In the Stillness of Remembering What You Had

Note: This is the first of my three-part (Or two? I have yet to determine.) entry. Reading it may spark unwanted feelings. You shaking your head, rolling your eyes or giving out sighs of exasperation on certain parts of this entry (and perhaps, the next ones to come) are completely understandable. Thank you for bearing with me. -T.

 

1

My dreams have become rather vivid recently. I take this situation as both good and bad. For starters, I have been the type who would remember my dreams, whether it makes sense or not. I would share some with my friends and family, wondering with them why the cookies would burn if I did not put the toothbrush in the bowl. Sometimes, it would be all too serious. I dreamt one time that I was inside a building, heading towards a door. I opened it, stepped outside, and fell. The falling never ended, and I woke up with a jolt. I shared this with a colleague (who is also a mentor when it comes to interpreting dreams) and she told me that I’ll be losing my money real soon. I didn’t know how to react. She looked concerned, and I couldn’t help but feel that the inevitable was coming. Indeed, a year later, I realized I didn’t know where I spent all my money. I felt stupid. I didn’t know what to do. I was being yelled at for my reckless spending and that for someone so smart, why wasn’t I thinking? I did recover in a few months’ time. But there was that certain feeling that never left me. Fear never left me. And it messed with my dreams.

A year later, my mother was diagnosed with cancer. Two months after that, my partner broke up with me, partly in the hopes that she could patch things up with a former flame she hasn’t let go of apparently ever since we got together (And we were together for seven years.). One other reason was–which was also her sole claim–to fix herself. But I wasn’t stupid. Still, imagine my selfishness (Could be thought of as determination by others. But not really. At least from how I see things now.) when I chose to fix my broken relationship, instead of being with my mother.

The absence of someone whom I’m used to waking up with every morning got the best of me. Because the thought of not waking up with her made me not want to sleep any longer. And finding ways not to sleep made me tense inside. Sleeping, indeed, became difficult. My left jaw started to hurt, all because I was resisting something inside me. I was in denial with what’s happened to me. So this became a vicious cycle. For the life of me, I don’t know what my status was with her (She claims, “Why do we need to define ourselves? We’re happy. Aren’t you happy?” No. But I can’t say that or else I’d lose her again.). We lived together two months later, although  we were not really together. I chose to be ignorant on certain things. I finally got my wish of having to wake up with her every single day. But I wasn’t happy.

2

My mom’s first round of chemo therapy sessions ended, and she was up for radiation. Her spirit’s up. She wants to go drive to the grocery, after deciding what she would want for lunch and dinner that day, or sometimes, the day after. She was spontaneous that way. I was spontaneous in my own way, working on a one-sided team that fights for a love that will never come back. There were times that I would be hopeful, because we were really happy spending the day together. Then sometimes, at night, she would lie down beside me, looking forlorn, and then tell me that she called her, but it didn’t end well, and then would ask me what she needs to do. My heart feels stabbed. My dreams wouldn’t dare approach me still.

3

When my mom’s radiation break ran its course, we came back to the hospital to run some tests to be submitted to her doctor. The doctor said the results weren’t good. She needs to undergo another series of chemo therapy. The drive back home was a quiet one. My mom never broke down in front of me, but when she suddenly opened up, in a small voice, that she was hoping for at least eight years more here on earth, I thought that was her breaking down.

We went to the grocery first to buy dinner. We were supposed to go to the vegetable section while waiting for the fish to be cleaned. But we were in between aisles. It was the first time I’ve seen her so far away. As much as my family are not natural-born huggers, you would wonder why it was easier for me to hug someone who can’t give the same love I have for her, than someone who loved me unconditionally the moment I was born.  Sometimes you need to step over the line. Even if it’s just for a hug. I regret not doing anything that day.

4

The chemo medicine did not sit well with my mother, particularly during her second session. After months of looking well, she suddenly looked tired. After walking four or five steps, she wants to sit down. By then, she would need a wheelchair to get around the hospital. Her stomach ballooned.One of her lungs watered up. She found it hard to breathe. We almost spent our Christmas in the hospital, and just in case, we decorated her room with a miniature Christmas tree, a holiday door tag for the bathroom, and a set of Matryoshka dolls. She regained her appetite. Her cheeks were alive once more. But she never walked like she did back then.

5

She was driving me to my mother’s house on the morning of December 24. She asked me what I wanted for Christmas. Nothing, I replied. She took it rather hard, asking what’s wrong with me. Why haven’t I shared anything with her for the longest time? I didn’t know what to say.

The day she found out my mom was confined in the hospital, she said she’ll visit the next day and bring chairs. But the next day, her ex called, asking if she could go with her and buy something outside town. She said okay, and that was the end of it. She told me everything the following night, without any recollection of her promise to visit my mother in the hospital with chairs on the side. It took her some time to tell me what happened to her that day. Maybe she’s feeling guilty. I don’t really know.  I grew quiet. She asked why I was so silent. I was praying for personal strength, I said, which was true. She started to raise her voice, probably about to say that there’s nothing wrong with what she did because we are not exclusively together. I interrupted her and said I want strength for my mother too. I want her to be better. I want to be better. She grew quiet. That was the day I didn’t expect anything from her anymore.

I didn’t want any gifts from her. Material things are not equivalent to promises made, and promises broken. And so when she pressured me to say something on the way to my mother’s house, I screamed. I WANT MY MOTHER TO BE WELL. I WANT MY MOTHER’S CANCER TO GO AWAY. CAN YOU GIVE ME THAT? It was her turn to be quiet. I didn’t ask why.

She gave me a skirt with a vintage design. She picked it out with her little sister, she said. The skirt reminded them of me and my style. I thanked them both. I wore the skirt on New Year’s Eve, which I spent with my mom and my sisters. My sisters cooked two of the many staple holiday meals my mom would always make. They weren’t quite there yet, but all tasted promising. My sisters and I were downstairs, watching. My mom was upstairs, praying. She was always praying. Today I wish I have gone upstairs that night to lie down next to her, and prayed alongside her.

It was New Year’s Day already. I went upstairs and kissed her, wishing her a happy New Year and told her that I love her. She said she loved me too.

6

My mom was confined yet again on the first week of March, to have her stomach drained. Her new chemo medicine, although still not effective, was still better as compared to what she was taking before her confinement last December. She looked healthy. She was smiling when I stepped inside the room. She asked me if I had dinner already. She was very talkative. I was happy that she would just be in the hospital for a short period of time. After the procedure, she will stay in the hospital to regain her strength a bit, and will be sent home when the weekend comes.

The procedure took place on my birthday. She sent me a text message, wishing me a happy birthday and that she sends her love. I thanked her and told her I love her too. I wasn’t able to visit her that day. I was preparing for what’s in store that evening. Two of my sisters bought me a ticket to watch Wicked as a birthday present. I watched it with my older and youngest sisters. It was wonderful. We didn’t know our mother had a heart attack that night. In bed, my ex, thinking I was asleep, complained out loud why I wasn’t being intimate with her any longer.

7

I went to the hospital the very next day. She had oxygen now. Her bed was elevated. She can’t breathe if she lie flat on her back. She waited for us to call the night before, because she didn’t want to spoil our evening. My mom recounted the incident. She woke up because she wanted to cough out the phlegm blocking her chest. But she couldn’t. It felt solid and boxed up and then suddenly, she couldn’t breathe. Family members inside the room started calling for help. One of my sisters was with her when it happened. The sight of my sister frozen in the corner of the room, not knowing what to do made my her fight for her life. She uttered that last part in just a single sentence. It was one of the greatest love stories ever told.

8

My family didn’t know the status of my relationship, except for my younger sister who was dealing with her own relationship troubles at that time. Upon discussing our situations over dinner, she asked me if we were both overstaying. I was thinking I am, but I didn’t say anything. I told her I was trying out Tinder, and found a guy interesting but I wasn’t really sure. She encouraged me to meet other people as much as I can. I don’t know what I’m still holding on for.

Eventually, my mother was sent home, and Tinder became nothing but a distraction. It distracted me from my undefined status with my ex, because it comforted me that I was still wanted. Chatting with guys was fun. But it took a lot of time from me and what I need to do with my life. It stole the time of which I could have been spending with my mother, even if it just consisted of her taking a nap, asking for a glass of water, or food. I was a mess. I was vulnerable. I am neglecting my mother. I deleted Tinder, and bonded with my mom. This became a rare occurrence, because with her finding it hard to breathe, I didn’t want her to talk that much.

9

We talked mostly about her work. I never knew anything about her before she became a mother. She was everywhere. She worked for the government, she worked on publications, and she worked on film productions. She met people. People met her. Movie stars asked her out, foreign journalists made a pass at her. Of course, she only knew about such proposals once her colleagues teased her about certain incidents that took place.  She was focused on what mattered most: the work that still needs to be done. Her dedication, it seems, encompasses everything.

We would sometimes talk about her life with her parents and siblings, the Marcos Regime, listen to different renditions of “If Ever I Would Leave You”, or Sir Anthony Hopkins’ “And the Waltz Goes On”. Sometimes, when she takes a nap, I would watch Sons of Anarchy (with my aunt, who is also taking care of her), only to find out that she’s semi-watching too, even narrating to me what I’ve missed when I needed to go downstairs.

She would ask me about my life, too. She asks me about my ex and her family. I answer, but filter everything that’s got to do with me being in a grey area, an open secret. I didn’t want her to worry.

10

Friends and family came to visit her in April, her birth month. She gets tired easily. She hasn’t gone to visit her doctor since she was discharged from the hospital mid-March. She stated reasons. She couldn’t breathe. She’s too tired. We let it pass. Her back began to ache. She couldn’t sleep until I massaged the pain off her back. I let her sleep most of the day by then, as the pain keeps her awake at night. It’s hard to sleep for me too. Depression, like my mother’s pain, seeps in at night, taking over what should be the night’s dream.

But dreams do come back, when the child in you wakes up. Mine did one sunny day.

 

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Getting Better

I originally posted this on both my Tumblr and Facebook accounts last Monday. I figured that since not all my friends and family members don’t get to check out my blog that often (I’m sure they’re not even aware that I do have a blog), it would be best that I share something with them that I’m going through personally.

–0–

My day started at 12 AM today, coming home after meeting up with college friends. My sleeping hours have been erratic lately and more or less, I fall asleep when the sun is almost up. On one hand, I know this is bad because my anemia can just have its presence felt at anytime and knock me out cold. On the other hand, everybody knows an idle mind is the devil’s playground and hence, it is better to do something productive when both my mind and body feel restless.

So I started my day chatting with someone I don’t really get the chance to speak to. Although the motive was different from the other person’s end, everything went well. I figured perhaps I’ve build myself a wall back then which didn’t allow me to see what else is out there and most of all, it didn’t allow me to see the goodness of others. As I’ve mentioned to my friends, it seems like I am not only at the bottom of the wheel these days, but also, it seems like the wheel has gotten itself stuck on a muddy, almost-impossible-to-cross-to road. But then I realized, is my situation so terrible that I can’t help others? Am I dying? Am I suffering from severe pain that if I choose to move, I would lose everything? Perhaps I’ll lose something, but NOT everything.

And so what I did next was turn off my laptop, read today’s scripture, and prayed. But since my mind has been incoherent lately, it trails off to places it has long been comfortable with. And so my focus disappeared, as well as the continuation of my prayer. If there’s one thing I’ve learned after watching “The Impossible” with my dad and sisters a week ago, it would be that the human spirit’s will to survive is definitely much stronger than anything else–may it be a personal trauma or a tsunami. The human spirit knows no boundaries. It knows THINGS WILL GET BETTER. I didn’t want my thoughts to win so I started reading out loud a chapter of a book my mom gave me last Christmas, containing biblical verses and powerful quotes from authors on the wonders of joy. I made sure I heard it, I made sure my mind understood it, I made sure my heart felt it.

So here’s the thing: you will get stuck at one point in your life. It is inevitable. But you always have the option to stay there or do something about it. In my case, I choose the latter. My family and friends have been so kind helping me rise up again. They can only do so much. The rest is up to you. Also, it is wrong of me to associate myself with a wheel, because that would mean other people would do the heavy lifting for me so that I can serve my purpose. A wheel has no life, it didn’t choose to be stubborn or hardheaded when it got stuck on the muddy road. Wheels are meant to roll to get something somewhere. We can be like that too, but the difference is we were given the privilege to roll with the punches as they go. Inspiration starts with oneself. And so, let us all be strong.

I bid you all a good day! 🙂

Finding Success after Unemployment

There comes a time in your life when you realize that you’re no longer happy with your job that even the reason “it’s for the money” doesn’t even make sense anymore. From then on, you will find yourself awakened, empowered, and unstoppable from writing your way to freedom—your letter of resignation. Upon giving your two weeks or a month’s notice, everything feels light and oh so right. You know you’ve made the right decision.

But what happens after a few months when you’ve spent all your back pay and your savings are running thin? Should you choose to look back and figure out how you spent your money, is there a pang of regret, or was it all worth it? It’s not that money makes the world go round, but money does help everyone in getting by, especially when even the most basic of needs come with a price. Ironically, you realize that the freedom you have always wanted comes with a price as well.

Now that we’ve settled the matter on my being unemployed (yes, I was talking about myself the entire time, and yes, I’ve reiterated this many times—just check out my previous entries), what’s next? A lot, if you think about it. If you’re one of those considering taking a break first before joining the job hunting bandwagon but at some point lost confidence, here are some suggestions from a humbled unemployed person to another to get things going:

  1. Reorganize your room.  Your decision to resign came with a new perspective. Channel that outlook by reorganizing your room. I got two big boxes wherein I gave myself the power to decide on what to do with all the things I possess: KEEP or GIVE AWAY. You will realize in the process that you have so many things in your room that you don’t even use or you no longer need. You will also get the chance to rediscover yourself as you read through your journals and old letters from family, friends and loved ones. I was able to throw away 30 to 40 shopping bags worth of trash and give away a huge box of things that I found would be more beneficial to others. In return, what I got was a big, spacious room wherein I can be myself once again and not only a place where I can sleep.
  2. Make your bed. If you have just resigned, two of the greatest things you can reward yourself are sleeping and waking up at any time of the day. I have rewarded myself these too often that I rarely get out of bed anymore. The trouble with that is in time, you will actually lose your sense of time. The television will be turned on all day with the remote by your pillow. You get fat. You get lazy. You get to be the person (or animal) you’ve dreaded becoming (at least for me): a sloth. What I do now the moment I wake up (after a few long but oh-so-good stretches) is make my bed, and a promise to myself that I will only lie down if I’ve done enough chores or activities that have exhausted me physically or mentally. Enjoy your newly organized room! Read a book! Go to the gym or
  3. Get out. This advice was given to me by my lover’s mother, when she heard us yelling at each other in our room. When you and your live-in partner are both unemployed (mine is studying), it will go haywire if both of you choose to just stay inside the house and not do anything. Trust me, time spent together will one day end up time spent fighting each other. Like Alex’s (my lover) mother said: “You’re not doing anything that’s why you make a big deal out of the smallest flaws you both have! Get out and see for yourself what you have been missing!” This is so true. “An idle mind is the devil’s playground,” so they say. I figured that one of the reasons why I find it hard to think about something to write was because I rarely go out, I just watch TV to the point that I’ve already memorized the movies being shown on both HBO and Star Movies, and I tend to release my pent up frustrations of not knowing what to do (or watch) next to the first person I see (Alex. I love you. I’m sorry.) So get out, be inspired, give your girlfriend/boyfriend/husband/wife some alone time, spend some time with friends, and just make your day worthwhile.
  4. Acknowledge rooms for improvement and do something about it. My grammar isn’t perfect. I’m still confused on how I should use this word or that word, or if the sentence I just wrote down made sense, or just complicated things further. I was once reprimanded by my boss for writing like a sophomore high school student with poor grammar skills, and that stung—even if his way of telling me this was through email. It took me months to get a compliment from him about how my writing has improved and I will never ever forget that (I even forwarded that email to my personal email address, considering it as a mark of my acceleration and excellence.) From then on, I always make sure that I take in the comments of people that matter as constructive criticism. When they scold you, don’t take it personally. They just know that you’re a better person and that you could be that better person by today or tomorrow!
  5. Utilize your time by doing things you actually enjoy doing. My hobbies saved me from hitting rock bottom, to be honest. I started baking tarts and pies—I even tried out making doughnuts! I started cooking Asian recipes rather than sticking with recipes I already know how to execute. I started reading books again—something I never had the time to do when I was still working. I’m studying new piano pieces too, to entice my imagination even further (as reading books can do that too.) As I’ve always wanted to learn a new language, I’m now studying French by myself and so far, c’est bon (it’s good)! Now is the time to discover new hobbies, too! I thought I would never watch the news like my mother always does. As I grew older, I got worried with the thought that I may never like watching the news. But with the ample amount of time I have at the moment, I connect myself to the world not only through social networking sites, but by watching the news as well.
  6. Make a weekly schedule. Even if we lose track of time, morning will eventually turn into evening, and vice versa. To make sure that you’re maximizing your day, draw out a schedule of activities for you to do either by yourself or with your friends and family.
  7. Pray. Not everyone is religious; I know that since I’m not a saint myself. But giving yourself time to say the words you want to say out loud would also give you the opportunity to hear them out yourself, and think about what you should or shouldn’t do. One thing I’ve learned in the course of my life is that I should never lose faith. Each of us has a purpose and although some of us may not know it yet (like me), that doesn’t give us an excuse to dwell on regrets. The reason why I left my recent job was because I know I can do something better. I can be better. So what stopped me? When you feel miserable and you think that there’s no one there to help you out, pray. Somebody out there is always thinking of you, whether you believe or not.

So far, these are the things I do to remind myself that life just doesn’t end here. Time has been kind lately and I won’t abuse it by doing nothing. As much as others would find my tips unhelpful, it is nothing compared to those who know exactly what I’m talking about. It may have taken time for me to realize some of these things. But no matter how slow people perceive me to be, I always remind myself that even if it takes a while for a turtle to stick its neck out of its shell, its effort in doing so has brought nothing but prosperity.

The Cinder Girl with Flaming Dreams

Five years ago my father asked me to write him a letter, explaining to him how I see my professional life  in the next ten years. He requested this from me after I confessed to him about the two-relationship I was hiding from him and the rest of the family, and he wanted to make sure if I had given my future a good and clear thought. Back then, it was all about convincing him, my mom and my sisters that I’ll be okay and I have not lost sight of my dreams. With five years left on the ten-year vision I elaborated to my father, I realized I haven’t even achieved what I’ve told him I wanted to be. It is pretty upsetting now that I think about it. Time has been flying by very quickly and I’m no longer that fresh college graduate who can’t wait to take over the world with my bright ideas. I’m now in my late 20s, unemployed, and confused.

I remember when I was still a kid, I asked my dad if getting rich was the most important mission in life (of course I asked this in a manner a five-year-old would) and his words still echo in my head to this day: “It’s not if you are rich or poor that matters, it is your happiness that counts.” Three months ago, I told him I was getting frustrated with my job and that I was ready to resign. He told me to weigh in on the situation first, and not let my feelings get in the way. However, if I feel like my well-being is at stake, then I should resign. My happiness, he said, was more important to him more than anything else. I did resign, and I apologized because I felt like I have disappointed him. His response was still the same. My happiness is what counts. It was only a few hours ago that I fully understood what he was trying to say, and that it wasn’t him that should be disappointed with me. I must admit that this process of self-discovery is pretty depressing, but it is necessary, and has brought me back to basics.

Fairy tales are a big part of a child’s life, most especially for little girls, for it is their dream to become princesses one day. A princess has everything–Prince Charming, the castle, the beautiful gowns and shoes, lavish parties, and the admiration of people–the happy ending. The complicated thing about life is that as we grow older, getting the happy ending seem more important, and oftentimes we tend disregard the moral of a story instilled in our minds at a very young age. Cinderella for a time, had to endure a miserable life with her stepmother who despised her not only because of her beauty. Moreover, it was for getting the love and affection she wanted for herself and her children from her new husband, Cinderella’s father. We get stuck with the scene wherein she already had her gown and glass slippers on, and was already dancing with the prince. Or perhaps the ending, wherein the other slipper was found nonetheless in Cinderella’s hands, concluding the story with her marrying the prince. Defending her right to attend the ball because she is after all, a member of the family, seemed light years away. We forget that she did her chores as promised, no matter how extreme they were. The injustice she felt when all she provided was obedience and respect, only to get her gown ripped, became nothing to us as we all knew that her fairy godmother will make things right. To be saved by someone became more ideal and virtues such as patience, faithfulness, hard work and perseverance were nothing more but mere options.

I have always known that my father was right. But just like reading a favorite book (or watching a favorite movie) for the second (or more) time, there is a deeper understanding that ensues. Happiness is not the reward Cinderella got in the end. Happiness was there the moment she woke up and started singing about believing in dreams coming true. It’s not completely a love story nor a rags-to-riches one. It’s also about creating a future you believe in, not losing your way, and allowing time to be your friend so long as your happiness is still intact.

Should I be given the chance to have moment like that with my dad once again, I would tell him to stop worrying about me. I would tell him that I was shortsighted and that I didn’t mean to make him sad. I would tell him that I have not let go of my dreams and that there is more that I would like to share with him. I would thank him for his patience with me and for his love which I’ve taken for granted most of the time.

In the five years that remain, the future I have laid out for myself has now become quite clearer. Although mine is still unwritten, the dream is not to survive but to live. Not to be the victim but the victor. The dream is to not mind the ashes or terror that may come along the way, but to trust the burning light inside of me, guiding me through my darkest hours. The dream is to make ideas come to life, and bring out happiness instead of taking it away. Ideally, it is distinguishing the good from the bad and how you would want to be remembered: the wide-eyed cinder girl, or the evil stepmother (or either of her two daughters.) Dreams may be as vast as the means in making them a reality, with some people ending up sizing happiness with a pair of glass slippers they hope they could fit into one day. But there are those who don’t mind breaking theirs, as they discover that happiness is actually free of size.

Imagination Under Construction

Things happen for a reason. That’s for sure. In my first three blog attempts, two out of three consisted of my laptop giving me a suicide scare. Now that I think about it, my laptop freaked out on my first draft because I wasn’t able to give it some rest for the longest time. After 32 hours worth of rest, Lappy woke up and showed me my unfinished blog which was nothing but lackluster. Now, even though the second suicide attempt was nothing but a false alarm (a disconnected plug), what made it a big deal was I wasn’t able to save it. After walking around the room while eating a mug of Taho to calm myself down, I realized that there was actually no need for me to panic. Having remembered some of the paragraphs I’ve written, I felt like I was elaborating how disappointed I was with myself over the last few months for not being proactive. I figured it may be too painful–or annoying to read an entry full of negativism. Hence, it’s time to move on.

If you were to ask me what helps soothe my mind–aside from the mug of Taho I recently consumed (which was more of a craving actually. But here’s a new fact I’ve learned: it helps fight off osteoporosis! Let’s go ladies!)–would be the fast-clicking sound of a laptop keyboard. I like the fact that I’m a fast typist, because that would mean I could calm myself down if I’d want to pour my heart out. Should my mind feel blank however, what could be the next best thing for me to turn things around?

Now before I answer that, let it be known that I’m dedicating this blog to the resurrection of my being proactive. That after the longest time I’ve ignored my blog page, I should swallow the fact that I became the biggest biatch of them all: Ningas Cogon. Ugh. Repulsive. I can just imagine the disappointed look on your face, and I’m freaking out a bit. Yeah, that’s why I need to find a way to calm down and so far, the pace of my typing isn’t all eighth and sixteenth notes. More of a whole rest per other system on all staffs of a music sheet (on a 4/4 time signature.)

And so I got into YouTube, hoping to see some videos (well, I watched a little bit of RWJ first before looking for videos of my own) that would make me sing along. Bruno Mars sounds good, I thought, typing his name on the search bar. A quick scan later, I came across a piano cover of Just the Way You Are, and clicked on it. And born was my love for The Piano Guys, which I quickly introduced to Alex, my lover.

While preparing our lunch downstairs, Alex asked me to play on the piano the theme from the movie Love Affair (composed by the great Ennio Morricone) before we had our lunch, which I agreed to do. We watched a few more videos of The Piano Guys a few hours later, wherein we were completely awestruck by Jarrod Radnich’s Harry Potter theme solo. The way his hands were flying with such pace and eloquence made me utter a (damn corny) joke when a link popped out on the video, encouraging the viewer to get the music sheet of the Harry Potter theme. “I’ll buy the music sheet alright, I have hands as good as those,” I snorted. Alex, after a second or two of laughing (I told you it was corny) then told me, “You know, that’s what you’re missing when you play the piano. That movement.” I knew that movement, I wanted to say. And that movement involves a huge deal of imagination.

After leaving my family to be with the person I love, there were adjustments that need to be made. I became serious with my job hunting, first and foremost. I also chose at that time not to look back on what my life was before eloping, because I thought that was the smartest thing to do to prove that I’ll be okay with my ‘new’ life (Not to worry though, my family and I are already in speaking terms.) Playing the piano, a favorite past time of mine ever since I learned how to play one during my elementary years, was boxed up in the PAST section of my life. It was where I got my first medal outside of school–which was a pretty big deal for me, since I’m not really what you’d call a model student. But playing the piano was something else for me. I get to release all my tensions away the moment I play, for example, the introduction of Robert Schumann’s “Knight Rupert” with great fortissimo, and start to wind down when I shift to F major, in a legato and almost glissando kind of notation, on the second part. By that time, I imagine the knight was about to meet his lovely maiden by the pond before he leaves for battle. (I should thank my piano teachers for encouraging me to make use of my imagination. I got the lovely maiden idea from one of them.)

It took two years after I ran away, for me to get ahold of those ol’ ebonies and ivories and technically, I still knew how to play. But years later, my imagination was still playing hide and seek with me. This is not good. I really have some serious thinking to do if I don’t want to find myself living a life full of inconsistencies because the rainbow in my mind lacked some colors.

It’s a bit strange (and sad) to know why the passage of movement (and/or imagination) in my mind is blocked. Maybe not blocked, just under construction…for the longest time. I suddenly remembered how annoyed I get when I pass by a certain part of a highway which has been under construction for more than a year. I can’t help but wonder if I have annoyed or lowered other people and their expectations of me, especially on matters which require going beyond what was asked of me.

So, it’s about time I start shaking my hands, loosen my nerves and just CONCENTRATE. Learn to be both the white and black swans, without killing myself. Trust my hands to fly and land on the right keys at the very moment and very time that will leave listeners and even myself, spellbound. This doesn’t go with just playing the piano. Writing short stories and poems once again may even increase the flow of imagination, and may eventually swallow the “Under Construction” signage on my mind’s passage way, whole.

Maybe there are no colors to be painted at this very moment, but reaching the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow may come sooner or later. And if I want the stagnancy in my life to go away, sooner is always better, even if it’s better late than never.

Ningas Cogon

…is not really something that I am for. Unfortunately, I consider myself as one. And I am about to change that.

Ningas Cogon (good starter, bad finisher) is a Filipino stereotype, more or less. I’m not saying all Filipinos are but if I am to revoke this mentality, I must first allow myself to change.

Since I believe that everything is more binding when it is written, writing and having read (afterwards) what must be done should be fairly easy. And so, here it goes.

Now is the best time to let go of the fear. I have always haunted myself with thoughts of death. One is only afraid to die because one has not learned how to live. Rewinding on my mind right now is the death book I made in college for my Philosophy class. There, I wrote a story on how I died, among other things. I cut out some pictures and pasted it on the pages of my death book. Pictures of newlyweds walking in the rain under an umbrella; of places I have envisioned myself to have visited; of love; of everything that I believe defines me. I remember asking for written eulogies–which was hard for my family. My grandmother, most especially, was aghast by the idea and told me to tell my professor that he’s sick in the head, before handing me her written eulogy. I remember writing my last will and testament, where money wasn’t really thought of and my InStyle magazine collection were one of my precious gems, along with my basketball card collection, my book of Pablo Neruda sonnets, and other things I valued and possessed at that time and age. I remember the feeling of having written how my life has completely changed the moment I first dipped my toes in the shores of the Mediterranean, and how I still want to grasp that feeling one day, before I die. And then the last few pages of the death book came to mind, and the lyrics of “That’s the Way of the World” by Earth, Wind and Fire stood out just the way I had printed it on a piece of parchment paper, now resting peacefully on my death book.

If you look way down in your heart and soul, don’t hesitate ’cause the world seems cold. Stay young at heart ’cause you’re never (never, never, …) old at heart.

Oh hearts of fire. I must not forget that I’ve always had one and will continue to have one until I die.

Now is the best time to remember my favorite word. Passion. I must remember how I enunciated it back in senior year of my high school days while practicing for the chorale competition: an accent with a slight gasp of air on the first syllable, and then a sudden crescendo upon reaching the SH part of the word, before finishing off the second syllable. I must remember why it came out like that the first time I spoke it out loud in front of my classmates. That if I close my eyes, I would remember the first time I played Smoke Gets in Your Eyes on the piano and felt it with my heart even if I didn’t know the lyrics then. Or when I cook or bake something for the first time, eager for all my loved ones to taste it. Or the time I knew that if I were Rose in the movie Titanic, I will not stop looking for ways to keep Jack alive with me in the cold seas of the Atlantic. Or for dreaming that someday I’ll be like Jo March of Little Women,  and have my hair cut and sold to support my family should we run out of money, and never lose sight of my writings and the dream of having it published. Or when I croon La Vie en Rose as if I was singing it to the love of my life. Or the feeling I’m having right now–awake for almost 24 hours, but in no hurry to sleep, because I haven’t written anything like this for the longest time, and I want to feel and see how it’s going to end. The nostalgia of writing. The drive of ending the Ningas Cogon mentality, because I knew I’ve had it for the longest time, and I just want it yanked out of me.

What about my favorite place in the world? The city that never sleeps. The concrete jungle where dreams are made of. Well, I do want to wake up there like Frank Sinatra, because there’s nothing I can’t do as Alicia Keys would belt out, because it is New York. Hence, my next note to self: Now is the best time to look back at my goals and dreams, and start living it. It would be grand to work for the United Nations one day and live in Manhattan. Or I can just take a vacation there–one time when the snow is falling and Vivaldi’s Winter would play on my mind as I walk towards the rink of Central Park and try to skate. The next few times would be me purchasing my first, second, or tenth pair of Manolos and strut my way in the city like Carrie Bradshaw with the latest issue of InStyle (it is my Vogue) on one hand, and I guess anything else other than a cigarette on the other. All these, of course, is playing through my mind with the Sex and the City score playing as background music. New York gave my dreams a headstart. It doesn’t necessarily mean that I will live there one day but to see it in the flesh, oh life would be a dream!

Now what else would be good for me? Perhaps I can stop seeing the world in black and white, especially when things don’t go my way. Not everyone gets it right the first time. So if I fail at something, I must try again. When I think someone dear to me has failed me, it is just right that I give them another chance instead of me priming myself with the idea that he or she is some negative aura because of what he or she has done. This person will never be always like that as I will never always commit a mistake. I love black and white pictures and movies. I love charcoal sketches. I love both shades of black and white. But there is more to the world than this. That is why Jan Szczepanik, Hovannes Adamian and finally, John Logie Baird, all made an effort in putting color on television. Life never started in black and white. Even the primordial soup had colors.

Stop feeding on the capital sins. The problem with me is that I get hypochondriac when I come across these sins. Not only do I acknowledge it, I unconsciously welcome it. Living in these sins will stop the flow of the life that I would want for myself. Having trapped myself in what is supposedly a temporary madness is what made me scared to move on in the first place. And this, my dear self, is bad. No wonder it’s called ‘deadly!’

 And it’s hard to dance with the devil on your back so shake him off! 

Florence (+ the Machine) sang those words in anguish. Now I understand, and I sing it with you.

On the first Sunday of this month, I had the opportunity to go to mass in Our Lady of Manaoag Church in Pangasinan, Philippines. The Church is known for its ivory image of the Blessed Virgin Mary and its healing powers. Countrymen–especially those from the city and the north, go to Manaoag during the holidays to share their wishes and dreams, or when they are facing great challenges in their lives. Since I came to the realization of what I have become, the miracle I have prayed for was for me not to be afraid anymore.

When the little voice inside me started getting bigger, choosing to ignore it would lead to my self-destruction. No, I am not sure if I criticized myself well enough, but admitting to myself my wrongdoings is a big step. I have opened my eyes and through what I have written, and I will make sure that I will never lose track again.

This is just the beginning. I believe this is a good start and I know that I will do better. I wouldn’t want this to be the one and only blog I have written. That would make me yet again, a bad finisher.

So I wish myself good luck as I start paving my way towards the finish line.

“Not later than next week, tell me something good,” I say to myself.