book hauls, book dealers, and my search for patience

I met with a book dealer, a new one, a few hours ago for transaction. Well, they’re actually just strangers who sell their old books or give them away for free because who knows why, but I call them book dealers because it sounds cooler. My default book dealer, who I will refer to as G, is a tall, lithe, birdlike man with a scruffy beard. He teaches yoga and is, perhaps, one of the most interesting people out there. And I don’t even know him as much as I want, but I can tell he’s a very profound guy. A couple of my favorite books came from his own collection that he was downsizing, actually, so I know he has good taste in literature. My other book dealer, the one I met earlier, is K. She is a pregnant woman who wears all black. She’s actually a vegan and is a practitioner of zero waste living, so she’s been getting rid of a lot of her stuff to minimize her waste, and also to make way and give space for her baby. One of the things she was getting rid of were her books so she gave them away for free. My heart hurt a bit; I’m a vegan and want to get into zero waste (failed attempts so far, but who’s counting?!) but I cant get into the whole minimalism thing when it comes to books. I can give away anything, but books I really can’t. I know I should get rid of my clothes and shoes. I have way too many, and far too few that I actually put to use. I’m thinking of giving them all away and just buying/thrifting same sets of everything: dark jeans and trousers, white button ups, black shirts and turtlenecks. Never been a fan of fashion to be honest, and I have way too many clothes picking up dust in my closet. Perhaps after my graduation this October!

Anyway, I felt guilty of taking advantage of my book dealer’s kindness (she had a couple of books up for the taking, but I unabashedly and selfishly took four when I know I should’ve just stuck to one or two, because for sure other people want these books as well, but well, the idea of free books was just too tempting, sorry!!!) But yeah, I felt guilty so in exchange for the books that I asked for, I gave her a bunch of oranges in return, which didn’t really cost a lot. I got the following from K:

New copies of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain.

I was never brought up on the classics and reading for me has been a solitary thing ever since, so the things I read from my childhood were all from my own discovery, which means I read a lot of contemporaries. I’m acquainting myself with the classics bit by bit, and I’ve heard Twain’s writing is way ahead of his time, so my fear of being alienated from his language is kept at bay. The books were still sealed with plastic and have never been read, and I thought K was crazy for giving them away, so I snatched them up and told her I’d take them. They are in perfect condition!

Norwegian Wood by Haruki  Murakami.

I am on the fence with Murakami. I enjoyed South of the Border, West of the Sun very much, as well as his short stories, but I couldn’t get into After Dark even after I finished it. I tried Kafka on the Shore and Hardboiled Wonderland and gave up on them as well. I don’t exactly know what’s wrong; perhaps my eyes and judgments are clouded, but I tried so hard to get into the last three books to no avail. So here’s hoping I like Norwegian Wood! Anyway, I got it for free and it’s still in very good condition, so I’m definitely not complaining!

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman.

It’s a battered copy and has definitely seen better days. The cover is completely ripped apart, it’s totally gone, and the book itself is split in half, unhinged from its spine. But hey, free is free and it’s what’s inside that matters, plus I already fixed it with masking tape! I love it either way. I can tell this is a well loved book. I’ve had numerous paperbacks give up on me for being abused and read so many times, so this Anansi book isn’t really surprising to me. It would’ve ended up the same way, would be the imago of the book should I get it brand new. I never liked mint condition books anyway. Those are sad books because you know they’ve never been read, and books are lonely when you don’t spread their pages apart to reveal their secrets. A battered book is a happy book!

Also, I just find it so funny because buying another Gaiman reminded me of this encounter I had with my staff writer weeks ago. She asked me why I’ve never read Sylvia Plath and she was shocked that I’ve never read The Bell Jar in my teens. She said, and I quote, “Whaaat? You’ve never read The Bell Jar?! But it’s every sad teenage girl’s story…”

To be true, I was a sad, prepubescent girl, okay, I had my emo phase, but let’s not get into that… BUT I was more of a Gaiman-Tolkien-King girl during those times. High fantasy, urban fantasy, and horror were my shit. My reading tastes back then weren’t sad at all, even though I was terribly sad and alone in real life. Perhaps I channeled my energies to the weird and the angry, the macabre and the violent, the angsty and the Other instead of wallowing in sadness even more. I got those from Gaiman and King. Coraline, The Sandman, Fragile Things, Pet Sematary, The Shining, Duma Key, It, Carrie, The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, these were my teenage companions! I was a sad prepubescent girl, but my literature was never sad. I guess I didn’t want to wallow in my sadness so I didn’t search for it in the books I read, which is great and all because I think if I read Plath during those dark hours, I would’ve gotten it all wrong. I would’ve romanticized suicide and thought it was all cool to be depressed and to be cutting myself. Maybe at that precarious prepubescent mind I would’ve been driven to do something unthinkable, like stick my head in a gas oven or something, and think it’s cool. Knowing my idiotic self back then, I would’ve done just that and thought it was cool, so I’m totally not complaining about growing up on Gaiman and King and Tolkien instead of Plath. If I were to read Plath, I’d like to do it now since I’m older, more mature, grounded, and have a stronger sense of self. But right, I’ve never had that sad teenage Bell Jar girl phase… that would’ve been interesting to see… I did have a Carrie stage though!!! I believed I was Carrie and could control people with telekinesis and read and communicate with other minds with my telepathy snort snort but let’s not get into that I am cringing so hard (tho to be fair, Carrie will always occupy a special space in my heart!)

Anyway, after meeting with my book dealer, of course I just had to indulge myself even more and head next  to the book thrift store to get two more books! The good books were stacked at the very top of the shelf, as if the people in the book thrift store didn’t want them to be bought off, but thanks to my 5’9 height I was able to pry them off from the top shelf by standing on tiptoe. I bought The Moor’s Last Sigh by Salman Rushdie and New Selected Poems by Seamus Heaney! They’re still in good condition, though they’ve totally been read through. Still, they are holding shape and, like what I said, I hate cookie cutter perfect books since those aren’t well loved books.

The Heaney poetry collection’s got scribbles on every page and I am swooning. I love it when past owners do this!!! Someone left their bookmark in the Rushdie book though, probably its last owner? The book has an address from India. The bookmark says INCY BELLA THE BOOK SHOP and it’s in Jew Town, Synagogue Lane, Cochin in Kerala, India. Wow… this book’s traveled to so many places. I hope I can visit that Indian book shop one day! I’m imagining that the bookshop is a small, independent bookshop, thriving and transcending against all the big business and corporations. It’s probably a little two-story brick house with the ground floor converted into a bookshop, in the middle of a bustling street… Ahhh that would be so cool. I wish I owned my own independent book shop.

The Moors Last Sigh is something I’m looking forward to read. Every time I read Salman Rushdie, it is always during a hectic time at school; it’s a bad idea because his books are these huge, thick monsters and the deadlines always catch up to me and I don’t get to finish them even if I want to. But now I wont have the library’s due dates and my academic deadlines looming over me so I can read Rushdie in peace, finally! (Past failed attempts: The Satanic Verses and Midnight’s Children).

On another note that is just as important than my book haul, I regret to admit that I had plonked Sontag and Soseki down… I hate myself, but this is how I read, haphazard, full of impulse and pigheadedness. I read Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel in one sitting the other day—something I didn’t plan at all—which frustrated me because I told myself I wasn’t done with my other books. Welp, my reading has never been linear so I don’t understand why I even bothered to follow a reading list strictly when it’s bound to fail. I told myself I wouldn’t read anything else until I’m done with Sontag and Soseki, but my arbitrary reading nature comes out. Of course I am not ruling them out! Sontag’s book is a collection of essays so I can read one anytime, but I cant read all of them in one sitting, and I don’t think I want to. Soseki on the other hand, well I feel bad for not finishing Sanshiro. I don’t hate it at all, it’s just that I need palate cleansers every now and then. He’s not boring, it’s just my reading nature, I guess, to read everything at once, at the same time; the experience is better for me. So that’s a failed attempt at focusing on books linearly sigh sigh. I always complain about the disarray that is my life, but I cannot even sort out my own reading list! Should I even bother or just let nature’s patterns take their course? Sigh sigh

Right now I am also lingering on the first pages of Jung’s Man and His Symbols, but at the same time, I want to focus on Norwegian Wood, The Moor’s Last Sigh and start on a few poems by Heaney. If push comes to shove (gosh, who even stresses about their book list like this?!) I’d probably put Norwegian Wood and Man and His Symbols first, then Heaney’s poems a close second. I think Rushdie can wait for me; he’s always been, and I don’t want to be disrespectful here, but Rushdie can wait a little bit more, I think! We’ll see! I also read over the weekend some short stories by Guy Maupassant and Isaac Asimov, and a book of haikus; this was during the time the power went out due to the relentless rain. It was so hot and I was sticky with sweat so I read in the candlelight, naked. There was nothing else to do. My eyes hurt from the low light, but I didn’t mind because I love Maupassant; his tales of terror fit perfectly in that rainy, candlelit Saturday night! Asimov, well, he’s regarded as one of the best, if not the best scifi writer of all time, but there’s something about him…. I guess it’s my fault. I am always searching for Bradbury’s poetry in scifi and I know people will argue that Ray Bradbury isn’t even science fiction, but well, I also beg to differ! Ray Bradbury can hold his own in scifi! He made everything in the quotidian so sublime! Form and content are both important of course, but personally, I find Asimov lacking in the form department, of course this is my opinion, you can challenge me if you disagree. Maybe because I compare him to Bradbury? Which isn’t fair, but Asimov is just dry week-old bread compared to Bradbury. I just…if Asimov’s scifi then Bradbury’s magic.  but Bradbury wasn’t afraid to be ascientific, if not ascientific. But whatever. It’s what makes you feel in the end anyway, and Bradbury’s made me cry so many times and feel so many heavy things in his shortest of stories, and Asimov, well, I don’t feel anything when I read him. The Last Question was supposedly brilliant, but when I read it, I just didn’t feel anything. Am I not scientific enough? Are my eyes clouded? Am I reading him wrong? Perhaps I need to be more patient with Asimov. I am the same with Kerouac and Murakami. Kerouac, I had to read On the Road TWICE just to appreciate where he was coming from, and now I love Kerouac. So I think I need to be more patient with Asimov and Murakami. Patience, patience, patience.

books i’ve read this year

some books (graphic novels included!!!) i’ve read this year, starting January, just to keep myself on track. excluding, of course, the essays and articles i read since i read far too many of those that i cannot keep up with everything. perhaps ill try to make short reviews of these books in the near future!

Books Finished, 2017:

Snows of Kilimanjaro and Other Stories by Ernest Hemingway

On the Road by Jack Kerouac

I Am A Cat by Natsume Soseki

The Feast of the Goat by Mario Vargas Llosa

Book of Longing by Leonard Cohen

Gods in Everyman by Jean Bolen

Goddesses in Everywoman by Jean Bolen

Bird by Bird by Ann Lamott

How to Write Like Chekhov by Anton Chekhov

In Praise of the Stepmother by Mario Vargas Llosa

Making Waves by Mario Vargas Llosa

Harry Potter books 1-7by JK Rowling (i missed the wizarding world and reread all these obsessively in 1.5 weeks during my April break! crazy!!)

The Undiscovered Self by Carl Jung

Full Woman, Fleshly Apple, Hot Moon by Pablo Neruda

The Heart of a Woman by Maya Angelou

Run With the Hunted by Charles Bukowski

reread The Little Prince by Antoine De St. Exupery

Death: The High Cost of Living by Neil Gaiman

South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami

After Dark by Haruki Murakami

Daytripper by Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba

Blankets by Craig Thompson

Habibi by Craig Thompson

Lost Girls by Alan Moore

FAILURE:

I still haven’t read Proust…when I promised his magnum opus, In Search of Lost Time, would be my focus this year…

WHAT I’M READING NOW: 

Sanshiro by Natsume Soseki

At the Same Time by Susan Sontag

I’m trying not to read so many books at the same time–no matter how tempting it may be–in fear of overwhelming and distressing myself again lol, so I’m focusing on two books for now. After these two, I plan to start on another Bukowski (still haven’t decided what!), another Alan Moore (thinking of From Hell), and One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez! Of course knowing myself, changes in the order are anticipated D:

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.

Reading and Writing Goals 2017

Reading Goals

In Search of Lost Time (Six books) – Marcel Proust

-I am quite daunted; I think this is the reading project I am gearing myself for the most! I have commitment issues. Meaning, I’m not entirely sure whether or not I’m ready to read raw all 1.2 million words / 4000+ pages of Proust’s magnum opus. I want to experience Proust, I want him to get in my veins and under my skin and inside my thoughts, but knowing myself, I always abandon a book and come back to it at a later time and In Search of  a Lost Time, I think, is no ordinary book. It’s a cumbersome read, and I don’t even know if it’s advisable to read it raw or buy a guide. I don’t like the idea of starting it and never finishing it but also detest the idea of reading it in one go. Perhaps if I can get into an agreement with myself, I can spread the six books out and make it my reading goal for 2017. I definitely don’t want to rush with this one, especially since I have a lot of other books I want to read, but this is a challenge I’m ready to take.

Fahrenheit 451, Dandelion Wine, The Illustrated Man – Ray Bradbury

-I started reading Bradbury just last month and already finished The Golden Apples of the Sun and The Martian Chronicles. I found myself falling in love with his writing, the poetry and magic intertwined in his words. I think he will be a favorite of mine too; The Martian Chronicles affected me deeply and The Golden Apples of the Sun had a handful of gems that left an imprint on me as well. Truly Bradbury is a magician, and I cannot wait to explore his other works!

V for Vendetta and Swamp Thing graphic novels – Alan Moore

-Watchmen blew me away; right now, I’d rank Alan Moore in my top 5 favorite writers of all time. I seriously need to get more of his work. He is a genius, no doubt about it, and I cannot get enough of him!

The Sandman – Neil Gaiman (all volumes) 

-It has been far too long since I’ve read Sandman that I’m afraid I’ve forgotten most of its splendor. I need to reacquaint myself with The Endless

Ilustrado – Miguel Syjuco

I have seen the man in various protest rallies I’ve been to, but have yet to read his book. He’s one of our local contemporary writers whose book won the Man Booker Asia Award a few years back. I need to read more local authors and want to try his book as a challenge

Foundation series and Youth – Isaac Asimov

-One of the great scifi writers of all time! How can I not?

Hyperion – Dan Simmons

-A gem in the world of scifi.

Norwegian Wood and What I Talk About When I Talk About Running – Haruki Murakami 

– I have only heard good of this man and am ashamed to have never encountered any of his pieces.

Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden 

On Stories – C.S. Lewis

The Prophet – Kahlil Gibran

The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

Some short stories by Anton Chekhov

No Logo – Naomi Klein 

Authors I want to read, but haven’t decided what to read from them: 

– Nick Joaquin

– NVM Gonzales

– Ninotchka Rosca

Also read: 

Poetry and prose, both local and foreign

Writing Goals

-Write thoughts and feelings in diary/online journal more often. Don’t keep anything from self

-Utilize bullet journal

-Make headway with novel / short stories

-Write more articles; do more investigative journalism

-Experiment with poetry

Film Goals

I’m not a movie/film person, I must admit, I hate watching from a screen thanks to my short attention span. I think I have to move on from YouTube videos and embark on a journey to explore the beauty of the world of film. Perhaps I can start with a few Fellinis!

Any book and film recommendations to kickstart my year? Your suggestions are welcome!

A clean, well-lighted place

I finally forced myself to clean my room yesterday even though I was anxious of cleaning up after myself in denial of whoever knows what. I folded my clothes, took out my trash, swept my room, mopped my bathroom, cleaned my drains, emptied my laundry basket, arranged my desk, and finally changed my sheets. It took me two hours, though I think this is only because my avoidant coping behavior kicked in again and I would take numerous breaks from cleaning to procrastinate and avoid cleaning.

I really hate this avoidant behavior of mine. It’s what I’m doing now. I’m supposed to be doing my thesis’ review of related literature, but here I am typing this just so I could avoid it, telling myself I’ll write first before proceeding but I’ve been going around in circles since 10 am and, fyi, it’s already 6:36 pm. It’s disgusting behavior and something I’m really trying my best to battle, even though I feel as if I really am not trying. Though to be fair, I did finish the marketing project for my internship last night (though I did sleep at 3 am) and I tell myself I can always do it earlier so I don’t have to sleep late, but I am so stubborn and difficult that even I don’t listen to the more rational side of myself.

Either way, this day felt pretty good. Definitely better than most days. I didn’t cry the moment I woke up, for once, though the dark thoughts are still at the back of my head. Still, I was able to heave myself up from bed at 9 am and make myself a banana soy smoothie. I started rereading Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman comics again today and found myself lost in the Preludes and Nocturnes volume. I actually finished the entire volume today, and plan to finish the other nine volumes in the next nine days. I realized I’ve been far too busy and depressed that I’ve forgotten the joy books give me; after finishing Preludes and Nocturnes, I found my heart racing and my hands shaking from excitement and just happiness. I’ve never felt this way in so long and cannot wait to get back into so much reading again.

The last comic book I read was Alan Moore’s Watchmen last term, about June or July? It’s already November, and I know I need to read and write more and I really am angry at myself for not being able to, but really, I just miss the feeling of losing myself to a long winding body of literature, not even noticing that the entire day has passed me by. And Watchmen is deserving of another post; that graphic novel changed my life, no exaggeration. Alan Moore is a genius and I can see why; he is totally unmatched and he changed the entire game of superhero comics. Rorschach will always be dear to my heart, and his death will always put me to grief, even more depressing than the Ride of the Valkyrie, and I will never not be angry at Veidt’s sick utilitarian mentality, playing with human life to achieve his “greater good” not out of goodness, by the way, but just another reason to intellectually masturbate himself and tell the world, “I am right.” Okay, I digress. But god, I just miss reading so so much.

Finishing volume 1 of Sandman today put me in such a good mood, as if nothing can dampen my day and, I think, if I want to be in a good mood the next few days then I must continue reading because so far it’s really the only thing that takes away my blues. And I don’t know if it is just me, but I always feel insecure because I always think I’m not reading enough books and novels and poetry and not listening to enough podcasts and what-have-yous, but it’s just one of those stupid thoughts. There’s nothing wrong with doing these at my own pace, I know that, but there’s just so much books to read and things to appreciate and wow, I just get so overwhelmed! A lifetime is never enough.

On another note, I finally fixed my tiny balcony and took out my dead plants to create space because I’m turning it into a pottery shed. I transferred there all my stoneware clay and ceramic pottery and my pottery wheel, and am already feeling excited of getting back into pottery. School and internship and work definitely suck the soul out of me, and I just long to spend entire afternoons doing slab work and pulling endless walls for my bowls. Today I found myself watching videos of my favorite potters and sculptors creating magic with clay, and I told myself I will never get better if I keep putting off practice. I tell myself, “I know how to do pottery” but my skill and knowledge of the craft will disintegrate if I don’t hone it.

I still have difficulty centering my clay on bad days, still end up pulling lopsided walls when I try to make a cylinder, and, after reading an article by Jane Gross today, I realized (affirmed by her own musings) that the clay will tell me how and where I am. I can only get better with practice, and a lopsided lip or a ruined wall or an uncentered clay only says one thing: I lack practice and discipline. And answering these faults with aggravation and frustration is fruitless, because it is my own fault for not nurturing my craft, and I will always always always scold myself for neglecting pottery because I do not have the right to even dream of becoming a skilled potter if I don’t put the hours in. And I must put the hours in.

But, on another note, out of the many things I’ve learned from pottery, my favorite thus far is how much the craft of pottery encourages me to be unkempt and make a mess. It feels so good being encouraged to make a mess while doing pottery, especially when people have been telling me my whole life not to make any. And so, whenever I do get the change to do pottery, I try to make as much mess as I could and don’t bother if I splatter water and mud all over my clothes and walls and floor and face, because there is so much beauty and happiness in this chaos, and it is only here wherein I can really truly cherish my mess and be proud of it. Which is why, I think, my most favorite state of myself is at the cusp of just having finished a pottery session, when my hair’s all disheveled and I’m covered with clay and everything’s a wet mess, because I know I basked in my own mess doing something that gives me so much joy (albeit sometimes painful and frustrating) and I did not have an ounce of inhibition that muddled with my mind. So definitely, more pottery practice in the next few days.

Right now I am sitting on my desk in my sort-of-clean room, typing this because I am still avoiding writing my review of related literature. I hate forcing myself to do tasks whenever I am not in the mood, but I can’t do this forever. Because when will I ever be in the mood? I know, for myself, that what I lack is discipline and discipline is something anybody can learn, through time and perseverance. And I don’t need rocket science or a PhD to learn it and, in fact, just need to have strong self-restraint and will. This avoidant coping behavior has go to go, it is disgusting and inefficient and no good ever comes out of this kind of behavior. I must uphold discipline and fight the mediocrity. It is so much easier said than done, but this is something I don’t want to beat myself up for. I’ve been this way for the longest time, ever since I was a kid, and I think this stemmed from years of being bullied and being insecure? And so, I must nurture myself and try my best, and try not to ever hate myself if ever I find myself slipping. I have to be kinder to myself also, I think, and more patient.

Right. So I have to read more, practice pottery more, be more disciplined, and be kinder to myself. What else?

Well, I think I have to show people more how much they mean to me. I hope it isn’t just me, but I always feel unworthy and undeserving of anyone’s time, and sometimes on social media I browse through people’s posts and see them out with their friends and I think of how much fun they are having going out and seeing places,and I tell myself I don’t have to always be afraid, that there’s nothing wrong or scary or guilt-inducing about asking a friend out to hang out with me. And tell them how much they matter to me. And out of all the things I mentioned above, this is what I want to improve on the most: Just be a more open and loving person to people that actually matter to me. I don’t have to be all holed up all the time? And I should tell people how much joy I feel whenever I spend time with them. There really is no point not saying it, because it is the truth and, of course, what else can be better than telling the people you love that you love them?

Again, easier said than done, but as long as I am trying my best then that’s all anyone can ever ask for, I guess. I also bought a ticket to a concert of a band I do not know—and I’m watching alone. I don’t know what was running in my head when I bought the ticket to a band I do not even listen to, but I told myself, Just try something new. And who knows, I might like the band after all? And it wasn’t that expensive, and I guess I wanted to treat myself also, but not in a way that I usually do, so I got the ticket on impulse so I can experience something new and out of my comfort zone. I remind myself, I dont have to be anxious because I’m going there for the music, and even though there will be lots of people there with their friends, I don’t have to make it awkward for myself. I enjoy my own company, so I doubt I’d have a hard time (I hope!) and I’m quite excited, actually. I do not know any of the band’s songs so it would be a surprise as well.

Anyway, I think I’ve avoided my review of related literature long enough. My mind has calmed down and I feel at peace rambling here, so I think I can finally work on my thesis. It is 7:16 pm and my heart and mind feels lighter. Sometimes I tell myself it’s okay to put off things to write if it means giving myself the peace of mind—and it does, and if it’s good for the wellbeing of my mental and emotional health, then I shouldn’t feel guilty about it.

But as a note to myself:

1). Be more open and intimate to the people that matter to me, and don’t be afraid to show and tell them that I love them.

2). Read more—for my sanity’s sake.

3). Practice pottery more, because neglecting to practice a craft is insulting.

4). Be more disciplined with tasks and try harder in getting rid of my avoidant coping behavior

5). Be kinder to myself. There’s nothing wrong with rambling and writing down my thoughts and emotions if it’s for the wellbeing of my mental and emotional health—and I shouldn’t feel guilt for this.

6). If all else fails, I can always try again tomorrow.