Blabber, general discontent

I’m about to say the surefire way to go against the very grain of expectation: the Young Blood publication tastes bland.

I know, I know. I ought to feel at least some pride in it. After all, countless essays and authors from 2014 to 2015 competed for a space in that anthology. Battle of the best-est and diversity where the weaker entries were trounced, as one of the Inquirer editors put it. I just… don’t.
 
It tastes bland, if anything. Insipid. Dreary. I don’t speak for the others — what I’m saying here is purely culled out of my own phenomenological standpoint. If it is a journal publication, I wonder if I would have felt elated.
 
There was so much energy during the book launch — everyone excitedly talked with one another. They introduced themselves, talked about their jobs and schools and course works, have their book copies signed by other authors. I was the reclusive freak who resides inside the glass case and who was given a keen and vivid vision to observe the outside events but not to fully partake in it.
 
I have always been this way, detached, in some way or another I guess. I feigned smiles in the photos; I nodded and readily offered insights to those who asked for it — but certain distances stood and stretched between me and the others.
 
Before, it was a wall — and certain people managed to dismember it and get past it. I have learned attachment, that basic human emotion that makes us vulnerable and incredibly human. I have developed fondness towards some individuals, and have injured myself along the way. Now, I have a glass case.
 
I was palpitating when I left the event. I was not thrilled. My mind was numb and unthinking and submerged in brackish water once more. I walked from SM North to Trinoma, lost my way, and strolled back from Trinoma to SM North and then West Ave. There was a gaping hole on my chest, an arid land that devours everything including my rattling bones. Perhaps one day, it will be kind enough to guzzle my self-doubts too.
 
I boarded a random bus and found the slow moving traffic not pesky but merciful. I watched the neon signs of Metro Manila businesses and read the endless lines of billboards and finished a book of Margaret Atwood. In my isolation and fragmentary existence, felt solitude and tranquility.
 
The day after that I was happy. I met my old friends, people I have not seen for 2 to 5 years. We visited strange places and had meaningful conversations. We served as witnesses to the sufferings of the patients in a public hospital ward and the birth of a wedding bow in Manila cathedral.
 
We talked about achievements and past mistakes, exchange gossips about illicit affairs and risque activities of those we knew. We discussed social issues, argued a bit, like before, and practiced the methods of Zen, like now.
 
Maybe one day, I would be able to open this glass case. Maybe one day, I won’t. I hazard that life is a ceaseless cycle of recovery and damages and I have decided to roll on with it, patched as I already am.
 
My few, genuine friends, with their rawness and sincerity are worth it anyway.

Bleed out, girl

Went to the beach again today. In my better state, I would have jumped straight into the ocean and reveled in the current and folds of the undulating waves. I would have screamed in pure delight.

Ruefully, I am in no better state — I have not been for a while now. So I walked and walked and walked under the scorching sun.
 
I wanted to see the pine woods, and I did. It was brimming with people, hundreds of them, drinking and gawking and submerging everyone in sheer noise. Their tents were scattered randomly, everywhere.
 
The tranquility I’ve expected was crushed by morbid disappointment.
 
I feel so disconnected and isolated, and often, when I mingle with others, I find my body exhausted; my thoughts drifting in a far, misty place.
 
But I do — I do — crave the company of those I can be open and raw and honest with, without inhibitions and walls and rehearsals.
 
I’ve been reading the journal of Sylvia Plath and the letters of Vincent Van Gogh, and I find comfort in each entry.
 
I can almost hear the raspy voice of Vincent, his gasps and spaces in between words; I can almost feel the strain in the hands of Sylvia Plath. I can almost see the English countryside, the symmetry of French architecture, the wheatfields and downbridge of Provence and Antwerp.
 
Suffice it to say I feel less lonely — and less alone. This is the beauty of arts, I suppose, and it’s magic too. It burns, after all these years, from generations to generations, in all space and in all time, and it accompanies us in moments when we feel so isolated.
 
So, in the hour of our heartbreaks, we stubbornly defy the dastardly acts of this world with all the love that we can master. We refuse to surrender hope and insist in painting our candid portraits of merry yells and growing souls.
 
I almost accepted defeat, almost, but I realized that the brave thing and the right thing is to struggle, especially in moment like this.
 
So I will write and write and write — not for me but for anyone out there who may be bleeding and close to giving up and in dire need of a company, of a friend, who understands.

Out of Lonely Trees

I no longer know how to go on with life. On one end, I feel like I am forced to live an existence I no longer want. I want to check out and be done with it. I just want to be dead, somehow.

Dying, in my phenomenological standpoint, is an obligation I owe to myself. And I refuse to surrender its execution to diseases or years; I have resolved, years ago, that I will die in my hands, in my method.
 
No, I’m not going to hang myself. Goddess that is boring. Since I will die only once, I want the conclusion of my existence to be… legendary. On a darker note, there are suicides that I admire. I liked Charlotte Gilman’s method with chloroform. I find it ingenious.
 
Perhaps my personal favorite is Maningning Miclat. She climbed the highest building in FEU and jumped on her back, so the last thing she saw was the sky. It was tragic but beautiful in its way.
 
I have always imagined my death to happen in a forest. The last thing that I want to see are leaves suspended in mid-air.
 
But there are so many things that I want to do, so many books that I want to read, so many places that I want to see. For instance, I have not had my share of rhum cake yet. And I am yet to meet an actual gypsie in a wagon.
 
And what is life without having those?
 
I guess I will just make a list of those things and begin accomplishing them. Then I will cross them out, one by one. When my list runs out, I will take it as the time to find my forest and go home —
 
where coffee awaits on the table
where pinewoods burn in the hearth
where a hundred leaves fly in mid-air
where trees are no longer lonely.

The hydrangeas of my beating heart

Whatever friendship we have, I want it to flourish. I’m aware I am not very good at maintaining relationships, and this is precisely where I need you most.

Over the years I have stacked my collection of broken relationships, its rubble piled one after the other. I wish I can say that I have felt even a slight pinch of regret, but I did not.
 
I am a cold, heartless woman governed by technicalities and logic. In my quest for knowledge, other people do not matter to me.
 
You are an exception.
 
You said I feel things deeply, and yes I do. But I am not very good at expressing it. I understand the process of human emotions, the stimulus and response chain, but my feeling aspect remains largely undeveloped. You knew this.
 
For some reason, with you, I can be vulnerable. You listen to my random thoughts, no matter how haywire and frightening they are. I send you messages in the dead hours of the night, or when I’ve no one to talk to, and you soothe my personal demons with your every response.
 
I let you see the landscape of my loneliness and curiosity, the hydrangeas of my beating heart. I’ve led you by the hand to this dark, tired world that is inhabiting me.
 
At times I noticed your confusion — a certain answer you hold at the back of your small smile. At times it worries me.
 
I am a haunted house, long abandoned by civilization and time. Ghosts walk on my floors with their shackles and bones, my doors and windows creak in secrets, my rooms breathe in emptiness, my curtains drip in memories and pain and longing. I am consigned to oblivion.
 
And then you arrived.
 
And you keep me in check. You said I’m erratic, you pointed my mistakes. You propped me up. You dressed me down. You stitched my pieces intact. You did not flee out of contempt and panic. You did everything out of love. And I appreciate that.
 
I never asked this favor to anyone before, but if I ever run faster than this life, please, chase me. Don’t let me build walls out of isolation and cobblestones. Don’t let me shut off this world. Save me from cynicism.
 
Remind me there is hope.

Syl’s Shadows

I’ve listed down all my writings, and I will cross them all out tonight, so tomorrow, I could ask you to have coffee with me.

You, my favorite person of all.
 
You said your life is like a fig tree, with branches sprouting everywhere. One leads to the prestige of the academe, the other to the beauty of poetry. There was also a branch with a husband and children, and one for a recognition you never got when you were still breathing.
 
You were there, you said, at the foot of that tree when all the leaves fell and wrinkled and turned black.
 
You will understand me, I trust. Mine is almost similar to yours. But it isn’t a fig tree, no. It is, you see, a diverging and irreconcilable route.
 
And I am here in the crossroad, unable to move and, like you, unable to choose.
 
One of the paths leads to security. A way back to academe. A standard existence in a normal society — husband, children, career, recognition. This is what I am expected to choose. It’s an asphalt road with flashy cars zooming past, here and everywhere.
 
The other trail is wild and ravenous and untamed. The lane is wet and muddy and filled with adventures and long shadows — golden sands and rough waves, stories about pirates and gypsies, sound of cisterns and scent of sandalwood, caves and a crown of purple thistle.
 
You are right, what you wrote there. Choosing one would mean losing all the others.
 
Like you, I cannot let that happen.
 
Maybe in a parallel universe, this tragedy never transpired. Still, I want you to know that I understand why, in February 1963, you chose to kill yourself.
 
And if by some mischief of a chance we find each other in another time period and plane of existence, please have coffee with me. We will talk about our days. We will sort this mess out.
 
We will ease the pain. We will make life worth living and bearable. And no matter how impossible and bleak it may seem, we will find hope.
 
And we will guarantee that this time,
we will never stop hoping.