Sunday, April 30, 2006

a bit of nervous writing

Book in Hand: Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Song in Mind: come out & feel the sun, shine down on everyone....

I can tell when I'm edgy with something I have written. I always get my pronouns and conjunctions wrong. I sound whiny. After rereading that particular piece of writing, a shade of embarassment always hits me with how pretentious it all sounded.

Sorry. That's just how it always ends up when I am not quite sure how to approach a subject. Case in point, my last blog entry on Filipino Mythology. I love the topic dearly, but I was caught somewhere between presenting a critical view of the material and cursing the whole goddam country for letting it fall through the cracks (me, included).

Nervous writing is lousy writing, and I would like to offer my apologies for inflicting it on the unwary readers.

I did receive comments from my friend, Peloy, though. Aside from giving me tips where to find books on pinoy myths and legends, he also offered me an explanation why very few books can be found on the topic. He proferred that our mythology is ingrained in us, and thus too close to be noticed. I think that was what I was trying to point out yesterday, but he just used clearer words to describe it. Hay, iba talaga ang tutoong nagsusulat. G'leng, Peloy.

It's going to be May soon, and I just noticed that my list of books to read isn't any getting any shorter. I have 30 books I still have to read, and yet somehow I'm still not touching them. Work had been extrenuous lately, but that's already a given. What I was shocked to realize is that my "home" time hasn't exactly been restful either. When I was still a student and we had a house maid, I can read two to three books a day. Nowadays, I'd be lucky to finish one because I have to sweep the floor, water the plants and wash the dishes intermittently.

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I sound like darn spoiled brat, which maybe I am. Maybe I should be thankful that circumstances changed enough for me to learn how to handle a broom. House cleaning isn't so bad, anway. It's actually nice to do something which does not demand one's 150% mental acuity. I mean, I can perfunctorily wash the dishes. And I like the feel of water on my hands. It's just that on rare days such as this one, I wish I still had the luxury of time. If I only knew how precious "alone" time would become as we grow older, I would've avoided squandering it on daydreaming and used it for reading and writing.

Alas, too late though. Now I can only reminisce on days gone by. The cloak of childhood has fallen off my shoulders and I'm cold. Surprisingly though, I find I can move on. Perhaps, even survive.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

The Filipinos' Forgotten Mythology

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"Higante"
Illustration by Arnold Arre

In the beginning, when the world was still young, the gods lived amongst men. They were the ones responsible for everyday wonders -- they hold the sun up in the sky, they keep mountains apart, they breathe the air men breathe, they calm the stormy seas. Or better yet, they were the sun, the mountains, the air and the waters that exist around our ancestors. They are the gods who people the epics that relates sacred stories about sacred events.

Mythology is culture, and culture is what molds people. I often wonder then why it seems that Filipinos are quick to disregard their own mythological tales. We are fascinated by the tales from the West. But most of our stories are older than Western fairytales. Our stories don't talk about snow, forests of oaks or metamorphing swans; what we have is stories of a land where the sun shines and rain falls, people eat rice, mountains and rivers consist the basic topography. Normal-sounding as it may be, the magical element in them do exist: our heroes can cross seas in a stride, giants throw mountains to create islands, and faithful wives reanimate the bones of their beloved husbands. And we have a whole slew of lower creatures in myths too: nuno sa punso to be avoided, tikbalangs to tame, aswangs to slay.

Why is it so hard then to find good books on Philippine Mythology? The ones I found are in textbooks for elementary students and these were usually censored to death so as to be deemed appropriate for children by the government. It's like saying the very fabric of our nationhood is relegated as children's tales (although this isn't so bad). It's like saying, nobody takes it seriously anymore.

JRR Tolkien wrote Lord of the Rings because he wanted to create a mythology akin to the European Ring of the Nibelungs. In short, he envied the richness of other cultures legends. We meanwhile, need not create, but perhaps enrich the myths and legends we already have. Nobody's rushing out to do that though, judging from what can be found in our local bookstores.

Filipino artists as Arnold Arre and Arsenio Manuel are rare. They have managed to take what is intrinsically Filipino and cast new light into our old stories, making them just as interesting (or even more) as the next Harry Potter installment.

Someday, I hope to follow in their footsteps. Because, I too, would not live it down if the Filipinos' mythology is forgotten in my lifetime. I will write what I know... before it fades away.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Ode to Summer

Went looking through some of my old poetry notebooks and I just figured I'd post some interesting ones which might fit the current brain-warping, hot and humid season.


* written for the boy beside me
Anda, Pangasinan 1999

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the heat incapacitates
gets into your system
fraying nerves

stretched fully on the mat
you are at arm's length
the noon sizzles

white light on your white skin
it pulls on my guts
stretching it painfully

how the hot sun burns
yet never as much
as your hot skin.


* nababaliw, naiinitan

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sucking on ice.
refreshment from the burning
of my whole mind.

it soothes
the temporary hurt.
it smooths over
the constricting pain.
this
sucking on ice.

rythmic
teething
tearing
sucking

ice.


*the summer i had a crush on a boy
who ignored me for a pretty chinita

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sometimes, laughter could be so phony.
you open your mouth
sound coming from yout throat
but it stops there.

nothing is swelling in your heart.

sometimes love could be so unfair.
you fall deeply in love with somebody
just as committed to somebody else
and it stops there.

somewhere between here and nowhere.

sometimes, I get lost in myself.
I spin uncontrollably, all about
the laughter, the love, the wanting
and it stops there.

And it stops there.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

dreaming of neil

Book in Hand: Flights: An Anthology of Fantastic Short Literature


Hay, I'm getting a bit discouraged with my scientific experiment, having produced no successful results for three nights going. But I have to agree that this kind of Dream Journaling intrigues me. The other night, I actually fell asleep thinking, "What would I dream of Tonight?"

Well, what I had been trying to do is to pick one theme -- that, is I chose Mr. Gaiman -- and see if he surfaces in my dream. Had been trying for4 nights, but no direct appearance of Mr. Gaiman can be noted. He'd been peripheral though to the latest of my dream accounts, but nevertheless... it's a bit shabby.


Night 2

I suppose I have to accept that there was no hide nor shadow of Neil Gaiman in my dream that night. It was what I can call, "a repetition of events in daylight -- only darker." Meaning, I dreamt of stuff that happened to me during the day, but with my subsequent qualms about it given stronger focus.

E.g. I went home with a couple of friends from work last Wednesday. We were all going the same way anyway. When I asked to go along with them, they readily agreed and showed all interests of going home. What I didn't know was they were thinking of having dinner first, but my going with them might have been the cause of their cancelling it. I was embarassed for a second because I didn't want to change their plans if I only knew of it, and I do embarrass easily when it comes to being a "pabigat." I know it wasn't like that at all for them, but my fears are my fears. And in my dreams that night, I saw the whole thing all over again but instead of going home we were going to the mall. Just when we alighted from the jeepney, I felt the prodding feeling of insecurity again. This time I told them I'd go ahead and I left them.

Hmmm...

I also dreamt about American Idol, and I dreamt of this African-Ameircan girl being all awful about her singing (no, not Paris). She wasn't a contestant, but I think she was Briana and Mandisa combined. Oh well.

No, Mr. Gaiman there still.


Night 3

Instead of dreaming about Mr. Gaiman, I dreamt of my friends who introduced me to his works. Instead of talking about the Sandman, I dreamt of that irritating phase in my life when I was a complete sap for a boy and I was talking about --- eeeyuck ---- falling in love.

In the dream, I was happy. When I woke, I was terrified.

One FREAKING HECK NO.

But.... the dream was happy. Could it be that I just imagined that the wounds are closed and I'm not actually over it yet? Or is just an echo of memories that made such an impact on me?

I shudder to think it's the former. I'm queasy if it's the latter. I just want to forget that part of my life. Ala-Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.


Night 4

I was excited about it being Friday night which means I can stay up as late as I want. I was kind of busy thinking about this Toastmaster's Meeting I attended in PBSP (Everytime I say the word Toastmasters, i see a mental image of my Dad rolling his eyes...). Then after I took my two-hour bath, I suddenly felt so tired that I fell on my bed and absolutely forgot to say my prayers and the image of Neil.

I woke up not being able to remember a single blessed thing about my dream.

Argh.


Questions / Notes I've Written in my Dream Accounts:

> Can it be --- that dreams cannot be influenced? Was it just extremely coincidental that I used to imagine things before falling asleep and then they appear there all bright and shiny?

> Maybe Neil Gaiman isn't the right theme? I mean, I love his books, but I have no idea who he is. ( I can hear a lot of people saying in unison, "Uh, well, duh!") Maybe I should focus on objects instead? See if it'll appear in my dream?

> Dream journalling is not so bad. I'm seeing a side of me I wouldn't -- couldn't --- pay attention to when I am awake. Thing is, it's unearthing a lot of questions I'd rather not ask when I am conscious. Do I try to answer the questions as they come knowing it'll take me months to answer even just one?

> In ref. to Night 3 - Am I jaded about love completely now? If not, then what is that terrifying feeling that abducts me everytime I remember the past and imagine doing it all over again? It made me feel like running very far away, something I was able to ignore the first time. But now, knowing I failed once, I might just scamper off when the feeling swoops down on me again.

> Now, I know why some people don't pay mind to their dreams too much. It's enough to make one insane.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Dream Works

Last night, I was just disclosing to you how I try to "influence" my dreams. I decided to study it scientifically -- that is, to attempt visualization every night and then record it upon waking just before the images fade. This way, I might be able to get more reliable data to interpret in answering my question: Can I actually influence what I dream about by actively visualizing images before entering the pre-REM stage?

I know there are already loads of psychological studies about this, but I'd like to gather my data, interpret it and only then shall I compare it with the others. I don't mind reinventing the wheel, that much is obvious. :)

Night 1

What I did was briefly flash an image of Neil Gaiman in my mind. For one bothered second, I was scared my brain would misinterpret it and give me weird, romantic (or worse, PG-18) scenes with Neil. Then I justified it by saying that it's what Mr. Gaiman represents that I'd like to dream about. And that is freedom to dream in color.

I'm not sure how it all connects; I fell asleep wanting to dream about Neil Gaiman but ended up dreaming about Prince William. Not that I'm complaining, mind you. I'm just curious how my brain came up with that. I don't see much similarities between the two save for their being British. If that's the case, then why didn't I just dream of Terry Pratchett or the British Royal Jewels? (Although I do have a theory that it's because I don't adore them as much as I adore William) :)

But as I believe I have mentioned before, the plot of my dreams are rarely staged the way I want them. The Prince William in the Otherland just happened to be visiting a house we were in and I managed to get his autograph. And a picture where our shoulders touched, I think. Hay. When I woke up, it was then I regretted that it didn't have any weird, romantic (or better yet, PG-18) scenes in it. Hehe.

I'm one of those who can stretch a dream by just falling asleep again once awoken. But even then, nothing amazing happened except that I started talking to Prince William about marshmallows and was excited to get his insights about it. I failed to record his opinions since it slipped my mind the moment I opened my eyes in the tangible world. I'm not surprised. I mean, good Jupiter, marhsmallows?? Wars are raging, disasters striking, a jagillion and one things could have been good conversation pieces. I believe myself to be intelligent enough to restrain from talking about marshmallows... and yet my dreams are intent to disprove it. Heck, I don't even like marshmallows all that much!

Ewan. I'm not sure if this can be chalked up as "succesful" or "unsuccessful", but there it is. That was Night # 1.

G'nyt, y'all.


P.S. Pick Pickler as one of the top 3 in American Idol (forgive her bewildered performance tonight, please...) And let Elliot have another run as well. Please vote off Ace, or Taylor "the Drunken Master" Hicks. I like them guys, but, well, they are expendable. Sorry.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Gurped

Yet another invented word.

Gurped (root word gurp) means an act of asking why, who, what and where all at the same time.

I.e. Today, Olivia had to wake up at 2 am so as to go to work by 3 am and she completely gurped about the point of it all.

Maybe I should just keep this word-inventing... I might just be able to make one whole language system out of it.

_***_***_***_***_


It is true though that I woke up at 2 am this morning just so I could leave the house by 2:30 and be at the pick-up place going to Olongapo City by 4 a.m. I had to be 250 kilometers away from Manila by 6 a.m. Hay, let's just say I've been a victim of the best mislaid plan of the year.

This used to excite me, the land travel counterpart of the "jet-set" life. I should be totally swazzled about having breakfast in Zambales, lunch in Pampanga and return just in time for dinner in Caloocan City. There were days I had it worst: breakfast in QC, lunch in Vizcaya, snacks in Isabela, dinner in Cagayan Province. Back then, I was actually looking forward to how my life would progress from that awkward Luzon-based spot-dining into a much larger arena: having breakfast in Manila, lunch in Hongkong, Dinner in Brussels.

Today though, I aged an additional fourteen years in just three hours (approx. the time it took us to reach Olongapo from QC). I found myself asking, why? WHY the heck should I want that? What is the point? Who must I become to actually like living like that? Where shall they pick up my battered carcass after five more years of this kind of work?

See? Totally gurped. And nowhere to go.

One good thing is, suicide will be jumping the gun (forgive the pun) and pointless in this kind of lifestyle. I mean, just stay where you are and do what you do and you can guarantee you'd be dead (or soul-dead, which is worse) by the time you're forty.


_***_***_***_***_

To happier climes...

I came home early today and albeit my half-zombie state, actually felt kind of calm. It's only 8:13 p.m. and I can still read a book. I can still blog. Y'know, like have an Earth- life before I go to the Otherland tonight.

Which brings me to what I've been kind of wondering about lately. What is the best way to influence dreaming? I mean, let's say, you want to dream about -- (oooh.... wait, so many exciting things... aha! got it!) Let's say I want to dream about BOOKS, or having a conversation with Neil Gaiman where I ask him what kind of shampoo he uses for his gooey hair. How should I prepare myself before sleeping?

Sometimes, I think I have the hang of it already. I just flash the image or the idea of a feeling in my mind ONCE -- just once but with feelings. Overthinking of it almost always assure I will not see hide nor shadow of whatever it is I wanted to dream about. If I allow just one picture with one powerful emotion, I sometimes dream of what I want to although situations in the dream are rarely what I would have hoped they are.

But then on off-days, some scary stuff would still go in there. Worst nightmare I ever had (well, actually, there's more than one) involves being chased by ghouls. One time I dreamt of witches hovering outside my window (or I hope I was dreaming, can't be sure). But I guess, it's kind of worth it because those were also the dreams I dispelled the night by clapping my hands and singing the Our Father (say, what?), or I fly away on a comb (yes, a comb, don't ask) and successfully leave them eating my dust.

Wait, should I go totally Jung-ian and interpret my dreams? Can it be that hardships bring out the best in me? Well, isn't it that case for everyone? Could be myself telling myself I should stop whining and just bear the grunt since everything I'm going through is all for "building character and stuff."

Yeah, it sure is "and stuff".

I suppose I just am wishing hard tonight, to dream happy dreams. I believe I need it. Dont' we all?

Good night, y'guys (and gals).

Friday, April 14, 2006

Swazzled

Absolutely have no idea what swazzled means. It's right up there with swasquatch and fizzladdled, and joot and weeezums.

But somehow, that's the most accurate word I could use to describe how I'm feeling right now. I am totally swazzled. As proof of it, I have been making my happy sounds all day (happy sounds are something you do when you are in a good mood and you just make weird noises without thinking). It's that odd "Wee-wooo, wee-wooo!" sound that just comes out of me when I'm feeling okay. I sound like a zippy, frolicsome fire truck with a little engine that could.

In keeping up with the Holy Friday tradition, I should be in mourning-mode right now, commemorating Christ and His death. But dearest Lord, I am only rarely ever happy nowadays and I pray you would not damn me and my progeny decades after this day just because I felt like singing "Weee-wooo!"

While Daddy attended the Pabasa in one of his Catholic groups, my sister, my cousin and I went to our Uncle's house to play with Gayb. Any day I see Gayb is a good day. He looks so much like me when I was younger. Considering that he's a boy, I'm not so sure if that speaks well of me, but anyway, he is the most adorable thing since stuffed toys.

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He's quickly taking after me, asking if we brought him books the moment he saw us. :) After playing for a while, I saw a couple of DVDs I'd like to watch and so I borrowed Gayb's portable DVD viewer. Shux, astig, noh? My 2-year old cousin has his own DVD player! And me, a grown-up person with an actual job (albeit one that pays too low) could only loll my tongue in envy.

Even when I was a kid and Daddy was still earning his millions, he never ever bought me anything more expensive than a 12-in-1 brick game. He said he was teaching me the value of appropriateness. Of course now, as I look back, I see that my Daddy wasn't really awed by techie gadgets in the first place and wouldn't understand its appeal to kids. For goodness sake, he did not buy a computer until I was sixteen years old! And the way he looks at his Nokia 3315 cellphone as if its alien technology assures me that he's a bit of a technophobe as well.

But I digress. I was just telling you how fabulous the portable viewer was. And how I watched 2 movies this afternoon with the DVD resting on my tummy, earphones on my ears and popcorn to munch. It doesn't sound comfortable now that i write about it, but I certainly was content that time.

I watched The Prophecy 5: The Forsaken and Everything is Illuminated. Hmmm... do you feel a Geek's Guider coming up? :) Hehe, you betcha. Who am I to disappoint you?

The Prophecy 5: The Forsaken

I wasn't expecting anything amazing when I decided to watch this movie. I just wanted to see something that will pass the time, y'know? It's better not to have high expectations so you won't be sorely disappointed in the end. I suppose that's why I ended up enjoying this film.

Briefly, it covers the story of the existence of a book called the Lexicon, which writes itself (kewl huh?). But it doesn't write just about anything; it's supposedly the Words of God itself that the pages reveal. In the next few days, the Lexicon is about to disclose the name of the Anti-Christ who we are told was already born. The priest who was guarding the book died of a heart attack right after realizing the enormity of what is about to be revealed to the world. Guardianship was then passed on to Allison (played by Kari Wuhrer), an American taking up her PhDs in Theology in Bucharest.

Unwittingly, Allison and a hit man named Dylan (competently portrayed by Jason Scott Lee) were caught in a War between the legions of God's unloyal angels and the Devil himself. The Angels want the book so they could locate the Anti-Christ and kill him (yes, it's a he) so as to prevent the coming of the Armageddon as it is depicted in The Book of Revelations. (oooh, trivia: Armageddon and Revelation means the same in Greek) The Devil on the other hand, wants to protect the book so that Armageddon does come and he will reap the corrupted souls which God's Righteous Hand has denied.

Now, the question is, why would the angels want to prevent Armageddon? We go back to the classic reasoning of angelic jealousy. If the End of the World ensues, God will reap the souls of the worthy and damn those who proved false to him. The humanity who will survive Armageddon will then become the restorers of humanity, God's most beloved. And angels, who were ever on God's side will be relegated as servants, second-class citizens of the heavens once more. The angels want people to remain sinful, forever degrading themselves in the eyes of God.
It bothers me a bit that angels are presented a bit shabbily ere. I suppose I am not an expert on the hierarchy of the heavens, but I have always believed angels to be messengers and benevolent spirits. In this movie, they are just as downright dirty and shameful as humans are, except that they act in a self-righteous manner thus rendering them more dangerous. They were also described as sensing humans only by taste and smell, as their sight isn't as strong and we look like monkeys to them. The thrones were described as low-class thugs, the cherubs were said to be malofficious, while the seraphs are the real deal... they are either righteous or self-righteous. Unfortunately, the seraph leading the fallen angels here (Stark) was of the latter.

Another fact that gets to me is that Satan plays a sympathetic role here, that you are almost rooting for him. I think the movie wanted you to root for him. One can't help it though because the angels were such mean, cruel creatures in the story, while Lucifer plays cool-as-you-please and he is endlessly easy on the eyes as well (portrayed by John Light). He even actually helps Allison here. Oh Good Lord, I sure hope I haven't sinned by liking his portrayal for a tiny fractal of the movie. The most believable line he ever uttered in the movie was, "The politics of angels are not so different from the politics of men" and the other one was "The interests of heaven and hell are not as far apart as you would have it believed."

I was just wondering though, when all of the action and suspense was happening, was God watching chaos play out up there wherever He is? What would he do about this renegade angels? Would He do anything at all? Reminds you that God is unreadable as He is infallible. sigh.

I didn't want to tell you how the movie ended. Except that you probably knew the angels wouldn't be getting the book, and instead (surprise!) the last page which revealed the Anti-Christ's name as Mykael Paun found its way to the hands of young Mykael himself. Hehe, sorry. But I'm sure you wouldn't be rushing out to the video to rent the movie anyway, and I won't really advice you, unless you're bored to your wit's end.

Oh wait! Another interesting fact also turns up revealing that Allison is not a mere human being. She is a nephilim -- half-angel and half-human. Meaning, she has the resilience of an angel (she will not die easily unless her heart was ripped out or a bullet goes through her third eye), as well as the resourcefulness of a human being. I only mention it because this nifty little thing fits really well with a story brewing inside my head and it really peaked my interest.

All in all the movie wasn't half as bad. There were references to scenes in the previous movie that I didn't get because I did not watch Prophecy 4: The Uprising. But I got over it and I thoroughly lost myself in the plot. Coming back, I am actually wired to write because my imagination's engine was triggered. Maybe that's why I'm happy today.

Because I feel like writing.


Everything is Illuminated

Pretty nifty-looking Elijah Wood on the cover, humongous glasses and all. Weird looking though. As if he's odd Peter Parker pre-Spiderman era. Turns out the movie was just as weird. Funny, but really kind of strange.

The movie's gist is that Jonathan Foer (Wood) goes back to Ukraine to trace the woman who helped his grandfather escape the Nazi-reign. All he actually had was a grasshopper frozen in amber and a photo of his grandfather with the mysterious woman. He meets Alex Perchov who became his tour guide/translator in his "rigid search". The movie is actually narrated by Perchov and his odd mix of English and Ukrainian provided most of the hilarious parts of the movie.

I admit, I was a bit bored from watching this. I just finished it because a story was started in my head and I wanted to see it through. So I guess, I could tell you that Jonathan discovered that his grandfather was actually married to the woman in the picture whose name was Augustina. And the whole search became a soul-searching journey, Jew-style.

I know I should feel ashamed. This movie is a bundle of good intentions. The book wanted to illustrate the irony, sobriety and oddness of the Holocaust. Meanwhile, this movie wanted to put at peace the memories of one of the most hideous terrors of the past. And Alex Perchov is such a colorful character, as well as his deranged grandfather, but I don't get it. Maybe, I should have concentrated better. But you see, I wasn't looking for a thinking movie this afternoon. So a lot of the good points they wanted to bring across probably just sailed right past me. I suppose I would have to watch it again someday to really understand it.

The most interesting aspect of the story for me was that Jonathan was a kind of "Collector." He collects things connected to memories. He Ziplocks stuff whichhe believes are significant to him. A peeled potato, a rock, soil, underwear... anything.

When pressed why he does this, he just simply answers, "Because I'm afraid that I'll forget."

I wonder, if he were a real person, would collecting things like that really help remember? Wouldn't it dampen things a bit when instead of feeling your emotions, you're busy searching for a memento?

Interesting.

And I guess, I kept at the movie because I like Elijah Wood. I mean, c'mon, I heart this kid ever since he was in that Mel Gibson movie signing "You are my sunshine, my only sunshine..." Was that Forever Young? I forgot. I also watched him in Flipper, The War, The Good Son, LOTR, of course... you catch my drift. I don't think I'll ever be sure, but I must be discreetly in love with this guy and his creepy big blue eyes. In fact, so discreet that I am irritated by him most of the time but I keep watching his movies. And liking it. Even if they are as boring as this one.

Well, that's it then. This is a long entry. Whew! Where'd time go? It's 10:30 p.m. and I haven't had dinner yet. I actually forgot to eat dinner... How addictive can blogging get, huh? :)

Til tomorrow then.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Last Unicorn

They only told me that it was the greatest fantasy novel ever written. As a Tolkien fan, I doubted this. But it wouldn’t hurt to read it, would it?

With this premise, I started seeking out a copy of Peter Beagle's The Last Unicorn. It proved hard to find in Metro Manila, and once found, also proved to be quite expensive. So I kept scouring second hand bookshops in my Finder-of-Lost-Treasures mode until by some wheel of fate, I managed to get my hand on a copy at 1/18th of its original price. I admit that while looking at the slim, worn-out volume, I had my doubts about its potential greatness. If it was truly as amazing as it is touted to be, how come someone out there decided to give it away and leave it to the fate of questing fantasy enthusiasts?

A number of other things also held me back. Even if I knew enough not to judge a book by its cover, a part of me wasn't enticed to read the book immediately. What's more is that when I tried to read the first five pages, my interest was only mildly hooked. At some point, I started to feel as if I was only trudging through it; I was going through the notions just so I could say I have read this so-called amazing novel. I blame it on my being jaded. I am 24 years old, overworked and underpaid. My only escape is reading, and when I invest my mind in it I want it to be worth it.

I'm glad I had the wisdom to put it down and save it for later reading. Maybe a part of me recognized the faint shimmering jewel hidden inside the book and warned me, albeit subconsciously, that this is a story I must digest - - not speed-read through while inside a crowded bus after a tiring day at work.

Finally, I was able to read it during a long weekend. To my amazement, I picked up the book and couldn't put it back down. From the solitude of my room, I was catapulted into a world where unicorns exist -- at least, one still does. This creature has lived through the centuries and has brought beauty to its home forest. She didn't know she was the last unicorn, but she knew something was amiss because she could not sense any other. Without unicorns, magic bleeds out of the world like water color and everything that is beautiful fades away with it. Not knowing cowardice or regret, she set out with the desire to find her kin and for other beings able to recognize her. For if they can still name her, then a little magic must have remained and it would be enough to guide her way. She learns that the other unicorns were captured by the Red Bull owned by King Haggard and she chose to seek them both. But before she could even begin her quest, she is captured by the Midnight Carnival and was put on display for a fee. Here she meets Schmendrick the Magician and the story picks up its speed.

From the darkest Carnival ever assembled in the middle of the forest, we follow the unicorn and Schmendrick to the edges of the trees, beyond the borders of the fertile land and into the charred, barren lands of Haggard's kingdom. We meet petty mayors and merry thieves, friendly townsfolk and greedy cursed men. I say we, because I was truly transported into this cunning, fascinating country where I could only follow the unicorn's path.

The story of The Last Unicorn is a story of a lot of astonishing things. Very few books, fantasy yarns especially, could be said to influence people’s lives. Yet reading through the book has re-taught me the value of purity of heart, honesty of intentions, wisdom and heroism. As the world grows more jaded, its tendency to sneer at fairytales also increases. Child’s grabble, they call it. But the story boldly claimed that only the fantastic and the mythical are ever real. People are just part of one long, winding fairy tale. We are all playing our parts as authored by the Unknown Hands who conjured us. We are only on earth for such a little time. Why not make the best out of it? Why do we seem to prefer to leave as much permanent damage as we can manage? We wage wars, we cut trees, we treat animals as negligible things, and we drink from Styrofoam cups only to throw them in mountains of trash. We wound the earth and we do not even notice that the magic has almost completely seeped away.

I wish I have read The Last Unicorn when I was younger. There are too many things I want to unlearn at my age now and maybe a great many things I wished I could have retained from what I originally knew as a kid. I knew that unicorns existed and that true love can perform miracles. I knew that I can do magic and it is only hidden deep inside me just waiting for the appropriate time to reveal itself. I knew there were good and bad, black and white. I avoided the grey areas because is drab and listless. Instead, I preferred true colors. If I read it earlier, I believe I could've distilled some better truth, some purer knowledge from the book. But then again, maybe this cut off feeling from anything magical is part of the enchantment. The book spurs me into action -- hold it! hold it! before the last stardust fades away.

I think I've just managed to catch a tail of it, and that's why the world shimmers a little happier, a bit brighter than it did yesterday. Just as the captured unicorns were set free and let loose into the land to bring back the magic, thus I summon magic back into my life as well.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Fourth Gilmore

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I spent my college days loyally watching the Gilmore Girls every Saturday night. And yes, I was one of those who watched it because a part of me is drowning in sheer envy of the beepy-boppitiness of Rory and Lorelei's lives. Come on, how aesthetically pretty could one life get, huh? But somehow, it wasn't too saccharine-sweet to turn me off. Somehow, part of me can still relate to their story or maybe a part of me holds on to the belief that maybe my life would be just as fizzy as theirs - - someday.

I kind of stopped watching it the past year though, because 1) I'm not sure what day they show it anymore, and 2) It increasingly scares me that I expect myself to be the Fourth Gilmore.

Ahehe... weird but true. I keep comparing my reactions to Rory's. I keep asking why can't I handle things the same way, or why do people not react the same to me when I do stuff I thought was stupifyingly cute on her? Now, Lorelei, she's Thirty++ years old right? And she's still as flaky and silly as ever. Surely, I must have license to be just as immature at 24? The thing I keep forgetting though is that they are fictional characters. They can be as devastatingly goddess-like, flaky, silly or cruel as they want to be because all they have to deal with are other fictional people and contrived situations. Even if they weren't made-up, the two girls are still too pretty to be ever treated as normal people. Unlike me, who can never be normal but perhaps sickening in my averageness. So I avoided it because my life started to feel listless in comparison.

Tonight, my sister blackmailed me to stay and watch the show by saying how much she misses our bonding sessions with the Gilmores and I did not have the heart to say no. Ergo, I was struck again by how much I wanted the kind of life those girls live. Even with their petty squabbles and focus on the exhaustively minutiae, I want it.

Hay, I guess there's no denying I was brainwashed to believe that being fawned over by a whole town, fought over by two (now four) cute guys, going to Yale, having a car to total and it'll be no big thing because the grandparents will take care of it, having great hair all the time, fitting in swimsuits and little dresses without looking grossly inappropriate is the A-list life...

But then again, I hold off my ranting and I realize now that, no matter how booooring my life sounds and how miserable it can sometimes get, I can also like what I have. It is human nature to want more, but I think I'm okay. I think it could only get better from where I am.

It can't hurt to dream of becoming goddess-like and constantly adorable, can it? I just hope to God it won't come true, because what would I have to live for then, if I had it all, huh? :)

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Consolation and Desolation

Sometimes, teevee can be more than just a boob tube. Sometimes, some script writer out there gets a flash of inspiration and writes something so true it resonates. And some director will be wise enough not to sensationalize it. Then some actors are just talented enough not to over-act or to overpower it.

This afternoon, I plopped down on the sofa and watched Joan of Arcadia. After I got over the irritation of having to endure the show dubbed in Taglish, I was sweeped right into the story. Of course, I wasn't able to watch the previous episodes so I could only connect it to the bits and parts I knew about the story back when I was still watching it on cable.

But first, let me tell you a bit of the plot so you'd get my drift. Joan lives in Arcadia, and God talks to her. That's basically the story line. God appears to her in various human forms (my favorite is this teenage guy and the weird Dakota Fanning-esque little girl) and asks her to do things for Him / Her. Joan doesn't always understand why, but after some resistance she almost always follows it. When things do unfold, she'd realize why she had to do it after all. And then she thinks she understands.

In this episode, Joan was diagnosed with Lyme Disease and was told this was why she had been feeling cranky and loopy the past few weeks, months even. It's also the culprit why she'd been having flu-like symptoms. And ---- having hallucinations as part of cognitive deterioration as well. Basically, this means everything she thought was miraculously happening to her, i.e. God appearing to her, could have been just hallucinations.

Meanwhile her Mum and Dad are also going through some crises of faith and are struggling to keep their wits together. God kept appearing to the Mum in her dreams asking her to be open-minded, and the Dad who is stolidly a defunct Catholic was being shown the mysteries of the spirit.

Near the end of the show, the couple were talking inside the hospital room where Joan was pretending to sleep. The Mum relayed that she was in Church earlier and had a talk with a priest. She said the priest told her that everyone goes through the Cycle of Consolation and Desolation.

Consolation was when we felt we were connected to things, that we were in our groove, and good stuff keeps happening which makes us believe, "God must truly love me."

Desolation on the other hand, is a dark well of almost-lost hope. And it lasts as long as it is necessary. What gets us through it is strength.

Joan heard all of this and butted in that, "He does not exist." His parents asked who does not and she answers, "You're talking about God, and he does not exist." It seems she has resolved it inside her that everything she went through for the past year were just derisions.

I hurt so bad after watching that. I must be in Desolation the past few months then, if this can be believed. And after years of thinking God must have something special planned for me, I realized I have come to the point where I do not want to believe in that anymore. It's just been too long coming. In the same way, Joan had something beautiful -- She communicates with Him and He asks her to do good things, noble and mysterious stuff that almost always ends up brilliantly. She was special to Him. To be told that it could only have been imagination is too hard a blow, and this I can imagine.

I do not want to come to the point where I would find myself saying, "He does not exist." Please, no. Because then my life would have meant nothing, and I would have done nothing essential nor beautiful. And yet, even that reasoning is selfish. I am hoping God will validate my existence, my uniqueness. I must start understanding that I, along with the other creatures of this universe, and the course of life that goes on and around us serves as the proof of His existence, His brilliance, His goodness.

I'm just inexorably glad the show gave me something to hold on to after showing me the parallelisms of my life though. The last scene showed Joan sleeping in her bed after rebuffing the existence of God. And it showed Him in the image of the teenage boy walking into her room and stopping by her bedside to watch her as she rested. Then He reached out and laid a hand on her forehead, smoothed her hair. Just to show that Joan might now believe He does not exist, but He remains with her nevertheless.

I may not always see God in the things I do, nor his Hand in the events of my life but He must be just there. Supervising, Facilitating, Mentoring, Guiding and Waiting until I acknowledge the fact that in the darkest nights of my soul, He never left me. I just stopped looking and thus, lost sight of Him.

Please God, let me recognize you in the forms that you take entering into my life. Talk sense into me, show me the path. Please Lord, lead me to my Consolation.







Saturday, April 01, 2006

Please I don't Want to Talk About Fried Chicken

Book in Hand: Ursula Le Guin's Malafrena
Song in Mind: Ryan Cabrera's True (but only because it's the song playing on my YM)

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This afternoon, I had the urge to blog again. This I felt while eating a two-piece chicken with double cuppa rice meal at Kipp's Krispy Chicken in SM Megamall. I actually wanted to talk about the best Fried Chicken I have eaten in my life time.

Then it struck me how absolutely dumb that was. And how totally low I must've fallen if the only thing I can talk about is fried chicken.

I mean, there is the fact that I'm at my wit's end at work. The fact that I am actually going insane because I could NOT handle the pressure. And here I am spending the last week as a walking zombie --- trying not to feel, trying not to lose control again. Things I don't have to feel passionately about.

There is the fact that Daddy didn't get extra class load this summer, which leaves me the breadwinner for the next two months. My measly pay is suppose to pay for the electricity, two month's worth of groceries, a dozen overdue credit card bills, and medical insurance.

And did I mention how my body is starting to malfunction? I feel like I'm fifty years old with my joints and muscles aching like hell all the time.

I just want to completely detach myself that I end up talking about inane things like the best bookmarks I've ever seen, best pieces of rock in my collection and the best fried chicken I have ever eaten. I mean, how emotional could I get about chicken and rocks, right? This heart needs a break, bejeez.

Another very dangerous thing I'm also doing is compulsive book buying. I just cannot stop. I have two very tall piles of books I have yet to read, but it doesn't stop me from buying more. This would have been okay if I had the money to spare. But again, you now know, I don't. Not healthy anymore.

Things I should be Doing Instead:

1. Find a new job that pays better and demands less frazzled and fried nerves (is this too unrealistic, you think?)

2. Save 20% of my monthly salary and put it in a separate not-easy-to-access account (sabayan mo na rin ng diet para di magastos kumain)

3. Teach daddy how to use the Computer this Summer so he can type his own grades and not bother me ever again

4. Looking for the blasted CD Installer of our Modem (I'm still renting computers because the house PC is still not connected)

5. Resist (oh, but I must resist!) buying a new book until I have finished reading my stock. And after I have finished rereading all the other books I have (that'll last me until I'm fifty years old, I'm sure) (but could I stand it?)

6. Or I could just plan the books I'm going to buy in the future, so I won't be compulsively buying books right?

7. Undergoing psychiatric therapy

8. Praying the rosary seven times a day, going to confessions everday in a week, doing everything to gather my faith about me so I won't fall deeper into the darkness

9. Slim down, slim down, slim down

10. Write the novel.

Oh, but where shall I get the energy to do all these, huh? I'm finding that I tend to just freeze up instead. Too many things being demanded from me. Need help. Really need help. I really need to help myself but...

Amoeba-esque. I am an amoeba. I am a unicellular being and I am unable to feel, worry, fret, ponder, wonder, wander...

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help.