_Write pt. 2: hello/goodbye

I went to a farewell dinner last week. I only just met him at the start of the year, and a few months later, it was already time to say goodbye. The new normal these days.

It wasn’t quite the case back in the safe bubble of my homeland. The sameness, the confidence you find in the familiar, the phone numbers you’ve memorized. The day I left with a couple of small luggage and a freshly renewed passport in tow, I knew I drove a wedge between old and new, but it has since proven to have separated the before and after in more ways than I expected.

Roots have given way to wings, and making new friends grounds you and calms the “new kid on the block” anxiety that chews on your insides. Depending on your situation, you’ll likely gravitate towards fellow transients. You cling to them like a barnacle clings to rocks. The ease builds every day, and you slowly, sometimes without realizing it, build a new safe zone. But just when you thought you’re settling in, it comes and pulls the rug from under you. They announce their departure, quit their jobs, pack their bags, and you’d go to more than one of their farewells. Because you’re clingy and sad, and it’s hard to say goodbye. Friends forever, right? (Thank you, social media.)

From a young age, friends have been the kid next door, your classmates, your cousins, your parents’ friends’ kids. And for some strange reason, you always counted on them to be around. Now you know it always isn’t the case.

At the risk of sounding like One Tree Hill’s Peyton Sawyer, people leave, and as one of those who left, chances are you’d find yourself among the transitory flock. They come; they stay for a while. And when they leave, you’ll be going to a farewell for the nth time and wishing them the best in all sincerity, partly because you know you’d want the same for yourself if and when you choose to spread your wings once more. If you do decide to nest, there’d still never be a shortage of cause to celebrate. Someone will always need a proper sendoff. Someone will always come and need a reassuring welcome.

|s|

_Write pt. 1

I want to write about the things I think about all the time. The things that have lodged themselves in the folds, which I imagine my brain to have or so I glean from illustrations. I want to write about the things that I don’t want to think about. The things that somewhat overwhelm me with the amount of mental prowess I estimate they’d require. Those that I so conveniently tuck away and conveniently forget, albeit momentarily, as I proceed with honing my urbanite zombie, mobile phone-obsessed, social media-thirsty self. There are times when I catch myself realising, as I sit in the office at midday, how cloudy my thoughts seem to be. How much more effort is needed now to enter the “flow” state. How rare it is nowadays to get an “aha” moment. This isn’t new. The problem is, it’s become more recurring. A no-fail cure that has saved me from this malaise time and again was to write. It could be a swift hack at the keyboard at midnight (I can only really think when it’s quiet or when I have classical music blasting at my eardrums) or a long drawn affair where I stroke, caress, look back at every word, every sentence. Oh my, look at the time. And so now, I write. My fingers type; downloading the steady stream of words in my mind. No self-editing for this one. Not now. No self-censorship. I just put down the words, the words that are thoughts, the thoughts that are things, the things that I think about and those that I don’t.

Okay. Done.

|s|

Of Movies and Memory Gaps

Over lunch the other day, movies came up during conversation. Anytime anyone brings up the subject, I light up like a bulb and get all excited, particularly when the other person shares the same taste as I do or at least familiar with a wide range of titles.

I was asked a very simple question, which to my surprise, I found hard to answer: “So what are your favorite movies?” I immediately replied, “It’s difficult to choose just one.” Understandably, the next question was, “What are some of your favorites then?” That didn’t make it any easier. I’ve been backed into a corner and left with no recourse but to rack my brains for answers. It took me a couple of minutes to jog my memory and pry a few.

A couple of days later, the question still simmered in my mind. It was really very surprising to me that I could not as easily name the films that I’ve adorned for years. Movies to me are a source of joy that keeps on giving. I love stories, and film is one of my favorite media. Countless days and nights I’ve spent on equally countless features. There were years when the rooster’s crowing (the family across the street likes to keep cocks) was the only thing that could make me turn off the computer and remind me that I have to be at work in a couple of hours. As a kid, I could memorise the dialogue after the first viewing. In short, it’s been a life-long affair.

I took a trip down memory lane last night to reacquaint myself with some old faves, and my, was it nice to see them again. Here are five loves of many:

funny_facevertigomovie_restoration1when-harry-met-sally_movieposter_1388080666inthemood71icnxge2ul-_sl1500_

I have not paid as much attention to movies in the past couple of years, which truthfully is why it took me only forever to recall my favorites. Maybe one of these days, I’d find the time to sit down and talk about each in detail. For now, I’ll end this by introducing a new favorite, The Handmaiden by Park Chan Wook. I’m glad I’ve stumbled upon this jewel of a flick. No, it’s not for everyone. But man, is it dizzyingly lovely.

ahgassi_xlg

|s|

Blank Space_

A clean slate. Pretty much how this site looks like at the moment.

Confession. I’ve been itching to post an entry for the longest time but couldn’t bring myself to do so until I get the look of this page right. As evidenced by all the white space that you see, I have not been able to do so just yet. But (and that is a very big but), as the note tacked onto the bulletin board inside the office lift says (and I paraphrase), you just have to start. Nothing ever happens until you do; all else follows.

And so I populate this page with three short paragraphs. Not the best of (re)starts, yes. But oh well, let’s begin_

Wiggle

25.07.2015 1800hrs

How to begin? I don’t know where or how to start. I haven’t really written anything in over a year, aside from lists, emails, and countless chat messages. My mind I think, has become much too accustomed to short exchanges, attention span and thought organization greatly diminished. The wires in my brain seem to have been snipped short at some point, and I am grasping the ends and trying to tie them together in an attempt to knit paragraphs together.

Sometimes I tell myself I need a new laptop to write with. My Stella cannot connect to the Internet, tapping Celine’s screen doesn’t give the whole experience, and the thought of using good old pen and paper does not entice me. I know. I have far too many excuses. But every once in a while, at least once a year, I cannot help just doing it.

I am not writing about anything really. I’m merely trying to jolt my writing muscles out of deep cryogenic coma. Piecing words together, one after the other. It’s like the equivalent of willing a toe to wiggle.

At this point, I may have to apologize to whoever chanced upon this. It’s a rather selfish exercise, and you certainly are right in thinking that there is nothing to be gained here. But my, look at that, four paragraphs. There is yet hope! May I then be so bold as to ask you, dear reader, not to completely strike this page off your reading list. Maybe next time, there’d be better reason for you to waste your time here with me.

Tschüs!

A Study (of K) Pt. 1: Eyeglasses

Those Eyeglasses. She rests on top of your nose confidently, sitting squarely on your face. Like a knight guarding the gate, she opens the doors at your bidding and shows you the world. Once she boasted of a pristine pair of clear plates and a fine, rigid frame. You laid your eyes on her, and she was never the same. How you’ve smudged the glass with your fingerprints, and the frame, rubbed off by your incessant, unconscious touch. She’s seen better days. And yet, she wouldn’t have it any other way.

She revels in the idea of holding your vision ransom, and on days when she’s feeling feisty, she’d distort an image or two, throw in a couple of blinding flashes and blurry shadows, and giggle silently as you rub your eyes in disbelief. She falls faint down the bridge of your nose, trusting that you would catch her, and she smiles as you slide her back in place, basking in the assurance that you’d never let her fall, never let her break, never need to replace her. She observes everything with you, wistfully wishing to know what you make of the things you perceive, what goes on behind those eyes — eyes that look on from daybreak to dusk, eyes that rely on her, a supposedly impartial and unclouded ally.

When you finally take her off and place her on your bedside table at the day’s end, she looks on anxiously as you sleep, watching your eyes quiver behind the closed lids. She envies the dreams that show you worlds she never could and cannot begin to imagine, and she waits impatiently for the sun to reappear, the morning to dispel the dark, the light to tear you away from that other place and bring you back to the world of you and her.

Then you open your eyes and always find her.

Tschüs!

Of Buses and Trains and Laundry

It’s a quiet afternoon. The sky is overcast, and there is a faint breeze whistling through the trees. I have just boarded a bus to the nearest train station. I no longer have to look out the window to see where I should get off; I’ve taken this trip enough times to know.

I’m on my way downtown, to Lucky Plaza to be exact. Like most Filipinos here, I’m about to send some money back home. Yep, this is part of who I am now, a Filipino who works and lives abroad. To distill my existence into a three-letter acronym would be a wrong way to describe how I live though, or anyone else, for that matter. Life and people are much more nuanced, and to morph and glaze them over into a concept or collective, however well regarded, would be to see them from a narrow perspective. You begin to realize this when you become one of them yourself.

I’ve been based in Singapore since May last year, and with everything that move entailed and all other things, I kind of lost touch with the pleasure that is writing. Not that I’ve let go of the personally gratifying exercise that keeping this blog has been. It’s always always bubbling underneath the surface, but I’ve allowed myself to be almost fully occupied with the exigencies of this new chapter. Only today did I realize that it’s been a full year since my last post; only today did I finally decide to put a period on that rather sad gap and to start a new sentence, again and again.

As you may expect, I’ve gone through more than a couple of cycles through the metaphorical washing machine of life, from the time I started to seriously contemplate uprooting and throwing myself “out there” up to today. I’m all for YOLO, but know that behind the hippy-ishly filtered images of “living fully and freely” lies major work; setting something into motion and following through with it takes commitment, tenacity, and a whole lot of faith. Freedom, with its dazzling rush of excitement, comes with the grounding weight of responsibility. And depending on how you are as a person, anxiety will surely tag along as well.

Given all that and, at the risk of sounding self-absorbed, my seemingly inborn tendency to observe as I live and at times observe myself as I’m observing, the highs and lows and twists and turns can be prolonged and magnified. A royal pain in the ass sometimes but a gift nonetheless. This is where writing comes in. You put your arms around the wriggling, pulsating strands you fall into, the web of life you find and create, and endeavor earnestly to weave it all into something intelligible, interesting, and if you really try, something beautiful.

I have a year’s worth of balled up material and a lifetime ahead to work with. So please bear with and join me, dear readers. I am not “a voice of a generation”, but I am a voice, just like you. Now you might ask what good it would do you to drop in once in a while. I actually cannot give a perfectly good answer to that perfectly good question. All I know is that it’s fun to share and definitely fun to sort of eavesdrop. At the very least, you can see how my ride is going, and maybe you can tell me about yours. And who knows? Maybe one of these days we’d run into each other on the train.

Tschüs!