#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.

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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.)

Write about happy things, Pollen.

 

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My attempt at trying to look cute (sorry)

 

Maybe it’s because, for a really long time now, I’ve used writing for the bad stuff by default, that I feel somewhat awkward using it to document something good. Like for instance, an intense argument would prompt me to write a poem, immediately taking me out of my heaven-knows-how-long writing slump while the small miracles happening in my day to day life wouldn’t even deserve a short diary entry.

Maybe, because it’s so easy for me to come up with sad words, I’ve forgotten how to write about being happy, or at least how happy felt like, that now that the emotion’s overwhelming me, I don’t know how to describe the feeling.

I’ve had so many reasons to be happy over the past couple of months but I haven’t really been keeping the stories about them, even in my private journals. At the time, I figured, I wanted to feel them in the moment and keep them alive only then because I’ll remember the feeling anyway.

However, now that I’m looking through the things I’ve written during this time of happiness and bliss, I realized that there weren’t many memories to look back on. Yes, I remember feeling happy and I still am happy, but I couldn’t find the little stories that built my big moments.

Hence the questions: “Have I forgotten how to write about the happy things?”; “Do I still know how to write about the happy things?”; “Why am I not writing about the happy things?”

Not wanting to miss out any further, I decided to write this post, just so I could remind myself later of the reasons why I have been and am happy.

“Senpau”

At the time I’m writing this, I’m preparing for my fourth week as a teacher.

I always knew I was going to teach someday but I didn’t expect to be teaching this early. Despite my initial worries, I’m so glad I took the risk anyway because I’ve found a place where I can do purposeful and meaningful work every day.

Though the workload can be overwhelming at times, at the end of the day, my job makes me feel like I’m serving God’s purpose and I’m making a difference.

(Sometimes, I wonder if I’m normal because I didn’t think it was even possible to love something you do so much that the stress feels like a minuscule part of the job package. Is it still normal to want to do this so much?)

Good people

Now that I’m back home, I’m constantly around the people I love the most – family, best friends, orgmates… etc. In a way, that has healed me and brought me back to a healthy state of mind.

I’ve also met a lot of new and nurturing people who make me so so so happy. All of them are very supportive during tough times and are good company when in need of a good laugh and deep conversations. I’d like to think we were brought into each other’s lives not to just cross paths and make a difference for a short amount of time, but to keep each other as wonderful friends from now on until who knows when.

My best self is myself

The past few weeks has helped me constantly meet my best self, and Pollen, when she is her best self, could be absolutely wonderful. Pollen is at her best when she is unafraid, when she trusts herself, and in those moments, she can do anything.

To know that my best self actually exists within me can be absolutely life-changing. There’s a part of myself that I like and I can trust and that means everything.

The things I can do, the purpose I can serve will be limitless if I kept being my best.

(I like this writing exercise. I’ll try to write more of these happy reminders.)

Of having have left

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Photo grabbed from: Vince D.

A year ago, I wrote “The curious case of leaving”, detailing how I felt during graduation and the LAVOXA send-off. There, I told myself that:

I may not be in a good place right now but I know that I’ll get somewhere someday.

Somewhere, after a year, turned out to be on Sir Jun’s roof top, celebrating his attorney-hood with Lavoxans of different generations. Despite initial hesitations about going, I came to congratulate him for achieving his goal and for just being an awesome human being, really. Also, it was the perfect excuse to meet up with Lavoxans and other friends.

In a mix of familiar and new people, I felt less overwhelmed than I would’ve been a year ago. I wasn’t fretting about silence and having no one to talk to (because, bottom line,  I really just wanted to be a part of this moment). More importantly, despite being a potato, I have learned to give in to urges of wanting to see people whenever I have the chance to do so. Perhaps, I have grown up.

Note to self: Missing them could just mean missing them, not distance or rules of separation.

Other than being a little more carefree, there’s a lot that changed about me – both good and bad. The good include this new sense of self-love and assertiveness that I found inside me. The bad include parts I’ve left stagnant and parts I lost.

I admitted it before, there are parts of myself that I may have unconsciously traded away for learning experiences, but at least, now, these missing pieces are currently being healed and filled with a new kind of magic. So right now, I’m happier and I know more of myself.

Status: Healing and Happy.

After a long while, I finally felt like I’m doing something right again. For so long, I’ve been so down about life, getting through days just because I had to. I’d almost forgotten how it felt to do good, to care about people, to pin your heart on your sleeve without worrying that it’ll be slashed into pieces.

It seems that, even though I’m still not 100% percent sure about where I want my life to go, I’m at a place where I’m meant to be. And this place, is not a safe haven where I can hide until I feel better, instead, it’s a home where I can challenge myself and rediscover the “Pauline Navarro” that’s been slumbering for months. I recognize myself now.

God, I’m just so thankful!

A year ago, I couldn’t even imagine how I would be able to go, survive. Now, I can look back on the experiences I’ve had so far and thank them for the lessons they taught me. It’s just unbelievable how after being so lost back then, I’m here now with direction and heart still full of hope.

Maybe, this piggy really has taken flight.

 

In Between States

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Photo source: ours80s.com

In school, we were taught that there are three states of matter – solid, liquid and gas. The most prominent characteristic that differentiates each state is the compactness of their molecules, solid being the most compact.

(If you’re going to be really particular, yes, there’s another state of matter – plasma – but for the purposes of this post, let’s just stick to the first three for the metaphors.)

We were also taught that a material can change from one state to another. The most classic example is ice (solid) that turns to water (liquid) and then water vapor (gas).

I was reminiscing these lessons as I waited for a jeepney at a police outpost near my alma mater. At the time, I had just finished requesting for some documents I needed for something I was planning to do in the near future. Something that would dictate my life for the next few years.

You could say that I was worried. That day was a day of setting things in motion. I was actively trying to get a move on with my life and disrupt the routine I had learned to live with for almost eight months. Everything beneath my feet was shaking with the idea that from there on out, anything was possible and I was in-charge.

As cars continued to pass me by, I found myself dwelling on the changes that happened to me in a span of a year and how I got to where I am. More often than not, each change brought some sort of discomfort that I had to overcome. And at the time, when I was slowly being overcome by changes and worries, I needed to have a metaphor to anchor my sanity to.

I was in a state of confusion. I only had a general idea of where I wanted my life to go, but who was I kidding? I felt like I had no direction and that I was just making up plans for the sake of having plans. The best way I could describe it was being in between states, like being whatever it is that’s no longer water but not yet vapor.

Solid to Liquid

I graduated college feeling like life finally proved me wrong about not being good enough.

You see, though I excelled in school during elementary and high school, I never really believed like I could do great things. I was surrounded by people who were better than me and I always felt like I had to catch up or else I’ll fall off the roster.

But in college, I ended up fulfilling a wish of mine, which was to deliver the valedictory speech at the end of four years. Though my aim was only to inspire my batch mates with a speech (just like how our HS valedictorian inspired me), I found that after the four years in college, I became a solid person that can be proud of herself and can dream of better things.

I wasn’t complete as a person yet, but I felt concrete. I felt like I existed and I knew who I was.

But, when I was thrown into the corporate world, I found myself blending in to try to adopt. I wanted to do my best, and being blinded by the need to adjust, I mindlessly gave too much of myself.

Here’s a hard truth: I was too obsessed about finding a job and doing what was expected of me that I forgot how to define my life, that I lost parts of myself I didn’t need to lose.

For a short while, I was proud of myself for being able to survive in Manila all by myself, for accomplishing tasks I thought were impossible, for putting myself out there and for enduring challenges alone.

But I lived in the now. I just wore myself down as I tried to get by. Because I allowed the system to swallow me, I wasn’t accomplishing anything meaningful.

Liquid to Gas

Just because I realized that something was going wrong doesn’t mean that I was able to do something about it immediately. I was stuck in a situation and the next steps were vague, if not invisible.

I endured. That meant I was aware of how toxic my routine had become but I was unable to take action. Everything proceeded as it did before but I got unhappier as the days passed.

Those were dark days. What got me through was the thought of going home to Lipa. I counted the hours and I had to actively find motivation to do anything.

It was like being in Limbo while yearning for what it would feel like to be in a better place.

Slowly, I was feeling stagnant and, I don’t know, I was just really down.

Gas to Solid

In the state of being lost, I found a flicker of hope. It started out as a crazy idea at first but at least it was something. I used that fantasy to build myself up, to be busy about something for myself. It wasn’t much, but it was a plan that made me smile.

It was only in desperation that I accepted that idea, to be honest. But it gave me myself back and even if it doesn’t go through, I’ll feel really thankful for it. (It was also thanks to thing thing that I was able to confirm what I feel like is my mission in life.)

It wasn’t easy to force my life to change, to take charge of my life. From being confused about who I’ve become to trying to become someone better, I had to silence my worries and trust my gut about most things. I had to exhaust all options and keep an open mind to where certain opportunities would lead.

It took everything in me to become someone I recognized once again.

I’m currently at this state now. I’m still trying to be a solid person again. I’ve made choices. I’ve committed to purposeful things. I’m moving forward.

As the days pass, I’m getting closer and closer to the person I want to be. I’m regaining confidence in myself. (The funny thing is, things aren’t going according to plan but they’re becoming better.)

Nothing’s set in stone yet but for the first time in a long while, I’m feeling excited about something meaningful again.

(Hello Pollen. It’s been a while.)

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.

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.

The cost of swallowing your words

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Photo credits: suwalls.com

You stand before the judgment of whoever it was you believed was above you. You tell yourself to keep you head high, to look out the windows if you must, so that at least you could say a part of you fought for something. But your lips, trembling, gave you away. Though your heart was hammering against your chest, rebelling against the control you’re trying to enforce, you knew you’d say nothing in the end.

You weren’t the type of soldier to keep guns in your back pocket. Instead, you carried a flag and a glass of cold water. More than anyone, you knew that there are injustices worth speaking about and people worth breaking the silence for. You wore your principles like a rosary around your neck, that to tuck it out of your shirt would be as powerful as a prayer.

Maybe, you felt like survival meant being quiet in a jungle, that to travel at night and adhere to the rules of the king would be the only way to get out alive. You’ve scraped your knee a little too early when you sang with your inside voice, and that sort of betrayal felt more painful than having nothing for breakfast. There’s something unspoken that followed after – shortness of breath and constant second-guessing.

Now, your teeth are turning yellow and your name is trying to escape. The thoughts you used to be sure are yours sound like another person. Your mouth is dry; your tongue has reverted to its cave. And you feel, with everything you let be and keep inside, you barter a chunk of your soul for temporary comfort.

You cannot avoid conflict. War travels in the air as a given. If you cannot fight for your heart, fight with it.