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.)

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Poems found

here— as if words written

on tissue meant something.

truth, if it allowed itself to be

relative, would reveal the same:

“I have never given it thought,”

And yet, still. But because.

perhaps —say it— during breakfast,

despite the cold, we become. We

let Friday settle in our shoes so it

can turn into dust. Unless songs, one

without feet to play it, can

exclam: “Be yourself”. Maybe then.

permanence never was; it only

existed in fragments. And I’ll 

remember which table,

when it drops.

Notions on Destiny

Aside

a recent painting I did

I’ve been believing in destiny for as long as I could remember. To me, it’s a sign that God and the universe are listening and that something is working in my life. 

Say for example, if I were to find a milktea stall in an unlikely occasion, especially when I was craving for milktea the whole day, instead of simply buying milktea on the way to school, I’d feel more happy and magical. 

But I’ve questioned destiny before. If things were destined to be, then how can we still say that we have a sense of freedom? Does destiny negate free will? Are we slaves to our destiny? (I’ve addressed this through the natural law, but that’s for another post.)

Today, I’ve questioned it again. A situation prompted me to ask if believing in destiny makes me a passive decision-maker. I wondered, does relying on things working themselves out mean that I’m just too lazy or scared to do things myself?

I’d like to believe that I’ve never used destiny as an excuse to get away from something before. I associate it to magic and religion so it’s somehow more of a principle thing than a conscious decision thing for me. 

Well, except for maybe when it comes to the things I like. The more I like something or someone, the more rewarding it would be to get it because I was meant to. (I’m not saying that I freeload on come what may. I just like it what I see invisible connections leading to success, as if I was meant to succeed beforehand.)

An example would be deliberately sitting beside someone I like. I’d rather be in a situation where there’s no other chair so I’d feel like I was meant to go there. Is that weird? Or I’m really just a person that doesn’t want to actively want for myself?

I don’t know. I just really don’t see destiny as a mechanism to get something I like. It’s not meant to do anything. I just establishes a magical connection and an assurance that my life is running a certain track.

Maybe I’m talking about two different issues here.

There’s really no conclusion for this issue yet. At the moment, my belief still stands, that I believe in destiny. Whether it’s making me passive or not will still be determined by further introspection.

Plan ABC

Photo taken at Worldbex2017

I’m at the point of my life where I’m trying to shift gears and maneuver to the next destination. But, instead of having a set course, I only have a vague idea of where I want to go. I just have a general picture of the change I want to happen and the feel of what I want my life to be like in the near future.

(If you’ve lived alone for a while, you realize that you are in charge of your life and you do not have to put up with things not meaningful to you. You can make things/dreams happen now.)

At this point, I feel like I’m getting closer and closer to the next step. I’ve just been thinking about it months before but now, it’s actually going to happen. And though I’m mostly excited, part of my brain is doubting if I really can pull things off and if I really want to stir my life towards this course. 

(Sometimes I feel like I might have commitment issues because whenever things start to get real, I panic!)

But this sense of doubt must be natural, right? I mean, for the first time in my life, I actually didn’t overthink the decisions I made to start this whole moving on process. Though I was reasonable and logical as I did the steps I needed to do, I trusted my gut when it came to deciding whether to do it or not. So naturally, my brain will second-guess. 

Initially, not having a concrete plan was refreshing. It made me feel like I could really do anything and I should be bold when dreaming. It’s like pushing forward and worrying later. Like looking straight ahead at a certain unwavering goal and running forward.

I did plan for a goal, I’ll give myself that. But I didn’t worry about it’s implications and the consequences I’d have to deal with if I went through with it. 

Also, I gave myself safety cushions. I prepared backup plans (even if, now that I look at it, they don’t make much sense unless I could make them work.) 

But other than those two, I mostly just winged it. (There’s no manual for life anyway.)

Now that things are getting nearer, I can see how loose things have become. It’s like I’m taking the next step but I’m landing on gelatin. 

Yes, I have a fixed goal but I have mindlessly worked on ensuring that I have several options to get there. Because of that, I have unconsciously made things flexible so that I can pick an option at the last minute and save the day.

(Is this me being scared? Have I been playing safe all this time?)

Right now, though nothing’s set in stone, I have a feeling that in the end, I might be torn between two things that I’ve entangled myself with. And I won’t be sure what to do with that. 

Part of my brain is telling me to start being logical again. But honestly, I still have breathing room to do so. At the end of the day, I’m just really doing my best, because if there’s anything I’m sure of, it’s that I’m meant to be where I am right now and I’ll be where I’m meant to go because someone up there is going to guide me.

A Happy Poem

Mt. Manabu peak

​I’d like to write about happy things

again. Sometimes, I look at the sky

and come up with words like ‘soggy,

brow-beaten cheeks’ instead of 

‘tomorrow’. My best work is defaulted

that way – to be of uneaten

breakfast and bottled coffee left

under the bed. Sunlight, if ever

it comes, barges in between cracks

on the roof while I wish to stay

asleep, and my pen reaches for it,

merely to immortalize the pain

of waking up. My handwriting sounds

like birds, drilling the concrete, because

it tells the story of a little girl 

crying. There is no air to breathe 

in my poems, should I write 

one. If there were better things,

happier things, maybe I could.

What it means to be an emotion-based decision maker

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Photo from: pixabay.com

I know that I’m an emotional person, but up until recently, I’ve never really dwelt on how emotions rule my life. After close introspection, I realized that I base a lot of my decisions, even the crucial ones, on how I feel or would feel. I may be fairly logical but more often than not, my feelings dictate most of the choices I make.

Here are some situations to illustrate what I mean:

1) When shopping for clothes or makeup

I’m no fashionista and I have no specific brand of style. But, I do know what I like (weird prints) and don’t like (clothes that blow me out of proportions). And yet, whenever I shop for clothes or makeup, these preferences of mine would often become secondary.

I would simply choose whatever makes me feel beautiful or confident. If it feels like a lucky charm I could wear to host an event or to go to a reunion with old friends, I’ll buy it (even if that means spending over my budget).

I’ll also buy it if someone I trust says it looks good on me even if I don’t understand why. It gives me a sense of approval and assurance that if I do wear/use it, at least one person already likes it.

2) When buying anything

I’m the type of person who searches for the One when shopping.

For example, I have to go and buy a pen. In doing so, I would go through all the stocks and pick one that feels right, that will be most comfortable to use and that will represent my handwriting the best. Or sometimes, it just has to be instinctually right. (I may find the One early but just to make sure, I’d still go through everything.)

3) When eating

When going out to eat, I look forward to experience over taste. Eating with people is a moment (and this is the reason why, even if I’d rather be alone most of the time, people can persuade me to eat out especially if I like spending time with them.)

On the other hand, when it comes to the food I pick, I often go with comfort food or dishes that I’m familiar with and/or gives me a good feeling inside. For example, when I’m feeling particularly down, I eat/drink stuff with milk or cream (because milk feels like childhood and mom’s hugs.)

(Side note: If I had to eat just because I have to, I tend to feel really sad. *remembers a few experiences in Manila*)

4) When travelling

One reason I attribute to my lack of sense of direction is that I’m an emotional traveler. Instead of paying attention to the streets, I let the essence of the place overwhelm me. I don’t know how to explain it really, but I understand what a place feels like more than the geography of the place.

(Also, FYI, I don’t actively pursue travelling unless I’m with other people who know the place better than I do because of that. Being sensitive to what the place feels like equates to getting lost most of the time.)

5) When giving gifts

I live for birthday surprises and making people happy. That’s why I often splurge or go all out for other people on their special day. And when it comes to spending money, the financial side of my brain blacks out whenever I’m going gift shopping so that I could be as generous as I want to be. I mean, you have to admit, everyone needs a giant teddy bear at some point of their life.

(Refer to: Christmas 2016)

6) When I have things to say

Say for example, I have this very important thing that I have to tell someone. But, doing so would make me feel uncomfortable, messy or awkward. Even if I would just have to endure it for a while, I tend to bottle it in and deal with the important matter by myself. (I’m trying to fix this habit hehe.)

7) When writing (or doing something that’s really important to me)

I’m very particular about my creative writing time, especially if I’m working on my novel. In order to proceed making my masterpiece, I want everything to feel right. Things don’t have to be perfect exactly; it just has to feel right. It should feel like I’m destined to write this particular word at this particular spot at this particular time. It’s right if it feels like I’m meant to be doing it and if I feel fine.

Unless it feels right, my brain is going to come up with a reason to not do it. (The same goes for all the creative things I do.)

I know it sounds like procrastination but the thing is, when I do find the right time to write and I write again, I find a reason why I was meant to write it then. For example, I had to experience something first before I could write that scene and I wouldn’t be able to write it like that if I wrote it months before. (I’m sorry I am confusing.)

I don’t know if the things I wrote down even make sense. Then again, trying to explain feelings are confusing.

I guess, I just wanted to show that emotions can be as powerful as logic when influencing decisions. And that it may seem highly ridiculous to be this kind of person – being too feely makes it hard to survive a world like ours really – but I can’t imagine myself being anyone else.

This is a love letter.

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Photo credits: az616578.vo.msecnd.net

Self,

There are parts of ourselves we have broken by trying too hard. Our tendons are hanging from our wrists, exposed like guts we painted on our chest. Our nails, half-bitten, have turned a dirty shade of yellow for having been kept too long under the bed. Our feet, calloused and soggy, no longer smell like feet should.

We trudge on. But as we go, we prove to be collateral damage to the people closest to us. The sharp edges of our bones slash through the void, allowing darkness to seep in. And as the night closes in, we feel them shaking. Everyone chokes on the cold and on the mistakes we’ve made when our eyes were too sullen to stay open.

Truth is, we have lost ourselves and the space where we can be honest. Air has become too salty to share with people crowding our bed so we rock ourselves to sleep on the floor instead. Do you still recognize our fingers?

Younger, we used to climb walls to reach the stars on the ceiling. Mama would reprimand us for making so much noise, but a broken nose was better than everything that came crashing down years later. We used to be so beautiful.

Perhaps, it is time for us to retreat. This is not the time to prove ourselves wrong about ourselves.

There are places that take pieces of us until we have none of ourselves left. To resist can be troublesome. We are tired, rightfully so, and we need to take a break from this emptiness too.

Sometimes, the quiet allows healing. And we need to remember what it means to be whole before we venture out again.

Self

I’ll miss you at a distance.

(Written last July 11, 2016)

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Photo credit: favim.com

I miss you and distance is the only thing that allows me to do so.

You see, even if I believe in fighting to stay in your life, I couldn’t find the willpower to fight against my worries. I don’t have the strength to reach out to you, to ask you how you’ve been or to just simply break the barrier between your green dot and mine, and start a short conversation. Maybe, it’s because I wish, deep in my heart, that we connected so deeply that not talking wouldn’t matter. And maybe, secretly, I also don’t want to seem so desperate, clinging onto you.

In my head, I’ve drafted the rules of closure and goodbye, and rule number two is to stay away long enough to miss and be missed. That’s what I’ve been doing all these months, I guess, with every unreplied message and missed call. It works in my head, trust me, and this rule allows me to keep to my thoughts and keep what we had alive in my mind.

I believe that once a farewell has been said, whether it just happened or it had to happen, it must be respected. It’s a both a restriction and comfort. For one, I would no longer worry about messing up the things I say and I would no longer panic about the relationship that was bound to get rocky somewhere. In turn, I won’t hear from you and I would have to stop the urges to tell you how my day went.

You’ve become my far away star. I wish on you every night and miss you when I remember how warm you were by my side. But then again, nowadays, I am more familiar at gazing at you, scrolling through my newsfeed and seeing your photos, and hearing about you from common friends. I am strangely relaxed by this sad comfort.

Still, some days, I don’t know why I do this or why this is worth doing in the first place. The sidelines can get lonely and staying by the walls can feel cold and suffocating at times. But, I also don’t know exactly how to break the silence and this is the only way I’ve come to learn how to think of you.

And so, concealed in messages I don’t send and in attempts to contact you after dreaming about seeing you again, I miss you at a distance.

In my heart, I know that not talking could seem like I’m brushing you off or that I don’t care anymore. I am fully aware that losing touch could mean losing you. But, I just couldn’t wire myself to suddenly open my soul to you, because, trust me, if you see inside me and discover how much I miss you and how sad missing you makes me, you’d be scared. You’d be overwhelmed with the sea that is my emotions and I’d never want that.

I miss you in silence and I’ll miss you like this. This is cowardly but this is my kind of safe.

My First Book Fair (37th Manila International Book Fair)

My body was sore when I woke up in the morning, and I’ll admit, it was pretty tempting to sleep in for a while longer despite the temptation of books that await me at the SMX Convention Center. Thankfully, I wasn’t that tired and insane to bail out on my friend, Gianne and so I rushed to meet her at McDo Buendia after a very slow morning prep session.

The mood had been different the day before. It was on Friday when I was filled with a primal craving for the printed word. I just couldn’t stop myself from smiling during random times of the day at the thought of being surrounded by books. I wanted to swim in them. (I just really, really, love books.)

The feeling was slow to creep back in that Saturday and it only really became real when we were on a multicab ride to MOA. Suddenly, my pulse sounded louder and I felt my true self surfacing. I was a writer, going to a book fair with tons and tons of books and awesome writers. This was home base.

When Gianne and I entered SMX, we kind of fumbled about for a bit. We went in at one entrance then we got out then in another before finally lining up for registration. To be fair, there were tons of people and we were too excited.

When we got in, I didn’t have a chance to have my first thought or reaction. It wasn’t a sea of books or a big library, and I wasn’t expecting it to be like that since I already saw photos, and still I was a bit overwhelmed with how big the publishing industry was. There were so many booths to visit, granted that they weren’t all fiction or my type but they were still books and I love the physicality and smell of them.

Trying to go about this smartly, Gianne and I came up with a game plan. The original game plan was to actually introduce Milktea Fiction, a publishing thing that Gianne and I came up with (milkteafiction.wordpress.com) while being our bookworm-selves. But, since I failed to print out le cards, we just decided to enjoy the fair and buy books.

In the morning, we planned to go around, take note of the stuff we want and then eat lunch to rationalize our would-be decisions. Then, in the afternoon, we’d splurge. Easy enough.

The morning was, well, overwhelming. Half of my mind was floating, reeling at the experience, while the other half was just so energized and excited that my body couldn’t keep up. With a mix of both, I was like a caffeinated zombie that my body, at times, was hesitating to function (haha).

Like I said earlier, it wasn’t all a sea of fiction books (which was the kind of books that first comes to my mind at the mention of a book) but it was really interesting to get a feel of the publishing scene in the Philippines. We’re a mix of educational, religious, mainstream and indie publishing. Romance was there, self-help too and some were even very cultural and with a distinct feel of Filipino.

There were also all sorts of readers in the market, I realized and the whole book fair was just really a reflection of their (our) needs. The publishers there exist and thrive, no matter how different their books are, because there are people looking for their kind of content. (This is valueable market intel for me and Gianne since, you know, we’re aspiring to be published and taken seriously.)

One of the best parts was chatting up with people at the Indie Publishing booth. (I could be there all they, chummy-ing them up if only I wasn’t too potato.) Shoutout to Sir RR of Lira and Ms. Mina V. Esguerra of Romance Class. You guys showed me that stories can come from anywhere.

If anything, it made me feel like there’s a solid chance for my dream to be a legit writer. At least I know that this industry, though it’s not exactly as I hoped for, is alive and that people really do come from all sorts of places just to buy books and read.

Aside from that writer-ish epiphany, I also had an enlightening experience as a marketer. I work for Fiera de Manila, Inc. and we specialize in events. Since I already have a bit of a background on tradeshows and conventions, I also saw MIBF from an organizer’s perspective – the booths, the layout, the suppliers, the programs and everything. It was a nice feeling to be so familiar of things like that.

When afternoon came, Gianne and I were prepared to make bad decisions. (Read: We were totally screwed.) We both set ceiling spend amounts and listed the things we planned to buy.

Having reasons to spoil myself a.k.a. having September as my birth month, I allowed myself to go over-budget. (Read: I lost self-control.) I ended up with 10 books, though three of them were for free.

  1. How Sound Becomes A Name by Marc Gaba (Indie Publishing) – This was the first book I bought and it’s a collection of poems. I got it because I felt a connection to the title. It felt like this guy wrote through the senses just like me.
  2. LÁMANG edited by Edgar Calabia Samar (Indie Publishing) – I got this for free and I was like, aw. You could tell that they were not only for the sale but also for getting their content out there. That’s the heart of indie, folks.
  3. Aninaw edited by Ronaldo Carcamo (Indie Publishing) – Second free book! Are these people awesome or what? (They are people from LIRA and they write Filipino poems, which honestly, I’ve been hesitant to tackle before they gave me the idea.)
  4. Pag-aabang sa Kundiman: Isang Talambuhay by Edgar Calabia Samar (Indie Publishing) – The author was there when I bought this so I got it signed. Ugh, he seemed so cool and I wanted to ask for his card but I hesitated. I couldn’t tell him that I knew him because I didn’t… yet. Anyway, I’m looking forward to read his collection of Filipino poems (and to stalk him… este, know more about him online.)
  5. Rurok edited by Enrico Torralba (Indie Publishing) – It’s another Filipino poetry book for free!
  6. Paper Planes Back Home by Tara Frejas (Indie Publishing) – This one stood out from the Romance Class side of the booth. Other than being blue, I bought it because it didn’t feel like the usual contemporary books I used to buy. This one had a solid synopsis, almost poetic and I wanted to see how that fits into the whole publishing world. (Let’s see how I’ll fit in too.)
  7. The Looking-Glass Tree by Cycan Abad-Jugo (Anvil Publishing / National Bookstore) – Okay, shoutout to JC Galang because his illustration was the one that convinced me. It was so haunting and simple and the lines were beautiful. It felt so Filipino and mystical and I haven’t been promised that before. I’m really looking forward to this.
  8. The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamillo (Fully Booked) – Anything with a blue cover, the word ‘magic’ and a distinctness to it could win me over. Gianne also told me that the author wrote with a kind of innocence and I wanted to feel that. (In the first place, I wanted to write like that too.)
  9. M is for Magic by Neil Gaiman (Fully Booked) – It’s obvious why I bought this. Plus, Neil Gaiman is awesome. I thank Gianne for speaking so highly of him that I was persuaded to read his works.

Just a quick segway before I list down the last book. The Fully Booked journey had been a battle. Gianne and I had to line up for 15-20 minutes in a crowd of energized sweaty booklovers (I understand the passion) before we got to the cashier. We only got two books because we didn’t understand the concept of how the sale worked. (Read: We thought the full price was already the discounted price.)

  1. Moving Onwards and Upwards (Adarna) – The cover was, you guessed it, blue and it had pretty typography and art alongside the story. This was a feel good buy, despite it going over budget.

In the end, I spent a lot, exhausted my feet and shared the same air with more people that I could imagine. But, I’m happy with my haul (they were mostly blue) and I loved the alive-ness I felt inside MIBF. The memory was the best part and I’ll keep that forever. (Thanks, Gi.)

Here’s more shoutouts to Tahanan, Rex Bookstore, Summit Media and the Filipino-feeling booths got to visit at MIBF! Thank you also to the organizers for doing this every year. I’ll be back for the 38th.

(The lesson was this: keep the dream alive. You’ll get there.)