Influences (or Why I Write the Way I Do)

Natalie Goldberg (free-flowing writing)
Clarissa Pinkola Estes (wild woman writing)
Jane Hutchison (direct-to-the-point writing)
Ernest Hemingway (simple words writing)

Sunday, December 23, 2007


my daughter has taken a liking on shrek. specifically, shrek 3 which is a pale watered-down version of the first two. she should know better. but first impressions last on her and she wouldn't settle for anything less than 3. but headstrong as i am, this morning i dusted the old shrek 2 and we viewed it together in my laptop. then memories come flooding in.
it is one thing to be beautiful because then, you'll deserve all the love and sacrifice of men of honor. what does sleeping beauty, cinderella, snow white and even rapunzel have in common but flawless age-less to die-for beauty. so how would one 36 year old fare in this game, with cellulite and curves showing at all the wrong places? how does an ugly fat single mom fit in in this world where beauty and virginity still holds a premium?
probably this is where shrek struck it gold. people loved it perhaps because hope is alive in this movie - that WHATEVER you are and hideous you may be in appearance, a similarly hideous creature will love you ha ha. but seriously, it's having someone imperfect love you and love you no less just because you're imperfect. it is the perfect tonic --- to hurting memories, to heartaches whose wounds have healed but left huge ugly scars.
i would love to be loved now for who i am because this is the time when physical beauty has left me; i am less marketable because the package comes with a 2 year old daughter, because i am no longer a virgin, and because i could never love as innocently and free as before. i have changed and that change has exacted a price a man would think twice of affording.
but still i hope. still i hope that one man would see beyond the fats, see beyond oily skin and naked pubis. would love the brain and not feel threatened. would respect my space and not feel left out. would love my child and not be a monster.
because not many a year ago, i loved a man whose name was julius. looked up to him and carried him inside my heart to forever. i dreamt of forever. i looked at him and saw his imperfect side - a non-caring father, a part-time employee, and still living with his parents and supported by an older girl from abroad. and still i did not mind. i thought the same of him --- that he will see past the imperfections. to just love him enough would probably be enough. but to my imperfect side, julius saw more imperfections and used that against me.
my being a non-virgin merited his distrust to the point that when we're in bed, he'd ask whether he fares better than the younger men who had me. he would look at my male friends and thinks that i lie when i say they are just my friends. it was a turbulent relationship where an imperfect guy was more bent on proving the imperfections of an already imperfect girl. it was fake love all throughout. fake love which i pretended, have mistaken to be heaven.
so there is much to hate about me, i ask myself before. why does he hate me so much? probably it's a problem with accepting. accepting one's imperfections. that despite the charade, one lives in a swamp, farts when taking mudbaths, and lives off doing nothing productive to the outside world. we all want to love as easily and as open as shrek but we do not want to look at the mirror and find shrek there.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

taxi tales 1

taxi drivers in manila are distinguished in the world by only one trait, and that is not dishonesty or shabbiness. it's fearlessness. fearlessness against the harrows of the road, prime of which is traffic. no manila driver would say no to traffic because it is their way of life. 24 hours you drive against a stream of shiny pajeros, macho toyotas, hunchback civics, and lizard-nosed hyundais. the threat of jeepneys abound in all other city roads, not to mention those traitor-tricycles that suddenly swerve and meet you head-on out of nowhere. it is a maniacal road this edsa, from pasay to monumento. the pollution is nothing compared to traffic which is in their skin. so manila taxi drivers who complain of traffic are not manila taxi drivers after all. this is just the accidental driver, laid off from a factory or from being a family driver. he is just the sideshow, the one in between jobs, the one occasional driver trying to earn an occasional buck. so complain and shout and pounce on those drivers, punch them to pieces those who refuse because of 'traffic'. they do not deserve the medal of bravery. they should be scorned and held pariah by the church of commuters who negotiate time and miles to get to where they should be. they should be stripped of their licenses to never once again don the while cloak, sit behind the wheel and open one's doors to a riding public. one should ostracize and exile this breed to the moon or to mars where traffic is nowhere because one cannot move. and to those who labor behind the wheel, those of you who endure the streets and heavy boundary at the end of day, who get to ride a sucker of a rider once in a while, our salute and praise for bravery amidst the reality of our roads.

Monday, December 10, 2007

lies, and missing

what is to miss from a relationship that ended in the discovery of lies. of lies that pervaded one's breathing space and still could be left untouched by that gut feel. i refused to believe. i wanted to believe that love is finally here to stay. that i would no longer look because i have found this one person who'll see me through the arthritis and the gray hairs. this guy who will walk with me amidst falling autumn leaves, our fingers intertwined, our trenchcoats flapping as we talk about children, bills to pay, debts to negotiate, a house to build, a future together. it is that simple vision of a dark older guy walking tall, protective of a plump short girl with perfect teeth. but that was not meant to be. perhaps never was. it is just my vision of a future that i wanted desperately to believe is happening . to find it all a show puts me in a quandary. so, nothing was ever real? so if it not real, how will i make sense of the gestures, the caring, the sweet thoughts which could be nothing but real. so is the time not real? the situation? the person? the person in that time and in that situation? how fake was fake? and how could he have endured that for 2 years, 3 months and 21 days? but endured he did. he did. for him. for his own saving grace. for his own benefit. and here i am, lost in the maze of making sense of a failed relationship that was not true and so may not have been a relationship at all, but still, unavoidably, failed.

Friday, December 7, 2007

the elevator as a social world

even a 4-walled space as crammed as the elevator, that could be as small as the 3mx3m at JMT or the 4mx4m at the ADB, could be an arena for social interaction and non-action, and thus exist as a social world, on its own. it has some unheralded rules. the one standing next to the buttons, usually on the right, are obliged despite the demeaning feeling sometimes, to push buttons meant for those people crammed on the left and the farthest middle, and are asking '9 please' or '15 please'. it is also a must that the one standing closest to the buttons should press the open button just as long as there are people entering, or as being asked to hold by someone who's about to enter and waiting for someone to hurry up, and to hold it farther as well when the person/s alighting are carrying heavy baggages and so need more time to take their stuff out. it is a social world where social norms abide. where one should always say 'please' and 'excuse me' --- when extending an arm to press a button, and that arm cuts across the bosoms of ladies standing; or when swerving through a crowd when leaving. boisterous talking and laughing is a no-no. where people are stigmatized if they have sore eyes, BO, and are heavily sweating. where one can have crushes on an elevator-mate and even flirt for a while like what some call center agents do with one another. but one cannot stare and stare too long or else a slap in the face is in the offing like that dandruff commercial. it is a public place where one cannot smoke, drink, and kiss heavily. yet it allows transgressions once in a while; it is a private nook for quickies, hard necking,and even a BJ if the girl or guy is so good at it like the one in 'swordfish'. and in this social world, people enter with both empty and heavy eyes, with eagerness or just plain boredom or resignation that the day has ended. and we meet again --- to enter and ,negotiate the spaces, and the buttons, especially if you're the button-boy or the button-girl of the moment.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

soul writing

the concept is to write from one's gut, sans the editing, sans the mental editor that voice which prompts one to stop dead on a page, and check for errors, syntax problems, misspellings until the writing just gets exhausting, and unfinished. it is writing from the depths of the soul, that depth like a water table. drilled every inch and meter a day, in a week, month, year or even a decade until the table is cracked and off comes a wellspring of easy thoughts and self-believing. it is just the glory of writing about oneself, about one's imperfect dad or the nonchalant taxi driver negotiating traffic in deadly edsa. it's about depressing times, about heartbreaks, about the pain, drama and joy of having children; of standing up too snooty and non-caring moms, or even just one's habits that are better left secret - but not for long. it is kingkong with beauty and the beast and gone with the wind kind of writing. write deep. from within. write the truth be it dark, white, grey and all shades that lie in between the covers of truth. write today, tonight, just write everyday then as what natalie instructed, shoot your big toe if you do not. dare to get hurt, dare to hurt. be boundless and mindful. be what you are exactly even if it is vague, cowardly, fearless. whether listening to humoresque or jeremy or silver whore or return to pooh's corner. it doesn't matter. probe the soul and write.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

my writing world

everytime i have to fill up a box for job description or occupation, i would have to stop and think over. hmm, what? i end up putting 'researcher' because that is the foundation of my writing. i am a technical writer by profession, starting way back in 2000 when i took a job on consulting, after arriving from graduate studies abroad. i never wanted to work in business development --- i hated the answering of phone calls and the faxing from 9-5. i could only write when office hours have closed. there i am, the keyboard on my lap. the standard computer table where the keyboard is, is used for my books, reference materials on development and engineering, and some old proposal for me to digest what i am writing. what i hated most was the ethics of the profession. in winning proposals, writing is another thing and wheeling and dealing is another. on my 3rd month, i was asked to deliver the goods for a 'broker'. i hated his face --- he looked like max alvarado. i have to stare at the glass walls and ask myself whether i will die in spirit with this job. i had no epiphany. no inspiration from heaven. i just blended in. accepted the will from my heaven that i had to write and if this would be my bread and butter, i would have to find a way to enjoy it - one way or the other.
and so i wrote on and found meaning in my 'design' of the projects entrusted me. i started with output specifications for a water supply project, to the master planning of a river basin in the south. disaster mitigation and preparedness i could not forget because of the beauty by which research flowed. i was there, i am part of this piece, this project which would later be real.
my writing life is not easy. i had to get used to late suppers and cellulite over my legs for sitting too often and stretching too little. i had to get used to deadlines for yesterday and bosses who bark and stare and are just plain dissatisfied. i lost my good eyesight because of it. now, i rarely wash my face in the evening and the habit of doing so at lunch break is a no-no. so i sit solitary by the computer as i cram schedules, post-its, graphs, CVs, and TORs in my head and make it a concrete and sensible whole. i now sit at a desk overlooking julia vargas and the purple facade of sidebar cafe. i have left the company of 2000 and now on my 4th, yes 4th company who sought me for the past 5 years until i can't say no.
and while i'm being asked by friends to write ala jessica zafra, i know i can't. i do not have enough of the angst. but i could write and write proposals, use the language of professional technical writers and go on designing my projects. and that is not too bad.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

and so i'm blogging...

what was i thinking? this is my idea of stretching time till 8. when momentum has shifted and i'm ready to pack. no tarot reading today. can't exercise because of this itchy throat and the carpet is creating havoc on my lungs. had to go home to a 2-year old tot who just discovered the power of tears and little raising up the volume voice to get what she wants. and so what do i want now? a little peace, a little sleep way past 6am, without alarm clocks, without this tinge of guilt that i have to beat 9am to beat myself and my standards. i am amazed how blogging has grown through the years. i thought i could not stand revealing myself to anyone. and share private thoughts? aren't these really private anymore? confined in the confines of the left, middle, and right spheres. aren't these just whispered and not captured to print. but here i am blogging to the world, blogging the word with a cloak over my face. no this is not time to reveal myself yet; not physically. although it is paradoxical. aren't thoughts darker and more naked compared to one's face -- riddled with scars seen and unseen; and one's body --- gross yet amusing in some parts. but here i am, a testimony to the world that we are a seen and unseen world at the same time. we expose yet keep things secret. we berate blogging but here we are ramming down the computer like a lady left to eat chocolate the whole day. welcome to my world!