12 February 2019

the glad of small things

Forgive me, Arundhati Roy, for paraphrasing your novel title for my blog post title, but there's no other phrase that encapsulates this moment right now for me.

As I posted on Instagram, I do not want to be one of those assholes who always complain about not being able to write any shit, because of certain "requirements" they may need in their writing life. I have acquaintances who are like this: 'yung kailangang maayos ang desk, bago ang wallpaper sa desktop ng laptop, naka-program ang meditative music, may sinding scented candle/incense sa room, sealed shut for silence, walang tao sa paligid, etc. etc. etc. This list goes on, depending on the person. Kanya-kanya na lang tayo ng arte, of course, and I know walang basagan ng trip. Pero iba kasi 'yung laging nagrereklamo at naglalagay ng self-obstacles na ganito (na requirements daw) tapos walang nagagawang pagsusulat ni isang pahina ang ending. 

I know this all too well because I was also like this before, but I think I had minimal needs than some of my more demanding colleagues. I recall those times in my earlier independent living life when the only requirement I wanted to have was a desk in front of an open window where I could see the blue of the sky, some greens of tree leaves, and whatever else is there on the land beneath the two. It didn't even have to be elevated, that room, and being on the ground floor was fine for me. 

There were times when I only got the desk in a stuffy room without a window, and my nights turned into days since sa gabi ako nakakapagsulat, powered by this new concoction back then known as Starbucks frap. There were times that I got the window, too, but the view was utterly limited, and in between slivers of glass they funnily called jalousies (Like are you jalous with da view? Cheret!).  And there was even a woebegone time when I indeed got the desk, the big window with the sky view and the trees of the neighbors were right in front of the wall and all, but on the other side of that wall, in between those trees planted on the house beside mine, there's the maniacal idiot son of my landlady who practices shooting his fucking live pistol with live fucking bullets. So siyempre, isara ang bintana para hindi ka ma-TV Patrol mamayang alas-sais dahil sa namatay ka sa ligaw na bala, no? Tengene that. Those were the fucking days talaga, I swear.

But this, now? No. I'm glad. I'm glad that this "small thing" I "require" of life is already here, always within my reach. And in the 10 years that I have been staring at this space, I indeed feel bad that I have had moments when I felt that this wasn't enough.

Aren't you fucking glad na walang snow sa Pilipinas???
 I know I am! Hugs to my North American east coast
friends and relatives who could use some sun in their life
these past weeks. Stay warm! 

I guess it's true, what they say about people, then, once we get what we want, we tend to be more ambitious and aim for the bigger things. In certain circumstances, this is an admirable action. But in some, maybe we have to be reminded that we should also be grateful enough that we have what we have, at this moment in time. For life will never really reveal to us what's the next scene coming, much more if we're cast in that scene. So better have a go at it, this current scene, embrace it while you still can, and settle for what you've got at the moment, to do what needs to be done.

I've been feeling these things the past few days because I also got affected by the films I've been seeing lately. I've been watching the Academy Awards nominated films and there were some there that featured the lives of writers. What particularly got to me was the author Lee Israel's life, as played by Melissa McCarthy, the comedian who wasn't funny here, because Lee's story is downright gut-wrenching -- at least for a writer like me who can sympathize, empathize, relate and feel with her and her situation.

Brilliant writing deserves the Oscar nomination for best adapted screenplay.
Galing din ni Melissa dito umarte, deserved that acting nom din.
It's about this real-life writer, a biographer, who was running low on funds,
so she started forging fake literary memorabilia, writing letters na kunwari
sinulat ng mga sikat na tao like Dorothy Parker and other celebs.

That's her original writing nook. It's literally a nook, no?
No windows or anything like that.
Lamp at typewriter lang, buhay na.

I've always thought that it's a romantic concept to be living in New York with your own apartment and be a writer at the same time. But the New York writer life I've been seeing in some films is downright depressing. Why is that??? It's certainly not New York's fault, is it? Or maybe I'm just being naïve about this, and their individual situations. Of course I am. Kaya nga romantic ang peg, di ba?

Para lang siguro 'yang mga past moments of let's-give-up-Manila-and-move-to-a-more-artistic-place moments that I also felt together with some friends, or they felt it and na-infect ako. Like ever since I became a U.P. Writing Workshop fellow back in 1997 sa Baguio, it has always been Baguio for most of us. Wow sarap dito magsulat, lamig, daming pine trees, nakaka-inspire and all that chereret. Nung naging fellow naman ako ng National Writers Workshop nina Ma'am Edith Tiempo sa Dumaguete, nag-iba rin ang ihip ng chika. Wow ang laidback lang dito cool mehn sarap lang magsulat ng tula at kuwento game hithit pa more blah. Of course, I have to mention that these thoughts were uttered by us when we were in our twenties. Madali pang magkaroon ng ganitong thoughts given that age.

But as I grew older, the temperament also changes, as expected. When I got this condo joint, it was really swell. That was 2008, and life was also taking me to many places -- including California and yes, New York, too. I once thought of abandoning this place to uproot myself, for many reasons other than writing, but as we now know it, that never happened, of course.

I'm still here.

But there were times when I had to hibernate away from this place, too, and that's quite understandable. There was that time I got allergic to sunsets here, of all things ba naman. Imagine that. So siyempre, naghahanap ako paminsan-minsan ng ibang location kung saan puwedeng mag-moment anew.

I don't know why, but being in front of a beach helps me think clearly and helps me finish manuscripts faster, too. I was in my thirties already when I felt this, and actually did this, when I spent some time going to Puerto Galera not to swim or drink and be merry, but to plant my feet on the sand while I write in a makeshift table-desk there somewhere, staring out at the open seas from time to time. That was how I was able to finish my masters thesis, a full-length screenplay, and an academic paper presentation during those times. Magnificent.

I don't really know what my forties are making me feel about such "writerly things" actually, but the window view writing mode remains. I don't really need to be here in my home to do that, too. In fact, I love the concept of "coffice" or "cofficing" where you work in a café with a window view somewhere, and lately, co-working spaces also need to have that requirement if I am to work there in those spaces. 

I guess it just really boils down to taming one's temperament, just to get things done. I realized that I have actually turned into one of those asshats indeed, those I chided for being too maarte in their requirements, not realizing that it's happening to me, too. Hay naku Bayli.

Well, I'm choosing. Now. I'm great with being here, in front of this view, too. But I'll be mixing up some views once in a while, too, just to shake off monotony that inevitably seeps in. Good enough deal, yeah? Yeah.

Okay, now that that's out of the way, it's high time to go back in there and write.


Just don't rain on my parade, ayt?
 I don't wanna be S.A.D.-ish again.
Or anymore.

31 December 2018

The gospel according to Olivia Pope

I've been watching Scandal slowly during the last quarter of 2018, always in between work breaks (during lunch or dinner breaks actually), but I was able to fully rush it when I got a sprain mid-December, so I was able to watch the show unfold until the second to the last season. Currently on the 7th and final season, and I'm already feeling sepanx with Olivia Pope and the "gladiators in suits" gang.

Love this ensemble. Too bad some of them dropped out one by one.
Ah, showbiz. Thanks to this site for compiling these quotes.

Katukayo ko pa naman si bakla, at naaliw ako nung tumambad sa akin itong characteristic niya:

Excerpt from this site. Hay katukayo, apir!

Hahaha that is SOOOO ME mga more than five years ago or so. Nothing but popcorn and wine for meals. Which horrified a certain someone when she met me, and dropped a quote of her own saying "Popcorn is not a meal" hihihi (she actually messages to check if I ate an actual meal). Nearly five years later, ayan, sweetheart ko pa rin siya, and we're eating much more than popcorn hehe. But I digress.

I love this show because I get many stuff here that makes me go "uh-huh..." and it's well-scripted and well-acted. OA lang 'yung dialoguing minsan pero kinekeri naman nina Kerry Washington kahit papaano. Uneven ang directing pace minsan, depende yata on who's behind the cam per episode. But that's TV life, kaya keri na rin.

Rule of thumb ko ito, bakla. Ever!
Thanks to this site for compiling these quotable quotes. 

But what I like about shows that make me think are the quotes and thoughts I get from them. Bibihira lang yata ang mga ito dumating sa buhay ko, na nagiging parte ng pilosopiya ko sa buhay. Last decade, it was the Warrick Brown philosophy that stuck to me, which is narrated in full here in this post. Warrick is that dude na namatay after some seasons sa original CSI, and the nugget na na-gets kong wisdom sa kanya back then is this simplicity: "Life's too damn short."

Life is too short indeed. Thus, it became a mantra. From the late 2000s to the early 2010s, I found myself doing more courageous things, calculated risks of course, being the Taurus-Ox that I am, but still, things that those around me didn't think I can/will actually do, or things I myself didn't think na I can pull off easily -- but I did! I've been busy taking risks and going into new things, that's why I also had some lag here in my blogging life. But that's totally fine, because we don't exist online only, right? Online is life, but offline is lifer! Chos.

And this is actually the reason why some work circles
tried to ease me out during this risk-taking era.
Bibihira kasi sa kanila ang may bite. Puro bark lang sila.
Alam mo 'yung tunog lata, walang laman sa loob? Yeah, that's them.
So I just up and left. Kebs! I can do many things in my life,
but kiss ass for promotion is not in my list, ever!

Late to the Shonda Rhimes party, I've been hearing/reading about this much-hailed TV exec na showrunner ng How To Get Away With Murder. 'Yun actually ang sinimulan ko sa Netflix na nagandahan din ako sa writing and of course Viola Davis in the lead haller. Pero nauumay ako sa style ng show minsan, also the storylines, kasi to quote one of the characters there named Bonnie, "whiny millennials" ang lagi niyang katrabaho hahaha. I feel ya Bonnie, I feel ya. And then, when they crossed one season with Scandal and saw OP strut her stuff, I was like "Ito muna panonoorin ko!" Kaya ayan, hindi ko na siya mabitawan pa. Later na kita babalikan, Lola Viola, and your whiny millennial law students lol. 

Since she heads a crisis management firm, I like how the show discussed the appearance of things in face of a scandal. It's deeper than branding, and certainly deeper than PR, and I love how they call it: OPTICS.

Optics. How would a certain thing, behavior or action look like to others, to specific target audiences, to the general population? I like it that there's a deeper discussion than mere surface optics, and you get to understand how the picture you see came to be, after the machinations worked to project it. 

Optics. I have been blinded by some people's optics, organizations as well, which projected one thing or another. And during this risk-taking era, I was able to "decode the Matrix" and see what was beyond the surface as well. That's why it was also easier to trade in some hats for other hats, work-wise. 

Love matters were the same. There was actually one instance where I should have trusted my gut more, something Olivia Pope always put forward, something that she swears by. I, too, used to feel this way, act this way even, sensing my gut feel of things, and then decide on walking out or staying put. I met this girl sometime in 2013 who turned out to be a player (neng, wala actually sa hitsura niya, kaya gulantang lola mo sa big reveal!). And I just discovered that she was playing me when another jowa of hers messaged me, saying na sila na daw. And to corroborate, I talked to this girl's circle of friends, mga pinakilala niya sa akin in the flesh pa ha, and this one friend confessed na lima daw pala kami na dine-date niya at the same time! Hahaha lima, motherfucker, lima! What fucking guts this girl has, no? Kakaiba. And the optics? I actually saw early on that this was not a "pang-forever" girl, but I still went out with her and all that shiz. Buti naman at ilang buwan lang naman kami actually, then pumutok na ang scandal. Kakaloka. Five at a time, man. So those kinds of girls really do exist. I thought my bullshit radar was up and running, but she was somehow able to smokescreen it. Pero hindi naman ako bentang-benta din kasi, so I guess my BS detection reserves kicked in pa rin that time. Good going, Taurus-Ox. 

While I admire what Jake was preaching here, sometimes it takes
a "bigger man" to simply step back and walk away. In my case,
a "bigger woman." I know I am owed, but the universe repays
 in great ways. It has happened before, many times,
so I know it can happen again. save myself the agony of tragic plots.

But the very OP nugget I was able to get from this show is this: 
"Change the narrative."

This means, you can change the way people see things, perceive things, interpret the story, scrutinize the narrative at hand. When OP had a client embroiled in a scandal, there are ways of "changing the narrative" that happened. Ano ang reason why, ano ang motivation, bakit ganun ang kinalabasan, ano ang prequel? Those are the narratives that they can change, in  order to change the conversation around the scandalous event at hand. 

And that hit me, hard. Oo nga, change the narrative. Kapag may hindi magandang aspeto, kailangang ibahin mo ang pananaw mo, shift perspectives, kasi mas lilinaw sa kabilang banda kung iibahin mo rin ang pagtingin mo sa ibang bagay, at kung ire-revise mo ang naratibong panghahawakan mo sa buhay. It's a reinterpretation actually of a motto I put in my first and only photo blog, now defunct, where I said "When life's a blur, refocus." This time, when you refocus, the picture gets clearer, but you can also change the picture altogether, and see something better. So in a way, yes, it's a bit deeper, and more insightful. And it works better for me.

Lahat kasi tayo, may dinadalang maraming kuwento sa buhay. Iba-iba ang subplot na dala-dala natin sa maraming sektor ng buhay natin. Merong nakakainis na kuwento sa trabaho, sa mga katrabaho, mga hudas na boss, mga katrabahong kailangan mong pagpasensiyahan. Sa bahay, ganun din, lalo na diyan, kasi book 1-book 2 etc etc ang mga naratibong minsan eh nagsimula bago ka pa ipanganak pero nadadamay ka unnecessarily sa mga dramarama ng ibang karakter sa buhay. Sa buhay pag-ibig ganun din siyempre, kasi may mga kuwento kayong pinanghahawakan nang magkasama, nang indibidwal, at iba pa. 

Kaya allergic din tayo sa stupid people and stupid things.
Stupid stories mostly. Stupid people with stupid stories take the cake.

Kuwento. Maraming kuwento sa buhay, sa bahay, sa labas, sa loob mo. Dala nating lahat ito. Kahit mag-self-evaluate tayo every year at sabihin nating "travel light" at ihahagis natin ang ilang emotional baggage na hindi na kailangan sa buhay, minsan naiiwan ang ilang hibla ng naratibo nito sa utak at puso natin. Paano nga ba alisin iyon?

And that's where OP comes in. Wala, stuck tayo, hindi natin maalis ang mga naratibong ito, ga-hibla man o ga-bungkos ang dami, andiyan sila talaga. Pero puwede mong ibahin ang tingin mo sa naratibo, ibahin mo ang ilang plot points, at puwede mong i-rehash ang ibang karakter. Change the narrative. Ibahin mo lang, kahit konti, ang plotting at blocking, at baka mas mapaayos mo ang problematic story na dala mo lang lagi, o nakikita. Who knows, baka gumaan pa ito, o maging parte ng bagong naratibong mas maganda ang structure, ang delivery, ang characterization, lahat. Nasa sa pagtingin mo ang pinagkaiba. Doon lang nakasalalay ang pagpapagaan mo ng sariling loob mo. Change the narrative. Change the damn narrative.

Goddesses know I carry a lot of narratives right now in my life, some I thought I already closed the chapter and shelved, some keep on rewriting themselves and thus surprising me still. Kuwento. Ano bang kuwento ang gusto kong dalhin pa sa buhay, sa susunod na taon, dekada, parte ng buhay ko? Ano bang kuwento ang gusto kong magtapos na? Ano ang mga gusto ko pang i-rewrite nang i-rewrite hanggang maging publishable na? The first order of business is selecting, the second is deciding. I don't really care right now about my optics, how people see me and my life. At 45, I've passed the point of no return when it comes to giving zero fucks about what people think of me. My work, my work ethics, and my professionalism all speak for themselves. I don't need to hard-sell that. I don't. At this point, I know what I'm worth, and I also know how to balance that worth to do worthy causes of work. It always has to be worthy. Alam ko hindi ko ikayayaman iyon, na inuuna ko ang work na dapat ay may worth. But that is my core, I think, saka nakakabalanse naman ako sa ibang paraan when it comes to monetary compensation. And I've already made peace with that within myself. 

Preach! My professionalism has principles, what can I say. Take it or leave it.

Perhaps a bigger strand of learning here also has to be about how people change their narratives and how the changes affect you. It's inevitable. If you revise, they can also revise. Nariyang may mga kakilala ka, kaibigan even, na umuusad sa ibang direksyon papalayo sa iyo, and that should be okay. Nariyang may mga get-togethers ng mga dati mong kasamahan sa kung saan na hindi ka naiimbita, and that should be fine. May mga proyektong kasama ka sa simula pero iniwanan ka na lang nila o kaya'y kinuha na lang 'yung kontribusyon mo tapos nilaglag ka na, and that should be fine pa rin, kahit nakakainis, but it speaks more about their professionalism (or lack of it) than yours, di ba? Ganun na nga.

Talagang ganun. It's inevitable that you also get rewritten out of other people's narratives, much like how you are rewriting them out of yours. And that should be fine, too. As I near my golden decade, I think it's a new life project to be unlocked: fine-tuning. You whittle down the parts you don't need, polish the parts that need polishing, and dust off what needs to be dusted off. Fine-tuning. It goes hand-in-hand with changing the narrative. And it's the operationalization of the process we call upgrading. Life upgrading. And that is always okay.

Note to self. Since 1995.

My twenties was all about "carpe diem"-ing things. Seize the day! (Shades of Dead Poets Society, I know.) My thirties was more like "No excuses, no apologies" (Hello Brian Kinney fans out there! Thank you QAF.) in tandem with that Warrick Brown philosophy of "Life's too damn short." And now, I think my forties is all about this: "Change the narrative." I am so pop cultured like that heheh. 

But such is life. This life. My life. And I appreciate how it has unfolded, so far. Now, looking forward to how it will still unravel. And maybe we'll discover another nugget na mage-gets natin mula sa iba pang produkto ng kulturang popular. In the meantime, let's just bring out some of that popcorn and red wine, please. 

Cheers, life! Thanks to Buzzfeed for this gif.

Ilang oras na lang, putukan na naman. Goodbye 2018 Hello 2019 ang peg. Ang bilis. Pero okay na rin, na ganito na kumakaripas ang oras, para mas madaling maalpasan ang kailangan nang malagpasan, para din marating na ang mga lugar na kailangan pang puntahan -- sa labas ng bahay mo, at sa loob ng buhay mo. Ikasa na 'yan, beks. Game!


27 December 2018

Prying priorities

I suddenly miss the days when I used to write a long-ass status report of my year come its end. Those were the days na masipag pang mag-blog ang mga taong kakilala ko, my friends, my writer contacts, even my non-writer contacts, basta marami. Early 2000s, and I was in my late 20s back then, so siyempre marami pang energies. Come early 30s, same same. We have a lot of things to say -- and we still do -- but we also had more time, opportunity, and chance to write them all back then. 

Iba na kapag kalakarang 40s ka na pala. I started out this decade of my life having much to say pa rin, pero parang few and far between na rin ang blogging ko by that time. Life always gets in the way of things, and so does work. While I'm ever so grateful to the universe na hindi ako nauubusan ng life experiences to write about at hindi ako nauubusan ng raket para mabayaran ko ang mga bayarin ng buhay, oras lang siguro ang hihilingin ko sa ngayon para lang mabalikan ang ilang bagay na gusto kong balikan sa buhay.

Pero hindi pa rin naman guarantee ito. May oras ka nga, pero minsan, iba ang gusto mong gawin din. Magpahinga is on top of that list, tumunganga sa kawalan habang nagmumuni-muni is another, and read books is the close third. Siyempre, hindi pa rin nawawala ang buhay at kabuhayang package stuff, siyempre, so pasingit-singit lang silang lahat diyan. Ang tanong lang: ano ang sisingit saan? 

Priorities. Minsan, iyan ang tinatapon natin sa mukha ng ibang tao para maipamukha natin sa kanila kung ano ang mahalaga sa atin, o kaya'y maningil para masabi nila kung mahalaga ba sila sa buhay mo. Ilang relasyon na rin ba ang pinagdaanan ko na may mga singilang ganito. Meron diyang nagsabing priority daw niya ang mga anak niya, kaya ang pag-deal sa lovelife issues ay hiwalay sa pag-deal sa issues niya sa bahay nila. On the one hand, I somewhat understand this. But on the other, it's also strange to see how things can get categorized that way with her. Ibig sabihin, hindi niya balak pagkrusin ang landas ng dalawa. Nakakatawa, eh paano yun, hahatiin niya ang sarili niya? Hindi naman ako naniningil sa kanyang bigyan niya ako ng panahon, pero binabato niya lagi sa akin na ang priority daw niya ay ang mga anak niya. Did I tell you na may malaking disconnect sa communication sa taong iyon? That's why it was easy to severe ties with that one. I lost 100k in that transaction, by the way, but I just chalked it up to a bad investment, which bought me crucial life lessons in life that are priceless. So ganun na lang 'yun.

Meron namang kabaligtaran dati ng priority singilan, pero hindi pa nga paniningil eh. Biro mo, tatakbo ang isang linggo, dalawa tatlo, isang buwan, dalawang buwan, ni walang communication sa iyo ang jowa mo. Paano 'yun? Magtataka ka na lang kung may jowa ka pa, kung buhay pa ba siya o kung na-abduct na ng alien. Hindi naman priority ang hiningi ko sa kanya, kundi basic decency lang sana, na sana sumagot sa text at tawag ko, para lang malaman kung buhay pa siya, at para malaman ko kung may jowa pa ako! Nakakaloka di ba. May pinagdadaanan lang daw siya, at may dini-deal with lang daw. Pero for 3 months walang comms? Panalo, di ba. Children, before the word "ghosting" was invented, I was freaking living it!!! And this was late 2000s, okay? Kalerks.

Hay, priorities. Noong nagtuturo pa ako sa UP, itong kabarkada ko noong college  na ni-recruit ko ring magturo doon sa alma mater namin, sinabi niyang mas priority na niya ang magkaroon ng tahimik na karaketang estado sa buhay, at ang pagtuturo doon ang nakita niyang magbibigay sa kanya nun. "Dito na tayo tatanda," sabi niya. I panned left, panned right, zoomed in and out sa isip ko sa mga makakasama namin doon sa aming "home for the aged" na 'yun, and I was like HELL NO in my mind. I still wanted to work outside of that office, I still want to travel while working and doing stuff, and I certainly don't want to be tied down to the puny suweldo there kung gusto kong mas umasenso sa buhay. Biro mo, I left an international NGO job that pays me nearly 30k a month, which is huge for 2004 ha, to having a starting salary of what, 17k a month, not even enough to cover my rent and bills at that time. It's a miracle I was able to pull that off before (I had two more jobs back then, mind you), and after 8 years of teaching, my suweldo was just around 35k lang yata, can't even remember kung net or gross pa ito. And with the political bickering happening there, where your promotion to a higher rank (ergo higher pay) solely depends on how good you ass-kiss people in power there, I was like, duuuude, I am SO NOT GROWING OLD HERE. Kaya like a bad lover who didn't take care of you, it was easy for me to up and go din from that relationship, probably the longest one I've had in my life (work-wise and relationship-wise na rin!). And that dude who said na tatanda siya doon? Mas nauna pa siyang nawala doon sa akin, simply because he didn't finish his MA on time, which was a requirement for a professor to teach there. So much for commitment, huh. Well, that guy had problems naman talaga in that department, commitment, so I wasn't surprised at all. 

Priorities. These days, ano ba ang priorities ko? At least wala na akong puprublemahing jowa na maniningil ng ganito. Alam kong mahirap maintindihan minsan ng isang nilalang na kailangan ko ng panahong mapag-isa para makapagsulat, pero at least naiintindihan ito ng kaulayaw ko sa buhay ngayon. Mahirap nung umpisa, pero naintindihan na niya ngayon, ngayong nakakaapat na taon na kaming magkasama, kasi talaga namang work-in-progress pa rin ang pagkakakilala niyo sa isa't isa. Pero masaya ako na naiintindihan na niya, at hindi niya ako sisingilin na i-prioritize ko siya, samantalang ang time away ko from her ay time na gumagawa ako ng pera para sa akin, sa kanya, sa aming lahat. Kaya naiintindihan na niya ito. Nakakaloka lang kung may jowa kang hindi naiintindihan ito, ano?

Naalala ko nga 'yung kuwento nila sa asawa ni National Artist for Literature NVM Gonzalez, na may dedicated wife siyang gumagawa ng lahat sa buhay, para siya, wala siyang ibang gagawin kundi magsulat nang mapayapa sa writing room niya. On the other side of this coin, isa sa mga hinahangaan kong Pinay writer na si Kerima Polotan Tuvera naman, naisingit ang pagsusulat sa gitna ng pag-aalaga sa mga anak, pamamalantsa, pagluluto, at paggawa ng iba pang gawaing bahay habang nagaganap ang domestic duties niya in full force. Wala siyang katulong sa bahay, may asawa pero dahil sa mga dekada '70-'80 ba sila nagsama, panahon ito na hindi shared responsibility ang house duties sa mag-asawa. Siguro tumulong din kahit papaano, pero iba pa rin kapag nanay ang nagpatakbo ng bahay. 

Two coins, one currency. Alin doon ang papahalagahan ko? May panahon kasing parang NVM ako, na mag-isa ako sa buhay, single, kaya nakakapagsulat nang malaya sa bahay kong may writing room. May panahon din namang Kerima ang peg ko, na maraming kailangang gampanan sa buhay pero nagsisingit pa rin ng konting panahon para makapagsulat. Hay. 

These days kasi, lalo na nung pumasok ang dekadang ito, iba na ang nagiging temperament ng buhay. Nagkaroon ako ng pagkakataong makapagsulat din ng bonggang-bongga, dalawang libro pa nga ang kinalabasan, pero may panahon ding wala akong panahon sa pagsusulat kasi ang kabuhayan package ay kung saan-saang lupalop ako dinadala. Na of course, hindi ako nagrereklamo, dahil ito naman ang gusto ko sa buhay, di ba? Careful what you wish for, right? Ito na nga 'yun, kaya masaya rin ako na naganap din iyon kahit papaano, natikman kumbaga. May isang friend nga ako na writer din at kapwa NGO worker, sabi niya, tapos na ang mga araw naming nagpapakadakila para sa sining at sa bayan, at kailangan na naming mag-focus sa pagpapayaman. Ewan kung naganap na sa kanya iyon mula nang huli kaming mag-usap, pero sana nga ay maginhawa na rin ang buhay niya tulad ng naging maginhawa ang buhay ko.

Well, 2018 na. Hindi pa rin ako mayamang-mayaman, pero nakakaluwag naman ako sa buhay na ngayon. Natapos ko nang bayaran ang condo ko, kaya maluwag na ako sa aspetong iyon, at may seguridad na ako sa isipan kong may titirhan akong hindi ako palalayasin kung hindi ako nakabayad ng renta. Priorities? Kailangan ko pa ring kumita, kaya ine-explain kong mabuti sa asawa ko na kailangan kong umalis paminsan-minsan kapag may raket, o kailangan kong maglaan ng oras sa trabaho kaya hindi ako makakasama minsan sa kung anuman ang kailangang gawin sa bahay, at naiintindihan niya iyon. Ang priority lang naman namin siguro ay ang maalpasan ang isang araw, linggo, buwan o taon na walang nagkakasakit sa amin, walang nagugutom, walang nadedehado. Hindi lang kasi kami dalawa sa buhay, apat kami, kasi may dalawa siyang anak. Priority namin na mapalaki na maging mabuting mga tao at mamamayan itong dalawang bata in our care. Na sana naman ay maganap.

Ilang tumbling na lang, 2019 na. Tapos panibagong dekada na naman ang susunod. Papasok na ako sa aking golden decade soon. Hindi ko alam kung maghahanap pa ako ng mga priorities sa panahong iyon, o kung may panahon pa akong mapapag-isipan ko ang mga bagay na ito. Pero definitely, hindi siya titigil. Walang titigil sa kalakarang ito ng buhay. Delayed man ng konti o pasingit-singit, okay pa rin. Basta ang mahalaga, buhay ka at humihinga. 

Although napapaisip din ako sa sinabi ni Ricky Lee dati, nang interbyuhin ko siya for a newspaper feature dahil nag-launch siya ng bagong libro. Ang pagsusulat sa kanya ay parang paghinga. I used to feel that way, too. But that definitely has changed for me. And I don't know what the culprit is, that was responsible for that change. Siguro isa, may napapansin din ako lately. Dati, blogging lang ang dahilan kung bakit ako nag-o-online, at nakaka-offline ako nang bongga. Sa 24/7 connectivity natin these days kasi, I think may isang obvious na mistress na umaagaw ng atensyon ko at nagde-demand ng time na makaulayaw ko siya: social media. Kung FB friends tayo, napapansin mo bang hindi na ako masyadong pumupunta doon lately? Mas nasa litrato ako, binabalikan ko ang purity ng online documentation of life kasi sa Instagram. Toxic na pati sa FB, lalo na nitong nakaraang dalawang taon. Hindi rin nakakatulong na nagkaroon tayo ng sobrang toxic online environment dahil sa trolling. Ang troll parang bodyguard ng kabit mo e, na mananakot sa iyo kapag hindi mo ginawa ang gusto ng kabit mo: na magbabad ka sa piling niya sa araw-araw. Parang nawala na ang original novelty of keeping in touch sa social media. Kaya parang nawawalan na ako ng gana sa kanya. Well, I guess sa FB lang naman, pero kasi ang dominante niya sa buhay natin, di ba? Kaya nakakaloka lang minsan.

Hay naku. Priorities. Ano nga ba? I guess it's more like distractions for me, na nauubos ang oras ko minsan sa nakatunganga ako sa social media, pa-scroll scroll. Minsan talaga, kailangan ng unplugging, lalo na't gusto mong magsulat. Saka ka na makisakay ulit kapag nakaahon ka na. Kaya iyan ang naging strategy ko most times this year. Saka parang gusto ko na ngang ibahin ang galawang online ko, kasi nga marami akong nami-miss gawin, at marami akong kailangan ihintong gawain. Priorities. Paglilinis at pag-streamline ng buhay siguro ang kailangan from time to time. And I need to do that soon.

Anyway, sorry at mahabang rant yata itong naisiwalat ko dito. Blame it on being cooped up here at home for almost two weeks now, kasi nagka-sprain ako, and hindi pa yata siya magaling kaya hindi ko maiapak pa. Kaloka. Kaya dito ko muna pagmamasdan ang mundo ko, mula sa bintana ko, dahil priority ko ngayon ang magpagaling -- para makalarga ulit nang bonggang bongga sa buhay.

Happy holidays, folks. 

From my window to yours. Bowie says hi!
[Dec 2018 Marikina]

11 November 2018

Homeowner, and a tale of lived beings

Hello. Are you still there? I'm coming back to say -- I still am.

Life has always gotten in the way of many things, we like to say, as humans. But then, I realized that, to be human, a living one, one needs to live a life. For us writers, we need to live life to write about life. And we need to have a life, in order to be able to write.

Confused? Don't be. Sometimes the most convoluted thoughts contain the simplest of truths. You just have to be more aware to figure it out. 

That's how life is, I suppose. A string of truths, hiding in plain sight, but we tend to overlook them, since there are so many distractions, preoccupations, and other things necessary or otherwise.

As a writer, one is also preoccupied with uncovering such truths, or creating to contribute to certain ones out there. But that kind of pursuit is sometimes halted by other things that need more attention at the moment, foremost of which is, as always, making money.

I've made a good deal of my own lately, actually, to the point that I was able to pay off my condo home loan ahead of time. Yes, that also happened: adulting, to the max. In fact, my 15 years-to-pay deal ended this week, after a whopping 10 years. Pucha, biro mo mehn, titulado na ko! I now have property to my name. When I used to teach in UP, I always got a bit sad come SALN-filling time, because I don't really have any assets to declare in that column, but in the liabilities column, there it always was: home loan condo. Well, no more na this year! Thanks to my parents who also had a hand in funding some of the amount that we always had recalculated whenever they had some windfall amount at hand, and also to my own windfall of rakets here and there, we were able to close the loan and the bank handed me my land title this week. 

So yeah, this week, let me add one more title to my list: homeowner. 

Titulado na lola mo, something better than a PhD methinks.

Nakakaloka. After ten years, kaya pala. To think that I "wasted" all those years in Quezon City, renting apartment after apartment, ranging from 8-10k a month, siguro dalawa na ang condo ko ngayon. Pero hindi ko rin naman magagawa ito noon, of course. I started living on my own independently, and like all early independents do, hikahos lang ang simula. I even had roommates in one house, so that we can all share the rent, bilang mga newbie independents kami. 

January 2008, ilang buwan pa lang mula nung turnover.
May sakit ako nito, pero nakakaginhawa sa
utak at kaluluwa na may tanawin akong ganito,
habang nagpapagaling. 

Pero hindi ko rin siguro ipagpapalit ang mga experiences ko na yun sa pagre-rent sa iba't ibang apartment, kasi they also had a hand in forming my character, and sharpening my being. Hindi rin naman kasi traumatic ang ibang moves na iyon, at ang iba pa nga ay looking forward pa ako sa move. Let me tell you some of them in a handful of nutshells:

Move 1: House to jowa's place

I was already working in a film production company in Ortigas when I wanted to move out of our Marikina house already. My father and I didn't get along so well sometimes, and also I felt that it's really time I had a "room of my own." We were in a 2-bedroom bungalow, the best my parents can afford as working middle class professionals back in the '80s, and they're still there now. I made working in Ortigas as a viable excuse for me to move out, but finding a girlfriend who was living in a 3-bedroom house made the move easier. Her mom's relatives owned the house, and she was looking after it, with the 2 other bedrooms leased out to 2 other women as tenants. I went to live with her in the 3rd bedroom, and it lasted for less than a year before we broke up. But after we broke up, the two tenants also ended their lease, and she had to move to Baguio to finish her law degree there. I took over her room as a tenant, and asked two of my close college barkada to rent the other rooms. And that was where our ConCon barkada was born -- in that halfway house in Naranghita.

The late '90s was a hoot. Our film barkada was still intact then.

Some of the housemates I had, and our frequent visitors.
All UP film college barkada, circa 1998.

Instaparty kapag may balikbayan sa amin. 

Instawild din kapag nag-inuman na. This was how Gen-X partied back then. 

But this was not the first time we had a halfway house of sorts, me and my college film berks. We actually had two, which I think prepared my parents for my eventual moving out for good. I think I have to include it here in my listing.

Move 0.1: Temporary (UP) Bliss

It was the sembreak of my last year of film school when my friends and I decided to share the rent in a unit inside the UP Bliss housing. Our film teacher sponsored a film to be done that time, script by my BFF and me directing, shooting in 16mm film ha. That would have been my first, prior to my 16mm film thesis sana, but the project fizzled out for reasons I can't remember anymore. But that several weeks in that UP Bliss gave us a taste of living independently, with roommates, paying bills like an adult, and I suppose it whet all our appetites.

Move 0.2: Mahiyain mode

Right after graduation, a handful of friends wanted to create a raket film production group, which was very rare pa back then (this is mid-'90s folks), and we decided to rent an apartment in Mahiyain street to have a headquarters. Well, we had a glorious first client which helped us pay the bills and rent, but everyone also had more glorious egos that clashed during work. So in short, that fizzled out faster than when it started.

Move 0.3: Maginhawa nga ba?

Another college friend of ours turned out to have his own fizzled film prod raket grouping, so he decided to tap me and my BFF to be new partners. We also tapped another film barkada, and this one was sturdier a samahan because our recruiter friend had a formidable work linkage in the form of this Fil-Canadian lady with a desktop publishing biz. She wanted to form a video production biz din, and she had the equipment, so we were the workers. Her huge home in Maginhawa had a small American-style garage at the back which actually could be converted into a 2-storey living quarters, so we lived there for a few months, too, as we made several rakets for her. But again, personalities crashed, as well as other things I can't recall anymore, and we ended up splitting from that setup, too, me and my BFF. So I went back to my parents' house for a while, until I made that pivotal Move 1. 

Kumu-conceptual photography with a tripod and SLR camera,
with legitimate celluloid film to boot.
Slight naubos pera ko sa kakapa-debelop ng rolyo noon,
but the memories are worth every analog print of it.

Historical preparations, ain't it? 

Move 2: Ex-jowa's house to new ex-jowa's house.

I think it has already been 2 years in that first house in Naranghita when I met a lawyer who became my jowa of 5 years. She was living in a compound owned by her ex's family, and in one of those doors, that ex of hers was also living there. And in another door, another lesbian lawyer was living there, too, who was the jowa of my jowa's ex. Magulo ba? Masusundan mo 'yan kung matalino ka, pramis hahaha! But things went bad with that ex of hers and that ex's jowa, who were living just next door to each other, literally. The jowa cheated, so my ex's ex wanted to move out of there. Meantime, we also wanted to move out already, so we three lesbians of Mabait street went and rented a new place in Mapagkumbaba street, up and down, one bedroom my ex's ex, and one ours. But that ex of hers found a new jowa and eventually moved out of our apartment. As for me, after 5 years, I also found a new me -- one that didn't want to be with her anymore. We were supposed to move into a new space actually, but that moved became a split into two different directions, not one, since I decided to split up with her, for good. 

I transitioned to many jobs during my stay with that 5-year jowa.
The last being this, as a n NGO worker in a feminist media int'l org.
Pivotal, those days. Which also meant I had to pause my MA studies,
since I had to juggle a home life with a really
high maintenance jowa back then.
Yeah, you get one of those from time to time.

As one of her last ditch efforts to keep us intact,
she allowed me to have a ConCon gathering with my
old film buddies again during our last years, since that was
my one reklamo during this relationship: na natanggal ako sa
sirkulo ng friends and arts ko when I was with her.
But even so, it wasn't really enough to make me stay.

My last months in that house, and that relationship.
'Twas when I realized I should love myself more. 

Move 3: Kamuning

My cousin-in-law's parents were renting out a duplex apartment somewhere in K-3rd street, and my cousin was living there with her young family of three in the smaller area. So I ended up renting the bigger area, all by my lonesome. That move was pivotal, since I was starting many lives back then: as a newly "singled" lesbian, a post-showbiz/media worker, post-NGO worker, and now a college professor, and also a new TV director. Which meant that the titser suweldo is not that ideal to keep an 8k a month rent, so I had to augment my income then. That Kamuning time was indeed such a busy time, so busy that my health suffered, so I ended up turning semi-vegetarian to have my lab results even out again. But then, cousin-in-law's parents decided to sell the house, and I had to vacate asap. Salamat ha. Thankfully, I found a new place in an old neigborhood.

The perks of renting a house all by your lonesome is you get to
decorate it however you want. So naturally, my artistic inclinations
arose that time, and I had a better canvas to explore.
Yes, those are windows. It's acrylic, so it washes off easily.

One of my prized possessions back then: a theatrical poster of Tomb Raider,
from my newspaper entertainment editor days. Sayang nasira.

Wherever I lived, even if it was temporary, I made sure it was homey. 

I also had preference for high ceilings.
Not a claustrophobic, but I dunno, I just felt like it.

Move 4: Naranghita part deux

A good deal of my teaching life was spent living in another part of Naranghita street, where the rent is basically the same as before. It's interesting to be back in the Anonas area at that time, a little bit older and wiser, but maybe still a bit stupid in the love department. See, when I was about to do Move 3, I met someone else right after I split with my ex of 5 years. She thought I two-timed her (at iyon ang pinagkalat niya sa mga tao), but that's not really the case (and I don't actually care kung ano ang pinagkalat niya sa akin, kasi I know the real score). This girl I met wasn't really such a good one for me, that's why the relationship never really became solid to begin with; it only served as a catalyst for me to jumpstart many things left dormant by the 5 year relationship. But she wasn't the sole catalyst, of course. Going back to the media grind also helped, thanks to my college barkada-slash-former housemates. But this girl just kept being present in my life, even after making Move 3. And she even came to me during Move 4, but only her things moved with me, because she stupidly moved out of her and her brother's own rented apartment back then, her without a plan, her brother moving into his own small apartment, so she ended up hauling her things in my place. "Pakilagay" lang daw, pero tuwing lilipat ako, nakikilipat din siya. The nerve, di ba. Even if I was already dating another person during this time, in this space, andiyan pa rin itong isa, nakikigulo. Hay naku, how did I even enter such predicaments back then is beyond me. All I know is that I'm glad they all ended.

Kahit katiting lang, dapat ang tirahan ko ay may bintana,
kung saan maaari kong matanaw ang langit at
ilang bahagi ng lupang may luntiang nagkalat.
Sa masikip na espasyong ito, puwede na
rin ito noon, pansamantala.

Ang chaka lang ng view, pero at least meron.

Dito ko muling naharap ang MA studies ko,
kaya naging espasyo ng pag-aaral ang bahay na ito.

Hindi ko alam kung premonition ito na hindi ako magtatagal sa espasyong ito,
pero hindi na ako masyadong ginanahan sa pagde-decor nito,
di tulad dun sa Kamuning dati. Kaya ganito lang
kasimple ang nilagay ko doon, para lang may bahid ng ako ang espasyo.

Ang lagi kong kasama sa mga paglilipat: ang pusa ko, at ang kurant ko.
Pareho nang wala sa buhay ko ngayon, kasi bawal na.

Move 5: Condo living

So finally, this is it, pansit! No more lingering ex-jowas to make sabit in this move, because this one is a purchase already. No more renting. No more sabits. The girl I was dating prior to this move, she also graced this space from time to time, but she had her own space with her son somewhere else. That immediately fizzled anyway, and then another person came into my life then. That one lived here for a good two years, before getting herself knocked up by a man. Galing, di ba? For a while I felt trapped here, since before, if an old relationship finished, I can also move out of the apartment and rent a new one. Not here. So what I did was, when I finally had enough cash, I disposed of all, I mean ALL, of my previous home furnishings, and replaced them with new ones: couch, TV display, TV, corner shelves, dining table, name it! Living room and dining room showcase ang change pare, even bedroom showcase. Mahihiya ang The Price is Right sa pinamigay ko nun. Pero na-cleanse na naman ang espasyo, at napalitan na ng ibang energies, kaya eto na siya, okay na.

At ngayon, akin na. Akin na talaga.

The moment I saw these kinda picture windows,
I was hooked. I knew I was home.

Ready for Occupy Marikina project again,
after 10 years of being in QC.
I mean, look at those windows, and the view!

Sa tuwing mag-eempake ako noon, feeling ko
sasadsad ako sa depression sa kung anumang kadahilanan.
Ewan ko ba kung bakit. Signos ng pagtatapos
siguro ng isang chapter, malamang. Pero itong hakot na ito,
wala, walang ganun. Kaya alam kong tama siya.

Mas marami nang puwedeng galawan, kahit papaano.
Level up na ang buhay, salamat sa kalawakan.

I always called this space my sanctuary, because it was. When the world is feeling mighty mighty low, at least I have a space I can retreat to, hibernate if you will, so I can recharge whatever needs recharging in my soul. For a time there, I also thought of this space as my Fortress of Solitude, because I lived here with no one and nothing but my thoughts, and Jor-el would be proud. Ninja training fortified. Before, I used to treat my temporary shelters as a respite, a stopover to wherever life will take me next, whatever I'm doing in life at that particular moment. But this time, no more of that. Having some kind of permanence also gave my being some peace of mind as I struggled to live here. 'Twas a struggle sometimes, indeed, especially financially, but I'm glad it turned out fine. Really fine.

And now, it's legally mine. 

No matter what the mood, the space is a safe one for me.
(Salamat din sa Rosco lighting gels swatch
na nakuha ko sa US sa eksperimentong ito).

I turned 45 this year. Sometimes I feel it, sometimes I don't. Sometimes all of these memories are crystal clear, sometimes they're just a blur. But when I recall the spaces I've lived in, it somewhat makes recollections easier, since there are automatic groupings, new chapter headings if you will, of this narrative I call my life. I guess now, now that this space is all mine, it's when Book Two starts naman. No more chapters. No more snippets. Sarado na ang unang libro, at panibagong simula na naman ang bubuksan nito sa buhay ko.

Sige lang. Andito lang ako, humihinga. Tignan natin kung ano ang maiuuwi ko naman ngayon, sa puntong ito ng buhay ko.

Siya nawa.

Kampai! At ibalik ang ibang kinaligtaan sa buhay.

And yes, thank you, you, for still reading this space. More to come. Pramis!

16 March 2018

When the world comes in

I've been hearing one of my favorite songs on heavy rotation this week. I'm always in a café, alone, when this Crowded House original suddenly plays, when I'm right in the middle of heavy muni-muni mode about my life:

Hey now, hey now
Don't dream it's over

Hey now, hey now
When the world comes in
They come, they come
To build a wall between us
You know that they won't win

Sunny out, dark in.
Story of my life sometimes.
 [March 2018 Marikina]

I don't know if newer singers revived this lately. Maybe someone did. But to me, I think it's a not-so-secret message in a bottle for me from the universe.

There is freedom within, there is freedom without
Try to catch the deluge in a paper cup

I'm feeling that indeed, the world comes in heavily these past few weeks. I don't exactly know what bad juju showered upon me during the new years, the regular or the Chinese one. It's a feeling of unease. A feeling of instability. Of course superficially and technically, I know why. But spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and metaphorically, I have no clue.

Now I'm towing my car, there's a hole in the roof
My possessions are causing me suspicion but there's no proof

The world gets tiring once in a while. I feel like pausing and taking a break from it again. I get this from time to time, but it has been a while since I felt like this again. And again, I don't exactly know why.

Only shadows ahead barely clearing the roof
Get to know the feeling of liberation and release

Luck of the draw, I guess. I got an overload of graces for a few years already, so maybe it's the opposite lately. But when you're down, it's not always true that there's nowhere else to go but up. Sometimes when you're down, it's possible to sink even lower. Trust me on this.

I think I need more sleep.

Or air.

I don't know.

Soundtrip na lang muna.

posted from Bloggeroid