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Showing posts from 2014

Dream: Firefighters

I dreamed there were topless hunky firefighters assembled outside our house. I asked someone what they were doing there, and I was told that they were on standby in anticipation of The Brown Army, which was marching down our street.

The Brown Army was an army of people carrying light brown umbrellas, marching through our village to burn the houses of people who didn't show respect for Christmas.

I panicked because I wasn't sure what they looked for as a sign of respect and we hadn't put up any Christmas decor. I also wasn't sure what they meant by respect: Was it respect for general Christmas cheer? Was it respect for Christian tradition?

Soon, The Brown Army was upon us. One of them approached my house and planted a purple flag in front of it. "What does that mean?" I asked one of the topless firefighters.

"It's complicated," he said. "They use other colors for Yes and No."

I sat down and waited to burn or not to burn.

Just around the corner


The taxi driver is on the phone with his wife. I'd tell him to end the call because he's driving, but traffic's crawling, so I'm letting him talk for a while. He calls his wife "baby." He asks if they're going to Ma Mon Luk later, and says he's worried because it's Friday and there might be too many people. Baby, the best time to go, he says, is on Sunday afternoons.

He asks his wife if he counted their money right. It was P1,700 when he counted, he said, not P1,800 as she had said. Maybe she counted wrong, maybe the P100 fell somewhere. Never mind, he says, maybe the person who found it needs it more than we do.

He laughs when his wife says he worked hard for that P100. You're so tight with money, he tells her sweetly. He laughs. I'm so lucky, he says, I'm so lucky with you, baby.

Oh, Christmas. You're finally here.

I don't want

I don't want to hate where I am, people I'm with, things that I do. I don't want to wish I were elsewhere, doing other things, being some other person. I don't want to be dreaming up stories to escape reality, finding little escapes in fruitless activities.

I read somewhere that if you can only think of things you don't want, don't shut these thoughts down. They still serve a purpose. List them down and then list down their opposites. Then you have a list of what you want.

I want ...

Le Petit Prince

For when I'll never be a grown up, October 2015.

Coming home


I've been on two trips -- one to New Zealand and one to Nueva Ecija -- in the last two months, and one day I may write about them, but for now, let me just paste here what I wrote on Facebook when I found myself returning to Philippine airspace after two weeks, mostly wonderful, away from home.

What I didn't write there was that my eyes welled with tears and my heart beamed with pride and I had to get a grip because it wasn't like I'd been away for long.

November 15, 5.58pm
On a Cebu Pacific flight from Sydney

As the captain announced our descent, a lady in my row opened her window and let in a sudden blast of the Philippine sunset bursting across a thick sea of clouds. It hurt my eyes, but my heart leapt for joy. There she is! it said.

From the center aisle, I watched the sun sink beneath the clouds, burning them the color of persistent ember.

This trip was lovely, and the places I've been to were breathtakingly beautiful. Many times I've said, I could live here. But one beam of that familiar sun and I am home.

Dream: Elevator

I dreamed I was shopping at a new SM Mall near Megamall with Sherwil. We wanted to meet up with my sister Kai and her daughter, but we couldn't figure out the weird rides to the top floors. There was an open seat that flipped you over completely at the bottom floor before it went up again -- and you had to twist your head just so to not get decapitated.

There was a pop up elevator that you had to know where to catch. And there was another elevator that sank halfway into an indoor pool filled with butt-naked male Asian tourists who had a penchant for cartwheels.

At some point in my dream, I found myself hanging out with Daniel Radcliffe. He was telling me to take him seriously because he was an adult now.

Dream: Falcon wings

I dreamed that I was vacationing in a magical place with friends. It took me a while to realize there was magic, because I was focused on getting away from a past hurt.

The magic was that you could manifest everything you wanted and there was no waiting time -- and everything that everyone wanted didn't hurt or limit anyone else.

Two friends from university who didn't accept the magic yet walked in front of our tour bus to buy some weed. They were too slow for the vehicle traffic, but they insisted on walking because they didn't know where to buy it.

We reached a busy intersection and a truck suddenly appeared, almost hitting them -- but they suddenly sprouted wings, falcon's wings, and flew away.

Massage and monkey brain

I got a massage last night, after nursing a migraine for two days. Ibuprofen hadn't helped much, so I thought that getting a massage would help me sleep better and better sleep would fix the migraine.

Lying there on the massage table, as the lady kneaded the knots on my shoulders, I remembered how much I hated my first massage, done by a blind person with firm but gentle hands.

If I wasn't stiff, I was ticklish -- which made me stiff! All my muscles were tense, so the massage hurt like hell. The masseuse kept asking me if everything was okay, and I lied and said yes because I didn't want to hurt her feelings.

The massage after that wasn't any better. I still couldn't relax, perhaps because I was expected to, and when it became painful, I wondered if there was something wrong with me that I couldn't appreciate what many people loved.

Was there something wrong with my body? Were my muscles incapable of relaxing? Did I have a super low tolerance for pain?

A few more massages later, one that involved hot volcanic stones on my back and another that had me bathing in milk, I learned to tell the masseuse how much pressure I wanted. I learned to tell her when to press harder and when to stop. Most importantly, I learned to shut my brain up.

Last night was all about stopping and shutting up.

Not perfection

I watched The Equalizer last week. It was a fun movie, like Taken fun. I'd been overthinking a lot of things lately, so I welcomed every bit of onscreen violence as that day's catharsis. I was only after escape, but a line, one I'm sure I'd heard many times before, stayed with me: Progress, not perfection.

I've been feeling quite paralyzed lately. It comes and it goes, and the intensity varies, but there it is: I've been finding it difficult to make steps forward.

Perhaps it's because I haven't been doing what I want and creating things I love. And because I've put it off for so long, I have somehow convinced myself that when I do it, it has to be perfect to be worth the time I wasted.

Crazy, right?

Progress, not perfection. I have to remember.

Dream: Timey-wimey

I was visiting a seaside town. The coast was part beach lover's paradise and part surfer's heaven. I stood at the part of the beach where the two intersected, looking at the calm crystal clear waters to my left and then at the perfect wave tunnels to my right, trying to figure out where to go.

But I was in love with the big resort-style house in front of the huge waves, so I turned right. I met the owner outside. His name was Jim (and for a brief moment in my dream, I knew that the big house at the other end of the coast was owned by a man named Danny), and he loved that I loved his house and offered to take me on a tour.

The house was even bigger on the inside! There was a mall (with a Forever 21), cafes and restaurants, and even a boutique hotel (where I saw a relative packing all her stuff in a light metallic purple Samsonite luggage set for a trip to the US). Right away, I told Jim that I didn't like his house after all, and he agreed.

On our way back out, we passed by a garbage disposal room, where a Chinese man was making a jack-in-the-box robot, made entirely out of plastic bottles, dance for two scruffy 
little children. The man held a metal crank box (that said "Made in China" and had Chinese characters on it) that controlled the robot's power supply.

One of the children explained that the music actually came from them, so *they* were making the robot dance.

"I don't hear music," I said.
"Just think it," said the child.

So I thought it, and the robot turned to me with its dead plastic bottle eyes and started to move to my thoughts. Awkward movements, for sure, but I was making it dance. It was fun -- until I remembered I was just leaving and I thought, "Crap, I'm out of time."

Suddenly, the robot froze. Then a digital countdown appeared on the Chinese man's box: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, then 0. "No more time," one of the children said.

"Wtf just happened?" Jim asked.
"Did I do that?" I wailed, "What did I just do?"

The Chinese man slid into the darkness, leaving his box and robot behind.

Then somehow I knew what had happened: from the present continuous state, everyone was trapped in the simple present. Things that were just happening now had become things that were always true. My cousin was packing, but now she just packs. She would never be leaving.

After some time, Jim said, "Reverse the countdown! Think of the start of the countdown!"

I tried my best to picture the numbers as clearly as possible in my head: 0, 1, 2 ... And the numbers on the crank box moved. At 5, the box collapsed into a ball, sucking in everything in a flash of light.

(I don't know why I saw this, as I was sucked in too. My dream suddenly took an omniscient POV, I guess).

As fast as it imploded the universe, the ball unrolled it out again: to an earlier state, to the point where everyone's stories of regret started.

I thought of travel. I thought of flight.

Dream: The universe squeezed into a ball



I was visiting a seaside town. The coast was part beach lover's paradise and part surfer's heaven. I stood at the part of the beach where the two intersected, looking at the calm crystal clear waters to my left and then at the perfect wave tunnels to my right, trying to figure out where to go.

But I was in love with the big resort-style house near the huge waves, so I turned right. I met the house's owner outside. His name was Jim -- and for a brief moment in my dream, I knew that the big house at the other end of the beach was owned by a man named Danny -- and he loved that I loved his house and offered to take me on a tour.

The house was even bigger on the inside! There was a mall (with a Forever 21), cafes and restaurants, and even a boutique hotel (where I saw a relative packing all her stuff in a light metallic purple Samsonite luggage set for a trip to the US). Right away, I told Jim that I didn't like his house after all, and he agreed.

On our way back out, we passed by a garbage disposal room, where a Chinese man was making a jack-in-the-box robot, made entirely out of plastic bottles, dance for two scruffy little children. The man held a metal crank box (it said "Made in China" and had Chinese characters on it) that controlled the robot's power supply.

One of the children explained that the music actually came from them, so it was them who were making the robot dance.

"I don't hear music," I said.

"Just think it," said the child.

So I thought it, and the robot turned to me with its dead plastic bottle eyes and started to move to my thoughts. Awkward movements, for sure, but I was making it dance. It was fun -- until I remembered I was just leaving and I thought, "Crap, I'm out of time."

Suddenly, the robot froze. Then a digital countdown appeared on the Chinese man's box: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, then 0.

"No more time," one of the children said.

But nothing palpable occurred.

"What the hell just happened?" Jim asked.

"Did I do that?" I wailed, "What did I just do?"

The Chinese man slid into the darkness, leaving his box and robot behind.

Then somehow I knew what had happened: from the present continuous state, everyone was trapped in the simple present. Things that were just happening now had become things that were always true. My cousin was packing, but now she just packs. She would never be leaving.

After some time, Jim said, "Reverse the countdown! Think of the start of the countdown!"

I tried my best to picture the numbers as clearly as possible in my head: 0, 1, 2 ... And the numbers on the crank box moved. At 5, the box collapsed into a ball, sucking in everything in a flash of light.

(I don't know why I saw this, as I was sucked in too. My dream suddenly took an omniscient POV, I guess).

As fast as it imploded the universe, the ball unrolled it out again: to an earlier state, to the point where everyone's stories of regret started.

I thought of travel. I thought of flight.

Dream: Flip-flops and volcanoes


A dream from a few nights ago, which I remembered only yesterday.

I was walking on a rocky beach, looking for beach glass, when I decided to wade into the water. I took off my rubber flip-flops and, fully clothed, splashed about in the water. Several people followed suit; they left their footwear on a rock with my sandals.

There was a small volcano island not far away, and it started spewing out smoke. A guy on the beach called out to us in panic, "Come out of the water! It's going to get really hot!"

Everyone ran out of the water and towards the man. He helped us onto a thick wooden platform, explaining that when the volcano starts blowing out smoke, the waters around it reach boiling point, heating even the rocks.

The rocks! I remembered our footwear, left on one of the rocks. I stepped back on the sand, making an attempt for my sandals but the man pulled me back. "Too late," he said.

We watched as our shoes and sandals and flip-flops melted. Thick liquid rubber trickled down the rocks in many colors. Nike sneakers. Havaianas. My Grendha pair.

"Those were really expensive flip-flops," I thought.

Dream: Life, naming



Last night's dream: There was a baby, a new niece or something, and she was so small she fit in the palm of my hand. I showed her to a man who was visiting. The baby cooed and snuggled in my hand; she was playful and happy.

"But I asked to see life," the man said, "There is no life in that bag of protein and enzymes."

I looked at the baby. I started seeing its skin only as thin biological membrane holding a soupy substance in. It moved in my hand like that lizard I saw hatch prematurely when its egg accidentally dropped on the floor.

I showed it to its mother. "Look at your baby," I said.

The mother smiled, but didn't look because she was busy. "Yes, she's very tiny, but she's healthy."

I stared at the thing in my hand, recalling her name, calling her name, until its eyes became distinct again, until the smile in them was back.

Dream: Tourists and a killer whale in the water



Last night's dream: I was visiting this island in Samar with this British guy and his Filipina girlfriend. They looked like retirees who'd made the island their home. They were nice to me, showing me around and pointing out the most scenic views. Sunset came and the waves suddenly went crazy and a killer whale arrived.

"Quickly," I heard the guy say to his girlfriend. I turned around to see what he meant and caught the girl pushing an even older British guy (somehow I knew it was her ex-husband) into the water, and right into the whale's mouth. They'd been feeding the creature with people. Tourists, mostly.

I pretended I didn't see it, but my face couldn't lie and so I tried to run -- only to slip down the edge of the island, almost into really dark waters. The British guy reached out to help me up, but I refused to take his hand because he was old and I didn't want him to fall. His girlfriend arrived and they pulled me back up.

Then I pushed them into the water.

Tonight I decided treat myself

At 10:17, I wolfed down the packed meal I had brought from home, threw away leftover chicken still with some meat on its bones, opened an umbrella and rushed out into the rain to catch the last full show of Begin Again.

Bow.

A time for many little deaths

© Paul-andré Belle-isle | Dreamstime Stock Photos
I've been thinking a lot about death and dying recently, in the months since an uncle I had met only as a baby, one who shared a nickname with my father, passed away. That was late last year, and after that news followed news of more passing young friends, friends of friends, family of friends.

I've always been curious about death and dying, influenced largely by movies like Stand By Me, Flatliners, and My Girl, and in part by my first best friend's father dying outside the house next door when I was around eight years old. I remember looking inside his coffin and seeing the permanence of his passing and looking at my friend, wondering what would happen next.

I don't want to die and I don't want anyone to die, but this is the one thing of all the things I anticipate that I am certain is coming. How does that line from the musical Avenue Q go? "Except for death and paying taxes, everything in life is only for now."

On good days, I think of making the most out of the time I have, of spreading joy and love and delighting in the littlest of things, like discovering a cheap Vietnamese restaurant in Manila that serves great ca phe sua da.

On bad days, I consider all my efforts to thrive amid the looming undeniable inevitability of all my work, huge and small alike, hurtling towards nothing.

On really bad days, I can think of nothing but that nothingness hurrying backwards in time, meeting me halfway. I want it to come, and come quickly, despite that familiar fear of my life, at its end, not amounting to anything.

The days have been mostly good, thank God. I have done plenty of living. I have loved deeply. I have enjoyed a million meaningful moments. Just a few weeks ago, for instance, I slept for three days on the beach, covered only by a blanket of stars. For those three days I was nothing but grateful, and I felt that it was enough.

The bad days (and the really bad days) are nothing that good coffee or some ice cream can't cure.

And yet this weekend, hearing again news of someone's passing, I took a hard look at my life and saw that despite all the good days, I have been slowly inching away from many of the things I care about.

Who died and made you me? I asked myself.

I didn't like the answer.

Also this weekend, I came across Amber Tamblyn's commencement speech on my Facebook timeline. She talks about crashing and needing to take a mental break, and then coming across a realization:
On the other side of this time in my life came revelation. Yeats once said, “In order to be reborn, you must die first.” I realized that all along, what I had craved and explored indeed was happening right before my very eyes. Le Petit Mort. A Small Death. A part of me was dying, like shedding skin. I realized that life would forever be a series of shedding skins, some more painful than others. 
And she closes with this:
Some form of this experience I’ve shared with you today will happen to you. It might be next Thursday; it might be when you’re 80. I want to say, simply, that it’s going to be okay. That when you start to panic, and feel like you want to throw a thousand teacups against a wall, shed that skin. When you want to run away from it all, shed that skin. When you want to float in your own darkness until you feel you might drown, shed that skin. When you want to turn your world upside down and see what falls out of it, shed that skin. When you want to tell someone “no” but haven’t figured out how to yet, shed that skin. When it’s time to enforce boundaries between you and the “you” that thinks you’re not good enough, shed that skin. When you want to wear fluorescent pink hot pants to the mall because, look at you, you’re amazing! Shed that skin that prevents you from wearing that skin. Have that revelation, and then have it again, and again, and again.
I understand now that this is the death I have been wanting. The idea of starting over again (and again, when necessary), and leaving forever the part of me that is dead, or even, dying.

Dream: Disaster



Last night's dream. This is a long one.

I was in a management class that suddenly became a cooking class. The teacher whipped up this Italian dish with pasta, meat and some mushrooms and vegetables. "Would anyone like to have this?" she asked us.

Nobody replied. A bit miffed, she handed it to the student in front of her: me. The dish looked delicious, actually, so I stood up and went around the classroom to get everyone to try it. Some of my classmates feigned interest, and some didn't bother to hide their annoyance, but most got some of the food.

The plate was soon empty, even for me, so I went back to my seat. The teacher, who'd been watching me serve her dish, asked, "Why do you have blood on the seat of your pants? Do you have your period?" Surprised, and suddenly anxious, I whispered, "I just finished my, um, girly thing, ma'am, but I'll go check. I might have just sat on something that looks like blood." I saw what looked like blood on my seat as well.

Still wondering if I'd been pranked, but also counting back to the day I did get my period (just last week in my dream), I grabbed a pad and went to the restroom. It was full of teenagers dressing up for their prom. I waited my turn, and -- the dream skipped -- when I left the stall, I was already wearing the pad and reading news about Godzilla.

I mention the pad because, later in my dream, as I was fleeing, I would remember that detail and wish to God I wasn't going to be an evacuee at the beginning of her menstrual cycle because that would be too uncomfortable. I thought of how the girls from The Walking Dead managed.

But back to Godzilla.

Godzilla was on his way to wreak havoc in Manila; there'd already been sightings down south, in Quezon. The thing was, he could dematerialize at will, so it was entirely possible you'd only know he was there when he decided to show himself. News reports said that people might want to get out of the city, especially from highly congested urban areas with tall buildings.

Still in the restroom, I bumped into a classmate. She said she'd read news about Godzilla as well, and she agreed that people should get out of areas with tall buildings. As we talked, young girls were still dressing up for the prom, giggling and whispering excitedly about their dates.

I thought I caught a glimpse of a huge scaly green lizard tail out the window. I need to get out of here, I thought, while the news hadn't spread yet and people still weren't panicking.

I was in Makati, and so were my mother and two brothers. We got in touch with each other and agreed to go home to Las Piñas, figuring that Godzilla would follow the SLEX to Makati and hopefully spare our city. But we had to leave immediately because we didn't want to be meeting Godzilla on SLEX -- even if he was surely going to take the northbound lane.

Mommy had to run to the restroom first, so I told my brothers I'd just check the horizon. The dream skipped and I was in an FX bound for Parañaque (Merville, again!), kicking myself in the butt for forgetting I already had a plan and a ride. We were hurtling down the Nagtahan flyover. I texted my family where I was and told them where to meet me.

In the FX, a burly man was complaining loudly about how another man reeked of cigarette smoke, saying he was going to have an allergic fit anytime soon. "Don't make the same mistake again," he said over and over, sometimes in a menacing tone, sometimes in between alarming coughs. A boy, around ten, cowering on the lap of his father, who was the accused, said it had been him who had been smoking. "Don't make the same mistake again," the complaining man said, this time only with urgency, as if he were giving fatherly advice.

I got off in Parañaque and asked my sister to meet me. As we waited for the rest of the family, she got a message on her phone: a text, with accompanying video, from a common friend who was about to go on a blind date with Derek Ramsey. "Can you check what I'm wearing and see me off?" The video showed CCTV footage of Derek on his way to the door.

But of course I wanted to go with my sister, Godzilla or no Godzilla. On the way, we met this fair-skinned man with ripped abs who was handsomer than Derek and wearing only a loincloth. He flashed us a smile with his perfect teeth. I knew he was from ancient times, but somehow I didn't think it made no sense for him to be walking around Parañaque.

Finally, we were at our friend's door. Derek had left, she tearfully recounted. And as she told us the story, we also heard that Godzilla was already in Makati, causing great destruction in what was, thankfully, a mostly empty city by then.

Still, there was cause for anxiety, because traffic was heavy in all the roads leading out of the business district.

The blind date had been set up by a friend, and she and Derek had only texted a couple of times. As he was walking to her door, she decided to do a video call with him to ask him if what she was wearing was okay.

"You look younger than I expected," he said. "How old are you?"

"29."

"Your dress is quite nice. It's so colorful, you could wear it on TV."

"Sometimes I do go on TV," she said, "I work in licensing, mostly for toys."

"You work with toys?"

"Yes! I have a Hogwarts name: Rebecca Luna Longoode."

"You're 29 and you have a Harry Potter name?"

"Yes!"

"Hey, I think you've got a wonderful personality and we can be great friends. Friends?"

And I woke up, thinking: Disaster.

Sa may bus stop


I wrote this on May 5, on the bus, right after it happened, and immediately posted it on Facebook. I tried to write it in English, but it was better expressed in Filipino.

Dati, tuwing hormonal ako, kung anu-anong kadramahan ang naiisip ko. Pero ngayon, at nitong mga nakalipas na buwan, ang nagpapaluha sa akin madalas yung nakikita kong pagtitiis at pagsisikap ng mga manggagawang Pilipino.

Di ako naawa ah. Nabibilib ako kadalasan. Pero minsan, nalulungkot din para sa kanila.

Nagsimula ito sa mga taxi driver na nakikita ko na natutulog sa may police station sa labas ng Eastwood. Eventually, sa pakikipagkwentuhan sa mga driver ng mga taxi na nasasakyan ko pauwi, nalaman ko na 24 hours pala yung shift nila, at kailangan talaga nila mamili ng mga lugar na kung saan pwede silang kampanteng mamahinga.

Kanina, dumaan ako sa post office sa likod ng Las Piñas City Hall. Pagbalik ko sa bus stop, may nakita akong matandang lalaki na nakaupo sa daanan at nagtitinda ng mga pekeng alahas. Napansin ko na walang suot yung kanan niyang paa -- ginawa pala niyang upuan, pangontra, malamang, sa init ng kongkreto.

May babaeng bumibili sa kanya. Habang naguusap sila, may biglang dumating na isa pang babae, empleyado ng City Hall. "Kuya, doon ka po banda," sabi niya, sabay turo sa gilid. "Kitang-kita ka sa camera," dagdag niya, sabay turo sa CCTV. "Nakakahiya kay Mayor."

Di naman siya galit. Di naman niya pinalayas yung mama. Pinatabi niya lang. Kasi nga daw nakakahiya kay Mayor.

Dali-dali namang tumabi yung matanda. Dinala muna niya yung itim niyang bag at yung mga alahas. Tapos binalikan niya yung naiwan niyang sapatos.

Nagkatinginan kami saglit. Di rin siya galit. Ang nakita ko pa nga sa mga mata niya, page-estima sa akin kung bibili rin ba ako.

Di naman ako naawa sa kanya. Kasi buti pa nga siya, naghahanap-buhay, nagtitinda. Pero naiyak ako habang nakatayo dun sa bus stop kasi siya pa dapat yung mahiya.

Naiyak ako kasi di dapat ganun. At naiyak ako kasi ganun talaga.

Dream: An invasion, love, and bioelectricity

I dreamt I was stuck in traffic along SLEX. Cars weren't at all moving. Suddenly, bombs started dropping on the expressway. Some country had invaded -- China, I think -- but it could bomb only the main highways.

We ran to an area around Merville, where the survivors eventually built a small community. For months the bombing continued, and sometimes other survivors would stumble into our little safe place.

I fell in love with one of them. He was a fighter -- I can't remember if he was Filipino; my dream was in English -- and he'd been hurt. We nursed him back to health and had strategic meetings -- none of which I remember, because we were holding hands every time, and I would marvel, sometimes half-awake, at how warm and dry and solid his hand felt and how perfect the fit of my hand in his.

One day, the bombings stopped. He said it was time to go; he had to return to the other fighters. He had to go during the lull or else he would miss a chance to go back to his team safely. I understood and did not despair.

"You are coming back?" someone said.

"Yes," he replied too quickly. Then he looked at me, and I saw the excitement in his face. He took my hand and said, "How do I get out of here? I don't know the way."

I gripped his hand tightly -- feeling, once again, how warm and dry and solid it was -- and replied, "I'll walk you out."

When he left me, he didn't look back. I was sure I'd never see him again.

So I moved on to searching for sources of bioelectricity, first in plants, then in animals. It got interesting when space fish started swimming in the sky.

Art in my life

My mother bought me watercolor and a watercolor pad yesterday, and I've been painting since last night and this morning. I must say I'm improving fast -- or maybe I'm just remembering some of what I learned in Art class, when I was 12.

I don't think I'll ever be as competent with a brush as I am with a pen, but this is really fun. I love the focus that is required, the patience that is asked, and the surprise that comes with each splash of watercolor.

It feels good to be creating again.

Yours, the eternal romantic

Sometimes, while waiting for a play to start, I look around the theater and find myself thinking (wishing), maybe I will find him here.

This happens, too, in airports and train stations, and other places that I know for sure will be birthplaces of beautiful memories.

We will watch plays together, I imagine, and he will delight in my laughing out loud at a punchline and pretend not to notice when I wipe away a maybe inappropriate tear (he will know that sometimes, when something -- a scene, a line, a song -- reminds me of how much I love my country and my home, I can end up crying).

We will have a late dinner after, I imagine, and he will take me to a quaint restaurant that also serves coffee and happily offer me dessert. He will know that my favorite part of watching a play is the conversation after, and he will be amused that I have somehow, once again, managed to relate fiction to my life.

He doesn't even have to like theater; just him liking me liking it is enough.


Wrote this in the cab that took me home from the PETA Theater after watching Rak of Aegis. There will be a second run from June to August (I think). Catch it!

Because there is beauty in the concrete

Once, late at night, while wishing me like to one more rich in hope, I hailed an MGE taxi, just wanting to go home, forget everything, and crash.

As I entered the cab, the driver greeted me with a cheerful, "Good evening, ma'am!" He was a big man, probably in his late fifties, wearing thick plastic-rimmed glasses. He smiled at me in the rear-view mirror and asked me how my day had gone.

"It was okay," I said. He was pleasant, but I was tired and a little upset, so I didn't feel like making small talk.

He got my address and turned on the radio. We drove in silence to whatever music was playing, and, still brooding, I watched the buildings grow smaller as we left Eastwood City and crossed the flyover to Bonny Serrano to Project 4.

As we turned right on 20th Avenue, an old seventies song started playing. I hadn't heard it in years, so I didn't recognize it right away, but my heart remembered something because the first line started pulling me home: It depends on who is looking at the tenement walls.

I tried to catch the next lines, trying to place the song. Then the driver started singing to it, his voice warm and rich and deep.
You can walk the streets
and find so much to criticize,
but that would be the easy thing to do.
Because there's beauty in the concrete
if you see it with your heart.
The sidewalks only hurt you
if you hate them from the start.
By the time I was home, I could hear it: many, many years ago, my father, now over ten years dead, with his terrible singing voice and thick Cebuano accent, belting out: This is a song, not necessarily sweet. I'll pass it on to people that I never will meet.

It was a child's introduction to how the world and words can contradict each other, and a moment I saw the individual, the person disconnected from me, in my father.

The cab driver, bless him, had a good singing voice. He sang with feeling, and this time, I took the words as a reminder, one of the many notes to self I've been posting all over the years to remember who, where I am.

Places of work turned into places called home. I entered the apartment with a smile in my heart and sank into my bed thinking sweet dreams.

Ash Wednesday

This Lenten Season, joy will be my sacrifice and gratitude my prayer.

An Introduction to Literature

Look: no one ever promised for sure
that we would sing. We have decided
to moan. In a strange dance that
we don't understand till we do it, we
have to carry on.

Just as in sleep you have to dream
the exact dream to round out your life,
so we have to live that dream into stories
and hold them close at you, close at the
edge we share, to be right.

We find it an awful thing to meet people,
serious or not, who have turned into vacant
effective people, so far lost that they
won't believe their own feelings
enough to follow them out.

The authentic is a line from one thing
along to the next; it interests us.
strangely, it relates to what works,
but it is not quite the same. It never
swerves for revenge,

Or profit or fame: it holds
together something more than the world,
this line. And we are your wavery
efforts at following it. Are you coming?
Good: now it is time.

- William Stafford 

"No one ever promised for sure that we would sing"

An Introduction to Literature
By William Stafford

Look: no one ever promised for sure
that we would sing. We have decided
to moan. In a strange dance that
we don't understand till we do it, we
have to carry on.

Just as in sleep you have to dream
the exact dream to round out your life,
so we have to live that dream into stories
and hold them close at you, close at the
edge we share, to be right.

We find it an awful thing to meet people,
serious or not, who have turned into vacant
effective people, so far lost that they
won't believe their own feelings
enough to follow them out.

The authentic is a line from one thing
along to the next; it interests us.
Strangely, it relates to what works,
but it is not quite the same. It never
swerves for revenge,

Or profit or fame: it holds
together something more than the world,
this line. And we are your wavery
efforts at following it. Are you coming?
Good: now it is time.

Let us go disturb the universe

Happy 2014. This is the year to feel good.