Thursday, October 30, 2008

at the end of our ropes

Thursday, October 30, 2008

He does not really belong in a divorced men's club any more than I do, but he is willing to try it on for size, not because he thinks he'll eventually like it, or that this is the thing he's always missed, but because it's in some ways the last thing in the world he can imagine doing, and probably feels he should do it for that reason alone. We should all know what's at the end of our ropes and how it feels to be there.


- Richard Ford, The Sportswriter, 1986

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Seven Random Facts About Me

Wednesday, October 29, 2008
  • I’ve never owned a credit card.
  • Two of my classmates in elementary, JB and MV, engaged in a serious fistfight over me. It happened in front of our school, at the City Hall grounds, with virtually the whole class watching and cheering them on.
  • I sang first soprano in the church choir for more than 15 years but I’ve now left the fold for good.
  • My birth certificate says that I’m officially named “Baby Girl”.
  • I went to law school while still taking up my master’s. Too much sleep deprivation made me ditch the former.
  • I used to weigh 60 kilograms (which is a lot for a five-foot gal).
  • Research is the only occupation I’ve known and had since graduating from college.

I was tagged by Artemis and now I’m tagging Jacqueline, Hazel Martha, Mariel, Moira, Natalie, Nica and Nina.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

When Significant Others Lose Their Significance

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

It’s funny how the people we were once willing to do battle and travel great distances for, we just couldn’t care less about anymore. We see or hear from them, and they're just nothing to us. How is it possible that traces of their significance have all been sanitized? Was it the passage of time that purged them of their relevance in our lives? Or was it our predetermined resiliency that managed to do it?

Sometimes I try to grope for and unearth the plethora of emotions that were hidden, shut down, locked and sealed up in the deepest recesses of my heart but there’s nothing there. There’s nothing left. Not even the slightest hint of poignancy or the tiniest vestige of regret for how things would, could or should have been. Where have all the intense feelings gone? Are supposedly deep-seated emotions merely as ephemeral as bubble blowing? Are the bonds with which we construct our lives that fragile?

Perhaps significant others need to lose their significance to let a more lasting significance in.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

marines at the mall

Sunday, October 26, 2008

My sister, brother and I spent a fun day at the mall last Saturday. The place was surrounded with marines in full battle gear. We found out that it's their anniversary. Their presence reminded me of my hapless encounter with men in uniform.



Friday, October 24, 2008

Demimonde

Friday, October 24, 2008

To be erroneously taken for someone who belongs to the world of the demimonde is such a compliment. It means that I’m drop-dead gorgeous that men of opulence are willing to squander their riches just to get my attention; or that I’m so good in bed that they just have to have me at whatever price it takes; or that I can lead a life of leisure and luxury by purely relying on the power of my charms. But unfortunately, I’m not any of those. As much as I want to be a demimondaine, I am simply not eligible.

What is perceptibly intended as an insult I am taking as a compliment, instead. How else can I react to an air ball of undiluted malice thrown my way? For its sheer absurdity, it missed its aim by a mile. It’s so out of depth that it comes off beyond desperate.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Orange Everywhere

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I saw orange when I entered the lobby of the building where i live. It's been glammed up with all sorts of Halloween ornaments. Everything looked and felt so festive that it can put Christmas to shame.

But aren't we supposed to be remembering our dead, instead, this time of the year? It's like the solemn and supplicant air of All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day has been supplanted by the more cheerful mood of Halloween.



Times have changed indeed.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Plastering

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I write about my life and the world that I live in. What’s wrong with that? People who believe that blogs are merely fodder for voyeuristic appetites are simply missing the point. If you don’t like our thoughts, ideas and pictures plastered all over the internet, tough. Close your browser, shut down your computer, and go sit in the sun. It’s not as if we, bloggers, are forcing you to read—or like—our plasterings.

I write about the trivialities of my little world. That’s how I make sense of it. How do you make sense of yours?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Veneration of the Printed Word

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Half an hour past twelve midnight of the first day of this year, when all the noise and revelry is about to die down, I started rereading Lolita. I thought, what better way to start 2008 but with this Nabokov masterpiece? Driven by my love of books and—to quote William Styron--my “veneration of the printed word as a source of wisdom, redemption and refuge,” I then spent the rest of the year devouring one book after another, some for the first time and some for the nth. As of today, I’ve read forty-three novels--and except for an odd few--all of which I highly recommend.

  1. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov (1950)
  2. Tar Baby, Toni Morrison ((1981)
  3. White Noise, Don DeLillo (1984)
  4. The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, Bobby Anderson (2006)
  5. Seabiscuit: An American Legend, Laura Hillenbrand (2001)
  6. A Beautiful Mind, Sylvia Nasar (1998)
  7. Jazz, Toni Morrison (1992)
  8. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte (1847)
  9. Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides (2002)
  10. The House of Mirth, Edith Wharton (1905)
  11. Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte (1847)
  12. The Good Soldier: A Tale of Passion, Ford Maddox Ford (1997)
  13. Underworld, Don DeLillo ((1997)
  14. Housekeeping, Marilynne Robinson (1980)
  15. The Human Stain, Philip Roth (2000)
  16. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy (1877)
  17. Rabbit at Rest, John Updike (1990)
  18. Tortilla Flat, John Steinbeck (1935)
  19. Independence Day, Richard Ford (1995)
  20. Sabbath’s Theater, Philip Roth (1995)
  21. Under the Tuscan Sun, Frances Mayes (1996)
  22. Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston (1937)
  23. The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen (2001)
  24. The Dying Animal, Philip Roth (2001)
  25. Women In Love, D.H. Lawrence (1920)
  26. Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka (1915)
  27. Empire Falls, Richard Russo (2001)
  28. Martha Quest, Doris Lessing (1952)
  29. The Red Badge of Courage, Stephen Crane (1895)
  30. Howards End, E.M. Forster (1910)
  31. The Plot Against America, Philip Roth (2004)
  32. Emma, Jane Austen (1816)
  33. The Sound and the Fury, William Faulkner (1929)
  34. Memories of the Ford Administration, John Updike (1992)
  35. Jesus’ Son, Denis Johnson (1992)
  36. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens (1939)
  37. Goodbye, Columbus, Philip Roth (1959)
  38. All the King’s Men, Robert Penn Warren (1946)
  39. Native Son, Richard Wright (1940)
  40. The Great Train Robbery, Michael Crichton (1975)
  41. USA Volume 3: The Big Money, John Dos Passos (1927)
  42. Run River, Joan Didion (1963)
  43. Falconer, John Cheever (1975)

I’m now reading Henry James’ The Ambassadors. Not liking it that much, I hope to finish it by the end of the year.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Resonance

Monday, October 20, 2008

I’ve read this from some English manual: “unlike listening, speaking, and reading, writing is the way we make our thinking visible to the world. Without committing our ideas on paper, our thinking remains invisible, locked in our heads.”
Kayni, Nina, Artemis, Jac, Natalie, Wits, and Sinta are just some of the people I know who made their thinking visible to the world. In their writings, I get a glimpse of how they deal with the precariousness and absurdity of daily life. Their posts--always drawn from the deep wells of feeling—produce some kind of resonance within me.

Blog posts range from the delightful unraveling of mundane details, to the public disclosure of private facts, to inchoately composed persiflage, to passages suffused with extraordinary gravitas, to elaborately obfuscated narratives written in an opaque fashion, and--at times--even to undisguised vituperative viciousness. But ultimately, what lends power to these blog posts is their ability to make readers pay attention.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Mini Skirt

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Yesterday I decided to ditch the comfortable jeans and t-shirt typically worn during casual Fridays. Daring myself if I could pull it off, I wore a four-inch above the knee denim skirt and a black top paired with espadrille platforms. Laughing quietly to--and at--myself for my sheer effrontery, I went to work with a spring in my gait. As I was walking, I saw people--mostly men--giving me the look over. I looked back wanting to say, hey buddy, these are logs you are staring at, not legs.

I may not have the most gorgeous of gams or the kind of body one can boast of or die for but I always find it fun to dress up. It's like a way of inventing an entirely different me - a way to express who I am, who I have become and who I want to become. Wearing sexy outfits is a fun--and effective--way to disguise how socially inept, indefensibly nerdy and unappealingly geeky I really, really am.


Friday, October 17, 2008

she is meant for him

Friday, October 17, 2008

..I am today and will be forever astonished at the perspicacity with which a man can, in a glimpse, judge the scope and beauty of a woman's memory, her tastes in color, food, climate and language, the precise clinical dimensions of her visceral, cranial and reproductive tracts, the condition of her teeth, hair, skin, toenails, eyesight and bronchial tree, that he can, in a second, exalted by the diagnostics of love, seize on the fact that she is meant for him or that they are meant for one another.

- John Cheever, Falconer, 1975


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Kitakits

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

“..So friends kitakits!!! Magparamdam naman kayo!”


That was the cry that infused the BCNHS Special Science Class Batch ‘95 with eager anticipation for another mini reunion. Having gotten over my dread for such gatherings, I—myself--am excited about it. The idea that I’d see my high school classmates once again tickles me. It would be like going back to the worry-free and laughter-filled days we spent in adolescent self-concern.

It’s been thirteen years since we graduated from high school. It would be fun to see how the passage of time has wreaked havoc on us all—the graying hair, the potbellies, the receding hairlines, the flabs and the curves in all the wrong places—and how it has kneaded us into becoming individuals more interesting than before.

Who has changed and who has not? I wonder. That (and more) I’ll find out in a few days.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Cell-block F

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

"You got cell-block F," he said. "F stands for fucks, freaks, fools, fruits, first-timers, fat-asses like me, phantoms, funnies, fanatics, feebies, fences and farts. There's more, but i forget it. The guy who made it up is dead."


- John Cheever, Falconer, 1975


Monday, October 13, 2008

Another One of Us

Monday, October 13, 2008

He is one of us
, I immediately thought when I first saw him. Another oddball. My it-takes-one-to-know-one radar automatically detected that he is a kindred spirit like the crazy couple I wrote about before. I see him day after day sitting at the same spot (the front stairs of an abandoned two-storey store building) with a backpack by his side and wearing the same clothes (a once light colored t-shirt now turned black from sweat and grime paired with dark colored cutoffs and slippers). Most of the time he just sits there, quietly observing the people passing by; but at times I’d see him scribbling intensely on a small notepad. What could he be writing about, I asked myself? Must be a journal or something. One time I even caught him talking to somebody on what looks like a phone. But when I looked closer, I saw that what he’s using for a phone is a calculator! Well, they look and feel the same, anyway.

Expecting him to always be there, it bothered me a bit when I didn’t see him today. I walked home for lunch and he’s not there! Where could he possibly be? What could have happened to him? I pondered. Forever obsessed with ritual and order, I have this neurotic belief that people—even crazy ones—always act within a defined set of expectations only to realize, yet again, that they don’t.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

One Chapter

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Sometimes we can't see that that person is supposed to be just one chapter, not our entire life story. I'm guilty of that myself, having spent three years of my life prolonging the agony and refusing to close a chapter that was bound to end, anyway. Only when I ended that painful episode did my true love story begin.

Why do you find it so difficult to end a relationship that's not going anywhere? Maybe because by doing so you will be left alone again. But then, isn't there more solace in being alone than staying in a relationship that has relentlessly exhausted the greatness of your soul?

As they say, it's better not to have something you want than to have something you don't want.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Cujo and Carrie

Friday, October 10, 2008

My sister, Nica, gave me a pair of curtain holders that she
made in school. They look so cute and innocent that we had to give them special names. After some careful thought, we decided to name them after the characters in two of our favorite horror movies. The grey one is Cujo and the peach one is Carrie.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Ageing

Thursday, October 9, 2008


Philip Roth writes that “old age isn’t a battle; it’s a massacre” and John Updike describes it as the “lessening of excitement.” Don DeLillo conceives of death as white noise: “what if death is nothing but sound?.... You hear it forever. Sound all around.” Death and ageing. Those are what my favorite novelists along with other authors like Michel Houllebecq, Jonathan Franzen and Ian McEwan seem to be writing a great deal about lately. What struck me is how, in their poignant, morbidly misanthropic, savage yet stunning novels, sexual angst is interwoven with growing old and dying. For these authors, sexual vitality becomes the emblematic expression of what is lost as a person ages.


Though still far from that loss-of-sexual-fervor stage, I realize how I’ve aged through the years. The changes are sometimes rapid (like the freaking lines suddenly appearing on my face), but oftentimes they’re not. When I grasped how preoccupied I was with too many trivialities and foolish beliefs and ideas when I was in my 20s; and how I have outgrown my slavish love for the idealistic Howard Roark and now have more admiration for the prurient Mickey Sabbath; and how my knees betray me when I attempt to take extra long walks, I can’t help but sigh, tumatanda na talaga ako.


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Friday Night Dinner

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Dine out- that's what us pilak girls do whenever we get together. We love food so much that it's no wonder all of us have gained weight and are now fighting the battle of the bulge.


Here are some of the yummy photos taken from our dinner last Friday night.



Monday, October 6, 2008

Made

Monday, October 6, 2008

Carla and Leah--two of my closest friends--and I had dinn
er at some Cajun place last Friday night. It’s been more than a year now since we last saw each other that we needed some serious catching up. With the slightest hint of poignancy, our conversation revolved around how we’ve aged and how we’ve remained the same. At our age, we can’t help but assess ourselves against our peers. In our high school batch, made up of around 70 students, who has made it and who has yet to make it?

So who has made it?

  • Those who now live in other countries earning in just one month the annual salary of their counterparts who are still living in the Philippines
  • The well-traveled ones whose countless travels are photo documented in their personal web pages
  • Those whose names are preceded with titles such as doctor, attorney, engineer and professor
  • Those who have earned graduate and postgraduate degrees and reaping numerous academic accolades
But when you think about it, are these the real measure of success?

I know of a classmate who, with the above measures, has made it. She has traveled to all the exotic places, married and now living in a foreign country and holds a title and a graduate degree. But despite all these, she is regarded with disdain and even revulsion by most of the members of the batch. Her accomplishments have not redeemed herself in the eyes of our classmates. They still see her as that girl they hated and made fun of in high school. From how they view her, she hasn’t made it at all.

And how about the single mother who is bringing up her children on her own? Or those who chose to settle down and raise a family and by doing so have made homemaking not just a vocation but an art? Isn’t that an accomplishment by itself? Or the classmate who chose to retreat from the rat race and lead a more sedate, laid back lifestyle despite his being considered as the best of us all? Is he being an underachiever of just living the kind of life that makes him happy?

It pains me to say this but no matter how we decry materialism and claim that a person’s value is not measured by the trappings of wealth, people would still judge us by how much money we have in the bank. It is not how much we have contributed to society, or how long we spent doing service to the nation, or how content we are with our lives despite our lack of accomplishments, or how we really do not give a damn about being successful or not. Success is a social construct. Success is success only by how others define it.

With chastened acceptance of my failures and llimitations, I know I haven’t made it. And, well, I’ll keep on going anyway.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Diffused Focus

Friday, October 3, 2008

Have you ever talked to a person who is evidently spacing out? He seems to be listening to you, mumbling the obligatory uh-huh during pauses and nodding at the right moments, but you feel that his mind is in an entirely different galaxy? Isn’t it maddening to try to talk to somebody who is also texting somebody else while glancing at his computer every so often while listening to music with his left ear and listening to what you have to say with his right? Wouldn’t it have felt so good if we can say to that person, “Hey buddy, can’t you focus your attention on me first?”

Wherever you are, be there.

It sounds like something we might read from a badly written self-help book. But trite or not, it does make sense. In this time-crunched, television-clicker lifestyle, multi-tasking and productivity-obsessed age, can we really be in just one place at one time? Or are we required to have the ability and the stamina to do things and be in several places at the same time? Perhaps it is not that we cannot focus anymore. But rather, we learned how to diffuse our focus on the countless different things that need our attention. We acquired the ability to be here, there and everywhere - all at the same time.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Gloomy

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

It's past eight in the morning. I woke up to the sound of the rain pelting against the windows. I opened my eyes and the room, which is usually bathed in sunlight at that time of the day, is dark. It's a gloomy day. And since it's a non-working holiday, the gloomy skies are the perfect excuse to just bum around inside the house and do some self-reflection.



October has come and looking back on what my life has been like during the past month, i realized that i made it through the whole of September without sinking into that dark hole. Not a single gloomy day spent in the doldrums of despair - I can't believe it.

 
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