In medias res

Haven’t written in days. I, however, have been thinking a lot — and realizing important things, too. I have good reason to believe that despite everything that has happened and the collateral trauma brought about by such events, I am, for the first time in years, seeing things clearly now.

I’ve gone through every elementary emotion this weekend, from elation to good ol’ melancholy and back again. Those in-between, those we could never name for they are gone almost as soon as they came
, can only be described as confusion, but I am realizing I don’t mind so much. This is the sanest I’ve felt in a long time, and if dealing with myself and all the randomness coupled to my very name, or at the very least learning to, is part of maintaining equilibrium — then by all means, bring it on.

 

You want a physicist to speak at your funeral. You want the physicist to talk to your grieving family about the conservation of energy, so they will understand that your energy has not died. You want the physicist to remind your sobbing mother about the first law of thermodynamics; that no energy gets created in the universe, and none is destroyed. You want your mother to know that all your energy, every vibration, every Btu of heat, every wave of every particle that was her beloved child remains with her in this world. You want the physicist to tell your weeping father that amid energies of the cosmos, you gave as good as you got.

And at one point you’d hope that the physicist would step down from the pulpit and walk to your brokenhearted spouse there in the pew and tell him that all the photons that ever bounced off your face, all the particles whose paths were interrupted by your smile, by the touch of your hair, hundreds of trillions of particles, have raced off like children, their ways forever changed by you. And as your widow rocks in the arms of a loving family, may the physicist let her know that all the photons that bounced from you were gathered in the particle detectors that are her eyes, that those photons created within her constellations of electromagnetically charged neurons whose energy will go on forever.

And the physicist will remind the congregation of how much of all our energy is given off as heat. There may be a few fanning themselves with their programs as he says it. And he will tell them that the warmth that flowed through you in life is still here, still part of all that we are, even as we who mourn continue the heat of our own lives.

And you’ll want the physicist to explain to those who loved you that they need not have faith; indeed, they should not have faith. Let them know that they can measure, that scientists have measured precisely the conservation of energy and found it accurate, verifiable and consistent across space and time. You can hope your family will examine the evidence and satisfy themselves that the science is sound and that they’ll be comforted to know your energy’s still around. According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone; you’re just less orderly. Amen.”

— Aaron Freeman

 

stumbled upon this on my Facebook feed, on a beautiful Sunday morning.

Epiphany

Contrary to popular belief, Epicurus defined pleasure as the absence of pain. His hedonism did not reduce man to a savage brute dominated by and operating solely in pursuit of wild passions. He was after ataraxia. Peace of mind.

Is pain the absence of pleasure? You know very well that it is. Better put, it is the absence of the mere capacity of feeling and even desiring pleasure. In ten or twenty years you will laugh at yourself, how you spent a fair amount of your youth in such state — your senses dulled, incapable of anything else but grief. Over what, you have forgotten.

Does pain go away and leave no trace then?, Kawabata wrote. You agree. You too sometimes even feel sentimental for it.

And when you finally wrap your head around the idea, you are stunned. Your mind has somehow grown accustomed to being occupied, much to your dismay, by a battalion of concepts that drifts back to a common denominator no matter what you do, made into an ever-expanding patchwork of images and words. Your mind is shocked over the sudden evacuation, over the emptiness, over the voidness of thought and much more of feeling.

It felt like a slap, but it didn’t sting. Nor has it left a beep red mark. Only the warmth lingers. And you have learned, better than anyone else I should add, how to make the most out of what remains.

Rush Hour

 

 

There is a pair of bright brown eyes staring back at me. I hold the gaze for as long as I could before I realize the image is frozen solid on the screen. The DVD must have been bought off the sidewalk for the bargain price of fifty pesos. It is of course foolish of me to demand image quality, much less expect it.

The conductor pounds on the DVD player housed directly above the driver’s head, beneath the dilapidated television set bearing all over it the marks of stickers – probably of politicians campaigning for re-election – peeled off. Gray matter clings to the places they once held, until someone decided to run his nails over the outlines of each one, meticulously removing the beguiling faces from or for the sake of everyone’s viewing pleasure.

Slowly, the expressionless face of a young woman is revealed. It reminded me of espasol. Only her thin lips stood out, because they were painted in a rosy shade of red. Everything else about her, a whiter shade of pale, barely distinguishable from morning light.

The camera then pans out and then turns to the glass doors, where curtains are swaying because of a gentle breeze. Her lover appears, his face void of expression as well. He is staring at her, holding her captive by his gaze. Slowly, he stretches his arm forward, then opens his hand, beckoning her to come closer. His silver ring glistens in the sunlight.

Suddenly she is within reach, wordlessly standing in front of him. Her forefinger starts to trace the lines on his palm, perhaps to trace his fate, wondering of her place in it. A touch turns into a tight grip, and for the meantime they make the most out of proximity.

 

 

 The woman sitting next to me smiles up at the screen lovingly, indulging in every bit of the romance, even if it’s not hers. I wonder about love stories and their survival in an age so cynical and so pessimistic such as ours. For the rest of the trip, the passengers are trapped in a dream-like love affair, forgetting about the economy, or poverty, or their own romances which left them like this, longing for the slightest display of the affection one has for another.

Outside, an ambulance speeds past and overtakes. The bus driver then switches gears and then starts to snake through EDSA as if having just contaminated urgency. A myriad of lights breathes life into the city, and Metro Manila comes alive just as the sky turns pitch black and the first stars take their places.

 I envision my quiet room while the rest of the world gathered and travelled in packs. Solitude now seemed like such a foreign concept. Right now every seat in this bus is taken and those who are standing up are clutching the metal rod attached to the roof for dear life. Someone in the back has just opened a take-out bag from a fast food chain, and the smell of stale french fries wafted inside the vehicle. There is a persistent murmur coming from all directions, all voices blending and rising to a steady crescendo. All of a sudden, you are aware of a lover’s petty quarrel, the latest office gossip, acquaintances meeting by chance – all at the same time.

I am not alone anymore. I am with everyone else. 

 

 

 

submitted for ENG 152 class last semester. Archiving because this blog reeks so much of teenage angst lately. :D

Meet-cute

The first time some stranger waltzed up to me and breathed out a casual, raspy hello, my initial reaction, unlike that of gorgeous, confident femme fatales in movies, was to wrap my fingers around a pen hidden in my pocket and to sweat profusely despite a bus airconditioning vent blasting in my face, reminding myself that self-defense as a reason for murder holds up in court.

Thankfully, the guy noticed I was definitely not used to human beings being nice to fellow human beings, and so chuckled good-naturedly before counting the coins he had in his wallet. Ten minutes later after I calmed down and realized he was perfectly harmless (and adequately attractive, too), I learned he was in med school and liked indie films. Nearing his stop, he asked for my number and if I was free that weekend for Cinema One’s film fest. I remembered I had a boyfriend of two years waiting for me at home and so in a rare moment of moral uprightness, blurted out eleven random numbers instead.

Of course, in a city of eleven million, I never saw him again.

This was in 2010. Last year, drunk out of my wits somewhere in EDSA after a friend dropped me off, I boarded a bus because I stupidly dropped the crumpled bills I was clutching supposedly for cab fare and ended up arguing about atheism in the Philippines with a guy who I suspected was drunk as well. This afternoon, a policeman started a conversation about the weather (of all things!) and as far as he was concerned, my name was Patricia and I lived with my aunt Mercy.

I blame film and literature for introducing me to the romance of coincidences, which Kundera wrote was literally just that, “co-incidences”: two things happening at the same time, somehow managing to become inextricably intertwined.

The Guardian defined the “meet-cute” as the ‘Hollywood screenwriters’ name for a standard plot device in which a couple meet in a way that’s charming, ironic, or just generally amusing.’ I am, however, for the most part just amused, recognizing how appropriately convenient the events of everyday life when stacked up against each other is.

The meet-cute’s role is to introduce new people into our lives. Some of them remain, some are forever reduced to a funny anecdote. However, there are those who are already in our lives we would have rather met somewhere else, at another time, in a completely different way — perhaps when we are better people ourselves, when we have it all figured out. We don’t get our wishes granted, but these people we have built every scene up for remain prototypes, and we mould strange new characters after them, even if we try not to.

 

Rappler.panorama

 

 

 

Prestigious craft of cellphone photography, episode no. 294729472. Rappler’s Senatorial Debate, last Saturday, 13th March.

 

I think maybe, just maybe, I should get myself a camera for my 19th. There’s this Pandora’s Box of a shop in Cubao selling old amplifiers, and Minolta SLR’s. Hmmm. Daddy’s been blabbing forever about installing a dark room in his house, maybe I should take the plunge and just come home with rolls and rolls of film one night.