Mikrokosmos

My little world, for a little while.

Something very pre-Covid happened last Monday: I commuted to and from Makati to have my hair-cut, shop, dine, and hate on the crowd.

It has been a solid 21 months since I've done that and boy, does it feel good.

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Once upon a time, Greenbelt 3 was the place to go to if I would like to go book-shopping. Facing the road was the two-storey Power Books, where my university friends and I spent countless hours and cash on books and possibly coffee.

The book-store had evolved into a book-slash-office-and-school-supplies-store until it closed and was replaced by an H&M.

With its evolution and eventual demise, good literary books, especially poetry, have been a struggle to find; and somehow my excitement to hunt for rare gems in second-hand book shops have also waned. Finding gold that's dirt cheap becomes meaningless if that's the only option you have.

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Another category of books in abundance during that time was music books: sheet music, method books, classical etudes, 'song hits' (lead sheet of popular music). These are close to extinct these days.

In my early years of piano lessons, I hoarded them. What the hell was I going to do with a complete collection of Chopin etudes? Nothing, but as hoarder mentality goes, I thought I might play it in the future.

Along with it, I bought Czerny etudes, which looked intimading back then. Guess what, I've been using Czerny 599 since I re-enrolled in piano lessons last September. Am now half-way through. Not so intimading anymore.

While I'm at it, I also have the complete score of Cats, because I just love the damned musical. As I gain confidence in playing, I mess around with a few songs every now and then.

Maybe I'll soon give a Chopin etude a go.

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My heart leapt when I saw Béla Bartók's Mikrokosmos, because I didn't expect to see it.

Where I avoid a life of excess, books are a worthy exception. There will always be space and time for them.

Last Monday, I dropped by several book shops in the area, feeling hopeful. Being out and about is something I've missed. What makes me happier is that my appetite for book-hunting is back.

The long walk was rewarded. I found what seemed to be the last copies of Béla Bartók's Mikrokosmos volumes 4 and 6, as well as a beautiful collection of Kundiman (traditional Filipino love songs) transcribed for piano.

Eagerly I scanned them, but not before I settled at a nice café to enjoy lunch and unwrapping my books. The difficulties in each page, coupled with understanding what made them difficult, were souces of excitement. Same goes when I open a book of poetry or fiction. It all felt familiar. It all felt new.

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I, too, sometimes have regrets about delaying things. If I had focused on writing more in my twenties, then I would've already published my very own book.

Those years, instead, were spent doing the things that I wanted to do when I wanted to do them: I went to graduate school and met some of my best friends, took piano leassons, learned to swim, somehow got into a conservatory, applied for jobs, quit them, earned, saved, invested, stared at clouds, drank vodka at the bar and pretended to like it.

No time was wasted. Although it appeared so due to a constant message of living a linear life-narrative. The moment I strayed from the part where we're supposed to fall in love at 16 should've been a clue that I am not meant for this brand of normal life.

Neither is this pandemic taking away my zest for living despite everything it is taking away.

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