Coffee & Flowers: Laughter

Of all the pleasures that are available to people on this planet, I think laughter has got to be one of the most intoxicating. When I was younger, one of the things that I liked to do the most was make people laugh—for instance, I remember doing endless impersonations of our school bus conductor (mang Angel, pronounced ang-hel) in fourth grade and then proceeding to chase after the school bus, flaring my nostrils; this went on for far longer than it should have.

In high school, I remember long lunch breaks when I wouldn’t be able to finish my food because my friends and I were so busy sitting in a circle, clutching our stomachs and laughing at ridiculous things like throwing candy at upperclassmen or showering unfortunate (or maybe fortunate—it’s hard to tell) strangers with chips and corn bits from the third floor balcony.

As I’ve grown up, I’ve come to discover that laughter can also be a kind of darkness. When you’re a kid, it feels like laughter is carefree—a kind of release. At 23, I think I can say that laughter is viscous: it’s profound, thick. If you’re not careful, you can drown in it.

I have this theory (I’m sure I am not the first to “theorize” this but I will say it anyway) that the thing which allows (the loss of) something to be sad or the thing which gives something weight is its ability to make you laugh.

I used to be an avid Lizzie McGuire fan. Those jokes really made me laugh—the digs at her kid brother, Ethan with his rinse, lather, repeat joke; that show cracked me up. Years and years later, it tore my heart apart to realize that despite the weird romance of the let’s-cut-Miranda-out-of-it movie, she and Gourdo didn’t end up together because the movie takes place mid-series, not at the end. Meaning the romance stuff happened before the end of the series, meaning Lizzie and Gourdo just stay friends minus the you rock, don’t ever change bit.

This also reminds me of the guy who I used to watch Lizze McGuire with when I was 11—that year (2002) I moved to a different school and this guy was one of the first people who I met there. We were fast friends: of course that began with him mocking me which lead to really hilarious things like him taking my books and hiding them in his locker while commissioning his friend to steal some of the things I needed for clearance and hiding them away, complete with a ransom note left in my bag—this sparked an odd “hate” triangle between me, him and his friend whom I nicknamed Dalmatian because of the inordinate number of moles on his face (children can be cruel, we already know that haha) where we would take each other’s stuff and do our best to insult each other based on our physical attributes that were deemed unattractive at the time (e.g. kulotsky for me, Dalmatian for the friend, Buddha for the guy). I think, despite the fact that my 11-year-old self would never admit it, the promise of laughter was one of the reasons why I really looked forward to going to school that year. In the mornings, I would wait for Buddha to get to school just so I could make fun of him if he was late and then we would spend our subjects comparing notes, stepping on each other’s feet under the table (no shoes, and not competitively, even—just kind of resting our feet on top of one another) and then at night we would text each other while watching re-runs of Lizzie McGuire (the show aired new episodes at 4:30 pm, which made it impossible for us to catch the actual screening since we were dismissed at 3:30 pm). Sixth grade flew by, to be honest—until I realized that we hadn’t moved seats even if it we were well into the second quarter. With that realization, other hints began to creep up on me like that our class adviser would always make us sit together even if everyone else was constantly shuffled around. By the time I realized the unnameable it, I’d already formed a strategy against it: something that ripples through my life, even now. I made up a crush on this upperclassman I didn’t know (he was gorgeous, though) just so I wouldn’t have to face the humiliation of possibly liking this person who I used to spend all this time with. We didn’t talk for 8 years.

See? Laughter can break your heart.

We did end up talking in our second or third year in college, though. I ran into him outside school and we chatted for a while. We talked about food and cutting class (which we were both doing at the time) and our majors and remember when? And it was all pleasant but 19 isn’t 11—you can’t run into someone almost a decade later and suddenly say hey what’s up wanna step on my feet? It would be nice, but things change and people change and they should.

I realized today that most of the people and the things that I miss are people and things that made me laugh. Also, they are things that are lost in time: like the mosquito in Jurassic Park, it’s sealed up into its own old sphere. To force that preserved thing to come out of the past gives birth to monstrosity. There is a time limit for everything. I still think Einstein was wrong about that. Relative is as relative as relativity gets.

Five years ago, there was another boy—there always is, isn’t there; while some people argue that talking about men is un-feminist, I beg to differ (but that’s a whole other post)—and I remember laughing a lot: it was like being a kid again. Play-fighting, yelling, giddiness, jokes, routines, bus rides, friendship. That was also when Ondoy happened. The night before the storm, I was partying it up at a club with my friends. I cut class the day the city drowned. Has it recovered? Have I? Has he? Have any of us?

Filipinos laugh at everything. That’s a very true cliché. That’s why it’s so difficult to turn on the TV, to listen to the news—that’s why it makes me cringe to hear people talk on public transport, to hear canned laughter, to be faced with the harshness of hilarity so deafening it’s impossible not to hear the despair behind it. My parents laugh a lot.

I’ve been laughing a lot recently: with my friends, with my boyfriend, at work, at home. And in that moment right before the funny moment ends, you see everyone coming out of the state of laughter and there it is—the knowing that the moment is over.

So why is this a coffee and flowers entry? Because I don’t think I would trade laughter for any other pleasure in the world—not even booze (harhar). I’m not a very religious person but when I think of the end of life, I think that we can only judge our lives by how much we’ve laughed. I think that is the only accurate measure of how much we’ve lived and loved and how much pain we’ve felt; how much we’ve truly cared about something. I’m not sure about what that has to do with anything in the “greater scheme” of things, but having had those things is the closest to a dinosaur that our mosquito-amber memories are going to get.

Coffee & Flowers: Routines

I’ve recently become very attached to my daily routine—I feel like the ins and outs of everyday are something that as a student, I wasn’t really able to appreciate fully because of the loose structure of my life back in college (the later years, anyway). I always felt like I was either in such a rush—to get to school, to beat traffic—that I was always half and half out of my routine or in a state of intense apathy (f it, I’m not going today). In a lot of ways, working has really reinforced that part of me that enjoys the stability of knowing where I’ll be, when I’ll be. I’m not sure if all this will be very interesting to anyone but I decided to share this anyway because it makes me happy. 🙂 And that’s what coffee and flowers is about. Click under the cut for more!

Continue reading “Coffee & Flowers: Routines”

Fondness

This is a very odd emotion, for me—one of the trickiest, in my opinion: how do you express fondness without coming off like an idiot or like you are more than fond of someone or like you’re being insincere? I know it seems odd for fondness to come off as insincere but it has been my experience that this happens more than you would think. Personally, I feel like every time someone tries to compliment me or to say something sweet to me “out of the blue” a part of me is asking are you being sarcastic? As if having to articulate how fond you are of someone wasn’t bad enough, having to reiterate it just feels like too much torture for one person to handle all in one sitting: I’m always tempted to go the other way and be like haha, gotcha or something just to spite them. Sadly, it isn’t the person on the receiving end of this expression of feeling who is dying from frustration at being unable to say something almost taboo: to say, I like being around you but do not necessarily want to have your babies.

When I think of fondness, I am reminded of dipping my foot into the pool when I was a kid—there was the opportunity to go swimming but I didn’t have a swimsuit. I am not equipped to jump in, but I like sitting here, sipping juice; I like being just kind-of immersed. I like this state of just being appreciative of this water and this juice and the afternoon and wanting to sleep and not fully doing neither.

But how is this expressed in everyday? How is this expressed directly? How do you say these things? You could say I kind of think you’re cool which wouldn’t be completely true; you could say I want to be your friend but that wouldn’t be completely true, either. You could maybe say I’m fond of you but again, see if that works.

I’ve figured it out: again, the painful answer is that you don’t. There is nothing you can say to someone about fondness that will ring as true as laughing at a joke or giving them some of your lunch or making a joke or not saying anything when they fart. A lot of the time there is nothing to do except to do. I forgot who it was who sang it—a musician, somewhere who I used to listen to (my memory fails me at the moment)—that he/she/it/they is/was all about words and words are absolutely useless.

They are. At least there’s this. I figure the everyday things will just have to carry through: being fully in the moment with people you’re fond of, whenever you can. This way the restraint almost feels like tenderness.

Coffee & Flowers: So Damn Unpretty

Or thoughts on the selfie and the process of settling into your own skin—not that you have a choice.

Today, as I thumbed (haha, I really don’t like the word scrolled) through my Instagram feed, I found myself being really pleased by how many selfies were posted up by my friends. I feel like it’s an odd thing to think—when it comes to these strange, autobiographical photographs of ourselves, I’ve read (and heard) a good amount of opinions expressing irritation and disdain at these photos: from accusations of vanity (no shit) to charges of being unproductive and having “nothing better to do”. While I know that these things are all coming from a place of alienation or exclusion evoked by the occurrence of the selfie, I also feel like that that take on something like this also comes from an unwillingness to participate and an eagerness to observe and detrimentally, judge without opening yourself up for judgment.

Don’t get me wrong: I do understand the vanity stand-point and to a certain extent, even understand that there is something about these pictures that can be irk-some. However, I find that this reasonable irritation can be limited to the following scenarios—a) when the photo looks nothing like the person being photographed in real life (or when it feels like you’re being lied to), b) when the photo is humiliating for the person being photographed without that person’s knowledge (e.g. there is something in the background as with those “you’ll shit bricks” memes)and c) when the picture depicts something inhumane (for example, that guy who took a selfie of himself and his dead wife after he killed her). In these cases, yes: f*ck that.

But in most cases, I think that selfie-taking is a really great way to settle into your skin—god knows it’s hard enough to do.

As always, I can only speak for myself. So, I will. Here are couple of thoughts on the selfie as a means of coming to terms with your self-image.

1. The opposite of a mirror.

The thing about any kind of condition that has a “dys” and a “morphic” attached to it, is that you are unable to tell reality and perception apart. Take it from someone who, in highschool, was told over and over again that it’s ugly to be dark, it’s ugly to have curly hair, it’s ugly to be short, it’s ugly to wear glasses: sometimes you can’t tell when something is true or not. Moreover, in the cases of self-image (whether it be body-related or beauty-related or both), you are an unreliable judge of yourself. No matter how many times you look in the goddamn mirror, all you see is yourself as yourself. I’m going to say that taking a photo of yourself acts as the kind of opposite of a mirror: it shows you yourself as another person, or as an “other” in general. Because of this, you’re able to see yourself in a new way: hey my smile isn’t so crooked or dark skin isn’t ugly at all. It gives you the distance to see yourself more or less as you are as opposed to the goddamn beast you’ve built yourself up to be in your mind.

Up until learning the art of the selfie in 2007 (?) when my friend Kiki used to lend me her Motorola Razor and I would prank her by making my face her screen saver, I don’t think that I was able to come to terms with the fact that I wasn’t ugly. Growing up in a conservative Catholic school where it’s okay for teachers to call you a bruha or to equate curly hair with Sisa was definitely traumatizing. I felt unlovable and ugly and oddly enough, the selfie helped me loop around–it allowed me to empathize with the self (or image) that I hated.

2. Sharing

I am also aware that a lot of people feel that taking selfies is a form of bragging–look at how pretty I am–but for that to be the case, you’ve got to think you’re pretty hot stuff. So I always get the feeling that people who are non-selfie-takers on this account might actually be the truer narcissists. I must be spared from your face because it’s so beautiful that I will–what, envy it? Hrrrm. Okay. Louis Vuitton bags are one thing, a face–something completely different.

Not that I would judge them for that; most of the people who’ve told me this are, in fact, very beautiful. I would appreciate it if we dropped the pretense though. 🙂

The way that I see selfies is more as a form of sharing, a way of saying: hey, this is what I’m wearing today or this is the thing my friend gave me or wish me luck at a job interview or come support our event, pretty please?

In a way that perhaps takes “baring your soul” too literally, I think that selfies are the new polaroid: they’re instant, they’re fun and it’s a way to include people–both inside and outside the photograph.

Of course, there are also haters but there are always haters: and as always, they can suck my non-existent male appendage.

3. Documentation

I went through this phase where I documented my face every day for a couple of months until my phone got stolen (those still exist here at my old Instagram account) and since those were cross-posted to my Facebook account, I still have them. They’re pretty funny in that I’m able to gain a kind of self-awareness about the different phases I went through re: haircuts, preferences in style, weight, places I hung out–things that I would ordinarily forget. Also, selfies aren’t always lone photos–it’s also great for taking photos with your friends and having keepsakes from outings, dinners, events. My parents have a lot of photos from the 70s and in the age of the let’s-pose-around-the-food, I feel like group selfies with a bunch of faces squished into the frame are the most honest expression of togetherness and fun. It’s cooperation, it’s willingness to suffer momentarily to have something to hold onto.

4. Understated Elegance

Instagram in a nutshell, if you ask me.

5. DIY: Your face is your face

One of the may things that I love about these years is that it’s okay for people to do their own make up. I remember back in the early 2000s, if there was an event you had to get your make up done or you were crazy. But now it’s perfectly acceptable to love your face and to dress it up the way that you see fit. You can do it yourself–after all, your face is your face.

In the spirit of loving yourself or at least being okay with yourself, here’s a selfie from today.

Got any selfies of your own to share? Leave me a comment! 😀 Also, Instagram here.

Coffee & Flowers: The Skinny on Weight Loss/Fitness FAQ

One of the things that I get asked the most about recently is how I managed to lose weight, why I did it, blahblah. I thought that I’d post this up both as a means of answering these questions and helping people who’re interested in getting into shape. As an awkward, extremely uncoordinated, unathletic girl I know how hard that can be.

In the span of around 4 to 5 months, I lost 32 pounds. I began working out at 137 pounds and now weigh around 105 pounds. 🙂

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Click under the cut for the full skinny on FAQ like workout programs and all that jazz.

Continue reading “Coffee & Flowers: The Skinny on Weight Loss/Fitness FAQ”

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