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I always like to tell people to hang in there, that things will get better, somehow work themselves out. Yet sometimes when I say it too many times, it feels like I’m merely giving false hope. But I’ve realized, after a while, that false hope doesn’t exist. I’m quite certain, even if this certainty comes from what little experience I’ve had, that these dark days never last forever.
I’ve learnt that it doesn’t take much to lift up a spirit. So while you’re out there gritting your teeth, mending your frayed nerves, just remember that I’m not that far behind.
They walk hand in hand, smile at each other, its nauseating sometimes, but most of the times; they’re a really sweet couple. They’re unashamedly open, undeniably lovely. He’s always around showing her off to the world, shouting out, “Hey! Look here, she is the best thing that has happened to me! She is the most beautiful girl in my world!” They’ve got their quiet times, and got their noisy times, and everyone knows about them. And the best thing, they’re blessed enough that someone they chose to love chose, the same way, to love them back.
I envy them sometimes.
Still a little uncertain for all that’s passed over the last week. Full circles, unfulfilled promises, more familiar faces and more things to tear myself away from. For all our uncertainties that we scribble on the desks in the lecture theatre, we’re still rather sentimental people. I miss a lot of things and I’m still getting used to not having things the way they used to be.
For now, the stage is set and things are moving on at their usual pace again.
I walk out leaving myself high and dry, waiting for the next crazy adventure under the sky.
I’m terribly ineloquent at times like these. I’m clumsy and awkward, tripping over all the wrong words and falling over this tongue that betrays me. Mix and match my tenses and hoping desperately that they come out right. Somewhere down the line, all my sentences get tangled up again and my attempts at this devious art of wordplay finds me flat on my face again. And still I get up, try to find the spaces for me to fit in my rhyme and take out a little bit of reason. If I try hard enough, maybe I’ll get this right.
Four of my favourite first lines from various places.
It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn't know what I was doing in New York.
Can I explain why I wanted to jump off the top of a tower block? Of course I can explain why I wanted to jump off the top of a tower block. I’m not a bloody idiot.
It's hot as hell in Martirio, but the papers on the porch are icy with the news.
It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.
I woke up, somehow or other, in a new skin today; perspectives changed, mind changed, and things seemingly a little larger than I could ever bring myself to handle. Today I didn’t feel like being cynical or a general asshole, I didn’t feel like things needed to be compensated for, and I for the first time in a long, long while, I felt like it was okay to screw up once in a while.
It’d normally kill me to describe a day as pleasant, but today was, for most counts, pleasant like it’s never been before.
I scare myself sometimes.
I’ve learnt if you’re working with words, you’ve got to make them poetry. It’s always the first lines of the books that get you. If it isn’t poetry, it isn’t worth reading, and I’m not talking rhyme-and-meter poetry either. It’s got to make your spine tingle with excitement at the anticipation of each word. It’s got to make you so damn excited that you don’t want to stop reading. Kerouac was as much a poet as Eliot was, just like the people who wrote songs that make people stop and listen. If it makes your soul come alive, it’s poetry.
Things come, things go and then they come again. Things get you high, get you low, somehow screws up a perfectly fine day, makes life perfect or makes life crap. I’ve had my long nights, you’ve had yours, and we’ve all had our share of sunrises, quiet days and missing pieces. You say you’re okay, you grit your teeth, you grin and bear it like no other I know, you struggle on somehow, you look brave and somehow stronger than you are.
I’ll tell you things are alright even though I’m not very sure. It’s the least I can do.
For all the things that we say we’d remember, we’re quite a forgetful bunch. All the stay-in-touches, all the I’ll-never-forgets somehow fall between the carefully ruled lines of our routines. We like to scribble those obligatory lines at the farewell parties, graduation nights, campfires, but amid the mess of ink, graphite, scented paper and notes, the moments that stick with us the most are not the big ones. The moments where there are borne no testament in photographs, meeting minutes or diary entries – these are the ones that stay with us. Missed cues, bad takes, no-goods and lines stumbled over.
Ever felt like it’s your fault because you’ve done everything you could, but things still end up screwing up? Ever had a time when you felt your situation’s so dire that a thousand sleepless nights wouldn’t solve it? Ever felt alone, abandoned, forgotten and left behind? Ever made a mistake so huge you thought you couldn’t get over it?
Ever ran so far and ran so fast that you run ahead of yourself?
Well, if your answer is yes to more or less all of the questions above, welcome to the human race.
If it helps, remember you’re not alone.
So today I end up staring at the dark purple rectangles that are my unfinished words for this month. It’s been nothing short of a fantastic week, and if I daresay, it’s been the best week I’ve had all of this year. Sure, there were the bits that sucked, but the rest of it blew me away. I’ve found my love for my life, for all the things I get to do, for the people around me and for God once again, despite all the bad bits.
This Sunday morning found me happier – so maybe I’ve learnt something after all.
My generation lives in a state of perpetual disrepair, somehow or other believing that the world revolves around us. We reserve all our rights, and are desperately stubborn in the fact that we are always right. Second opinions don’t count – unless of course, you define the terms for us. Then again, some of us don’t even care because we believe too staunchly in ourselves to realize that the rest of the world matters at all. There are no compromises unless they benefit us. Natch.
What this generation needs is a slap across the face and a potent dose of reality.
I’ve forgotten how much I love being surrounded by books. Stepping past the glass doors, I found myself where I had always been most comfortable. I haven’t been at a bookstore in a while and I’ve missed it. I’ve missed reading the first lines of a book and falling immediately in love with it, I’ve missed my tiny crime of reading for hours, and I’ve missed my guilty pleasure of judging these books by their covers. I haven’t gotten myself lost among the shelves for a while now, and it’s good to know I can come back anytime I want.
Sky’s a little wider today, a little more room for hope in this oppressive equatorial heat. Quiet days like these pass too quickly. Conversation is honest, trivial and unassuming, and these days, it seems that’s all I need to lift my spirits up a little. This work is hard, but truth be told, a little work never killed anyone. And I’ve got so many reasons not to screw up this time.
Sometimes when I feel like it, I slip between the lines on my notes or between the strings of my guitar and take a little time away for myself.
Outside, it’s quiet, warm and honest. Right now the sunlight filters in from the sky that’s been threatening to break all day. This humid, tropical heat gets a little hard to bear sometimes. Capering up and down stairs all day, carrying files and papers, meeting people I don’t want to. But when the time comes for me to go back home it’s a huge sigh of relief. Settled down, stick my head out of the window for a breather, catch sight of the amazing sunset, sit and think and thank God for all the things that make life worth living.
Most of the time I end up screwing up more than you do. Try to do something about it but I’m terribly inept, but at least I try, and I keep trying. I’ve got tons of vices that make me very much not like the person I really wish to be – the change is hard, the restraint kills me sometimes, but I’m not giving up on me yet.
Get up, dust off, laugh a little at myself because I feel better that way, and I’m moving on.
After all your sound and your fury, I still get the better deal.
When I run out of things to write about here, the next best thing to do is to cheat and come up with a list of mildly sentimental and ruminatory thoughts. Or not. Anyway, here goes.
Personal projects: Ten chronologies to trace:
1) Posters on your wall
2) Books taken off your bookshelf
3) Foods you used to like
4) Favourite words
5) Class register numbers (make a graph!)
6) Family tree
7) Sneakers owned
8) Crushes, girlfriends, boyfriends, etc.
9) Habitual sleeping times
10) Number of birthday gifts
Damn, I thought it would be easy. What a list. -_-
It’s strange to admit this but I’m one of those that melt when the weepy acoustic guitar riff picks up as the movie ends. I love these little things that make me imagine that life is better than it seems, and these things pick me up, push me ahead, make me smile – even if only for a while. I like sunsets, and sunrises even better, and sometimes when I feel like it, I quietly wish for world peace. I’m sentimental in the way I keep the things I know aren’t worth keeping in these big white boxes that I have.
We spend so much of our lives searching for happiness, contentment, fulfillment and peace that we often miss the fact that these are all right under our nose. And no matter how many times we read it in books, hear it on pulpits, get a drift of it in our everyday life – we take a good while to realize it.
Life sucks as a rule. Make it better, not worse. Make things work, don’t break them. Make people happy, not sad. Life either keeps being bad, or gets better as a result of what you do. It makes perfect sense.
This city isn’t as shockingly anonymous as it would seem at first glance. Between all the glass fronted pavement politicking that goes on, there’s some measure of goodwill, honesty and a strange comfort. Brief smiles between the minutes that make up these weary workdays somehow make up for other things missed out. Between the morning’s bad traffic and rush-hour’s cacophony, at least there’s some measure of familiarity – that even if we’re knee-deep in paper, means there’s someone else down here that’s been there, done that, and knows exactly what it feels like.
Morning radio, amber lights, sighs - and then some.
It’s kind of sad the way things turn up, but what do we do when what we’ve learnt is that the only way to not let others gain an edge over you is the get there before they do. That’s why we end up saying things a little too quickly to realize that words don’t usually turn back once they leave your mouth. We’re always ready with things to say, and end up saying them so quickly that we betray these little insecurities.
Stop to listen, and then maybe you’ll realize that the world isn’t merely filled with bad intentions.
My future wife doesn’t have to be a musician, but she will have to love music with all her heart and soul. She’s got to be the sort that can let a song move her so much until she cries.
She doesn’t have to know much, but she’s got to love to read, she’s got to be the sort that falls in love with first lines and reads books more than twice because she can’t get enough of them.
She doesn’t need to make things perfect, but she’s got to, at least, know how to make me a better man.
There are lots of people who live their lives for the people in the grandstand in their heads. Do all the glamorous things, say all the correct words and drop all the right names at the right times. Attuned to the applause of approval like Pavlov’s bell, they more or less end up willing to do anything for it.
The problem arises when the crowd in grandstand thins out, the audience leaves, and the show’s over. Behind the scenes and bricked in a wall of anonymity, it's difficult, and kind of makes you wish doing the right thing was easier.
The evening sky was amazing as I walked out of the service – a rare one that ended early. As I walked down the corridor away from the auditorium, the sky to my right was splashed with colours I hadn’t seen in ages. Streaks of orange, yellows, blues, pinks and tinged slightly green, the spectacle was enough to make me stop for a while and stare. I watched as the colours faded into a gentle blue as I made my way back home – watched the oranges and reds dissipate, and the final yellows seeping into the inky blueness of the night.
The moment you stop playing is the moment you lose the game. If you’re the type that ruthlessly believes that the way you play determines whether you win or lose - good for you then. If you’re the type that’s ruthlessly set on winning, then I guess the best you can do is keep playing. Sure, the game is rigged – but were you expecting otherwise?
When you give up your fight, you give up your game. You lose, period. When you keep at it, you might lose, you might win, who knows?
But the point is, you just might win.
The immensity of this human experience is still taking some getting used to. Back when I read more than I knew or experienced, back before I learnt that Yosemite actually had twice the two syllables I thought it had, back when I believed strangers. After seventeen years, I’ve still not mastered this. I’m still not sure of all the rules of engagement, spoken or unspoken.
I guess when I’m looking back later on (at a wiser age, hopefully), I’d wish somehow that I can muster enough courage to laugh at the things I used to do.
Ah, to be young.
I woke up to a startling fact today – that this part of my life will soon be over. For all the moments spent shuffling for lesson to lesson, all the shouting and cheering, all the good moments, the not-so-good moments, and everything in between - soon these gates won’t be there to welcome us anymore, not in the same way they do when they greet you every morning for the past two years. “Welcome home”, they say, and in a matter of months, we’re going to be moving out of this second home. It’s going to take some getting used to.
Down there the people have started their putting-togethers and their tearing-aparts.
James stands in the middle of the room shouting directions from the sheaf of paper he has, making sure things are done quickly, efficiently and productively.
Upstairs residents wake and wonder what all the noise below is about.
Max figures it is a good time to go up for a breather.
On the way up, he exchanges a smile for a swear word.
Five minutes later Max returns.
“Listen guys,” he shouts over the noise.
“We’re in the wrong building.”
Entering from the back was probably a bad idea.
Tracing circles and squares, lines out of place, crisscrossing across those parallels that make their slow descent down the page. A whimsical line or two here and there, lyrics to a sad song, the same one that’s been playing in your head for the last two hours. Keywords, secret codes, shared alliances, tracing, retracing, crossing, recrossing, fighting for space on this rectangular plane of existence. Chinese, English, French, Korean, German – a complex interlocution in suspended animation. Black, white, grey – portraits, half-complete, incomplete, messy, crossed out, scored out and redrawn.
A ring of the bell tells you the lecture’s finally over.
A little further down the road we have to go our separate ways. You turn right, I head straight on. The evenings of the last six years of our lives. This routine’s comforting, something I’ve settled too well into.
Tonight the evening sky’s an unfamiliar shade, and it bides me some time to walk a little slower and watch the sun fade out into what remains of these short days. There’s only that much left for us to say.
Who knows. The next time we meet might just be here, where we used to part.
I’m right down the road.
That was strange. I thought I only had two days left to catch up on my words this month. Then I realized the calendar of March on my screen looked a little unfamiliar and incomplete. Of course – one devious day missing (somehow or other). I only thought that happened to Februraries after leap years. Guess not. I’ll take time to comment on the un-universality of things, but I’ll just sound like an idiot, a fledging literature student still coming to terms with the subtleties of the language between the lines. There I go again. Hope you’ve had a nice March.
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