you know what brings me down and leaves me tearing my hair out and screaming bloody murder? people like me, who have everything to be thankful for, but apparently, blatantly, choose to be petty. petty about what? everything our big, learned minds can conjure. don't feel bad if you feel this message is aimed straight at the eye of your storm. i'm like that all the time, too - petty, yes.
  the new franchise
one of the greatest writers in modern times... in my estimation... ahaha... is coming to chicago. her books are the type you should read uninterrupted on a rainy day in from school, or a weekend. her books are so good, publishing companies have decided to cash in to their franchiseable value. depending on where you stand, that either sounds like selling out or making dreams available to a wider audience.

Scholastic announced today that it was going back to press for 100,000 copies of its new breakaway best-seller, Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke, bringing the total to 250,000 copies in print. Scholastic released Dragon Rider in mid-August with an initial print run of 150,000 copies. In less than a month the book hit #1 on The New York Times best-seller list as well as the Book Sense best-seller list. In the two short years since Funke's debut in America, there are currently 2,000,000 copies of her books in print in the U.S. and Canada. ...

Cornelia Funke recently announced a deal with New Line Cinema who will develop her Inkheart trilogy as a potential kid's fantasy franchise. In a Variety article, New Line executive Vice President Mark Ordesky said, "It's the perfect segue from 'Lord of the Rings' to 'Inkheart.' Apart from Cornelia's huge status within Europe, her international popularity is only just beginning to crest." [ more ]
  screamfest faded
mwahahahaha... sorry. i think i shall start all my xanga entries for this week with a laugh.

but can i get a holla from those who still live at home with their parents! i arise to yet another day of hollering, this time about my lost passport.

yipee - could be the first reason for deportation? coz of course it is the first thing on my mother's mind, she who is addicted to CNN and all things news. the joke in my family is that she is so news savvy, she will beat the CIA and the FBI and the whole of the u.s. military might in finding osama bin laden.

"it's hard to get a passport issued to you these days because of these hard times," she admonishes, referring of course to the current wars in asia.

so i hop online to look for a phone number and talk to the peeps at the philippine consulate to ask for advice. she who is new savvy yells at my other ear, "you are a u.s. citizen! you don't have nothing to do with the philippine consulate anymore."

"depending on the city, it takes just two days to get your passport," the lady on the other end of the phone was telling me.

oh the joy of it all, having your attention pulled one way and another. to make me laugh i check e-mail and blogs and forums i've been waiting to hear from. i extricate myself from those and then look for the ________ consulate's phone number. i call while rummaging about the basement, my mother's jackets' pockets, and running up and down stairs.

"you're not required a passport, just a naturalized certificate if you have one, and your birth certificate," says the sensible person on the other line.

i tell my mother and show her my birth certificate, who lightens up and says, "your doctor's name was FOR-TU-NA-TA. you know, you were a mere 32 pounds when you were born. aehehehehehe."

she calls the bus company for her first long trip bus ride ever. CNN shows a british worker chained hand and foot. "why are they treating him like that, he's not even a soldier!" she tells the newscasters.

and here i go, blogging, going, "i've been there before, but canada always rocks. i'm going to toronto!"
  day 1 down
the final minutes of my workday went like this:

Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Alan Keyes... YOU HAVE GOT TO GO ASIA.

i stop typing midsentence and laugh out loud. "the more so then that you've got to visit asia, if there's that much you don't know about that place."

"but i would stand out there," one said.

"how do you think we feel over here?" i laughed, throwing out my arms as if to embrace them all. mwahahaha.

"you don't stand out. we're a melting pot in here," she said referring to this office, which, in a way is true.

they eagerly imparted to me just how strange they would feel and what they would eat, and places like tokyo and manila might be sensory overload to them coz they're both bigger than new york city.

i laughed more and grabbed the opportunity to tell the more about my home continent. i wasn't believing what i was hearing, but i didn't take it against them, either. i forgot most of what they said, because i was very pleased that there wasn't a shred of malice or fear in their voice, just a lot of curiosity and interest that wasn't at all faked.

"after seeing 'lost in translation,' now i really don't want to go to tokyo because it'd be too much of a sensory overload for me," said my news supervisor. i haven't been to tokyo before, but i've been to new york city twice, and after a while you learn to get used to the craziness of times square. you learn how to make your way around the city, and that makes travelling and learning about the city and yourself much easier.

we left the conversation at that, because one concluded that if they had to, they won't have any qualms visiting manila. we acknowledged the cheap labor provided by outsourcing in manila and elsewhere in the world. in true geek fashion i told them how "america's influence has become so widespread that you'd be suprised at what you might find there - there's a mcdonald's everywhere." saying it right now sounds hella, pathetically inane, but it is true.

just to argue on the side of regular american workers, we also hafta abide by company rules and the size of our pockets. it does take money to go someplace else. and i am just so glad that at least, right now, i encountered no negativity with regards to my diversity. that's one of the myriad other things i owe this company, and my background.
  monday afternoon
an avalanche of activities and stories always meets me on mondays. some people choose to be bitter on a monday because they need to hustle to wake up early. early in the morning and the week, they have to make their own choices when they know precisely that their fate isn't always determined by their own.

ahaha. i don't always like to wax philosophical, but humor me a bit.

one good thing about waking up in the middle of the day and starting out late is that i get to jump into activity already spinning around me - work, clockwork trains, classes, people's messages on cell phones and e-mails. everyone else's started their day already, all i hafta do is hop along and join the ride.

it's a lot like what resa wrote about during family parties - that as kids you "don't really belong anywhere yet":

moving from room to room... too young for the kitchen. too wild for the living room that was reserved for "real guests." too female for the porch or the garage where all the men enjoyed time away from their wives. getting shooed out of the kitchen by our moms who told us to stop running and act like young ladies and being sent away from the cold, smoke-filled garage by our dads who are busily playing card games and dreaming up what they would do if they won the lottery.

running and running and running in shiny mary janes away from the titas that pinch you for being too malikot, away from the crazy aunties turned dictators/photographers, and to bedrooms with nintendo and barbies and more and more kids to play with.

falling asleep in heap with my cousins on a couch or in a tita's lap.

my dad carrying me to my room and my parents strategically arranging pillows all around to at least try and keep me from falling off the bed.

sleeping, sleeping soundly between crisp sheets and soft pillows

*thanks for hurricanes that force you to sit with your family, speaker phone, new pens

resa forgot to add mothers and aunts and elder cousins' disapproving squeals in the event that your cousins and you decide to be adventurous and start invading neighbors' back yards and climb big mango trees at vacant lots. ahahahaha.

when you add that last bit about needing to stay within your house and yard's confines, it's no different from my right now, when you awake late and just need to jump into the fray to join.

thanks for the rare non-busy monday. ok, let's not jinx it now, ahahahaha. ...
  union jack meets the stars and stripes
recovery time. woohoo!

their american brothers must be rollin over dying. i woke up today to the TV blaring giggles to trendy funky music. tristan and the barber were twisting earl's dreadlocks and asking... something. the translation on the bottom of the screen went, "how long since you've talked to your dad about it?"

"i don't think i've ever talking to him about it," earl says, "i've got to let him know."

"if you were given a chance to talk to your dad about it right now, what would you tell him?" tristan asks.

earl, with his big, round, brown eyes, the barber wielding a razor close to his jugular to take out errant little strands, turns into the tv, "dad, i'm sorry if i've been a disappointment to you. but for the past five years, it has all been about you, and now i'm doing something for myself. ..."

later dane goes shopping for home effects, knocking over a picnic umbrella, a barbecue grill, and eventually running away with a chainsaw. he returns to earl's pad and arranges bottles of grooming effects on a nightstand that doesn't at all look like a bathroom.

julian grabs earl to show him a red and white shirt with brown swans flying across the back that make their way to the front, to be paired with cream slacks and some leather shoes. he shows earl the 13th of only 17 pairs of an exclusive new york-based gym shoe and some jordans by nike. julian makes earl change into an orange shirt with drawstring jeans and an orange pair of gym shoes, "now that, is absolute new york style," julian says, and everyone drools over the outfit.

i'm sure it was just the outfit that they wanted. coz one of them said, "look at how that outfit just matches your color."

"he said he didn't want the orange because it was wrong somehow," someone said. earl rubs his face in shy, sheepish admission. aww.

dane shows him his new barbecue grill and a lounge area with white gravel and bean bags, and peyton teaches him how to mix a cocktail with peaches, strawberries and pineapple, and ground beef for hamburgers. the fab UK five troop out with their dog, earl shaking his head in happy contentment.

in true british fashion earl calmly slices the fruit and adds them to the punch. he chops some coriander and squishes some mustard onto the beef. he applies product - "feels like beads," he says - exfoliating his face and changes clothes. hmm! i forgot what jason showed him - but since earl's change was just a home makeover, there wasn't much to add to his taste in culture.

"you look like a hundred pounds," one of earl's friends say when they enter his pad. bravo, knowing they air for an american audience, translates speech:

one of = one of a kind
bloke = guy
100 pounds = 180 dollars. literally.

this is only the second queer eye for the straight guy UK edition i've seen, and just like their american counterparts, they're not fun unless they jump on a bed or crack a joke or break something at a store or their host's house. (they always break something.) i'm biased with the brits - coz they're european, ahaha. the editing hides it well, but like all guys both the brits and american queer eye guys would rather participate rather than just watch someone live their lives. ;-)

there's a 'queer eye for the straight girl' coming out, too. sheesh! i remain undecided - can you imagine what kinna squealfest that'd be... the shopping will be endless and it'll be like walking on eggshells if they encounter a host they don't like... ahahahaha... for some strange reason, unless you're ellen or margaret cho, women find it harder to be funny than guys. *sigh.* so strange! ;-)

ok, enough brooding. shopping time! :-D
  rant #4,667,987...
i'm officially pissed. five seconds ago i was just being sarcastic, now i am boiling angry. i'm so pissed at people who call themselves web designers but have only become adept at producing fuckin useless pop-up ads that waste your time and disrupt your study. fuckin assoles needta be shot.

i NEVER curse. my vocabulary right now is shot through with expletives. if i were a firecracker i'd be on the moon right now. i'm so angry.

15 minutes ago i thought i was goin crazy. for the past two hours i've been trying to catch up with the rest of my chores - cleaning up e-mailing boxes, text messages, sorting through notes, trying to get a grasp of reality SO I KNOW WHAT TO FUCKIN WRITE ABOUT NEXT, and then the pop-up ads not only come and disrupt your screen, but they fuckin shut it down. WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT?!

pissed, hella angry. those producers, talented as they are, have gotta get a life. i fuckin know they can trace stuff like this ON BLOGGER, so hella read this and fuckin understand. oh, i forgot. they became the designers they are coz they're too lazy to actually do some work that needs brain cells, that's why they opted for shitty pop-ups and invasive software. pardon me. i'm just a hella loud-mouthed little girl.
  timing out
this always happens to me.

most friends in the philippines absolutely adore blogspot, but for some reason, friends and i here can't seem to make heads or tails of it when it suddenly decides to time out. why is that? is blogspot based in asia somewhere? we're beginning to feel some sort of bias out here. ahaha.
  $675,000 for lunch
i'm hella distracted right now, it's not even funny.

first off, try watching laura bush and her twin daughters jenna and barbara meet with other rich women and their daughters at $3,000 per ticket and have lunch with them. at a ryan mansion in winnetka, no less. they raised $675,000 for dubya's campaign. as if they need more money.

that's the old rich for you - invisible and immaculate. the mothers are, predictably, happy that the twins have good morals and that the bushes came to give awareness to women's role in the next four years... whatever that means. the daughters are, predictably, opinionated and darn fragile under all that talk. kinna like having so many choices, so little time. ahahaha.

second off, try bolting the house at 2 p.m. when you perfectly know that it takes 45 minutes to get to work by train. and you start work at 2:30 p.m. of course you'll arrive late. at 3 p.m. no less, just at the changing of the guard.

lastly, PRAY that columbia college's office of admissions is still open tomorrow, saturday - coz if not, i'll be stuck at the university of chicago, ahaha. which isn't so bad, actually, except that i think that registration's closed at u.c. now also, for fall semester.

ERGKH!!!! my life is falling apart around me. work, as always, remains untouched. i hope. at least, as of this post. i'm so annoyed.
  just breathe, baby

Think you have bad breath? Confirm it with your mobile phone. Siemens Mobile, the German telecommunications company, said it is developing a phone that will alert users to their own bad breath or other offensive odors. The phone features new sensor technology using a chip measuring less than 1 millimeter to check the immediate vicinity for anything from bad breath to atmospheric gas levels, a Siemens spokeswoman said.
-- Reuters, via Wired.com

[ new mobile worth a mint ]
[ scent-sensitive mobile phone detects bad breath ]

  eww 'breathless'
i hate that word coz i have asthma, and if you don't have asthma, you don't know what 'breathless' means. ( - but of course you do. i was joking; humor me.) so when you see something that takes your breath away, you try to calm down coz you don't always carry ventolin everywhere you go. particularly when you finally see eye level with some skyscrapers you only normally only walk alongside's feet with. ahahaha.

eww, eww, eww. enough of other people's lives and other people's houses. things to check out:

livestrong - it is a sign that many people close to me don't have the bracelet yet that i have to give them one. mwahaha. actually, also coz i've two aunts and a dad who've already succumbed to cancer.

metric conversions for length measurements - site should be renamed, 'metric conversions for dummies.'

some photo printer - coz the last printer we bought my mother wanted something to fax from. the technology for printers to print digital photographs hasn't yet been made affordable when we were technology-shopping then, so maybe i can snatch one up sometime in the next several weeks... ahahaha... GASTOS is my middle name.
  a little crazy
i think it's just insane that i woke up today and went, 'eww.'

i 'eww'-ed a gorgeous riverfront downtown apartment overlooking what anna said was the last building designed by mies van der rohe, the federal center and plaza on adams and dearborn streets, site of frequent city protests and demonstrations.

glass box or no glass box, it's still a gorgeous apartment. i've another friend who's got a loft. it's a small loft compared to the ones nearer my house, like on irving park road near ashland, but it is still downtown. now THAT loft, my friends, is a concrete box in the sky. you walk down curving, meandering hallways painted with wide waves, white above and blue below, before you reach his front door. anna's place is a glass box in the sky; it's magic coz it doesn't have greenhouse effect. there's no greenhouse effect. it's greenhouse effect-less.

ahahahahaha. oh, darn.

i'm hella distracted coz i finally clicked on a link a friend sent me to join gmail!!!! so excited with my new gmail account, i created a signature for it:

yay! my very own gmail account. i feel like part of the known universe. while i still have it, imma flaunt it, and when i'm granted peace, i shall invite you to it! peace, i mean. >sike< gmail, of course! ;-P

ahahahahaha... i'm happy. like a giddy-buzzed little missy. i just signed up two seconds ago, so i don't have invites to send yet, but i hear they only send out like 10 each time, so when i have 'em i'll share.

hmm! i think i'm sugarbuzz-ing. i must be helped along by this silly mochafreeze i ordered at au bon pain this morning (morning to me, my friends, is twelve noon. dawn is 10 a.m.) i dread the moment it'll wear off, mwahahahahahaha... violence is key. eww.

anyways, back to my 'eww.' i would actually rather have the view than the big loft space. i don't think there are any lofts downtown, and i think i'd rather live downtown with all the lights and the airiness rather than the gloom of some spacious loft. with all my books and my movies and my CDs and my printed matter and my scrapbook thingies, i can be brought down to earth easily enough. and that's without my imagination.

i'm thankful actually that anna's place isn't internet-reliable - it's the one thing that's keeping me from bolting my mother's house, ahaha. it will take time and energy to look for a similar pad - coz in chicago with booming architecture and real estate, there's a lot - and i like to think that i don't have much of that to spare at the moment, ahaha.

those lofts and apartments are for yuppies, anyways, ahaha. one interesting thing that anna said that there's no more hick place than corporate america, ahaha - coz they're all mostly white guys who came from mostly-white towns and mostly-white colleges and work at mostly-white offices. you'd think that downtown's pretty diverse, and it is in a sense - all sorts of people from all walks of life walk the sidewalks on the ground. but those who ascend the elevators to offices... are a different story. no pun intended, ahahaha.

the comic books and anime and fiction you've read about there being a different world abovestairs? i learned that's all true.

hmm! i wonder if you can loose such a thing as an email account? coz if yahoo! accounts are forever, aren't gmail accounts, too? ahahahahaha... ok. back to reality. ...
  hella late for work. the ...
hella late for work. the fancy coffee in this cafe stinks. they should just stick 2 their awesome fresh brews. :)

  i want my own life. ...
i want my own life. i think. ahaha. the view frm her pad is gorgeous, but i think i want something else. haha - scary drama -

  i did nothing @ anna's ...
i did nothing @ anna's but gawk @ the cityscape. n girltalk. she even fed me. i don't think i really want a pad like hers... damn.

  im sitting @ a cafe ...
im sitting @ a cafe right now trying 2 eat. i hadta order the most elaborate coffee and try a new sandwhich. i feel friggin stupid

  anna's pad
kagagaling ko lang sa highrise apartment ni anna. 45th floor on kinzie and lasalle - grabe! napawi akong mga salita. ahahaha. ganyan ka-ganda ng mundo from her vantage point. yung office ko 25th floor lang, overlooking the flat, boring, infinite west side and the river. kung tatalon ka galing sa office ko, the flight'll be too short and you splash unceremoniously into the chicago river, like a charred dead duck.

but from her apartment... you need fly off the banister and soar further first like a paper airplane aboard wind before you smoothly land on the chicago river. ahahahaha. ka-eye level mo yung buildings. ang ganda-ganda. i can't get it out of my mind. i've found something new to obssess over, and at more than $1,000 a month, anna says it is doable... and it will be my own space... and it will be in chicago, less insane than new york with breathing room to boot... cleaner... with buildings, the lake, the river... shimmering... i can have peace and quiet and the whole night to write... what the hell's stopping me?

gold yung kulay ng street lights. they line up like glass markers. the streets are never devoid of cars. you can talk all you want on the balcony because the walls are so thick and the glass so soundproof and the room so high that no one can see or hear you. you can sleep with the windows open and the balcony door ajar because no one will shimmy up and rob you. anna left the doorjamb open to keep her front door from closing, just like you do a hotel room, because you won't be gone for very long, you'll come back to lock your door later. you can furnish the place with trendy ikea stuff - the glass box in the sky seemed built just for things ikea, anyway. you don't need two rooms, just one.

damn. my life's so grown that i feel comfortable living on my own? that i need that much space on my own? because i thought things like that would be really lonely. i won't need a pet up there, i think. i'd have the other skyscrapers every night for company - they never sleep. and there'll always be people over, friends or family. and i can be online all day, all week.

ah. but that's one negatory - anna said internet in her building sucks. wireless is way too expensive, especially if i were to committ an entire paycheck and a quarter to just rent. cable i might be able to do without, especially if there's unlimited rentals at blockbuster. but i would need my internet, ahahaha.

look at this. planning a dream already. moving to that highrise would mean my sacrificing my wanderlust. it'd mean loosing the car, too, ahaha, and the credit card and the fancy everything else like movies and books and clothes and food. it might mean cancelling cell phone privileges.

but for just a year? contracts go by years, i think. what's one year? a snap. i won't have time to enjoy it. but i think it will be enough, if all i did within that year is work to pay for the apartment, go to the one class, and have friends over. it'd be too depressing if i do it some time in my 30s, ahaha. gotta be soon... ahahahaha. scary!

and a bit sad: leaving my mother's house for the first time. sinong matitira dito sa amin? pero gusto rin naman ni mom. she always finds ways to get what she wants. that's one thing na baka mangyari sa akin - she move in with me. which will ruin the whole thing! grrr.

ok. these are just thoughts. if i do somehow make them come true, i'll definitely blog about it. next time i visit anna's pad, i'll bring my camera and post it. :-)
  the night frm the ground, ...
the night frm the ground, but on a par w/ skyscrapers... it's different. :)

  i step away frm the ...
i step away frm the 45th floor banister of anna's apt coz w/ my shaking hands my fon might plummet - it's just gorgeous. i love

  bookies 2004 named


Booker Prize Finalists Are Named
By Sarah Lyall
September 22, 2004
New York Times - you should always post entire articles from the NY Times into your blog (even tho technically it's wrong, but who's watching? ), coz sometimes you forget your login name and password, and then what're you left to do?

A novel about South Africa's struggles to reconcile with its past, a fictionalization of Henry James's life, a tale spanning the centuries and told through a dizzying array of distinct voices, an account of the ravages of alcoholism in a family, a novel about a British tattoo artist living in Coney Island, and the story of a man caught up in the headiness of 1980's London - these are the books on the 2004 Man Booker Prize shortlist, which was announced in London on Tuesday.

In presenting the shortlist, Chris Smith, the chairman of the judges' panel, praised the high quality of the writing and use of imagery in all six books. The list was winnowed down from a preliminary longlist of 22 semifinalists selected from a total of 132 entries. Mr. Smith was not flattering about the general caliber of the entrants. "I have to say that of the books submitted, quite a number were not very good," he said. The winner of the prize, which is awarded annually to a novel written by a British or Commonwealth writer, receives £52,500 (about $94,000); the runners-up receive £2,500 (about $4,500) each. Every year there are surprises and minor controversies surrounding the judging, and this time the complaints had to do with novels left off the longlist of semifinalists, which included an unusually high number of relative unknowns.

Among those who did not make the early cut were new books by V. S. Naipaul, David Lodge and Louis de Bernières. But Mr. Smith said that their work did not stand up to competitive scrutiny. The winner will be announced on Oct. 19. Among bookies, who are taking bets on the competition, David Mitchell's "Cloud Atlas," a book told by six narrators from six eras, is the favorite at Ladbrokes, with even odds.

It is on the shortlist, along with "The Line of Beauty," Alan Hollinghurst's look at the opulent world of 1980's London; "The Master,'' Colm Toibin's fictionalization of the agonized life of Henry James; "Bitter Fruit," set in modern-day South Africa, by Achmat Dangor; Sarah Hall's "Electric Michelangelo," whose protagonist is a Coney Island tattoo artist; and "I'll Go to Bed at Noon," about the long tentacles of alcoholism, by Gerard Woodward.

[ NY Times ]
[ booker prize ]

  bag ladies
i've become my mother. my mom lugs around two purses - a big, black one filled with god-knows-what and her reading glasses, and a chanel leather purse that ages well. she carries her car keys and lord-knows-what-else in either purse, the first for work and the latter for all other occasions. i guess it's inevitable that all females will eventually carry purses, in fact, it's a sign of maturity if you have to. if that's true, then at age six i'd officially become a lady because i remember this red penguin toybag i grabbed from my sister who was happily content with a blue dog one, and lord-knows-what else we dumped into that purse. i remember carrying around empty purses and making my dad hold on to it while i chased silly cousins and boy friends - lalaking kaibigan! how dare you, i was a kid! - up trees for a while. my dad would ask what in the world i carried in that purse, so i thought i needed to put something in there, so i took a pen and my barbie doll and her clothes and a comb for us both and some paper because without paper, a pen miraculously picks up on skin, clothes, on uncles' houses' walls. i dropped the purse when i discovered the school 'backpack,' and never looked back since. after college, i learned i can't walk around town without a bag to carry my stuff in, but i refuse to carry a 'purse' - that's hella girly. if i were to lug around a bag, it'd better be a real one, so i went from army bag to red backpack to trendy black one-shoulder bag to trendy $10 gray GAP bag to trendy $10 old navy dark denim mail bag to my current yummy gray timbuk2. it can carry schoolbooks and notebooks and newspapers and clothes and lord-knows-what-else and it didn't bite my shoulder. like a private journal, you're not supposed to lay bare the contents of the bag a female is carrying. only god-knows-why that is the case. ;-)
so... a girl comes up to me and we talk girltalk. it turns out she's interested in me! woot woot... ahahahaha. she goes, 'all guys are jerks. if you go out with a girl, you'd understand each other better.'

granted, she made some moves last saturday in front of everybody. but i've been hugged and even kissed by both guys and girls in that way, but unmalicious.

this girl, my friends, will take the train from UIC (univ of ill. at chicago) where she works and goes to gradschool to have lunch with me wednesday at cafe baci on michigan avenue. she will do this in the middle of wednesday, when she thinks her boss is gone, she will take the half-hour train ride from UIC to michigan avenue.

she and i belong to both sfc and an activist organization, where she gets most of her subjects for her MA thesis in sociology something. at the activist organization saturday the incoming president announced she's getting married, and at an impromptu jam session her fiance takes her and dances her in front of everybody. the man will do everything for his fiance, even dance in front of everybody.

the girl must be really lonely. how do u break the news that you are totally unaffected but freakily flattered? hmmm. ...
  eating disorders and the generations
how normal is this - my mother just said, 'i wish you would throw up the food you just ate so you would loose weight.'

my sister and i retorted, 'you want her to become bulimic?'

'you want me to become bulimic?'

and our mother sighed a sad sigh, hobbled to the couch to continue watching TV, and said, 'coz your stomach is big. you look fat.' and silently continued watching TV. you could hear her cluck every once in a while. you would hear her wipe her lip and let her hand drop 'slap' to her lap. right now she's quiet again and mesmerized with flickering lights emanating from the boob tube chatting away. it is the only other sound breaking the silence of this house, aside from my striking the keyboard and my other sibling jumping up and down the stairs, getting ready for bed.

how normal is that? that your mother would tell you to incur an eating disorder so you would loose weight? inducing a hurl would not only empties your stomach of your last meal - it also removes natural juices that break down food and absorb nutrients. that's why bulimic people eat a horse but never gain an ounce because they throw up everything that's supposed to help them absorb food.

i'm a little angry - i'm overweight, but i think i look all right. i can handle her disapproving of the way i look - it's forever going to be something she can't respect in me, but because i still live in her house, i will keep my mouth shut because i already cursed her, 'you want me to become bulimic? god damn.' while it is my mother i cursed, i think she deserved it. don't you?

she shifted her seating position and sighed once more. she bounces her leg and i wonder if she's really paying attention to the TV. she is my mother. she thinks i hang on to her every whim and mood. she is a widower, her mourning an anchor in her life. she likes to think her children still depend on her every syllable. until i move out, i'll need to ignore her shuffling feet and vacant expression as she stares at the TV. until i move out, her mysterious vision on how her married life should have been would always float a specter in our lives.

she must again be entertaining the thought that she will never know a grandchild anytime soon. one time she looked at me with laughter in her eyes, obviously not seeing me. it was march 17, st. patrick's day, and the parade had just passed. as is family custom, we followed opposite everyone else, and i looked back when a bottle was popped and a crowed cheered. 'one big party, the city,' a radio host commented from a sound booth abovestories at a downtown highrise, also observing a distance from the party. that day, my mother walked into a shop and bought a refrigerator magnet, 'grandparents at play,' and i smiled. i watched her pay for the magnet. i added it to our other purchases. i let her daydream a bit.

god give her happiness - god knows she's done all she can to make my siblings and i happy. i wonder what else she's seeking, but whatever it is, right here and right now, it's nary of interest to me. probably because of this latest of her quack remarks, this time on what we should do to turn ourselves into the skinny, beautiful women in her generation's mind's eye. probably because she's more than 25 years removed from my reality. she is my mother; she isn't me. god forgive my hardness of heart toward her.
  eating insides out
funny how people manage to look for replacements everywhere they go. in absense of grandfathers, rowena tiempo torrevillas, in "eating at the roots," replaced them both with ernest hemingway. you never go about defining things at age 10, and it was only years later she'd realize what she'd done when hemingway shot himself and left her with nothing but his books and his news articles as remembrance. in 1961, illness beat rowena to hemingway and forever kept from him a 10-year-old's admiration.

hemingway was born in the chicago suburb of oak park. architect frank lloyd wright also lived in that suburb. we visited once, but never got a chance to visit hemingway's neighborhood. wright's street had large, squat houses later known as "prairie style." hemingway's neighborhood had slate sidewalks and looming trees that reached for each other in the sky. we visited his neighborhood on a rainy summer afternoon, the moss sweet in the air.

that's about all i know about hemingway. i tried reading "a moveable feast" for a class, but couldn't get passed his personal life. i didn't like that he was first made to suffer, spiralling into mental illness before inevitably shooting himself; i didn't like that his granddaughter, muriel hemingway, played roles of loose women on the big and small screens. it wasn't right somehow, but i should have reconsidered because it shouldn't suprise anyone that he who would eat a bullet would inspire progeny that play roles of troubled women on screen. like most prominent families, the hemingways play roles in public for self-preservation.

further into "a moveable feast," i realized it somehow didn't seem right reading someone's piece after knowing that while he was suffering he was giving space for his characters to deal with their own dilemmas. or that maybe he had to suffer for the piece at the start, that the piece was somehow the spawn of something else brewing in his life. it probably should have made me appreciate his work more, but it just did the opposite. i heard he wrote best while drunk. how then did he disguise it? or did it just help loose his tongue?

perhaps the best tribute one could give to someone else whose time's already passed is to appreciate the works they've left behind - that when your father tells you to read the 1,500 page "war and peace," you actually do it, simply because, as he says so, it is a good book. and no, i haven't started it yet, and yes, i am trying to. ...

Since that morning twenty-five years ago, I have taught "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber" to 24 different semesters of mostly indifferent undergraduates. I used "A Small Well-Lighted Place" as a point of reference in my dissertation. I counted the prepositional phrases in "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" underneath an avocado tree one noon, in the ringing mountain silence of our summer cottage, up in the same hills my father walked as a guerrilla-and I knew for myself, at last, that Hemingway had some terrible tics in his writing, but that he could construct an ending like it was the beginning of the world. And three years ago in Iowa City, on payday, I bought The Garden of Eden, which is still sitting on my shelf unread. I am doing work in Iowa City that has nothing to do with my dissertation, and a novel sits among the bits and bytes of my home computer, residues of a distant and different self sticking to it where it's planted, but not growing. The unwritten novel is there, among the invisible electronic annals of the magical box that makes words, if one but had the sense of wonderful odd terror that comes with looking around the corner of one's idle complacency, to the place where the known world drops into space. Most days it hardly seems worth it to find that corner.

I purchased The Garden of Eden out of a sense of duty or as the assertion of some fading sense of self-respect; or, who knows, as a salute to a white-haired man who has, since his death, occasionally been denounced as a fraud, and who was never quite my grandfather.

Still, I'd like to think I was closest to Hemingway when I heard he was gone - I was closer then than I would ever be, even in my reading and writing and wanting to write: grown-up bones finding themselves in that place where the air had become the right size and nothing more. When I was ten, I heard he had taken his own life, and I said, "Maybe he just didn't want to grow old."
[ more ]
  copying forms
i just did a schedule request for the office.

not completed the form, mind you, not one where you submit the form to a supervisor to let him or her know that you'll want out of the office those days, so they'd best brace themselves for my inevitable absence and find ways to patch the vaccum i've left; no.

i borrowed a filled-out schedule request form from a colleague and xerox copied that. i borrowed white out - liquid paper, ahaha - scissors, tape, a black pen and a ruler - footrule, ahaha - and erased all vestiges of my colleague's handwriting on the copied form.

i then twice copied that white-out-ed form, took my footrule - my ruler, ahaha - and my pen and drew lines where there should have been. i took the second copy and snipped "(month, day, year)" where it appeared a second time on the form, and restored those words to the first because i accidentally erased the first instance of "day, year)".

with the newly-taped, ruled and cleansed form, i made one copy. skewed. a second copy. needs to be a little to the left. a third copy. the top needs some margin. but dangit, i handed that form to the front desk.

"this," i proudly told her, "is a schedule request form."

i gave space to the top margin and made 200 copies, 100 for the copy room and 100 for the library. i opted for this project because i've stayed long enough around here to know how bizarre things get. it was a welcome change from staring at a computer. i've never been so closely acquainted with paper form repair maintenance before.
someone named julian signed a very sympathetic note to one of my recent entries, and i snapped back with another of my bite-their-heads-off comments. ay yayay. i've become a walking jokebook, and a bad one at that. i've forgotten what reality was like. i just wanted to answer before i stumble further looking like a heartless idiot, ahaha.

he asked if i could imagine myself anything other than a writer. the honest answer's that i've never had a chance to consider. since moving to chicago my life's hurtled toward the next class and the next activity, and the next semester that finally after graduation, i hadta adjust to the next assignment... that when i did have free time, i won't know what to do with myself. in those quiet moments i put to good use the interview skills i learned. and since most of the time there wasn't anyone during those quiet moments, i turned the questions to myself.

a parrot would be good here now - recent demand for these beautiful birds had skyrocketed that more and more of them are being caught from the forests of tropics. but soon the rich who buy them tire of them and send the birds away or leave them locked in their cages. parrots aren't made to be locked up - they're made to fly freely and shout loudly. their plummage alone should give away they're made to show themselves off.

when you lock parrots up, they stop squawking and start picking at their feathers. some abandoned parrots have become so forlorn that they've been found bleeding and almost naked of their plummage. the barer the parrot, the more unhappy it has become. can you imagine a more shocking sight - a mute, naked parrot? it's unthinkable and heartbreaking.

well, i'm no sunshine, but i do still think life is beautiful, i just have to be more dilligent in my search for it. often i ride my bike around town for it, riding from my house to lincoln avenue for the bookstore and the office supply place for scrapbook supplies and fresh journals. if i can bike as far as the suburbs, i would, so i can go to the chicago botanic gardens and stay long enough to finish a book of poems.

often the farthest i dare go within chicago is downtown and suburban evanston, because they are connected by train, and i can load my bike on a car to move from one extreme to the other. if i want to venture farther i muster enough strength and courage and pocketmoney to book a flight out there, anywhere. i turn fun adventures into vital events to attend.

i hinge my happiness on these because in my mind my arduous journey from quezon city to chicago hasn't yet ended, and so i must see as much as i can, while i still can.

umm. but ok - i go around the u.s. in a decade or so, but i always return to writing. while on a trip i actually dread having to open my journal, because it'll just remind me of what else i left behind, what else is following me, what else is waiting for me when i return. but i bring it anyway in case i need to unload - because not everything that's on your chest should be shared to another soul, at least, in my experience so far.

but for work, i write about fires, bodies found in remote fields, state agencies opening new programs, the whereabouts of politicians and clowns, truthtellers and fortuneseekers, church closings and temple openings, city arcana and academic scandal. when i'm out with friends and family, i turn storyteller and tourist guide. i haven't had a chance to consider in depth, but at this point in my life, no - i can't see myself as anything else than someone who writes. ahaha - what a roundabout way for a short answer. i just didn't want to sound haughty again. wakey, wakey! i got something else to say - thank you for asking, and thank you for reading. :-)
dean francis alfar wrote extensively on salary info in his blog ('reality check'). it must have taken him a long time - and a lot of tactful interviewing - to gather all that salary info!

i was a strange one in college - i adamantly refused to shift majors and become something else other than a writer. everyone told me to get out of it. it just made me more curious about what writing for a living might be like. it made me suspicious - why? why'd they want me to bail? they prolly don't think i can do it!

and then i thought, well... if the job prospects stank, then i will fail! what am i going to do?!

panicked for experiencing a job i really wanted to succeed in, i started looking for internships. no, i didn't know what an 'internship' was until it plunked itself down on my desk in front of me.

'apply,' ordered my journalism professor. in front of me placidly rested, a little skewed, an application form for a summer semester at northwestern university, whose esteemed medill school of journalism i can only dream of affording. i was a sophomore. i'd only know about medill much later, nearer graduation, in fact. but i shrugged and snipped my clips and made sure to white-out - liquid paper, ahaha - where it needed and mail the package in time to meet deadline. how i got in remains a mystery. even my medill professors didn't know.

'what does that mean?' they laughed, when i wide-eyedly asked them. it was the summer before my junior year, when we were choosing which magazine, newspaper or organization to sell our souls to. i'd learned suspicion and humor. they're sweet.

all that the internship taught me was that i really liked being wordie, loud and insistent, but i gotta get paid doing it. i gotta swallow being snipped and answering the phone and lifting the mail and copyediting the work and copying the papers. i gotta learn how to write in cramped spaces with everyone yelling and all the phones ringing and traffic outside blaring and the radio incessant and papers around me flying. but i forgot all that when i saw my first paycheck - three times more than what i earned as a testing center office assistant! more than an english tutor! oh gosh. i can go to florida! ahaha.

eventually i hadta tone down because the internship ended and i was back to the testing center at school proctoring and filing and tutoring. but more so, all too soon later i was graduating and i needed a full time job!

so i hunted for salary prices within my major. i read wetfeet.com, monster.com, careerbuilder.com; fast company, time, newsweek, the wall street journal, the new york times, u.s.a. today, the chicago tribune, the daily herald; learned to write resumes and coverletters. it was the early 2000s and the job prospects were golden, but most of what i read said that i hadta go for something i liked, because i'd be spending 8 hours of my short 24, five out of my precious seven days with this company and in this job. i hadta stick to it for at least a year. i hadta like it.

just knowing how much i could make starting out in journalism had become a great burden reliever, ahaha. the starting salary was totally unlivable, ahahaha - but at that time i had intentions of moving out for at least five years after graduation. i could make it work.

right now, i am in my fourth year of my five-year plan of staying home, and it appears that i might hafta extend for another two years, ahaha. i learned what it really was like to hold down a job and to come on time and keep up with the piling papers on your desk and the incessant ringing of phones and incoming messages. at its bleakest, you look forward to counting vacation days. at its brightest, you can rely on several months or years' experience if you want to move to another job. you learn how and when to create office gossip, ahaha.

in my short worklife, i've discovered one golden and one amazing thing.

most golden to me's i remembered why i chose to be in this business in the first place. i don't want to get too rosy around here coz i might take it back a mere 12 hours from right now, as i'm writing it, ahaha - my workfield's that fickle. i still sour and scream 'SHUT UP!' in my mind whenever i hear officemates erupt in laughter. i still mutter 'go back to work!' when they merrily cluck away. i still take too long for lunch and come in (and leave) late.

most amazing to me's that i'm learning to treasure moments of joy during my worklife, despite the gloom of clocking in and out. the really funny jokes. the bizzare office quirks - the habit of saving tapes of live bloopers of colleagues on t.v. for the others to see. the habit of giving each other cards for birthdays or going aways. maternity and paternity leaves and donuts and jeans on fridays. 'when the adults aren't around' - meaning when all the managing editors go on vacation, we 'kids' get to relax and play. those moments are always tongue-in-cheek, but they make working satisfying.

ok. off to bed so i can return to slaving at my desk again... ahahaha... thanks for reading! good night. :-)
  tiny worlds
i've been warned before by several people that while i still can, i should run the hell away from writing. imagine yourself a spritely young college senior trying to finish one internship after another, one paper after another, trying togas on and whatnot, inviting relatives for graduation... and being told this. your life's work's merely led you to the foothills of not yet another steep mountain, but a daunting chain of sharp ranges.

ahaha. ok. enough drama. killer pieces aren't produced by sitters and whiners. gotta start research for new assignment. :-)
  scandal is sweet
a comment on recent events with the manila critics' circle on their recent awardees for the annual national book awards. this blog is gleaned from events going on in manila. wanna join the fray? read on.

it started with a concerned children's book writer questioning the awarding of the best young adult novel to a 'chick lit' novel, about a 28-year-old woman looking for the right man to marry. i did a double take on that information, even from way out here in chicago.

from that frustrated piece, responds from noted writers who had little or nothing to do with the choosing of 'almost married' avalanched from all fronts - the blogs, mainly.

and since blogging is unedited and instantaneous, topics moved to other gripes, from young poets expertly delivering to a standard to seasoned writers and their 'mafias' or barkadas, or cliques of writing.

i heard it said before that one does not do that, comment on a writer's piece, stand or issues, publicly, especially in philippine letters. you just don't do that. but there it is - clear as day, in daily broadsheets and on most writers' blogs.

maybe they just blogged because they knew blogs were informal spaces to rant or rave unbridled about any topic that's seized them for the moment.

maybe they just blogged because they needed to vent.

maybe they blogged because there really needs something to be said about the state of philippine letters nowadays.

other writers claim that there needs to be a change in the way people put together words in the philippines; and that for philippine letters to compete in world literature or merely survive, the change must come right now. that there already is ample training and experience to draw from in the rich native loam of philippine soil.

but then maybe they just blogged because they knew this is a mere passing storm, and if they stay silent now, no one will respond to anything they've to say about this certain topic. they blog and write to get response.

someone from the manila critics' circle should have been receptive enough to see that the awarding of the best novel for young adults to 'almost married' would cause this string of rebuttals. someone should have said something the very moment it was announced. the circle seems established and respected enough to brave any sort of attack on them.

as for the writers whose works are now being targeted, it is their right to remain silent if they choose. everyone can use criticism, but not when it comes in the way of your originality for the moment.

let the mudslinging continue. but let it be professional and for genuine desire for change. this puts all of us on the spot for change. we'd loose credibility if we stay the same. isn't now scandal sweetest that way. :-P
  welcome to humanity
i'm back now from the east coast. i am so tired! i went to work after a short rest at my house. my plane was delayed one hour - just as well, because if i had an hour to spare at my house, i might end up missing work.

which was just as well, that i missed work i mean, coz at exactly 9 p.m. thursday night i got violently sick. everything that you can imagine happening to a body rebelling to sour starburst chewy candy and bibingka and lack of water happened to me at exactly 9 p.m. central standard time. i walked as calmly as i can from my desk, unnoticed thank god, and puked at the breakroom's sink.

one hour earlier in the same breakroom, i rested my head on my arm on the table and took a powernap. i think my body wanted more, and when i didn't give it one hour later, she chose to show just how irritated she was at my disregard. i couldn't anyhow - the window of 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. usually's one of my busiest times at work.

my body hacked and twisted like soft, salty taffy. i had no choice but to follow her every command. i wondered if this was normal and if someone was, indeed, as my mother two hours later would wonder, if someone were hurtling curses at me. i couldn't stop for two hours. i learned she, my body i mean, would calm down if i sat still for a moment, or if i lowered my head on my arm on the table and closed my eyes. i learned she liked lying on the bathroom floor quietly for a while. i learned balance fled her when she stood up and staggered to the sink for one more hurl of nothing but sticky saliva, dissolved starburst and pieces of bibingka. later, the matter turned green, and i was told that stomach acids were green by nature.

i finally had enough and called my mother, who was supposed to pick me up in half an hour. i needed to know if she can pick me up, and right now, because if not, i'll take a cab back to the house. my sweat and my shaking astonished me. i was freezing! but lucid. i wondered about the work i left unfished and the phone calls i've yet to return, but i won't go back inside the office looking - and probably smelling - like my green stomach acids.

i descended my building and took a nap at the furthest and darkest couch in my office's lobby. my body curled while my mind mulled over my fatigue. there were three more trips i needed to take before the end of the year, and right now i think i'm bumping one to next year so i can make space for a fourth.

and i wonder why i prioritize my travels often above my own health and my own pocketbook. somehow, even with meager incomes, i've managed to stay liquid and mobile as i acquire most of the things i want. i'm reminded of the short time i have to travel, to see places and experience new things. i'm not sure why i think i only have right now for that. i've witnessed suddenness and been imparted the worth of seizing moments. somehow i reason, "while i still can," and i know that i mean it.

yet perhaps there are moments to usurp and then there are moments to let by. i'm still glad, body may protest, that for this moment i've chances given me. i just learned my physical limits and for right now, am given a whole midnight to replenish. good night. :-)
  it's actually not so bad, ...
it's actually not so bad, ahaha - more like fun. :) more 2morrow. nite!

  we're here. immediately i wanna ...
we're here. immediately i wanna go back 2 chicago, haha. it's just so unfamiliar 4 some reason. i feel kinna lonely, haha.

  - glittered and i wanted ...
- glittered and i wanted 2 c it in realtime. :)

  w/ the asphalted rd that ...
w/ the asphalted rd that runs parallel 2 it. i wonder if the wooden tracks r still in use. i cld hv taken a pic, but the stream -

  we stopped a second time. ...
we stopped a second time. the hills r gorgeous. we just passed a stream crossed by an elevated railroad. its old wood contrasted -

  - glittered and i wanted ...
- glittered and i wanted 2 c it in realtime. :)

  w/ the asphalted rd that ...
w/ the asphalted rd that runs parallel 2 it. i wonder if the wooden tracks r still in use. i cld hv taken a pic, but the stream -

  we're halfway across pennsylvania, state ...
we're halfway across pennsylvania, state of mennonites and the amish. our cells register 'conestoga' as the hills grow steeper.

  eastern stndrd time. im drinking ...
eastern stndrd time. im drinking in the hills n the snaking I-80 cutting through the thick forests. an occasional farm peeks thru-

  we stopped @ the same ...
we stopped @ the same pennsylvania buffet diner my family and i stopped @ 4 years ago on our way 2 massachusetts. ...

  we're having breakfast @ a ...
we're having breakfast @ a mcdonald's in hubbard, ohio. :)

  want 2 consider right now, ...
want 2 consider right now, haha - xcept that our driver is an alum and can't stop talking about it, ahaha. more later -

  catholic franciscan university of steubenville. ...
catholic franciscan university of steubenville. i've been there only once, and it is phenomenal as they say, but not sumthin i...

  catholic franciscan university of steubenville. ...
catholic franciscan university of steubenville. i've been there only once, and it is phenomenal as they say, but not sumthin i...

  2 visit. :) dawn descends ...
2 visit. :) dawn descends on the fog-misty earth. we approach hill country soon... they're talking about ultra conservative, ultra

  i have a 2nd ohio ...
i have a 2nd ohio coin @ 5am near cleaveland. this is the state where yfc's conf will b. yay! near columbus, they say. :) new cty-

  ... i've been dubbed the ...
. i've been dubbed the democrat of the lot, haha. but so far i have an ohio souvenier penny so it is good. :) i'm happy.

  ... i've been dubbed the ...
. i've been dubbed the democrat of the lot, haha. but so far i have an ohio souvenier penny so it is good. :) i'm happy.

  we just passed a rest ...
we just passed a rest stop near sundusky in ohio. the company so far has kept me laughing but also cautious - already...

i'm leaving for new jersey tonight! i'm excited! but i have a ton of errands to do still. i have to pack, too. but if all goes well, we will be passing by ultra catholic franciscan university of steubenville and beat the new york crowds after the republican national convention. i'll be travelling with my old faith community, cfc singles for christ. i haven't been very active with sfc actually, ahaha - coz we yfc consider it a freakin meat market! grabe. :-( i hope it won't be like that this time around, ahaha. this will be my first sfc conference.

after that, i am going to roam nyc!!! ahahahaha - i hope i don't get lost. i need to reaquaint myself again with a big city i've always admired.

so imma be posting a lot from my phone around here. :-) if you pray, send us some! :-)
  tubig: bagyong mapaniil ang gabi - yol jamendang
Heto ako,
nakababad sa dilim,
sa aking pag-iisa.

ang mga ala-alang
sa aking diwa-
ang mga gabing
isda ang iyong dila
sa dagat ng aking balat,
ang mga bahaging
tubig lamang dati
ang sumasalat.

Binuksan ko ang bintana
para bumuhos ang
at hugasan ang aking
Sumalubong sa akin
ang libu-libong patak
ng ikaw-

nariyan at nariya'y
hindi ko mayakap.
ahahaha... still experimenting with that phrase, "the other half of me"... shoot... i should stop! ahaha. i'm hungry and i wanna go to sleep.

i thought the other half of me lay buried in rich loam, warm and cuddled between white cotton sheets, protected in a mahogany casket that didn't fit its hole in the ground. this last ridiculous stunt illicited a "matangkad kasi, eh!" from my besotted mother. he rests now in peace, taking with him a part of me i never knew even existed.

i thought the other half of me lived in the books that line the shelves of my libraries of my dreams, the poems and the flying escapes locked there. that each bending of each spine and each turning of each page would lead me to farther and farther shores. this ensnaring escape succeeded in simply slingshooting be back to my reality, keener and eager to prove the pages true.

i thought the other half of me lived in each of the opposites i managed somehow to acquire, their strangeness and guile always progressed from entertainment to expecting to mottled, bottled ending. they each managed somehow to bring out the betrayer, the traitor, the check-counter, the lock-keeper in me. they each managed somehow to bring out the laughter, the screamer, the searcher, the revealer in me.

where now is this other half that supposedly shadowed beside me? i feared it were in the rains and in the floods, in the birthdays and achievements that altered the seconds, in the buses and trains that speed locations, in the photographs and memories that marked the seasons and lined the walls, in the whispers and the laughters that remembered the reasons, in the clothing and the merchandise that tended the grind. in the coffee and conversations that existed in our minds. in the smokes and the dances that chanced on our lips. in the heartbeats and the secrets that throbbed to our fears.

where is this other half that supposedly left me? glittering and in a hurry, always succeeding. highways endless and dotted with yellow lamps. highways that lead to nowhere. highways that sell you places you never knew you needed. avenues that cross and concrete that rises to let you pass beneath. bridges that cast shade against sunheat and rain. a land so humid and so rich, rainwater and ricefields flow unbridled. ...
  crushing details
it was sept. 1 when we traded quezon city for chicago in 2004. it is ten years later, sept. 1, today.

the crushing detail right now is that no one seems to remember that today is the day we traded houses, realities, one for the other. no one seems to remember that a few days from today, supposedly, i'd run away in sunglasses after crying for home so desperately. sunglasses at 7 in the evening.

i had nowhere to go. i looked ahead and there it was - the public library. to this day libraries have been my refuge. the rows and rows of books always allowed me to escape.

libraries and gardens. i've become a total geek. if i don't get lost in a crowd, all collectively watching someone make fools of themselves for the sake of entertainment, i trample to gardens. one winter that froze the pavement in ice outside my mother's cousin's house, i slipped and fell on a patch of iced grass.

it was my first winter. an elderly woman, her face full of concern, called, "are you all right?" freaked me out. elderly women aren't supposed to be walking, especially if they were wrinkled and slightly stooped like that. but apparently in this new town we moved to, they did.

the world whirled around me and fell upside down - and in this new town, i thought appropriately so. i picked myself up and carefully trod to the bus stop to catch my dignity in class. in class, even my worst falls impress the class and my teachers. appropriately so - nothing in this world falls rightside up anymore.

i learned to loose myself in crowds.

introduced to a youth camp 11 months later, i sang my first youth group song on aug. 28, ten years ago. no wonder these past few days have been nothing but trying for me. i'm reminiscing this all on my own. i learned more songs and learned to loose myself in crowds who spoke americanese. they said i hardly had an accent. how strange - i wonder where i learned to shed it.

i learned more songs and wondered if God really did intend me to live here. i heard nothing. i registered for a degree. i was asked to lead several functions. i learned and i cried, because he did.

i learned to loose myself in crowds.

11 months later, the crowds cheered ahead of me as i tried to remember things lost to me.

they called my every night just to do nothing and talk. i wondered if this was the equivalent of my leaving my friends and hanging out and doing nothing. phones were unheard of in my town in quezon city. they were merely requested, but rarely granted. 11 months later, i declined to join them a friend. i tinkered with instruments born to me. i played in the waning afternoons. i wrote my letters and hoped they'd write me back, too.

11 months later, i cried in confusion to the magic happening around me. why were people crying in unison? why were people loosing their voice to song? would this bring me back home? is this home?

yes. that's what that lady on stage said.

i learned to listen to people. pretty soon, i searched, i prayed for them to say something, anything to convince me what i wanted was true.

'we're opening this event to everyone. ...'

that did it. i possessed half a degree. i urged people to go home. i booked a ticket and, penniless, i went home.

the humidity embraced me like a stranger, suffocating.

the airport photographer shoved his camera in my face and snapped a blinding picture. my silver frames glared back at me while my tired face and disheveled hair stared back at me, suprised. but i still wish i'd bought the picture.

i wrapped my faith identity around me. i carried it like a shield. i wanted everyone to know that this was me, above and beyond call, this was who i am.

for having left and knowing how things evolve and how i revolve around things - it is never the other way around around - i needed something to anchor me. a nail. a ball and chain. something to remind me i was who i'd become, and yes, i am different.

'he he - si lisa,' my cousins cooed, joyfully. 'all grown up. umuwi.'

and they loaded a white van with a balikbayan box and a brown-trimmed black suitcase, and i knew, i knew, i was a stranger here.

travel, and incessantly. rolling ricefields ending at the foots of hills. truth and beauty everywhere. simple sins magnified large as the brown recluse spider, wide as my palm lain flat on the grass. blades sharp as thorns, soft as bedsheets, music and laughter that tug and caress at heartstrings. water, crystal and fresh as finest sparkling champagne.

no wonder we all broke after the trip. you can't learn trust without betrayal. you can't learn hope without faith, faith without jilting. you can't learn joy without pain. you can't learn forgiveness without loneliness. and you can't begin to dream again without risk.

you can't begin again without dreams.

and that's exactly what i did when i returned to the united states - my enrollment to a new school and a new life went so very smoothly, that i knew i was where i was meant to be. i immersed in my faith. i studied as much as i can. i succeeded in almost everything i did. i was different, but i was home.

you begin again without knowing it.

real work to me equals turbulence in my life. work suffered at the hands of me. it later improved when i learned to shed expectations, distractions, illusions and dreams. i worked and visited places. i worked and learned solitude. i worked and learned betrayal. i worked and learned the world.

i worked, and saw beauty reflected a different way. i was privy to what the world said about the things that happened around me. i witnessed things the way other people did - through media. my contributions blurred in wire copy and phone interview, in cropping the photo and web design. they made their way into the circlic streams of history.

i merged with the crowd and cried out for help. i hesitate to call it sucess, but in my perverse universe, that's what it was. i was living an existence almost envied by most. i was living a life i no longer recognize as mine.

i was lucky - they found me first, and in their eyes, i knew i was in trouble. they shoved back to my reality. and reality meant it was too late - and too soon. and reality meant it was too perverse - and too pretentious. the lies and the loves and the words and the worlds flew past me, torrential and incessant. they said it was time for another visit. everyone said, even everyone here, that i oughto. should. must go home.

and i always wonder.
  the other half of me
i shall extricate
the other half of me
when i unearth
the place i choose
to stake my courage
and lay my hopes
and forge my dreams

is there such a land?
someone assured me
such one exists, that
we're all meant to be
at this place in this
moment, precisely.

time and its floods
can rage past us all
they want, but truth is
i shall find my missing
half, recognize it for what
it is, draw to it inexorably,
and be permanently,
indefinitely, forever,
be home.

welcome, and thank you for boarding the ulanmaya transit express. tickets, please. mind the gap as you depart. have a pleasant experience.

05/01/2004 - 06/01/2004 / 06/01/2004 - 07/01/2004 / 07/01/2004 - 08/01/2004 / 08/01/2004 - 09/01/2004 / 09/01/2004 - 10/01/2004 / 10/01/2004 - 11/01/2004 / 11/01/2004 - 12/01/2004 / 12/01/2004 - 01/01/2005 / 01/01/2005 - 02/01/2005 / 02/01/2005 - 03/01/2005 / 03/01/2005 - 04/01/2005 / 04/01/2005 - 05/01/2005 / 05/01/2005 - 06/01/2005 / 06/01/2005 - 07/01/2005 / 07/01/2005 - 08/01/2005 / 08/01/2005 - 09/01/2005 / 09/01/2005 - 10/01/2005 / 10/01/2005 - 11/01/2005 / 11/01/2005 - 12/01/2005 / 12/01/2005 - 01/01/2006 / 01/01/2006 - 02/01/2006 / 02/01/2006 - 03/01/2006 / 03/01/2006 - 04/01/2006 / 04/01/2006 - 05/01/2006 / 05/01/2006 - 06/01/2006 / 06/01/2006 - 07/01/2006 /

gromit is curious

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