30 July 2020

Charli teaches me to dance

Charli teaches me to dance

First acknowledge gravity.
The desire to free
Oneself from Earth's constant pull
Is everyday affair.
Hold balance, lift
Until all is air. If you do
It right, a flick of fear
Might show in the eye;
But never look down
Else everyone will.

Trade sorrow for grandeur
Of ascent. From the tip of your toe
The world suspends —
Hearts break and made
Whole again — while we
Catch our breath.
In a split-second of doubt,
Don't think of falling, forget
The ground and its noble burden
To wait for you to land.

— Razel Estrella (2020)

If you don't know it yet, I'm a closet dancer (sort of) and I'm low-key obsessed (oxymoron?) with Charli D'Amelio. Whenever she shows up on my feed, it's like someone is giving me my happy pill. Is it because she exudes fun and freedom on top of being beautiful and talented? No, because so many others are!

Okay, stay with me. Another addiction of mine is Gordon Ramsay. When I was still fantasizing about learning to cook, I came across his video where he boiled potatoes for seven minutes, then sautéed them. It's the simplest thing in the world and yet he was the only one who managed to make me get up, go out, buy some potatoes and actually cook.

"That looks amazing. And wait, that looks like something I could do, too. And yes, I want to do that." I could say that about both Charli and Ramsay. Beyond accessibility, they have this gift to inspire.

Speaking of inspiration, Charli is obviously the muse in this poem.

But I had long been thinking about dance as the most beautiful way to fly. For so long I've been in love with the idea of resisting gravity — the very thing that holds us together. The way we work with and against our limitations a dance in itself.

20 July 2020

Telling the sky

My friend, Cherry tells me that she's enjoying my recent and frequent sky posts on social media. The influx of material (ie, photos) is a result of the quarantine.

Like I said here, the practice is new to me. Then I remember that way back in the past (ie, 10 or so years ago), I was already an avid sky watcher. And even wrote about what I saw — tweeted them.

Twitter was a different beast back then, a gentle, playful one. I owned a Palm Treo and willingly paid P15 to tweet via text. Imagine the value of words and the cost of being heard. I would report the state of skies.
Telling the Sky I

Morning, birds are heading west
where colors abandon their clouds.


A pearl suspended in felt.
The moon too close, too real to pluck.


Morning, pale blue all over.
East an early arson.

—Razel Estrella (2009)

Back then, the commute to and from work was a form of respite. I got to look up and long enough, whether from a vehicle window or while walking on empty streets.

There must be several factors that explain why I stopped, but there's no point in investigating them. What I want to do is make a compilation à la Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird, and in the process keep the habit of looking.

Notes on 'Ecce Homo'

A friend advised that instead of self-help books, read the philosophers. Makes sense. The self-help articles and videos I consume reference the great thinkers anyway.

Why the need for self help? I've always believed that I am mentally healthy. Which means I could manage intrusive thoughts and extreme emotions. I've also made a temple out of solitude.

Until this pandemic shakes everything, including my mental temple. Doubts arise and loom ever so persistently. By managing my head I may have meant creating distractions or utilizing the imagination to build a fantasy land to escape to. There's also this new reality that I don't have access to things that make me happy: theater, concerts, being out there.

Nietzsche, Friedrich. Ecce Homo. Oxford, 2007.

So I look at my book shelf and pick Nietszche's slim autobiography, Ecce Homo. I remember the excitement I felt when I bought it eight years ago. I'm only midway through, but I'd like to spend more time pondering on some sections. For now, I'll share quotes (even if feels wrong, given that their context is so important):
I don't want to be mistaken for anyone — so I mustn't mistake myself. (p36)

Ultimately no one can hear in things — books included — more than he already knows. If you have no access to something from experience, you will have no ear for it... Those who thought they understand me have turned me into something else, in their own image. (p37)

You have to be sure of yourself, you have to be standing bravely on your own two feet otherwise you cannot love. (p42)

06 July 2020

Finger exercise: The graveyard shift

I'm only starting to feel whatever form of anxiety one should be feeling during this pandemic. In terms of life being delayed, and the rest of our years to be spent on catching up. Making up for everything we've lost and failed to do.

In my late twenties, that's when I figured that I'm a late bloomer. Of course I only had my peers as reference. It's not that I was lazy or didn't have the same opportunities as they had, but my mind was simply elsewhere. I didn't value what they valued — having sex, getting a boyfriend (yeah, in that order, kidding), joining workshops, publishing a book, driving a car, travelling, et cetera.

What kept me busy then? I can't seem to recall. Daydreaming, I think. Gaining work experience. To be completely honest — and this might sound weird to those who know me as a carefree artsy person — I enjoyed the corporate life. That was one of my actual dreams-come-true.

I wasn't the "You can't tie me down in an office desk" type of person. Getting my first job is still something I'm proud of. It was in a prestigious country club in the communications department and a fellow candidate was a former high school mate. She was a top student in my class and I felt insecure, but hey, I was the one who got the job!

Now, I've changed. I want to do more writing and less office work. I work for the bare minimum. And now, already a hundred or so days into quarantine, I have this regret of not achieving my current lifestyle a bit earlier in my life; and by earlier I meant in my twenties.

But oh well.
The graveyard shift

Closed curtains to shield
the home office from neighborhood noises.
As if that will work.

Birds’ twitter gets into my head.
Dogs bark and bark and who knows who else
is joining the meeting?

The sky must turn now
from black to pink, and I will miss the show.
Instead I will dream in the afternoon

of buying everything back,
lost and taken, with the sum I receive
on a Friday paycheck.

—Razel Estrella, July 2020

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