It is in the beginning when she is born, when the stars are giants in the sky and the clouds so near the earth that there is no need for flight to reach out and touch them.
When she is born it is during the second month of the monsoon season. At her first breath droplets stop midway through the air and the rivers pause from their flow, waves craning towards the tribe’s settlement.
Her mother laughs at this, delighted; it is as if even nature has regarded her birth. She takes her first breath without crying, calmly and evenly, as if she knows it is only the first of too many.
There is something new to the islands she bought today. It is not exceptionally hard to come by, if one can find the right soldier, the right kind of lambanog and gold, of course, the ones she plucked from her mother’s gums when she died.
She unwraps it from her silk handkerchief and weighs it on her palm. She saw it take a life a few days earlier, and at the sight of the man lying on the ground, gasping for breath, her heart swelled with so much happiness.
She aims the barrel at her head and pulls the trigger, once more, and again. She does not know how death comes, or how long, so she closes her eyes and waits.
They think that she cries because she is struck with fear at the revolver they wrench out of her grasp (She was always such a simple girl, the old women cluck their tongues) but really it’s because the barrel is smoking and the bullets are all gone, and she remains.
‘Remember, don’t all of you panic,’ The blonde Australian says as he tightens her body harness. ‘This sport is safe, you are all in perfectly good hands.’
She doesn’t quite remember how she finds herself standing on a bridge a few hundred feet above a river in New Zealand, her ankles bound by a thick elastic rope. She’d seen the beginnings of this new sport a few decades ago, although at that time she could never have imagined that a handful of men leaping from wooden structures with only vines tied around their ankles would inspire such a following. She supposes, she thinks with amusement, that she has underestimated man’s zealousness to overcome boredom.
‘Do I need this?’ She asks the blonde man, gesturing towards her upper body. ‘It feels a little heavy.’
He looks taken aback, blue eyes widening, thick blonde eyebrows rising to his forehead. She meets his dubious gaze with a small smile. Then he laughs loudly.
‘A daredevil, aren’t ya?’ He gives her an appraising look. ‘Alright, lady, if it’s too heavy, we can take the body harness off and just leave the leg harness on. Oi, James!’
She can’t help but smile. She doesn’t remember when she has felt so alive. She feels all of her fingers, each of her toes; she thinks she can sense a tingling all the way to the roots of her hair. She has swam oceans before, crossed entire deserts and miles and miles of land. She is sure she has never flown.
She walks to the edge of the bridge, feels the whip of the wind on her face, breathes it in.
‘Don’t worry, love,’ the Australian man tells her. ‘You won’t die, not on our watch.’
‘I know.’ She laughs. He reaches around her to unbuckle her upper body harness. She feels immediately lighter.
‘On three, then?’ He gives a nod to a short, plump man clutching the cord. ‘Three, two, one—’
She leaps off the bridge, her eyes wide open.
She must’ve stayed alive for this moment. She has not heard the wind speak for so long, living in the city, but here, its voice is loud in her ear.
Why could I not have wished for flight? She asks.
It only chuckles, Aren’t you in enough trouble already? and gives her a gentle blow to the water.
Of all her moments on earth, this is her favorite. The Beatles live in Manila is a close second.
Some of my early fiction I unearthed today. This was one of my favorite projects, written when I was 18 or 19. My writing was way more ambitious back then, and I always wrote in vignettes. My love for vignettes is absolute. I never finished this, but I wrote a beginning and an ending, a habit I’ve retained even in journalism school. The middle is the hard part.
These feet weren’t built to stay too long And I’ll go there on my own, But you’ll miss me when you’re home
It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them. I was so preposterously serious in those days…Lightly, lightly—it’s the best advice ever given me. So throw away your baggage and go forward. There are quicksands all about you, sucking at your feet, trying to suck you down into fear and self-pity and despair. That’s why you must walk so lightly. Lightly, my darling.
Gone is the humor from her voice. She is reminiscent of a favorite eccentric grandmother one moment, with her high, airy cackle and her eclectic fashion sense, and then the next she looks at you over her thin, wire-framed glasses with such a searing, calculated intelligence that you can only trip over yourself trying to give a decent answer.
The worst thing about the holidays is how I always fall back into weird extreme night owl (why yes, it’s a quasi pseudo-scientific term and yes, I just linked Wikipedia) sleeping patterns. I’m sure I’m not the only one—I love sleeping at sunrise, but I’ve surrounded myself with friends who are even worse at this whole sleeping business than I am. I’ve worked with a whole office full of them once, actually. I was part of a team outsourced for a Canadian company and we kept up with Eastern Standard Time. My favorite part is when we all go out for merienda and a smoke at 4 in the morning, similar to its afternoon counterpart in its lazy, two-more-hours-to-fucking-go feel, but darker, quieter and cooler (both in fashionably attractive sense and lack of Manila heat sense).
Just a few weeks ago, I found myself startled awake at 4 in the afternoon on a Friday after sleeping at 8 in the morning, almost completely missing my only window of opportunity to claim my grad school transcript for a fellowship application due that same night. Still groggy and in my pajamas (effectively hidden under my huge coat), it was only when I transferred to the E train on the subway that I realized it was actually 5:15 in the afternoon—I didn’t almost completely miss my window, I’d already completely missed it.
I beat myself up over it the whole way home (20 minutes, and in the cold, too) and felt so guilty about the entire affair that I resolved to change my sleeping patterns and woke up at nine the next day. (Yes, it was that one time.)
In Denmark, a group of Extreme Night Owls formed a group called the B-Society, named for the 15-25% of the human population who fall into the night owl chronotype category. “We’re calling for an uprising against the tyranny of early rising!” its manifesto screams. (Not really, but can’t you just picture two thousand people banging their coffee cups or lobbing them at the nearest morning lark in lobbing distance?) As for me, I love mornings. I love greeting the daylight streaming in my window and promptly falling back to my pillow, immediately asleep.
There’s a reason for the long hiatus in posts, aside from work, from laziness, or from the incapability of sustaining any form of long-term writing, particularly a blog. On an interview for an editorial position at a glittery teen magazine I must admit I wanted in some small way, I was asked by the interviewer, also the editor-at-large, to pull up the blog I had oversold as a fashion/styling/mishmash of whatever.
"Juliet has a gun," I told her as she started typing the address, and I was already preparing to say "like the perfume" with a small self-conscious laugh in case she misheard or raised an eyebrow or did other glamorous editor-at-largey things, at the same time I started regretting saying the name out loud or that I had a blog at all.
When my page loaded on the (completely foreign) screen (not mine) and she started scrolling and browsing through the entries and humming her approval (?) it felt like this:
And for a long time afterwards I couldn’t open the thing because I kept thinking about what it looked like on someone else’s browser (well she was using Firefox, for one), in someone else’s office being read by someone I didn’t know. A completely belated and useless realization, considering I’d made no attempts at privacy and the nature of blogging being the nature of blogging and so on, but it was still something that jarred me for a while, mostly because tumblogging felt like me talking to myself and a couple other friends.
But anyway. Hello world! Hello, editor-at-large (if by some freak accident you come back here). Felt like something from Drive for a moment there.
To say things! To know how to say things! To know how to exist through the written voice and the intellectual image! That’s what life is about: the rest is just about men and women, imagined loves and fictitious vanities, excuses born of poor digestion and forgetting, people squirming beneath the great abstract boulder of a meaningless blue sky, the way insects do when you life a stone.
Fernando Pessoa | The Book of DIsquiet | pg. 258 (via evoketheforms)
Street look of the day : Gorgeous colors on Jacquelin Dianne. Way to wear a galaxy print bodysuit!
The Art of Gardening
To her delight, her husband has taken up gardening. Their neighbor Dave gave him the packets to get him started, and everyday she watches him plant seeds in neat, orderly rows. There will be patches of beautiful sunflowers there, split peas and melons, squash and cabbages; she’s already imagining the sight it’ll be in spring.
What she doesn’t expect though, is to find them all in bloom one morning. Shocked, she goes out to her husband on the lawn, who’s standing with a curiously large walnut in hand.
“Honey, get back inside,” he calls out determinedly. “The zombies are coming.”
Especially lazy. Especially upset. Especially broke.
It was his sister’s gift to him, the jet ski, and a week after his birthday, when the rain started and didn’t stop, he’d called to thank her for the perfect timing.
"I always knew you had this sixth sense about things," he told her.
The connection had been choppy and he’d had to strain to hear her over the static and his five-year-old nephew screaming on the other line, but she replied dryly, “Great. Now that Anilao is submerged in water, would you mind giving it back?”
"Not on your life," he’d been too quick to say, and by the time he thought about taking it back or knocking on wood or throwing salt over his shoulder or whatever it was people did to make sure that what they said didn’t come true, she’d already started telling him about the things they’d lost in the flood, the brand new Kia, her favorite Doraemon alarm clock, Miguel’s stroller, Sammy’s books.
It was the last time he’d talked to her for so long—a couple of weeks ago he heard that they’d lost all of Pasig in the flash flood. He went over with the Sta. Clara search teams, but nothing had remained of his sister’s old barangay, just an endless stretch of murky brown water.
He saw the list of the identified dead the other day, and number fifty-six could’ve been Len, but the n had been smudged beyond recognition; in certain plays of light it could just as easily have been Les or Lea or Leo or Lem, and he thinks of all the jet skis in the world he would give for it to be.
Unfinished/unfinishable story I’ve been working on since Ondoy. There are sections in this story that trail off or die abruptly, and though I usually have no qualms about cutting out chunks of parts that don’t work, for some reason I’ve been lovingly hoarding each word, so much so that I’ve created three irreconcilable versions of this monstrous thing.
An abnormal love
for a specific object, place or action is mania in Trichotillomania, an impulse control disorder that produces the uncontrollable urge for people (me) to pull out their hair (scalp hair) due to anxiety, depression or stress (writing).
The compulsion is incessant but almost natural, the way some people need to smoke when faced with a blinking cursor and too many ideas while the translation and transition mechanism in your brain is lagging like an obese man at a marathon. That was a bad metaphor, but then I didn’t want to pause for too long to think of a good one and lose a few strands in the process.
What can you tell me about Bravo?
Of all the songs in his iPod, Bravo listens to “Electric Dreams” the most. It has 1478 plays on his iTunes. He often tells Charlie, in his deep, rumbling voice, that it reminds him all at once of cheese curls, lost keys and lovers (in that order). Among the three of them, Bravo is also the most athletic—he runs 10k marathons from Sherbot to Anglia and sometimes practices with the Rogues boys in the evenings. Once, they made him run after the ball, which had fallen in the school swimming pool after the quarterback, Peter Dunn, threw a blind pass that almost dislocated his shoulder. Rita was furious at him after that—his ankles and toes weren’t yet completely organic, and had nearly short-circuited in the water. As punishment—
"Very interesting, and I would like to go into what you feel about Bravo’s athleticism and the Rogues boys later," Dr. Lee interrupts him with an apologetic smile, "but who I meant for you to tell me about was the first Bravo, the one they called—" She checks her notes. "—Bee."
Bee. Bee is sterile bed, streaks of blood everywhere, someone screaming for Ativan, the sound of something breaking in the distance, let go, Alpha, let it go—
Charlie shakes his head. “No, thank you, ma’am. We don’t talk about the first Bravo.”
Spent an unhealthy amount of time deciding on the shoes at 3:30 in the morning, after having read the entirety of The Name of the Wind in a little less than two days. The book could do with a three-dimensional female character who doesn’t need Kvothe’s rescuing, and the outfit, a different pair of shoes.
There’ll be a hot time in the town of Berlin
Where to begin in describing my favorite European city. It is not as lovely as Paris, the way Paris is lovely with its cobbled sidewalks and romantic wrought iron towers, or as charming as the old, sacred town at the heart of Prague. At the moment, I am at a loss for a succinct description of Berlin, though when I first arrived I remember thinking that the city was spacious, almost too much so, as it can only be for a girl who has grown up in Manila with its congested roads and overcrowded trains (but I say this lovingly, Manila).
In Berlin, the lights are brilliant at three in the morning and the music thumps on long after dawn. In the day, I’ve found that it is possible to walk blocks (or maybe just one—distance perception as defunct as my sense of direction) without seeing another human being. On a tour at the Reichstag in the afternoon, the guide informed us that if we lived twenty-two years ago we would’ve been in West Berlin. “Now in East Berlin,” he said as we passed the Brandenburger Tor. (“But not really, as we would’ve gotten shot passing through No Man’s Land between the walls.”)
It is a city that disarms you with modernity and history, with its capacity to have lived through pain, and lived, and remembered. It is a city good at remembering. At music, as well, and public transportation.
(Photo again not mine, but by my friend Mariana Fonseca.)