Thursday, November 24, 2011

Elemental


Like fire
Inside
Slow burning
And bright.

Like water
That falls
Fast and fierce,
From a height.

Like wind
Sweeping
Both small and mighty
Into flight.

Like earth
Solid, and firm,
And extends
Beyond sight.

This is Love
Measureless against the elements
That makes us human
and yet
More powerful than
Raze and rage,
Or gale and blight.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Red Balloon

A year ago
An aging man stood under a flickering light
In a bus stop void of people and suitcases.
In his hand he held the promise of true love, both
Buoyant and free
Not knowing he is observed
By two strangers who held the same hope and who
Both turned around to find in the others’ eyes
the image of a red heart-shaped balloon like a beacon
guiding the lost through the night.
-olivia

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Life Skills for the Almost 30 - Developing Gravitas


Gravitas - feeling internally aligned / personally coherent, sometimes described as 'being comfortable in one's own skin', particularly in challenging circumstances

Yes, it is not mere myth. There are people out there who seem to have legal authority to occupy the space they take up on earth. If gravitas needed certifying, it’ll be by an organization more selective and elite than Mensa.

I’ve been trying to review my life, just in case I could pinpoint the exact time and place where I have decided to be weird and quirky instead of graceful and sensible. Searched and searched in vain, I have. But the thing about Almost-30 is that you are now of an age where you can finally shed the “innocent and na├»ve” wild card and move on to something that would allow you to become someone of more substance.

Gravitas is hard to come by, precisely because it cannot exist in a vacuum. We cannot gain the skill by attending university or reading tedious tomes of Plutarchian wisdom. Strange enough, a word that brings images of sobriety and stability in my head, is best developed in a dynamic (read: chaotic) environment. I guess if you have been through enough eccentric episodes in life, you pick up enough strategies to keep yourself sane and intact.

I’m just fascinated by the process of developing personal gravitas. When you observe people who do have it, they look so contained and still, where you on the other hand are ready to detonate and spill over any minute now. The first instinct would be to somber up, to turn off the 24/7 comedy channel in your head, to affect seriousness, to avoid situations that could ruin your poise and composure. Yet this way, gravitas would be a mere affectation. What I’m starting to figure out is that, one has to throw oneself into the fray and find a way to get to the other side. Scathed, bleeding, yeah, maybe, but more sure of self and sanity.

If we are only allowed to have one goal for the next ten years – I’d choose mine to be gravitas. I don’t mean to excise the fluffy, eccentric, one-loose-screw-away-from-unstable part of my self to achieve gravity. Instead, maybe gravitas can be progeny to these awkward characteristics rendering it substantial and relevant and real.

Life Skills for the Almost 30 - Praising Babies



At this age, there is a greater probability that a single Almost-30 would be surrounded by other Almost-30 friends who are pregnant or who have given birth to wonderful bundles of joy. Last year, in my own 6 degrees of separation network, there must’ve been at least a dozen friends and acquaintances who were visited by the stork. Happy for them -- and a little envious of them -- I am. I honestly could understand their delight, anticipation and excitement. Then they start posting videos and pictures of sonograms, 2-day old pics, 3-day old pics, 4-day-old pics, (….), first haircut, first solid food tasting, first Lady Gaga song… you get the picture, right? Much as I love babies, I could only empathize for so long with someone I last saw 12 years ago during high school graduation. Then comes the ubiquitous question, “My bebe is so CUTE/GUWAPO/GANDA, noh?”

Well, but of course! All babies are beautiful. I am the first to testify to that. But beauty has different sub-sets, we all know that as well, don’t we? So you, who were raised before the Anti-Corporal Punishment law and were “disciplined” by kneeling on monggo seeds in a bilao for lying to someone, now face a moral dilemma: To lie or not to lie?

What I learned: LIE.

Lie through gritted teeth if you have to. Bite the bullet and say something—anything--- nice. If the baby has a Cabbage Patch Kid nose, comment on the full-fringed eyelashes. If the baby boy is strapped to his crib because his ears are so big he might flap ‘em in his sleep and fly away like Dumbo, tell the parents you have never seen such beautiful, adorable feet in your entire life. If the baby girl has alien E.T. eyes, say she’s so sweet it reminds you of M&M’s. And if you made a double take cos you thought it was the family pet pug lying inside the cot, you declare that you have never seen a more serene baby, and oh, see that, a smile!

But before you crucify me for telling, in what my opinion is, the truth, let us focus on what it would take to lie to a parent point blank. You have to take the question and improvise. You have to look at something unpretty and find a redeeming grace. Don't invent new characteristics and praise a non-existent strong jaw. Just find the strengths and work with that. To ace the skill of praising babies, you have to re-learn how to look at things and see the way we used to: with wonder, with gratitude, with joy.

When we learn to praise babies for the miracle they simply are, what could stop us from recognizing beauty in the ordinary in our everyday lives? Praising babies is merely the intermediate level exercise for the bigger thing: finding magic in the mundane. This skill will save your life in the long run.

And someday, when I have my own babies, and my gene skipped (aherm, aherm) and they are absolutely horrendous looking? If you’re really my friend, you will lie to me too.

An interesting Post Script:

Writing this made me conscious about the probability of having pretty babies. So I did one of those online morph thingies which predicts how your baby will look like. I tried to see how my David will look if I end up with one of these hot guys:
Matt Bomer
 Ian Somerhalder
                                                                                                                                                               

Ian Meimban

Life Skills for the Almost 30 - Getting Re-acquainted with Books


I was a voracious reader. Then I became a hungry reader. Then a reader. Now I’m a light-snacker when it comes to the literature department. I don’t know what happened. I hate that books cannot bring me the comfort it used to give me --- but nowadays, there just isn’t enough time and, sad to say, not enough memory space in my noggin to focus on a lengthy story. Some of my friends would say, “See? Even the bookworm that you are can’t read anymore.” But dear frigates, I will not go gentle into the good night.

Reading only looks like it’s a luxury, but it might just be more than necessary. Your brain cells are degenerating. Old neural connections you haven’t used since your last Soc Sci exam in college are fading fast. The other day, I found myself just grasping for the word we use to describe frivolous behaviour. It took me a full minute of rummaging through my noodle bag to access the right word --- Levity. Then yesterday, my cousin Gabriel asked me to help him with his Filipino homework about Pamatlig. What the eff are Pamatligs?

As engrossing as the Vampire Diaries and 100 Days are, every Almost-30 must find time to switch off the boob tube and read. It doesn’t matter if it’s on your Ipad or Ipod or your Tab or an actual, tangible book. Find time to read something that stimulates your brain, so that automatically disqualifies the Twilight series. Read books that can revive old neurons and then books to occupy the yet-empty dendrites and axons inside your pretty head. Read and give yourself a fighting chance against Alzheimer’s (it’s a scientific fact). Read and avoid becoming a righteous, one-track mind curmudgeon who insists that’s not the way things are done back in the good old days.

Then, there is the other kind of books I never learned to love. The Balanced Book.

I have to say, that even if I know the basics of accounting, and could apply it fairly well at work, I struggle applying it in my personal life. Old habits, coping mechanisms, childhood traumas, projected and displaced emotions --- these are excuses a lot of us hold on to when we know we are about to blow our budget once again. But sooner or later, it becomes exhausting to always struggle with money. Especially when you know if you were only wiser and less impulsive, you’d be sipping caipirinhas in Brazil by now if you wanted to. That’s why I choose my 29th year as the last year I would ever make myself feel like I’m 14 again and couldn’t afford to buy myself a clue.

Wiser friends have given me the following bits of financial literacy wisdom and are worth sharing:

-         Choose your minimum and maximum standard of living by keeping tabs on what you actually need and what you just want. Maybe you had to tighten your belt one time or lived hand to mouth at one point in your life. Make the best thing you were hoping for during those desperate times your minimum standard. Then tally your current resources and responsibilities (i.e. combined household income, bills, etc.) and allow only up to 10-50% above that level and make that your maximum standard. Excesses go to your Travel Piggy Bank for more meaningful results.
-         Pay yourself first – and it doesn’t mean the new Jim Butcher book or another pair of Toms. A separate savings account inaccessible by debit cards will do nicely.
-         Keep a notebook where you track all your expenses so you’ll know where your money went and could serve as monitoring tool to aid you in prioritization and allocation of resources.

Hopefully, when you’ve hurdled the Almost-30 bump, you’d have the ability to stand on your own two feet and grow gracefully from there on.

Life Skills for the Almost 30 - Accepting Physical Changes All Over Again


Remember when you turned 20 and you thought your life was about to change drastically? Well, how did that go for you? J

Yeah, I know. Nothing magical or life-altering happened to me when I turned the awesome 2-0 too. I think I aced an exam in Psychology, and learned to walk in elevator shoes, but that’s about it. Then 9 years later, I looked back and realized I am NOT the same person I was at 20 years old. The changes are imperceptible at first, but I can feel it in my bones – something has been calibrated.

Now that the big 3-0 is looming over me like a highly combustible Terra Nova dinosaur breathing down my neck, I try to tell myself this would be just like the last “transition” stage. Pretty much anti-climactic. It’s clear that society nowadays no longer want to believe in the traditional stages of life and you can do whatever you want, whatever age you are and wherever the eff you are. But the dormant OC gene in my body has woken up (for a while, at least) to remind me it is best to be prepared than sorry. It’s the same gene that told me to back up all my files on my desktop in case the Millenium bug bites. And most recently, the one responsible for my atonement of sins just in case that loony old Caucasian man actually has a clue about the end of the world this year. I’m sure next year the gene will be on hyperdrive as 12.12.12 draws nearer. But for now, she is quite occupied about January when my body clock finally clocks in 30 years of existence.

To pacify this deviant gene, I have compiled my observations about what survival skills are necessary for the Almost-30 to thrive and prosper. I may hit some things head on. But of course, I am only 29 and could only guarantee so much. If ever I make it to 39, whole of mind and body, I’ll make sure to check in on you for updates. But for now, hypothesize with me.

The New New Skill Set

1. Accepting the changes in your  body --- all over again

15 years ago, unwanted body hair and acne were the bane of our existence. The unruly hormones that brought out all that angst, and the different maniacal coping mechanisms from within us almost spelled disaster. Then suddenly it stopped (visualize a cloud parting for the sun metaphor here) and we were finally free! 5, 6, 7, 8 years go by and your body is a wonderland. You can down 5 Krispy Kremes in 5 minutes. You sleep past 3 am and wake up at 6 and could still make it on time for your gang’s Saturday Morning Coffee round-up ala-Friends. Most importantly, stairs weren’t the enemy.

If you were one of the enlightened few who treated their bodies like a temple (or a Porsche, depending on your religious beliefs), you would have avoided all of the above and ate nothing but tofu and grass, went to the gym or exercised like a nun would do Vespers, and slept the required amount of time for proper recuperation. But let’s get real, our generation had more Ashton Kutchers than there were Dalai Lamas. So by the age of 28, some of us are already slowing down, eyebrows rising in surprise when the last flight of stairs almost killed us, or when the 13 shopping bags of kikay stuff resulted to an equal amount of Salonpas patches for your arms and shoulders the next day. And the lines, girl. Your face is starting to go all Clint Eastwood on you, especially around the eyes.

Then one inauspicious morning, you wake up and realized you have accepted the truth. Your body is aging. You are nearer to the grave than you were 10 years ago. As my boyfriend’s friend aptly remarked, “Hindi na tayo early 20’s.” The first chink in your Batman suit of armour appears. Vincible. No, we say, there is no such word as Vincible. But there you are, proof that nobody is Invincible --- not forever.

So here’s what I suggest: Take a good long look at yourself in the mirror, nod respectfully to your reflection and say, ‘Good times, man. Good times.’ Then brush your teeth, exfoliate, moisturize (make sure it has sunblock in it), eat your cereal ( no sugar) and down your fresh grapefruit juice. Walk, climb, jump or hike if you have to going to work. Anything to get those triglycerides down. Because you refuse, refuse to be 50 before you are 30.

And in a couple years time, I might just try my own suggestions myself. J

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Ten Words that Define

After reading Alexandra Stoddard, was encouraged to write down 10 words which defines me and they're not necessarily adjectives. Why not, diba?
:D

Rain



Books



Hope









Words












Chocolate


Purple










Dream












Music




Art












Bed

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Girl Brava

During last week’s girls’ night out, one of my fearless female friends shared her adventures/misadventures in NOT pursuing a guy she likes. The stories were weird, laugh out loud funny, makes you wince at all the right moments, and sweetly achingly familiar to all of us. And if you were there, girl, you’d have thought it familiar too. I have reason to believe that as smart and quirky as my close circle of friends are, there’s an iota of us that is similar to all girls everywhere --- utter cluelessness about men.
You see, usual love stories are those involving a boy falling head over heels in love with a girl and pursuing her affections to the ends of both earth and sanity. Turn this inside out and you get the story of a girl falling head over heels in love with a boy and pursuing his affections to the ends of… you know how it goes. (Of course these are just the het versions, I’m aware the nouns could be replaced with about a hundred other pairing possibilities). But let’s be real. It takes an awful lot of guts to actually pursue a guy, and even if we have heard of outlandish stories about women following men around raining them with gifts and favors or boldly daring them to fall in love with her, there are still those of us who aren’t ready to take that giant leap. And so we take them critterly small steps, daring within the confounds of the acceptable with only our little toes stepping over the line.
Nobody died and made me an expert, so don’t quote me on this. We all know that there was a perception in conservative societies (although it’s fast dissipating) that men do the deciding. But it’s 2011 and I believe, women are a little faster on the uptake and can decide faster* . How many girls out there knew 1.5 years ahead of the boy that they will be good for each other? (okay, the numerical data in that statement may have been biased towards the author’s experience, but you get my point, right?) And yet no matter how modern the times are, you still hesitate to make this matter known. Sometimes, you don’t even want to make this matter known at all, ever. If the world could just move on 15 degrees of an angle from the issue, you’d be fine.
However, regardless of the damage it creates on our nervous system, we still somehow can’t help but analyze things and slip a couple of Inception-style ideas out there.
To a woman, a couple of hints and subtle moves are all it takes for neurons to make connections and analogies. Flower and chocolates are the obvious outdated moves. We don’t need those to get our thinking gears moving. It’s a little more complicated, er... although, I prefer the term “sophisticated”, than that: body language (is he leaning in too close? Did his hand brush mine on purpose? Etc.), verbal cues (“what’s up? Whatcha doing?” is translated as “does he want to know if we could hang out? Oh my God, does he want to hang out with me?”), and here comes the most nerve-wracking one --- sub-conscious cues (Was that a Freudian slip? why did he blink that way? Why did he choose that word to describe his dream girl? Is it because it rhymes with my name?). In. Sane. But it happens, except maybe to a handful of super enlightened women who are 100% confident all the time and one of whom I am yet to meet.

How about men, I wonder? Did they understand that we don’t usually stay up until 3 a.m. texting about basketball game scores? That our mothers couldn’t make us clean our rooms but upon learning the guy’s coming over, you mysteriously catch a virus that makes you ill enough to attack dust bunnies and curtains that needs to be washed pronto? The text message that took us 3 hours to compose to get just the right balance of curiosity and disinterest? That those cookies you gave him before his important meeting weren’t because we baked a surplus (when we can’t tell one end of a spatula from the other)? The hand we offered and took back when a guy offers a handshake as goodbye when you realized your hands would actually be touching? The Charlie Brown doll you said reminded you of him which later on mysteriously disappears from his room and his life (btw, Ian, just give this back to me, I’ve been embarrassed long enough). Maybe they did. Maybe they didn’t. But more often than not, they do nothing about it. Sometimes forever. But sometimes, they finally assimilate and do something about it an epic era after. Because girls --- guys are Just. That. Slow. Not always too slow to pick up on things. But snail carrier-worthy when it comes to actually doing something about it.

Sometimes, I wished things were more cut and dried than usual—he came, he saw, he conquered (or so he thinks). But for us girls who couldn’t or wouldn't have it so tidy, I guess the choice we have is to live life bravely. Er, not dangerously brave, nothing that will land you in gaol or the asylum. But be as brave as we could be. For some it’s a pinky toe over the line of the appropriate, for others it’s a leg and a limb over society’s expectations. I am not one to discriminate. Because we are brave the way only we could be and it will defeat the purpose of defying the stereotypes if you stereotype bravery.
Love someone. Let him know. Discreetly. Flamboyantly. Take that step, make that run. Fall flat on your face. Sometimes, nobody’s there to catch you. All the time though, pick yourself up. Because when you least expect it, a hand reaches out to you. Maybe his. Maybe another’s. And sometimes, they don’t let go.

-=-=--=--=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
Superscript:
* BOYS: yes, girls are fast on the uptake and deciding. The stereotyping that we change our minds a lot may be due to the fact that we have already assimilated and considered more scenarios and decided thrice before you even reach your first conclusion. :D But this is just me.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Summer Movie Reviews (in 50 words or less)

Thor – stunning visuals, killer abs, epic score and thrilling sound effects to distract us from a storyline that could’ve been written by a 10-year-old kid --- one heck of a prodigious 10 year old, but still.

Beastly – this retake of Beauty and the Beast is not as beastly as its title, but nothing beautiful in it either. Storyline is half-baked, hardly credible, and makes sense as much as those hats worn by royals during Will & Kate’s wedding day.

Fast Five – not as disappoiting as the last 2 installments. It’s an honest-to-goodness edge of your seat adrenaline ride. It even got me cheering and laughing at the bald-faced heist scenes. Storyline is predictable, but delivery is as precise as car drifting and just as entertaining and less lethal to booth.



Water for Elephants - I really suggest you read the book instead. There is a lyrical beauty and imminent danger better presented by the text than by watching Robert Pattinson’s brooding chin.

The King’s Speech – simple, credible, uplifting. Story-driven and flawless acting from its lead characters making it easy to follow, although I admit you’d need the focus of a law student through some scenes. However, you’d have to be a gargoyle if you are not moved by the last few minutes of the film.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Geek's Guide to the Movies: Source Code





Honestly, I have no friggin' idea what a Source Code is. I'm a nerdy kind of geek, not the master techie one. I know my way around an operating system, and I don't panic when the screen turns black and DOS-type words appear, but beyond that... moot.

So the title of this movie intrigued and scared me. I have to say, it's one of the most elitist titles ever chosen by movie producers. Only a few people truly understand the words "Source" and "Code" put together, and mayhaps it conjures not very interesting images of green font blinking jarringly against black screen. It is an inaccessible jargon, and it may have just ruined the chances of this movie ever being watched by non-geeks. A true loss for everyone.

The movie is a toned-down Inception --- in the sense that it makes you believe in something that usually shouldn't make sense. The premise is that Capt. Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhall) awakes in a different body on a speeding train which bursts to flames 8 minutes later. The last time he was conscious, he was in the middle of the fight covered in blood and mud in Iraq, so yes, the monkey suit, coach train and pretty girl in front of him was a jarring, confusing reality to wake up to. 8 minutes later though, the train is blown up by a bomb, and he is transported back to a capsule where he learns he is on a military mission to stop a massive bomb threat to downtown Chicago, an event which is connected to the exploded train that morning.

I better take a breather to explain how they made it sound possible, and it gets a bit science-y, be warned: Colter woke up in the body of Sean Fentress, a history teacher, who was on that train. They are the closest fit to body built, race, some genetic similarities enabling Colter to inhibit Sean's memory of his body and surroundings for the last 8 minutes. You remember that latest G.I. Joe movie where they tried to get the last few seconds of an enemy's memory to know who is controlling those metal eating tiny monstrosities? Well, in the movie, that they were able to retrieve Sean's brains in which his synaptic nerves still contains the memory of the last 8 minutes of his life. That's why, Colter only has 8 minutes every time he goes back to the train. The inventor and controlling officer (Goodwin) also explained that it wasn't a form of time travel, you could not change anything. Nobody could exist outside the Source Code.

But the catch is, everytime he goes back, it's another version of reality. Meaning, as Colter said it, "it's the same train, but different." So he gets sent back and back again until he finds the bomb and the bomber and the possible whereabouts of the next massive bomb. He also discovers he is dead, save for a small part of his brain.

Regardless of his grief, he does find the bomber, he does save Chicago from a meltdown. But at the end, he asked for a final release, to go back to the train and try to save the people inside, including Christina (Michelle Monaghan). Even if it wouldn't change a thing. And in a final act of solidarity, the controlling officer sent him, and then unplugged his life support.

But not before Colter disables the bomb in the other reality, not before he kissed the girl (again), not before he dared a bitter comedian on board to give an impromptu performance to amuse everyone. The final seconds of his last 8 minutes (EVER) counted down, and at 00 hours the shot froze on the kiss, panned to the frozen happy faces of the people laughing... a far cry from the despaired, confused faces he kept seeing in the countless other 8 minutes he has been in.

The director is a genius. He knows when to freeze shots to emphasize the story. It was like watching a visual harmony, where the stops and gaps tells a story in itself.

And you have to watch the movie to know what happened in the -01 second. It's still showing, so I implore everyone who has a mind to use their brains while watching a movie (unlike in, let's say, Big Momma's Like Mother, Like Son)to catch it if it still shows after Holy Week.

Not everything about the movie makes sense in the afterthought, but it was sure worth it during the whole ride.

Finally, Geek's Guide can finally recommend a 2011 movie wholeheartedly. This is a rare thing, so it must mean something. :D

Summer

I wither in summer.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Geek's Guide to the Movies: Sucker Punch



Presenting the return of the Geek. It's been a while. I wish I could've made a comeback sounding like a changed person; I was imagining critiquing a movie so awe-inspiring I just had to write a review about it. Ironically, it's the other way around. Somebody needs to warn the masses about this film. Do not waste 200 bucks on it. In the end, the only person who gets Sucker Punched is you.

I admit, I excite easily. Books, food... and movies. Watching trailers is like foreplay to me. When I saw the trailer for Sucker Punch, it was so mind-blowingly anime-zing that I even alloted a brain cell to remember its showdate. I wasn't expecting an intellectual film, of course. It was obvious to me even then that the movie is akin to an adolescent phantasmagoria. But I wasn't expecting a plotless, spineless film that pretends at empowering girls while encapsulating them further into the stereotype. If I take my lenses off --- all of the lenses at that --- I did feel a certain thrill of imagining myself as a gun-toting, samurai-wielding Lara Croft type of super heroine. But someone should have told the producers that the scenarios they have placed "Babydoll" in are not the inner workings of a woman. Certainly not one that, as the movie took the effort to explain, grew up as a bourgoise bred Anglo Saxon.

Sucker Punch is eye-candy. To be more precise, it's pop rocks for the extremely hormonal. The kind that sizzles and twitches in your mouth. But after all the popping and cracking is done, you're just left with a monstrous sweetness nauseauting enough to lead you into diabetic coma. I wish I could comment on the technicalities of the plot. But as I have mentioned before, it doesn't have one that makes any kind of respectable sense. In a bubble gum, it's supposed to be about a girl who was committed by his stepfather into a mental institution (which is actually a front for a "Dancing" club / whorehouse). She finds it so miserable that in one of her trances, she was told by a hammy looking old man the only way to get out is to find 5 items: a map, fire, knife, key and 1 other mystery object. The movie revolves around the trances she gets everytime they plot to retrieve an item. And the really kooky part is, we don't really get to see her dance.

Oh, and they all die, or get lobotomized in the end, save for one. Which one... is supposedly where you get sucker punched. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Un-perfect


The writing prompt was: to take elements from the story of sleeping beauty and to write it under half an hour.
-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

The first time Liz heard David snore, she laughed.

She worked late that night and he offered to drive her home after dinner. By the time they got to her place, it was already past midnight and David looked like he was about to drop. Liz felt guilty, and asked if he would like to take a nap first before heading back to the city. David was too exhausted to refuse.

In a matter of minutes, he was dead to the world on Liz’s bed. Then he snored. Loudly.

Liz found it adorable at first.

But just then, a bitter, ugly voice spoke inside her head asking, “For how long?” How long until what she finds adorable now becomes irritating later? The thought was punctuated by another deafening snore. Without meaning to, she winced. She sat on the chair beside the bed and watched him sleep.

“How un-perfect,” she thought. “Here I am, with a guy on my bed, fast asleep and snoring.” None of the romance novels she read told the story of the guy who fell asleep after rescuing the damsel-in-distress. And certainly, none of them ever mentioned the hero snoring loud enough to wake the dead. Liz knew she should be appalled. But…

There’s something familiar about the way he’s sprawled on the pillows and the way his left arm is splayed to the side. It was more of a boyish pose than a gallant one. And yet instead of being turned off, Liz felt warmth spread through her instead. Because she noticed that even on her tiny, tiny bed, he made a space for her. Beside David is a Liz-shaped space for when she’s ready.

Hesitations slowly faded away. And when she was finally sure, she stood up from the chair, made her way to the bed and fitted herself beside him.

“So that’s how it feels to cross the line between fiction and reality,” she whispered to the sleeping David. In romance novels, the guy is picture perfect, filled with electrifying energy and probably doesn’t snore. But none of them could hold a candle to this warmth, this space where she fits, the rhythm of their breaths syncing in contentment. Liz seals this realization by planting a soft kiss on his lips.

David wakes with a jolt. “Sorry! Am I hogging the bed?” He reaches out to touch her face.

Liz smiled, “Nope, don’t worry, I fit,” she said. “Sleep a few more minutes. I’ll wake you when it’s time.”

He nodded and moved to his side to hug her. “Thanks, love. One full REM cycle should do it,” he quipped.

“Take two, if you want.”

David leaned forward and kissed Liz’s forehead. “I should probably tell you, Liz. I snore in my sleep.”

“Ha! I should probably tell you David, I talk in my sleep.” She replied.

He grinned at her and hugged her tighter. “Well, that’s just perfect.”

Huh.

“Yeah… that’s exactly what I realized. Perfect.”

Friday, March 11, 2011

Not an Average Love Letter

Lately, I have been hinting heavily at my boyfriend that I would “appreciate” receiving a love letter. He’s been spot-on so far --- big boxes of chocolates, scouring shops and shelling out the bucks for my “craving of the month” munchies, flowers in vases and fluffy stuff to clutter my bed with. Everything except the Letter.

See, some girls dream of breathtakingly expensive proposals, some of big fabulous weddings, and some fantasize of babies in a twin carriage. But ever since I was young, I only had one romantic notion and that is to receive one heck of a searingly honest, non-sappy, ultra-passionate love letter. The kind of letter that bares the soul and seals in ink the reasons and unreasons of Love --- so real it makes all other literature pale in comparison.

I guess on the off-hand, it sounds like a tall order. I can imagine litgeeks balking at this request. And my guy, who like my sister believes that reading and writing are things you suffer through only for a perfectly iron-clad and inescapable logical reason, might not be comfortable trying to find the right words. And so I thought, maybe I should give it a try first before I ask it of anybody else. But I hit a problem.

I honestly haven’t written a love letter before --- and given it to the person I wrote it for. I managed to write a few which were supposed to be unsent, and they are now populating the bottom drawer of my study table along with clippings of articles about Boyzone and Backstreet Boys.

A love letter meant to be read however, must not just be heartfelt. I suppose it has to be relatable. It also cannot have any signs of delusional psychopathy (just like signing it off as Yours forever, Mrs. Liv Gately).

Unsure on how to proceed, I decided to do what geeks and nerds do whenever they are faced with a new problem --- research, of course. I have no intention to plagiarize. I was just wondering, really 100% wondering, how other geniuses like myself (oh wait, yeah, we agreed on a zero delusions policy so scratch the last part) wrote love letters.

And as it turns out, they weren’t all what they’re touted to be. I came across a lot of “Ohs” ( as in Oh, oh, love, thy light is oh, oh, so bright) and “Dears” (Dearest of my heart; I hold you dear my darling) and over postulated sentences such as “Your scent a thousand sultans crave… it perfumes the onerous, palpable night, my beautiful, breathtaking (insert name of flower here)” which in the end really only wanted to say “You smell good, babe.”


No, I was looking for the perfect balance of beauty and practicality with a dash of imagination and science. A person could say, “ The nearness of you intoxicates, blurs the line between here and there, today and tomorrow --- a heady mix of truth that is present and truth we wish will be” or settle with “You drive me crazy insane, love.” Both are acceptable, but neither suits my taste. One is too flowery and sounds too much like prescribed reading for English class and the other one fails to justify the parameters of insanity.

So maybe… Napoleon Bonaparte said it better to Josephine? Let’s see:

Paris, December 1795

I wake filled with thoughts of you. Your portrait and the intoxicating evening which we spent yesterday have left my senses in turmoil. Sweet, incomparable Josephine, what a strange effect you have on my heart! Are you angry? Do I see you looking sad? Are you worried?... My soul aches with sorrow, and there can be no rest for you lover; but is there still more in store for me when, yielding to the profound feelings which overwhelm me, I draw from your lips, from your heart a love which consumes me with fire? Ah! it was last night that I fully realized how false an image of you your portrait gives!

You are leaving at noon; I shall see you in three hours.

Until then, mio dolce amor, a thousand kisses; but give me none in return, for they set my blood on fire.


Well, yeah, I guess that’s not lame stuff. Miles better than what Mozart can cook up with a pen. Seriously, the guy should’ve just stuck with sheet music. How would you feel if you were the lucky recipient of these fond words:

"I now wish you goodnight, shit in your bed with all your might, sleep with peace on your mind and try to kiss your own behind. [...] Oh my ass burns like fire! What on earth is the meaning of this! ---- maybe muck wants to come out? yes, yes, muck..."

Mozart. Ever the romantic. Aren’t you glad his music never had any lyrics? One could wonder what words he sang under his breath while composing the Hallelujah chorus. Thankfully, he’s dead and we will never know.

At this point of my research, I decided how pathetic my endeavour is. Seriously, nobody SANE researches love letters. Only me and 54,900,000,000 people have looked it up.

Besides, love letters aren’t something you force on people. It’s most beautiful when unprompted and unscripted. I may not have the pretty yellowing paper to show for it someday, but I have heard it from his lips and I have seen it with my eyes.

I am somebody’s true north. Knowing this, I can wait a little longer for the letter. And if it never gets written, I wager it’s because it got lived instead.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Stories We Tell To Heal

I had a very early flight to Bicol today, and I opted to take a cab straight to the airport. I prefer to have peace and quiet when it's too early in the morning. However, the cab driver I got had other ideas. He was the talkative type who asks where your province is and how old you are blah blah blah, which is hard enough to deal with during the day. But at 4 a.m., it kind of makes you want to go insane.

But the street lights were still on and everything had a yellowish silent glow and I decided I was up for it. Game.

So I answered his questions as truthfully as I believe is safe (in case he's a stalker or the front of a thieving gang) up to the point when he asked where my parents are. That's when I found myself answering "At home. Sleeping."

Although I love writing fiction, it rarely crosses over to my real life. I do my best to keep fabrication out of my day-to-day encounters. So much simpler and easier to remember that way. This morning though, i decided to weave a story which is not necessarily false --- somewhere inside me, I believe it's true.

So I decided to become the chatty chitty myself. I told him where they are working and how yesterday my dad saw the same accident the driver saw. That my mum gets nervous when there are people crossing the street and how she reminds me everyday to never cross commonwealth at all costs.

Mundane, everyday things that I took for granted back then.

When I got off the cab, the driver told me to give my regards to my family and told me how lucky I am that we are so close.

Well... that's still true despite the reality gap imposed by death, so I decided to just smile, say thanks and close the door softly lest it disturbs the shimmering happy leypath of the stories I just told.