Coffee & Flowers: Make It Better

Nostalgic trike ride through Tropical Avenue in the village where I went to high school.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the concept of family a lot—and how everything that we do is ultimately influenced by what happens to us when we’re young. In that respect, I think that Freud was most definitely correct. While it is true that we continue to develop throughout our lives, I feel like the core of our lives are determined very early on: the way we think, our knee-jerk reactions, the way we feel about most things and about ourselves. I have a lot of friends who go lots of different ways with regard to self-esteem: some who are very confident despite not necessarily possessing “conventional” beauty attributes, some who are extremely beautiful in the most “objective” sense but have absolutely no confidence in their ability to be attractive and some who are in-between and in most instances I find that these things have a lot to do with the way that they were brought up or their experiences as young children.

Continue reading “Coffee & Flowers: Make It Better”

Head First, Fearless Day 4: Lotsa Birds, One Stone

Oh my f-ing gulay. I did so many things today. I don’t even know where to start!!! I did so many things my brain is having trouble processing this. Error, error. Almost everything I did today terrified me. If it is possible to spend a whole day scared, this was the day!

I completely take back what I said yesterday about me being a sissy.

Let’s start at the very beginning, the very best place to start (at least according to Fraulein Maria):

1. I said Hi to someone I don’t see often.

This might be usual for most people–not for me! Today, this guy that I know from college was on the shuttle with me on the way to Makati and because I’m usually afraid of a) awkwardness and b) rejection, a lot of the time I don’t say hi. Sometimes it’s also just because I’m blind. But today I said hi! And made small talk, too. 😀 Yay!

2. I crossed the street and ate out for lunch!

My street-crossing skills have dulled considerably since leaving Taft. Also, Taft is so congested that most of the cars there don’t go very fast. Either that or they’re buses and you see them coming from a mile away. In Makati, these assholes in Hondas are just all over the place, waiting to ram you down.

My friend, Rain took me out to Yamazaki, this authentic Japanese place for lunch today. SO GOOOOOD. FOOOOOOD! ❤ And also, it wasn’t that expensive for a whole ensemble of food, only P 218! Gyoza, Chahan, unlimited Iced Tea and vegetables. Heller. What. Also me and Rain were able to girlie talk–hihihihi! On the way back, I crossed all the streets by myself, made it back to the office with 10 minutes to spare and almost didn’t even mind the intense, intense heat.

3. I did something platonic but affectionate for a friend.

Before I get into this, let me say that I am very weird when it comes to friendship and affection because on one hand, I’m very affectionate but on the other hand I’m also very guarded when it comes to how I show my affections as a friend. I don’t mean this to be gloat-y or anything but I just noticed or had experiences in the past where friends have misunderstood or misinterpreted my tendencies to go the extra mile and do special or nice things for people I care about. And in those situations, other people have ended up getting hurt or friendships were broken apart and I hate it when that happens. :< This is why I usually just chicken out of situations like this or I analyze the shit out of the situation or text until there is virtually nothing left. However, I find that if you spend enough time with someone, you’ll be able to judge whether you can trust them to know what you mean and to not take what you say the wrong way.

Recently, my seatmate and friend at work has been having thoughts about a certain thing which he may or may not pursue in the near future (bear with me as this is not my info to share). He asked me about why I kept saying he shouldn’t pursue the said thing. I’m not good at explaining things like that verbally because I need time to think things through (I’m always better on paper) and also because if I get riled up about something, I might end up talking too loud or crying (uhh, yeah–not a pretty picture). So I made a list instead and sent it through e-mail! 🙂 I hope that the list was both humorous (I tried, hehe) and helpful–another qualm I have about writing things which aim to explain what I mean is that I feel like they’re biased. Either way, just having sent it was an ordeal for me. So BAM, in your face, fear of being misunderstood!

4. I didn’t go straight home.

I get really anal about a lot of things: what time I get to the shuttle, whether I’m able to beat rush hour, what time I get home, whether or not I’m able to exercise. But today I put that aside and went out with my best friends. We had pizza and dessert (ice cream for them, pretzels and coffee for me). It’s really something else being around people who are dear to you and who’ve been with you growing up. 😀 We hung out until about 9:30 PM, I got home at around 10:20. Not going to exercise. Nope. Sugar belly timez, yo.

Is this good enough for 4 days? Please say yes!

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: Space, In Transit

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A few days ago I spent the day at this studio that my parents have here in Alabang. It’s 26 floors up and it overlooks Laguna de Bay. They use it as a meeting room for their company but on most days it’s empty and I was in the area that day and decided, hey–why not spend the whole day, here and write?

The day ended up being really productive and I was able to come up with a couple of first drafts for projects that will be coming out soon. I went back the next day but this time my brother decided to come with me and I just couldn’t concentrate. It wasn’t that he was noisy or being particularly intrusive but I think Virginia Woolf was right (write, haha) about needing a room of one’s own if you are to write proper fiction–or I think, create any art.

And I don’t mean that just literally: the studio is bigger than my room (significantly so) but today I’m home alone and the sun is coming in through the window and sitting at my desk and I know I’ll be able to do what I have to. Maybe space is less about actual space and more about solitude. Maybe it’s about being able to disconnect yourself from having to interact with people and allowing yourself to take the spectator’s point of view–the critical thing in writing fiction or creating art, I think.

This doesn’t mean that you should be in your room all the time, though–I think the room or workplace is for putting things together: but in order to have things to write about and to be able to generate new ideas, you have to do other things as well. I think most ideas and most bits of drafts happen while in transit or while doing something absolutely (or seemingly absolutely) uncreative like lining up to pay for graduation fees or waiting for an available stall in the bathroom. This is also why I figure I don’t think I want to just do freelance work–I would also like to get a job that requires me to be somewhere, at a specific time. I would like to have a ritual and the coming and going aspects of a regular job.

I was thinking about things I’ve learned thus far in my life and I think that commuting is definitely one of the skills I’m happiest that I’ve learned. And even if I’ve recently learned to drive like a proper human being, I don’t think I’ll be giving up commuting. Driving is its own ordeal and its own activity with numerous conveniences but commuting allows you to think and provides a necessary transition, not just between where you were and where you’re going but also between the active idea-generating state of mind and the more contemplative idea-collecting state of mind.

Coffee & Flowers: Viggo Mortensen, Awareness

Viggo Mortensen is one of my favorite actors–or artists, in general. He’s also one of the only actors who I think can call himself an artist. He is the kind of artist that I want to be.I’ve been following Viggo since I was 10. That seems very young for me (especially because he’s a pretty old guy–if I’m not mistaken he’s in his mid to late fifties) but my parents (and siblings) are all pretty old so PG13 was almost non-existent for me. I grew up watching adult films, reading adult books. And so, yeah. When I was 10 I watched A Perfect Murder where he plays an artist who has an affair with Gwyneth Paltrow. I later found out via the internet (which I also discovered around that time, in the age of dial-up) that he wrote poetry and that all of the art they used in A Perfect Murder was his. Of course because he’s the best at picking roles (and obviously because he has the talent to be offered the said roles), he also ended up playing Aragorn and Sigmund Freud, to name a few. So yeah. I’ve been following his career for almost 13 years now and it always amazes me how on his toes he is about acting and learning and life in general, even now.

In the interview which I’m currently listening to (embedded above, if the code works), he talks about how good art is always part spontaneity, part science. He talks about being prepared but also always being prepared to throw all of that out the window if your art calls for it. I definitely agree with that. We grow both by teaching ourselves and by opening ourselves to the possibility of failing or not knowing what to do.

I would like to grow up the way that Viggo has–as I get older I’d like to learn more things and to never forget how important it is to be aware of your actions and the things you do and how you do those things. One of the things that I’ve noticed about people who I can no longer stand or who I’ve fallen out of touch with is that they seem to have lost all awareness as to how they’re living their lives: they seem to have abandoned all thought or care and left it somewhere else. Now, more than ever I get what they mean when they say “he/she isn’t all there, anymore”. That is my biggest fear: to wake up one day and be 65 then suddenly realizeyou haven’t been yourself i more than forty years. It is important to always keep on keeping on and to keep on remembering and re-evaluating everything, continuously–because that is all that it means to be alive.

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