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Today could be someone's December 32. I'd like to think of today as a return to December 1, 2018. Time is a construct, days last forever. Last December was lovely. It was bittersweet, but the family's takeaway, I would hope, is that family is the only thing that makes sense. December was all-around warm, confusing, and tender. So here's to an imaginary new beginning. This year, I welcome new people, old memories, and a renewed anticipation for past hopes. I had December draft entries focused on daily gratitude. I wasn't able to polish and post them though. So here.
My favorite memory: Last month at Bullet's birthday party, Brysen was uncharacteristically calm and quiet. At some point, he inserted himself under my right arm as if he needed shelter. Then he settled on my lap, slack and seemingly tired. During games, he stayed like that and just observed. This kid seldom comes near me for a cuddle. Often, when I try to hug him, he'd wriggle away. So these few minutes when he sat with me -- my hand on his chest, his heart beating fast, his tiny hand on mine -- I (am crying). My little candy-sprinkled cinnamon doughnut.
My mother calls people "Darling." When I was younger, I thought it was normal to call people that (even strangers). Even now when I hear it, I hear it in her voice. One time I cried because someone cussed at me, but that's another story. Today, Mama turns 63. She looks 33. I got a lot of her traits. Her fidgeting. Her upper lip. Her feet. Her endless need to ask questions ("Just making conversation!" I am both annoyed and enamored by this.) I didn't get her generosity, her earnestness, her patience, her tenacity. She's who I aspire to be.
It's amusing to think how I used to be angry 85% of the time. There was certainly a version of me who used it as a crutch, usually a shield. It's much easier to be angry and unreasonable than to be kind. Over time, I've learned that though anger has its uses, and even if it's necessary to express it sometimes, there's a skill involved in not letting it take over one's life to the point that it's become ridiculous. I'm too old now that I find it so much easier to be kind. The season of negativity is over.
Everytime I'm in the Dollar Store (I go to the Greenfield branch) I'm reminded of how I miss Mama (and my time with Papa in 2006 Las Vegas). So I stay for a bit and absorb the smells. The smells. There are odors reminiscent of the states. Food, air, mall, perfume, supermarket. If you can describe it in detail, please LMK. I think it's more of a sensation, a headspace. Like a random scent wafts and suddenly I feel I'm at a Vons. I can be editing something at work, encounter a state name, then, a mini avalanche of memories.
Hello. Day #9 of this flu. Everything is muffled and blurry, and I find it wisest, today more than ever, to stay in bed. The easiest task requires too much energy, like, getting up to draw the curtain or unplug the phone charger leaves me winded I'd have to take a two-hour nap to feel better. It sounds like I'm whining, no? I'm not. I'm just... telling you I'm annoyed. I want to get better already. It's come to a point where I hate being sick. First few days, nice, sure. But now please I want to be normal.
In 2015 to 2018, I associated sunrise with sadness. It was technically end-of-day for me as I got off work at 5 or 6 a.m. There must be a lot of reasons for this, and I recognize it's to do with my mental health at the time. My point here is now, I appreciate sunlight, the heat on my back. I can go far as saying I crave it. It's soothing. I can barely remember now why in the past the slightest sign of sun made my body prickle and my brain wilt. I'm just thankful now.
Around 7 to 8 p.m., the train platform at Shaw is replete with Zayn lookalikes. I exaggerate. I just wanted to use the word "replete." Most of the time there'd be around 3 groups of foreigners there, each group's members would be animatedly speaking to each other. The groups don't interact though. IDK, maybe they have a subtle way of saying Hi. Anyway, in a group there'd always be one person who resembles Zayn. Face sculpted by angels. I find this detail helps me on particularly annoying rides wherein people let stupidity and selfishness get the better of them.
My three-week pile of dirty laundry: Gone at last!!! Clean laundry makes the world a better place. I love clean laundry. Every time I succeed at getting myself to haul it to the laundry shop (especially if it's been WEEKS since I last did), I feel like a new person, like I can face 1/2 of my problems and 1/4 of other people's. A whole lot of space is freed up. And the room is so much lighter without the mountain of clothes eyesore. It's such a chore!!! Being organized and being responsible!!! I'm happy now though.
He wants to learn more about humility. He spent most of last year earning too little, almost always on the brink of borrowing money from friends and family. He didn’t have time to daydream or plan because his waking hours were devoted to work and time for other people—some of whom are too difficult to love. It was only at bedtime when he remembers his terrible posture, his tendency to fold into his body and will himself to disappear. Sometimes he considers, maybe it’s not humility he should learn, maybe it’s time to learn about pride.
Can dogs plan long-term? If they like their lunch today, do they “wish” it will also be what’s served at supper? Or do they stay in the present, have it over and done with, and leave it that way? Play outside. How come some of them can express happiness without hesitation, while some are clearly haunted by a memory. Is what they feel for their master genuine affection? Or is it simply attachment, a feeling of safety, an inexplicable bond? We know they feel profound sadness, but do they have the capacity to forget if they want to?
This may be because I am biased when it comes to 1D (even ex member/s) but Zayn’s second album is great. All the songs are earworms. It’s probably almost a month now that it’s the only thing on my playlist. I write this on this day because today’s Zayn’s birthday. In other 1D news, Harry’s been in Japan for two weeks now. Tumblr’s supplying me semi-regular updates about him dancing at the crosswalk, socializing with Sumo wrestlers in the vicinity and whatnot. Hi, I’m 37 years old. I like 1D.
When Brysen was about 4, Kuya and Ate taught him that it’s not necessary to win or be first all the time. You know how some kids are taught that they have to win and then are promised a reward? A simple example, during meals when he and his Ate Hailey would eat the same thing, e.g., cereals, Hailey would kid Brysen “I’m done with mine!” The old Brysen would succumb and think he has to catch up. But now he is calm. He looks at his sister and says “It’s not a competition, Ate.” Zen.
I'm at a Coffee Bean. Near my table are two guys. They are talking about one of the guys' father. "I liked it when he used to make a kite for me whenever I was sick. The only thing I disliked about him was when he hit my mom." The other guy seems genuinely interested in his friend's stories. I am, too. The guy-listener keeps on asking probing questions and honestly, I am more interested in his questions, where he seems to want to go. Storyteller-guy is animated, he seems happy someone is asking him about his life.
She writes a note on a teared-up cigarette packet. She folds it then unfolds it for another sniff of that rusty smell. Comforting. She inserts the note on page 27 of an old Chemistry book. She knows he will borrow this book today because he told her so. A quick look at the borrower’s card informs her that he's borrowed the book 5 times in the last 2 months. Why doesn’t he take up her offer to help him study? Anyway, she exits the library hopeful. When he sees that note, he will call her. She's certain.
There are odd days when I catch a magic train. I’m conflicted about how to refer to this: Magic hour or magic train or anomalous platform event. The rational explanation would be an “anomaly” train is dispatched at an earlier time than usual. Say, if trains are dispatched 10 minutes apart, this “anomaly” train is dispatched 5 minutes after the last. Or, this train skips stations! Thus, when it reaches Shaw station, it’s spacious and non-hell-ish. I recently managed to catch this wonderful train for a whole week, I think. I was so happy and grateful.
When he was young, his mother taught him not to read in bed in the dark, especially when his hair is wet. This will make him blind. Do not take the stairs two steps at a time. This will cause him to fall. Do not watch TV while eating. God will take offence that he is not focusing on his blessing. Do not lay down after eating. His appendix will burst. He did not think to question these instructions as most of them made sense. Now, he wonders: Are we doomed to be children at heart, looking for guidance always?
There’s a tricycle driver in our neighborhood who calls me “Idol.” Nice guy, polite. He looks like a young Soliman Cruz. He disappeared for a few months last year. I noticed because no one was saying Hi to me anymore from the trike terminal. Until I saw him near Boni Avenue at another trike line. He lost weight. We engaged in small talk and I forget now, but I didn’t have a chance to ask him why he isn’t at our street anymore. Anyway! This month I saw him “at home” again. He’s still a nice guy. He looks healthier.
Its 2022. At a standing-trip MRT, one person needs space for two people. People's heads are bent forward, their napes bulge like apples, their arms debilitated from too much use. They talk via mirrors attached to their chest. Their faces are reflected on these mirrors, which is then reflected up to another mirror attached to their shoulder, angled in a way that its reflection will be caught by the other person's chest mirror. They amble along laughing at themselves. They are now used to this but they are still aghast. What have we become—they ask themselves every day.
My go-to piece of writing in times of confusion and listlessness is David Foster Wallace's "This is Water." My friend, Jen, knows about this. Once I posted an IG story of just those words, "This is Water" (I think it was a book cover or sommat, which incidentally is my phone background now, and she replied with a heart-eyes emoji. I liked that we didn't have to say anything to "understand" each other.) I forget now whether I or she introduced it to the other. Or if I found out about it on my own. Go read it.
She dreams of trains most nights. Poorly lit cars. All passengers wearing white. Glow faces that never look up. Thumbs miswanting the sensation of swiping, like it's an addiction. Is it? Or is it some evil spell? In one particular dream, she yells "Fire!" two, three times. No one pays her mind. Ten seconds after her outburst, the faces look up one by one, as if in a choreographed dance routine, starting from the row closest to her until it reaches the back of the car. They look at her, thumb still on the screen. Then they look down again.
Hi, are you reading this? I'd like cardigans. Lots of them. Kurt Cobain-ish. Especially one that resembles his red and black striped sweater. Ok thanks. It's too cold. It's too hot. No in between. Summer is almost here again and it's disconcerting how I cannot exactly remember how summer feels, the discomfort, I mean. Here I am anticipating it, and yet when it's here I'd probably hate it again, of course. Metaphor to life alert: It's like that, no? We repeat mistakes because our memories are vague. All that we should allow to remain, really, are the good ones.
All this waiting is beginning to eat at her. Her talents or talent, depending on the day, are wasting away. She knows how to do one thing and yet she refuses to put in the work. Her myopic view of life keeps her from transcending her sorry state. It's a good life, sure. Safe, content. But there is more. She waits for nothing and everything, she stands still and runs away. She cannot decide between yellow and green, high and low, today or tomorrow. It all ends in "It's okay, forgive yourself." She knows she has to start changing now.
The bougainvilleas near Buendia MRT lost their color for a few days. They're back to their usual self now. Pink, orange, purple, white, etc.? Against dark green -- a beauty. I call them "my bougies," and I say Hello to them every morning. I'm excited for summer because that's when they are most beautiful. What are your favorite summer memories? Mine remains to be our sticky, afternoon naps on a banig, the slow but dependable ceiling fan, the squeaky clean wood parquet at eye level, and the promise of halo-halo upon waking up. The sound of crushed ice against spoon.
Last week, a 13-second clip of Harry Styles singing Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" surfaced on the net and...this has caused me to, first, listen to the original. Casual, harmless. This escalated to some Wiki pages, which then developed into a full blown deep dive into the band's small (but impressive) catalog. Also, articles on Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic, and Dave Grohl. Where was I in 1989 to 1994? What was I listening to? How about you? Anyway, I knew of them, I just didn't really explore back then and in the immediate past. All this to say...
I mean, I knew about the hits. But the lesser known songs are (100 emoji). Also, MTV Unplugged in New York? I may have been listening to the whole thing multiple times a day for almost two weeks now. And the interviews? Gold. I had to pry myself away from the obsession by listening to some good old Tennis. Though I come back to Nirvana every now and again. It's not earth-shattering or anything, but yeah, they were a good band, no? Even the "bad" performances are good. It would've been awesome to see them live.
"But with their music, their attitude, their voice, by acknowledging the political machinations of petty but broad-reaching, political arguments, movements, and positions that had held us culturally back, Nirvana blasted through all that with crystalline, nuclear rage and fury. Nirvana were kicking against the system, bringing complete disdain for the music industry and their definition of corporate, mainstream America, to show a sweet and beautiful — but fed-up — fury, coupled with howling vulnerability." -- part of Michael Stipe's (R.E.M. frontman) speech inducting Nirvana to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014 (their first year of eligibility)
In 2010 I had a job I liked. This job made me like Mondays. I don't think it's changed since then, well except for a brief duration in late 2013. Ever since I tried the night shift, days seem to fly by. It's Monday today and next thing I know it's Sunday. Maybe the disadvantage of days flying by is its effect on memory-making. It's been 9-some years now that my mind's a blur. Days disappear into each other, in many ways. Backward, forward, sideways. My dreams are trippy, too. My planner barely understands the concept of chronology.
I am anxious about everyday things: walking, talking to people, eating, commuting, entering our house, working. 100% of the time I'd like to believe I've learned to deal with it -- except for the 10% wherein I'm completely immobile and just...dumb. Years ago I figured out a way to function normally without causing myself to go into an overdrive of sweats and palpitation. That is, to pretend I'm calm. I've mastered it. Only recently it seems to be turning against me. The calm is causing me to completely shut down. Anyway. I'm thankful for people who are patient and consistent.
Her capacity for understanding is running low. There are times she deliberately pushes a person just to see at what point they break and start losing their patience. She then deliberately refuses to understand that she caused this and she focuses on the false thing -- that she's the one who's hurt and inconvenienced. She can be black sometimes. Sinister. She can do something wrong and selfish and still get the other person to apologize. At least, this is according to accounts of people who aren't her. She's tired of understanding, so she goes fuck-all, let's try something new. Shrug.
Here, I can lie and embellish. But my favorite part is that I can tell the truth and say it's a lie and no one will know which is which. I don't answer to anyone. I am obligated to myself only, sometimes even that can be disregarded. I don't really care too much now. How about you? Okay, TBH, I still allow myself the occassional worrying but I eventually cover that up with a white sheet and start again from there. How many restarts do we get? An infinite amount. The excitement is in knowing that even endlessness isn't absolute.
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