When I Said I Wasn’t Going to Spend Money on Books This Month

I lied. I was quite surprised when I went over my purchases for the last month and realized that I had bought fifteen books in less than 30 days… but, well, I don’t really have any vices other than reading, and buying and borrowing books, so I thought this was better than, oh I don’t know, snorting lines of coke up my nostrils or nymphomania. So I passed by a secondhand bookshop on my way home today and told myself I was just going to have a browse. An hour later, however, I already had a stack of books that I wanted to buy propped up in my arms. Of course I had to kick myself and force myself to only get one, but after debating with myself for a couple more minutes, I finally settled on two: Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes and Selected Fiction by Henry James. I had to put Sue Monk Kidd, Leo Tolstoy’s biography, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and a collection of letters penned by soldiers during the Vietnam War on the back burner for now, much to my heartbreak.

To be honest, though, the real real reason why I went to the bookshop today was to look for the book I hid there a month ago. I was planning to buy it, but never got around to because 1). I was already buying too many books at that time so I thought I should just go back for it some other day and 2). At that time, the book didn’t call out to me as strongly. I was adamant on going back for it today though, in hopes of still finding it. I wanted to give it to this really special friend of mine whose younger brother took his own life just this week. The book is called An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness and I searched and searched and searched with pigheaded devotion until my fingers were covered in soot, but I couldn’t find the book anymore. I’m honestly so heartbroken that I won’t be able to give it to my special friend, but I’m looking at other options. I am not the best in comforting and communicating my emotions, and most of the time I wish I knew the right words to say, so when I show my concern and love to others, I’m not very upfront about it, and I hope the warmth that I want to convey shows through little things I do such as penning long and winding letters and giving books that I believe is a perfect match to the receiver because spoken words always fail me. I can only hope, but hope is never lost.

Rereading Wislawa Szymborska’s New and Collected poetry collection. This poetry collection is the closest thing I have to a bible, and Szymborska is my favorite writer. If I were to choose only one writer across multitudes of genres–although I hope no one would ever make me do that because that’s fucking criminal–Szymborska would always be top of my list, right next to the Dons of my dreams Pablo Neruda and Federico Garcia Lorcaaaaa!!

Reading Man and his Symbols by Carl Jung (for my Philosophy of the Unconscious graduate class)

Continuing When Nietzsche Wept by Irvin Yalom

Something mundane: I finally utilized the full potential of my Evernote and made a separate notebook for all of my terrible poetry drafts and fragmented thoughts, AND made a separate note for each poetry draft. This is it, this is my life coming together… hahaaaa I hope to work on these soon so I don’t continue hating myself.

My forever mantra: Dr. Manhattan’s monologue on Mars. As I was on my way home today, I couldn’t help but feel heartbroken over what my friend is going through. I will never know his pain, and I will never know what it feels like to lose my younger brother, but in these darkest hours I believe that my friend is more resilient than he thinks, with an unmatched reverence and vitality for Life. I know he will keep on. I have the utmost confidence and faith in him. And so, while I was lost in my reveries, I pulled out the small folded paper from my ID case to read while walking; I keep this with me every single day, for times such as this. It’s got Daily Mantra scribbled on it. Here is what it says:

Thermodynamic miracles, events with odds against so astronomical they’re effectively impossible, like oxygen spontaneously becoming gold. I long to observe such a thing. And yet, in each human coupling, a thousand million sperm vie for a single egg. Multiply those odds by countless generations, against the odds of your ancestors being alive; meeting; siring this precise son; that exact daughter… Until your mother loves a man she has every reason to hate, and of that union, of the thousand million children competing for fertilization, it was you, only you, that emerged. To distill so specific a form from that chaos of improbability, like turning air to gold… that is the crowning unlikelihood. The thermodynamic miracle.

But the world is so full of people, so crowded with these miracles that they become commonplace and we forget… I forget. We gaze continually at the world and it grows dull in our perceptions. Yet seen from another’s vantage point, as if new, it may still take our breath away. Come… dry your eyes. For you are life, rarer than a quark and unpredictable beyond the dreams of Heisenberg; the clay in which the forces that shape all things leave their fingerprints most clearly. Dry your eyes… and let’s go home.

Most days I try to be like Dr. Manhattan and improvise a monologue in my head while, say, walking or sitting by myself during the morning commute, but I never sound as poetic as him, and never as articulate. But I try.

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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

of rooftop astronomy and books from my childhood

work and school classes were canceled again today due to the transport strike, so i had the day to myself. as usual i failed to write anything and got lost in my reveries again. i’m so sick of all this, of never having anything to completion. what is wrong with me? around high noon i found myself rummaging through the dust-filled book shelf behind the staircase and pulling out book after book from my childhood. i remember all these. the huge people and places atlas, the illustrated tome-like encyclopedias, the complete set of The Adventures of Poldy, a hardbound book of fairytales, flimsy paperback books on folklore, legends, fables, riddles, and children’s poetry written in my mother tongue, and a graphic bible. these are what got me into reading, these huge encyclopedias that seemed heavier and bigger than me when i was a child. i remember poring through the pages of one of them and reading about Egypt and mummification, how insects help flowers, the different plants of the desert, how hailstorms are formed, the Boer war, how papyrus is made, the Bayeux tapestry, so on and so forth. i open each one and see scribbles from when i would pretend to be a librarian and fix my stamp and name on the pages. i think i still want to be a librarian, secretly…

i also found my complete Jane Austen novel collection. i forgot how huge and heavy this book is. it resembles more of a tome, actually, and i still remember its tissue-thin bible paper, the sound the pages make when i ruffle through them. perhaps I ought to read Jane Austen again. one of these days. I also took an interest in my dad’s Meade ETX70 telescope. it’s been sitting by the terrace door for years and no one’s ever touched it, and i realized, earlier, how much of a fool i am, to be so enamored by so much science fiction when i had a telescope right here all along, and i could look at the cosmos every night if i wished. i could see Mars if i wanted, instead of closing my eyes in bed and trying very hard to picture in my mind Bradbury’s Mars. Or Alan Moore’s Mars. I went through the telescope’s manual this afternoon and am planning to play around with the telescope tonight. i checked the phase calendar and tonight we have a Waning Crescent. i’ve since written down some important dates. November 4 would be a full moon, and the 3rd of December a Super Full Moon. i’d love to see all the moon’s phases. in fact, i’d like to look at the moon every night now, i’d like to know it more intimately, and perhaps if things were in my favor, i’d be able to see someday the orion nebula and the ice caps on Mars. perhaps it wouldnt hurt to pick up rooftop astronomy as my latest hobby. i am very much tired of the things and faces around me that i’d actually prefer it if i could look up at the stars every night instead so id be reminded how insignificant and little i am in this world. it helps that way. I’m so scared for all of us, how we think so highly of ourselves, how we view the world as ours for the taking, never knowing that there is a price to be exacted. how shameful that despite of the universe’s generosity and open palms, we think we can just snatch everything away and brand it as ours, when we are never really free, when we really never own anything, to view ourselves as Somebodies when we are really just some bodies. how dare us demand kindness from the world when we are indifferent to its pain? who are we to ask for more? who are we to insist on peace?

i am so troubled by myself. i graduated two days ago and am feeling really anxious because it dawned on me that i am unemployed. i’ve been beating myself up for not having a job before graduation and i know people will say that i should rest for a month or two before looking for a job, but i really am so anxious. i feel as if i will never amount to anything, and that i will never be certain of anything. i suddenly feel as if nothing in this life makes any sense, and i’ve been mellow these past two days, just contemplating about everything and it’s so so difficult for me to find meaning in anything right now, that all i can think of is gazing at the moon and the stars because real people and real life and bills and rent and money and work and social customs and modern dating and the fucking rat race and all of this shit about life that make me anxious and scared–i wish they’d just all stop fucking mattering!!! i honestly am so lost and so afraid and ashamed and angry at myself and anxious i cannot think clearly anymore

common things

I’d like to remember things. One day, when I’m old, I’d want to remember things, so I’ve resigned myself to writing diary entries every now and then (not as often as I’d like, to be honest, but I’m working on that) to remember ordinary happenings and common things in my life. While most would write about their most memorable experiences, I would like to remember some of the most mundane things in my life. Sometimes, really, it is the quotidian that is sublime.

Nothing much has been happening in my life lately, but I don’t sit around waiting and wringing my hands for an adventure. As trite as it sounds, I’d like to think everyday is an adventure as long as I decide that it will be. Personally, nothing major has happened, but I’ve been talking to my brother a lot these days. He is recuperating from his heartbreak and he’s been so resilient throughout, but there are small moments when the gravity of it all weighs on him and I can see the weariness in his eyes. He talks about his emotions with me, something I find very special because it is so rare, I’d like to believe, for men to open up their emotions to someone. I think men are conditioned to keep everything in and not talk about feelings and as a result, a lot of things are repressed, but I think that’s quite dangerous. It hurts me, though, when I see him so hurt. How he hurts so silently, my younger brother, and so as his sister, I find that this is a special role I must play, in filling that void, his emotional suppression. I’ve never been lucky enough to fall in love yet, but I am learning so much from his own heartbreak. Yes, perhaps there was love, perhaps it didn’t work out because they are young and confused and have a lot of things to figure out for themselves, but the primal emotions are there. The girl has since moved on and is going out with a new prospect. My brother, on the other hand, has resigned himself to solitude. It’s funny, this thing we have in common. We have this affinity with writing long letters, and when he told me he wrote his ex a long letter, I had flashbacks of times when I wrote long winding letters for people. Some were for friends, some for ex-friends, rare were for special friends, and some were letters that I will just never send because I am far too meek. It’s definitely uncommon these days, but letter writing is something so special I cherish it and only give it to people who mean to me. For my brother, it was cathartic more than a thinking-through or a mulling-over, but he needed the release all the same. I know he is not the kind of person to throw a pity party for himself and I can see he is trying his best to gain back his sense of power and confidence. A couple of days ago he asked me for help; he plans to write and illustrate an illustrated dystopian book for his thesis on his final year and asked me if I had any book recommendations for him. Being the only bibliophile in this house, of course I had a couple up my sleeve. I lent him my copy of Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, and the classics, 1984, Animal Farm, The Handmaid’s Tale, and some Stephen Kings such as The Long Walk and The Running Man. For illustrated books, I showed him a copy of my Alice in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass, and The Little Prince. I plan to make him read a couple of graphic novels in the next few weeks too. As you can tell, I am excited for my brother’s reading journey! I’ve been reading for as long as I can remember, and writing just as long, and to see him, a non reader, explore this world is so special for me. I mean, what is life without books? You tell me. It’s nothing.

I also started my internship at the MET museum a few weeks ago. It’s been alright so far, but I cannot help but be affected by ennui every now and then, and it’s something I’m having a hard time with. Regardless, I am learning so much and I cannot complain about that. There is wisdom in everything, yes, and in this listlessness there is something to learn too. Something curious happened a week ago though, while I was in the museum. This dragonfly, somehow, managed to find its way inside the museum and it freaked everyone out. They were screaming and swatting at it, but of course the dragonfly kept flying higher and higher above our heads and settled on the ceilings, but it stayed in the office the entire day. Around lunch time it started to flutter towards me and perched on the lower part of the wall behind me and it stayed there for the remainder of the afternoon. And here’s when it gets curious: Around 5pm, while I was preparing to go home, I hear something clatter to the floor (the office is very quiet by the way) that sounded like a bunch of metal paper clips. So I turn and saw the dragonfly on the floor, stiff. I take it in my palms and its wings flutter a bit before finally dying. I thought there was something so huge and overwhelming with this little dragonfly’s death and it affected me so much that I started tearing up. I’ve since brought the dragonfly home and am planning to preserve and mount it soon on a frame. Did I mention that this entire thing happened while I was making an Instagram account so I can document my foray into vernacular entomology? Because I’ve been wanting to collect bugs again as a hobby and at that time, I was googling how to preserve different types of insects, and it was so uncanny that the dragonfly just died there, next to me, while I was doing that. So is this synchronicity? Is it also synchronicity, I must digress, when I was choosing a random poem by Louise Gluck to read and found one about spring, and when I chose another random poem to read, this time by Robert Hass, it was also a poem about spring? What is it about spring? But going back to the dearly departed dragonfly: I thought it so strange, so curious, and so meaningful. There was something so eerie about it, too, and at the same time, something poignant. Personally, I found its death momentous. I am still affected by it. God knows why I do not cry at people’s funerals but this dragonfly’s death touched me beyond comprehensibility.

Another curious thing that happened to me last week. I dreamt about Umberto Eco, but I find it uncanny because I’ve never read Umberto Eco, ever! But in my dream, I knew it was him. I was sitting on a monoblock chair outside the Student Media Office in school when Umberto passed me. He smiles at me and walks on; I don’t know how I knew him as Umberto Eco, but I identified him as him in my dream. Somehow, I just knew and named him. After a while he went out of the office and started talking to the people and students around us. He was writing something on a blank sheet of paper and teaching something to the people, god knows what, but it was in a different language that I cannot understand, but I know that Umberto Eco is Italian (I googled it after I woke up). However, when I looked at his paper, I saw that his spelling was off. Among other words, he misspelled the word “cognitive” as “cvgnitive” with a letter V. (So he cant have been writing Italian here, right? Because I recognized the misspelled words, but I only remember cvgnitive) So, I showed him how to spell cognitive in English and wrote it down on his paper. He smiled at me and then… that’s it, I don’t remember the rest. I think I woke up. Again, prior to this dream, I have never read Umberto Eco in my life, but I just suddenly knew in my dream that it was him. It’s so weird, but perhaps I ought to read him. He is known for his difficult and dense postmodern works, but perhaps my unconscious is trying to tell me something. I’ve since gotten a copy of The Name of the Rose and planning to have a go at it soon. By the way, this isn’t the first time I’ve dreamt of a writer. I dreamt of Nick Joaquin once, and we were talking while walking in the rain at night (no umbrellas) and he was telling me something, but I couldnt hear him because of the rain, but his face looked serious and grave. I was struggling to hear him, but I really couldnt make out anything and it was so frustrating when I woke up because I wished so badly to know what he was telling me, what if it was an important message? And I remember, everything was black and white in that dream and the end of it was he brought me home in a dark car, I stepped out to my gate and then… that’s it. I find all this so peculiar, dreaming of revered writers. I don’t know what my unconscious is trying to tell me or show me, but I also know that I have to write. A lot. And be serious with my writing, otherwise I would be sacrificing it. I can’t seem to bring anything to completion these days, preferring to bank on the unsteady influx of fickle inspiration and motivation, but I know I have to put more worth and value and seriousness in pursuing writing. There’s no other way.

What other common things? Well, I am graduating from university this October (I am seriously considering not marching since I’m not proud of myself at all. I am not graduating with honors, I must painfully admit, and I have no patience at all for rituals and ceremonies); my lettuce, chili, mustard and tomato seeds have since germinated and they are looking great; I am contemplating if I should submit my application letter for the daily newspaper. It’s pretty huge, among the top 3 in the country, but I don’t know if I want to be a content strategist, I mean, is it taking me further away from writing fiction and creative nonfiction? Although I don’t think it’s bad for my first job, I guess. Oh, and I started sitting-in at my professor’s Philosophy of the Unconscious grad school class for this term, so it’s something I’m looking forward to. I wanted to sit-in because I also want to see what a master’s class is like and if it works out, maybe I can take my master’s degree sooner or later. It’s a mature class and I’m loving it thus far; the students are much, much older than me! Perhaps around their late twenties, thirties to fifties! And I’m only 21 and do not know much at all, and I like the atmosphere, being in a class with people who are much much smarter than me, people who know so much more, and have more experience in life than I’ve ever had! And even more, I am taking the class with a really special friend! If everything were right in the world, I would choose among an MA in Philosophy, Anthropology, or Literature, but not much is right with my life right now to be honest, and I’d hate to give up on my dreams for practicality’s sake, but I guess we’ll just have to see. I’d like to have some kind of balance some day; I am not thinking about the money, but the “life”. What kind of life do I want to live? It’s so hard trying to live a meaningful life doing meaningful work. And in terms of my future, I’m honestly not so sure where to go from here. I really have no idea at all. I am grasping at straws, though it isn’t as scary as I once thought. I’ve since accepted that life is just a bunch of “I don’t knows.” It’s small, but it flies on mighty wings. (Szymborska, 1996). And it is in uncertainty and unknowingness wherein I will truly learn. I know only that I know nothing (Socrates, Of Yore lol).

Lastly, I’ve been struggling with a couple of reads lately. The problem with being a haphazard reader is I read books all at the same time. Right now I am reading Pablo Neruda’s posthumous poetry collection, Michael Shaara’s The Killer Angels, Salman Rushdie’s The Moor’s Last Sigh, Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita, Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49, and Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cuisine recipe book. So help me.

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.