September 11, 2014 § Leave a comment
I dreamed last night of Inay. And the end of the dream was a letter that flashed in my mind. It said,
Hi Christine [.] in heaven [.] you know what to do even if I’m not with you [.]
July 9, 2014 § Leave a comment
July 5, 2014 § Leave a comment
It’s one of the most famous verbs these days. If something isn’t google-able, people can even be quick to assume that (a) it doesn’t exist or (b) nobody knows about it. In fact, it might even be competing with Descartes’ famous “I think, therefore I am.” Maybe an alternative of “It’s in Google, therefore it is” would be an acceptable update to that outdated statement (but a discussion on this matter of “thinking” deserves an entirely different post). With the exception of places not provided with an easily accessible network connection, I think the existence of Google has instilled in people the fear of asking another human being. This probably does not include well meaning friends who would gladly answer your questions for you, or mentors that responsibly re-design knowledge to make it more comprehensible. Of course there’s also the egoistic mind who would love to demonstrate its vast knowledge without the aid of common technology. I’m talking about the workplace – where everyone is busy, and a harmless question can appear to be the biggest blunder of stupidity when someone tells you, “Why don’t you Google it?”. Isn’t it so easy after all? And in fact, there is also a high probability that the person you will ask will resort to Google as well. (This is assuming you’re asking a valid and relevant question). I do not deny the fact that the existence of search engines has made our lives easier and information a million fold accessible, but as with all advantages, there is a set of disadvantages that have to be dealt with. That’s just how life is – it isn’t fair, and it was not made to be perfect. (That doesn’t mean its any less beautiful). Because information is very much accessible to everyone, it has surely fulfilled its promise of saving time and resources for a lot of businesses because with just a sleight of hand, what you”re looking for is literally a distance of a couple of finger taps. I wonder how children who woke up to a Google-existing consciousness even think nowadays. Does not finding an answer in Google result to a mind-boggling state of “That’s weird. Why?”. But with the matter of increased efficiency aside, it’s worth evaluating if this culture of Google-ing things has made inquisitive interaction less desirable. Is it not acceptable anymore to want to ask people personally, rather than search through a pile of information from strangers (prominent or otherwise)? At times, it seems as if technology has really tied us up into our post. The prospect of fattening up to the sizes of “the-people-in-Wall-E” standards is inarguably higher, and we can thank the increase in vanity and YOLO/travel lifestyles for keeping the pandemic of obesity and inactivity at bay. Ironically, even if technology has saved us more time, it eats up that time as well. Social networking (and yes I am a user myself) has created an alternate reality where things are most likely filtered and re-filtered. And although it can be a platform for proclaiming your individuality, there is reason for me to think that for the major part, what it promotes is uniformity in trying to be accepted and to be one with the majority. And because the borders of this reality and the “true” reality are becoming less and less pronounced, people will inevitably start living in this way. The mind is a pliant form of energy. If you post what you live, then the inverse that you live what you post is as feasible as happening. No wonder filtering has extended into our daily relationships – where people are afraid to voice out what they think, and instead relegate themselves to neutrality. It hides in the face of being “good-natured”, but the truth is, we’re just losing the soul to be different. The soul to be crazy in our own brand. For what is sanity but “collective madness”, as Paulo Coelho vividly portrayed in Veronika Decides to Die.
Why am I writing this anyway? It would probably do well to just trash this post again and disappear into the cloak of being too busy. For months I had been at a loss of not being able to surmount a prolonged writer’s block. I was becoming more productive at work (i.e. research), but everything else almost seemed at a halt. I thought it was a coping mechanism, and in fact it was. To divert myself from the grief of losing my mom, I tried to think of other things – and in effect forget certain things. But I forgot too much. I was forgetting who I was, why I was doing this, and what I want to live for and die for. Not that I’ve well-defined those things already, but it was frightening to realize how easy it is to lose yourself in seemingly innocuous activities. I resorted to a lot of different things to pacify the hole I felt, but nothing seemed to be working. It was only when I started to look inside myself again that I realized I need to take a step back and re-align. I’m writing this as a self-reminder, and as another Google-able piece for drifting surfers. I fell into the pit too, but I’m trying to come out of it. It requires continuous and conscious effort, but it makes me feel more present in this world.
July 1, 2014 § Leave a comment
May 27, 2014 Enter your password to view comments.
May 23, 2014 § 1 Comment
Sadness and pain all over this song. :( I couldn’t help but wonder where Bryan John Appleby’s inspiration for this emotion came from.
I pick up a broken comb
Run it through my thin gray hair
Though I don’t have any plans tonight
I’m not going anywhere
Well I should have seen this coming
Don’t know why I’m surprised
‘Cause every vessel on its way down
Takes with it the captains life
Though I’m blind, my dear, I see
The parade goes on without me
My body aches, my mind it weeps
For you, for you
Tonight I’m locked outside my building
Guess I must have lost the key
So I’ll just sit here on the sidewalk
Let the snow fall on my knees
And if I make it to a pay phone
I don’t know who i would call
So for now I’ll close my eyes and rest
My crooked back against the wall
I read that old men will see visions
And young men will follow dreams
And I believed it when I read it
I see your face in everything
And now your honey jars are frozen
And in the window, your books have browned
And there’s too much room inside our bed
I think I’ll join you in the ground
Though I’m blind my dear I see
Let the chorus sing without me
My body breaks, my mind it sleeps
With you, oh oh oh
May 4, 2014 Enter your password to view comments.
April 30, 2014 § 4 Comments
My brother was fixing my mother’s things the other day, and he sent me this picture of a card he found among her drawers. I wondered why I hadn’t kept it as I usually stashed away all my letters and notes. I traced my mom’s cursive handwriting with my sight as I imagined her writing this to me 9 years ago. I would have just started college at UP then. In fact, I remember my birthday that year coincided with a Math 17 exam. It was a Saturday, and I didn’t want anyone to know it was my birthday. But Beiai announced it in class afterwards. She was well-meaning I’m sure, but I disliked the spotlight – even until now. My parents fetched me, ploughing through that road that seemed to be on the way to a rice land, rather than a school building. They had with them my mom’s favorite Swiss Mocha cake from Becky’s Kitchen because my favorite Blueberry Cheese cake was out of stock. That was the first time my mom was with my dad fetching me from school. I basked at that childish glee of a kid being picked up from school by her parents. It didn’t happen so often.
Today marks the 4th month her tangible existence is no more. I’ve been forgetting that fact as of late. Sometimes, I just feel like she’s at home waiting for me to come back. I’ll arrive from the airport one day, stories will be exchanged, she’ll give me nods of approval and blank pauses of thought. Then she’ll stare at me with smiling eyes as I narrate things rapidly, and I’ll catch myself by slowing down and asking how she’s been. She’ll tell me it’s been the same, resting at home, looking at the trees, being taken cared of by my dad and my brother, and getting bored with being stuck inside. But she’ll tell me she missed me and has been waiting for my arrival ever since. And then ask me to continue with my stories, after checking if I brought home her requests of cashew nuts and Hawaiian Host Macadamia Chocolates. She’ll gloss over the boxes as I continue to tell her about school, my friends, and my research. Then we’ll have lunch as a family, just like old times.
Old times. Times become old the moment their moment passes. But times can be repeated. They can be re-lived in different situations. Happy times, sad times, good times, bad times. The heavy feeling still comes when I think of the times of the future that won’t include my mother anymore. Will happy ever be happy as before? Or will sad be even more lonelier? I catch myself a lot of times, interjecting my mother in all sorts of conversations. “My mother liked that”, “my mother used to do that”, “my mother always said”, “my mother…”. I even write about her in my letters. I think of how it makes other people feel. Does it make them uncomfortable that I speak so offhandedly about my mother? I answer myself with a “yes”, but I go on and tell them about my mom anyway. I look past the space that separates me from the horizon as I say those things – with an outer smile and an inner tear. A little bit concerned of the awkwardness I’ve given my companion, but mostly unapologetic in a good nature. I want them to say something, but nobody ever comes up with anything.
The other day, I felt a sensation I’ve never felt before. I was dreaming in my sleep, when suddenly someone touched my cheek as if cupping it and held my shoulder with a cold hand. The feeling was so real and external to my dream, that I woke up scared. I then noticed I was almost at the edge of my bed. I had an exam that day and I was thankful I woke up quite early thanks to that. I considered a ghost at first, but I decided to attribute it to my mom instead. It calmed my anxiousness. And although I’ll never be able to prove that it was her, it made me happy thinking so. When my dad reminded me today that it was her 4th month, I was still surprised. I checked my phone screen, I checked my desktop. She was still there, smiling back at me. But she isn’t sleeping in her usual spot at home with her bald cute head that always smelled good. She isn’t holding the Ipad and checking her mail. She no longer owns any of the possessions she left. She is part of a time that is past. old.
“Imagine that you were on the threshold of this fairytale, sometime billions of years ago when everything was created. And you were able to choose whether you wanted to be born to a life on this planet at some point. You wouldn’t know when you were going to be born, nor how long you’d live for, but at any event it wouldn’t be more than a few years. All you’d know was that, if you chose to come into the world at some point, you’d also have to leave it again one day and go away from everything. This might cause you a good deal of grief, as lots of people think that life in the great fairytale is so wonderful that the mere thought of it ending can bring tears to their eyes. Things can be so nice here that it’s terribly painful to think that at some point the days will run out. What would you have chosen, if there had been some higher power that had gave you the choice? Perhaps we can imagine some sort of cosmic fairy in this great, strange fairytale. Would you have chosen to live a life on earth at some point, whether short or long, in a hundred thousand or a hundred million years? Or would you have refused to join in the game because you didn’t like the rules? (…) I asked myself the same question maybe several times during the past few weeks. Would I have elected to live a life on earth in the firm knowledge that I’d suddenly be torn away from it, and perhaps in the middle of intoxicating happiness? (…) Well, I wasn’t sure what I would have chosen. (…) If I’d chosen never to set foot inside the great fairytale, I’d never have known what I’ve lost. Do you see what I’m getting at? Sometimes it’s worse for us human beings to lose something dear to us than never to have had it at all.”
- Jostein Gaarder, The Orange Girl-
We are all writers – with our quills and scrolls
We write our stories – the plots and the twists
We create our character, their thoughts and their feelings
And when we leave this world, we leave that story – finished or undone
It is for those left, but not for them to pick up and continue writing a story that is not theirs
Instead, it is for their reference in continuing their own stories
And sometimes, on special occasions
They can have the leftover ink bottle to combine with theirs
and continue writing – this time with our ink as well
March 30, 2014 § 4 Comments
I watched the famous documentary about sushi chef, Jiro, today with Mark and Kat. :) It was a free screening at the UCC open courtyard, and my face was just lit up the entire time. It felt surreal seeing Japan in film, because it made me remember the feeling of being there myself. Apart from the wonderful and amazing time I had there, what I remember about Japan was that Inay was supposed to be with me during that trip. She would have loved to be there: see all the places, eat all the delicacies, go through the shops, walk through the parks, ride all the trains, sleep in the hotel, and bite through fresh peaches. Instead, she was at the hospital then.
I miss her.
But before I digress again or decide for the nth time to just trash away another blog post, let me go back to Jiro. After one watches that film, they will definitely be amazed at the self-discipline Jiro has. He has been going through the same routine for 75 years of his life, has practically dedicated his entire being to making sushi, and loves every second of it. As usual, I kind of saw my mom in Jiro – just as I see her in everything. But maybe that’s just me. Jiro’s values struck me because I don’t think I have the capacity to be that patient with a routine life. But I realized that often, we undervalue people who live in such a way. Most of us are tempted to dismiss them as people missing out on the glorious and thrilling experiences out there. “Boring”, “backward”, “one-tracked”, or “naive”, we might say. In that way, we fail to appreciate the patience, diligence, and dedication they pour on what they do. The focus they place on their mission and vision is harder to cultivate rather than the out-of-the-blue, YOLO, spontaneous, let’s-book-a-ticket-now-and-not-look-back attitude we usually glorify. Yeah, it’s hard to be spontaneous. However, I think it’s harder to be consistent. But consistently improving? Now that’s remarkable. More than 10 years has to be devoted by an apprentice to earn the right to call himself a sushi chef. That’s like earning an M.D. And it doesn’t even involve voluminous books to be devoured, complemented by a glamorous title at the end. It involves knives, lots of fishes, manual “menial” labor like fanning and slicing, and going to the market and what-not. There’s a fine line between being a blind follower and dedication, but I firmly believe this one is an example of the latter.
One of the lines that particularly struck me in the film was Jiro talking about how parents nowadays advice their children “bullshit” when they tell them “you can always come back home when you fail”. He said it shouldn’t be that way. Because if they have that mindset, they’ll always be a failure. They’ll always want to come back home. I must admit I was raised with that kind of comfort though. Although my parents encouraged me and nudged me, they did not push me nor force me. Different ways may work with different people, but I have to admit there is a precious grain of wisdom in what Jiro said. And I needed that grain. I have to stop complaining about having a hard time and not being provided with the ideal environment to do a PhD. I need to just focus on my work and go through the fire. I need to go through it because I want to be molded, and not simply because I want it to be over. Thank you God for the simple reminders. I escape hard work for awhile, and there You are again leading me back. Okay, I’m at it! :)
Craving sushi now.