Thursday, October 30, 2008

Thinking about Inking

So I've been entertaining the idea of my next tattoo practically the day after I got my first one (left, please excuse my workout ball).

As many of you will recognize, that is the symbol for infinity. No, I'm not a mathematical whiz and enjoy the symbol for its numerical representation. I'm more interested and inspired by the philosophical and literary concept of infinity.

My own reason for getting this tattoo was to utilize it as a reminder. A reminder that warns of momentary happiness and how in that very moment, sadness lurks. It's a reminder that infinity is cyclical and unbounded, that no happy thing or moment will last and in a way that realization is daunting, which helps me try to stay grounded and rational in my life's choices. Infinity for me is a place, a location, and not a space of time. It's the idea that happiness lasting forever is impossible and vice-versa with sadness, it's a double edged sword.

I've been staring at my lone tattoo a lot lately, realizing that it's taken on multiple meanings for me now and I'm ready for an addition or extension to this tattoo. I've already selected a location for my tattoo number two, and that's on the nape of my neck.

I think next to the collarbone, the nape of the neck is the sexiest part of a woman's body, one that is also less noticed and appreciated. I've thought about getting a tattoo on my collarbone but ultimately decided that I might regret it because it's a location I admire on myself often and would somehow view it as tainted.

So I began to do research on the nape of the neck and discovered that the etymology of the word "nape" is unknown. Okay, I'm not sure if I'm the only one who does this but I constantly look up etymologies of words and this is one of the first words I've come across that has no distinct origin. I loved it immediately because the symbol for infinity has no definite origin as well so already there is a connection to my first tattoo.

But for quite some time I've been wanting to get a tattoo of some powerful words by Sappho. It's a quote that I've come across time and time again over the past several years that moves me, stirs me to core, as an individual and as a writer.

May I write words more naked than flesh,
stronger than bone, more resilient than
sinew, sensitive than nerve.

Now of course that's a lot of text and to imagine that transformed as a tattoo would be painful, expensive and would take up a large part of my body. So for the time being, I'm going to pass on that idea, however I'm thinking if I do get this tattoo it might just be the first line.

Another idea that I've been researching is the notion of the sublime. Sublime and infinity go hand in hand and share that same concept of being simply unattainable. I'm not going to go into it any further because this blog entry will never end, no pun intended.

But that's where I stand right now in terms of my next ink. I just ordered A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful by Edmund Burke from Amazon to read a little more about this parallel and let me tell you, I'm really anxious to learn as much about this as I can.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

This is How I'll Remember You

Different things remind me of different people in different ways. The most sensitive trigger of memory comes to me through scent. I'm sure this sounds insane, but I really remember people's scents and draw most of my memories with them from that alone. I could be walking on a busy street downtown and catch a whiff of cigarettes and Acqua di Gio and suddenly be overcome with resentment, anger, and passion all at the same time. I connect with the way someone smells because more often than not no other person will smell the exact same way. However, in my previously cited example, I've come to find that almost every man owns a bottle of that wretched cologne. Anyhow, I love the authenticity in the idea of one's scent. I want to remember you in my own way and sometimes the strongest connection to that would be (in my case) through scent.

Of course we'll always have our memories, the images of which are seeded carefully in our minds, tucked away for that moment that brings us back. Memories however, can be unreliable if depended on alone. Of course you'll argue with me about this but really...the details can begin to fade, the dates become fuzzy and only the general thought of what once was remains. When I inhale a familiar scent of someone's cologne, or whatever fragrance it may be, I'm immediately there, in that moment that was once tucked away.

Here's a brief catalog of scents of those closest to me:
My pops smells like Old Spice and Marlboro's. My mom smells of Chanel No.5. My eldest sister, Michaela, smells clean--medically sterilized clean, and newly showered clean, like alcohol. My brother smells of mint toothpaste and Febreeze. My sister, Czarina, smells like Strawberry Lipsmacker and summer, yes, summer has a scent and she smells like it, like the midday sun on a July afternoon. And I feel I should mention the scents of my late grandparents, whose smell I can't hide from no matter where I am when I come across them. My grandpa smelled of starch spray (for ironing clothes), newspaper and freshly brewed coffee. And my grandmother smelled of waxy lipstick and moth balls.

But right after the power of remembered scent is that of sound.

I can't stand it when a song comes on that forces me to stop what I'm doing. I don't mind it because it makes me stop what I'm doing, but because of the reason of why I have to stop. Let me begin by saying that music is a part of my daily life. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't listen to music either from iPod or from my iTunes library on my laptop. I don't remember the last time I listened to the radio--wait, that's a lie. It was this past Sunday in my brother in law's car on the way to my cousin's birthday and I distinctly remember hearing a "siren" song? (I think it was by some rapper).

Anyhow, I'm picky about my music so every single song I have in my library is personal to me. So personal in fact, that I seldom ever share my music. I make mixes for my sisters every now and then but I'm very protective of my music. That also sounds insane, but hear me out. When I connect with one song, an entire album or a band, I feel like I can breathe easier. Like the lyrics of a song I love somehow makes sense of my life--or at least the part that I feel it applies to. It's a double edged sword of course, because these songs that I love can make me feel the highest of highs but also the lowest of lows. And that's the beauty in it, the beauty in music, you begin to find your own answers through someone else's words and melodies. And when you finally connect with a song you'll always remember that moment of significance, when it happened and who it happened with or because of. Unfortunately I'd like to tell you that disconnecting is also possible, but certain songs will always be associated with certain people for me.

So I was typing a paper in the computer lab today, listening to my iPod which was on shuffle. And one of those songs came on. And I swear, I stopped typing mid-sentence. The walls around me felt like they were closing in. The scarf around my neck felt restraining. You may as well have been sitting right next to me doused in your cologne. My first reaction was to hit forward on my iPod but I think in doing so all the times previous to this one, I'd forgotten to delete it from iPod completely. I lost my train of thought and had to stop typing my paper altogether. I let the song play through and I listened. I noticed how the words post-relationship sounded like an entirely different song. I wasn't bitter. I was grateful that this song, over time, had reinvented itself on its own. The words were the same and so was the music but the message that came across was something else, something new. And it was then that I decided not to delete it.

It's not like I can delete a scent from my memory bank. And I think being reminded every now then only makes you stronger since scent is usually involuntary. You don't go walking around looking for people who smell familiar--they just walk past you. So why should I delete the song, because I can? Deleting it may be the simplest solution but I've never been known to take the easy way out.

Monday, October 27, 2008


I sit inside a window sill
and listen to my thoughts.

I sleep inside the voids unfilled
where new memories form new clots.

I see these images in front of me
that mar what I wish they were.

I reach out for you in the morning
only to grab a fistful of air.

I strain to live bravely in my definition of
that word, where was and is confuse
me and want and need are unheard.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Happy First Birthday, Aubrie!

[10-26-08] Ate Tasha and Baby Aubrie

So, aside from it being extremely windy outside, my baby cousin just turned one! I cannot believe how time flies, oh my goodness. She's so precious. And let me tell you, she smells like roses.

Family gatherings are always interesting for me. It's a time for eating and tsismis for us Filipinos, who's working where, who's dating whom, etc. It's basically our own way of catching up with one another. My grandma, (not really my grandma, but my late grandpa's sister whom I refer to as Lola, or grandma, out of respect) pulled me aside today and told me to make sure to just have one baby. I laughed and told her I was nowhere near having children yet but that I'd keep it in mind.

She said that was wonderful news and I insisted I'm far too selfish to even think of having kids right now. Having written that last sentence out, I begin to wonder if I'm a horrible person. I like to think of it as just honest. Don't get me wrong, I love kids and I enjoy being around kids, I'm even really awesome with kids, just as long as they're not my own. Which got me to thinking, do I even want kids? I mean, when it comes down to it, I think I just want one, or two tops. And I want both boys. I wish my sisters would start having kids now, but I understand that they want to wait a year or so. I can't wait to be an Aunt.

When I finally do have children (if I do decide to), I want to make sure I'm ready to give myself entirely to them. Parenting is self-sacrifice. And I'm not ready to give up my dreams just yet, there is still so much I want to do with my life before having kids. Of course I'm not saying having a baby would force me to give up my dreams, but it would certainly postpone it. So until then, I'm just going to have to borrow other babies :)

Aubrie and Czarina
Loving her face with Miks
Cz and I
Singing "Happy Birthday"
Super windblown sisters

Friday, October 24, 2008

Dear Best Friend,

Me and You, from that infamous night, you know the one.

I was driving home today and popped in a random CD. And do you know what I heard? Shake & Pop, by Green Velvet. I nearly swerved off the road. Suddenly a montage of our infamous nights out clubbing came back to me, VIP treatment, the comped drinks, access behind the DJ booth, the fake engagement rings, after parties, the drunken breakfasts at IHOP, and how can I forget the secret code words in lieu of, "Get this f***ing creep away from me!," or "It's too dark in here, what does he look like?" Gone are the days of our reckless youth, my dear. And even as I type this on a Friday night, I'm so happy to just be home, eating sushi and watching Entourage in my sweats and Bears hoodie. (A far cry from tight tops with plunging necklines, tight jeans and four inch stilletos.) Do you remember how much pain we were in on your birthday at Soundbar? We're getting old Fran, we can't rock it like we used to!

It's a silly example, but I love to think about how far we've come, both in our friendship and as individuals. My first memory of you was in Professor Pate's English class, (um, yeah...) you sat across from me, with your long hair and braces. We played a game of two truths and one lie, and you said something about a yo-yo. I think about all our random memories and I can't help but smile, grateful to have you in my life. Even when we talked today, we're not sure why but we are so comfortable with one another it's almost unhealthy! When my life gets chaotic, you set it back into order. And I know I've been a little MIA lately (sorry), but I miss you, and love you.

When you get stressed out again, just read this and remember when:
  1. You left me with Eduardo.
  2. Blueberry! Blueberry! Blueberry!
  3. "Where did he go?"
  4. Washing machine
  5. No, really, she's not interested.
  6. The alphabet (that was 80% me!)
  7. Toros sure are number one
  8. Boho-cheeeek
  9. Wait, you have a tattoo?
  10. Reindeer are real?
  11. "Poetry" (british accent)
  12. That's sawa like it
  13. You work at one OH clock
  14. Me: "Hey, I think that's *******, don't wave." You: (waves obnoxiously)
  15. boofs + wine coolers + pizza = one of the best sleepovers ever
  16. Hooters escapades
  17. swee-thurt & lo-at-he

Love always,
Your S/C

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Fire Alarms And...

UPDATE: So after a day of what seemed like never-ending exams, I made my way to my last class. I walked into the classroom and up the steps to the third row and low and behold, at my feet on the third step is a brochure that I pick up, whose bold and bright lettering reads, "WHY YOU SHOULD BE A VEGETARIAN." Weird, right? Well I certainly don't believe in fate or destiny or anything, but I do believe in coincidences, and this one motivated me even more. Just thought I'd share that with you today after my blog last night.

Also, I meant to reveal something about myself after learning about Alice being a vegetarian but forgot to while trying to write yesterday. Only two people know this about me but I have a serious attraction to fire alarms. I'm not kidding, every single time I walk into a new building, I almost always spot the fire alarm, probably because I'm also usually looking for one. I'm not sure what this fascination with fire alarms is all about, but I've always wanted to pull one, not to set off the alarm and incite a panic, but because it's contained in this protective glass casing just begging to be pulled. I can't explain it. How's that for random?

I just watched the documentary The Devil and Daniel Johnston. Honestly, I don't know what to make of it yet. The credits began to roll and I kind of just sat there, still trying to process what I'd just seen. First off, I will say this, Daniel Johnston is nothing short of brilliant. I just downloaded some of his songs which are some of the most raw confessions in the form of music that I've ever heard. Johnston has also been diagnosed as manic depressive, or bipolar. Someone close to me is diagnosed with manic depression and I realized, in watching this documentary, that a lot of his mannerisms and episodes truly hit home. If anything, it really drew me in, like I could almost make sense of his wonderful chaos. He's also a talented artist, a skill that came naturally to him that stemmed from his love for comics. His drawings really remind me of Federico Fellini's sketches from his dream diary released after his death entitled, Federico Fellini: The Book of Dreams, which I've had the opportunity to thumb through. Fellini claimed to live quite literally in his imagination, unable to distinguish the truth from the imaginary, and the diary is just stunning to look through. I can definitely see a parallel between Daniel Johnston and Federico Fellini, they're both the kind of individuals who, after being exposed to, you walk away kind of stumbling and speechless, only craving to know more. And that experience does not happen often.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Food For Thought

If you are what you eat, then I am eel wrapped in seaweed, rolled in rice, dressed in black caviar. Yum. Well, that's what I ate for lunch today anyway.

Every Wednesday, I have a lunch date with my friend, Alice.
I sat there, chopsticks in hand, listening to her story idea for a fiction piece she plans to write in the next few weeks. We begin to talk about everything, plans for our Chicago Filipino American Film Festival outing, Spanish class memories instigated by her random sighting of our awesome professor, my recommendation for Cut Copy's first album, Bright Like Neon Love, which by the way I'm starting to love more than their second album, In Ghost Colours. I'm not sure how the conversation turned, but suddenly she mentions that she's a vegetarian. At this point, the chopsticks are put down and I begin to ask her what seems like a thousand questions.

First let me say this, do you ever think you know someone, like truly know someone, and then they reveal something about themselves that you would never have guessed on your own? I love learning new things about my friends, it's so refreshing. Anyhow, when she divulged this, I stared at her in shock and admiration, it was as if she was telling me she volunteers at a soup kitchen. I really look up to individuals who try new things to live to their fullest potential, especially when those choices take an extra amount of effort on their behalf.

Alice has been a vegetarian for seven years, deciding to go sans meat in her sophomore year of high school after watching a PETA video. Don't get me wrong, she's certainly not hardcore pro-PETA, but the video really did affect her. The same shocked look is still plastered on my face as she tells me this. She then goes on to continue to answer all my questions. I've been interested in trying it out for a few months now, I like that it's so detoxifying and it's good for your body, if done properly. She tells me she always feels so light and refreshed, which I would love to feel nowadays.

After completely changing my diet around this time last year, I've become more healthy both physically and mentally, having lost a little over 40lbs now. I do feel however, that it's time I take the next step, like my body needs something more. It's so difficult to try and go vegetarian living at home with parents who are constantly cooking pork, beef and fish. Fish, I love fish. I could write a poem about fish. Going vegetarian would mean no more sushi with fish, crab, or eel. That would definitely be one of the hardest parts I'd have to overcome. There are always avocado and asparagus rolls, but will it be enough?!

So I've decided to start next week on Monday. No meat, fish or poultry. I'd have to really make an effort to include my protein in my diet, thankfully she's given me many tips and ideas. I'm only going to do this for a week to see how I feel afterwards and evaluate if this is something I could benefit from in the long term. I'm so excited to start though!

She mentioned this vegan ice cream hot spot in NYC, that she promises to take me to when I'm ever there, to get "the best ice cream" she's ever had. Oh, I should probably mention that Alice is planning to move to NYC after graduating, she is one of my pro's on my list of why I should go, the writing scene and the music scene are among others. But we'll see what happens when I get to that point, as for now I'm trying to mentally prepare myself for seven days without meat, fish and poultry. Who am I kidding? I'm trying to mentally prepare myself for seven days without sushi that has crab, eel and tuna! One day at time, right?

Thanks so much Alice, you're my favorite rockstar. I hope you know that in the next couple days I'm going to be bugging you day and night about what's okay to eat!

P.S. Oh! And last week, I wrote about the lyrics to "Hands Down," that I saw written on the wall of the women's bathroom in Stevenson Hall. For some strange reason, I ended up in that same stall today and just so happened to have my camera on me.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Heremakhonon: A Novel

Have you ever been assigned to read a book for class and enjoyed it so much you almost feel like you're cheating your professor? That is precisely how I feel about Maryse Condé's novel, Heremakhonon. Admittedly, my initial reaction to this particular text was that of frustration. The novel, originally written in French, was translated into English by Richard Philcox. Certainly, as with any translated text, much is lost through the process of translation. Also, Condé is well versed in history, English and philosophy, continually referencing Aphra Behn and Frantz Fanon.

What I really enjoy about this novel is its protagonist, Veronica Mercier, a woman from the Caribbean who returns to West Africa on a quest to discover and establish her identity. An unreliable narrator, Veronica is constantly misreading situations, misinterpreting interactions of other characters, and is misguided by her own poor judgment. But what is admirable about her is that she speaks through a sort of interior monologue, a stream of consciousness, if you will. What's stunning is that the reader cannot tell if she is talking or thinking, meshing the complexity of her unabridged, innermost thoughts with revealing what she deems appropriate to say out loud. There are no quotations used to indicate a response, leaving the reader with the problem of having to figure out which speech is dialogue and which speech is interior monologue.

I'm finding myself constantly enlightened by the social and political aspects Condé touches on in the text. More importantly, Veronica moves through the novel thinking the man she is sleeping with will give her the sense of identity she has been seeking. She falsely imagines that she is a free woman, to express herself sexually with the men she chooses--the problem however, is that all the men she mentions having slept with or is currently sleeping with--have instead, chosen her.

In class today, my professor mentioned the tradition of arranged marriages. Although it's not the most common form of partnering these days, many of us consider ourselves "free" in choosing our significant others, our sexual partners, and ultimately, the person we will marry. My professor mentioned Veronica's sexual relationship with Ibrahima as a kind of "trading up," because ideally, he is the West African's equivalent of a prominent white man.

She then brought to light the idea that we (most of us, anyway) sleep with people whom we think would maintain a sort of class consolidation, appropriately perpetuating the class we belong to, or with an aim to attain a higher status level, in conjunction with society's norms. On some level, I admit that yes, of course I choose who I date, who I sleep with, etc, but how much of what goes in to that decision making does that notion of class consolidation apply to? So, naturally, I begin to wonder about this concept and take into consideration men I've dated--and realize in the puzzled faces of students around me, that I am not the only one thinking about this. But that's another blog entry in itself...

I envy Veronica in the sense that she is so misguided yet is so clear in few, but certain significant observations. For example, on page 47, her interior monologue reads:

"In my opinion, it's not the first time you make love, but the second, that is the most delicate. You are no longer strangers, eager to get to know each other. Not yet intimate enough to stop at nothing."

It almost seems impossible that, for a character who stands in the way of her own answers, she is able to strip away the bullshit and get right to what matters, appealing to readers on levels previously unmatched. I really like the idea of the delicacy of the second time, it's true yet who, before reading this, already knew that? I mean, of course the first time with any new person is going to be tricky and awkward and sometimes pleasurable, but really, who stops to think about the second time? With it, there's still a fraction of the unknown that is attached, but it's nothing like the first time, going in without any prior knowledge. You're both hopefully at ease this time, not focusing on the pressures that come with the first time you have sex. There's no hesitation, no holding back, and simply no reservations. You "get to know" the other person through physical exploration, as if by kissing someone passionately unlocks their secrets, and by firmly framing their face in your hands as you do so, uncovers truths about the center of their very being. At the same time, the second sexual encounter is nothing like the tenth time you sleep with someone, when you already know full well what they enjoy, their preferences and quirks have been memorized time and time again. You are "not yet intimate to stop at nothing," she claims, and damn, isn't she right?

I could go on, but hell week has only just begun and I've spent nearly an hour blogging about this instead of being more productive. The bottom line is that this novel is certainly worth reading although I highly recommend doing some research and finding some secondary materials to better assist you in your understanding of the plot. There are a lot of literary and philosophical references, most of which were lost on me until I did some further research. I think Veronica, in not knowing herself, has the innate ability to reveal to ourselves a portion of our own identity, through her own exploratory experiences.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Hey, Guess What?

  1. It officially takes me six hours to type a six page paper. I've lost my touch.
  2. I went to the gym at 7am today before heading to the studio and working for eight hours, I think I'm crazy, it might also explain point #1.
  3. You cannot properly scan a poem if you forget to scan the first line of the stanza, which I just found out I had done, therefore throwing my scansion of the poem totally off. (I was wondering why there was an unusual amount of headless feet while scanning, duh.)
  4. Cooking with whole grain pasta is not as exciting as I thought. You can definitely taste a difference, it's not that bad though.
  5. My hair has no shape. The hair just falls where it does naturally, no volume, no body, no shape, something needs to be done about this.
  6. I haven't written in my Moleskine in three days, I cringe at the thought of unrecorded knowledge.
  7. I checked to verify my voter (re)registration was valid in Lake County, at the moment it is not. I'll be damned if I have to go back to Lake in the Hills to vote, something must also be done about this.
  8. I watched Sydney Pollack's Sketches of Frank Gehry recently and was stunned speechless.
  9. My LinkedIn profile looks ridiculous and why doesn't anyone have a picture?
  10. Picking movies for the Chicago Film Festival is nearly impossible with my schedule, somehow I'll make it happen, promise! (clenches fists) So far must-sees include: DéFICIT and Serbis.
  11. Off to Wisconsin I go. Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, October 16, 2008


[THURSDAY, OCTOBER 16] seven am sunlight seeps through eyelids closed to tint pink flesh inward. strangers sleep together for the first time, folded Tribunes in lap. shadows cast from vacancies in the landscape like dancing latticed light shows on pavement. art form: dodging heybabystares. #60 opens doors students crowd jamming each other to board in hordes of threes. "The nights can get so lonely, someone to hold, if only." (Who is Amelia, anyway?) picked up a power bar and a gold machine. at that moment turning to the scent that is yours, discord. cursing the stranger under my breath, I missed you. rotating doors spin me outward. weaving through labyrinth of drones who can't walk: stopping-turning-pausing-texting-bending-tripping people. I hate crowds. "Hair," I say. (precisely the answer he anticipated.) thank you for catching my glasses that began to fall off of our table. I admired the unspoken dialogue we had today. blue hat constricts thoughts building into migraines, need to leave, cannot breathe. shelley's west winds blow the summer way. summer is overrated anyway: a four month joie de vivre that starts too slowly and ends too soon, at least I have my scarf.


Since my mom was still finishing college while I was growing up, my grandparents pretty much raised me. When I was sick, my grandpa would boil hot water and squeeze kalamansi into the cup for me to drink. He always did this for me when I was sick, and I'm not sure why, but it was the best remedy for any ailments I had. I can almost imagine him preparing this, perched over the stove, watching the water while cutting fresh kalamansi.

With the chaos of the past few days--all of which seemingly have meshed into an infinite amount of hours, my body is worn out. I haven't been sleeping for more than four hours at a time, and when I wake up, it's go-go-go. It probably didn't help that I walked around in the rain yesterday running errands and such. I also tend to forget to eat. Believe me, with my schedule the way it is, it's hard to remember to eat something. Every morning I have two organic, whole wheat, flax seed waffles. And since I'm full in the morning, I forget to eat anything else during the day.

When I woke up this morning I felt sick but pushed myself to get ready and get to campus early to work on some papers before class. I got my work done, went to class and by my third (out of five) class, I could literally feel the heat coming from out of my eyes, my headache intensified and for some reason my ear began to ache. I left in the middle of class because I seriously thought that I might honestly just collapse by the end of the day.

After spending a pretty ridiculous amount of money on soup, nyquil and other things at the store, I realized all I really want is a warm cup of water infused with kalamansi. It's been a really long time since I've missed my grandpa. I mean, I miss him everyday but with how non-stop my life has been, I haven't taken the time to really miss him. Until right now.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Writing's on the Wall

Or, in today's case, the stall. I don't particularly pay attention to the random scrambling of words and thoughts on bathroom stall walls, but one section of lines caught me off guard today. What I originally thought was a stanza of a poem was really lyrics to song broken in four lines. I always think it's interesting to see how other people break thoughts or lines into segments--which is why I even noticed this particular scribble on the wall in the first place.

After reading the first two words, "My hopes," I literally felt my heart flutter inside me, I knew what was to immediately follow those words, the feeling was familiar, the lines were rehearsed, a memory of you came flooding back to me, ironically in the privacy of a public bathroom.

My hopes are so high
that your kiss might
kill me
so won't you
kill me, so I die happy?

I laughed to myself realizing "our song" held significance to someone else, so much so in fact that they needed to write out the lyrics on the bathroom stall. And then I laughed out loud at the realization that we even had a song--who has songs nowadays?!

I cannot describe the way I miss you, it's not the kind of "miss you" like I yearn for you and want you back, no. It's mostly the way in which I miss you, how when I think about you a cheesy smile surfaces, how when I talk about you, people don't believe me. When I read the lyrics to our song on the wall today I told my friend, Jacky, about it, about you, and us. I told her the story of how I sent you flowers for your 26th birthday--and how at the very mention of it, she laughed in my face in disbelief. "You?" she said. And then I explained how I couldn't see you on your birthday because it was in the middle of the week and you, my dear, are in Wisconsin. She told me that she wished she knew me when we were together because she cannot imagine the kind of person I was then (with you), especially knowing the person that I am now. I told her how our away messages were lines from "Hands Down," by Dashboard Confessional--a song, our song, that no matter how many times I listen to and no matter where I am when I do, your face is the only one I see.

I make such a conscious effort to not be in a relationship that when I stop and remember when, I remind myself of who I was and what I wanted, a question that I still don't know the answer to. What I do know is that I've never been more myself than when I was with you.

When I texted you today to tell you about the writing on the wall, I knew immediately how you would respond. And now, even as I write this, you cannot stop texting me. I love that we can exchange memories and thoughts and feelings without worrying about anything, about overstepping our boundaries or crossing any lines.

I love that I know you so well. I smile in reflection at all the things I loved about you. I admired the drive you had in finishing school and remember how in the middle of your night classes you IMed me as your professor walked by. I loved that in the midst of your busy schedule you coached middle school basketball, and I love that now that you've graduated and are working full-time you STILL coach basketball.

I can't explain why the last time we saw each other (two years later) everything felt the same, exactly the same. There was no pressure, no awkward sexual tension, it just felt right. You came over and we watched Smoking Aces in my bedroom, I can't remember when or even why, but you took my hand in yours and I remember not even realizing it until I had to get up and stop the DVD when the movie ended.

I don't know why all of this is coming back to me now, or even what it means, but I am grateful for you, your very being and the side of me you brought out when I was with you, a side of myself that I haven't seen years.

I listened to Dashboard during my entire ride home today, on the train and even in my car as I drove back. When the acoustic strumming of guitar strings began in "The Ghost of a Good Thing," I teared up. I remembered how a line from the song ("Love is like a role that we play,") was my away message, and you IMed me, our first conversation in months. I'm sorry I made it impossible for you to talk to me. I'm sorry that for the next year or so afterwards, the only conversation we had was through lines of lyrics in our away messages. But I think in not saying what we wanted to directly to each other, the words of these songs gave us the dialogue we needed because we simply would not have done it justice. And most of all, I'm sorry that I told you I loved you back (for the first time) in an e-mail. I'm sorry for a lot of things.

I don't know why you are in my life. I don't know why you were in the first place, but I am certain there's a reason. I might not find out today, or tomorrow, or in a year, but I believe I'll figure it out when the time is right.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Meow and a Mini Family Reunion

Yesterday I met up with my cousins, Jannie and Joanna, from Evanston. I haven't seen them in more than ten years. We used to spend summers in California, oh the memories. The matching outfits, the daylong games of tong its, backyard barbecues, and (gasp) a choreographed dance skit birthday gift? It was so good catching up, we've appointed Jannie as reunion coordinator, we figured either Denver or Vegas for the location, although c'mon, who wouldn't pick Vegas?! Let's hope it's not another ten years. Family is love, that's all.


Lol at this guys. Was her name really Meow?
(Note: Now that I've been looking at this, I'm guessing it might actually the program that prints the receipts, that's more probable huh? Either way, we still got a good laugh.)

Facebook's Final Attempts

After an entire morning and mid-afternoon worth of saving pictures from my Facebook account, I am pleased to announce that...


I love that they have an easy reactivation option, what's that about? Now it feels so unofficial. Anyhow, I was personally entertained at Facebook's final attempts at reasoning with me to stay. For every option on the deactivation page, they've come up with counter-arguments about what you could do instead of deleting your account.

First of all, high five to the guy who came up with the first reason, honestly, funniest thing I've laughed at all day. And literally, for every button up there (I clicked on all of them) there is a balloon with an excuse for why you shouldn't delete your account. Points for effort FB, points for effort. It's the end of an era my friends. Life sans Facebook has begun! :)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Goodbye Facebook?

Four years ago, I was a freshman at UIC, back when AsianAvenue was as popular as Myspace and Xanga was what Facebook is now. Admittedly, I was a member of both social networking sites, as well as the now more popular sites Myspace and Facebook.

When Facebook first launched for UIC students in December of 2004, (Facebook was not always open to everyone and used to operate by selecting certain universities to join) I was excited. I knew about Facebook a few weeks before they made it available for UIC students to use, my friend at the University of Iowa told me to keep an eye out for it. And that I did. Back then it was known as TheFacebook, it was simple, clean, and easily navigated.

Myspace suddenly blew up and I invested every free minute into leaving comments on my friend's profiles, updating my "about me" section, and carefully rearranging my Top 8, keep in mind that Top 8 was the only option then. I eventually grew bored of Myspace and I deleted my account in December of 2005. My cell phone (about 10 minutes after the deletion) was flooded with texts and calls about why I deleted my account. Did I really need to explain myself? Contrary to popular belief, Myspace really is "a place for friends." (That is, if you plan to grow dependent on communication with your "friends" via comments on a hot pink background, with blinking text and loud music.)

NOTE: I did open another myspace account later that summer. It's not because I felt like something was missing, it really was just out of boredom. Interesting how the reason that made me delete it made me add it again in the first place. This time, it lasted until September 2008. Because then I had finally come up with reasons that stemmed beyond boredom.

By then all my time went into my Facebook account, uploading pictures with clever album titles, writing on friend's walls, tagging friends in previously mentioned albums, and even befriending professors. I think the initial concept of Facebook can be appreciated, "An online directory that connects people through social networks at colleges." Please take note of the last word in that sentence, colleges. If you do a google search for Facebook, you'll see that line directly below the website URL. If it is focused on connecting people through colleges and universities will someone please explain to me why I constantly have a Joe-Nobody from No-Network trying to add me as friend because "I'm beautiful" and because he "wants to get to know me better?" Know me better? In order to get to know me better one must know me at all in the first place. My Facebook account has been on private for years now, no one can view my account except for my friends and I've limited the information that appears when someone searches for me.

With nearly 400 friends (all people I know "personally"), I can't help but wonder what the point of Facebook is anymore, for me at least. In the last three months of my final semester in college, I'm beginning to learn so much about myself. Yeah, yeah, we all think we want to "find ourselves" in college, it's almost a rite of passage, but I speak not mockingly. The people closest to me have seen a change in me that I can't even really explain to you. I guess it was driven by a means to reduce my life's excesses, irrelevent things (and people) I wasted my time on. I feel as if my life is unfolding before me, not the life I imagined for myself as a little girl, but the life I want to make for myself as a twenty-two year old woman.

Which brings me to my next point, relationships. I think I've gotten used to contacting and interacting with friends online that I've forgotten the value of a good face-to-face discussion with a friend. Honestly, what's more personal than talking to someone face-to-face, seeing them react at a story you'd just told, or hearing them tell theirs as you watch and wait eagerly. I've been seeing my friends more and more in the last few weeks and I have to say that it just feels so rewarding. I don't think there's any way to say this without sounding like a dork, but spending time with people who know and care about you and vice versa is irreplaceable. Once a week I have lunch dates with my friend, Alice. Twice a week, I have coffee with my friend, Jackie. And I totally look forward to these dates because it is nice to know that basic human communication can take place outside of the electronic ether known as the web.

So here it is guys, I'm going to delete my Facebook account come Monday. I'm giving myself the weekend to copy and save all the pictures (from 4 years ago on Facebook) that aren't on my hard drive now.

NOTE: I am by no means putting down the people who are still members of Facebook and Myspace. This is a personal decision that has nothing to do with your own reasons for maintaining your membership with these sites. I still have friends who will never give up Facebook because it is fun but I know that for me it's much more fun spending time with my friends face-to-face, not Facebook.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Namesake

A year ago I read Jhumpa Lahiri's collection of short stories, The Interpreter of Maladies. These nine stories revolved around Indian-American families whose lives changed upon emigrating from India and settling into America. Lahiri's first novel, The Namesake, was adapted into a film of the same name. I have not read the book version but have recently watched the movie starring Kal Penn, Tabu, Irfan Khan and Jacinda Barrett.

Before finally watching this movie on Monday, I had heard so many rave reviews from friends, mostly generic "It's just such a good movie," type-comments. Since I had already read and enjoyed Lahiri 's writing, I knew it was worthwhile. So I figured maybe I'd watch the movie before I read the book (I like to read the book first) simply because there is just no time for me to read it now.

About ten minutes into the movie, Ashima recites William Wordsworth's "I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud," to Ashoke and his family at a rather informal arranged marriage meeting. And I think it was the way she recited it, the hesitating yet certain way the words came out of her mouth just moved me. You believe in her sentiment, she does not recite the poem to impress the family, you know that she too was moved the first time she read it and that comes off quite clearly in the way she shares the poem. Fast-forward: they get married and move to America and have two children, Gogol (Kal Penn), and Sonia (Sahira Nair).

I could write you an essay on Wordsworth, but I won't. "I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud," is in short, a poem that praises the power of memory whose significance still carries affective power in the present day.

I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud by William Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars
that shine and twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretched in never-ending line
along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
in such a jocund company:
I gazed - and gazed - but little thought
what wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

The first three stanzas set up the experience Wordsworth had while walking with his sister, Dorothy, as they came upon a long row of daffodils at the edge of a lake. (Although, if you want to be technical, Wordsworth added the second stanza eight years after it was originally published.) But in the fourth and final stanza of the poem, we learn that Wordsworth is still stuck in the original moment of the first experience. And it doesn't hold him back, "And then my heart with pleasure fills, / And dances with the daffodils" (23-24), it instead gives him solace. Wordsworth constantly invokes these "spots of time" throughout his poetry, and they can especially be found in one of his most famous poems, "Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey."

What I love about The Namesake, the movie version at least, is that you don't know whose story is being told. The movie is composed of sections that focus on different members of the Ganguli family. We feel the alienation, resentment, and the misunderstanding between all of them. Like Wordsworth, Gogol's parents, Ashoke and Ashima adjust to America but still remember and yearn for their life in India. Their own reflective spots of time help them through the difficulty of leaving behind family and old traditions to forge an entirely new kind of life for their children. The movie constantly flashes back to various segments of their lives back home. And it's through this method of superimposing their memories to their present day lives that ultimately provides them with their own sense of solace.

The very last scene of the movie almost killed me. It's another flashback of Ashima, Ashoke and young Gogol at the waters edge. The scene was shown earlier in the movie but only from Ashima's perspective.

Ashoke and Gogol walk to the edge of the rocks, surrounded by splashing waves. Ashoke is holding on to Gogol's hand as they come to the end of the path. He mentions to Gogol that they had come all this way only to forget to bring the camera and take a picture. He asks Gogol if he'll remember this moment, remember that they came to a place where they could no longer go on, and Gogol naively replies, "How long do I have to remember it for?" Oh my, there's just so much at work in this scene! It's beautiful and I think if the filmmaker can capture and invoke Wordsworth as Lahiri has so stunningly well, then I may need to pick up that book sooner than I had realized.

This movie possesses an abundance of themes and I cannot touch on all of them, but I do honestly recommend you watch it. And I want someone to talk about it with, so do yourself and myself a favor!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

My Morning Mix

Unfortunately, I've been so busy that I haven't burned a new CD for my car in about a month. I usually listen to my iPod in my car but prefer to listen to my CD's because they're usually themed and even bear clever (if I do say so) titles. After finishing hours worth of homework, I'm pleased to say I've managed to find the time to make myself a new CD for my morning enjoyment. There's just something about my morning drives, I need to have the right music to listen to. Perhaps I foolishly believe that setting the right playlist in the morning can put me in the right state of mind for whatever the day will bring, who knows? This is probably the most random mix I've made thus far, it started with a theme but now that I'm reviewing the playlist I'm not sure there is one anymore--although for me, all of these songs have one thing in common. (No, I'm not going to tell you what that is.)

  1. Although You May Laugh by David E. Sugar
  2. Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix
  3. No Ordinary Love (Sade cover) by Deftones
  4. Out of Control (State of Emotion) by Kenna
  5. Both Sides Now by Joni Mitchell
  6. Comfortable by John Mayer
  7. Living Proof by Kelis
  8. I'm in Love by Audio Bullys
  9. Atlantis to Interzone by The Klaxons
  10. You Can't Always Get What You Want (Soulwax Remix) by The Rolling Stones
  11. Crying by TV on the Radio
  12. Welcome Ghosts by Explosions in the Sky
  13. Blue Light (Bloc Party cover) by Igor Kurtagic
  14. C'Mere by Interpol
  15. Electioneering (Radiohead cover) by Cold War Kids
  16. Sparks by Royksopp
  17. Africa Just Wants to Have Fun by Volcano!
  18. Sleepy Head by Passion Pit
Random, right?
And with that dear readers, I bid you adieu.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Pattern Recognition

I woke in the middle of the night to a phone call from a good friend. I forgot to turn off my phone before going to bed, but I'm glad I kept it on. She's going through some harsh realizations concerning the people closest to her, friends she has noticed are not really friends at all. "I'm not going to lose you," she said with conviction, "I need you." And I told her I needed her as well, which got me to thinking about friendships. Lately, it seems like all around me conflicts have been arising--with my friends and their friends and even myself and mine. These conflicts are the result of a continued lack of good judgment, miscommunication and perhaps even the stubbornness of not wanting to break out of a pattern. So at what point do we realize that we're better off without them?

Sitting with my legs tucked in on the floor of my bedroom, I grabbed a pen and my Moleskine. I wrote down my thoughts and confessions to try and create my own aphorisms regarding this issue. I looked up at my bookshelf and reached for Monica De La Torre's collection of poems, "Talk Shows." Its bright orange cover had caught my eye as it sat nestled between other books of black and gray bindings. I flipped open to a random page and read Pattern Recognition. All throughout the poem are single lines among full stanzas. The stanzas reveal (to me) a bitter disconnection of remembered images and the distraction of the lessons learned whereas the single lines insert declarative statements of her own perceived facts regarding relationships of any kind. One of these lines, on the page I had opened to (the poem is three pages long) read:

Some souvenirs pierce the space where daily thoughts fit organized. (45)

I'm not going to share my interpretation of that line but it really stopped me. With ten perfectly placed words De La Torre captures an honest truth that I think apply differently to each person who reads it. Everything about our daily lives is cyclical, from the routine executed in the morning, our jobs, our chores, and even the season's changing marked by dying leaves. Also in the mix of this cycle are the people we keep near, who color and perpetuate the cycle. Do we continue on and again convince ourselves that next time will be different or do we sever the ties that bind and choose a different color?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Miss Collins, can I go to the bathroom?

Yesterday, I had coffee with Miss Collins. No need to be formal, she's still just my close friend, Jackie, from high school. Only now my beloved Jackie is a teacher. That's right, watch out world, she's molding the minds of our youth on a daily basis!

Jackie is one of the most reliable people in my life. And I don't depend on too many people. We've always had an easy friendship, balanced and effortless. We've been friends for roughly seven years now and nothing major has changed between us. Well, things have changed obviously, she has since graduated college and is now teaching third graders. And I can't even begin to explain how proud I am of her.

She sat across from me, balled into an over-sized, purple, velvet couch, venti latte in hand, pouring over her latest classroom news. I sat there, listening but somewhat distracted, in awe. She was talking about the arrangement of her classroom, the study lessons she has planned, and even some third grade gossip if you can believe it, and I watched her. I watched her mouth move and her hands gesture dramatically as she told me about her students. The Jackie I knew from high school had grown into a refined, responsible, and respectable Miss Collins. This is not to say that she was none of these things seven years ago, it's just in an entirely different sense.

I told her what was going on in my life and assured it was not as exciting as hers, even though she'd argue with me about this. Although I do not have a classroom full of kids to inspire, I do have my writing and who knows where that will take me.

But for right now, it's come to this dear reader, I will no longer post any new poetry on my blog. I'm still reworking my old poems and I might post those or maybe even a line or a stanza of my new work, but most likely not any completed and new poems. The reason? I've thought this through for quite some time and didn't really vocalize my intentions until last night to my dear Miss Collins, but I've decided to finally compile my poems and make a chapbook. There are different options as far as getting it published is concerned, but right now I'm just finalizing on a theme, which for the most part, is already selected. Titles, dedications, author bio...OH MY! I'm scared, excited, eager and overwhelmed but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Friday, October 3, 2008

For Laurence

...poetry doesn't have to rhyme. I've been influenced a lot by W.C.W. lately and want to share this with you. A classic, but one of my all-time favorites.

This Is Just To Say by William Carlos Williams
I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

You say that you have trouble grasping poetry, but it's not all that different from prose. And poetry is not something that you "grasp." Instead, let it grasp you. Surrender the control and see what happens. That's the vulnerability with poetry, you have to tap into your mind's inner workings to confront memories and realities that you've tried so hard to shut away. I'm not sure if you're at all familiar with Anaïs Nin, but she said, "The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say."

P.S. Thank you for that text message, it means a lot to me.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Moleskine Madness

On Wednesdays I have lunch with my friend Alice. Yesterday, we sat in the quad talking about anything and everything. She's a fiction writer, so naturally (as we always do) we began to talk about our writing endeavors.

She told me how her fiction writing professor suggested she befriend everyone in her class since in the future, they will be the ones to write on the back of her book when she gets published. How true is that? She then made me promise I'd write on the back of her future book. I told her it'd be an honor.

I began to tell her about a tree I saw while waiting for my train at my Lake Forest station. This tree had luscious, green leaves save for the very top. The top (and only the top) of this tree was stained plum. I stared at it, mesmerized, what a sight. I had to write down my thoughts, needed to write down this image.

In a rush to get out the door, I had left my notebook in my bedroom. Frantically searching for anything other than a receipt to write on, I resorted to having to jot down these lines onto the front page of my Tribune. I told her this and she laughed in response. She then told me that she used to write in the margins of her assignment notebook, or anything she could get her hands on, that is of course, until she received her very own Moleskine.

So for those of you that don't know me, I tend to get paranoid about the randomest things. While talking to Alice, I knew I needed to buy a Moleskine as soon as possible. The first thing that crossed my mind was, what do you write on the first page? And so I asked her, and she replied, "Anything you want, just pick a random page." Wow. That may have been the simplest, most truthful answer possible. And so, with that in mind, (and I know she'll read this), on the second page of my Moleskine (my first page is still blank), I wrote exactly that, "Pick a random page."

After our lunch, I bought my very own Moleskine. I know what you must be thinking...what kind of writer are you not having a Moleskine?! Crazy, I know. It was just one of those things I never got around to buying. I've always wanted one but deep down I think I was always waiting for someone to buy one for me. No, not because I couldn't afford it, but because it would have sentimental value, the ultimate gift. Honestly, what better gift could there be (for a writer) than place in which to store thoughts and inspiration? Most of you might argue that your memory would be gift enough but let me tell you, us writers have a lot of shit going on all at one time up there, we operate on a level of consciousness that is simply chaotic. Parts of stories, unfinished poems, images, memories--all begin to mesh together and when something new pops up we need to write it down or else count on it being forgotten forever.

I'm so glad to finally have one now but I am seriously still traumatized for not having gotten one sooner. I began to think of all the things I've learned, namely literary devices, tropes, my favorite poems, passages, quotes, etc...from different literature classes that weren't properly recorded. Sigh.

So do you remember that guy in my British Literature class? Well, I had my Moleskine out on top of my notebook on our table today and he walked in and admired my Moleskine. He took his out and noted that they were exactly the same, "I hope we don't get them confused," he chided. I laughed, not realizing they were identical until he pointed it out. I mentioned that his Moleskine had lined pages and mine did not, he then assessed that I was "a free spirit." All throughout class we took turns writing in our Moleskines. It was then that I decided that I did not want to know (and did not need to know) what it is he writes in there.

On my way to Sociology today, I ran into my friend, Beatriz. This girl is unbelievably talented, she has a poetry reading later this month at Woman Made Gallery! We were talking before class and I mentioned my excitement about my Moleksine and she practically shouted with enthusiasm. (I'm pretty sure only us geeky-writer types jump for joy at the mere mention of a Moleskine.) "I just bought one last week!" she told me. I cannot begin to tell you how loud we had gotten at this point. Unfortunately, we ran out of time but set a lunch date to talk poetry and such next week. Guess who is excited? So excited in fact, I might just write about said excitement in my Moleskine.

P.S. I know some friends who will be getting Moleskines as Christmas gifts.

My Favorite Moleskin Blurbs thus far: (Just a little sampling of course since I can't let you read all my thoughts, now can I?)
  1. "That banana isn't allowed in here."
  2. ass mouth otter ass mouth chalk board
  3. "How can you write without your memory?"
  4. en*jamb*ment
  5. Man is nothing else except for what he makes of himself.