Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Manolos, Happiness and the Paradox of Choice

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Ah, the choices we make,” my boyfriend uttered, completely astonished at how much a fabulous pair of Manolo Blahnik crocodile slingbacks costs compared to his most expensive shoes. It made me think of the paradox of choice: the more choices we have, the less happy we are. Faced with so many options available, we are fraught with ambivalence and tend to question the one we chose. We become less certain if we took the right path. The inexorable examination of choices – the what-ifs and all the I-could-have-done-that, I-should-not-have-done-this, is-this-really-what-I-want that go on and on in our mind - is what makes us less happy.

A few days ago I was listening to a podcast that discusses the results of a study on marital happiness among women conducted in 2006. Surprisingly the study concluded that homemakers are more content, happier than their working counterpart. Why? Not because of the "limited" choices that housewives have but because of the commitment they bring to what they chose to do. Also, it is the level of commitment that couples bring to the relationship that determines their happiness.


Being committed to the path we've taken surely won't make us less happy. Instead of asking, “is this really what I want?” perhaps we can start telling ourselves, “This is what I want!” Let’s see if it makes us happier.

to make more coyotes possible


And so the coyotes are out there earnestly trying to arrange their lives to make more coyotes possible, not knowing that it is my forest, of course. And I am in this room from which I can sometimes look out at dusk and see them warily moving through the barren winter trees, and I am, I suppose, doing what they are doing, making myself possible and those who come after me. At such moments I do not know whose land that is that I own, or whose bed I sleep in. In the darkness out there they see my light and pause, muzzles lifted, wondering who I am and what I am doing here in this cabin under my light. I am a mystery to them until they tire of it and move on, but the truth, the first truth, probably, is that we are all connected, watching one another. Even the trees.

- Arthur Miller, Timebends: A Life

Monday, April 28, 2008

risibility and hunger (the B.F. incident)

Monday, April 28, 2008

After a whole day spent revisiting the city, we found ourselves greeted by life-size statues dotting the stairs that lead to the restaurant. As we went in, I noticed that the place was well lit but only half full. We were lead to a corner by a bow-tied waiter, seated with a window view and hidden from everybody else’s line of sight. Is this where they usually seat couples? Do we look as if we need privacy? We asked each other laughingly. 10, 20, 30 minutes have passed and still no waiter arrived to get our orders. We watched a group of barong-clad men arrive, choose a table near ours, order as if they’ve already memorized the menu, eat without the usual chitchat, pay and leave – the entire process we saw without a single waiter paying us attention. They’ve forgotten all about us, we said, amused. We just sat there without food, content to feast our eyes on each other, our risibilities compensating for our hunger and the waiters’ neglect.

So happy we were that we could have stayed there all night not caring whether the waiters waited on us or just left us alone all throughout the evening.

February-April Snapshots

Sunday, April 27, 2008

A Private Life

Sunday, April 27, 2008

“I needed a private life. How could you have a private life in a place where all your isolated feelings are out in the open, where the tension in your heart, the thing you’ve been able to restrict to small closed rooms is everywhere exposed to the whitish light and grown so large and firmly fixed that you can’t separate it from the landscape and the sky?”

- Don DeLillo, Underworld, 1997

Friday, April 25, 2008

friday

Friday, April 25, 2008

At last it's Friday. I can't wait to shut down this PC, go home and sleep. And sleep. And sleep.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Our Joycean Trek

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Just wanting to be together but having no idea on what to do and where to go, from the hotel we embarked on our very own Joycean trek. We strolled down the hill, our faces lit with brimming excitement about whatever surprises the day would bring. We noticed how things have changed in the city, reminiscing how it was before. It amazed us how some things – old buildings, a certain ambience - remained the same. We saw our beloved university, a testament to how something can change yet stay unchanged.


We reached the park and chose a bench shaded by trees to rest our tired feet. The cool, crisp air enveloped us, mitigated by the warmth in his voice and the way he looked at me. Constantly stealing glances at each other, we watched the people passing by – women selling various fruits, Korean tourists, and couples like us walking hand in hand with eyes only for each other. Our conversation was punctuated by bursts of laughter and interrupted by men offering to give him a massage and women offering to give me a pedicure.

We had a joyful Joycean trek - a day filled with moments of pure beauty made perfect by its simplicity.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

trade-off

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The past few days left me without enough time to spare for my blog. Life truly is a trade-off.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Virgins, bulls, men

Thursday, April 17, 2008

“In the Spaniard’s heart is a great yearning for freedom, but only his own. A great love of truth and honor in all its forms, but not in its substance. And a deep conviction that nothing can be proven except that it be made to bleed. Virgins, bulls, men. Ultimately God himself.”

- Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses, 1992

Donning the Sablay


A few days ago, my adviser asked me if I’m joining this month’s graduation rites. I don’t really feel like going. Donning the sablay for a second time seems a bit anticlimactic to me. Passing the comprehensive examinations, submitting the first draft of my thesis, defending it in front of the university’s formidable professors and having it finally approved mark such high points in my life that the graduation might pale in comparison.

After exceeding the Maximum Residency Rule, being dismissed and readmitted then paying penance, I’m finally done. I got my degree. Perhaps it’s now time for another one.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Adult Life

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

“A sad fact, of course, about adult life is that you see the very things you’ll never adapt to coming toward you on the horizon. You see them as the problems they are, you worry like hell about them, you make provisions, take precautions, fashion adjustments; you tell yourself you’ll have to change your way of doing things. Only you don’t. You can’t. Somehow it’s already too late. And maybe it’s even worse than that: maybe the thing you see coming from far away is not the real thing, the thing that scares you, but its aftermath. And what you’ve feared will happen has already taken place. ”

– Richard Ford, Independence Day, 1995

Presumption of Significance


Why do we take seriously what is in no way serious? We read, see or hear something and we automatically presume that it has something to do with us. It doesn’t really concern us yet we go ballistic about it. Oftentimes we put too much significance on ourselves that we cannot comprehend that not everything is about us. Our presumption leads to our undoing.

Monday, April 14, 2008

"Yes, I’ll take it all, thanks"

Monday, April 14, 2008

It was one shining moment of glory that was instantly gone. Whereas life, real life, is different and can’t even be appraised as simply “happy”, but only in terms of “Yes, I’ll take it all, thanks,” or “no, I believe I won’t.” Happy, as my poor father used to say, is a lot of hooey. Happy is a circus clown, a sitcom, a greeting card. Life, though, life’s about something sterner. But also something better. A lot better. Believe me.

- Richard Ford, The Lay of the Land, 2006

Friday, April 11, 2008

Ugh, this man

Friday, April 11, 2008

Were there times when you just want to roll your eyes and mutter, “ugh, this man” but held your tongue for the sake of tact and propriety?

The “ugh moment” comes to me when a man:

  • Approaches me along the cereals lane at the grocery store asking for my number. What makes him think I’d give it to him?
  • Walks inside the room and I can smell his perfume from a three-meter distance. It’s like he wants to announce to the whole world, “Hey, I smell good!”
  • Walks around, always clutching a pillow to himself. Come on, man, grow up. Do you still miss your teddy?
  • In the middle of nowhere, tells his girl, “You can go down now. I don’t want to drive in this kind of traffic.”
  • Takes an half an hour to choose between the cappuccino and the mocha latte.
  • Already presented with some damning evidence of his misconduct, he still has the nerve to lie. Oh man, don’t you have the balls to admit what you’ve done?
  • Has no tolerance for silence when enough has been said.

The Best of Boyhood


“But how much time could a man spend remembering the best of boyhood? What about the best of old age? Or was the best of old age just that? The longing for the best of boyhood, for the two-biller sprout that was his body and that rode the waves from way out where they began to build, rode them with his arms pointed like an arrowhead and the skinny rest of him following behind like the arrow’s shaft, rode them all the way into where his ribcage scraped against the tiny sharp pebbles and the jagged clam shells and pulverized sea shells at the edge of the shore and he hustled to his feet and hurriedly turned and when lurching through the low surf until it was knee-high and deep enough for him to plunge in and begin swimming madly out to the rising breakers into the advancing green Atlantic rolling unstoppably toward him like the obstinate fact of the future, and if he was lucky make it there in time to catch the next big wave and the next and the next and the next until from the low slant of inland sunlight glittering across the water he knew it was time to go.”

Philip Roth,
Everyman

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Private Auditory Space

Thursday, April 10, 2008

I am trying to concentrate on proofreading a sloppily written module but it seems like the people surrounding me are bent on testing my ability to focus. Can they not work without being so loud? I’m already wearing earphones with the music in full volume, but I can still hear all the noise. Can they not respect my auditory space?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Recalibrating Expectations

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

I think I need to recalibrate my expectations. By lowering it to the lowest of the low, the risk of disappointment is nil. And whenever I'm asked about something, with utmost sincerity and a hint of a smile, I can reply:

Oh, it exceeded my expectations.

a lie?


"Religion was a lie that he had recognized early in life, and he found all religions offensive, considered their superstitious folderol meaningless, childish, couldn't stand the complete unadultness — the baby talk and the righteousness and the sheep, the avid believers. No hocus-pocus about death and God or obsolete fantasies of heaven for him. There was only our bodies, born to live and die on terms decided by the bodies that had lived and died before us. If he could be said to have located a philosophical niche for himself that was it - he'd come upon it early and intuitively, and however elemental, that was the whole of it."

- Philip Roth,
Everyman

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

i wonder why

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

I like reading blogs especially those written by people I know. But unfortunately, I only know of a few who keep blogs. I wonder why in my age group, there's hardly any who are into blogs. Of my batch mates in high school and college, there’s only one I know and she rarely posts, at that! I wonder why.

Is it because of the Herculean effort involved in keeping a blog?
Is it because they’re too preoccupied with more pressing things to keep a blog?
Is it because blogs are just as an asinine way to waste one’s time?
Is it because they don’t want to expose themselves to the anonymous dwellers of the virtual world?
Is it because they’re not so inclined to put their lives, emotions, interests and passions into words?
Is it because they can’t think of anything to blog about?
Is it because they’re not just into writing?

I wonder why.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Six Months

Monday, April 7, 2008

In this age where relationships have turned as ephemeral as bubble blowing, six months can seem like a lifetime. Months that turn into years and years that turn into a lifetime is what I want to share with you. The consuming pluperfect optative can be sharply limiting but settling for anything less than forever and anybody else but you is grossly unthinkable.

For six, beautiful months we struggled to be together, never losing sight of our dreams. Without you, my love, dreams are just dreams and the majesty of life is naught.

Fierceness of Desire


“But the real fierceness of desire, the real heat of passion long continued and withering up the soul of a man, is the craving for identity with the woman that he loves. He desires to see with the same eyes, to touch with the same sense of touch, to hear with the same ears to lose his identity, to be enveloped, to be supported. For, whatever may be said of the relation of the sexes, there is no man who loves a woman that does not desire to come to her for the renewal of his courage, for the cutting asunder of his difficulties. And that will be the mainspring of his desire for her. We are all so afraid, we are all so alone, we all so need from the outside the assurance of our own worthiness to exist.”

- Ford Maddox Ford, The Good Soldier: A Tale of Passion, 1927

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Prolonged Marital Warfare

Sunday, April 6, 2008

"Contrary to what his wife told everyone, he hadn’t hungered after the wanton freedom to do anything and everything. Far from it. He hungered for something stable, all the while he detested what he had. He was not a man who wished to live two lives. He held no grudge against either the limitations or the comforts of conformity. He wanted merely to empty his mind of all the ugly thoughts spawned by the disgrace of prolonged marital warfare."

- Philip Roth,
Everyman

Thursday, April 3, 2008

two billion voices

Thursday, April 3, 2008

“…the world, the social world, was unbearably complicated, with two billion voices, and everyone's thoughts striving in equal importance and everyone's claim on life as intense everyone thinking they were unique when no one was…”

- Ian McEwan,
Atonement

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Nica and I

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

My 12-year old sister Nica will be spending some time with me this summer vacation. I am so looking forward to the fun we'll surely have. We plan to go on our traditional Friends marathon (something we do every summer), lounge by the pool to beat the heat, binge on ice cream, criticize movies down to the most granular level of intricacy, and other crazy stuff.


Words and their rhythms


"I developed a sense that meaning itself was resident in the rhythms of words and sentences and paragraphs, a technique for withholding whatever it was I thought or believed behind an increasingly impenetrable polish. The way I write is who I am, or have become, yet this is a case in which I wish I had instead of words and their rhythms a cutting room, equipped with an Avid, a digital editing system on which I could touch a key and collapse the sequence of time, show you simultaneously all the frames of memory that come to me now, let you pick the takes, the marginally different expressions, the variant readings of the same lines. This is a case in which I need more than words to find the meaning. This is a case in which I need whatever it is I think or believe to be penetrable, if only for myself."

- Joan Didion,
The Year of Magical Thinking

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

One Year Old

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Celebrating the first year anniversary of Muffled Solitude means turning a fastidiously critical eye on what I have written and tried to say for a year now. Against all my pains from its turning out to be so, my writing oftentimes came out ineffectual and utterly banal, almost bordering on becoming a cliché. Characteristic of dysfunctional narcissism, my daily drivel continually shifted from being didactic, to being dull, to being disdainful, to being depressive.

What I have posted so far - all 235 of them - revolved around the following themes:

  • All around help. Everything and anything about what occupies me from 8:30 am t0 6:30 pm.
  • Always a bookworm. Quotes from some books i have read; a shameless promotion of reading and literature to convert hardened "literary philistines" into bookworms.
  • Creative juices. All about the art of writing.
  • Equanimity lost and found. Being okay then losing it.
  • Girls and their ways; Men and their ways. How funny men and women can be, at times.
  • Irreverence. Questioning the existence of a superior being.
  • Love of my life. Our love story.
  • Memories exhumed and buried. Coming to terms with a failed relationship and the whole disorder of my life.
  • Pilak girls. The friends I grew up with and how they remain a part of my life despite the distance.
  • Sanity calms, but madness is more interesting. The play between reason and madness, and how one usually triumphs over the other.
  • Saying the unsayable. Thoughts and feelings that cannot, but must be, said.
  • Simple joys. Finding happiness in even the simplest of things.

the worst thing about regret


“…the worst thing about regret is that it makes you dock the chance of suffering new regret just as you get a glimmer that nothing is worth doing unless it has the potential to fuck up your whole life.”

- Richard Ford,
Independence Day, 1995

 
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