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.

Of long talks, Jazz, and Virgina Woolf essays

Last night was a good night mainly, I think, because my little brother and I got to talk again. I love how even though he’s turning 19 soon, he still sits on the couch with me, holds my hand, and tells me about his day. I love how as we grow older, we also become closer and closer, and trusting of each other. We are best friends, and each other’s only family. I am so grateful for him. We’ve been wallowing in our depression the past few days, but he was different last night. He had an air of confidence and determination, and he was sure of himself. He told me about his realizations lately and why we should keep each other up whenever bouts of depression get the best of us. He told me he’s tired of feeling sorry for himself and giving up too fast; he actually made me promise that if ever I find myself in darkness and vice versa, one of us has to encourage the other and not affirm the other’s depression. We actually pinky promised about it. Last night when I was ranting about my woes again, he was scolding me and telling me to stop thinking so lowly of myself. It’s so nice knowing my brother looks out for me, and I to him; I don’t deserve his love, for sure, but here he is still loving me. He is the actual, absolute best, and I am so happy to see him happy last night and take control of his life. I’d rather be depressed than see him depressed; I’m glad he took reign of himself and changed the way he thought of himself. He’s doing great. He’ll be great. And he’ll be okay. He’s far stronger than I am.

As for me, well, I woke up late today, but I actually heaved myself up from bed without crying. I always feel old and lost and weary and aimless, but I think today is a good start. I had a big breakfast and a small cup of coffee, and am about to get ready to attend a forum and see one of my favorite journalists of all time. My brother told me last night to focus on daily goals instead of panicking over things that are still too far away. You know, just take it one day at a time. I think that’s better than worrying about next Sunday and the next two years. So today my goal is to finish this blog post, write a letter to my aunt, attend the forum, go for a run, read an essay by Virginia Woolf, and maybe drop by the museum if I have the time. Perhaps write a bit of my novel, too, if I stay up late.

I was able to write the first draft of the first chapter of my novel two days ago; it still requires ruthless, unforgiving editing, but it felt great to see progress, even if it’s little progress. I think instead of focusing too much and enumerating all my problems, it’s better if I just pat myself on the back for my little triumphs. My brother told me I cannot let depression get the best of me. I cannot condemn myself to the gutter; I have to help myself. It’s going to be a long, long life ahead of me—if I don’t die early—but I have to be steadfast and unwavering. My life is just starting, not on the cusp of ending, is it not?

Last night, when I was wallowing in my woes, I told my brother, “I’ll be suffering for a long, long time.”

He told me, instead, “No, you’ll be working for a long, long time, and it will be worth it.” True, but only if (and this is a big if) I love what I am working on and working with. And he’s right. I shouldn’t look at life as if it owes me a good life; it’s already a given that life’s unfair, but it doesn’t have to be futile. Yes, working hard and working honestly doesn’t guarantee a good life—deserving people still get shortchanged and cheaters and frauds get richer and successful—but that doesn’t mean life is futile. I think at the end of the day we are not measured by our achievements and awards, but whether we tried our best or not in what we did, regardless if we failed or not. It’s putting the best effort we are able to give in life. I give meaning to my life, and if I want life to be worth it, it will be. I really don’t know what I’d do without my brother. He’s my everything.

I also met with my thesis mentor two days ago and I think I judged him too fast, I must admit. We’ve finally reached a tradeoff and I realized he’s actually kinda pleasant, though a terribly, terribly busy man, but I appreciate him giving us fifteen minutes of his time for consultation. I’m excited and scared of thesis writing at the same time.

My editor in chief also told me yesterday he entered my article to the national student quill awards. I’m not expecting to win; I’ve already looked past the “prestige” of awards (I am not my awards), but for him to trust my work to actually submit my entry is more than enough. It definitely made my day.

Editor work is okay; I’m still grasping at straws. I don’t think there is a step-by-step guide on How To Be A Good Editor or How To Be A Good Writer, but I am doing my best to make time to write on my own and encourage my staff writers at the same time, but it’s a two-way thing. I can only help them if they also help themselves; and there are delinquents, of course, and there’s nothing I can do about those, if they refuse to do their best. I find it so heartwarming, though, when I see other staff writers enjoying what they do. Their zeal and commitment to the publication and to writing itself affirms why I love being editor, and writing—even though it’s a demanding and thankless job.

I’ve also started listening to jazz the other day. I’m new to the genre, but it’s something I’ve always found beautiful and interesting, though daunting enough to actually stay away from it all this time, but I finally started on a few greats. I listened to Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue album, John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme, and Thelonius Monk’s Monk’s Dream. They’re good albums to start with; I hope to expand my jazz knowledge in the future, of course. When I was listening to Coltrane’s Psalm, I paid attention to the saxophone solo, and it was as if it was speaking to me, and when I finally put Thelonius Monk on, I found it so good I actually took my shoes off (while in the library, mind you!).  I realized I liked jazz a lot; I love it’s unpredictability, and how it’s exciting and no piece is ever the same. Even the same piece is never the same when played again; it is always new and you find something different that you missed the first time. It reminds me of math rock, a genre that is also close to my heart. Jazz and math rock, for me, are endless unravelings and unwrappings, timeless efflorescences of astonishment and wonder that take the breath away, whether I look at it with unwinking eyes or listen to it continually. It’s inexplicable.

Ok, I have to get ready for the forum. Will write soon.

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.

Darker hours

Karen Carpenter’s melodic voice croons from the turntable and I realize just how much Mondays get me down. I live for rainy days, but there’s just something about this day of the week that sucks everything out of me: My energy, happiness, hope, motivation, and the want to accomplish anything for the day. It’s 2 in the afternoon and I’m sitting by the kitchen table with an empty stomach and unwashed hair. Across me there is a shriveled lemon on the fruit platter, an orange from the market two weeks ago, and my dad reading Stephen King’s Duma Key. We don’t speak to each other, of course, but I don’t really mind because I never have anything to say to anybody. I have been avoiding confronting myself the past few weeks, but now seems like the better time to try again because I’m stuck with my avoidant behavior again, procrastinating and putting off chores and tasks with every chance I can get.

Every night I’ve been going to bed with a storm inside my head and heart, and waking up late every morning with the world on my shoulders. I feel so depressed, and my room is just as depressing. Tissue, dust, shoes, hair, clothes, and trash scattered on the floor. Hair and dirt clinging on my tub’s drain and tiles. There’s a freaking cobweb behind my bathroom door and I broke my drawer after yanking it too hard some time ago; I can’t seem to put it back anymore and it has now occupied my pitiful tiny single mattress, leaving me no space to sleep in. Heaps of dirty clothes are piled up on my bed and my bath things are in disarray. My desk, my only working space, is covered with stacks of paper, vinyl record cases, too many pens I will never use, spilled paper clips, sleeping pills, and a stupid synthetic leather purse that I never wanted but still wasted money on. I have no space to work in. My room is gross, just as messy and disordered as my mind—perhaps even more than. I have no initiative to clean up, yet I’m wondering how long I can ignore the mess in my room until roaches and mice start cohabiting with me.

I’ve been eating horrible too. Just because I’m vegan doesn’t mean I eat well; I’ve been stuffing myself with junk food the past weeks, which I believe is just as bad as eating meat, and I haven’t gone running and biking at all. I feel bloated and like crap. I keep putting off my review of related literature for my thesis as well as my marketing project for my internship and I just feel like utter shit. I’m not trying very hard and it’s so so difficult forcing myself to function every single day when I just want to hole up in my room and disappear. I don’t want to see anybody, I don’t want to go out of the house, I don’t want to talk or even hear other people talking. I really don’t know why I’ve been feeling this way, and I’ve been trying to get to the root of this for the longest time but I never seem to arrive at an answer. I just feel so down all the time, for no apparent reason. And yesterday I was making a list, like how I always make lists for everything (even a list for all my lists) but this particular list was on things about myself.

I wrote in my list of myself: I always feel like an impostor. I never feel like I belong or feel drawn towards anything I do. I always feel like a crook about to get found out, and every day I go on about my lousy day with my guards up, my fight or flight response kicked into high gear, constantly looking over my shoulder in paranoia because I am so afraid of being discovered and called out as a great pretender. Being called out for what, that I do not know, but I always feel as if I am impersonating someone, like I stole someone’s identity and took it as my own, and that my achievements are never really mine (not that I have any, because I don’t) and any time now, I will be hunted down and exposed as a giant quack.

I wrote, I beat myself up over the littlest things. I hate myself over things people don’t notice and see, but are always visible to my eyes. A neglected task, a dropped hanky, a passing but not perfect test score, an overdue library book, forgotten keys and umbrella, an un-refilled water bottle, a stray thread from my hem, starting my sentences with coordinating conjunctions—everything, really. And every time, I see the need to punish myself for these little faults, purposely drowning myself in guilt and starving myself, reminding myself to not screw things up again or else. But I still end up screwing things again. I always do. I always end up forgetting things and missing things and losing things and dropping things and breaking things.

I also wrote, I hate having other people help me. It’s not because of an inflated ego, I think I just don’t like the idea of inconveniencing people, of having others stop what they’re doing to make way for me. It makes me feel so so so bad having someone help me, no matter how little a thing it may be. I feel an astronomic amount of guilt and shame, and have the need to always repay it back—not out of gratitude and gratefulness—but just so I can say “Now we’re even.” I had a drunken night a few days ago and was incapable of taking myself home, so my former editor, J, had to drive me home in the early hours of the morning. The enormous guilt I felt during and afterwards just spiraled me into so much self-loathing, but even though I was inebriated and half seas over, J told me that I still insisted on paying him for the ride and, apparently, handed him money as I stumbled out of his car. And I felt angry at myself after knowing, because if I did the same thing for another friend, say a friend got drunk and I brought them home and they paid me for it, I would be gravely insulted. And it sucks because no matter how drunk I get, my inhibition and fear of being helped and being deemed a liability for my incapability to take care of myself will never go away, that I will always feel guilty and ashamed of being helped, of being looked after, and taken care of, that I will always feel undeserving of these, and I really don’t know why I am ever this way.

I feel guilt for everything. I cannot even send a text message without putting my phone face down, three feet away from me, as I cringe and wait for a reply. I cannot even eat without telling myself I don’t deserve it, because I never did anything and shouldn’t be so hungry. I cannot even go to bed without telling myself I can’t sleep because I never finished any task for the day. I cannot laugh without being worried of being too loud. I cannot walk down streets and hallways without feeling I am taking up too much space. I cannot even ask dear friends out for dinner or a drink without first thinking, Oh no, I’m inconveniencing them or What if I smother them for being too clingy? And when I do get the courage to ask someone out to spend time with me, I feel shame and guilt for wasting their time, and I think, No one wants baggage.

And I fear for my baggage, because they come in endless stacks and stacks of boxes, each box filled with more fears and insecurities and paranoia and monsters than the last. And I am so afraid of having anyone peek inside my boxes and see their secrets, so I stow them away and keep them stacked, but the monsters struggle to get out and in the end the boxes always spill over for someone to see their sorry contents. And, I think, I will never really be able to get rid of these boxes. Wherever I go, whichever place I settle with as home, the moving van containing these boxes will always follow me.

And it just gets so tiring and difficult wrestling with my mind to the point that it’s much easier for me to avoid everything and everyone, and just keep to myself because why bother. And maybe that’s why I never ask anybody out to spend time with, because I always feel unworthy and undeserving of anyone’s time. And maybe that’s why I don’t have great memories with other people, because I keep denying these simple joys to myself. And that, really, the only memories I have are of me being and doing things alone.

I have stupid post-it notes around my room and one says, Celebrate small triumphs. And I feel like a hypocrite, because I have no triumph to celebrate, really. I do know I should lighten up and stop beating myself up over the littlest things, but it’s so so much easier said than done. That I am more stubborn than a mule, that I will always hate myself for something, and it makes me cry because I also don’t want to be this way forever, but I am stuck and each time I try to take one step further, the quicksand pulls me down deeper, and I feel so crippled.

But, I guess, no one is really scrutinizing me with a telescope or a magnifying glass. Maybe god, if it is real, but I have stopped believing in one a long time ago. I do not really need the promise of heaven to do good and find worth and purpose in this life—though this is something I have yet to tell my religious parents in the future, much to the dismay of their poor hearts. But the only one scrutinizing me, really, is me. And I should stop (even though I know I never will). I should stop. I’m not saying I will, but I should, because it’s what my mind needs.

And really, I realized, if there is one thing I love the most about being an editor, a journalist, and in general, a writer, it is the existence of deadlines and shitty drafts. Time is against me. My days are numbered. I will die someday. But there is always something to finish. And death gives life meaning for that simple reason: There is always something to get done. And that shitty drafts, no matter how imperfect, can always be edited until it passes muster. And if it doesn’t, then who the fuck cares. Imperfection gives me something to always strive for.

I think I have exhausted myself crying and writing. Bye and have a better day

Dark hours

I was trying to write my mortician feature story late last night, but found myself  blank and unable to write. Prior that, I spent the past three hours editing the articles of my staff writers for the November issue and realized, after breaking my back for hours, just how tough and thankless the job of an editor is. I am not complaining, by the way, it’s just a Truth I need to come to terms with. I think editors and writers in general feel in the beginning that writing is a thankless job. Unless you’re famous, no one comes up to you saying, “Thank you for writing, you changed my life.” It’s the type of work where you need tenure to actually get the respect you deserve—and sometimes, you don’t even get that respect, no matter how long you’ve been in the field. But here’s the principal question: Why do we still write?

I have no straight answer to that question. I’d like to believe that someday I will, but for now, I guess I cannot think of anything rational. It certainly isn’t a lucrative field; if I wanted to be rich, I would’ve chosen a different path, yet why are we still here, writing? I guess it’s because it’s the only way I can keep myself alive and amused, it’s the only way to make this life bearable. Writing from the cheap seats, to reflect the times, to release surges of emotions, to escape, and critique a profoundly sick society. I honestly believe we have too much of men in suits and less of teachers and writers and anthropologists and professors and researchers and historians and artists. And, I think, at the state of our world right now wherein violence and war is the answer to everything, we need these people now more than ever to remind us what it really means to be alive.

My parents, I must admit, always wanted a corporate job for me. And I don’t know how I’m going to tell them, Hey, I want to be a forensic anthropologist and spend the rest of my life in the fields, digging up bones, and confined in research labs, writing dissertations. I want to do research and teach in classrooms, I want to continue writing features and fiction stories on the side, what are you going to do about it? 

And it sucks, because I do not get the support I need from the people who should be my support system, and that’s okay, because we can’t have everything and I won’t demand for their support if they’re not willing to give it wholeheartedly. I know we should never compromise our finances—that is just absurd and irresponsible, but I don’t see the point in life if I am forced to live a life I have no interest in living.

I am actually doing my internship at a property management corporation right now, and this internship has helped me so much in realizing what I do not want to do in the future. Certainly I don’t want to spend the hours of my day trapped in a cubicle inside a cold, characterless, behemoth building. That I know for sure. The people have been great and regardless if it’s corporate, I am learning new things which I believe is always a good thing, either way. But a week ago, I was talking to my boss and my other colleagues and they all said the same thing: “This isn’t what I want to do.”

And I get that we have to sacrifice sometimes. Some people aren’t privileged enough to go about what they want, knowing they have families to feed and bills to pay. And it just makes me so sad that we have to suffer this way, giving up what we want and love to make way for something else, something that we don’t feel so strongly about in the first place. And I hate so much that some people are never able to live their dreams because of the sacrifices they made and they die lonely and unfulfilled because they never got to do what they really wanted to do, and it just makes me so depressed that even though I am saying all these things right now, there is always that possibility in the future that I will be a hypocrite to my own word and work a job I do not love and as much as I try to align my actions to my own principles, I have a fear that I will be betraying my own word. And I wish I never have to reach that point in my life wherein I have to sell out just because I am forced to. I will never forgive myself for that.

Sigh. To be honest, I think this whole mortician feature story is messing with my head. When I interviewed the mortician a Friday ago, we talked about life and death, and how his work has changed his entire life. But listen here. This mortician never wanted to be a mortician in the first place. He was studying engineering in university when he had to stop because of lack of funds. His father, a mortician, taught him the trade and he decided to just take his father’s job on his shoulders. Decades later and here he is now and he tells me he is happy with his job. So, I suppose, it is possible to get into a job we don’t initially love and learn to love it down the road, I guess? The mortician did tell me that although people still have a stigma towards the nature of their job, it’s important to be reminded that we all die in the end. And the phrase, memento mori, popped up in my head. Remember that you must die. 

We all die in the end. I am 20 and already feel really old, as if I’ve been here forever. I was contemplating the other day whether I wanted to die young or old. I realize I don’t want to die young, having achieved nothing, but I am also deathly afraid of getting old, to be honest. Of being wrinkly, and losing my mind to dementia, where it takes away the very essence of what makes me human. But I also know that I have a lot of things to learn, lots of books to read, lots of stories to write and tell, and of course, lots of people to love—and I want all that stretched out in decades. Not everyone has the privilege to reach an old age and share the wisdom they’ve learned throughout the years. I want to see myself at that point; wiser, more confident, more humble, with so much love for the world.

Perhaps I am overthinking things again, but I always tell myself it’s better to overthink than not think at all. I’d like to believe that this whole thing has been heightened by the mortician feature story I’m currently writing, but I cannot help myself. I always get attached to the stories I write and sometimes, these stories are too heavy to tell, but still need telling, to remind us that we are only human. Insignificant compared to the astronomical universe, but relevant to the tiny blips of people we matter to.

Maybe if we looked at life at a different vantage we’d appreciate it more. Eating, drinking, laughing, spending time with loved ones—these are things we so easily take advantage of. And I guess, what I’m trying to say is, I just want to be more appreciative and content with the things I have and do, because I am so tired of feeling like I will never amount to anything.

That there is absolutely no reason to beat myself up for going too slow or not doing the same things my peers are doing, that I am absolutely doing perfectly well at my own pace, that there is no need for me to compare myself to anybody but my yesterday-self, that I only have to worry about my possible future self, that I don’t have to mind other people’s lives and businesses, that I don’t have to be depressed every time I go out of my door, that I don’t have to be afraid all the time, that I will be fine as long as I keep walking, regardless if I do it with a limp or with two steady feet, that being insecure at times is fine, that being flawed is perfect because it always gives me something to strive for, that I don’t have to make life so difficult for me, that it’s fine to appreciate the mere fact of sitting down, breathing and just being alive, that I can take a rest and not feel guilty, that no matter what happens, no matter how conscious and angry I feel with myself, I can always pick up my pen and write, and that if I do find myself stubborn or weak at times to pick up my pen, I can always stow my shoes away, climb to bed, sleep, and wake up the next day to try again.

Weary

Weary

I am so tired. Balancing thesis, majors, internship, part-time work, and org work is no easy feat; I’m starting to think that maybe I bit more than I can chew for this term. Before the term started, I told myself I’d handle it well, that I’d be disciplined and careful with my time, but I find myself restless and sleep-starved every single day. I wake up every morning for class, then commute straight to internship until 6pm. Commute back home (or to school, if I have org work) and get home by 7 pm if I’m lucky with traffic (or lack, thereof) but that’s impossible in the metro.

Throughout the day I’d be sitting in the classroom or at the office desk doing my tasks, and find myself checking my phone and Facebook all the time, because as editor of the school paper, I have to be on-call most times and respond immediately to messages from fellow editors and my staffers, just in case we have to cover news inside and outside the university. I realize the student body and other stakeholders depend so much on our news that we have to be logged in to our social media accounts at all times for breaking news. Indigenous indignation rally gone wrong? Tweet about it and send staffers and photographers to the scene. Class suspension due to storm? Announce it earlier than other news platforms. And it’s difficult, because being tied down to social media every day is sucking my soul. I long to open my Facebook and not see one single notification. Actually, I long to never open my Facebook account ever again.

We are also preparing for our November issue and I know in the next few hours and days I would have to start annotating and editing my staffers’ articles, because as editor, this is what I’m supposed to do. And I’m not complaining, but paired with my part-time work, wherein I write news for the daily national paper and report to a senior editor while being editor to my own staffers, I can’t help but feel so overworked and tired.

My majors classes aren’t really a pain in the ass because academics have never really been a problem with me, but thesis, man, we are just in the early stages of thesis writing and I already feel so drained. Internship is starting to be stressful, but only because I have a special project with my co-intern to create publicity materials for the corporation and I realized my marketing skills aren’t that great, so I’ve been staying up late working on my graphic design and Adobe skills which, I must add, I think, are hopeless lol. But I really am trying, so I hope it goes well.

Next week also is our awards night for the school paper and much preparation has to be done; I’m crossing my fingers that it goes well. I know the editorial board shouldn’t be stressing about it because you know, it’s a night to have fun and remember, but the whole planning and logistics of it is stressful. My social life is suffering too, but maybe because I’m not putting effort in communicating with my friends also. But, to be honest, I decided a few days ago to distance myself from my friends for now because they’ve been toxic these past few weeks and I really cannot afford to lose my mental shit and I’m just so tired of their small conversations, so I guess I just need to displace myself and bask in silence and solitude. And I like it, because solitude will always be my best friend, and I will never get tired of alone time.

I wish I had more time to read and write. I’ve been writing my thoughts down lately for 15 minutes every day (or every other day) and I realize this works for me, taking advantage of small windows of time to put words down. But I long to sit down and read a long winding novel for hours, long for the feeling of writing a novel again, and I wish I had all the time in the world to write and read and I know I shouldn’t be complaining and should make time for it, but I realize, I literally have no time, and when I do, I find my physical body giving up on me and I wish I were bionic so I never needed sleep or food and just thrived on literature and writing.

And I miss having whole afternoons to myself, writing thoughts down and continuing my novel or pursuing investigative and narrative feature stories, but the past few days have been ruthless and I find myself stuck on chapter 1 and it’s pitiful, really, because I should be putting more time into my writing. And every day when I ride the bus to work, I wonder, is this what I really want to do with my life? Restless and weary, working an office job, inside a cold behemoth corporate building? I don’t mind working a desk job as long as it is writing, but I also realize I have to go beyond my comfort zone and familiarity, and bask in uncertainty and new experiences.

I know I need to challenge myself more, God forbid. But I know for myself that I am really trying my best, and so I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. As long as I’m trying every single day then that’s all anyone can ever ask for, I guess. I have internship in a few minutes but I just needed to let this out. I. Am. Tired. But it’s okay, because life is supposed to be taxing. I’m crossing my fingers, though for the next few days. I hope I get to have alone time soon.