letting all the bad feelings out through “poetry”

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Artwork from deviant art: amalista

unsavory, like salt,

a scrunchy I left wet, hanging

on the toiletries rack, the

morning couldn’t get any sweeter

with awkward dances an­­d words

I was too sleepy to say, I don’t

have the tolerance for unironed shirts

today. Stay, we kept holding up

hands against the sun, grass and shoes

were about to give up, cold sweat,

unsatisfactorily everything, from half

hearted laughs to always one step apart.

I was pulling but breaths kept

at it until the quiet was quite as desperate

as fried chicken for breakfast. There is the

illusion that forms meant to taste like

cake, chewed on by a thousand dreams I

had for a fifteen-minute nap. It was

just as I thought it’d be with misspellings

and mishaps the saints in my head invented. We

were just as they told me when I prayed not

too long ago to do what the common

folk to with their tongues, for the sheer thrill

of being normal, in the streets there was

shouting instead of constant nods to hats tipped

off. I was no longer awake after more

than a day of crickets and throbbing and

the light showed itself out of my eyes until

I wobbled. My bedroom floor tasted like cement,

now that I think about it.

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how she learned to be afraid of attachments

 

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Artwork by Fanny Nushka Moreaux

 

Younger, she could boast about one thing – once she decided to keep you, she’ll never let you go. She never gave up on a friend, even if there was distance, because she wasn’t one to lose people. (Perhaps, that was why death was one of the concepts she found really hard to process.)

But older, one of the parts of her she had to trade away was her naivety. She learned that there were people who went away, who took different paths and worse, that she wasn’t that good at keeping correspondence because time and distance had the power to make her forget and feel awkward.

The lesson was: She had to work hard to keep people because people didn’t and couldn’t always stay.

But learning this lesson also birthed a new fear – the fear of getting too attached. She’s already too familiar with forming deep connections with the souls of the people she let in. But, as life had been slowly teaching her, all these people eventually became just parts of moments she once lived and not constants with whom she shares her new secrets to (and sometimes, it was her fault for not reaching out as often as she used to).

Accepting the possibility that people could leave meant she had to worry about investing her heart in every new person she lets in. It meant dreading the goodbye. It meant trying to promise in a future with a person while trying to push down some sort of bitter taste down her throat. It meant learning that she mustn’t be as capable as she thought in being a friend who keeps and a friend worth keeping.

(How and why is it even possible that good people would be sent in your life only for you part ways?)

She hopes, one day, that this fear turns into an inspiration instead, that the fleeting nature of people make them more precious. For now, she’ll try to live in moments, work on keeping people and remind herself to live life boldly, without any regrets.

The concept of timing and time

 

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Image grabbed from Pinterest

 

Isn’t time merely a construct (just like all the other abstract things I cannot explain well)?

One early afternoon, I was writing down my third to-do list of the day (instead of actually trying to accomplish one more task). As I was listing lessons that I needed to make PowerPoint presentations for, I kept thinking about the vacation that was and how I planned to supposedly have made the same presentations I was planning to make, then.

I planned a lot of things that I supposedly should’ve accomplished during the sembreak. I made a lot of promises to myself too. Though I did tick some stuff off my bucketlist  like jumpstarting my novel, learning to drive (properly) and getting a student driving permit, I didn’t finish everything I had to do.

As some sort of mechanism to forgive myself, I told my turbulent thoughts (Hello Virgil!) that maybe there isn’t really a certain time for certain things. After all, if I really wanted to get things done now, I would and should do it now. I didn’t have to set a one-week vacation period for me to function hyperproductively. I could continue on and I can start anytime. It was me who set that deadline and me that was disappointed in myself for not being able to commit to it.

It sounded like an excuse. Of course, I believed in time, whether it be a construct, a divine gift or a limitation. More specifically, I believed in timing – that there is a right or wrong timing for things. In writing – and I hold onto this dear God because if not I’ve just been wasting the years – I believe that certain things have to be experienced first before they can be written. I couldn’t have written about magic if I didn’t know what magical feels like, right? In love, I believe that the right love and the right person wouldn’t feel right if it isn’t the right time.

So if there is such a right time in doing things, shouldn’t it have been done then? Or is that not the right time too?

I’m talking about two different meanings of time and timing now, aren’t I? (I shall not correct myself. I’m merely rambling so mismatch of meaning and non-sequiturs are normal.)

I don’t hope to get any resolution, to be honest. All I want is peace of mind. For now, that means believing that whatever happened during the past week was meant to happen – the good, the bad and the lazy (and yes, even the sickness).

Writing Anxiety 1: How do you keep at it?

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Since I’d have relatively more time for at least a couple of days, I decided to continue writing my novel. With God’s grace, I would be able to finish it before the year ends.

I just have a tad bit of a problem.

I conceived the novel idea last 2014 but it took me about a year to actually begin writing it down. And as you can see, it’s already 2017 and I’m barely halfway in. (I’ve just written about six chapters.)

I know that I can write and that I actually have no problem letting the words flow. It’s just that I’ve always found excuses to not write the book. I would often busy myself with work or other writing and creative projects instead of doing it.

I think, I’m just really worried about not getting it right that I’m obsessed with being in the perfect state of mind before I get to writing it (and if you know me, you know that that almost never happens. My mind’s always a wreck).

For this week, even if it’s just this week, I’ll try to turn that part of my brain off and just do it. I’ll sit down and write and let the world come alive again. It’s been so long and that’s why I may be too focused on making it good rather than telling the actual story I want to tell. I need to remember.

Last night, I started doing that. The dilemma was actually finishing chapter 5. It’s been almost six months since I began writing it that I didn’t know how to finish it. I actually thought that it’d still be a long way before I can cut it but I surprised myself by just doing it.

Now, I’m at chapter 6 and what’s so lovely about this journey is that I was surprised by one of my characters because *insert spoilers here*! It’s amazing when they come alive like that, doing things I didn’t tell them to do.

Okay. That’s it for now. Hopefully, I am able to stick to this thinking until the end.

#MIBF2017: Second time’s a charm

This year’s MIBF felt different for a lot of reasons. (I’m still trying to decide if it was a good kind of different. Kinda overwhelmed still about the experience.)

For one, it’s been a while since I rode a bus to Manila. I didn’t miss the bus per se. I just missed sleeping in the bus (using my not-so swabe moves). Initially, Tiff and I shared stories about what’s been happening in our lives, but after a while, I fell asleep. The “sleep” involved a lot of head banging and me eventually relenting and laying my head on Tiff’s shoulder.

Bus ride @ 10:20 AM. We were supposed to leave at 9:00 AM.

When we arrived in SM MOA, it was a little after lunch already. Our main goal was to eat first (though Tiff insisted that “food is life but books are life-er”). We went around for quite a while before choosing to eat at Yoshinoya.

It was my first time to eat there so I challenged myself to eat stuff I wouldn’t usually order. In that case, it was steamed siomai and California maki. (I prefer my siomai fried and I don’t really like seafood unless, well, unless I like it.)

“For a change” lunch date

After filling our stomachs, we headed to SMX. When we arrived, we were welcomed by a ton of people. And by a ton, I mean 10x the number of people that was at MIBF last year. There were four layers of lines around SMX on both sides of the building. (I’m so proud of all the bookworms that endured the long lines. We’re so awesome!) It took us more than an hour to just get it. (I have never been more grateful for aircon when we reached the entrance.) (Note to self: Bring water and a fan.)

Hello, fellow bookworms!

Our initial plan was to go through everything per row. But when Fully Booked caught our attention, we just headed inside, disregarding said plan.

As expected, it was packed with people inside. It was really hard to find magic-y indie children’s books because of the crowd so I just stuck to my gut when it came to finding a book to buy. (But, in fairness, this year, their paying system was a lot better and faster.)

I bought Beautiful Blue World by Suzanne LaFleur. Other than the aesthetically-pleasing blue cover, it said:

…where kindness can be a weapon, and children have the power to see what adults cannot.

The second stop was at National Bookstore (1st floor). The space was less crowded so my introvert self held up pretty well. It was there that I found the feel I’ve been looking for in children’s books. There, I bought Sharon Creech’s Walk to Moons.

I picked this up because 1) the author was the author of a poetry book Gianne gave me and 2) it felt right. (This is the problem with being an emotion-based spender.) Here’s a random quote from the book:

You can’t keep the birds of sadness from flying over your head, but you can keep them from nesting in your hair.

After going around the ground floor and not really seeing fiction books that we wanted to buy, we decided to go up. (I did see a lot of things I could give to a certain friend as pasalubong but I decided to just look around first before making a final purchase.)

Upstairs, it felt more fandom-y and for kids (which made it awesome!!!).

There was another National Bookstore there so we visited it just in case there were new books. Thankfully, the kind of books I couldn’t find downstairs were there. I found The Earth-Healers by Cyan Abad-Jugo and I just couldn’t not buy it because 1) it’s good Pinoy work and 2) Cyan Abad-Jugo! I read one of her books from my MIBF haul last year.

They looked at each other, unable to talk, for the spell of understanding had already faded. Still, what need were words among friends?

Afterwards, we wandered to the Make-a-Wish booth. There we donated for a cause and took a picture with Storm Troopers. Though I’m not really a big Star Wars fan (I did play the computer game though), I liked the experience because, not only did I help, but also, I was reminded of my childhood.

Yes, I look like a potato.

Just nearby was a HP-themed photobooth. It took us quite a while, lining up (we’ve been doing that the whole day) but in a fangirl sense, using the props and taking pictures was worth it. (My hair was deflated already though.)

Wearing a Hufflepuff cloak, I realized that maybe I am a Gryffindor.

It was already around 6 PM when we got out of there. By then, we just had a quick go-over of the rest of the booths upstairs. Adarna publishing quickly caught my eye because I’ve been trying to look for it downstairs earlier that day. From there, I bought Raissa Rivera Falgui’s Woman in Frame.

Perhaps what drew the young woman to this painting was the incongruity of a girl, grave and formal, set within the vibrant, flowing curves of the carved art nouveau frame. Perhaps it was the sense of kinship she felt. For the young woman, Ning, was the daughter of an artist, dreaming of becoming an artist. She knew nothing of the girl in the portrait, only that the intensity captured in the glimmer of its brush-stroked eyes reflected her own.

By the time I’ve finished paying, I started to feel the need to end the day. It was six something and we’ve visited almost all there was to visit.

By then, I’ve only spent PHP 768 for four books (which was not a bad bargain at all). I only needed to check one last booth for the pasalubong  I wanted to buy.

I went down to UP Press to check out a certain book. However, when I got there, I found poetry books that I wasn’t able to find the first time I scouted the area. I saw about five poetry books that I liked but the problem was, I didn’t have enough money anymore. (The struggle was so intense!) I also found a ton of books that I wanted to gift to people (but then again, I couldn’t afford to give a book to all of them).

After much internal debate, I bought three books (and went over-budget). I bought one poetry book I really connected to, Merlinda Bobis’ Accidents of Composition and two others as gifts. (Due to this single purchase, I spent almost as much as I did from 2:30 – 6:30 PM. MIBF just wouldn’t let me leave as a responsible adult.)

Book haul! Not a bad bunch at all.

After that, it was time to travel back home. Tiff had work so I went to Lipa on my own (and almost got lost INSIDE THE BUS TERMINAL).

I over-exhausted my introvert body and soul so I almost couldn’t feel it on the bus ride home. As expected, I was knocked out to oblivion when I fell asleep.

Overall, I felt more in control with my choices this year. I knew what I wanted and where I wanted to go. I didn’t binge-buy for the sake of remembering that I went to a certain booth (unlike last year). I also knew how to survive expos this time so I knew what to expect.

I just wish there were more indie publishers this year. I really looked forward to their books. I wanted to meet them again too.

You can read about my first MIBF experience here.

A quick escape to Tagaytay

Last Sunday, me and my girls had a quick get-together at Tagaytay. Though we all had our fair share of worries for the upcoming week, it just felt great to see each other again.

After our roadtrip to Tagaytay, we initially attempted to eat at Balay Dako. However, the place was booked and we were already hungry. (The view of Taal was spectacular though!)

We went to Carlos Pizza instead since it was just right beside BD. We ate outside with Taal just there.

Hello Taal!

Of course, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take photos.

Before going down, we stopped over on one side of the road to take photos.

I loved that quick break. It was the first weekend that I just went out without really working on something. (The best part was, of course, being updated on each other’s lives despite not always seeing each other. Love you!)

Frames of Taal

Sometimes, we see things better when we have a limited perspective of the big picture. Maybe, it’s because darkness doesn’t only have a way of bringing out the shadows, but also, light.

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The games we play. These are two of my students playing chess in Tampuhan Cafe.

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Among a crowd of shadows. This picture highlights one of my co-teachers, standing outside the Taal Basilica.

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Secret passage. This one of my students posing at the Marcela Agoncilio museum.

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Taal Narnia. This one of my students, exploring the Taal Basilica.

 

 

 

how do souls brush against each other?

 

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Photo credits: Pinterest (Mishal Benson)

 

to remember that it was a kind of brown,

one that looked like a Monday, like coffee overflowing with sugar,

tucked away inside the eyes of someone who had a lot to say.

there was music and it sounded like pieces of piano keys falling, one by one, like

childhood and the last second before falling asleep. the room knew what was happening,

letting itself be occupied by vacancies and paint splattered on the walls. the paper knew

what it felt to be remembered, so it offered itself to idle strokes and the silence thereafter. in

that instance, there was a universe created, a silent agreement of

allowing the breaking of defenses and taking a step closer. there were secrets

unexplored still but it was then that looking into someone’s eyes meant

seeing them. (finally.)

To me he was Odin

If there was a rule to guard against attachment, it would be this: Do not let the name speak to you. Do not allow it to roll off your tongue. To use names would permit a sense of permanence and familiarity to settle atop your shoes and would bless the soil with that moment forever. (It would be too hard to commit to.)

But the eyes will always try to speak to you first. Despite your initial resistance, it will whisper to you. That day, it was Abby. And then, Odin. Before I knew it, my system accepted the register and I was holding your head. I said it aloud.

My hands never reach out first. They dread the split second they hang on air, wanting. But if I do attempt something, the heart suffers the most, because it explodes both at the thought of flying and actually getting somewhere.

I’d just like to think you understood me then. (Let me pay tribute, before I repress the happiness any further.)

because secretly, i’m a mermaid

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Photo credits: The Daughter of the Sea by Marco Busoni

There had to be sunlight somewhere. For fish hungry for water, it seemed ironic to first look for heat. But there she was, feet already sprouting, yearning for the sort of warmth she didn’t even understand.

What does it take for breaths to have meaning? Swimming around, she came to know air only as something you need for catching up. The sea was just a place to go. The waves were just a means of passing by.

Inside her, stuck in between bones she called her body, was more water. Her lungs were a well of salt and saliva, thickening with every inhale. Was it dark there? Was it dangerous? (Nonetheless, they were still just transparent.)

What did it mean to be buoyant? Sometimes, when she touched her scales, she can imagine herself floating. Though in her head the surface is also the sea, she knew she really didn’t need to escape water. Drenched, she only needed a small flame to hide underneath her shell.