Coffee & Flowers: Justo Ahora

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As in, I just got back from braving the heat to get a cup of coffee.

I have been listening to Dvicio, a spanish pop-rock band (in the best sense of that term), non-stop lately. There is something comforting about the way that their songs sound: an odd mix of Enrique Iglesias’s Hero and Matchbox 20? The kinds of songs I grew up on, I suppose: music that can’t be severed from what I deem familiar. Their favorite song of mine (thus far) is one called Justo Ahora (translation: right now, or in context, just when); while (or at least, as far as I can interpret from Google Translate) I think that this is a love song about someone disappearing just when you’ve learned to rely on them for motivation, it has got me thinking about a lot of other, admittedly far-fetched things.

As In Justo Ahorrrra

I’ve been thinking about the limitations of language, and how Justo Ahora must sound to someone who speaks Spanish. On one hand, its “full” narrative meaning may be more fleshed out: the listener might be able to know exactly what happened between the “I” and the object of affection. But also, perhaps knowing exactly what happens drowns out some aspects from which one can appreciate the song: the more visceral aspects of the language (the rolling Rs, the inhale before Justo) might be ignored in favor of listening to what it’s saying. I feel this mirrors how I feel about poetry and prose and the line in between the two: I prefer the line, to be sitting right on or near it. A good thing? Who knows.

As In “Right Now

Oddly enough, I gravitate more toward this translation, although it might be more literal, and less apt for the song itself. I am really bad at living in the moment. I am usually thinking about things that have happened, and how they will affect things that will happen. As for what is actually happening, it’s alright; I will appreciate it more tomorrow.

As In “Just When”

I like the suggestion of timing, and yet, that is also what makes me not prefer it (my god, does this make sense?); it’s so loaded. This way of looking at it almost feels easy; I think that some words and phrases shouldn’t be used on their own because there is nothing to defend (or strip them of) their sentimentality. To help me with my point, other words which I feel belong to this category are between, loneliness, melancholic/melancholy, serendipity, despair, destiny, nostalgia, if only, what if, if you could, turn back time, and desire.  

I am in love with this song, and what it isn’t.

The Morena Minority: Inking FAQ Tag

While it doesn’t really have anything to do with being morena, getting tattooed definitely has a lot to do with self-expression, and personal style (which is, really, what I would like this part of the blog to be about).

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Getting inked again after almost two years has got me thinking about the appeal of the tattooing process: why do you do it? What do you get out of it? Why is it worth the pain? I’ve also been thinking about the common notions about getting tattooed: tattooing as a trend, as a means of self-expression, etc. So I thought I would list down the questions I have gotten asked the most about getting inked, and answer them. I also want to tag other friends of mine who have tattoos to answer these questions, both because I’m curious, and because I think a lot of other people are curious.

1. Why do you get tattooed?

Personally, I get tattoos because I like the aesthetic. I think it’s beautiful how you can embellish skin, make the most of the fact that it heals, and is able to incorporate its injuries into itself to make something beautiful. Furthermore, I grew up on rock and roll culture (my brothers are musicians), so I’d just always kind of known that it was something I would eventually get into. I also like the idea of life (and by extension, your body, I suppose) being “what you make it” as opposed to what you’re born with.

2. What do your tattoos mean?

Hrrrrm. The thing is that I don’t believe that tattoos have to mean something; if they want to, then fine. But if not, then there is still a meaning in the act of having it done, if not in the image itself. What is important to me, though, is timing. Usually, I will have myself tattooed after a period of transition passes in my life. My first tattoo, I got at a period in time when I had fallen both in and out of love for the first time; the next two I got after I started MoarBooks. Things like that.

3. Aren’t you worried about regretting your tattoos in the future?

Nope. The best way to describe how I feel about this is something that the 11th Doctor in Dr. Who said right before his regeneration into the 12th : “Times change and so must I. We all change when you think about it. We’re all different people all through our lives. And that’s ok, that’s good, as long as you keep moving, as long as you remember all the people that you used to be. I will not forget one line of this, not one day, I swear. I will always remember when The Doctor was me.”

4. Aren’t you worried about not being able to get a job?

No, because I have a brain. I got out of college already tattooed and have thus far gotten two pretty good jobs, at which I have been (both times) a top performer. Also, I don’t think that that’s a very forward-thinking way to look at these things so if someone didn’t take me for a job based on having tattoos, I probably wouldn’t want to work for them anyhow.

5. Does it hurt? Why do you do it even if it hurts?

It hurts. There is no getting past that. Like anything you want to stick, you have to make it matter a little. I do it anyway because the pain is worth it, in my opinion. It’s worth it to become the person you are.

6. How do you decide on what you want to get tattooed?

I usually am always on the hunt for pretty things to get tattooed, or quotes I like, but for me to choose something, it has to be not just something I like, but something I can’t get out of my mind. I allot a few months of thinking time before deciding to go and get something.

7. How important is parental consent?

It’s important if:
You are under-aged.
You are a student and living off of allowances.
You are mainly financed by your parents/would effectively be using their money to get inked.

8. What did your parents say when they first saw your tattoos?

I’d already had it for months before they noticed, actually. They didn’t say much. Just kind of grumbled, and said things about me not getting a job (to which I responded something similar to the answer I posted here). Since graduating/getting employed, they have been a lot easier on me about it.

9. Which of your tattoos is your favorite and why?

My rose tattoo on my arm! I am kind of in love with it at the moment, because I just got it a few days ago. It’s a rose made up of sheet music petals. I really, really, really love how it looks, and its placement. I placed it beside a tattoo of mine that reads live on coffee and flowers which is a line from a The National song (live on coffee and flowers, try not to wonder what the weather will be). Yay for cohesion!

10. How old were you when you got your first tattoo?
20.

I get my tattoos done at Wild Ones Tattoo in BF Paranaque, by Mark Rodriguez.

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Reading Journal: Authority by Jeff VanderMeer

The way that I feel about this book–and perhaps, about this trilogy thus far–is similar to how (I imagine) it would feel (fittingly enough) to jump off a cliff into a lake, feeling relief at plunging into the water only to realize that there is an undercurrent which has lassoed your ankle: you may not resurface, you have gotten carried away, or into.

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I enjoyed Annihilation, but I fell headlong into Authority. So much so, in fact, that on a recent beach trip, I spent more time reading it than I did actually being at the beach. (When you live in the Philippines, I suppose, it is okay to be less than thrilled at the sight of the coast–although it is lovely.)

In this volume, we meet Control, the new director of The Southern Reach. In my entry about Annihilation, I’d said that the Biologist was one of my favorite characters (she was, is), but I think Control is my absolute favorite. He is anxious, hot-tempered, broken in places, roped into something bigger than himself although he does not know it (yet). The way that this book is written is so that it tramples on your heart: we go into into it knowing Control is no match for Area X, we know that the upper meniscus of his success is going to be a low one, and still, we trust the story enough to know it will be worthwhile to participate in.

And it is. In this book, we get a lot of information: we find things out about The Southern Reach, about the border, about certain truths of identities, and efforts made to figure things out–and yet, we come away from it all more uneasy that we were when we began. These are the “wrong” answers; it’s like finding out you have been having a separate conversation with someone who you thought understood you, a little too late–just enough to know how things could have gone right, and to see how fully the encounter has spiraled out of (haha) control.

As usual, Jeff VanderMeer’s prose is impeccable. While I loved the terrifying bits of this book (so much so that I found myself reading via flashlight, in bed, until 12 midnight when the bulb in my room got busted), the parts that have been difficult for me to shake are those about Control’s past. It was so vividly written despite (or maybe because of?) the stark way in which we see it in Control’s head. I also loved the metaphorical touches: his mother as a streak of light, his grandfather as a gun.

One of my favorite paragraphs: “I made a terrible mistake. I think about it every day. It guides me in my job now. It makes me humble and keeps me focused.” But he didn’t think about it every day. You didn’t think about it every day or it would rise up and consume you. It just remained there, nameless: a sad, dark thing that weighed you down only some of the time. When the memory became too faint, too abstract, it would transform itself into an old rotator cuff injury, a pain so thin yet so sharp that he could trace the line of it all the way across his shoulder blade and down his back.

I’m currently a couple of pages into Acceptance, the third and final book in this series. Jesus.