It is no secret that I do not know what I am doing most of the time. “Just do it” can easily be my life’s motto — I just do things without fully understanding the risks and consequences of my actions. But hey, if I do not just do things, I will never be able to get anything done. I would have never even lived at all.
This never came to me before — not knowing what you are doing is a crucial part of life. To not know is to have the capacity to learn. To learn is to know better. To know better is to keep moving forward. To keep moving forward is to live.
I do not know what I am doing most of the time. I must be living my life just fine.
Finally, an unpopular — and therefore, empty — cafe.
As I slurp my iced latte, I wonder how many Filipino words are not translatable into English. For instance, the word tulala. To be tulala, in the usual context, is to stare blankly ahead, mind wandering aimlessly in a different time and place, real or fictional. Sometimes, as in my case, it is simply thinking quietly. It annoys me that I cannot think of an English world that perfectly encapsulates this.
Just then, the barista (that’s what you call a person working in a cafe, right?) arrives with my bacon and eggs. He introduces himself and told me to look for him if I need anything. I heard him but I do not catch his name. Whatever. I never ask for anything extra, anyway.
I pick on my bacon and swirled the undone yolk of my sunny-side up with my spoon, wondering this time why people often ask me why I am tulala. I mean, why do they care? What’s so wrong about thinking? Apparently, for some people, thinking in virtual solitude is a crime.
My yolk-swirling is interrupted by the same guy, this time asking if the food is okay. I gave him half a smile and flashed him a thumbs-up. Honestly though, cafe food anywhere tastes the same to me. Whatever. Anyway, I am just here because I need a deserted place and some time to be tulala.
Being tulala keeps me sane, just as writing a ramble does.
First comes the overwhelming sense of empowerment. Finally, you are that single woman who needs no man in her life. You are independent. You are unstoppable.
Then, stealthily, loneliness creeps in. You are happy yet there is no one to come home to and tell why. Or you had a crappy day and there is no one to rant on. There is no one to share food with (and hell, food tastes so much better when shared).
Suddenly, you miss his soft hands and purring voice. You miss his scent.
There really is a price for choosing yourself. Is it worth it? I hope it is.
“Secret: I have to plan first and THEN abandon the plan while still remembering its outline.”
One of the skills I developed during my first year of teaching is flexibility. I find that when I strictly stick to my lesson plan, the students are not interested as much as when I let them direct the learning process on their own while I listen and comment, prodding them to figure things out on their own. So yeah, totally relate. ❤
Having read innumerable writing rules, I first thought the article is just another one about writing. However, I found one truth that I never realized, until now:
“Deep down, we all want to be poets.”
In the literati ladder, the poet occupies one of the highest rungs with his enigmatic way of making music with the pen as her instrument. Thus, which lover of words would not love a poet? Which aspiring penman would not look up to a poet and aspire to be one himself?
But alas! Not all of us can be poets. We can all write but not all of us can make verses sing because that is a gift poets are born with. Because poets are born, not made like the rest of us.
Still, we keep writing verses, hoping that with each poem we take one step up that ladder. A long way to go, yes, but still a little bit closer to that coveted spot because no matter what they say and what we know, deep down, we all want to be poets.
Sometimes, not even genetic endowment can restrain the desires of the heart.
First thought, best thought; revise, revise, revise. Write first thing in the morning when the mind is alert; write at night and never while sober. Do it alone, in an office with the door closed, surrounded by books; write in coffee shops, surrounded by stimulating characters and conversation. Use traditional quotation marks and capitalization Unless You Are a ‘Genius.’ Journal in longhand; always type fast. Sentences longer than three or four lines are unacceptable and tedious, unless you are William Faulkner, William Beckett, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jamaica Kincaid, Virginia Woolf, John Updike, Charles Dickens, Gabriel García Márquez, David Foster Wallace or one of those other people who can get away with it. Short is good.
Write with an ideal reader in mind; fuck the audience. Never show anyone an early draft; find a workshop for feedback. Write to please everyone; quit workshop and hire an editor. Take classes…
For the past weeks I have been itching to write but I pushed away my notebook, afraid of polluting it with my melancholic musings (just as I did years ago when I was sad teenager). It was my New Year’s Resolution for 2017 to avoid negative thoughts and feelings and I have no intention of breaking it. After all, I deserve to be happy, right?
But I just can’t feel happy right now.
I knew that at some point, the honeymoon stage will end and doubt will come but I never expected it to come this early. I never thought that my students will ever break my heart.
Recently, several students claimed that they have learned nothing from me. It hurt. I am hurting so much that the all the maybes have resurfaced and have now made a monster who nibbles on this passion that I have held on to all my life.
Maybe I really suck at teaching.
Maybe I am not what they need.
Maybe I have been wrong all this time.
Maybe I screwed it all up again.
Maybe mom’s right — maybe, a medical school is where I truly belong.
Or maybe, I should pursue a career in science, just as I was trained to do.
I thought passion and determination was enough. I thought I was enough. But as it turns out, I am not. That hurts when you think you have given all that you can.
Lately, I have been thinking: Should I stay? Do I love them enough to stay?
Usually, I decide not to participate in Discover challenges because:
I don’t think I am good enough to come up with a piece worthy of reading;
I don’t have the luxury of time;
and blogger’s block.
But this recent challenge, One, Two, Three!, mentioned one of the blogs that I absolutely love: Things We Like. In fact, I have my own list of things I like that was published more than a year ago. So in honor of this, I decided to make a series of haikus inspired by the entries in my list (which, by the way, still holds true even after more than a year has passed).
1. The smell of rain
What is this strange scent,
Rain mingling with foliage?
Smells and feels like home.
2. Slow dances
We could have been more.
Your melody, I have loved
But you just don’t dance.
3. Having my hair combed
I nap as I feel
Mother’s fingers through my hair.
Life’s warm and lovely.
4. Handwritten letters and notes
Then, we wrote daily.
Now, we text and chat instead.
Really miss your script.
5. Books that keep me up all night
One last page became
One last chapter until it’s…
Oh, I’ve finished it.
6. Shopping in malls when it’s just a few hours from closing time
Go ahead and stand
On escalator’s left side.
No one’s seeing you.
7. Eating with bare hands
Rice is always best
With fish and Bicol express.
Now licking fingers.
8. Peanut butter cups and cupcakes
Bored but saved by some
Peanut butter fairy cakes.
9. Dresses with poofy skirts
It has been long since
I’ve been pretty and silly,
Twirling in a skirt.
10. Studying in the library when very few people are around
Hi! It’s a tad weird, isn’t it, that I’m writing you this rambling letter when we haven’t seen each other for almost five years and haven’t talked for almost seven years. Even weirder, I just realized that in a way, I miss you.
Today had been a rough day for me. Two of my kids (two of my students, I mean) got into a quite messy relationship squabble and dealing with each, sobbing but unapologetic, drained me so much. Trying to reason with 16-year-olds that some of the things they do now may become their future regrets is a pointless case. They are so in love with love just like almost every teenager out there. Just like I was. Just like you were (probably).
As I was scrolling down my feed earlier this night, trying to distract myself from the issue, I saw you instead. The heartbreak of losing a friend and the gnawing feeling that I did something stupid came back. Then I realized, you are one of my regrets.
Do you remember how I would sneak in your room just so I can talk with you? Do you remember when you calmly tried to teach a panicking me how to twirl the baton only a few days before the demo? Do you remember when you used to teach me physics because I was not ashamed to admit to you that I understood zilch in class? Do you remember that I had my first cup of coffee with you and I pretended that I like it strong because I was too lazy to go back and get sugar and cream?
I look back on these memories with a bittersweet smile. If that thing (you know what I mean) did not happen, who do you think we are today? Maybe we could still be the same as we were when we were fourteen — the inseparable twinsies. Or maybe, not inseparable but still good friends, always catching up on each other with a cup of coffee. I truly regret the friends we could have been.
Maybe someday, when we are women enough to actually face each other, we can meet up for coffee. I miss you, L. I really do. And yes, I have forgiven you.
Most people would cringe upon seeing their Facebook memories from six years ago for it seems that we all dread who we were as younger men and women. I, for example, was cheesy and oftentimes irrelevant. I used to flirt online and posted the most random things about myself, making my present self ask in disgust, Do people really have to know that? I was such a KSP*. Eww.
But one memory from six years ago made me rethink about the judgment I so proudly formed against my fifteen-year-old self. Here it is:
A friend has once joked that the past is past; hence, Facebook has no right to bring back the memories of our embarrassing younger selves. Facebook must let us move on, he said. How I laughed when he told me that. Back then, I shared the same sentiments — I have moved on and my embarrassing past has no space in my life now. Except, not quite, as I realize now after remembering this particular moment.
I cannot say that I recall moment vividly but I do remember the paralyzing fear that gripped me. It was a weekend and I was preparing my school things — five sets of school uniform, underwear and nighties, and some extra clothes. But on this particular night, there are some few extra things in my luggage that I would be bringing with me every week for the rest of the year — dark denim trousers, a military belt, and an intimidating pair of combat boots. Yeahp, against everyone’s better judgment, I enlisted for the Cadet/Cadette Officer Leadership Training (COLT), the training program for aspirant CAT officers.
That night, as I pack my things, I kept asking myself, What were you thinking? The training was rumored to be excruciatingly difficult and it seems to all, including myself, that my physical strength is not enough for what the training calls for. Everybody knows that I was not cut out for it. Hence, just as I said in my six-year-old post, I was scared to death. Now, I look back both amused and proud of myself (that seldom happens). Truthfully, the training was as harsh as it can be and was way beyond what I thought I could handle. But I survived it and lived on to serve as a company commander for the next year. Most importantly, the experience developed in me the emotional strength that got me through college. Indeed, the most wonderful experiences we ever have are the difficult ones.
Usually, such memories brought back by Facebook make me criticize my teenage self. I would often say I was stupid and again, irrelevant. Usually, I am ashamed of my younger self. Now I realize that I have no right to do so for that person that I so openly mock now is the one responsible for the person that I am now. The reason that I now have a relatively happier life is the fact that this foolish and cheesy teenager chose to take risks, made mistakes and learned from them, got up, and moved on. Yes, she did a lot of crazy things that would make this twenty-one-year-old me cringe but I have no right to be ashamed of her because she was brave and strong enough to make this current me possible.
So here is a reminder for everyone: Let us accept our younger selves, no matter how embarrassing they were because whoever we are today, we have them to thank.
* Kulang sa pansin. It literally means, “lacks attention”. It is used to refer to a person who actively seeks attention.