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?




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.


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."


"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.

Monday, September 5, 2011

You Should Date a Writer

a writer would write books about you
Image taken here.

(This is a response to this particularly brilliant piece of writing found here, entitled Never Date a Writer).

You should date a writer. You should date a writer because he will fictionalize everything. He will write about things you have done to him, or things you have never done to him. He will write about the time you held his hand, in the rain, and shared an umbrella. Or said nothing when he cried copiously in a movie theater. He will write, in pure passionate prose, about how, during the time you were together, you came across a stray cat on the street and you cried and you took it home and gave it to him and he fell in love with you for the first time.

You should date a writer. You should date a writer because he will fictionalize everything. He will write about the time you fought, and made up, and made love, and fought again. He will scour the details of your lives, and make from them poetry.  And his words will sing in your head like birds in spring.

You should date a writer.  You should date a writer because he will fictionalize everything.  He will write about things that have happened, or that have not happened.  He will write about the time you broke up, and he broke your heart.  Or the time that he asked you to stay, and you left.  He will write, words bleeding on a page, about love and life and lessons learned.

And you will learn about the time he waited outside your door for hours, not knowing if you were coming home or not. Or about the time he baked you a cake, lopsided and burnt, and threw it away because he did not want to give you a stupid ugly cake on your birthday. Or about the time he woke up at 5am in the morning to get you fresh flowers in the market, because he couldn’t afford the ones they sold at the mall and he knew how much you liked them.

Or about the time when he was sick, and you were there, making sure he was safe and warm. How you skipped work that day, and puttered around his apartment, making more noise than was probably necessary.  And how you kissed him on the forehead when you thought he was asleep, and whispered a promise he dared not believe.

You will learn about the time he stood by your door, and told you he loved you, and how that was the happiest and scariest day of his life.  How nervous and fearful he felt, not knowing if you loved him back.

You should date a writer.  You should date a writer because he will fictionalize everything.  He will immortalize in words, the life you shared, or the time you both laid in bed, and whispered affectionate promises of forever.


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