Saturday, June 2, 2018

A love story

This would've been okay as a tweet, but I prefer to put it here, on this day that perhaps someone else's beautiful love story has officially begun.

In Starbucks, a chatty little girl, maybe four, nags her mother. "Mommy, tell me a story. Tell me the happiest story. What's your happiest story?"

The mother says, "Look at daddy."

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Goodbye, it was nice to know you

Looking through my old blog posts (the ones I've decided to keep) and scrolling down my Facebook timeline (as I debate whether to delete my account or not), I saw interactions with people I no longer interact with, either by choice or by chance.

I didn't even know then that that would be the last time I'd be interacting with them or posting about being with them.

It makes me feel sad, actually, how people come into your life and make you happy, and then you somehow hurt each other, and then all you have left is evidence that at one point in life, it was good between the two of you.

Still, it is what it is. I have these happy memories that don't make a monster out of me and a monster out of you.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Two (blogs) become one

I suppose it requires some amount of courage to face the failed parts of yourself. And then it takes even more courage to accept those parts.

This is my dramatic way of saying I've decided to merge my old blog with this relatively new one, partly because I am tired of searching for stuff I remember writing but feared I'd deleted and partly because I'm sick of hiding what feels like a dirty past but is really a dreary one.

There's a lot to clean up, like cryptic posts to lost loves, dead links, embedded flash videos, and announcements to my Multiply (+) friends. 

There's a lot that makes me cringe. The earliest posts date from 2007 and I was naive and (more) dramatic and had a (higher) tendency towards self-reflection and self-analysis-paralysis.

I want to kick myself for the many times I swore I'd finally finish my MFA throughout the years!

But I also regret many of the entries I lost, partly because I didn't back up my Multiply properly and partly because every so often I'd feel like erasing my life and the personal blog, started in the late 1990s, was always the first to go. 

Anyway, no promises, but here we are.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

If you ever had something that you wanted to say

Yesterday, I reminded a good friend of her blog. She thanked me for the reminder and replied, "These days, I feel like I have nothing much to say."

That is exactly how I feel as well. And it is why this blog--and my writing--is barely alive.

I feel like ever since social media gave everyone a platform, if you intend to write something and share it, you better make sure it's worth disturbing what ever silence there is left.

But shouldn't that be the goal of any creative writing endeavor? Isn't that why we strive for literature?

And now I'm suddenly reminded of this poem.

How to Be a Poet
(to remind myself)
By Wendell Berry

Make a place to sit down.
Sit down. Be quiet.
You must depend upon
affection, reading, knowledge,
skill—more of each
than you have—inspiration,
work, growing older, patience,
for patience joins time
to eternity. Any readers
who like your poems,
doubt their judgment.

ii

Breathe with unconditional breath
the unconditioned air.
Shun electric wire.
Communicate slowly. Live
a three-dimensioned life;
stay away from screens.
Stay away from anything
that obscures the place it is in.
There are no unsacred places;
there are only sacred places
and desecrated places.

iii

Accept what comes from silence.
Make the best you can of it.
Of the little words that come
out of the silence, like prayers
prayed back to the one who prays,
make a poem that does not disturb
the silence from which it came. 

Friday, March 23, 2018

Pensieve


I recently went to the mall to meet an old friend. After the meetup, I happened upon this accessories store that was on sale. Against my better judgment--I'd recently thought of renewing my commitment to be minimalist--I decided to take a look inside the shop.

I ended up buying something: a silver sand dollar ring. I didn't need another ring, for sure, but I fell in love with this particular ring because it reminded me of something I did in the past for someone I loved: I collected sun-bleached sand dollars on a beach off Puerto Princesa so I could share a bit of paradise with him.

Many of the sand dollars didn't survive the plane ride to Manila. What was left of them disintegrated in the mail, and the recipient, while grateful and touched, didn't, couldn't, really appreciate the grandness of my gesture.

That was how I loved back then: romantic and impractical, thoughtful and contrived. How I threw myself into love!

I don't miss it, and I do.

Friday, February 2, 2018

On sitting with the discomfort

Yesterday, I ended up doing more work because someone didn't do a job well. I felt angry; my instinct was to lash out at the person, completely convinced that it would lighten my emotional load.

But I remembered these two things:

1. A quote from this excellent essay by Internet hacktivist Aaron Swartz.
In moments of great emotional stress, we revert to our worst habits: we dig in and fight harder. The real trick is not to get better at fighting — it’s to get better at stopping ourselves: at taking a deep breath, calming down, and letting our better natures take over from our worst instincts.
 2. This expression that I see often in discussions on mindfulness, meditation, and yoga:
Sit with the discomfort. 
Or, in this context, sit with the uncomfortable feeling. So I did.

I still ended up doing the work, but at least I was no longer doing it upset.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Purposeful whimsy

Whenever I try to picture the kind of life I want to create this year, I always end up thinking of teacups, delicate ones made of porcelain or bone china, with pretty flowers and edges gilded with gold.

I see myself drinking tea or coffee in them, gracefully holding the saucer, even. There are no sandwiches, scones or cake in the picture, because while I do drink tea and coffee, I am not really one who actually does tea, you know?

There's a word I discovered when I was working in media many years ago: aspirational. I still can't use it with a straight face, but maybe this dainty teacup I keep envisioning is exactly that, aspirational for me.

What words do I associate with this teacup? Elegance and design. Beauty. And also purposeful whimsy.

I'm also reminded of criticism--the kind you want when you want to improve as a writer--I received at a class writing workshop many years ago: Your words are beautiful, but they say nothing at all.

A teacup is beautiful and elegant in its service.

***

Yesterday, while organizing our bathroom shelf, I realized I don't like decorative soap. I mean soap that is molded in shapes like seashells, animals or, worse, flowers.

Their design defeats their purpose.

They look sad within a couple of uses and they're uncomfortable to scrub your hands with. As décor, they gather dust. As fragrance, most of them quickly lose scent.

What is the use of it, really.

***

I have three miniature teacups, all gifts or souvenirs. Today, I planted sansevieria in the remaining two.

A post shared by Althea Ricardo (@althearicardo) on

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

We are off to a slow start, 2018

Last night, I dreamt that I was in the United States with some people, including a boy I liked years ago, someone I was interested in again. We were all staying in a relative's house; the family was out of the country and had invited us to use their home.

All of us were friendly, but we weren't exactly traveling together. I had my own plans, including reunions with other friends I didn't share with them. However, as people who find themselves together tend to do, everyone started planning as a group: tours, night outs, shows. I hesitated; I always start out wanting to do my own thing, not following anyone else's agenda.

But when they invited me to a barbecue night in the backyard, I looked at the boy I liked shyly and thought: This is a good way to get to know him better. I imagined the two of us chatting on the porch, laughing over drinks and maybe liking each other a little bit more.

I ran off to my room and took a shower. Before dressing, I decided to lie down in bed for a few minutes. It was morning when I woke up, still with bathrobe on and a towel wrapped around my hair. Barbecue night was over; I had lost my chance.

That was the end of the dream.

I woke up a little upset at myself. Later, when I shared this dream with friends, I wondered: Do I feel bad because I am so slow at everything?

Years ago, I tried to make a vision board, but I couldn't fill it up. Someone I went to grad school with scoffed at it and said, "Dagdagan mo naman ang mga pangarap mo." Add to your dreams; have more ambition; be more; do more.

Lately, I've been rethinking this idea of "more."

One of the articles I read last year that left an impression asked this question: What if All I Want is a Mediocre Life? Of course, the writer doesn't really want a mediocre life. She wants a small, slow, simple one and she defines it for herself and declares it enough.

That's something that I am committed to this year, but it's also something I'm slow at defining. But I'm getting there. I'm getting there.