Wednesday, December 21, 2011

War Paint


You start with the eyes, because they say those are the windows to the soul.  A touch of mascara perhaps, some eyeliner, and slight dark eye powder to give you that smoky look.

Then the cheeks. Bronzer, right on the cheekbones, to highlight (or create) sharper angles.  A little red coloring, to mimic (or fake) a schoolgirl blush.

Don't forget the lips. Full lips, but not red since you don't want to appear like a whore.  A neutral brownish, reddish hue perhaps, just to emphasize its voluptuousness.

Then Spanx, to create curves where there was none before. A push-up bra, to lift sagging breasts, and to create the illusion of heft.  Over which you throw the ubiquitous LBD, which effectively showcases your apparent feminine sensuality. Five inch pointy heels that can double as a lethal weapon.

You look in the mirror and smile.  With a flip of your hair, you turn, ready to conquer the world. Game face on.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Whatever Gets You Through the Day


I was a freshman in law school when my friend Mike was accepted by a university in Australia for a master’s degree. He took up Finance, under a scholarship program given by a prestigious international organization. He had a boyfriend before he left, but they broke up because they both thought that they’ll be incapable of maintaining a long-distance relationship.


We’ve been close friends for a while, so we maintained contact, although mostly through chat. We spoke with each other about two-three times a week, and discussed everything and anything under the sun. Mike was usually tipsy, if not outright drunk. It was in Sydney where he discovered his fondness for red wine, especially the cheap kind that comes in a box.


Our conversations usually start with him sending me a private message just so he can complain about mostly inane, random stuff.  I barely listened, since I was also caught up in my own worries then.  Our conversations never really felt like actual conversations.  It was more like we were delivering monologues, and the other person was just there for the ride.  We both spoke, and neither of us listened.


I didn’t notice the inordinate amount of glasses of wine he consumed, or the constant stream of complaints he made.  I also don’t think he noticed how tired I was back then, how frayed my nerves were, how wrong everything seemed to be for me.


But the fact that he was there was a comfort, even if he never really understood, or cared to understand, what I was going through.  And it was a few years later, when he came back, when I learned that he felt exactly the same way.  It didn’t matter that I wasn’t truly listening, or that I had my own concerns to worry about. The important thing was that I was there, and that was what he needed at the time.


(He told me he was suffering from a crippling depression, and could barely function as, well, a normal human being.  In one instance, he did not bathe for three weeks, and was only forced by his roommates to do so because they could no longer stand the smell.) 


And it’s funny because, to be honest, I wasn’t being a good friend at the time.  But neither was he.  We were both very selfish, and way too caught up in our own problems.  But it didn’t matter.  I was there when he needed me, and he was there when I needed him. And at the end of the day, that was enough for both of us to get us through those tough days.  

Monday, December 5, 2011

Friday, December 2, 2011

2011 Philippine Blog Awards



Some good news for this blog...

I'm a finalist for three award categories in the 2011 Blog Awards!  Yay!  And even better, there's no public voting component whatsoever. So I actually have a fighting chance of winning. :-)

In any case, I've been nominated for the following prizes:



Best Single Post for my blog entry "Clarity"

Thank you Philippine Blog Awards! It is very much appreciated! See you all on awards night!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Living for that Moment

Clubbing with green strobe lights

My hair is fashionably tousled, my jeans a perfect fit. I've put on some cologne which I know would evaporate as soon as I walk into the club.  I wait for my friends, and once together, talk about how wasted we want to become, how utterly out of our minds we should be before the end of the evening.

A couple of shots before going in.  For courage. And because the alcohol they sell is too damn expensive.

I enter through double doors into a dark, cramped room throbbing with loud, unrecognizable music, and a barrage of people jumping to the beat. The room is warm, and I feel a bead of sweat slowly trace itself down the side of my neck.  I smile briefly before the crowd, until the many-headed creature swallows me whole and transforms me into another one of its many heads bopping to the rhythm of one song.

Sometimes it comes naturally, the ability to dance.  Sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes I stand in the middle of the room, a drink in my hand, while I am pushed around by strangers. I hesitantly mimic the tap-tap-tapping of the group beside me. Or the stiff, but captivating swaying of the confident young man on stage.  Sometimes I completely let go, and dance like a wild animal, eyes closed, my mind imagining the room as empty except for me and the beat.

Then there is that magical moment, when, drunk and exhausted, I stare at the ceiling and feel (not think!) that all is right with the world. And the feeling expands and rises and mingles like smoke with the music and the people through the wild, unplanned dance the crowd is participating in.

And I wish that the moment would last forever, and that everything will always be right in the world.  Except morning would inevitably come, and always, always we would need to go home. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

An Old Conversation About Man, Personal Universes and Belief

My own personal universe

I was thinking about other stuff while I was in the train.

Amazing how man is no? I mean, we make beautiful things, that's for sure. We make them in all sorts of ways; tangible and intangible. Like architecture and music. It's like man has the entire universe for options and when he makes something, he picks out distinct things to work with, and he ends up with something else that's greater than its parts. I think they call it an ouevre.

And these ouevres, you know, if you come to think about it, are all basically definitions. An encapsulation of the enormity of everything. We can make it pretty, or make it sound great, or whatever you want it to be. You hold it in your hand, proclaim it's the entire existence of everything, and I don't think you're wrong. Then, when you, uhm, release it (to your desk for example), it becomes a part of every other thing. But in that moment when you had it in your hand and you're looking at it, it's the entire universe. Am I making sense?

What's amazing is that man has the ability to create these definitions for himself and has the freedom and intelligence to do so. It's like we're all gods. Or maybe pro-active observers or something.

Wow. Pure poetry. :)

We are gods. Though some replace this power with apathetic existentialist whining. That doesn't change the fact that we're still relatively insignificant in the grand scheme of things of course, but still, like you said, we are gods, if only for a particular fleeting moment that is, for oneself, as long as Time and as far-reaching as the universe.

Thanks. :) You got what I said pretty well. I was afraid someone might read whatever I wrote down in a Christian context. (Like most people would. Not that it's bad, but it's way off course).

But when you mention the universe as this vast, ultra-incomprehensible big, big space, and compare it to man, you are talking about man as a material body right? I mean yeah, we're not even a speck of all that. But when you take man's ability to create, it's like time and space cease to matter, you know? I mean, why must we all think the universe is this super big place? Why can't it be whatever we see and assess and only that? It's actually difficult to explain without contradicting myself... sigh, but I think you get it.

We need to think in both contexts, I believe. My own personal universe gives me power, but in the context of the (material) universe it stops me from being a narcissistic megalomaniac who believes is better than everyone else.

The thoughts do not really contradict themselves. They're two very different things concerning two very different logic systems.

That sounded pretty good. Why can't I phrase my thoughts and feelings like your first paragraph? Lol.

Although, I'm not really keen on the idea that man has a natural inclination towards becoming a narcissistic megalomaniac when he (only) considers his personal universe, or maybe I just don't want to believe that.  I mean, somehow, he must have already translated his experience of his personal universe as something that other people already have experienced.

I also think that this interplay of personal universes is extremely fascinating. Funny how there's a lot of conflict and compromise just to arrive at the same basic notion or idea.

You're right I guess. Empathy is usually a great way to stop oneself from becoming a narcissistic megalomaniac.

On a related note, I've always found my relative insignificance to the material universe a source of power. Put it this way: If everything I do will in the end ultimately be unimportant, and is only important to me and my immediate surrounding environment, then it becomes terribly, terribly important to me. Thus, I get power from it.

Some people, on realizing their insignificance to the universe, are paralyzed. These are usually people who believe in power and a certain grandeur i.e. heaven, money, fame, armies. Then there are those who gain power from it, like me, who enjoy their relative obscurity to the world at large.

I agree. This relative insignificance DOES make you consider your actions to be either meaningful or meaningless no? That's a great point. That's something I've always believed in, although this is, I have to admit, the first time that belief of mine has ever been put into words.

It is pure self-empowerment I think. A very humanist way of looking at the universe. The world revolves around you because when you die, it really does end; well, at least for you anyway. So everything is important.

So I believe in making a difference and trying to achieve something. But I'm not foolish enough to believe it will become more important that what it really is.

I don't know if I believe it just ends when I die. Maybe, maybe not. It ends in one sense that's for sure. But I'm alive now. And every time I reflect on the "now", that for me is infinity.

Same affinity. But, for me anyway, the threat of death (not necessarily my own) makes me look at things for what they are, without having to worry about stuff that really doesn't concern me now. Maybe death isn't the proper word. I think what I really mean is when anything important (including my own life) ends. The threat of the important thing ending gives that important thing (whatever it is) a new dimension of importance and urgency.

---


Original, unedited conversation can be found here.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The First Morning I Did Not Think About You



breakfast setting

It was a typical morning. I woke up, late as usual, the sun already near its zenith, its rays streaming through half-open blinds, the day as hot and as humid as it can be. I forgot to turn off the TV. A Discovery channel host was talking about whales, his voice a deep, monotonous drone.

I stood up, my head slightly aching from oversleeping, my thoughts still a blur, my knees, wobbly and unsure.  I staggered to the door of my bedroom, and headed downstairs for a bite. I was hungry. My stomach was growling in angry, desperate need. What my brain still failed to register, my limbs automatically addressed:  I needed sustenance.

I stumbled onto the kitchen and saw my younger brother in his pajamas, eating cereal, his hair unkempt and looking like it was badly in need of a bath. Much like I looked I suppose. I stared at his bowl, and hungry as I was, realized I still hated the thought of having cereal so late in the day. I asked Manang Cely what was for lunch. She didn't reply, but I heard bustling outside, and the familiar clangs of pots and pans. I settled myself at the table, and held my head in my hands. My brother ate in silence. 

"What time did you get home?" I asked him.

"Just this morning."

"Mom and Dad already awake?"

"Nope. They were still asleep." My parents never really imposed a curfew on us, especially on weekends, but they did like it when we got home before they woke up. 

"Where did you go?"

"Nowhere. Just out with friends."

"Malate?"

"Yea."

"How was the crowd?"

"It was okay. Typical. Not a huge crowd, but enough to be fun. Why didn't you go?"

"I was bored. I figured I'd just watch television, play PS2 and sleep." 

My brother nodded, then finished his cereal. He left soon after to catch up on his sleep. I riffled through several newspaper sections, and settled on Lifestyle, reading an article Tim Yap wrote.  He was still writing for the Philippine Daily Inquirer then. 

Manang Cely walked in with a bowl of hot tinola. I immediately tucked in.

Then I remembered you. Right at that moment when the spoon, filled with steaming clear broth, hit my lips.  Rather, or more accurately, I realized I forgot about you first, and then only remembered you.

What a shock. After weeks upon weeks of moping, of listening to sad, lonely, love songs, of waking up to the deep, precious pain a young man getting over his first love can manage to inflict on himself, I woke up to a morning where you weren't the first thing on my mind. And outside of the overpowering relief, I realized how funny it was that moving on would come at a moment so utterly, absolutely mundane. While at a table, eating tinola for breakfast and/or lunch, my hair a mess, smelling like something the dog just brought in. How unimaginative. How banal. How anticlimactic.

And still, I felt happy, and finished my meal in unanticipated felicity. Though lacking in theatrics (perhaps a lightning bolt or two in the background would have been nice), I exulted in the unadulterated joy of knowing that I have finally, completely moved on.  

Moving on, is a simple thing, what it leaves behind is hard.
~~David Mustaine~~        

Monday, October 17, 2011

People are Made Up of Stories


understanding tattoo, people are made up of stories
Image taken here.

Dear Fickle Cattle,

I'm a new fan of your blog.  I haven't even browsed through each tab and entry yet.  I just saw a link from a friend in FB to your blog and I became an instant fan after I read your open letter.  Honestly, I cried, I could relate to it so much.  I hope you don't mind my telling this story. 

I realized I was gay towards the end of college in UP Diliman.  I was supposed to have a secret wedding with my girlfriend at the time since we both thought she was pregnant.  When we found out that she actually wasn't, it was such a relief. Afterwards, we decided to take things more slowly.  During that period, I tried to find myself, and slowly realized my inclination towards the dark side of the force. (I'm not sure how I feel about comparing homosexuality with the dark side, but I'll let that slide for now -- FC).  It was a very emotional stage in my life when I realized I was gay.  I didn't know who to turn to. 

During my years of experimentation and struggle, I met this guy named T.  I instantly felt a connection with him though he had a very different view of gay relationships compared to what I had.  Basically, he thought that having a relationship which no one would acknowledge did not make any sense.

Knowing that we could only be friends, I contented myself with the friendship he had to offer.  Eventually, I met two more of his friends.  The four of us became close, and our friendships made me almost forget that I liked T as more than a friend in the first place. It helped me move on. 

Eventually, T realized that he did like me more than as a friend. By that time however, I realized I was already falling for our other friend A.  When we realized that T was falling for me, A and I decided not to tell T of our relationship to protect him from unnecessary hurt. 

This was a mistake. Our other friend B decided to put our story in his blog, thinking no one would ever read it.  T eventually did, and everything became a big mess. The relationship, the secrecy and the eventual unintentional disclosure created a rift between all of us. 

I decided to distance myself from all three of them since I felt that I started our falling-out. Consequently, we grew apart.

A lot of things have happened since.  But, even with all that has changed, I still long for the kind of friendship I had with them which I have never experienced, and probably would never experience, again.  When I saw your post, An Open Letter to an Old Friend, it reminded me of my friendship with T.  I feel like those are the exact same words I would've told him, given the chance.  He was my best friend and I regret crossing the line that caused our friendship to end.

Since coming out in college, I never had any gay friends other than T, A and B. But I already feel like the possibility of our friendship being rekindled died out years ago.  I'm not even sure if I'll ever meet friends like them.  At some point, we tried, all four of us, to rekindle the friendship we had, but we only found out that we've become strangers to one another.

I've always been proud of my sexual orientation since I came out almost a decade ago.  My workmates know of it, I joined a frat in my attempt at law school and even told my batchmates that I was gay.  I guess I don't allow myself to be defined by my sexuality.  But, you know what, sometimes I wish I had allowed myself to be so defined.  I wish I had given myself the chance to embrace my sexuality.  Had our friendship not met such an early demise, I'm sure my life would've been much more colorful.

Thanks for taking the time to listen.  Sometimes, talking to a complete stranger makes it easier to open up.  Your blog brought to the surface a lot of emotions that I've been bottling-up through the years. 

Following your entries, 


R 

Friday, October 14, 2011

I Don't Think I'll Die Today At Least. Hopefully.

evil doctor
Image taken here.


I don’t go to the doctor.  At least, not voluntarily.  In fact, the only time you can make me go to a physician is when I’m in enough pain that I start dreaming about death.  And even then I’ll probably need to be unconscious so you can carry my limp carcass to his clinic.   

Taking into consideration the fact that I live in a cramped, smoggy and dirty city probably teeming with a gajillion viruses (in spite of which I still love), this probably means that I’m now a carrier of a number of undiagnosed diseases.  Undiagnosed diseases that would most likely commingle and produce new baby mutant viruses that will spread throughout humankind and turn us all into brain-eating zombies. And still, I won’t go to the doctor unless I’m in enough pain I might as well be actively mauled by a jungle cat.

Consider this scenario. This week I had a bout of gout. Or at least I think it’s gout since I only self-diagnosed (Google is wonderful for latrophobics). My foot swelled to almost twice its size, and I had to go to the office wearing dark socks and slippers half a size smaller than my foot. I’m not really sure what I ate which triggered the disease, but it was torture.

Gout is the essence of pain, distilled agony. It’s like God hates feet and decided to make people pay for having them.  For those who don’t have gout, this is how it feels like:  Imagine you are kneeling on a pile of salt.  Except the salt is in your feet, in the joints, and in whatever awkward cranny malicious evil salt can sneak its way into. Then imagine those sharp edges grinding inside those tender nooks, daring you to cry like a big baby.

You know what, forget salt, imagine needles instead.  A bajillion needles poking inside your foot every time you lay it on the ground. That’s what gout feels like.

J thought I should go to the doctor.  Since I didn’t want to argue, I told him it didn’t hurt that much and smiled. Or at least tried to smile, the pain was killing me.

And still, I refused to go to the doctor and just decided to wait it out. The pain subsided eventually.

I also don’t go to the dentist.  The last time I went to the dentist was years ago. As a consequence, I have horrible teeth. Or at least one horrible tooth.  It started to crack a couple of years ago and slowly disintegrated until it became a tenth of its original size. Sometimes I stare at it in the mirror and poke it with a finger. There’s a slight twinge of pain there, though it’s nothing serious.

Until I had an apple a couple of days ago, and what small amount of tooth left broke and splintered, and  a sharp cruel tooth sliver decided to painfully position itself in my gums. I tried removing it with a barbecue stick, and it didn’t help. I stopped subsequently because my gums started to bleed and I didn’t want to die because I was stabbing my mouth with what was practically a giant toothpick. Also, I’m afraid of blood.

I still poke it with a finger every now and then.  I know, gross.  But really, if you had a tooth splinter stuck in your gums, you know you would do that too.

I tried googling ways to remove tooth splinters from gums, and the results led me to a site about mouth cancer.  With pictures.  Seeing mouth cancer pictures did not help assuage my fear that the tooth splinter would worm its way through my mouth, eventually leading to my death by killing me from the inside.  It certainly didn’t help that one man looked like his jaw was about to fall off. 

So I set an appointment with a dentist this weekend. I’ll probably need to explain to her that the last time I went to the dentist was years ago, just so she’d know what to expect. That way, if she starts talking about how horribly I treat my teeth, I can say that I did warn her.

Anyway, here are the lessons you should learn from my story: 

1. Gout is painful. 

2. If you leave a cracked tooth untreated long enough, it will splinter and a piece of your own tooth would attack your gums in cruel revenge.  

3. Mouth cancer pictures are gross.  They are also very great tools at reminding people they don’t want to die with their jaws falling off. 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Thoughts on Fashion Photography and Real Life (A Reaction to Yolanda Dominguez's "Poses")

woman lying of dirt yolanda dominguez poses


haute couture pose on flowers by model
Images found here.

Yolanda Dominguez is a visual artist and performer from Madrid.  I ran across her work, Poses, from an interview of Yolanda Dominguez by a blogger here, and I thought it was one of the most interesting performance art pieces I have seen in a while.

Now, like I have already detailed in a blog post before, I am not a big fan of performance art, or at least the type which feels hokey or fake, or which intellectualize a concept too much, but upon execution showcases too little talent (*cough stupid abortion project cough*). However, I feel that Dominguez's work in Poses is an inspired exception to the rule, since it effectively managed to both shock and entertain people, while forcing them to think.

Basically, Poses is a series of performance art pieces set in several places in Madrid, where "ordinary" folk strike haute couture poses in the middle of an otherwise perfectly ordinary scene.  Some people consider it a depiction of the "indestructible superciliousness that is haute pose".  Initially, I just thought it was intelligent and hilarious.


I suggest you watch this video so you have a better idea of what I'm talking about.


My two cents:  Fashion photography has its place in the art world, notwithstanding the fact that a lot of "serious" artists tend to place it on a lower level of importance compared to other art forms.  This, however, is fashion photography's point: people shouldn't take it seriously.  It's made-up and imaginary.

Except people do take it seriously. Empirical evidence shows us that a lot of people (especially teenage girls) actually use these depictions, among others, to create a standard of beauty for women that, as has been shown time and time again, is neither realistic nor healthy. What Poses does, and does so effectively and brilliantly by pushing the idea to its extreme, is to show us how absurd this notion or perspective is. Fashion photography is essentially rooted in fantasy, and rarely has any point in real life situations. This art project shows us that it would be best to remember that.    

From Yolanda Domiguez's website:

“Poses” is a direct criticism of the absurd and artificial world of glamour and of fashion that magazines present. Specifically, the highly-distorted image of women that they transmit through models that do not represent real women and that avoid all those who are not within their restricted parameters.

These images are virtually the only feminine reference in the mass media and they have a great influence in both men and women when building our roles in terms of behavior and ways of thinking. 


Read more here.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

To the 13 Year Old Boy Who Shot His 17 Year Old Lover at the Mall (Notes on a Murder-Suicide)

bullet gun murder suicide
Image taken here.

It was with a peculiar, and perhaps less than noble, fixation that I read about your crime.  A crime which was extraordinarily morbid, and sensational.  And I gathered the following details: You were thirteen years old. You stole a .22 caliber pistol.  You wrote a suicide letter; short, but it got the message across.  You went to SM City Mall, Pampanga.  You met your seventeen year old lover in front of the Astrovision store in the mall's Building 3.  You shot him in the head.  The bullet lodged in his brain and left him brain dead.  You then turned the gun on yourself and pulled the trigger.

And then there are the things I imagine:  How you walked up to him, angry and hurt; how you made a speech, hoping that he would understand; how he rejected you; how you pulled a gun, and felt some small bit of satisfaction at the fear that suddenly came into your lover's eyes; how you shot him in the head; how he bled, and bled, and kept on bleeding; how you realized that he was going to die for real; how you kept on repeating that you didn't mean for any of this to happen; how you realized what a lie those words were; how, in your heart, you knew you meant it; how you didn't want to die; how you felt you had you no choice; how cold, metallic and uncaring the gun felt in your hand; how thoughts of dying felt better than the idea that you would go through life without him; how you pointed the gun at yourself and pulled the trigger; how you didn't realize that there would be so much blood. That you would have so much blood. As if the flow of blood would never end. A river of blood.  

How you lay on the floor gasping, waiting for the darkness to consume you. Hoping that in death you could be together. Frightened of the possibility that you won't.

Then a moment of silence. Perhaps stubborn righteousness. Perhaps regret.

How you died.

And then a call to two sets of parents unmindful of the strange, compelling drama that has just claimed the lives of their two sons.  How they did not understand.  How they wailed and cried and mourned.  How they railed against anyone they could blame: the mall security, God, the world.  How they wanted to have their sons back, questioning how the world can continue going on. How the world remains unchanged and unconcerned. 

How they blamed themselves. How they blamed themselves. How they blamed themselves.  

How their lives are never the same again.  How they died, in their own way. How there are more victims to this story than those dead.

News about the shooting can be found here.

Friday, September 30, 2011

A Letter Regarding A Few, Unimportant Things

a letter about loneliness and reaching out
Image taken here.

Dear Fickle Cattle,

I came across your blog a week ago. I cannot remember how exactly. What I do remember is that part where you said you "love email." I smiled at that line, thinking about how I, too, am fond of emails. I decided then to write you one when I get the time and when I sense a need to talk to someone. Are you wondering now why I opted to talk to a stranger instead of a friend? Do you know Rainer Maria Rilke, the German poet? As I write this, a line from one of his letters echoes in my mind. He was saying something about solitude, its difficulties and pains, and how there are moments when one is solitary when one would feel the strongest urge to close one's distance from people, break the silence and talk to anyone, usually the most undeserving. Well, this is one such moment, although there is a number of discrepancies. One, you and I are definitely distant from each other (I'm guessing you are not one of the three guys I share this flat with). Two, I do not think you are most undeserving.

If I wrote this email immediately after I read your blog entries, it most probably would have contained effusive sentiments on how touched I was by some of them. Actually, I can visit your blog now and perhaps discuss the things I liked in it (not without citations) the way I would write a review of related lit as part of the many school requirements I've had, but I do not have the energy to do so. Nonetheless, I congratulate you for having achieved this -- I write because I hope, someone, somewhere, would read what I wrote and think, "yes, he's right, I get it," and understand me. Well, obviously I had to copy-paste that from your blog. I guess I had the energy after all. Anyway, I did think "you're right, I get it" and that, I'm sure, is the reason why I decided to write you.

What do I want to talk to you about, anyway?

I feel terribly lonely. I woke up at 5 am this morning and read about typhoon signals. I was almost certain I would receive a text about a class suspension albeit late. I slowly and lazily planned my day -- maybe I'll study that chapter on mycology or read about heart pathology, I should watch First Love, that Thai film a friend told me about, I will definitely read Norwegian Wood. I went over these things and then some while the winds outside slowly gained pace. I had to check if my window and my curtain were properly angled and aligned to allow for the cold to enter and to prevent my desk from getting soaked.

If you must know, I ended up watching and reading but not studying at all. And now I feel sad. It could be because of the movie. I find it funny that a feel-good movie with a decently happy ending would leave me in the brink of depression. Now I was not overly touched by the film. I reserve such honor for tours de force like La vita รจ bella. Actually, I have always been like this, always exceptionally saddened by stories with that theme (of First Love). Maybe because I have not encountered a thing like that. Or perhaps I'm just upset by the fact that I have let a day go by without catching up with lessons knowing that exams are near. But that's too boring a reason, don't you think?

Minutes before I started this email, I thought of writing in my journal, which I have not done in weeks. I was lying down when I groped for my journal under the bed. It was hard work because in my position, I couldn't extend my hand way under and so I was failing. I was too lazy to go on all fours and reach for it. That's when I thought of writing an email instead. Naturally, I had to get hold of my laptop which was also under the bed, beside my journal. And this time, I did go on all fours to reach for my laptop. Apparently, writing an email was a higher motivation than writing in my journal. Or I'm just fickle and silly that way. Oops, I did not mean to steal your blog's name.

This has become long-winded. Are you tired? I feel that I have not completely communicated everything that stirs in me at the moment. Then again, I don't think we can always completely communicate everything inside us. And when we do succeed in transforming the formless into a meaningful series of words, there's always at least a slight difference from what was originally born within us. Sometimes however, what does come out becomes far more beautiful, but of course what comes out that was not first born within? Nothing.

I hope to hear from you soon. How has your life been?

Sincerely,

Nico

***

Hi Nico,

This is probably one of the most interesting emails I've gotten in a while.  I must say I thoroughly enjoyed reading it; the quirky directions your thoughts suddenly take reveal a particularly sharp mind, and I'm especially grateful it is one owned by someone who actually reads my blog. I'm glad you take some pleasure from it.

I wish I knew how to respond to this email in a manner that is just as witty or as interesting, but I fear I probably won't live up to your expectations, and may just prove to myself that I am as poorly skilled at replying to interesting letters as I imagine.  

But I do understand your point about loneliness.  I experience it too. Sometimes I revel in it.  There is something uniquely, hmm, pleasurable? about taking the time to wallow in one's sadness.  Maybe because, to my mind at least, it gives one the sensation of not being content, therefore, of wanting something more.  Contentment is an overrated thing, one must always strive to be something more, to want something more, until he dies. Otherwise, what is the point of living? To choose contentment, at least, in the most mundane sense of the word, is to choose stagnation.

I'm sorry. I'm rambling. I've just finished writing four pleadings and my brain is starting to fail to function.

Let me end with this.  I want to publish your email in my blog, along with some commentary on my part. Please permit me to do so. I think my readers would find it a very interesting read.

Regards,

Fickle Cattle

P.S.  Your letter reminded me of a short story I once wrote that got published in the Sunday Manila Times. It was entitled "A Few, Unimportant Things". I reposted it as a new tab (Random Fiction).  Please feel free to take a look.

P.S. 2 I decided not to bother with the commentary. Your letter is interesting enough as it is. Thank you.

Monday, September 26, 2011

A Conversation About Friendship Between Friends

looking for friendship sparks, a conversation between friends
Image taken here.

"It's not that I didn't like him.  I did. Like him, I mean.  But finding someone to be friends with is a lot like finding someone to fall in love with, you know?  Sparks are important.  Even with friends.  Otherwise, you'd be friends with someone whose company feels a lot like work.  And really, that's not something I want to get into right now.  I just can't be friends with someone who feels like a lot of work."   

"But don't friendships, like all relationships, require work?"

"They do, but not at the beginning.  You have to start with a spark, that's how it begins."

"It sounds eerily similar to the notion of finding 'The One', don't you think?"

"Not really.  The difference here is that sometimes you're lucky enough to find ten, or a hundred, people you can have friendship sparks with.  Or none.  The idea of a friendship spark has yet to be destroyed by movies and romance novels and converted into a pseudo-religion which requires 'faith' and waiting for the 'One True Love'.  It's just a true thing, for me.  You can't be friends with everybody."

***

"Do you believe that friendships last forever?"

"Not all.  Maybe some.  People change, and whatever connection or spark you had once can disappear. It's the same with love, you know what I mean, the romantic kind.  They can disappear.  Even if you never want them to, the possibility is always there."

"But aren't friendships supposed to be different from that?"

"It is, in a way, but it's also the same, at least for those types of friendships defined by something more than just a similarity of traits.  I'm not a big believer of the idea that friendships aren't supposed to be work.  They require work, just like everything else."

"But I thought you believed in sparks."

"Yes, but only at the beginning of a friendship.  What comes after will be defined by the level of commitment you put into the relationship."  

***

"Have you ever regretted being friends with anybody?"

"No, not really. You?"

"I can't think of anyone offhand."

"Well, the Zen way of looking at friendships that fail to work would be to think that everything, and everyone, has a time and place.  That there's a reason they came into your life, or left."

"That's not a very helpful philosophy."

"I know, I'm just saying."

"Mature though."

"Yes."

"But practically pointless."

"Well, not entirely.  It doesn't help with fixing friendships, only at accepting loss.  And at the end of the day, that's the most that we can do, you know, to deal with the reality of the present. We accept what is lost.  We pick up the pieces and move on."

Friday, September 9, 2011

An Open Letter to an Old Friend

for you my friend, and for what we once were
Image taken here.

I don’t remember when we first met.  We were young definitely, but outside of the faded images in my head of you running around the bright hallways of our school, I couldn’t remember much of anything else.  You had hair then, I think, which resembled your mother’s: uncontrollably wavy, and a deep black. I also remember you being a bit of a snob. Even as a six year old, you had an amazing sense of your own self worth.

But I don’t think we were friends then, although we like to tell people we were. I was too shy and awkward and you were too confident and self-assured. Sure, we exchanged occasional smiles, and probably played a few games together, but we were never close. I don’t think we really had the chance to be. We were too different.

I grew up bookish and slightly unsure of myself, though cleverly masked by the insults I carelessly threw at people as a defense mechanism. (Even then, I had an extraordinary talent for insulting people). You, unsurprisingly, grew into a remarkably adept social butterfly.

I remember you coming out of the closet at the ripe, old age of twelve. Which was funny because by the time you came to terms with who you were as a person, I barely even understood who, or what, I was. I thought it was funny how you managed to shock the school, both teachers and students alike, into accepting, albeit grudgingly, who you were. I don’t know how you felt about it, but it was quite an achievement.

I remember feeling envious. I couldn’t admit it at the time, or I didn’t want to, because to admit it meant accepting a few truths about myself I wasn’t ready to accept yet.  And I guess, looking back, I realize that that was precisely what I felt envious about. Your ability to both care and not care. And your ability to be happy.

It’s not as easy as it sounds, choosing to be happy. Sometimes it requires courage of the highest degree.

We became close at a difficult time in my life. I was struggling with bouts of depression, unsure of my place in the world, and you were, well, still yourself: confident, sure and happy. Exactly as you have always been.

I remember us spending long hours discussing, of all things, Foucault and Derrida and Marx and culture and politics and life, our raised voices disturbing what was otherwise a quiet and peaceful night. We rarely agreed on anything, except on the fact that we both enjoyed a healthy debate.

Our discussions turned into a weekly tradition; something I looked forward to at the end of an otherwise mundane week. And, in the course of those countless conversations, what casual relationship we had turned into a true and honest friendship.

But, like everything else in the world, we changed. Our values diverged, and what connection we had weakened over the years. The changes were minute, and the disintegration of our relationship barely perceptible, but it was happening, and it was very difficult for either of us to do anything about it.

Until that one moment our friendship was tested, and laid bare its weaknesses, and broke.

I can’t blame you for your decisions. They are yours, and as always, you cannot help but be who you are all the time. I hold no grudge. Know that I am still here, and that I am still your friend.

I wish things were simpler, where whatever problems we had could be solved by the simple act of picking up a phone and communicating. But our lives refuse to bend to my wishes don’t they?

I still hope that when the time is right for the both of us, when things settle down, or whatever complication we managed to make in our lives sort itself out, we can just continue the friendship right where we left off. But even if the time never becomes right, where silence and distance completely erase the possibility of the friendship we should have had, I can at least take comfort in the fact that in the twenty odd years I’ve spent in this life, I’ve met someone who left a huge indelible mark in my heart.

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