Untitled 3 (Common Things Series)

2:13 am

I just drank two cups of coffee (with a bit of cinnamon) and am waiting for my garlic heads to finish roasting in the oven. I wont be sleeping tonight; I’m really adamant about getting some writing done. I was able to finish the draft of one short story last night and I know it still needs vicious editing, but I’m now ready to move on to my next one. I just find that I really cannot write in the daytime, no matter how hard I try. I know everyone will say that I should discipline myself and force myself to write; I do do that, it’s just that I do it at odd hours of the night, from 12 midnight to 6 am. Last night (this morning) I got to bed at 4 am, and slept until 10 am. It might bet he same thing again tonight, although I’m starting a bit late because I’m waiting for my garlics to finish. I’d like to have a bite while doing some work done. Not much has been happening lately. I graduated two months ago and last week I got a job offer from the biggest daily paper in the country; I start work on the 28th. I’ll be writing content and news, with a little bit of digital marketing and social media thrown in the side; no, it isn’t lucrative, but I’m more surprised at the fact that they’re willing to pay me a cent for something I’d do for free. I’ve been freelancing for a couple of years now, since college started, and I’ve had some of the best (and worst) experiences ever; let’s face it, the writing industry, regardless if it’s journalism or creative writing, doesn’t get enough respect. And it pays peanuts. Until today, I still have withheld checks from the publications I used to contribute to. I’ve since given up on those; most days I feel as if I’m the one accosting them for following up on my checks. It’s nasty and exploitative and clearly unfair, but it’s something I have to accept if I really want to go this way. I guess what I’m trying to say here is that I’m fine with this for now, as my first job, at least I know I’ll be getting a salary and benefits; there’s some kind of security as opposed to freelancing wherein you can be gunned down on the job and nobody would know or care. I know I have to start from the bottom pit of Hell, but I guess what I’m surprised by all this is that I’m not moaning about it. In fact, I am excited to get to writing again. I’d like to believe, like Odysseus, that I am still staying centered to my mast. If I really want to do this, if this is what I really want to pursue and make a career out of, there will be some huge sacrifices to make and I’m ready to accept that. I’ve moonlighted in a lot of jobs, and at the same time, also moonlighted as a writer while being bound by other responsibilities but this time, I don’t want to moonlight anymore. There’s just no point in lying to myself, trying to convince myself that I can work corporate and find time to write because that’s never going to happen. So there. I am actually quite happy with how things are working out. Hopefully in a year or two I can start pursing my masters; I’m still torn whether I want to pursue philosophy, anthropology, or literature—but I’ve always been partial towards anthropology. I don’t want to get ahead of myself; I don’t know, still, how to go on about this life, but at least I have some idea—although vague—about what I want to do. I think I’m gonna be alright. I always remind myself of Szymborska, that there is nothing wrong with not knowing and we, in fact, spend our entire lives in uncertainty. I can live with that, I’m not insecure about it; certitude is beautiful, but uncertainty is more beautiful still. And I don’t know is such a small phrase, but it flies on mighty wings. I will be alright, I think.

On another note, I am not best friends with my best friend anymore. I talked to her a week ago and, well, I ended our friendship. I don’t want to dwell on it too much, but I’m just not happy anymore. I’d like to believe that our friendships and relationships with people reflect our inner lives, and I hate what I see when I reflect about our friendship. She was my first best friend in college, having met her in freshman year, and now she’s on her first year in Law school without me. I though we could make it, but I guess things just really change. I’m not pointing any fingers and I’d hate to, but I don’t think we’ve been fair to each other, I to her, and her to me, and it’s something we cannot ignore. I don’t want to pretend it’s alright when it’s not. It makes me uncomfortable to label someone a ‘best friend’ when in reality, I cannot trust this person nor be completely open with her about myself. I wish it didn’t end this way, but I’m now at the point in my life wherein I have a strong sense of what I look for and want in a friendship/relationship, and I’m very clear about that. It just cant be called friendship—nor a best friendship— when I dread it every time, when I feel drained and depressed, fail to recognize myself, and hate myself every time I talk or see this person. I wish it didn’t end this way; I am just as devastated about it, but I cannot continue lying to myself anymore. When I told her, she didn’t contest and told me she understood; she even told me that she hopes that one day, we can be friends again, and that she loves me. I told her of course, that I would never close my doors, and that I love her too.  It’s just that right now, I cannot do it. I need to put myself first. After we talked, I went to bed and cried the moment I woke up. It was that sense of loss that dawned me, the feeling that I lost this special person in my life, and that we’ll never have the same relationship again, that things would have to be different now and we have to continue living our lives without each other. I am still so heartbroken about it, and there are times when I want to reach out to her and say, I take it back, but I stop myself because I know this is for the best. I don’t think I made a mistake, and I don’t regret my decision.

It’s something I’ve struggled with all my life, making friends. Frankly, I find the term “best friend” problematic and refuse to call anyone that. I know some might say it’s sad, but I don’t find it sad. I just don’t like measuring my friends that way, putting them in a hierarchy like that, and singling out the Good, Better, and Best. I don’t even like thinking of people in superlatives and to begin with, I don’t even have much friends, and so when I do call someone a Friend, I know deep in my heart that they are exceptional and extraordinary people who I deeply trust, respect, admire, and love. I am confident in never having to label a Best friend, because I know that all my Friends, with a capital F, (and they are very very few), have already surpassed the superlative. I know most people won’t understand this, but I think thinking of people in superlatives just cheapens them As a child, sure, because it definitely sounds like that kind of thing you’d say if you’re a kindergartner and you’re in the playground and you tell someone you meet, Let’s be best friends! I just find it so immature and juvenile. That’s just me, though.

It’s now 3:00 am. I just finished eating my roasted garlics. God, they’re so delicious. How come I’ve never done this before? So I roasted four baby garlic heads and one regular sized one until they were soft and creamy; I mashed them in a bowl and ended up with about 2-2 1/2 tablespoons of garlic mush? And I spread them on some butter crackers and holy fuck, they’re so so delicious and silky, like butter! I’ve never tasted anything like this, and the taste is so simple yet so exquisite, and all I did was put olive oil, salt, and pepper. It doesn’t even have the astringent taste of garlic; it’s so creamy and nutty and melts in the tongue. Hay. It really is the simple things in life that matter the most! I’ll most likely eat the same thing tomorrow and the next day and the next day, until I tire of them (or run out of crackers) but I just can’t get enough of them. I’ll try roasting a bigger batch tomorrow.

I know I’ve said there is nothing wrong with uncertainty in life, but I’ve been talking about certainty in what I look for in relationships and friendships, with how I look at friends, how I go about my (budding) career as a writer, pursuing graduate school in the near future, and all that. Well, there are just some things I cannot compromise anymore, and these are those. And to add to that small list of certainties, I would also like to confess (to myself! listeners, are there even listeners out here in the void of cyberspace??? lol) that I am certain about my feelings for this person. I don’t want to dwell on this too, but I’ve reached a point where I’m not even denying myself of these feelings. These are all normal and I know I’m very late to this whole thing (being 21 and being single since birth), but I mean, my emotions are valid. I really like this guy. The word “like” is something I find banal and “attraction” sounds too robotic so I guess the word I want to use is tenderness? I feel tenderness towards this person. He is very special to me; I’ve known him for a few years now and he’s actually a friend of mine, so that’s sort of a problem here, but I enjoy his company, I love hearing what he has to say, I love talking to him, and well, like what I said, he has a tender and sentimental effect on me. That’s all, HAHA. I don’t plan on telling him; I guess I’m more afraid of ruining our friendship and losing him. I hope someday when I’m not bound by my own frailties I’d have the strength to tell him, but even now, I am more than grateful and indebted to the friendship he has given me. I cannot ask for more (I guess, unless, my emotions get too strong and it starts affecting me in a negative way, then perhaps I would have to tell him at some point).

Yeah, that’s pretty much it. I don’t have else to say. I have to write. Goodnight. I’ll attach some pictures below just for the sake of it.

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I canceled my attendance to my graduation march, but I went to the recognition.
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Duchamp’s Fountain. I know it’s rooted in absurdism and dadaism, but the more I stared at it at the SFMoMA, the more I was convinced that life is not absurd. At all.
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I don’t drink, but this sweet wine was really good. I know sweet wine isn’t really considered wine by wine snobs, but I liked this a lot! It’s only 5% alcohol lol
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Rothko’s No. 14. You have to see the huge canvas in real life for it to have some kind of effect on you. First time I saw this on Google images, I thought, “How is that art?” But being there, standing in front of her, looking up at her, I was overcome with a wave of emotion, both profundity and melancholia. I was moved, I will admit, and I don’t know why.
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Finally got a copy of Charles Burns graphic novel, Black Hole. I enjoyed this thoroughly.
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Something of Raymond Carver’s. I’ve never been in a romantic relationship, never been a lover, and in turn, a beloved, but I also think that I shouldn’t wait to love, that love doesn’t just happen when you’ve found “that” person. I’m in no hurry to have a partner nor am I desperate, but I’d like to believe that I do love purely everyday. I just find it highly simplistic and insulting to look at love as just romance.
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Reminded once again of Alan Moore’s greatness and brilliance. It’s why he’s in my top favorite writers, among the company of my highbrow literary writers, sitting right beside Dostoyevsky. They are both unmatched.
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Untitled 2 (Common Things Series)

It’s 9 pm. I am wondering how long I can keep ranting until I start to doze off, having swilled down some sleeping pills with cherry Nyquil. I’ve never had a peaceful night of sleep, always waking up twice or thrice in the middle of the night and staying awake for two to three hours. I’ve done everything, and the only thing that seems to help are the pills. What do I say. Well, I just got back from a little shopping and got three new trousers and a pair of shoes. For breakfast, I had a hawaiian roll. For lunch, I had a cup of squash soup and half a turkey and fuji apple sandwich. At 3pm, my aunt gave me a small cup of grass jelly and lychee sugar water. At half past three, I had my cold pressed beet juice. In the car, at 5:30 pm, I drank my cold pressed spinach juice. I had some crab legs, wanton soup, turkey neck, steamed bokchoy with XO sauce, and sticky apple pie for dinner. It seems I’ve been eating with no regard to ethics–and my waistline–whatsoever, but I also lost a pant size, apparently. I’m now a size 8–if half-starving/on good days. Most days, I feel like a 10. Or a 12. Most days I just feel like a whale and refuse to go out because I don’t have enough esteem and I slouch too much.

Eh, enough self deprecation. I am almost/halfway into Richard Flanagan’s Gould’s Book of Fish. I’m loving it so much; if you could see the pages, there won’t be any without stripes of underlines. Today I read a bit about Yvonne Rainer. And Godard. And Barthes’ obtuse meaning and Susan Sontag’s radical juxtaposition. Today I looked at the trees and saw the leaves were a full green, tapering to a yellow and finally a soft red at the top, and I wonder why I never found decay so interesting. (Interesting, because Sontag said Beautiful has become too banal). The fallen leaves on the pavement are brown and crunchy. I bought three new books from the secondhand bookshop in San Mateo a week ago: Bukowski’s Women, Roy’s The God of Small Things, and Lahiri’s The Namesake. Two days ago, I finally convinced myself to splurge on some books–a personal graduation gift to myself–so I got on Amazon and got used ones available for Amazon Prime. Let’s see if I remember them all: Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow, 100 Tales of Ray Bradbury, Adrian Tomine’s complete Optic Nerve comics, Black Hole (can’t remember the author), Robert Hass’ Human Wishes, short stories of Alice Munro, and Jack Kerouac’s journals. I don’t regret anything. I am also getting some books from my cousin; she told me to get whatever I want from her shelf before she disposes of them, so being self-indulgent, I grabbed all that I wanted. But I cannot remember all of them now, though there is a beautiful illustrated copy of Jane Eyre, David Sedaris’ Me Talk Pretty One Day, The Godfather, a hardcover of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, The Birth of Venus, Flowers for Algernon, Memoirs of a Geisha, Richard Wright’s The Native Son, Sophocles’ plays, and many many more. I’m so excited. My book haul deserves a separate post, obviously, so I’ll stfu and save it for that!

Elizabeth Fraser croons in the background; she is singing Cherry-Coloured Funk from her Heaven or Las Vegas album. I love her so much, but I love her Treasure album more, and her duet with Jeff Buckley in All Flowers in Time, perhaps one of my most favorite songs in this world. Next to Hallelujah (Jeff Buckley’s and Imogen Heap’s versions duhhh). And Eva Cassidy’s Wade in the Water. And Gabor Szabo’s Galatea’s Guitar. And Ryo Fukui’s Mellow Dream.

Two days ago, I hung out with my girl cousins with their boyfriends… It wasn’t as bad as I thought. We had Chinese food, and then went to a beer garden after. I had a strawberry bellini; it was gross. Or maybe because I find liquor gross in general. I liked the guacamole and fries a lot though. We might go out again next weekend…

I deleted my Facebook because my best friend is too toxic, I have realized. Sometimes she is shallow and conceited and it ruins my state of mind and most times I wonder if I’m more peaceful without one, if people are just lying to themselves when they compromise and accept a person’s “uglies” because apparently nobody is perfect (but if i may, let me say, we should never enable someone in manifesting their terrible qualities), if I really need a best friend, and if our search for a “best friend” in this life is really just our sorry, pathetic, and futile attempt to either reach for some kind of perfection in self actualization or a sad excuse of a bandaid to cover the gaping hole that is our personal inadequacies. Sorry, but I am neither.

It’s 9:39 pm. I’m yawning. I think the pills and Nyquil concoction worked. My mom is bringing my grandma to the hospital tomorrow for check up, so I will be alone with the dogs, Dimitri ad Benjie. Perhaps I’ll go to the library when my mom gets back and walk the entire 10 kilometers. Goodnight.

Pappardelle affairs and modern dating anxieties

I caved in, people. It was Monday night when I finally brought out the huge bag of flour from the pantry and started rolling to make fresh pappardelle pasta, despite the boxes and boxes of different pasta shapes on the shelves. I was so desperate and my craving atrociously strong that I couldnt stop myself, but it was worth the hassle. Mind you, I didn’t have a rolling pin so I used a Japanese ceramic tea cup instead……. Don’t ask me how (it’s an experiential thing) but to cut it short, it went well. Perhaps I could’ve rolled the pasta a tad thinner, but all in all, it came out great and soft, and paired with my experimental sriracha bolognese sauce, I’d like to say the gastronomic affair was an orgasm in my mouth. And I finished everything in 15 minutes (compared to the 1 hour and 30 minutes of preparation).

On another note, I’d like to believe my “I have my shit together!” moment is when I am finally living alone in a wallpapered middle-kla$$ apartment and able to cook perfect fresh pappardelle for dinner while looking like 1980s Suzanna Vega—cropped hair and little pretty Tinkerbell face and all. And while my pappardelle bubbles on the stove, I—slim, feline, and doorframe-leaning—will announce, “It is I, Solitude Standing.” Self Transcendence! I mean OK I’ve got the fresh pappardelle down, I just need a proper rolling pin.  And perhaps lose a bit of my jigglies. And be more graceful. And a lover who can come by any time with cheap wine. Or not. Ahhah I gross myself out.

Or, you know, if I end up becoming a bum, at least I’d have an excuse to look like trash and dye my hair orange and wear blue eyeshadow and call myself Cyndi Lauper, you know??? I’ve accepted my two possible Fates, but I really need to cut it down on the carbs because I’ve been overeating pasta and bread everyday since Monday. It’s because it’s that time of the month; I’ve fallen to the Communists….. (please don’t make me explain this terrible joke further).

Anyway, I was just thinking and I realized I’m 21 and I’ve never been on a (romantic) date and never had anyone to call Beloved or whatever, although I’ve hung out with guy friends alone that felt inadvertently romantic, but those don’t count because there’s no agreement saying we both know and acknowledge that it is a romantic date. Am I making sense? Not that I’m bummed about it or desperate or anything because I don’t need an other half the way people look at other halves; I’d like to believe I’ve been whole my entire life; how can you only be half of yourself? But my best friend was messaging me last Monday night (while I was making fresh pappardelle) and she was on the way to a hotel to meet some horse-dicked guy she met on Tinder and apparently they were going to have loads of fun playing Chess all night or god knows what (Aha) and well, I just couldn’t relate…. At all…. So I told her, I’ll stay up all night, if you don’t call me at 3 am I’m calling the cops! So she gave me the hotel and the room number and she texted me around 12:30 am, but I—lame and a  terrible best friend—fell asleep and only got back to her around 2 am when I woke up from the scratching sound of a baby mouse trapped inside my Post-it box (and before you clutch your pearls, FYI the baby mouse was harmless and was far too cute to exterminate, so I set him free, believing that it knows Compassion and Gratitude and will one day help me create the best ratatouille in town. I’m probably reaching here, but it’s why I don’t eat animals, Deborah). So all my fears didn’t come true. She wasn’t raped and murdered and thrown in a barrel and covered with cement and dumped in a ditch, and I don’t have to be summoned by Forensics and look at my best friend’s body, see her dangling falsies, and identify that it is her, but well, I told her to be safe anyway. There are far scarier things than death. Like STDs. And pregnancy. And internal bleeding. And a bruised cervix. And feelings. I’m joking, if you couldn’t tell… Don’t hate me.

So let me cut this senseless rant short. The reason why I’ve never dated is because… I never really tried. I mean, I never sought it out, so I cant really sigh and say, Aw I’ve never been on a date, because I’ve put everyone at arms length all my life. But, I mean, what if I do go out on a date? And what if the guy I go out with isn’t… human?

What if he purchases things in MSRP? What if he laughs at me upon discovering that I’ve read only the Garnett translation of Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov and not the Pevear and Volokhonsky? What if he doesn’t read Dostoevsky? (Forgivable!) What if he doesn’t get my Bradbury and Alan Moore references? (Unforgivable!) What if he asks me where I want to eat and I can’t answer because I can never decide where and what I want to eat and have to do extensive research days before eating out? What if he’s bothered with my teeth grinding when I sleep? What if he doesn’t like long, winding handwritten letters? Would he hate poetry too? What if he likes cars? What if he finds out I hate cars and is the reason why I’ll never learn driving or bother with a license? What if he doesn’t like pappardelle pasta? What if he’s loud? What if he doesn’t like Japanese jazz and Gabor Szabo? What if he isn’t openminded to listen to Japanese jazz and Gabor Szabo? What if he doesn’t love Eva Cassidy’s effervescence in Wade in the Water? What if he doesn’t read, at all?! What if he asks me about Game of Thrones or some other popular TV series or movie and I wont have anything to say not because I think I’m too edgy for such things (ha-ha) but because I don’t have cable TV, paying for a Netflix subscription gives me so much anxiety, and I super abhor the concept of Torrent? What if he uses Twitter and Instagram? (Just kidding, social media whores!) But what if he works a corporate job? How bureautragic! (Ha-ha, just kidding corporate slaves!) What if he gets grossed out by my seasonal eczema? What if he doesn’t like being the small spoon? WHAT IF HIS NICENESS TOWARDS THE WAITER IS ONLY PRETEND??!??!

Bah! Why bother! I have to read Man and His Symbols before going to The MET in an hour. I have more than a hundred pages to go and my quiz is in two days. I simply wont have the time tonight since tonight is the opening of our new exhibit so I’ll be overstaying for cocktails and fake small talk with a bunch of bougie millionaire saps from the government and the private sector. I don’t mean any offense; it’s just that it sucks that when we cry, they get to use hundred dollar bills to wipe their tears away while I only have Kleenex. Hopefully I’ll find me a rich single Senator who doesn’t believe in buying things in manufacturer’s suggested retail price. Did I mention I was joking? I hate Senators. Goodbye.

PS: Here’s something way way way cooler and more exciting than romantic dates. My reading list for today! Read them with me!

Camus’ The Myth of Sisyphus- http://dbanach.com/sisyphus.htm

Emerson on Self Reliance- https://www.owleyes.org/text/self-reliance/read/self-reliance#root-219808-3

Chesterton on Wisdom and the Weather- http://www.online-literature.com/chesterton/wrong-with-the-world/13/

Pablo Neruda’s Ode to Keeping Quiet- http://www.ginnyhamiltonyoga.com/ode-to-keeping-quiet-by-pablo-neruda-2/

Sullivan Ballou’s letter to his wife- http://www.pbs.org/kenburns/civil-war/war/historical-documents/sullivan-ballou-letter/

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.

tenderness

i need to rant. i went to an awarding ceremony today and was dressed down for it; i felt inadequate being there, with everybody wearing gowns and tuxedos, surrounded by a bunch of faces i did not care for. i didn’t take the dress code seriously and came in a polo tucked under a casual dress. my feature story was nominated for Top Award, but didn’t win. i won an Award of Excellence though, which i think is okay. i didn’t want to go initially because i was afraid. i thought that if i went, they’d tell me everything was a huge mistake and that they got it all wrong and that i didn’t really win the award and if i could just return the award and go back home please. i was afraid that they’d see me as the phony that i am, that i don’t really know anything, and that’ I’m not deserving of the award because i’m a quack. at the same time, i felt bothered because a part of me wanted to win the top award, but a part of me felt like an impostor. the feeling is obsessive. i am caught between my fear of losing and fear of winning. my pride makes me fear rejection and failure, yet at the same time, i fear achievement. how do you comprehend such a thing?

i will admit, i was disappointed i didn’t win top award. i was hoping i would, but we lose some and win some. the award went to a literary folio instead. the criteria is weird and apparently, you can only be nominated for top award if you win an award of excellence. i won that, so that’s one award. i guess a part of me was just hoping i’d make the top. apparently not.

but it’s really funny. it’s funny because i still feel the same. awards, i thought before, are something that would make me happy. it’s a slap to the face because what i thought would make me happy in this world doesn’t make me happy at all. with or with no writing award, i still feel like utter shit. i honestly really don’t know what makes me happy. not the top award. not recognition, not fame, not power. not money, though it would make things a little bit easier, i guess, but it wont make me happy, no. not a boat full of friends and admirers, even.

i don’t understand. i’m not speaking out of bitterness, i won an award myself, but it just gives a bad taste in my mouth how people make such a huge deal out of themselves. i was almost embarrassed going up the stage with my award. i don’t understand how anyone can think of themselves as being “up there”. i don’t understand arrogance. how can you be that way up in your head when you know that you don’t really know much? it’s a writing award and i should be happy and proud and i am, i suppose, i don’t mean to sound ungrateful or self deprecating (which is just as bad), but when i see people in award ceremonies, i cant help but cringe. it’s a night of glamour, yes, but when it’s over, we go back to our simple lives and we are not, all of a sudden, better writers. i still go back to a broken home, sit on my desk and break my back every night, forcing myself to write, hating myself more and more. this is what people don’t see. they don’t see that i don’t feel confident at all when i sit in front of a blank sheet of paper. i wish they saw this, so we can admit to ourselves that all these awards are nothing but white noise. it wont make me bankable or kinder nor will it make me love myself more. it’s just another thing to add on my resumé and i’ve decided long ago that i don’t want to live for my resumé or eulogy.

i read a poem by Charles Bukowski and it spoke to me because it is so real. the poem’s title is “this”. here’s a fragment of it:

self congratulatory nonsense

as the famous gather to applaud their seeming greatness

as the deathly talentless bow to accolades

as the fools are fooled again

you wonder where the real ones are.

if there are real ones.

i think we are all fools. i think we don’t really know anything and the more we learn and the more degrees and awards we accumulate, the more we should realize that we don’t really know much and cant ever know everything. and this shouldn’t give us a license for arrogance. not even a license to think that we are, in any way, close to being good.

i went to wabi sabi after the awarding. it’s a small restaurant in the ugly part of the city, inside a nondescript warehouse, a little ways past the costume shop down a dim alley. i always keep coming back to this place. i thought the place is so apropos for me. wabi sabi. welcoming imperfection like an old friend. accepting it. living with it. i go there every week and order the same steaming cup of suanong and, sometimes, a bowl of tantanmen or pho, depending if  i want something rich or something light.

i always sit by the single-diner table, facing the wall, beside the stack of old magazines with rat droppings sandwiched between each one for never being read. it saves me from the awkwardness and prying eyes of people in groups, which doesn’t happen too often because the place is almost always empty or occupied by single diners as well. it was raining hard and it was flooding outside. the rain’s still going and going—it’s persistent in its mission to keep me out of the house.

of course, i didnt tell my parents about this award. not that they care or anything, because they show no interest or support whatsoever with my writing. i don’t mind though. i’ve surmised a long time ago that this is something i have to do alone. i cannot dream around my parents. most of the time, they make me feel guilty for being alive. and they will never get the best of me. and i will never let them see the best of me. and i will continue working and transcending and i wont pay them any mind. i will continue to dream.

and my dreams scare me. they scare me so so much. i cannot even write them down here. i cannot even say them out loud. but they’re always in my mind, always. i will be flayed, stripped, and undone, but i guess it cant be called dreaming if it weren’t painful, if it didn’t break my spirit like nothing else can. i am so desperate to challenge myself beyond the blinkers of the little i know. though, i think, i unconsciously know what i want. i think it’s why i am here. i think my unconscious guides me to where i am headed, wherever that is. i cannot be doing all of this randomly, don’t you think? perhaps there are inner workings of myself, working on its own, as if unbidden, as if it has its own person. or, perhaps, it is me, still me, just an undiscovered side of me. well whatever it may be, i think it is unconsciously guiding me there. wherever there is, even though most days i fail to recognize myself.

it was a good time, being alone, by the way. the coffee came with a single cup filter and it was hot just how i liked it hot. the condensed milk rested at the bottom, and i watched as the coffee turned lighter and lighter with every swing of the spoon. bittersweet, just like this day. the pho had soft glass noodles, its broth minty, light, and refreshing, topped with little flags of cabbage and of celery, and bean sprouts crunchy and perfect the way they are. a dash of fish sauce and a nice squeeze of calamansi. i like talking about food this way, as if they were friends. i learned that from Pablo Neruda, who saw the beauty in everything, from a bar of soap to a chair to an artichoke and an onion! i think a good bowl of soup is quiet in its magnificence. comforting, like a long-awaited hug from someone familiar.

let me go back to what i said earlier, when i said i do not really know what makes me happy. i am not demanding for love or someone to complete me. i would hate it if i lived my life carrying everywhere a sense of lack that i so long to fill. i don’t think i am fragmented in any way. i think i am a whole person, and do not need an other half in the way people look at other halves. i think i am already whole. i’ve always been. i mean, how can you be only half of yourself? i suppose i just do not know how to accept this wholeness of mine, in all its nakedness and convolutions and complications. i am still learning to accept it, still trying to know it, and discover and be surprised in all its secrets (there are things i have yet to discover from my Self). i am still trying to love it, show it kindness, this wholeness of mine. i have jabbed it with hatred for so long it’s not fair. i wish i didn’t feel ashamed of it.

what i really want is tenderness. warm, brown hands that are always willing, ready, to take me into them. in spite of the bad days and bouts of doubt and insecurity and self hatred. i long for tenderness.

the past month in retrospect & other life things

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

life currently

Reading– too many books at once. I started with The Illustrated Man a month ago and am still not halfway done with it because I started on Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore at the same time, read a few pages, put it down, then started on Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking, did the same, and am now reading the first few pages of another book by a local writer. Honestly, this habit makes me so angry at myself because I cannot multitask with my reading. I have to focus. I pushed the other books away, and am now back to Bradbury’s The Illustrated Man. I can finish this today if I really put my mind into it. No reading other books until I finish what I started with first sigh

Writing– the review of related literature of my thesis. scared and paranoid at the same time, because academic writing is so different from the writing that i usually do. it’s so…cold and unfeeling. it’s a challenge, but i think i can cope with it. it’s the researching of past material that’s killing me.

Listening– to Racing Glaciers’s Moths with tears in my eyes. I love this song so, so much.

Thinking– about my future, what I want to do, whether I will graduate on time in October or not, if happiness will ever be constant for me, my wellbeing, why i’m not trying hard enough and excelling enough and achieving enough and doing enough and being enough

Hoping- always for better days and good moods.

Wanting- to be left alone and at the same time be held so tight. wanting to be more expressive with my emotions, more open to people, exude more warmth. i’m trying, perhaps not my hardest, but i’m trying

Feeling- heavy and invasive, as if i’m taking up too much space with my being. feeling afraid for reasons unknown. feeling upset about my parents and ended up crying after they left. feeling depressed over everything in my life, but also feeling a bit happy that a lot of my staff writers went to storyboard yesterday. it was great. missed their faces.

Eating- a good breakfast. well, maybe brunch, because i heaved myself from bed at 11 am. brewed a cup of coffee and toasted two slices of walnut wheat bread and gave it a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkling of basil and a pinch of salt. the simplest breakfasts are the best.

Needing- to get my shit together. i cannot wait to get “into the swing of things” and should just force myself to do my responsibilities without complaining and being whiny. most of all, without being affected by my depressive state of mind.

Loving- my gel highlighter pen. it’s so smooth like a crayon!! i’ve used marker highlighters my whole life and absolutely hated the bleeding pages. this is revolutionary! also on my 3rd day of bullet journal-ing. it’s crude and messy and definitely not Pinterest-worthy but i’m loving it so far.

Dreading- my debate later in class. yesterday we had to do public speaking in another class and i was h-o-r-r-i-b-l-e. totally forgot what i was going to say and just stood there like an idiot for many painful seconds. i detest speaking in front of people. give me a pen and paper any fucking day.