Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Me, My Shadow Self and I

I really think this weather is starting to mess with me. Yesterday and today I've been acutely aware of my shadow self, or maybe I've just been fueling it to exist in my conscious world. I can't really explain the kind of mood I've been in lately, it's not necessarily a bad mood, I'm not sad or angry, if I had to describe it I feel closest to actually being void of any emotion. It's because tomorrow will come again, just like it has, like it always will. I just can't believe it's been four years now. Four years since I've last seen or talked to you. It's funny, when someone dies you know that logically you'll never see them again. Not at family birthdays, not at graduations, or any more Christmases. After the second year it was like you'd just gone on vacation, or moved to the Philippines, as so many retired Filipinos do...or rather, did at your age. There's not a day that goes by that I don't wonder what my life would be like if you were still here, with me. You were my voice of reason. One look at you and I'd know what to do in any situation, especially what to do with my life. Sure, we all feel lost at some point, it's only human, but this week has been especially difficult without you. Once tomorrow passes I know I'll pull myself out of this, like I always do. It seems these days I'm the only person I can rely on.

Flowers by BORN

Irving Park pages of a tattered book
this, no my, biography is easily
recalled like a finger on page follows
words, familiar.

Alone in my car eyes fixed on red, stopped
as cracked windows welcome breezes from
my childhood, strapped in the backseat of
my grandfather's car.

Scattered plastic footballs, open carton of
golden happiness with "M" handled handles,
pigtailed sectioned hair blows freely. A
glancing, gentle eyes
smile the kind of love not unloved.

Eyes fixed on red fixes on green, gas. West
Coast Video blurs to a Block, the H&R kind
of Block. Crossing Kedzie nearing Kimball, red
signals stop.

3336 W. Irving Park Road cracks in the side
walk stained crimson, cracks of head against
pavement, the Friday of that week lasted
longest, spilling in an isosynchronous Saturday
too soon. Flowers by BORN, what's in a name?

Eddies of cracks course vein-like through
city streets. Breaks in concrete print in unknown
fonts on blank pages unscripted.


I'm not sure if it's appropriate to say your death was beautiful. Or perhaps, it was ironic, but there's beauty in irony isn't there? I don't know if I should cry or smile because you had plans to garden that day, or because it was Earth Day, or because you suffered a fatal heart attack right outside a florist.

You're a part of the reason for the lotus on my back, a reminder that through the mud and dirt, you've always seen me through, and I owe it to you to flourish.

Monday, April 20, 2009


I wrote this unsure if it was supposed to be a poem or a journal entry. When I read it I feel it reads like prose, a narrative, not so much a poem but it does contain poetic devices. It's not finished yet but I don't think I'll be able to finish it for another few months. I want to see where I am then because finishing it in now would be unnatural.

I can feel the wine in my
thighs, calming no numbing
my heart, like how you used to.
I wish I could walk away--with you or
from you, I'm not yet sure which.
Nor do I know the difference. If there is
truth in the mirror and I
do not know my own reflection, am I
a lie? I want to ask the questions,
or rather question the answers instead,
I want to unravel you so you
might just come undone and taste
the wine on my tongue for

Saturday, April 18, 2009

In Other Words

Flipping through my Moleskine yesterday, I came across a lexical translation of a poem I'd written last October. Or rather, I came across my lexical translation of a poem originally written in Tagalog (Filipino), rewritten in English. Lexical translations are challenging, as if writing in English isn't difficult enough. A lexical translation of a poem can be accomplished when the poet doing the translation of the original poem writes or translates the poem word for word in another language. Other useful translations of a poem can include a reworking while paraphrasing but keeping the original concept of what was trying to be conveyed, or lastly the words themselves (in the original language) can be reworked based off of sound alone, a simple homophonic translation.

Personally, I've written several poems with these translation styles and have come to find that it's just as, if not more than difficult as writing a poem in my first language, English. The only difference with a translatory reworking is that sometimes there are no words that express the original sentiment. For example, there are words or phrases in Tagalog that have no English equivalent and to rework a poem written in that language leaves you with gaps. In my last poetry workshop class as an undergrad, I once wrote a homophonic translation of a poem written in Polish. The original version was short, I think a little less than 10 lines and I rewrote it in the exact same form, line for line. Honestly, it was an amateur attempt on my behalf, but admittedly it was fun. The words were already there for me, but unfortunately my words for those words sounded forced and jagged, probably because I don't speak Polish and mispronounced the poem entirely. It's a great exercise though, I highly recommend it. The only thing I can caution you against is using too many proper names, a quick solution for rewriting any foreign language. Once my homophonic translation was complete, I translated the Polish poem word for word and discovered that my version of the poem had absolutely nothing to do with the original. Some people like to translate the original before rewriting it but I need to write blind, completely oblivious of its meaning otherwise I find my version loosely echoing the original.

I've been entertaining the idea of using another approach to translation poetry, one which would involve me writing a poem in Tagalog. I can fully comprehend Tagalog and can speak it fairly well (save for my "American" accent), but having picked up the entire language from my siblings who spoke it everyday around me nearly 17 years ago, my take on writing in the language is nothing but baffling to me. Obviously you don't know this, but I was the only one among my siblings born in the states. When we first met, I didn't speak Tagalog and they didn't speak English yet. The barriers of language allowed for little to no successful communication, but still we found a way. And that's what I hope to do if ever I get around to writing a poem in Tagalog.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A Weakness of Mine

As of late, I've been reading up on Buddhism and its several philosophies on life in general and more importantly, the actions we make on a daily basis to attain a more fruitful life. I read this passage while researching kleshas and recognized one of my weaknesses.

"A person with moha (delusion) gets attached to an object while completely overlooking all the faults of the object."

-Yoga Beneath the Surface, Srivatsa Ramaswami

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

It Feels Like Home To Me

It feels like home to me, it feels like home to me,
It feels like I'm all the way back where I come from.
-"Feels Like Home" by Chantal Kreviazuk

I'm feeling more and more like myself again these days. How I ever got so far away from myself isn't a complete mystery to me, but I imagine I could have tried harder. Everyday it seems we're always in search of something or in search of someone that will define us in a new way, another way. In a way that we for some reason can't seem to attain ourselves, on our own. I didn't find something to make me realize who am, nor did I find anyone, I actually just looked within myself to recognize my own beauty, as an individual. Aside from yoga, writing, my friends and my family, and all the other outside influences that define who I am, I've actually been finding my happiness in my appearance, which never happens.

This is going to sound ridiculous and vain but I think part of the reason why I'm feeling more and more like myself is because my hair is growing. I know it's a ludicrous statement, but to a woman, any woman, hair is a big part of who we are as individuals. Short, mid-length, long, permed, dyed, you name it, we all place a high value of identity in our hair...which brilliantly explains why I need to change mine so frequently. I honestly think I suffer a mini-identity crisis from time to time and the most accessible, most drastic change I can make is with my hair. I can't really explain why it means so much to me but right now I'm in a different place. My hair is dark brown, not yet black, and about six inches past my shoulders. And everyday I wake up and notice it growing I feel like I'm back, back where I need to be, like I found center. Aside from important social occasions, I barely wear any make up. This entire week I've worn nothing but glasses and mascara, and lip conditioner only because it's been cold and my lips chap easily. I'm not saying I wasn't myself when my hair was short but let's not all forget the reason why I chopped a foot of hair off in the first place back in 2006, I'll call it a mild identity crisis. Ever since then my hair has grown but I've been cutting it along the way, having made the decision to finally grow it out (and stop coloring it) my hair is the longest it's been in three years. And I feel amazing, inside and out. I'm not insane, I promise, but hair is something you have to be patient with, and I'm not a patient person, nor am I conservative, hence my stints of pink and blond hair! But I will say this, it's rare that I feel beautiful on the outside, and as my hair grows a little longer in its natural shade I see and feel my beauty more often. I think it's because I look natural, how I used to look before all the crazy hairstyles, I'm back to where I started. And it's funny because society would deem that as a step back, a retraction, a moment of weakness and unoriginality. I see it as quite the opposite, I'm finally back to a place where I don't need to outwardly express myself with my hair, or otherwise. And let me tell you, it feels good to be back in my own skin, it feels good to be home.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Little Bit of This and That

  1. I think it's really funny that when I have time to write I have nothing to write about. On days when I have so much to say I have no time to write it down, much less blog. In the "Notes" application on my iPhone you'll find lists of random quotes that I've come across at different times, call numbers for my favorite books in the library, or phrases I've overheard in public, and even songs I've just discovered. In other words, my iPhone is my stand-in Moleskine.

  2. I lost my glasses last summer, I think the last time I had them knowingly in my possession was back in July. After re-doing my entire bedroom I was sad but not shocked to find that they were still missing after having looked everywhere. When I do my laundry for some reason I get caught up in trying on my clothes. Seriously, hours can be lost in this process, especially since I haven't been able to wear a dress/skirt in months. I have a hanging shoe rack in my closet where most of my pumps are tucked safely away (I don't have enough closet space for the boxes so only the special shoes stay in boxes). As I put on a strapless, maroon, mini-dress I reached for my brown gladiators from the rack. I put them on to complete the ensemble while also reaching for a belt stuffed into the shoe rack. As I did this, I removed my glasses (an older pair from 2005) and placed them into the slot the belt was in. I walked over to my mirror and had a sheer moment of clarity. It was such a habit, whenever I would try on clothes or try to get dressed I took off my glasses and placed them in my hanging shoe rack. I walked back to my closet and sure enough, nestled next to my blue, Charles David pumps, lay my glasses! I guess it's true, when you stop looking for something it will find you. Dear friends, if you hear me say I've lost my glasses, please make sure I check near my shoes!

  3. I'm taking up naked yoga. My instructor has mentioned classes where chocolate is eaten throughout the practice (little bites, not entire bars) and it's supposed to heighten all of your senses. Well, I've heard the exact same argument for naked yoga. Lately I've considered joining a private yoga studio aside from my gym since I feel like I've got a pretty good grasp on the basics and even some of the advanced moves. Physically and spiritually I need to change my yoga routine and so I've decided to practice naked. Instead of spending my mornings in class, I'm going to practice naked yoga in my bedroom and then head to the gym at night for cardio. I'm really excited about naked yoga, although I do wish I had private access to hardwood floors.

  4. Apparently a handful of my family members read my blog, most of which I knew about but until recently I've discovered a lot more of them do than I originally knew of. My initial reaction was shock, then I was rightly mortified. I don't hide who I am from my family, but my family from out of state (and overseas!) don't really know who I am. And suddenly my mind was flooded with over-emotional blog posts, personal and sexually-driven poems, and well...naked yoga. And then I realized, this is me, take it or leave it. And it is really something that in this day and age my grandmother's brother in Manila can read my blog and e-mail me nothing but wonderful things. And it's flattering to receive a message from my aunt on LinkedIn saying how proud she is of me after having read my blog. And I have nothing to do now but keep on writing, for myself and for them.

  5. I want another tattoo. Recently, my friend Beatriz asked me several questions about my tattoos since she was planning on getting her first one. In turn, I asked her about her piercings since I've been planning on getting one as well. I think when people see my tattoos or ask why I want another one, they simply just don't understand why. Yes, tattoos are obviously a statement of personality and individuality but I could never fully explain my reasoning for wanting them properly. And she said quite beautifully, that she feels like sometimes her outside doesn't look how she'd imagined it should. And that's more than I can say really, I wish for my outside to match my inside, the beauty and the pain, my own self-expression. I think this third tattoo may be my last one, it will also be the smallest. Or maybe the same size as my infinity tattoo. It's going to be the number 4 in roman numerals on my inner left ankle. I don't know when I'll do it, but you'll be the first to know dear readers.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Dots Speak Louder

I'm almost certain residual anger stems from all of the unsaid thoughts or feelings we keep inside.  The thoughts and feelings of which we initially decided to keep to ourselves in the hopes of remaining uninvolved from any future unpleasantry. Why is it easier to keep it all to ourselves instead of saying what we want and need to? Deep down I know my excuse is because it's just not worth it. I'm an advocate for confrontation, I believe it's necessary in any relationship, if you can't confront each other then communication falls by the wayside. That's another funny thing, you're supposed to communicate in order to have a successful relationship but unfortunately we all seem to have different definitions for the term. Ultimately in these situations, I choose my battles.  Only the relationships that matter to me have witnessed confrontation because quite simply, I won't fight for you if it's not worth it, if you're not worth it. The scary thing about being brutally honest with someone you care about is that the result can come to one of two conclusions: either your relationship strengthens or it just has to end. 

In poetry it is most important to show the story and not to tell it. Anyone can write a poem if all they do is throw flowery metaphors in with some cliched emotion. The difficulty comes when we forget how to feel. The trick is to texturize it, to engage the senses to allow the reader to see the picture that each carefully chosen word helps to depict. For example, I can tell you about the red chair or I can show you the red chair, what it feels like to sit in, the uneven back leg that wobbles with shifted weight, the support it unexpectedly provides. Telling you what the red chair looks like is insignificant. The bottom line is that we have to cut out all the bullshit in order to be relevant but that concept is easier said than done. We focus too much on drawing the lines that connect the dots when in reality, the dots speak louder. In poetry and in life, it's so much easier to fill the space with flowery metaphors, to walk around other people's feelings, to keep things to ourselves. But in any case, not everyone deserves to be shown the red chair. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Reflection Exercise
Look at yourself in a mirror for as long as you can stand it. Describe yourself in as much detail as possible. Build a poem around your own reflection: the way your body changes over time, the small details of your face that no one notices, the reality of “facing” yourself, etc.

My face is a canvas of oily, olive skin: warm, welcoming, smooth. Overplucked eyebrows suggest a certain level of vanity. Boring, bland, brown eyes are lined with black kohl, creating an unintentional seduction. My eyes are glassy, empty, knowing, pained, expressionless if I stare a little longer. Underneath my eyes the kohl is softly smudged, flawed. My cheeks are pink, full when I don't smile. My nose is Filipino. Round, short, no bridge. I hate my nose. In the space between my nose and upper lip is the mole I grew up loathing. Sometimes I don't notice it's there but tonight I do, it's pretentious in its place, right above my upper lip, distracting. My lips are pursed, quiet, curved, keeping me from telling you the truth that only my tired eyes know of. 

Monday, April 6, 2009


If there's one thing you should know about me it's that I keep everything. Literally, everything. I'm not a pack-rat by any means but I keep a lot of sentimental miscellanea from all aspects and junctures of my life. My grandpa was an accountant who always did my family's taxes and after he passed away I received my check in the mail and never cashed it. To this day, that check hangs on my cork board. I keep receipts from important purchases, not for superficial buys, but for example, I have the receipt for my Moleskine worn and mostly faded inside the pocket of my Moleksine. In high school I kept shoe boxes of movie tickets, pictures, and love letters..."love" letters from past relationships. Don't worry, I've long since thrown all of those shoe boxes away. The point I'm trying to get at is that all throughout college I was careful to keep all of my writing materials. I have a litany of books from different generations, movements, and even countries, all from the different classes I took. Along with these books I've kept my notebooks which hold all of my color coded, neatly written, highlighted, personal-dialogue-along-the-margins notes. If there is any one thing I am passionate about it is taking notes. 

While preparing some materials for my tutoring session today I rifled through stacks of notebooks, some of which contained my penmanship that I found both familiar and unfamiliar upon looking at it. Side note: It's interesting to see how much your handwriting changes, how it is still changing, and how much of yourself shows through the swift movements of your hand. I think now more than ever I see myself in my writing. Or maybe now more than ever I'm oddly aware of certain eccentricities that I never noticed before. 

In one of my notebooks I kept a handout which contained an excerpt from Education and the Significance of Life by Jiddu Krishnamurti. An outstandingly bold green caught my eye, I read the passage that my 18-year old self highlighted and smiled because I knew what I had thought was important then was wholly insignificant in comparison to the passage several lines below it. And my intention for this blog was to just share this passage with you but of course I got sidetracked. I think everyday we make decisions that change the rest of our lives, master of the obvious, I know. But really, I think a good handful of us make decisions that please other people, more than it pleases us. We're constantly searching for something new, at least I know I am. Be it a lack of adventure, or a crave for change, it seems no one thing is ever enough to leave me satisfied and I have yet to decide if that works for me or against me. Anyhow, passages like this are few and far between. It's seldom that I ever read something that clarifies and puzzles me, that answers questions but poses new ones...when I read this passage I felt it, and it shook me to my core. 

"Revolt is of two kinds: there is violent revolt, which is mere reaction, without understanding, against the existing order; and there is the deep psychological revolt of intelligence.  There are many who revolt against the established orthodoxes only to fall into new orthodoxes, further illusions and concealed self-indulgences.  What generally happens is that we break away from one group or set of ideals and join another group, take up other ideals, thus creating a new pattern of thought against which we will again have to revolt. Reaction only breeds opposition, and reform needs further reform." 

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Thoughts Before Bed

My friends say they admire my strength for being able to cut people out of my life without looking back. It occurred to me, as I realized I missed you for that fraction of a moment, if I was perhaps just weak for giving up on you altogether.

Friday, April 3, 2009

A Little Bit of Everything

First things first, it feels amazing not to be plastered to my bed, hair stuck to my face, with a Kleenex box clutched tightly in my palms while dozing in and out of consciousness. I can finally breathe out of both nostrils and go several minutes without coughing too terribly. I also have my energy back and went to yoga this morning after missing Wednesday and Thursday. That was probably the hardest thing about being sick, I just didn't have the energy for yoga, much less the ability to breathe properly for controlling my ujjayi breath. On top of being sick, I've also been going into the studio on my week off to get some side work out of the way so I haven't really had any time to rest. Last night I decided to drink a little more Nyquil than what was recommended by the label, but no worries, I know my body and am almost completely better.

So now that I'm feeling better I must blog since I promised myself I would make more of an effort to write more frequently on here. I can't promise you this will be an inquisitive, thoughtful entry though, I'm really just quite rambling. Speaking of rambling, as I'm blogging here I'm seriously in the zone with some old-school Musiq Soulchild and can't help but sway. I might also still be semi-buzzed off of last night's nightcap.

I'm not trying to pressure you, just can't stop thinking about you.

Seriously, he's taking me back, for some reason it reminds me of when I was a freshman at UIC all over again, boy crazy and immature. And an intended-nursing major. Which by the way has been weighing on my mind like crazy lately, so much would be different in my life if I had stuck with nursing school but I know deep down that my heart wasn't in it, and it still isn't so I know for me, I made the right choice. Moving on...

Let me just say how ecstatic I am to finally bask in the sweet relief that is the month of April. I'm not going to lie to you, March has kicked my ass for what felt like all 31 days of the dreadful month. It was one of the most mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually challenging months of my life, and all I can say is that I survived. That's all we can ever do though right? Surviving is key in any situation that life might throw at you, sure we can do it gracefully or get beaten to a pulp by it...but what matters is that in the end, we survive. And survive I did. 

But I wouldn't have done it without the people in my life who love me, support me and catch me when I fall, who in turn, help me stand back up when I'm ready to.  And it's amazing to have a wonderful group of individuals to count on. I've been working on "opening my heart" in yoga and in life and so far the rewards have been phenomenal. Progress. 

Lots of change going on over here, first off I'm getting rid of my bed. I'm moving some stuff around in my bedroom, it just needs a new feel and I want to create a more productive atmosphere. In place of my bed I'm getting a futon which occupies a lot less space. I've decided to get a desk where I can write, or at least try to. I've always struggled to write at home, perhaps a lack of inspiration? Well, I'm taking matters into my own hands and plan to get all of this moving around and rearranging done by tomorrow night because I'll be in Wisconsin all day Sunday with Justin. March has successfully kicked both of our asses and we just want a whole day to unwind and sleep, knowing us. Also, since his birthday was on Sunday and well, I was running in a snowstorm, we're going to try to have a birthday re-do so I'd really like to be situated with my bedroom project by then. 

Anyhow, I really need to get back to renewing my passport online otherwise my ticket to Mexico will be useless and a waste of money that I didn't have in the first place, but hey...you only live once right?