This book will not make it anywhere. I suppose.


If one of us was brave enough, we’d have closed the book and burned it years ago.

But we aren’t. We continue filling the book with pages and chapters and beautiful photographs of us, of postcards of places we’ve been to and will never be, of lyrical musings and deep, sometimes dark – melodies. Of blank pages that speak volumes, of blanks that show all the tension, of blanks that reveal more than the colorful mumbo-jumbo inside.

Damned is what we are.

On Reading, Review, and Book Clubs


READING

I’ve been introduced to reading at a young age, but not because of another person’s influence, but because of curiosity, or say, inclination. Plus, there wasn’t any shortage on reading materials. My mom used to read a lot of newspapers and magazines (Women’s Today magazine’s Tales from the Unknown, anyone?) back then, my Dad not much (except the Bible, I think?). They bought us four sets of encyclopedia, and my sister and I hungrily used them. To look at pictures, initially, but when I learned to read, well of course, to read, too. Those Maggi recipes? Del Monte Kitchenomics pamphlets? Soap boxes, shampoo bottles, candy wrappers, chips labels, everything – I read everything. The defining moment, I think, was when my sister brought home books from our school library. They gave away very old books in favor of the new ones to be displayed at the modest shelves in our school library. Those books were mostly from the 30s-50s, where the pages broke when folded, and powdered when rubbed. Very old, but those were the first books I ever read in their entirety – about the Aztecs and American Indians. There were also a couple of Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books which I was very fond of. My father’s sister brought my sister a complete Mother Goose nursery rhymes collection which we truly loved (Goosey-goosey gander…), but unfortunately lost it, rather, got it stolen. My Speech teacher borrowed and never returned it. Then my cousin had a collection of Grimm’s fairytale, that one I borrowed and never returned. Also, my mother brought us one of those story books with cassette tapes narration and I extremely adored that set. Unfortunately I cannot remember what happened to it, but let me just say there was no money wasted – the tape was too used, the books too worn out. Moreover, my father’s sister brought home from abroad a lot of books and stowed them all in our cabinet upstairs. They were for grown-ups, because hello, Cardinal Sins by Andrew Greeley, The Haj by Leon Uris and The Great Train Robbery by Michael Crichton, and a lot of other books I don’t remember anymore but read. The first Cosmo Mag I read has Claudia Schiffer on the cover, wearing a skintight white dress with plunging neckline. My library card was always completely stamped during my elementary and HS years, which gave me no  problem with the library clearance (we were required to check out books all-year round and promptly return them and complete the boxes in the library card or else you don’t get the librarian’s sought-after signature at the end of every school year!) I remember Time Magazines feature on East Timor when I was in 5th grade. And it just continued on. To this day. I read everything from philosophy, crime (a lot, always), horror, thriller, theories, history, contemporary, young adult, fantasy, poetry etc, etc… but not self-help books because no thank you. If I want help I turn to fiction. I know, weird, but fiction gives it to you dead on without the pretentious air of someone who knows how to do what, you know what I mean? Or better yet, ask from people who’s been there and done that. Anyway…

REVIEW

I must have read hundreds of books but never reviewed them. Okay so maybe a couple of lousy ones, but not the real blow-by-blow review. I could never do it. It would always be subjective (all reviews are, anyway – no matter how you try to be objective) and would give the reader no useful explanation whatsoever. It would be totally a waste of time. If somebody asks, did you like this and that, I’ll say yes, and when asked why, I’ll say because this and that. Likewise when asked about something I don’t like. It’s just the way it is. I don’t even interpret the beauty of the prose, the measure of this and that, the climax, the use of language… I read and enjoy. That’s basically it. Do I learn something? Of course. I don’t like breaking apart a book to review it. Somehow with a book it’s different. I enjoy reading other people’s reviews, however. I just don’t like doing it, too lazy or unimaginative perhaps. I read to experience, to live, to learn, to break out, to escape… It’s a part of me. But no reviews.

BOOK CLUBS

Oh yeah. I have joined one, The Filipino Group in Goodreads, and I must say, they are really nice, and very well-read people who continually explore all sort of genre in literature. Most of them I believe are friends in real life, and what great friends they might be! I joined in 2012, joined a couple of buddy reads, participated in a few discussions, attended a ReaderCon with them, met a few (KD, Angus, Tina, Ranee…) and… now I haven’t been back in a long time. It’s not them, it’s me. I don’t know why. It’s a productive and friendly club, certainly welcoming, but maybe book clubs are just not right for me. Or maybe it’s a mature reader thing and I don’t have that sort of maturity to dive into book clubs yet. Or maybe its selfishness and the desire to not want to share my reading experience, or maybe I’m a sheltered reader, or… there are a lot of reasons, but can’t pinpoint exactly what. But many thanks to Goodreads -TFG for the warm welcome. 🙂 If you guys are looking for a wonderful and diverse book club, just go and be a member of The Filipino Group.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, (after three long paragraphs) is that reading has no requirements. If you love it, great! And if you don’t, then I’m judging you. Kidding. Not. Sorry, really, I’m kidding.

—-

Book bites:

Everything in the world exists in order to end up as a book.” – StĂ©phane MallarmĂ©

Nostalgia Intensity


We know that nostalgia is that sentimental longing for the past, most especially for a time, event or a place with happy associations.

Nostalgia Intensity, because more often than not, these nostalgic intervals crash over us with frightening intensity, it demands to be felt. It is true that memories are there to keep us warm, to remind us that there are happy things and people in life that make this journey worth taking, but these memories also evoke a certain shade of sadness within us. Admit it, once or twice you found yourself reliving a part of the past with tenderness and melancholy, knowing that it will never happen again, not with the same person, in the same place, or in the same event. The intensity of the knowledge that all is lost gives us pain, a heartache of sorts. It is like coming home to nothing but ghosts.

And the intensity of the nostalgia can only be found inside our hearts, reflected in our eyes and little smiles.

The first rung on the ladder


I put my right foot up the first rung of the ladder, held on to the sides and stepped on the second rung. Then I froze in that awkward mid-step stride. I couldn’t go up, couldn’t go on.

What if one of the rungs gave up? What if the last one does? And I fall, straight, 6 feet under ground.

What of it, then?

So I stepped down and pushed the ladder back.

No more.

Gravitational Pull


A drive in the city, he said. But I look like shit today, I said. When did you look like shit? he asked. Never, he supplied. So come on, go with me, there’s someone I’d like you to meet. I hesitated. Who in the world would he introduce me to? In the long years of our friendship, he introduced me to exactly five people – his grandparents, two of his best friends, and one of his ex-girlfriends. Who now, I asked myself. Who, I asked. It’s a surprise, he said, and I can’t help but notice the tension and hesitation in his voice. What’s the matter, I asked, Nothing, he said. Fine, but if you’re planning something, you’ll be in hot water. Yeah, sure, was his lame reply.

I looked at myself in the mirror. There’s just something about meeting with him that rattles me – do I look chic enough, pretty enough, is my make-up off? Do I smell nice, does my handbag match my dress and shoes? And when I finally deem myself presentable (I actually always aim for irresistible because it drives him nuts) I remind myself this isn’t a date date, but instead a friendly catch-up. Yeah right, bitch, I smile to myself.

Finally, I heard the doorbell. He’s always on time, this one. I opened the door and there he was – in his usual white shirt, jeans and comfortable sneakers. He is very extraordinary-looking, but his eyes are exceptional – light brown, and their expression could change from warm and tender to steady and intense in a whiff of a perfume, a laugh, or a twinkling of the eyes. They seem to try and penetrate every fiber of your being, and you find yourself struggling between stopping it or letting his eyes do just that.

“Hey, stranger.” he said.

I smiled. Those two words sent my heart a flutter. Nonsensical, but there you are.

“Hey.” I said.

“Ready?” he asked smoothly.

“Yeah, sure. I’ll just grab my purse.”

Just before I turned around, he caught me and embraced me tightly. I don’t understand just what happened, but there was a weight to his embrace, as if he wanted to tell me things, and each unsaid thought gave way to a weight, that after he let me go, his eyes were watery and my heart sank into the pit of my stomach. He did not say anything, his eyes were sad all of a sudden, and I felt a desperation inside of me. Suddenly, I wanted to just stay here inside the comfortable coral walls of my apartment. I sighed, turned around and walked to the living area to grab my purse. I waited for sounds of his footsteps to echo behind me, or perhaps the sound of him getting a glass of water, or the sound of the fridge opening, anything – just anything to  prove that he is walking, running after me. Nothing. All I hear are the dull echoes of my heels on the tiled floor. This also, was a first. I struggled with my emotions as I picked up the purse, and thought, what the hell, then walked to the doorway where he remained fixed, like a hundred year old tree rooted firmly to the ground.

Now the silence enveloped us. We walked to his car, he opened the door for me as usual, a gesture which kept my hopes up, and he waited for me to step inside before closing it too. I don’t understand what came over me, but I ran my hands on the cool leather seat of the car, to the smooth exterior of it, on the dashboard, everywhere I could lay my hands on.

“What are you doing?” he asked, perplexed.

“Looking for echoes.” even I was surprised at that response.

His expression turned somber at once.

How many times have we ridden in this car? How many laughs and lengthy conversations have we had inside this car? How many confessions have we told inside this car, how many secrets have we let go, how many memories, how many hours, how many tiny little things have we shared inside this car that amounted to years of trust, fondness and… love?

I have not told him I loved him. For the life of me, I do not know why. It is definitely one thing I could not confess, but had wanted to for a long time, here, inside his car. His car that served as the only witness to our friendship, the little, cutesy bouts of romance halted by our own loyalties and commitments, his car that served as a secure little world of ours, in its own limited way. I noticed my hands tightly knotted together on my lap, I loosened them in a haste and put them to the side. I waited for that prickly sensation of anticipation when he’d hold and smooth out the lines of my hands. It seemed forever, and it did not come. I panicked and held back tears of anxiety. Why? He used to reach for me, for my hands every time we drive around the city. He never let my left hand go, he lets it rest on the stick shift for a while and put his hand on top of mine, and then drive. When we are on a traffic jam or we were caught a red light, he’d smooth my hand over, as if memorizing the skin and bone geography of it, occasionally he would rest on a finger, concentrate on it, as if erasing something, or looking for echoes, as if it would lead him to a truth, or an unanswered prayer. But now, there is nothing. I looked over at him, and his face was set, eyes on the road, knuckles white on the steering wheel and stick shift.

I fought the sobs back, and it felt as if talons are scratching on my heart, the pain, oh God, the pain is intolerable! He gave me a fleeting look, braved a smile, and returned his focus on the road. I decided to sing to divert my attention, for I don’t know what else to do to prevent the tears from falling.

I broke into Jason Mraz’s You and I Both. Yeah, I know, comic, like a fucked-up Glee scene but I needed to hear something, anything, even my own voice – to not hear the words being spoken in the silence. I do not want to hear what the silence is saying, so I risked the incredulity of the singing.

When I finished the song, I heard a sniff, but didn’t look his way. Then the silence was broken by the sound of his phone vibrating. I took a quick peek at the display, and everything was revealed to me. Of course, the time has come. This is it. He glanced nervously at me, but did not pick it up.

“Are you going to take that or what?” I finally said.

“Yeah…” he said lugubriously before picking it up.

“Yeah we’re almost there…” he said on the other line. He sounded dead, unhappy, or was it just me making things up? Like I have made things up in my mind a thousand times about him, about us, about everything.

He put the phone back on the dashboard. The silence became stale, and I looked outside the window. This may be my last city ride with him ever. Suddenly, the vastness of the universe dizzied me up; I am but a speck, and now, this speck is going to be wiped away from somebody’s life.

He slowed down in front of an elegant-looking bistro, that’s when I noticed we must be in the heart of the city – where all hip, chic and cool little bistros like this exist. How apt and awful, I thought. How cosy and how sickening. He got out of the car immediately and opened the door on my side, but I remained seated. He called my name, and it sounded anguished, guttural to me.

“How very mean of you to rob me of notice,” I said to him. He didn’t reply. I stepped out of the car and he led the way.

And there she was – her long, jet black hair glowing under the yellow lights. Of course. She, who dropped him in my heart’s doorstep years ago, she, who is now back and decided she wants him back. Oh, they could rot together in hell, I thought.

As if sensing our arrival, she looked behind her and practically beamed when she laid her eyes upon him. He waved back heartily, smiled, and touched my elbow to steer me to that direction. I snatched it back and did not say a thing.

“It’s nice to finally meet you,” she said sweetly. I said nothing, but I managed to at least smile at her.

“Oh and that smile, that famous smile.” she crooned. “Do sit down.” She motioned. I looked at her face, and was once again torn by the unusual beauty it possessed.

He sat beside me, which was a surprise, but it didn’t seem to surprise her. And then, for a brief second, his hand found mine under the table, he gripped it tight, and I gripped it back with panic, and then he let go. And then, no more.

“I’ll leave you two.”

Before I could say anything, he moved away from the table, and left the two of us there.

“How are you?” she asked timidly.

“Fine, just fine. But let’s skip the formality, and just tell me flat out what you want.”

“You really are a hard woman to place. He’s right.” she said. This one does not deserve a response, too.

She addressed me in my name.

“You remember, years ago, when I asked you to take care of him? I know you did, and I’d like to thank you. You’ve been a very good friend to him…”

I drowned out whatever nonsense she’s spouting. She has the nerve to talk to me like this!

“I’d like to take him back.” Those words brought me back to earth.

“Come again?” I asked.

“I said, I’d like to take him back.”

She repeated it! She did! I laughed hysterically at her words. Take him back?! She gave him away and now she decided to take him in again.

“I never took him. You asked me to look after him, and I looked after him not because you asked me to. I’ve been doing it pre-you, during-you, and post-you. I did it because I care for him. Now, you say you’re taking him back? Take him. He was never mine in the first place.”

She looked intensely at me, gauging my words, thinking about underlying meanings, feeling the hurt, the weight and the pain of the words.

“I forgot he tells you almost everything.”

“Yeah. Obviously, the same can be said of you.”

This time, she laughed.

“He loved you, you know.”

“Don’t say that, and don’t let me hear you say that again. Don’t put words where they do not belong.”

“Don’t fool yourself,” she said coolly. “You know it, he knows it, I know it. This little mĂ©nage trois has been going on for years and it could not continue.”

“We are just friends.” I said lamely. She laughed again.

“Friends? Don’t make me laugh. Perhaps, you both hid in that travesty. Friendship.” She snorted.

“Fine, you are the honest one. I don’t feel like owing you any truths,” I said, “now that you come in telling me you want him back. I suppose he does not have a choice.”

“Oh he has, or rather, he did. And he chose me in the end. I told you, he loves you, but you know it as well as I do – there can only be one. He loves me best.”

“So what’s with all this grandstanding?” I asked hotly.

“A finality. A cutting of ties. You of all people should understand this.”

“I do. I just don’t understand why you didn’t let him tell me.”

“It’s better this way, trust me.”

“I don’t.”

She laughed.

“Oh dear,” she said, “are you not glad this is going to be over with? How many nights were you tortured by this? How many curses did you throw to the wind? How many times did you beat up your heart for feeling it for him? And may I ask, why did you not tell him you love him before I did? Oh yes, I remember – you can’t.” She dropped those truths on me hotly, unmindful of the wounds, the blood, the guts.

“I am both doing you a favour. I take back what’s mine, and you can say goodbye to your confused friendship. I am sure the memories are enough to keep you both grounded for a lifetime.” She said casually.

She spoke of nothing but the truth, of course. What we didn’t have the guts to do, she did. Maybe we went on with this plan because to say goodbye straight to each other would be next to impossible. Maybe we went on with this plan because in the end we’re both cowards, hiding in the shadows of each others’ hearts. Maybe we went on with this plan because we have come to the point of no return, and all we can do is move forward.

“I like you a lot,” she told me softly, “so let this go. Let him go.” she said with finality.

“Is this the only way this could end?” I asked.

“Yes. I know him too well, and you, based on his stories. I do love him, you hear? I will take care of him. And I will not give him a chance to think about you, or miss you – as a friend, or as something else entirely.”

“Maggots breed,” I said, “in dead stuff.”

“But as the circle of life goes on, maggots become another thing and they die. And that is the time I have set my heart on. The maggots will die, It will end, when you think it would not.”

“You’re right.” I conceded.

Why should I fight for him when he clearly wants this too?

“You know, you’re all right.” She said.

“Don’t fool yourself that we will ever be bosom buddies.” I said. She smiled.

“I think we already are – indirectly, since the day I dropped that bomb on you.” I smiled grudgingly.

“Let’s keep it at that, as you are so awfully adept at dropping them.” She laughed.

“Thank you.” She said sincerely.

The tears fell at last.

“You tell him goodbye for me.” I said after a while. She nodded, and I stood up and left.

Outside, he was leaning over his car, looking up at the night sky. My breath got caught in my throat, and I choked back the tears. I looked up, and noticed that the moon is hovering so low it seems as if you could reach out and touch it. It casts an eerie silver glow to everything. The moon, the night, the end of a day. It is awfully low and bright tonight.

“Someone I know, or will soon be ‘used to know‘, was, or is, obsessed with the moon. She says senseless facts like the moon causes the rise and fall of tides. I didn’t notice it, but she became the moon in my world, and I have risen and fallen with the tides of her presence. Mostly fallen though, and now, the moon will be gone. I wonder what she’ll say to this? What happens to a planet without a moon?”

I wiped my tears dry and answered.

“She’ll say ‘Fuck you,’ first.” He gave a watery chuckle. “And what happens to a planet without a moon? Well, first, the night sky would be less interesting, there would be no moonlight which would totally suck,” he let out a laugh again. I continued on, “Let’s use the Earth as an example, without the moon, it would revolve faster and the days will be shorter, just around 6 hours. The tidal ebbs and flows would slow dow. Plus, the Moon has a great stabilizing presence, and without it, well, the planet’s tilt would dramatically change over time, granted it will take million of years… oh also, the climate of the Earth is sensitively dependent on the 23.5 degrees tilt of the Earth’s axis, and without the stabilizing presence of the huge Moon, the gravity of the other planets would produce big changes on this angle, like it did with Mars. To summarize, it would be very disastrous.”

He let out a sound impossible to distinguish – was it a laugh or a sob?

“I guess I’d have to live without the Moon…”

“Yeah, starting now.”

He stood up straight  looked at me with sadness, but I braved a watery smile. I turned my back and whispered my goodbye.

And I could have sworn my life on it, I heard the wind carry his goodbye to my ear.

(Fiction.)

BLOG AWARD: Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award


Nica and Jae, my work sisters, both nominated me for this award, so aptly called “The Sisterhood of the World Bloggers”. They are both really good writers, with wide fan bases and inspiring posts. Among the three of us, I am the laziest at writing, mehehe, so I thank them for nominating me. 🙂

Image

Let us start with the rules first, shall we?

The Rules:

  • Acknowledge the person who passed the award to you and provide their link.
  • Include the award logo on your blog.
  • Answer the ten questions I posted above.
  • Nominate blogs and link those you have especially enjoyed reading. The number you can select is up to you.
  • Notify each individual that you have nominated them.

Now that the rules are set, let us begin! 

Here are Nica‘s 10 questions:

What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

* I love smelling things and people I am very fond of. 🙂

 If you could meet one person who has died who would you choose?

Alfred Hitchcock. It would be lovely to meet him and be an assistant on his movie set! 

Nightly owl or early bird?

It depends on the need, haha. 

Bare or with make up?

I usually go bare. 

Coffee or tea?

Coffee, definitely!

Forest or beach?

The beach. There is nothing like a beach scene.

Shoes or sandals?

Shoes. 

Favorite place to travel.

Home. 🙂 

One food you could never eat.

Raw food. 

Favorite smell.

The smell of home… I mean, the comfortable smell of our house (literally) my pillows, my boyfriend, of babies, books… those smells that I associate with home. 🙂

On to Jae‘s 10 questions:

What is that one song that lifts your mood up no matter how bad your day had been?

* MGMT’s Electric Feel. It has a great vibe, wonderful melody, and I love that they deify the woman in that song. For example:

“All along the western front, people line up to receive

she got the power in her hand, to shock you like you won’t believe, 

saw her in the Amazon, with a voltage running through her skin, 

standing there with nothing on, she’s gonna teach me how to swim.” 

 

Also:

“You are my electric girl.”

I don’t know how quite to explain it, but I love to be referred to as “electric girl”. It’s unique and it feels great! ELECTRIC!!! Haha! 

What is your most favorite Disney Princess?

* Oh wow… I am not much of a Disney Princess fan, so, er… 

What is that one trait you think you got from your mother/father that you love?

* The ability to love. 

What is your favorite month?

December! 🙂 Holiday month, happy days!

If given the choice, what name would you choose for yourself?

Georgina or Olivia.

If you could take me anywhere in the world, where would we go?

* We will go to Europe and beach-hop! How’s that sound, Jae?! 🙂

What is your worst mannerism?

* Ugh. Touching my face. Looking for something to scratch off the surface. Thank God I don’t usually have break-outs. 

What is the most recent book you have read?

Audrey Hepburn’s Neck. It’s a good read; I love the way it’s written. 

What is your greatest frustration?

* Playing the piano, or any musical instrument for that matter.

What is the essence of a woman?

* So Miss Universe! Life is the essence of a woman. The ability to carry it, to live it, and to fulfill it in ways she chooses to. 🙂 Thank you! (Hahaha!)

Moving on, here are my Awardees:

These are all FANTASTIC blogs and WONDERFUL people so check them out! You won’t be sorry, I promise. 😉

Here are my 10 questions:

  • If you are going to be an agent for a living author, who would it be?
  • If you are going to be a criminal, what would you be charged with?
  • If you are going to be an inanimate object, what would you be?
  • The most boring subject in school you ever had?
  • What is your stand about organised religion?
  • Do you like dubstep?
  • What is your favourite film of all time?
  • Would you like to be a Royal family member?
  • Have you a story of unrequited love?
  • You are given the opportunity to throw the GRANDEST party ever: Where would it be, who are you inviting, and what is the theme?

Again, thanks Nica and Jae for nominating me! For the awardees, it really is up to you if you’d do this or not – I just wanted to award you with this. 🙂

Happy blogging, everyone! 🙂