Thursday, April 24, 2014

Midweek meanderings


Well, technically, the median was yesterday, Wednesday. But I got caught up with personal errands. So yeah. This was what I wore last Monday, when I didn’t have to go to work. Hence the shorts.


Come to think of it, office people should be allowed to wear decent shorts in the tropics – what, with the blazing heat and the consequent discomfort. I mean, women are allowed to wear minis, some of which are shorter than my own DIY cut-offs. But I digress…


Say hello again to my naturally distressed canvas sneakers, worn down by wear and the weather, which have made them softer and more comfortable.


I remember way back when I was in elementary - during those summers breaks when the family didn’t decide to take a road trip or a flight to somewhere near the beach – I would always be carrying my stuff in a backpack because I liked to sleep over either at my cousins’ or at my grandmother’s house.


The first week would be spent at one house, then the second at another, then the third with other relatives.


I didn’t mind packing my essentials and I didn’t miss my own bed as much. I packed light even before I heard of the term.


Even if I only stayed with family, each week was an adventure. It was as if I wanted to pack as much as I could into my summer vacations.


I would tag along with older cousins, do chores I normally didn’t do at home, play lots of board games.


Am not sure I even had time to read comics or pocket books. (Rest in peace, Archie Andrews.)


I was a wanderer who never grew bored of the things around me.


T-shirt, U2
Cut-off shorts, DIY from Lee jeans, thrifted
Sneakers, Bass
Backpack, thrifted
Versatile cap and visor, Armani Exchange
Belt from Divisoria
Watch, Guess


Most of all, I was eager to listen to stories. 


Watch the lives of people unfold before my very eyes.


All the while smiling, or keeping to my silence.


Never once suspecting that these stories would ever become part of future writings.


I guess that’s how I also never get that weighed down by problems.


By keeping my distance, even before my own personal crises, I have been able to work through them.


Quietly and patiently, just like the plot of a long novel working through a book’s pages.


An aunt called it my good disposition.


I would like to look at it as my perspective.


Nothing will always seem as simple as it looks.


But also nothing will ever be as hard as we imagine it to be.


Of course, I am aware that this almost verges on the nihilistic.


But I should know better.


These shoes will show you where I’ve been.


But only I can find out where I’m headed.


And that is: out the door!


Off to new adventures!


Wherever I am, even if I’m only sitting before my desk, in front of me there will always be an open window.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Three tasks by the tamarind tree


I wore these two “outfits” last Saturday: the one with the gray tee before I went to the gym around noon and the black one when I went out again after going back home to eat and rest. It was early in the afternoon.


You can guess for yourself the time of day each picture was taken by the way the shadows of branches and leaves cast themselves.


I remember planting these tamarind trees in our backyard in 2003. I got the seeds from my grandmother’s ancestral house in Maragondon, Cavite. (Until now, I don’t think I’ve tasted the sweet, pasty rind that I enjoyed more than a decade ago from the pods of these trees – they grow so high that our neighbors keep on pruning the branches themselves.)


I don’t know who said that to be fulfilled in life, one needs to do three things: to plant a tree, to write a book, and to raise a child. It doesn’t really matter if it came from the Talmud (which says marry a wife rather than raise a child) or if it is attributed to José Martí (or even Pablo Picasso). The proverb makes sense.


By the way, this is me meowing (didn’t know before this picture how I looked “conversing” with our two cats).


And this is me looking at one of them climbing our roof and gallivanting to our neighbor’s.


But back to the proverb. At first, I couldn’t figure out the logic or the connection between the three “tasks” in life (I’ve already planted three tamarind, or sampaloc trees, and one palm.) Sure, one can think that planting a tree and raising a child can be self-serving: for eating fruit and ensuring that there will be children to take care of you in your old age.


But every parent will tell you that not every child returns the favor, just as not every tree bears fruit that can be eaten. And what about writing a book? Is it for fame or for ensuring that you will not be forgotten?


Tee and jeans, Bench
Belt from an Italian market
Sandals, Birkenstock
Backpack, Team Manila


Tee, Chevignon, thrifted
Jeans, Bench


Partyly true. I think the proverb is all about the future.


All three: trees, children, and books have “lives” that live beyond us.


That more can benefit from shade, fruit, and oxygen.


That more people can hear about the stories waiting to be told by our own children. That more can share our joy and learn from our mistakes. 


And thus I realize I have once again forgotten to write what I have set out to illustrate in this post (something about books and what I'm writing about), which sounds more like a sermon than a journal entry. 

But what the heck! There will be more time for that. Till then, happy Tuesday!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

White out


The most important lesson that reading good literature and writing my own poetry have taught me is to not to lazily rely on quotes or passages for regurgitated wisdom, which only causes indigestion.


I still “write things out” for myself – meaning, as in mathematics, I do not memorize proofs to theorems but understand first (or at the very least try to) underlying “truths” (for there is nothing as brutally honest as an equation). Only then can I trudge on – elegance be damned!


Of course, this has confounded my math, statistics, and even operations research instructors. Not to mention my by-the-book classmates.


Why make your life harder? (Tell that to the philosophers.)


I will not even try to explain my lifelong battle against cliché.


Even the best art has the capacity to degenerate into something banal.


I try my best to hang on to what is material, which is the material. Or to materials.


T-shirt, cK by Calvin Klein
Jeans, Bench
Sneakers, Converse, thrifted
Belt, Structure, thrifted


Bag, Eighty and Ninety, thrifted


Today is Black Saturday, that precarious moment in the history of Christianity when the dead remain dead and have nothing to look forward to.


In the absence of salvation, faith is worthless.


But on the other hand, constant anticipation gives leeway to distraction and unfaithfulness.


I have learned not to trust those who do not trust silence.


Those who do not seek clarity and consistency (one of the reasons I value good grammar).


Yes, we are all weak, but it is cowardly to always rely on excuses.


Ah, conviction! Isn’t it more potent than faith that offers no supporting arguments?


Not that I do not believe in things that have no proof. Even doubting Thomas held on to hope.