Tuesday, September 09, 2014

What I'm Really Doing When I'm Cooking

Cooking had always been my Mom's thing.

My Dad was into interior design -- he had an earthy, artsy, non-gay, shabby chic taste even before shabby chic was a thing.

My sister has her shoes and bags and shopping. 

I read and I write.

My Mom, she cooks. She cooks like a scientist. No not in the manner of having exactness down to pat. She was like a scientist who loved to invent new recipes. Sometimes she fails, but we all tease her good-naturedly. Not asking her to experiment was like asking Albert Einstein not to discover the theory of relativity.

I wish I could say I had interest in cooking while growing up. I wish I could say I spent almost every Saturday and Sunday afternoon cooking and baking with my Mom.

I didn't.

I was a bookworm who would bite off anyone's head if they bothered me while reading. But I did poke out my head once in a while. It wasn't a big deal. Some days, I may have just finished reading a book, or Mom asked for help, or I was just plain bored. Those are the days I would help out in the kitchen, and now that she's gone, I'm really glad I did.

Do I remember the recipes? Barely.

But I remember the smell of flour and milk while I am tasked to whip the batter 100 times in the same direction. I remember the smell of cooking butter -- full, sweet, sour. I remember the tears induced by peeled onions, the searing pain of spattering hot oil. And i remember my Mom, fingers tearing chicken meat from the bone, basting a pan, stuffing a milkfish, hacking on pork bones, flipping an upside down cake and her beatific smile while she does all of it.

Cooking was my Mom's thing.

And what I'm really doing when I'm cooking is remembering her. It's a full immersion into my memories -- she is there teaching me how to peel the potatoes. She is there telling me to put the garlic first before onions. She is there telling me how long to cook the shrimp. She is there shaking her head when I burn the bread. She is with me when i cook.

The meals I cook aren't always outstanding. Sometimes, they turn out just a little better than mulch. But even if it's not my thing, i don't see myself not doing it. Because like my Mom, it became the language of how I show love to the ones who are still here for me to cherish.

Cooking was my Mom's thing. And i am my Mother's daughter.

Monday, June 09, 2014

The Parentless Adult: 5 Things We Need Your Help to Remember

It had been 8 years since my parents were welcomed back by the Creator. About half of those years were the darkest season of my soul, but then afterwards, it alarmed me how fast things have changed. The heart is a sentimental creature; years from now, you can still evoke the same emotions of grief, happiness or regret. However, the mind still controls everything you remember, as well as what you ought to feel as you look back.

It's so easy to forget the little things now. That's why I try to make a mental exercise out of it and force my brain to remember: the mornings I woke up to smells of Spam frying, the music of Roger Whittaker blaring from the downstairs stereo, the hum of conversation as my parents discuss the affairs for the day. How my mother smells after a bath, her soft skin as she tucks my hair behind my ear, the color of her eyeglasses which aims to hide her partially blind eye. How she would sit at the foyer, facing my bedroom door, while she prays the rosary well into the night. My father's restless energy as he flits around the house trying to find anything to do to keep his hands busy, his happy voice rising in a song, his laughter filling the downstairs hall.

But some things fade whether we like it or not. And I think I have been so focused about not forgetting the little things that I have forgotten about some of the bigger things. The other day, I was getting all hot and bothered about my boyfriend's mother wanting to treat us to a day in Tagaytay. I said I don't feel comfortable "na nililibre". Then my boyfriend patiently reminded me, "But she's a parent, and parents like treating their children. That's what they do, remember?"

And although I was touched to be thought of as someone's child again, I was also embarrassed. I have been parentless for so long that I have forgotten the joys that parents get out of a simple family day, regardless of the cost.

And that brought me to the realization that I need help. Maybe all parentless adults need help. Someone needs to remind us of how it felt to be part of a whole family unit, and how some times, you do not have to do it the hard way at all.

So here's a list of what we might need help remembering years after :

1. It's not always about Pride. A lot of times, it's about Love - i really hate being indebted to anyone. A lot of people (my boyfriend, for example) loves being treated to things. A free dinner, free movie, free shopping spree, etc. But ever since my parents died, I have forgotten how it feels to make "lambing", to ask for something you really want, without the fear of being judged as weak or inept or impractical. Remind us that being able to take care of own needs is great, but there is nothing wrong about accepting gifts or free things, because it's not always about pride, but in the best of times, it is because you are loved.

2. Telling people what you're up to - My parents were very strict about where my sister and I went. I had my first solo foray when I was already 16 years old, and that's walking the 2 kilometers between my school and my house. I felt very rebellious because I didn't go straight home. I stopped by a local 7-11 and bought Slurpee before I went home. Wow, right? And it didn't improve much from then. Even when i was already working, I still had to account for all my hours to my parents. Since I had to travel a lot, the compromise was that I have to give them a copy of my itinerary so they can keep tabs on my safety. But since they've been gone, i suddenly have total independence. And it's been like this for a long time that I have forgotten that people who still care might want to know what I've been up to. So remind me when I seem to have forgotten that you have people to consult about your schedule, or what you want to do. It's not that I'm self-centered, but just that I have forgotten how parents care where you go and what you do.

3. Celebrating the little holidays - It's not like we forget celebrating Mother's or Father's Day. We can't even if we wanted to, with what the deluge of FB posts and TV commercials can't let us forget. I don't know about others, but I have built up a certain reticence about these little holidays because they hurt so damn much if I allow myself to care. But what I have been trying to remember is to send a message to the people who have been like a mother or father to us instead. Also, I'm not exactly one of those people who hate overtly expressive people who post "I'm so lucky my parents are still alive to see...blah blah blah", although it does seem pretty insensitive if you think about it, and a bit of TMI. It wouldn't hurt to tone it down though. :D

4. Family time - if I'm going to be very honest, I only have a family of 3. That's me, my sister, and my cousin who is also orphaned. But we are individual units of 1, and sometimes we have schedules so insane they hardly meet. It wouldn't be like that if our parents were alive. There will be at least 1 day where we have to do activities together. So far, we're not doing so bad but I can see how other orphaned brothers and sisters might have the trouble. We need to be reminded that some family traditions are worth continuing. Spending time with your kin should be one of them.

5. You are not alone - even if you have sisters or brothers, a parentless adult can still feel alone. There is just this feeling of loss of protection that can't easily be shaken off. There are things in your life that even your siblings can't understand, and wisdom from your parents would have come in handy. There are things out there that feels so big to us, that we can't fathom taking it on our own, and we find ourselves wishing we had our parents to help us fight the battle. They were like demi-gods to us, always a bit more powerful and more knowing than we could ever hope to be. So we overprepare for battle, we arm ourselves to the teeth, because we feel there's nothing there to fall back to if we fail. There is only the very hard way forward, and no way to overcome it but through it. Please. Remind us, it doesn't have to be that hard. That there are people who will help us, if we ask. That we are still protected, and that if we fall, somebody will still help us back up.

Somebody (I don't like very much) once told me, "You're lucky, you don't have your parents to worry about anymore." The one thing you have to remember about us though is that, even if it will be difficult, even if it will be full of hardships, I would choose having my parents here with us every. single. time.

Help us remember.


3 1/2 years ago, i gave this story to someone who I pegged is the happily-ever-after type. I still believe.

Peter Pan gave Wendy a thimble.As thimbles go, this one was wet and sloppy. And yet of all thimbles, Wendy was sure, Peter’s was the best.

“That’s a thimble?” Wendy asked. “What is it for?”

Peter Pan smiled sheepishly as he hovered over her bed. “Oh, you know, something you give another person to tell them you like them.”

“So you like me?”

Peter sighed and settled on a duvet beside her. “I did give you the thimble, didn’t I?”

“Well.” Wendy replied. She reached over to her bedstand and picked up her stitching. “Well.” She said again. She seemed to be lost for words. Her fingers clumsily worked the needle and thread.

“Well?” Peter flitted up, inched his face closer to Wendy. “What are you thinking?”

“Nothing.” She said, too quickly.

Peter was visibly miffed. “Nothing? But that’s the best kind of thimble ever!”
Wendy’s eyes widened. “Are there many kinds of thimbles?”
He huffed. “Of course! And I know all of them. Would you like to have them all?”

Wendy bit her tongue, an answer hovering on her lips. She wasn’t sure she’s allowed to have more thimbles. But oh, she wanted more! “How many are there?” she put down the cloth and folded her hands over her lap, just like she does in school when learning lessons.

“Lots and lots!” Peter jumped from her bed and did a quick zip around the room. “There are big ones and small ones, and slow one and quick ones, and…”

“Wet ones, I suppose.” Wendy finished for him.

“It wouldn’t be half as nice if it were dry.” Peter defended.

“Fine.” Wendy nodded, intelligently. “I’d like to have all the thimbles, please.”

Peter Pan clicked his feet together. “I’d love to give them all to you, Wendy! But in one condition…” he sat beside her on her bed. “Don’t tell the lost boys yet. Let’s tell them together when we’ve figured out the thimbles. Is it a deal?”

Wendy nodded. She didn’t think she’d like to tell the lost boys about thimbles anyway. Thimble-giving felt private and best done in secret.

“Close your eyes, Wendy. Here comes.”

Peter leaned forward and gave her a thimble. Wendy suddenly felt overwarm. She doesn’t care what Peter says, this thimble was better than the first.

“That’s one. And then…” Peter whispered and leaned forward again. This thimble made Wendy feel as if her lips were waking up, realizing there are other uses for the mouth than just speaking and eating. Definitely better than the first two.

Peter pushed another thimble towards her, this time, parting her mouth.  Definitely, Wendy thought to herself, the best thimble of them all. She found she could breathe if she breathes slowly through her nose. It felt just like swimming in the sea. And she felt just as calm and buoyant.

“Wendy!” came a voice from downstairs, coming nearer.

Peter and Wendy stared at each other for a moment before leaping into movement. Wendy pushed Peter away from her bed. “You must go, Peter! Mother and Nana are coming. Nana will smell you were here!”

“Shall I come back for more thimbles tomorrow, Wendy?” he asked, mischief and sheepishness alternately twinkling in his eyes.

Wendy smiled and reached out to touch Peter’s face. “Yes, Peter. Come back. I want more thimbles. 
Lots and lots.”

The mischievous glint in his eyes was replaced by something tender, only for a moment, but it was there. “Then I shall. I can’t wait.”

“Nor can I, so promise to come.”

“I promise, Wendy. I will.” Then with a wink, Peter snapped his fingers and shimmering dust fell across the bed covers. “You are my happy thought,” he said before he sailed out of the window.

“And you, mine.” Wendy whispered to herself. She hastily picked up her stitching, just in time for Mother to see as she swung open the door.

“Wendy? Aren’t you asleep yet?” Mother asked.

“I’m just finishing the last stitch, Mother. I shall rest soon.” She smiled innocently while keeping an eye on Nana who was sniffing the air and thumping her tail a little too restively. Oh Nana, don’t give me away, Wendy prayed silently.

Mother looked around her room and nodded. “Well then, alright. BE careful stitching in bad light though, dear. You might prick your fingers.” Her hand went to her deep apron pocket. “Here you go, just so you won’t hurt yourself.”

Mother held out the smallest cup Wendy has ever seen. It was shiny and silvery where the moonlight was hitting it.

“Oh, what a pretty little thing! What is it, Mother?” Wendy took it and held it against the light coming in from the small dainty lamp beside her.

Mother smiled. “A thimble, Wendy. Now, be careful, okay?” With that, Mother leaned forward to kiss Wendy on the forehead, oblivious to the stunned look on her face. “Goodnight!”

“Goodnight Mother! Goodnight, Nana!” Wendy managed to say.

 When the door closed, Wendy held up the pretty little thing against the light again. “A thimble. Oooh, that Peter! He tricked me.” She only frowned for a moment, and then she smiled.

“I like thimbles.” She said softly to herself. “This and the other kind. I shall give Peter lots of thimbles when he comes, thimbles straight on ‘til morning.”

And somewhere in the night sky, perhaps just behind the second star from the right, a man-boy grins with delight.

A Note:
In the book, it was actually Wendy who gave Peter pan a thimble when he mistook a kiss as an object --- he didn’t know what kisses were. So I took a lot of license writing this one. :D

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Practical Magic

Dear Sister,

I couldn't get your question out of my head. You asked me, "What if I never find love?"

 I remember having the same thought. Half of me dreaded it, the other half was steeling myself for it and saying, so what? Some ultra-feminists would say we are silly for even thinking we need to find a man. They confuse themselves with their liberal talk when all we mean is that, we want someone to share the love we have. And hell to it, but gifts are nice. period.

But there is one thing that has kept hope afloat inside me all those years of waiting. By being very inquisitive, I have researched that in our mother's side, three generations of women (at the very least), found love one time, big time. 

Our great grandmother fell in love with our great grandfather at first sight. Our grandmother only had eyes and heart for our grandfather to the point of running away with him at the age of 18. She was young when she found him, but they never left each other's side until granpa died. And Mommy? Daddy was her first and only love.

So there's something in our genes that has a propensity for just knowing when our great love has come. It's definitely not in our brains. You know my long list of crushes, and they are one impossible fictionalized men after another. And the one time I was smitten and thought I was in love, you know what version of impossible that was.

It may be too early to speak, but as far as my limited vision can see, I see myself married to the man I'm with right now. And you know how different he is from the man i fantasized myself belonging with. It turns out, love is not about vanity. It is not about what you think you deserve, but who fits. It is about who can grow with you, and round you out. It is about finding someone who feels like home to you.

So don't fret about not finding your great love yet. When you see him, and this could be someone whose been there all the time, you will know. And when it hits you, you would know what I mean by one time, big time.

For us Santos women, it only takes one to get it right.

It is our practical magic.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Last Day at 31

There's about ten minutes left of my most awesome year so far. I have to be very honest here, I feel like I made comparable leaps and bounds the last 12 months than the last 10 years. I actually felt myself stretch and get uncomfortable until I got used to it, and suddenly, I grew, noticeably, incrementally.

I am feeling a bit sad leaving 31. I have a fear that I will never be able to top this year. But another side of me is also saying, no, this is where it starts. This is where you woke up, and this is you stretching your limbs. Yet far to go, Liv.

I just want to be able to look back, 5 or 10 years from now and remind myself that for better or worse, I was alive the last night I was 31 years old. And I was also grateful and hopeful and I can feel my core stabilizing again.

And to wrap up my year of awesome adventures, I listed a few accomplishments I want to remember. To remind myself I am not a sell-out. To affirm that though I still daydream, I am also living my life as well.

Liv's Top 15 Awesome Memories the year she was 31:

1. Built my first snowman in negative degrees Birmingham.
2. That godawful leg cramp i got in the middle of Harrod's and people started looking at me funny and I started thinking how embarassing it would be if I try to walk and fell down. So I whipped out my cellphone and pretended to be debating with someone about which souvenir to get. For a full ten minutes til i recovered. Gimme that Oscar.
3. Took to the London Underground like a duck to water.
4. Climbed a mountain-sized hill in the Mongolian countryside. In freezing weather.
5. Trekked barefoot to a sacred spring in a hidden valley in Mongolia.
6. Lived in a ger for a week without taking a full bath.
7. Closed my eyes and sent a prayer to heaven before opening my mouth while a strange man put ceremonial pan (sweets wrapped in nganga leaves)in Islamabad.
8. Saw the Gobi desert with my own eyes (from the plane, but still). There's something very satisfying about seeing something you've only read in your textbooks in grade school.
9. Survived the chaos of a particular country's strange airport. Di ba, Jay Ancheta?
10. Learned smatterings of 2 languages (Mongolian and Pakistani)
11. Wrote 2 children's book which came out in HaloHalo Books.
12. Illustrated 2 children's books for other people.
13. Saw a wolf, a tapir, a marmot, a falcon and real elephants. God's strange creatures strewn across 3 continents.
14. Had less severe depressive episodes.
15. And the hardest achievement yet --- kept the Faith.

Lord, I wish I could surgically incise my heart, just so I could hold it up to you as proof of how filled with gratitude and joy it is over your so many blessings. And You are also the reason why I leave my fear of never having this much fun in any age again. Because I trust, that with You, the best is always yet to come.

Goodnight one and all!

Monday, January 06, 2014

Artist Card Edition and Originals and Artist Trading Cards

So I came upon a trend in etsy and amazon about ACEOs (see title) and ATCs.

ACEOs and ATCs are artwork done in 2.5 x 3.5 inches of canvas/paper and was originally used as trading cards (much similar to baseball trading cards, but for artists). I figured I will try to make as many as I can, and it's fairly easy for me because I have that kind of short term attention span anyways. :D

So here's some of my latest works. These can also be viewed on my other blog: http://livbeeart.weebly.com/

Friday, December 13, 2013

Baby Envy

At different points in my life, I wanted to be a nun, an actress, a maid, a teacher and a dolphin trainer. But in all points of my life, there is one thing I consistently wanted and that is to be a mother.

I am at a point in my life though when I think that might be the one thing I may never be. My weight, let's admit it, will probably never go down south of 100 kilos. I have diabetes, and a history of difficult pregnancies in the family. To top it all of, my boyfriend still doesn't have any plans of asking me to marry him soon, and my chances are getting slimmer by the literal second.

Sometimes I am angry at myself, for not connecting the dots about health and getting pregnant. Then I assuage myself by saying, I'm not financially ready anyway. This will be followed by a spate of resentment against my boyfriend for being so slow and contented while the one thing I want in life grows in jeopardy. It's not like I never discussed this with him. He's just too happy right now with his life to be moved to something so uncertain as marriage.

Now my friends are getting married, and having babies, and I feel the panic rising in me. I pretend like I don't care I'm being left behind, ashamed of even thinking there is such a thing as being left behind because supposedly, I'm a feminist. But truth is, I despair. And I approach the issue like I approach death, steeling myself for the inevitability of my childless future.

  • If you’re under 25, you have an 86 percent chance of getting baby on board within a year of trying. From age 25 to 29, your chance of conception drops only slightly, to 78 percent. Overall, infertility rates are a mere 5 percent during this decade.
  • Between ages 30 and 34, your likelihood dips a bit to 63 percent — still a very healthy possibility. At 35, you still have more than a 50 percent chance of getting pregnant naturally within a year’s time.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Cast of Hunger Games: Catching Fire

I am biased. Way biased.

No young adult fantasy could be as good as Harry Potter. Flawed as some characters may be in Suzanne Collins Hunger Games, the distinguishing factor of this series compared to, let's say Twilight, is the tight storytelling. The best thing about this movie is that it does not stray far from the book, so instead of confusing the audience, it actually serves as companion material to the book. Say for example,  I honestly appreciated seeing the film's idea of how the Dome looks like. I have to say it's even better than my own imagination's rendering of the Arena. Very few book-to-movie rendition can claim this, but the Catching Fire movie actually helps deepen the mythos of the book instead of distract from it.

I also have to say that half of the reason why I loved the film was because of the heroine. Some people say Katniss Everdeen breaks the mold of modern heroines everywhere, but I disagree. Katniss' attitude of resilience and selective empathy is exactly the formula for the anti-social heroine. However, just like Hermione Granger's neuroticism, Katniss' consitution is a far better formula compared to the passive-agressive Bella Swan.

The other half of the reason for praising the film is Jennifer Lawrence's acting. My goodness, did you see the range of emotions that passed through her face in the last scene of the film? 15 seconds of the camera focused on her face captured despair, regret, anger, helplessness, hatred and finally, conviction. 15 seconds would probably be better spent watching ants crawl, than use it to show Kristen Stewart attempt to have ANY emotion on her face.

So, just saying that, you may not be a fan of young adult fantasy, but this is the better YA Fantasy. If Twilight left a bad taste in your mouth, then this movie will restore your faith in humanity.

Monday, December 02, 2013

How Childish Art Saved my Relationship

Here's a window into my soul: I am the type of person who will not do something if I can't be the best in it. Some people actually exist who chooses to learn and be good at something even if they repeatedly fail at it. I am not one of them.

Which basically explains my whole life. Which is why I know I am actually an underachiever, even if a few people may think otherwise. Gosh, even my parents believed it, i think.

Case in point: If I took up a Math-based course in college, I will be lucky to generate a pass. But taking another course which has less structure in it can make me a magna cum laude.

Maybe I shouldn't be belittling my past achievements, because let it not be mistaken that I didn't work for them. It's just that, I didn't work that hard for them. My sister always had an impression I never studied in college, which is of course a fallacy. But it's saying something that I can afford to read all the books I wanted and still get the grades.

This kind of skewed thinking has led me to a lot of shaky places, which I only survived by the skin of my teeth and some charm. But that changed when I entered into a serious relationship which I had no idea if I would be good at.

At the initial stages of our relationship, I had my own trepidations. Finally, here was something I cannot foresee -- a happy ending. And because of all the uncertainty, I began controlling everything. I had a long list of musts and must nots. If I was geek enough, I would've even done a whole logical framework for how our relationship must work. Because I wanted to make sure I wouldn't fail.
Because I wanted to prove I am so much smarter than those silly women who fall in love and not make plans and counterplans. So, six months into the relationship, I have almost killed something beautiful before it could even start.

The guy clearly felt suffocated, but probably liked me well enough to work it out (thank God). It wasn't the best 6 months of our relationship, but what we were able to discuss helped create stable ground for our relationship. At one point, I realized, I have to let go. And it was at this point, when I was so confused, I decided to take up the brush again.

I wasn't good at Art. I've never waxed poetic about Manet, or Rembrandt, or Monet, but I liked copying their work. My Mom taught Arts and the Humanities, and I used to browse through her glossy textbooks with beautiful illustrations. But it was never anything more than cursory. They were just pretty. It wasn't like it inspired me to create some grand masterpiece myself. Actually, it even did the opposite. I felt that Art were for masters. I am never going to be able to make anything near Da Vinci's Mona Lisa, so why bother?

But I did dabble, and some of them my Dad has framed and displayed around the house. So at 14, i was actually already doing Art, but I didn't care to call it a talent because I thought I couldn't be as good in painting as I already am in writing. I wanted to be safe, so I chose writing.

But at that confused point in time when I was 28 years old, I needed an outlet which could express how I felt and I suddenly felt that words were tiresome and ill-fit to express what I want. It was just an afterthought, picking up my pencil, then my brush, and my decade-old paints. Some of them were even dried up due to unuse. I decided I will make something. It doesn't have to be beautiful because my emotions didn't feel beautiful at the moment. So I drew. A cartoon.

A ghastly one. I told myself i sucked at it.  Just like how I suck as a girlfriend. But I wouldn't give up my guy, even if my life depended on it. So maybe.... just maybe, I thought to myself, I should draw another cartoon. And another, and another.

It's been three years, and I am still drawing. I am not bad at it anymore, but I do not excel either. But what I learned was that at some point, you have to try to do what you're not good at, if only because doing it makes you happy. If you keep working at it, maybe at the end of your life, you could see you made some pretty great art. Just like being in a relationship, which could fail, yes, but if you keep working at it, could lead to a pretty great love.

So just keep drawing.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

So I met this handsome bookseller...

Last night, I bought this book in an Islamabad old books shop for Pkr 595 (Php 250) in one of the many book shops scattered all over the city. For a nation that claims they do not like to read over much, they sure have a lot of bookstores. This particular bookshop though had a certain asset to it that very few bookshops nowadays can boast of -- a bookseller who apparently reads books.

It helped he was a denim-clad, lion-haired, bollywood handsome young man with a fantastic smile. Upon entering his shop, an unusual conversation started --- unusual in the light of me not able ti imagine having a similar conversation at my local Booksale outlet in SM Fairview or any of the National Bookstores.

Book guy (BG): I am glad you put down that book (referring to a bootleg copy of Dan Brown's Inferno I picked up only to check if it was indeed bootleg), it's a lot of talk, but not really good, eh?

Me (trying to stay distant and still digesting the fact that apparently, cute guys do read): Yeah.

BG: Are you looking for any particular book?

Me: No, thanks. I'm just here to browse. (Sungit.)

BG: Alright, hope you find a good one. pocketbooks are on this aisle, hardcovers are at the back! (said with a winsome smile)

Me: A nod and the kind of small smile similar to what you give people on the streets trying to give you their brochures.

After 15 minutes, my colleague came in and I was pressured to wrap it up, so I just decided to buy a hardcover on the Romantic Poets. Approached the book guy and told him I am making this purchase.

BG: Wait, there is another brilliant book on this topic! Let me find it.

He jumps up and after getting his bearings, made a beeline for a pile of books among a dozen piles of books and started rummaging. And I wasn't expecting him to find it, not within a reasonable amount of time. So I started making noises about it's okay, he shouldn't bother.. but even before I could get really into my dismissal, he amazingly found the book he was referring to!

BG: You see, it's a critique of the poets, so maybe after reading this book (the poetry), you could read this one to explain things a bit more. I read a bit of these poetry too, and I found this helpful. But I am not English, so maybe that's why. (I paraphrase a bit, can't really remember his choice of words, though the meaning is clear)

Me: (something inane) Yeah, but I don't like being told what to think of poetry. (which is not true, because I need all the help I can get when reading poetry) and even said something about My mother doing the analysis for me. (a. my mother is dead, b. my mother never read poetry in her life.)

Sigh. I don't know why I say these things. White lies you give to overeager salespeople, but i believe I actually came across a rare breed of bookseller here, and i felt bad because he just looked genuinely happy to help.

The truth of the matter is, I didn't have the heart to tell him that I only bought the book because it was pretty and will make a great souvenir. Though I enjoy reading my Percy and Shelley and Blythe occasionally, I am not completely excited about reading a dissertation on the formulation of their couplets and quatrains.I was completely checkmated.

But thank you, handsome bookseller for giving me a story to remember every time I see this book. I am happy to know your whole species has not yet gone extinct.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Ode to Real Books

I write of books as I would write of an aging parent.

With reverence, admiration, a lot of love, and a deep sense of foreboding at their possible demise. I have been raised by books as much as I have been raised by my loving parents.  I know all things are lost eventually, but mortality makes it difficult to accept that  a loved one who was so instrumental to your being alive could be lost. We have to wrestle the delusion of their invincibility as they take their last breath right in front of our eyes. So it was with me.So it is with books.

 If you dig away at the layers of my humanity, you will find you won’t have to dig very far to find the solidified layers of lessons, values and stories that reading has given me. Each bone of my body has a patina of literature protecting it; a silvery sheen of extra strength that calcium or any mineral on earth cannot provide.

With every book I have held, I have understood worlds. The firm hard covers, the soft pliable paperbacks, the yellowed pages, the glaringly new white pages, the smell of ink both fresh and mildewed --- I am inheritor of worlds through the stories that I lived through them. I am somewhat comforted that stories cannot die. That they will take on another form,  less physical but it will not make them any less real. However…

An e-book, a handheld electronic device, is so much different from a real book. Somehow, something is taken away when we take away the magnificent covers, the pages that crumble with time. I’m just afraid that by the time my own future child learns to read, she would read from a glaring screen and not a care-worn copy that faintly smells of dust. Some people would say it’s not where you read from but what you read. I am one of the very few who remains to stand in the contrary. Holding a physical book adds another dimension to the reading experience – a sensory immersion that is lessened by the clinical smoothness of an Ipad or Kindle.  God, yes, books are heavy, and at some point I was the girl who lugged around 5 books in a backpack because I read according to my mood and who knows what mood I’ll be in after lunch. But the effort of carrying a heavy bag full of books is a lesson in itself. Knowledge is a burden but it must be carried if any of it is worth knowing.

I hope books still have a long way to go. I hope we find a way to balance the digital with the physical. Earth’s institutional memory can’t all be digitalized. And I have let go of aging parents, but books --- it is not yet their time.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

How I plan to get married

(Inspired by a link shared by a common friend of Ian and I --- Thanks, Elaine)

It has come up, it did.

My boyfriend and I have skimmed through the M word for some time now, and making itty bitty smattering of plans that more or less falls on the other side of the line of our relationship. I am glad that our plans constitute of real things like where should we live, where our kids will study, who will be good cop or bad cop to the children. I think it's so much better than just talking about the wedding ceremony itself. I don't care a fig if Ian wears an Armani suit or something bought during the further reduction sale of Marks and Spencers. I don't need a Vera Wang gown, and I don't want fakey grated styrofoam posing as falling snowflakes to annoy my tropical climate guests.

I know that girls are stereotyped to be the kind of creatures that  keeps Dream Wedding Journals since they were 8 years old. But I have always had what I thought to be a healthy disdain for big weddings. My own parents had a simple church wedding and small reception. And look what happened --- they got forever, that's what. The grandiosity of a wedding does not have any effect on the length of a marriage at all. So why bother, eh?

To make it meaningful, they say. But is the meaning in the event or in the union itself? Is the purpose of a wedding ceremony to entertain and feed multitude of guests, or to invite people to share in their happiness any way they can?

Recently, Ian said his mom is willing to give us a generous sum of money for our wedding. And my reaction was: Wow, great! That'll be useful as downpayment for our condo unit. The wedding? We will eat fishballs during the wedding and we will be happy because we are eating together along with some of our closest friends.

Here's my plan so far (of course, this may change a little, but the general idea hopefully holds):

A nice chapel in Tagaytay or somewhere similarly cool, with a friend-priest officiating the ceremony.
Guests will be asked to wear their decent but comfortable picnic clothes.
Bridesmaids will wear pretty sundresses and groomsmen will wear button-down shirts and slacks. ALL of them will wear shades in all the photos.

For the reception ceremony: Guests will be about 100.
Venue is near the chapel and has a wide open space with nice chairs and colorful tableclothes and my only concession to decorations would be all in the spirit of shabby chic and world traveler. Food will not be hotel food, but potluck. I know that sounds hardcore, but seriously. Invited guests will be asked to prepare and bring their own picnic baskets designed to feed 4-5 people. We will have some back up simple fares prepared but the idea is for guests in each table to share their baskets with the others seated with them. En pointe: Life's a picnic if we allow it to be. :D
There will be no friggin' kooky games or doves flying.
I don't need a very expensive and exquisitely pretty but quite inedible cake. I want yumminess.
Artist friends can sing for us. Verbose people could speak, if they want to. But nothing else. No wedding singers who doesn't know me from Adam. Although if Adam Levine can sing during my wedding, that would be ohwsum!

Oh and did I say I want a dawn wedding? Hehehe...

Yup. Bright and early people. :D

I know this sounds so extreme to some who have always dreamt of taffeta and lace. But I want something festive, Filipino, and simple. Call it barrio-tic, I don't care. Watch us make it work. It's all in the ambiance and spirit. And of course, the good cheer and love of the people who will make the effort to be with us on that day.

In lieu of gifts of oven toasters and ice cream makers, we will launch a social media contest to fund our honeymoon. I will ask Ian if we could prepare two itineraries,  and ask friends to donate to the itinerary they think is more awesome instead of buying us gifts. I'm going to ask my sister to oversee this so that up to our actual wedding day, we won't know which of the two options we will be going to. Now that's a welcome surprise gift :D

What do you think friends? Will you help me make this work? :D Don't worry, we still have a looooooooooooottt of time. :D