28 September 2020

Wanting more and wanting less

I don't talk a lot about myself and if I do, it probably has something to do with my apartment. I've dedicated an entire label to it.

A recent epiphany had me loving what I have made mine. Cooped up in my old bedroom, I would pine for magazine cover-worthy houses — dog and enviable lifestyle included. Things happen fast in my head, my reality can't catch up with my desires. What I fail to see is that slowly I accumulate the pretty little things I dream of.

My fantasies, upon re-examination, aren't perfect either. Even in that imagined space, something is missing or the elements don't add up. This chrome electric fan is glorious, but it clashes with the wooden shelf.

These thoughts flood my head after reading this Rebecca Watts poem.

The Studio

little lady little man
little pot little pan
little table little chair
little cupboard little stair
little plant little leaves
little rooftop little eaves
little cake little pie
little naptime lullaby
little blanket little book
little corner little nook
little cushion little frame
little thing without a name
little statue little bell
little bauble little shell
little lamp little pin
little box to put it in
little apron little jug
little window little rug
little postcard little rock
little candle little clock
little broom little door
little greedy wanting more

—Rebecca Watts
And immediately I am reminded of this Kay Ryan poem, which I featured earlier in this blog. It's worth reposting here as seeing the two poems side-by-side makes me smile; I can relate to both in equal measure.
That Will to Divest

Action creates
a taste for itself.
Meaning: once
you've swept
the shelves
of spoons
and plates
you kept
for guests,
it gets harder
not to also
simplify the larder,
not to dismiss
rooms, not to
divest yourself
of all the chairs
but one, not
to test what
singleness can bear,
once you've begun.

—Kay Ryan
Am I living in my dream house now? Which is to ask, Am I now living the life that I want? Can we ever answer yes? Maybe in brief moments.

Muscle memory

Telling the Sky III

Sun-streaks. Music in solid state.


Afternoon above. Draped sheets
of blue and Afghan red.


Walking home and towards the moon.
Arriving at neither.

—Razel Estrella

At some point in my adult life I've realized how numb we can be. We laugh at the fast-food crew member who, in sticking to their script, asks questions we have just answered; but we are no less guilty of the same mechanical existence.

Consider the evening I clocked out of my Manila office then found myself, as if magically, at home. I wasn't exactly tired. It was simply another day at work. Retracing my steps, I figured that I hopped on an FX shuttle service, hopped off, crossed the street, walked towards my village, took several left and right turns, reached for my keys, opened the gate to the townhouse, climbed up three flights of stairs, unlocked the door to my apartment. All this done unconsciously, a single extended muscle reflex.

Home, however, is in constant state of defamiliarization. While there's nothing more I look forward to than going home after a forgettable shift, I fear it as well. Elswehwere I've talked about my bad feelings about my family and they often resurface once the house gets closer. My body weakens. I rush, if I could I would fly to my bed, so I'd get the anger over with.

When I pay attention, meaning if I slow down, I'm rewarded by clarity of thought and a clear view of the night sky.

20 September 2020

Thoughts on 'Sining Sigla'

Those of us going through this pandemic in the comforts of our homes can easily forget how difficult living day-to-day must be for those who didn't have our good fortune. My four-year-old niece, for example, started taking online classes this month, an event that reminded me that not every child has access to a stable internet connection, let alone the gadgets and environment to make e-learning a possibility.

It is in this temperament that I regard Cultural Center of the Philippines' efforts to bring the arts to the masses during these times. Pre-COVID19, the company brought art to cities like Antique, Bulacan, and Iloilo through its Office the President Outreach Program.

Now, CCP–OP has launched its virtual counterpart, called Sining Sigla. High-quality, educational, Philippine culture-focused art content is promised free of charge to the public — at least to those who have the right technology.

This isn't a criticism of the program but rather an expression of sadness for the state we're in. Looking on the bright side, artists are soldiering on, and here's an opportunity for us to (safely) engage with art. Spread the word, especially to families with kids. There's something great for them here.

Sining Sigla Schedule (From the CCP–OP presser)

MALA (Movies Adapted from Literary Arts): A series of fun short videos that aim to educate, inculcate good values, and make the young appreciate the arts further. The first two installments are adaptations of Ibong Adarna (October 2020) and Florante at Laura (November 2020). Director: Xian Lim; scriptwriter: Ony Carcamo; production designer: Aina Ramolete.

Jazz Stay At Home (September – October 2020): A jazz festival featuring Baihana (vocal trio), Nicole Asensio, Lorna and Pipo Cifra, Simon Tan Trio, and Michael Guevarra.

Jose Corazon De Jesus retrospective (November 2020): "Pagbabalik-tanaw sa Unang Hari Ng Balagtasan." The show stars John Arcilla, Lara Maigue, and Ony Carcamo. Director: Ricky Davao; scriptwriter, assistant director, and production designer: Ohm David.

Pamaskong Handog ng PPO: A Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra Christmas concert.

Catch these specials via the Cultural Center of the Philippines Office of the President Facebook Page.

Flying like children

Our summer in September

Here's a wonderful story told within this story, and that which heightens my awareness of my growing fondness for my niece:

When I was a girl I lived in a little city on the side of a mountain. There was snow on top and a green river at the bottom... Strangers who came there called it a city of birds. How true. Of an evening, when it was almost dark, they flew in clouds, and sometimes it was not possible to see the moon rise: never have there been so many birds. But in winter it was bad, mornings so cold we could not break the ice to wash our faces. And on those mornings you would see a sad thing: sheets of feathers where the birds had fallen frozen: believe me. It was my father's job to sweep them up, like old leaves; then they were put into a fire. But a few he would bring home. Mama, all of us, we nursed them until they were strong and could fly away. They would fly away just when we loved them most. Oh, like children! (Capote, Truman. Summer Crossing. Penguin Classis, 2006, pp 87 – 88.)

09 September 2020

It was never dark there: Notes on 'Summer Crossing'

Capote, Truman. Summer Crossing. Penguin Classis, 2006.

Summer Crossing is said to be "the lost novel that inspired Breakfast at Tiffany's." I'm only at the book's beginning and already I've noted a conspicuous prose-poetry style — enjoyable in small doses, chafing when too much — which is later on refined to simply poetic (to perfection in my opinion) in BAT and In Cold Blood.

It is also making me pine for city chaos and, especially in Chapter 2, the theatre:

Broadway is a street; it is also a neighborhood, an atmosphere. From the time she was thirteen, and during all those winters at Miss Risdale's classes, Grady had made, even if it meant skipping school, as it often did, secret and weekly expeditions into this atmosphere, the attraction at first being band-shows at the Paramount, the Strand, curious movies that never played the theaters east of Fifth or in Stamford and Greenwich. In the last year, however, she had liked only to walk around or stand on street-corners with crowds moving about her. She would stay all afternoon and sometimes until it was dark. But it was never dark there (emphasis mine): the lights that had been running all day grew yellow at dusk, white at night, and the faces, those dream-trapped faces, revealed their most to her then. Anonymity was part of the pleasure, but while she was no longer Grady McNeil, she did not know who it was that replaced her, and the tallest fires of her excitement burned with a fuel she could not name. (pp 24 – 25)

It was never dark there. I bet none of us imagined places like Broadway would ever be dark or mute, but here we are.

04 September 2020

Let's be friends

HELLO! I've been checking my stats and I notice that I have some regular readers from different parts of the world. You have no idea how happy that makes me.

If it's okay with you, I'd very much like to know you. Please leave a comment, maybe with your name and social media account, so I coult stalk you hahaha. (All my socials are in the side bar, if you're interested.)

Anyway, I wish you a good day ahead and I'll do my best to be a better writer and person.

Top Shelf