize myself. I’m excited to write them and pitch them; not that I’m trying to raise my own bench, but i’m feeling really good about them and am confident enough to pitch them to editors. i just need to polish and expound on them more and make an outline just to gauge its feasibility, though knowing the nature of these stories, i’ve already gauged their feasibility months ago, though i need to develop my angle and focus. i’v gotten a call also from the PR firm that i applied to and I’m starting my internship some time in August after my finals exams. i applied to other companies though and have yet to hear back form them, so i don’t want to be too certain about this one, but i’m still looking forward to it, even though it’s corporate, i think i need to expose myself more to new things. it’s not like i’m selling out or shifting my dreams, more of like expanding my dreams and getting as much experience as i can. life is about experiences after all, and by encasing myself in these walls, i am cutting myself at the knees and curtailing the things i can learn from all these people. so I’m definitely gearing myself up for all the interaction and learning ill be getting from these new people. of course I’m managing my expectations but at the same time, I’m just trying to listen to Imago.

did i mention? Imago is my inner goddess…. well, i was reading this book by Jean Bolen about Goddesses in Everywoman and Gods in Everyman, like how we identify with gods and goddesses inside of us because we find some kind of familiarity in them and these gods and goddesses—these archetypes—serve as our different personas. i decided to make my own goddess and named one of the goddesses living inside me Imago. if i were to have a default persona, it must be Imago. it must be her. I’ve always liked the name; if i could choose my name, I’d name myself just that. And Imago is my goddess of Curiosity and Wonder, and she is my default. and i figured and i fully agree to this, that to be able to live a full life, i have to forever live with curiosity and wonder. to always have that lust for life, of never-ending curiosity, to look at every thing with wonder and awe, regardless if it’s quotidian or the sublime. i have to find—must try very very very hard to find–the sublime in life’s ordinariness, and that’s what i plan to do for the rest of my days, i think. i’ve been trying to listen to Imago these past few days and so far, it’s going alright. i’m still skeptic about this whole thing, but i’m trying to learn and appreciate everything around me. it’s difficult because i’ve looked at life with clouded eyes my whole life, and easing myself into this new lifestyle is definitely challenging me and bringing out the worst—and best—in me. i think it’s very important to look at life with a child’s eyes, with that innocent, impish nature, and I’m trying to reawaken that inner child in me. i’m reexamining everything around me and changing and double checking every perspective and opinion and feelings i have of and for every thing—negative or otherwise. because i realize that i have to look up at everything around me, and by “look up” i mean treat everything with respect and tenderness and awe. i have to let go of this jadedness and otherness, and by training myself to “look up” at my surroundings and the people around me, i am allowing myself to open up and take more of the world in. and perhaps this way i am also getting rid of that sense of Otherness that has been taking refuge inside me since, idk, since i was a child. and so far, it’s great. no, I’m not being foolish or naive. i know the world’s evils and my personal evils, but i don’t want to carry this hatred inside me. and i have to carry this curiosity and wonder inside me at all times. it’s the only way to help myself, it’s the only way to make things easier for me. i notice that exposing myself to the vernacular has been such a great help. i find that i love the common people more than the Somebodies anyway. i don’t think id ever have tenderness for the Somebodies with a capital S. well, perhaps not the same level of tenderness i have for the common people. perhaps it’s my bias, but common people are more interesting and easier to love. i’d rather stay in the periphery than the center, only because i can see so much from the cheap seats that the Somebodies themselves can never ever see. and by cutting myself from that kind of insulation and by staying in the periphery, i am able to see more. and know more. and learn more. I am also trying to be tender with everything around me. yes, including myself! it’s hard, but i’m trying my darnedest. i am trying to love and learn the world the way i am trying to accept myself, and it’s so hard. but i’m not giving up on life, and I’m not giving up on myself any time soon either.

gosh, I’m ramblingggg. i have class now, but it feels so good letting all these things out! i think i needed this. it’s not like people actually read this ha-ha so i don’t have to feel so ashamed! i have to get to class. this has been a really good ramble. farewell!

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 past month in retrospect & other life things

-did an ethnographic research (for the first time) on a cult two fridays ago and, to my surprise, enjoyed it thoroughly. we presented our findings and analysis to our professor (an awfully brilliant anthropologist in her own right) yesterday and we have to do minimal edits on the paper, but so far so good. i think we did well, considering the fact that someone from the other class cried from her criticism during their presentation :\

-met my thesis mentor last Saturday and we’re finished. i can breathe easy. we’ll be passing our chapter 1 and 2 on Friday to our panelists and just have to wait next week for the results of the deliberations; fuck, i hope we pass and get to go on the next level. our mentor told us we’re good to go, but of course, i’m still wringing my hands. i cannot sit still. this undergrad thesis can either make or break my academia dreams.

-been trying so hard to control my maladaptive daydreaming. i still do it at night when my head hits the pillow and i’m left staring into the darkness because i cannot sleep, but i’ve found a solution to that. sleeping pills!

-of course, i don’t want to be dependent on sleeping pills, but the melatonin sleeping pills have been a huge help to me these past few weeks. i fall asleep within 15-20 minutes of taking it; i just put one pill under my tongue and wait for the citrusy pill to dissolve. it doesn’t make me feel nauseous and dizzy after waking up. i’ve had bad experiences with bad sleeping aids in the past (don’t take ZzzQuil, people!), and it would always give me nasty headaches that would last the entire day. i don’t know, perhaps because the dosage is also quite big so that could be a factor, but still, i didn’t get any of the bad side effects from melatonin which is great! as much as i don’t want to take a sleeping pill every night, it’s the only thing that works for my sleeping problems.

-discovered samosas and mango chutney in school two weeks back. honestly, the only reason why i go to school every day!

-i arranged my desk book tower, dewey decimal style. i enjoyed this thoroughly, too, and honestly considered doing it for a living. if there’s door to door evangelizing, there should also be door to door dewey decimal classifying (i’ll make it into a Thing!). i wish this were a real job, though i wager i’d probably do it for free for people because i’m just too nice hmph. anyway, arranging my desk book tower put me in a contemplative mood; not the entire time, because i found myself arguing with myself whether i should put Alan Moore’s Watchmen under graphic novels or  American Literature…technically it’s a graphic novel, but it is still one of the Greatest Novels ever written and it’s under DC, so i considered it American Literature. don’t argue with me on this. it’s a brilliant fucking piece, plus graphic novels never get enough respect! got that? good haha

-i dropped my Fitbit in an Uber while i was on my way school two weeks ago. thank goodness for kind Uber drivers. the man drove back to my house the next morning to bring it back. phew! now i can go back to counting my steps and counting my sleeping hours and counting the ounces of water i drink daily…… lol

-i’ve been utilizing my Bullet Journal for more than a month now. it hasn’t been that long, but i’m never going back to random to-do lists every again. i need to be more consistent with it, of course, but i am enjoying thus far!

-i think in order to live i need to have this rat-like cunningness and curiosity towards life, so i am always i am on the hunt for good or new stories to pursue. so far i have a couple of ideas in my head, but that’s all. i’m stuck on ideas. i need some fucking follow through, but i have so many roles to play in life and gosh, wouldn’t it be so nice to just drop every responsibility i have and just write???

-i went to a book thrift shop over the weekend. i stopped going to book thrift shops lately because the ones in my city never have any good ones and believe me, i’ve scoured every nook and cranny. but lo and behold! buried beneath heaps of tacky ghetto romance novellas was a The Atlantic magazine! i enjoy reading articles and stories from The Atlantic online so of course i bought the magazine……even though it was more expensive than the usual thrift shop steal……

-i met up with a local herbalist a couple of days ago. no, i don’t mean a drug dealer lol though that was what my brother assumed hahaha. this woman studies herbalism and makes natural skincare products for a cheap price. lately i’ve been more conscious of my purchases and threw away all the face products invading my bathroom sink. now i just have a jar of coconut oil and witch hazel on my sink; i definitely don’t want to be a slave to capitalism, so i’m looking for other options that are more sustainable and also friendly to local businesses. i thought this herbalist was very much apropos because she’s a mother who homeschools her child, and she uses her earnings from her skincare products to her child’s homeschooling so i thought that was a great cause. i got a facial toner and an oil cleanser from her for really cheap; it’s cheap because she concocts and brews it herself and there is no plastic packaging!!! it’s vegan AND zero waste, did i mention that? it’s vegan and zero waste, people!! and so far i’m liking the whole natural approach in skincare. it’s not loaded with horrible chemicals and parabens, and i love how the herbalist uses natural ingredients in her products such as witch hazel, tea, herbs, plant and oil astringents—natural ingredients i actually know and can pronounce lol. i used to think putting a ton of shit on my face would make my skin better, but the more i spend on overpriced skincare products, the more i realize how shortchanged i actually am because i sold my soul to capitalism.

-been wanting to buy a new typewriter. my first ever purchase of a typewriter (using my own money!!!) was during my 18th birthday in 2014. I didn’t throw any party or celebration, but i did make a vow that i would buy myself a typewriter. so i did, and it was my first big purchase as an adult lol. I bought a portable Smith and Corona Model #3 in mint condition which made newly-18-year-old-me keel over because of the price. B-U-T it’s going to be about 3 years since then and i think i’m ready to buy another one! i don’t have any vices or enjoy any other luxurious in life nor do i have a boyfriend or dates to spend onnnnn, ok, i’m a frugal (and broke) college student, but i am willing to drop cash on vintage typewriters….and a couple of bonsai trees. ANYWAY, I’m looking into buying an Olivetti, perhaps a Lettera 33 or an SM9. I’m planning to scour thriftshops too; part of the reason why my first purchase was expensive was because I had to get it shipped from the US and the shipping fee was just too expensive. If I am patient enough in digging through junk shops & thrift shops around the Metro and smart enough with haggling then I shouldn’t have to spend so much……

-havent written much for my novel because of the stressful month. i honestly hate myself for this because i have deadline to work under (a month!) and I don’t know how i’m going to pull this off, if i even can :\

-i have an interview tomorrow with an NGO for my research paper in my social development class. i’m looking forward to it, i just hate that it’s so out of the way and i have to immediately go back to school for my stupid quiz.

-i haven’t been eating clean the past month; i am bloated and i think i gained weight. whatever.

-i went home to a couple of plants today which, i must admit, are the highlight of my day. i have three stevia plants, two tarragon plants, a rosemary plant, and a green tea plant. (thanks mom…) i think my plant hospital/pottery shed is coming to fruition (i just need to get back into pottery ugh). if i can turn back time i’d go back 4 years in the past and pursue agriculture or farming. i’m not even kidding. farming is the only thing that makes sense in life.

-i finished two Murakamis in two days. South of the Border, West of the Sun & After Dark. I’m three chapters in on Hardboiled Wonderland and plan to finish it before finals week. Honestly, I’m still speechless over Murakami. No really! I need a separate post to talk about him……………

-been listening so much to Michael Hedges the past week! Woman of the World just speaks to me (honestly, listen to it people!!!) On the other hand, I am deeply frustrated because I cannot find my Nat King Cole CD. I started looking for it once Murakami began his jazz rhetoric in SotBWotS, but also because Murakami kept mentioning Nat King Cole in it and at that time, I just wanted to listen to Nat while reading about Nat!!! Unfortunately, I cannot find it and I’ve searched everywhere. I would honestly be devastated if I never find my Nat King Cole CD 😦

-Bernie Wrightson passed away. That’s another of my childhood hero, gone. Honestly, Swamp Thing changed my life. Of course, I am biased towards Moore’s run on Swamp Thing, but still, there would be no Swamp Thing without Bernie Wrightson. I loved his illustrations on Frankenstein and Creepshow too; those took my breath away just as much. He’s a legend and the world knew that; the entire world wept for Bernie Wrightson’s passing. Swamp Thing will always be special to me, though. Even now, as a vegan, I take the quotes in Swamp Thing to heart. Fools, if Nature were to shrug or raise an eyebrow, then you should all be gone. It says so much about us humans; we just go on and on and on destroying the very world that we live in. I cannot wait for the day mother nature spites us all. (shouts to Donald Trump: Climate Change is real!!!) Go Green or The Green will be angry! I love you so much, Bernie Wrightson, my hero, you will live on.

-i have a quiz tomorrow that i haven’t studied for…… which is why i’m not sleeping tonight and why i have to brew coffee in a few minutes. i need to study! as much as i want to go to bed and lie in my sheets and pillows that smelly faintly of peppermint (ughhh i want to sleep!!!) and pop a sleeping pill, i cannot. i. have. to. study.

i think i’ve ranted enough to thin air. til then!

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.

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.