Wednesday, August 26, 2009

To Swim

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Last night I started to learn how to swim. To conquer my fear of water, I convinced myself that looking good in a two-piece bikini is ridiculous when you don’t know how to swim. It’s almost five pm now, and I can’t wait to go home, hit the pool and take another dip.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

John Thomas and Lady Jane

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Lady Chatterley’s Lover is the poignant story of “a lonely woman trapped in a sterile marriage and her growing love for the robust gamekeeper of her husband’s estate.” It is, as some would say, an affirmation of D.H. Lawrence’s vision of “individual regeneration through sexual love.” The story ended with these lines:

“But a great deal of us is together, and we can but abide by it, and steer our courses to meet soon. John Thomas says goodnight to Lady Jane, a little droopingly, but with a hopeful heart.”

As I reached the story’s end, I can’t help but wonder what happens next. What is the story beyond this story? Would the lovers live happily ever after? Maybe, but I doubt it. Like the love story of Sonia and Raskolnikov, the novel ended with a sense of hope, making us believe that their love would somehow last; but sadly, the passionate love affair of Mellors and Constance Chatterley could be doomed to a tragic ending as that of Anna Karenina and Count Vronsky. Alienated and dissatisfied by the purely intellectual nature of her physically and emotionally paralyzed husband, could Lady Chatterley live with passion and sensuality alone, the very things embodied by her lover? What would happen when the blaze between John Thomas and Lady Jane burns down into a flickering flame then eventually burns out?

It’s crazy to infer from the lives of fictional characters in literature, but don’t they offer a vivid mirroring of life’s surfaces, a perfect simulacrum of reality?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

How could he have helped loving her?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

She was a total stranger living in obscurity and blogging from the other side of the world when, out of sheer chance, he stumbled across her site and instantly fell in love with her writing. That’s what started it all. Her words, an articulation of who she is and what she holds dear, exhumed the suppressed longing that has long been buried in his head and in his heart. Resigned to the inevitability of living the rest of his life alone and with dreams left unassuaged, he began to hope, to feel, that it won’t be so. All because of her.

How could he have helped loving her? How could she have helped loving him back?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Five Open Supersecrets about Bloggers

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

“What has been written without effort is generally read without pleasure.”

I read that from an
n+1 book review several months ago. The review, which cited a list of open supersecrets about bloggers, made me question—and somehow alter--my online habits. I am so guilty of what it says that I felt myself shrink in embarrassment.

Here’s Lee Siegel’s list of five open supersecrets about bloggers:

1. Not everyone has something valuable to say.
2. Few people have anything original to say.
3. Only a handful of people know how to write well.
4. Most people will do almost anything to be liked.
5. "Customers" are always right, but "people" aren't.

The list may be severely candid, cutting and cruel, but there’s some truth to it, right? "The proliferation of writing, often done in a hurry, may be driving out the opportunity and motivation for creating carefully honed text."

What do you think?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I carry your heart with me

Thursday, August 13, 2009

i carry your heart with me
by e. e. cummings

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
i fear
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

Happy birthday, honey.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

All or Nothing

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Several of my friends have gone back to school. I wonder how they do it. Already a wife, a mother, an employee, how can each manage to become a student, too? It astonishes me how, in pursuing their dreams, they were able to push beyond their limits. How have they mastered the art of diffused focus that they can handle life’s innumerable perplexities with poise and dexterity?

I miss school. I miss it so much that I want to be a student again, just like them. I want to go back to law school, or take up some writing course, or earn a doctorate. But can I do it? Can I muster that all-consuming, single-minded energy I devoted to my studies before? Can I once again reduce myself within the impenetrable walls of the academe with its relentless emphasis on cerebral struggle and constant achievement? I know myself. If I can’t give my all, then I’d rather not give anything at all.

I’m afraid that while in the middle of my futile attempt to comprehend a terribly abstruse reading assignment, I’d just throw up my hands in exasperation and say, do I really have to do this? Why am I doing this when I can be sleeping, or bumming around with my siblings or island hopping in Batanes, or gabbing with my friends over coffee or enjoying an afternoon stroll with my boyfriend? I know that when I go back to school I won’t have time to do all the things that I love doing. So utterly stressed out, I can turn into that kind of person whose querulousness makes her utterances sound like a perpetual whine.

Perhaps it shouldn’t be all or nothing. There must be a balance between the two – a certain balance I have yet to learn.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Can I write anything beyond these?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Why is it that words flow smoothly when I’m down in the dumps or dissing somebody but feel contrived when I’m neither? Sentences fashioned from pain and anger, phrases that mirror the sadness that lurks at the edges of my life, words drawn from deep wells of feeling – can I write anything beyond these?

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Healthy Irreverence

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Leafing through an old journal, I can’t help but chuckle over the things I wrote twelve years ago.

16 March 2007, 2:45 am. I think there is a need for some healthy irreverence, nowadays. We are given the freedom to think for ourselves. To determine what’s right from wrong. So why should we always show honor and respect just because we are told to? Why should we always bow to authorities? Deference to authority, sometimes, dehumanizes man. How can we recognize and attain our full potential if we always say “yes, sir” or “yes, professor”? Culture dictates that we should obey our parents at all times, at all costs. I fully disagree. We should let our parents guide us, but we shouldn’t let them control our lives in the process. I don’t think that obedience is a virtue. Obedience only becomes a virtue when before obeying something you know for sure that you are willing to do it, have thought about it, and know its consequences. We shouldn’t let anybody tell us what to do. We have minds. We can think for ourselves. So it’s better to commit a mistake of which you’re fully responsible for than do something right because somebody told you that it’s the better thing to do. I know my reasoning sounds faulty, but this is my belief and I know I’m entitled to one. Convictions are what make a person a person. I stand firm with my beliefs and that’s that.

It sounds like me, all right, but I wonder what made me write this. What was I thinking?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Silence Hums

Friday, August 7, 2009

There is, of course, a place for noise, as there is for daily lives. There is a place for roaring, for the shouting exultation of a baseball game, for hymns and spoken prayers, for orchestras and cries of pleasure. Silence, like all the best things, is best appreciated in its absence: if noise is the signature tune of he world, silence is the music of the other world, the closest thing we know to the harmony of the spheres. But the greatest charm of noise is when it ceases. In silence, suddenly, it seems as if all the windows of the world are thrown open and everything is as clear as on a morning after rain. Silence, ideally, hums. It charges the air. In Tibet, where the silence has a tragic cause, it is still quickened by the fluttering of prayer flags, the tolling of temple bells, the roar of wind across the plains, the memory of chant.

Silence, then, could be said to be the ultimate province of trust: it is the place where we trust ourselves to be alone; where we trust others to understand the things we do not say; where we trust a higher harmony to assert itself. We all know how treacherous are words, and how often we use them to paper over embarrassment, or emptiness, or fear of the larger spaces that silence brings. "Words, words, words" commit us to positions we do not really hold, the imperatives of chatter; words are what we use for lies, false promises and gossip. We babble with strangers; with intimates we can be silent. We "make conversation" when we are at a loss; we unmake it when we are alone, or with those so close to us that we can afford to be alone with them.

In love, we are speechless; in awe, we say, words fail us.

- Pico Iyer, The Eloquent Sounds of Silence, 24 June 2001

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

They were facing east. From my 29th floor window, I spied two men leaning against the balustrade of the helipad atop the high-rise across ours. The air alive, their white shirts were billowing behind them. They seemed to be immersed in the bliss of the moment, with their faces lifted to the sprawl of the city stretching as far as their eyes could see. What could they be talking about? I wondered. Silence would have been nice, too, I thought.

How light, how tranquil the image they make. Like most of us, those two must have needed some time-out from the demands of the day; a refuge from the cacophony of ringing telephones, clicking heels, rattling keyboards and overlapping chatter; a haven from routine and boredom, disorder and confusion.

Monday, August 3, 2009

X looking at Y

Monday, August 3, 2009

At the risk of being a curmudgeonly old school shrew, I can’t help but notice--and write about--how different my younger colleagues’ approach toward work is. It’s in the way they dress, the way they write and the way they talk.

They way they dress. I believe in being perfectly well-dressed all the time, not to attract attention or show off but to achieve, in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s words, “a feeling of inward tranquility.” Though working in place where the dress code is a bit laid-back, I still cringe whenever I see our younger associates dressed in their idea of corporate attire: mid-calf leggings paired with flip-flops, bustiers in garish colors, metallic four-inch stilettos they can get away with only if they're in a club dancing the night away. When choosing what clothes to wear, they seem to forget that they’re going to the workplace and not the mall.

The way they write. I wonder why they can’t even be bothered with the formalities of business writing: You don’t address a person by his or her nickname unless he or she allows you to do so; unlike chatting and sending SMS or instant messages where you don’t have to trouble yourself with salutations, opening and closing lines, grammar and style, spelling and punctuation, in business letters and formal email, you just need to. They have not realized that scorning business writing protocol does not make them cool.

They way they talk. The art of talking in a polite, coherent and convincing manner without showing your ignorance or sounding shrill is something our younger colleagues have not learned. They have this annoying mannerism of interrupting a person talking and, worse yet, butting into conversations they’re not supposed to take part in. Yes, we know they’re bursting with brilliant and creative ideas, but can’t they reign in their impatience until the person finishes? Graduating from college only a few years back, could they have forgotten Wittgenstein’s words: “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof must be silent.” All their whining gets into my nerves, too. Like pampered babies crying for milk, they act as if everything is to be handed to them. Before they complain, why can’t they help themselves first? Or better yet, shut up and suck it all up.

The age difference is not that wide, less than a decade or so, but why does it feel as if we are generations apart? Yet again, who am I to criticize? I must be exactly like them when I was their age.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Dark August

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Dark August
By Derek Walcott

So much rain, so much life like the swollen sky
of this black August. My sister, the sun,
broods in her yellow room and won't come out.

Everything goes to hell; the mountains fume
like a kettle, rivers overrun; still,
she will not rise and turn off the rain.

She is in her room, fondling old things,
my poems, turning her album. Even if thunder falls
like a crash of plates from the sky,

she does not come out.
Don't you know I love you but am hopeless
at fixing the rain ? But I am learning slowly

to love the dark days, the steaming hills,
the air with gossiping mosquitoes,
and to sip the medicine of bitterness,

so that when you emerge, my sister,
parting the beads of the rain,
with your forehead of flowers and eyes of forgiveness,

all with not be as it was, but it will be true
(you see they will not let me love
as I want), because, my sister, then

I would have learnt to love black days like bright ones,
The black rain, the white hills, when once
I loved only my happiness and you.
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