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Writer shuffling between New York, London, and Manila. I like to keep work and romance geographically separate from the rest of my life.

alone for the first time in 6 months

Last Saturday, H and my little boy L flew to England.    

This is the first time I’ve had this much time to myself without having to feed/change/clean my baby or write up a report, answer an email, or analyse a new set of data for work.  And I think it’s driven me to either depression, insanity, or both.

For instance, I have suddenly realized that I no longer have friends. 

Okay, yes, exaggeration. What I really mean is my friends’ lives, like my own, have kept on moving and I find myself a little bewildered at how jumbled up everything is now.  How did I not notice this?  Party girls are at home with serious relationships, the potheads are potless because of the baby, slacker boys are still at work, and best friends have moved to other towns and can’t come over anymore.  My mise en place has been overturned.  I don’t know who to call for drinks, or a movie, or to hang out. The bar I love is closed.  And well, I’m alone.

You see, when you’re coupled and with a child, you get used to never, ever being alone.  It’s so strange to identify as an introvert and to suddenly feel so uncomfortable with introversion.  I never thought that would happen.

The days seem so long now.  And the nights are even longer. 

 I also tend to slip into drama more easily without someone to spot me.

Let’s see how this goes. 

My son, the cutest baby ever.

My son, the cutest baby ever.

HEY, IS ANYONE STILL OUT THERE

So, I guess I’m back.  Intermittently.  Sorry for the absence.  I’ve been pregnant.  And I’ve given birth.  And now I have a four month old son.  He’s adorable. Funny how life works.

I just had the burning desire to share a thought in my head, and realized I had no one to share it with.  Except you, my nameless, faceless internet.  I suppose I’ve always had you. 

See, throughout my pregnancy and this being-a-mom thing, I haven’t had time to read, much less write, and now that I am deep in the throes of a semi-real job, with very real responsibilities, I’ve felt myself slipping farther and farther away.  I need to pin myself down again.  I need to pen myself down again.  (Yeah, yeah, I know what I did there.  Forgive me, I’m a bit rusty.)

So, to start, a tiny little ramble, before my baby son wakes up, and/or his father needs the computer.  Let’s call this one on The Fault in Our Stars.

I haven’t read it, just this review by The Guardian, which seems to be vaguely disparaging and celebratory in turns.  It is not a great piece of fiction, I presume, but something about it piques me.  The glamour club of chemo patients (“The movie is up to its armpits in the weird, inverted glamour of the sick.”), the young, twilighty love, the swooniness of it all.  

I think that may be it.  Being a mother, being a reponsible adult (finally), holding down a job, these are not “swoon-y” moments.  And by god, sometimes, I need to swoon.  I need to read something that pulls me in and back again - emotionally, with raw verve.  I worried that my mental acuity may atrophy with motherhood, but that hasn’t been the case.  It’s my emotions that have taken a strange dip.  This romantic has veered away from romance, and that doesn’t feel like me.  I need to feel like me.

So, I guess this is all a jumbled, inarticulate way of rationalizing my need to buy into this latest reincarnation of Young Adult Twee.  Hey, we use the tools we have to do what needs to be done, right?  Don’t judge.  (I told you I was rusty.)  

The pink line that changed my world.

The pink line that changed my world.

Anonymous said: haha johnny depp? why you look so uptight?

Hah. He’ll get a kick out of that.

Follow up to question below.

Follow up to question below.

Anonymous said: got a new boy yet?

Yes, actually.

Re-reading Anne Sexton

'I have gone out, a possessed witch,
haunting the black air, braver at night;
dreaming evil, I have done my hitch
over the plain houses, light by light:
lonely thing, twelve-fingered, out of mind.
A woman like that is not a woman, quite.
I have been her kind.

I have found the warm caves in the woods,
filled them with skillets, carvings, shelves,
closets, silks, innumerable goods;
fixed the suppers for the worms and the elves:
whining, rearranging the disaligned.
A woman like that is misunderstood.
I have been her kind.

I have ridden in your cart, driver,
waved my nude arms at villages going by,
learning the last bright routes, survivor
where your flames still bite my thigh
and my ribs crack where your wheels wind.
A woman like that is not ashamed to die.
I have been her kind.” 

― Anne Sexton, To Bedlam and Part Way Back

He says he loves how beautiful I am in the morning.

And I can almost see what he sees: a girl barely awake, hair in disarray from sleep, barefoot and looking for a discarded bra while the early light streams gently through the window. She looks lost and innocent and pure. I am unmade and unmasked.

But I don’t want to be loved when I’m vulnerable.

Love me when I’m strong. Love me when I’m wielding my weapons. Love me inspite of my shields. It’s too easy to love someone who needs to be loved. I don’t need you, but love me anyway.

And I will love you like no one else can. I’ll tend to the monsters you like to keep. I’ll laugh with all the demons you’ve befriended. I will take you as you are, and you will never have cause to hide even the ugliest of your pieces. I will show you the world.

And when it’s all over, I promise, you will always remember me.

excerpts: strange and beautiful

For Cece, Anette, Mila, Hazel, Apple, Cassandra, and all the girls whose real names I will never know, but who let me in their lives regardless.

***

Tonight, we’re sitting on a bench, on display. We are in our slutty best: the shortest skirts, the most diaphanous tops, the laciest lingerie under carefully kohled eyes and blown out hair.

It’s just like a night out, a pretty blonde, an actress from Australia, tells us. The striking girl beside her, a painter with wild curly hair, laughs.

Artists find their ways here too easily, I often think. We tend to be less scrupulous, more used to bending ideals to fit the day, more flexible with morals. I suppose we’ve had to be. Empathy is our drug, and we’re all of us addicted. We see too much, feel too deeply, to keep to black-and-white.

Another girl rolls her eyes. I haven’t had a night out in three years, she says, and I’m definitely not counting this as a replacement. There is an edge to her soft voice, like cotton candy gravel, that the rest of us are careful to skirt around. She’s been doing this the longest - for almost as long as she’s had an autistic son.

***

Under the table, we are a knot of limbs. We are so many bodies crammed together, just flesh to be picked over, bought and sold. Sometimes I no longer know which pieces are mine.

But this is my last night here. The last night of three months. I have enough for a downpayment on a rental, and to pay off debts, and get me solvent again. Enough. It’s not enough to hit the ground running, but it’s enough to stop in my steps, to coax my legs out from the routine of gyrations. It’s enough to find my feet, and I’m grateful.

It’s strange, isn’t it it? Most of us come in seduced by easy money, and visions of Louis Vuitton bags, and dinners at Nobu, and medicine for sick sons. Yet we leave thankful that we can even find our feet.

***

It’s only when the world collapses around you that you really get to see what’s been holding it up. It’s when you see your foundations, the pillars on which the essence of you rest.

Because the slow collapse is every bit like the striptease I’ve taught myself to do, to withstand on a nightly basis. The extraneous things make everything pretty and exciting, but they don’t matter, in the end. Most men don’t even remember the color of your bra - and if you’re doing your job right, maybe they shouldn’t.

What matters is the bravado. The smile. What matters is the absence of your debris on that dance floor, because you kept it together. In the end, it doesn’t matter what keeps you up. It only matters that you don’t fall apart.

It could be worse, one of the veterans shrugs. She speaks as if worse was a gradient on which our lives must necessarily fall.

alexis tioseco, in memoriam

We take things for granted sometimes.

That the world won’t change too much in the morning. That homes will be sanctuary. That trust given will be returned. That friends won’t die.

Roughly four years ago, Alexis and his girlfriend were murdered in their home during a burglary that was carried out with the help of one of their maids.

Alexis was passionate about film, and was one of the leading advocates of Southeast Asian cinema both in and out of the region. He was an honest but generous critic, a thoughtful writer, and a vocal champion of the artistry of film. He had just started a promising career as a film professor at the University of Asia and the Pacific.

Today would have been his 32nd birthday.

"There are issues there, deeper ones… I think the value and wage you get paid make it seem more dubious, but it’s not necessarily the nature of your work that is complicit."  I woke up pensive and uncertain today, and the early morning chat was just the kind of affirmation I needed.  We all need someone to talk us through our impending and imminent existential crises, if only to reassure us that we haven’t entered a Faustian deal with the devil just yet.  Glad I have you, @isleepwalk.

"There are issues there, deeper ones… I think the value and wage you get paid make it seem more dubious, but it’s not necessarily the nature of your work that is complicit." I woke up pensive and uncertain today, and the early morning chat was just the kind of affirmation I needed. We all need someone to talk us through our impending and imminent existential crises, if only to reassure us that we haven’t entered a Faustian deal with the devil just yet. Glad I have you, @isleepwalk.

Anonymous said: Wait, wait. You and The Brit broke up? I'm sorry, I don't know you, but I've been following, lurking, blog-stalking you for the last 3 or so years, so I do really feel some dismay over this. You don't have to tell us (me) what happened, just confirm that it did happen, and that I haven't misunderstood... say it ain't so! PS- I sound a little heartless, but I do feel bad. PPS - I think I will miss all the entries dedicated to The Brit. Just the way you named him The Brit made his sound so

So what??? I made him sound so what??? This is really getting to me, anon. Please satisfy my curiosity and post the answer in the comment box. ;)

But to answer you (and everyone else who sent my inbox the same question), yes, we are officially broken up, and have been for a while. It was just one of those things. We still talk though, and we’re, errr, aggresively working out the kinks in transitioning into platonica.

Anonymous said: Hi, I just wanted to say that I love reading your thoughts and ramblings here... and I just realized that sounds a little creepy so, I'll just go anon. As for my question: What would you say is the most apt english translation of "kilig"? This is something I've struggled to explain to my non-Filipino friends. And I just have this feeling that you have the cred to actually have an answer for this. Hah. Thanks!

Aww, thanks. You don’t have to worry about being a creep though. I think we’re all a little creepy these days. :)

But it’s such a coincidence that you should ask this, as I use ‘kilig’ to illustrate the incongruities between Tagalog (Filipino) and English all the time! I don’t think there’s a literal translation, but if pressed, I think the closest analogue would be twitterpated.

Of course, twitterpated (a fairly new word in the English lexicon; word on the street is that it gained popularity because of that Bambi movie) is much more related to the idea of ‘spring fever’, or the kind of romantic frisson that allegedly goes with it, while kilig is season-less, and actually describes a very specific emotion that cuts across a very broad set of conditions, some of which are not necessarily and/or directly linked to romantic love.

We can be kilig about movies and songs and books, for instance. And we can be kilig for other people. It’s a very nuanced term.

I’m going to stop here because I don’t want to bore you with my prattle, or weigh you down with an answer that’s more convoluted than necessary. But yeah, twitterpated. Probably. :D

Themed by Hunson. Originally by Josh