On Being a Sentimental Writer

I’m such a sentimental writer.

It’s a fact that I’ve been casually aware of since High School - I didn’t care about it much. I was a stubborn teen, and being angst-ridden, dramatic and verbose kind of came with the territory. 

After reading my old Livejournal (from 2007-2008!) and then writing my previous post, I’ve come to realize that I actually haven’t shaken the sap out of my writing. 

Yeah, I’m a sap; I also have a tendency to ramble on and on. It’s time to seriously discipline myself. Restraint is as much a part of writing as is honesty, and I want to be completely in control of that, if I want to fancy myself a good communicator. 

When I posted on facebook that reading my old LJ “felt like having an awkward conversation with a stranger who knows everything about you,” my friend Jia shared this piece by Maria Popova. It’s on Joan Didion’s thoughts on keeping a notebook, and it’s a really good read.

The impulse to write things down is a peculiarly compulsive one, inexplicable to those who do not share it, useful only accidentally, only secondarily, in the way that any compulsion tries to justify itself.

The point of my keeping a notebook has never been, nor is it now, to have an accurate factual record of what I have been doing or thinking. That would be a different impulse entirely, an instinct for reality which I sometimes envy but do not possess.”

So there. This post actually has no real purpose other than to record this thought in time, on my being such a sentimental. I’ve no idea if I actually have a resolution for this in mind, or how to end it, even.

Supercalifragelisticexpialidocious!

I decided to go to Quiapo yesterday to say some prayers and wander around. I enjoy getting lost in places; it clears my head and allows me to kind of figure things out, in some way. And it’s been quite some time since I last lugged my camera around with me to snap photos while doing that. 

Seeing strangers go about their day is humbling, and oddly empowering. What are they worried about? What are they praying for, asking for, lighting candles for? 

I like being a stranger. I’m not my past, nor my future - I’m just there, another random guy walking in the streets, pausing for a couple of minutes to say a prayer, and going on my way to disappear from other strangers’ fields of vision.

As strangers, you are who you are at that moment in someone else’s eyes. Nothing more, nothing less. They can guess and judge, but it won’t matter - you’re strangers, after all. They’re uncertain of who you were, who you are, or who you will become - where you’ve been and where you’re going - and that, to me, holds so much promise. Being a stranger is powerful.

It’s frightening, though, precisely because it is powerful.

Don’t talk to strangers. It’s a fair warning, and I think it’s not just because of the probability of getting mugged, kidnapped, and all those paranoid thoughts parents instill in their kids to keep them safe.

Talking to strangers kind of shatters that veil of beautiful uncertainty - you both allow yourselves to reveal who you both are, where you’re both from, and where you both might be going. Talking with them makes you both a part of each others’ lives, whether for a moment, or perhaps longer. 

More than getting mugged and kidnapped, talking with strangers opens you up to the certainties of maybe forging great friendships, or falling in love - and that’s fantastic! But sometimes, you do get mugged. It’s a risk you always have to manage.

I like being a stranger. But the truth of life is that we only get brief moments to enjoy that sort of protection, that neutrality.

It’s addicting to be a stranger lost in the promise of just being now, and we can lie all we want so that we remain strangers to other people. But the fact is, at one point, we will have to accept the realities of our situation. Eventually, we will have to decide: do we stay, go left, or right? Do we retrace the paths we walked on, the faces of strangers in those roads perhaps a little bit more recognizable, or perhaps gone forever.

Or do we move forward to a new destination, meeting new strangers along the way, and maybe finally getting to know their names. And perhaps, discovering that they walk parallel roads with us, and coming to terms with the reality that perhaps being familiar is not so bad after all. That maybe there is no need to be a stranger to anyone anymore.

Samhain Prayer

The last leaf has now fallen,
The trees have all let go;
The colder winds are blowing,
Life’s great ebb and flow.

The seasons are now changing,
The days are fading fast;
The wheel of fate is turning,
The present is now past.

So now it’s time to say
our bittersweet goodbyes
To our winged memories
As they fly into the skies.

And though the year is ending,
there’s still time to renew:
tomorrow’s ready to be filled
with love that’s right and true.

Haven’t written anything rhyming since… I don’t know when. High school? In University as a requirement? The first four lines just randomly popped in my head on my cab ride home tonight.

I’ve been thinking about Samhain — how it’s the festival that marks the transition from autumn to winter; the official end of the summer seasons. Change. 

People say they’re ready for change, but nobody really is ready for it. But such is the way of life. Whether we believe that we are ready or not, it will happen. All we are left to do is embrace it the best way our bodies and souls can. 

Happy Halloween! May the ghosts of our pasts transcend into becoming true spirit guides for our futures, and not remain phantoms that haunt us shackled with unfinished business.

One of my favorite Dr. Seuss pieces, interpreted in an amazing, amazing way. Definitely inspiring :)

—-

Oh, The Places You’ll Go!
Dr. Seuss

Congratulations!
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own.  And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

You’ll look up and down streets.  Look ‘em over with care.
About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.”
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you’re too smart to go down any not-so-good street.

And you may not find any
you’ll want to go down.
In that case, of course,
you’ll head straight out of town.

It’s opener there
in the wide open air.

Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you.

And when things start to happen,
don’t worry.  Don’t stew.
Just go right along.
You’ll start happening too.

OH!
THE PLACES YOU’LL GO!

You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights.

You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed.
You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you’ll be the best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don’t
Because, sometimes, you won’t.

I’m sorry to say so
but, sadly, it’s true
and Hang-ups
can happen to you.

You can get all hung up
in a prickle-ly perch.
And your gang will fly on.
You’ll be left in a Lurch.

You’ll come down from the Lurch
with an unpleasant bump.
And the chances are, then,
that you’ll be in a Slump.

And when you’re in a Slump,
you’re not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself
is not easily done.

You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted.  But mostly they’re darked.
A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out?  Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?

And IF you go in, should you turn left or right…
or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?
Or go around back and sneak in from behind?
Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

You can get so confused
that you’ll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place…

…for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or a No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.

NO!
That’s not for you!

Somehow you’ll escape
all that waiting and staying.
You’ll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.

With banner flip-flapping,
once more you’ll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!

Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored.  there are games to be won.
And the magical things you can do with that ball
will make you the winning-est winner of all.
Fame!  You’ll be famous as famous can be,
with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.

Except when they don’t.
Because, sometimes, they won’t.

I’m afraid that some times
you’ll play lonely games too.
Games you can’t win
'cause you'll play against you.

All Alone!
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
you’ll be quite a lot.

And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance
you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.

But on you will go
though the weather be foul
On you will go
though your enemies prowl
On you will go
though the Hakken-Kraks howl
Onward up many
a frightening creek,
though your arms may get sore
and your sneakers may leak.

On and on you will hike
and I know you’ll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are.

You’ll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You’ll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life’s
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)

KID, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!

So…
be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,
you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!

:)

Words on the Operating Table, Session I

I like to dissect words,
to see their vulnerable anatomies
cracked open, meanings
flowing freely between letters.

For example,
Forgive, and Forget:

A quick analyses will bring us
to the observation that
the former requires a piece of us
offered freely to someone else,
literally, it is
for giving;

and the latter, an act
of taking something for ourselves:
carefully coined
for getting.

I may be too invested in watching Hannibal. This sort of came about while watching an episode. Weirdo alert!

Postulating on Posture and Falling Teeth

Day 3 of this insufferable stiff neck and back ache.

Since I was a kid, I’ve been scolded for my bad posture. Back hunched over in shyness, there was a brief period in High School when I had to wear a support under my uniform that would pull my shoulders back, force my chest out and fake my proper posture, but it hurt, so I didn’t wear it for long. One of my good friends Patrick would always tug my shoulders from behind when we see each other, just to remind me to stand tall. 

Though I’ve learned to stand taller now, and I’m not as shy as I used to be, sometimes I still find myself shrugging my shoulders as I walk, or hunching over when I sit. 

Muscle memory is hard to overwrite, I guess.

I’m not entirely sure if it’s related, but I get stiff, painful neck and back muscles at times. They’re not that common to warrant a trip to the doctor; I figured it’s normal to wake up with sore muscles when you sleep the way I do (like a madman at times, tossing and turning in my slumber,) coupled with my posture.

Three days ago I woke up with a sore upper back. I figured it was from sleeping in an odd position, so I thought it’d go away. But the next night, it just worsened. I took ibuprofen periodically, applied muscle ache patches and slept without pillows, and it’s helped, but I still couldn’t turn to the left or right without having to turn my whole upper body. 

This morning I woke up from a dream. In it, I was paralyzed - maybe because of my back problems - and I was crying, because my left front tooth had fallen off for no reason.

Some say it’s an omen, but it’s a usual dream I have when things are changing around me, or when I am stressed; ever since I got braces, I would usually dream about my teeth falling when I’m on the cusp of a life-change. Perhaps it’s my subconscious interpreting the changes as a death of my old self?

I bit my pillow immediately upon waking up (they say that’s the way to counter the omen - it won’t hurt to follow it.) I lay on my bed, my back still throbbing sore, and my toothless image still fresh in my mind. What if this is all psychosomatic? If I purposefully take a placebo, will it cure it?

I’ve been thinking a lot. Too much, in fact. But lately I’ve learned quite a lot about myself because of it, how my quiet prayers to the universe have shifted from please make this happen, to please just grant me the strength to make the most of what happens. 

Perhaps this paralyzing ache, this image of teeth falling, are just the aftermath of force, I thought. Much like the pain that comes after lifting something heavy, your body aches after you let go of the weight.

Maybe I’ve finally let go of whatever weight I’ve been carrying. Maybe I’ve stopped steering towards the wrong direction, paddling against the wrong current - and my body was feeling it as real as my mind. 

The funny thing is, the aches are keeping me from slouching. I can’t look down, and have to pull my shoulders back so as not to feel the pain. Right now, all I can comfortably do is to stand tall, with my head slightly held high. Ironic. And very symbolic.