Glass Half Whatever

I get called out as a pessimist a lot because I like sad songs, movies and I’m attracted to stories that are tragic. (To be honest, I don’t quite trust people who aren’t.) I’m the kind of person who gets on a plane imagining it crashing. (Who doesn’t, though?) Pessimism as a defense mechanism, I suppose–like knowing will keep you from from the carnage. (Even if it doesn’t.) And anyway, there are a lot of fascinating things about the what could go wrong and about the what did go wrong and about the things that hurt.

One of my biggest struggles recently is that I couldn’t reconcile my love for Jason Mraz with Jason Mraz’s new album because even if Jason’s songs have always made me want to look on the brighter side of life, I don’t think they’ve ever been so overt about it. As someone who writes stories and who willingly reads things things that people made up, it’s very difficult for me to accept something that’s told to me up front.

As one of Mr. A-Z’s older songs pointed out, sometimes you can only arrive at one thing through something else. This has always been the case with me. So. I couldn’t wrap my head around this album–how could someone who had so discreetly gotten me to believe in not mumbling when I speak and all that in the past suddenly write something I couldn’t accept because it was telling me to do something so matter-of-factly.

The other day, I decided I was done. I re-listened to his first three albums.

Yesterday, I listened to the latest album and decided I didn’t hate it. Today, I tried listening to it with my judgement suspended and I heard the harmonies, the deep drum beat, the western twang of the guitar.

Just now, I’ve decided I don’t really give a shit about whether or not something is pessimistic or optimistic. If I like it, I like it and I like it. Does it really matter if a glass is half-full or half-empty? Isn’t the glass prettier? The water more important? The how more than the what? The glass is half-whatever. It’s beautiful, though.

In Envy Green & Pencil Red

Here, an arbitrary photo of sweet things and bitterness.

Even now, in my diploma-wielding, pretty rain-booted glory, I still envy you. You, of lab-coated, white-gloved importance, the test-tube clinking, awkward-limbed put togetherness that I, in my ability to fit all the 5-feet-flat of me into the Manic Pixie Dream Girl mold struggle to achieve. You put the Q in quirk, the M in male, the T in teach. More than anything, I am jealous of the fact that excuses don’t need to be invented for you: how can you argue with the things you should know? How do you protest progress? How can you say no to science? Except that you can—it occurs to me, in my office cubicle—of course you can because science’s very nature is to argue with itself (repeatedly, in an almost schizophrenic manner). I should’ve asked why or said something (else)—I should’ve asked for explanation, for a few words on the topic, for a turning and return to reason. I turned blue instead of red, failed the test, negative, sir and I still don’t know why. Where is the conclusion? The end of the lab report? Why does this do this? Why does that do that? I was hoping you could tell me but I am too far removed from the lecture, I’m watching from somewhere else: I’m always a spectator.

I am envious of your ability to be there.

My life is a small one: my stories, my Daiso-corated apartment, my fridge magnets all fit into my pockets. I think about the weather. I wonder about bowls, plates, pretty paintings to hang up. Sometimes I imagine I am squaring myself in: a box within a bigger box within a bigger box. I work in a cubicle in an office in a building. I write myself into a life on a page, at the table in my kitchen, in an apartment. I wonder about my imaginary people and how to dress them, what to put in their kitchens, how to undo them, make them count in someone else’s imagination.

I practice tearing them apart.

The other night, I had a dream about you dressed head-to-toe in plaid, walking down the hallway. It was sunny. I was walking with my books pressed to my chest. You ran a hand through your hair. I was going to wave hello—and fell through a trap door. I woke up to a storm. I said that I wasn’t going to go to work (but I did). Days later, I’m still wondering whether I was brave or cowardly in going. Was I more afraid of the storm or of not showing up? There is no one to invent my reasons for absence.

If there’s anything that living in cities has taught me, it’s that things disappear. As quickly as you find something to step on, it starts to head into traffic, across the street, away—elsewhere. I should be an expert at fall out of touch, lose track, drift away, missed stop. Maybe I was a terrible student. I should know better than to think you have dedicated yourself to matters of consequence and I, to the loving of useless things.

Crazy Is the Forecast

I didn’t go to work today. Part of me thinks I should’ve—and that maybe I will, later on today. On the other hand, part of me knows that even if I had, I would just be wishing I had stayed home. I’ve never been a believer in pushing unreasonable circumstances. You respect storms like you respect your mother when she’s throwing a fit—you just let her.

There are things flying around outside; I don’t want to be one of them. The wind is terrible. Outside, potted plants are lying in the street. Wires are dangling like vines in a steel forest. My officemates are texting me about water trickling into their rooms through the window panes. People are posting stories about power outages and water coming up to here. And yet deep down, we’re all saying this, knowing it is true and clear and present and still we’re wondering: would it have been worth it to go? To dip our rubber-clad feet into electricity-eel steel flood water? Will we be punished for this? More importantly, would we be in the wrong should that happen?
There are always two sides to every storm: the outer, angry wiplash of trees falling on cars or severed tin roofs breaking glass, skulls, windshields (the things that the news will cover)—and the inner, more mundane struggles like wishing the internet back to life or crossing your fingers for electricity (the things you won’t admit, even to your neighbor—who is doing the same thing). Or not having anywhere to cook your damn food. Or wondering whether or not you can leave the fridge alone to defrost itself, should you go to work. Or whether it’s fair for you to feel so troubled about something like this—and if not, whose fault is that?

No one’s and everyone’s, probably.

Last night I had a dream that was full of sunshine. In it, I was walking down the corridor in a place that felt like school, even if it looked different. I saw this teacher of mine who I haven’t seen in a long time. He was wearing a long coat and holding up an Erlenmeyer flask. I remember remembering (in my dream) what he told me about an unopened letter he received that he set aside because it had been too late to read properly anyway. I was going to wave, say hi and then a trapdoor opened in the floor and I fell through it.

I’ll probably end up going to work, anyway. In my mind, I’m already dressed and heading out the door, filled with misplaced self-loathing.

Why is it that every time I try to do things I believe in, I am swept away by something else?

Coffee & Flowers: Let’s Play House

Or play home?

One of my favorite (and also possibly one of the cheesiest) scenes from any movie ever is this one from Garden State. Recently, as my parents have gotten older and the push to become independent not only because “that’s what people do” but because it literally has to be done–there isn’t enough space here to contain six grown people and everything that they want to do. There isn’t enough where to put all of our hows, whys and whats in.

My dad came home this weekend and so I’m here, typing this in my parents’ bedroom while watching my dad sleep. He can’t walk and he needs someone to be here when he wakes up. Every week, it becomes more and more difficult for me to shuttle back and forth between the apartment and this house–it takes time for me to settle down: into beds, chairs, the way that the light behaves in a certain room. And just as I get used to it, it seems like it’s time to go somewhere else, again: to go “back” to whatever needs to be done, now.

Nonetheless, I’ve really been putting in an effort to make the apartment feel like home. I like having my own space and I really like being able to do house things that would be ridiculous for me to do here: cooking, cleaning, setting up wall art.

Thankfully, my job also allows me experiment with these things and (some of) the work I do before heading home really gets my mind wired for these kinds of activities. This is where all my money’s gone, the past few weeks. Absolutely no regrets, in my opinion. I thought I would share a photo montage here dedicated to my efforts to find home–or make one. Slide1

Slide2 Slide3

Making quick and hearty meals. This is something that I never got the opportunity to do at home because a) there was always food ready and b) our maids always make fun of me. I’ve made it a point to eat most of my meals at home. I cook breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Decorating and organizing spaces. I’m the kind of person whose mess is a mess that I like so this is very important to me. I can’t take it when things aren’t where I left them or when I don’t know where some things are. I’ve got a lot more plans for decoration in the future.

Creating nooks to nest in. The curl-upability of a place is extremely important to me. Most of the things I do (e.g. reading, writing and watching re-runs on my laptop) require some kind of curling up. So far, I’ve developed my room and the living room to be excellent for this.

I think I might do a lot more similar posts like this soon. :) “Home updates”, if you will.

Coffee & Flowers: Pull Yourself Out of It

My friend from work said that I have a low PQ or Positivity Quotient and I think that she’s right about that–outwardly anyway. I have difficulty telling people things like, “You know, things are going to be fine.” because I feel like I’m lying (and I maintain that I would be, if I said those things): you don’t know that, I don’t know that. That’s the problem! No one knows that.

Despite this, one thing that I can say I’ve realized about myself over the past few weeks is that I’m an expert at being bull-headed and sometimes the drive to be okay is all the okay that we’re going to get. I don’t believe in running away from things or not looking at the negative aspects of things, moreso not scrutinizing them. To a certain extent, I think that the only real way to gain courage or anything to feel positively about is to really look everything that could go wrong and everything that you can do to make sure that things turn out alright. And I think it paid of. :) 

                             Awesome art by Joelle Pantig

In other news, I also started keeping a journal again. I figure that I’ve been journal-keeping for far too long to stop. It’s become a big part of the way that I process information, memories and make plans for the future. Although in not journal keeping for a few months, I’ve also learned how to balance that out with the actual living part of life so no regrets, all-in-all. Actually, I feel the opposite of regret: I’m very happy about this–but I’ll do a separate post on new friendships and really learning to show and receive empathy tomorrow.

For reference, in case I’m not explaining this very well and/or you just want some hopeful music to listen to, these songs have really been a huge salve for the pains that have recently come my way. 

1. Shock to Your System
You must rely on love once in a while, to give you reason.
You must rely on me once in a while, to give you reason.
You got a shock to your system, knocked your heart right outta sync.
You got a shock to your system, pull yourself out of it.
[Tegan & Sara]

2. Stuck In a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of 
You’ve got to get yourself together,
You got stuck in a moment and you can’t get out of it. 

Don’t say that later will be better, 
You’re stuck in a moment.
[U2]

3. Stop Crying Your Heart Out
And all of the stars
are fading away, 
Just try not to worry–you’ll see them someday.
Take what you need 
and be on your way and stop crying your heart out.

Things are getting better. My dad’s home and I’m very, very, very happy about that. I don’t much believe in prayer as in talking to a giant person in the sky but I do believe in good vibes and sending good will someone’s way–just like there are positive and negative signals that go toward/from different organs and power our bodies, there are those things for wishing and willing as well, I think. 

If I Stay Here, Trouble Will Find Me

This is a really nice song.

Also, things have been a little bit weird for me lately. I feel like in the matter of a few months, everything that I have known about people has changed. I went into this phase of my life genuinely thinking that work would be the kind of thing where you time in, time out and life goes on. But turns out that doesn’t really happen, ever–encounters change us and (I should know, from writing all those stories) only time reveals the way that people really are.

Don’t get me wrong: eyes on the prize. I know what I want (to write) and I know what I need to do to keep doing what I want (to work). But I suppose the question is how I want to keep doing it. Or if I can keep on keeping on the way that I have been before I knew what I know.

One of the unique things about people is their ability to empathize. Sometimes you unknowingly put yourself in a person’s shoes and you don’t go back: you can’t un-place yourself and even if it didn’t happen to you, thinking about being a bystander (putting yourself in your own shoes) in that situation just makes you sick. I fucking hate being helpless.

I still don’t know how to feel about how I feel which is an array of things–afraid, disheartened, confused. There is a clash between what I know is right, what I know needs to be done and what I think should be done. The only black-and-white truth is that a lot of the time there is no black-and-white truth but you have to pick a side, anyway–no one can live in the gray areas all their lives. There are choices to be made, or unmade.

Moving Out, In

I’ve successfully moved myself into the city. Adapting to routines is weird, moreso adapting current routines (work, typing, filling in a content sheet) to new ones (the walk to and from work). I had a lot of fun over the weekend: my friends slept over and we drank wine and my sister helped me move stuff in and I did the groceries and I hung the curtains and I GoogleMaps-ed the hell out of Makati and then last night I had a great dinner with my cousins and my mom and my aunts. This morning, I woke up at the right time: just a bit before my alarm. I got up, made breakfast, took a bath, walked to work. I got there and felt proud of myself.

And then I found out that I would have to bid my friend farewell sooner than I’d expected. I remember feeling like this once, when I was in high school. My friend Janelle and I used to be as thick as thieves freshman year. We cried on the last day because we knew that after that friendship of chance–seat plan–we wouldn’t be keeping in touch. And we didn’t. Today I cried in the stairwell because I know that I’m not going to keep in touch or stay friends. Ugly cry kind of ugly cry, so uncharacteristic of me–she who didn’t cry at her favorite uncle’s funeral. There are friendships that are tangential–a product of circumstance. Oddly enough, working has made me feel like a child again. Although I’m glad that now I know that if I’m going to cry about something, it’s going to be ugly. No relief in crying pretty.