Things are pretty undone lately. A montage I can’t finish, a song I can’t finish, a book I can’t finish.
I don’t know if this is correct. But the statement above is from my drafts and, according to my computer, from two years ago. Which is crazy because I still feel the same way today. It’s good to know that I am still here. Hit by a wall that I do not know what to do with.
Earlier today I judged a debate finals. I sat on a panel with a friend who just got back from New York. I missed him a lot. We left as soon as possible. We just didn’t know what to do with all of our energy that we do not want to waste on petty, small talk. Pfft. I know the difference between speaking out because you have something important to say and speaking out because you love the sound of your own voice when you talk. The latter is the bullshit we inhibit ourselves from. An outward full circle.
We went to buy this book that I need for my class. Luckily, the bookstore was on sale so that means I scored 20% off my René Descartes book purchase. My Girl was playing and we just can’t help but dance. My friend learned to party. I still don’t know how. I just know how to dance to my feelings. Anywhere that might be. In this case, the bookstore. The song just matched my overall mood. I was wearing a tan and black breton boat-neck, wide-legged Japanese denim, shoes with square heels that click against the floor, and red lips.
We had Coke with our lunch. It has been a long time since I ordered a can of Coke for myself. Maybe it was the caffeine, maybe we had some serious ego throwdown. I told him I am looking for my voice. He told me it would take a lifetime to find a voice. Well, it could be not the final voice but the present voice and that voice that I am craving for right now must come from somewhere soft, and real, and deep. I don’t want to write what everybody else writes. Even if I go hungry.
The car ride home was painful. He started talking about the medical condition of a loved one. It sucks that I cannot do anything significant about it. I felt my stomach twisting as how someone would twist a wet t-shirt after being caught by rain. Everyone has it rough. From wherever you are standing in life. Be it in New York City or in your small town. No pain ever goes unreciprocated. I don’t know if I should feel better by that. I can feel my ego deflate now and perhaps I’d say it does not make me feel any better. At all.
So that’s it. I went home to my dog Charles.
It’s a lazy day at home. I live in my parents’ house. But that doesn’t mean anything here in the Philippines.
I have nothing too spectacular in mind now. Plans or whatever, I’ve nothing. All I care about now is how comfortable my bed is.
To describe my here-and-now, I am lying on one side as usual. Bentilador on 1, my glass door that leads to my terrace is slightly open allowing some air to make my curtains dance a bit. Joni Mitchell on very low volume, lots of birds chirping (the other end of my room is facing a forest), a few barks from dogs every now and then. About the very low volume, I love doing that all the time. To anything that I’m listening to. Amy Winehouse gives a different, brilliant effect too when I put her on very low volume. Cinematic and respectful of space. You know that feeling? The lack of intrusion but it is there. Right? Like indistinct chatter while seated alone in a café or a musician playing on stage when you just got in the bar. It’s just there.
I am currently reading The White Album by Joan Didion. She mostly wrote about the troubled times of the sixties. I love learning about the sixties. The glamour, the grime, the just-figuring-things-out. Coincidentally, the Joni that I am listening to right now is the 1969 record. I also just watched Chris Mccandless’ (ALEXANDER SUPERTRAMP) story and Slab City just gave me an impression of the era as if giving me a flashback of a memory that I did not personally witness, a second hand memory.
Maybe my affinity for the sixties is a second hand memory. I like the sound of that. I am amused by the fact that in the attempt of making sense of my here-and-now, I took myself to a time that my heart simply knows it loves. The human mind, how expansive and transcendent. The heart, too.
As I’ve said, I have nothing too spectacular in mind now. I guess I do have something spectacular in mind now. And in my heart, too.
Here. Slouching towards the white light and trying to make sense of these thoughts in my head post-5pm cappuccino. It’s midnight. Consider my brain being left of center and the farthest left being dead deep asleep.
So. Today as I was trying to do the second part of my unpacking, I put on some music and French Navy came up. I didn’t quite know how because I put on Best Coast. But I was glad that tiny glitch happened because French Navy was my jam for such a long time. In college, I had a phase where I always wore Breton with a red lip. I cut my hair blunt short and I just listened to French Navy almost all the time on my pink iPod that I named Rico. (Now my hair is blunt short again and found myself listening to French Navy again so I guess it wasn’t a phase?) (Also yes, I liked Your Universe a lot.)
That song just made me unpack some more. Less of my clothes, more of my history. Books Written for Girls was also very good so I gave it a listen after what seemed like light years. It was still so good today. How do I measure a song’s goodness? When it still reminds me of how I thought of myself before and when that thought is still relevant to me today. It is good if it shows me who I am. Then there was Lloyd, I’m Ready to Be Heartbroken. Then some songs that I vaguely listened to like The Sweetest Thing and Let’s Get Out of this Country. Afterwards, I looked Camera Obscura up to see how the band is doing. To know if they stuck to their sound despite the mad demands of this world. I learnt that Carey Lander died in 2015. I cried.
I always thought of the band with a soft-focus because that’s how they made me feel – gentle, innocent, and honest. Thanks Carey. Play mad riffs in heaven for me.
I kind of automatically looked up songs that I really liked as if trying to search for pieces of myself. I’m glad I remembered them. I guess that also means that I never forget who I am. Music gives a good grip for every wild adventurer. We can all stray however we want for how long we want to but at the end of the day we come back home and put on some music. We come home to music to come home to ourselves.
Here’s me revealing myself through songs that I genuinely love – old and new.
- Books Written for Girls – Camera Obscura
- So Good – The Cranberries
- Longing For – Ourselves the Elves
- Storms – Fleetwood Mac
- Winter Spring Summer Fall – The Postmarks
- Cherry-coloured Funk – Cocteau Twins
- A Case of You – Joni Mitchell
I’ve read in one of Adrian Tomine’s interviews that he would like to write with more empathy and less narcissism. I don’t know, man. The only way I can empathize is through examining myself first. Writing my mind is always my first draft. I only do first drafts.
I was home early last night so I thought that watching a new show would be a great slow-down. I came across Chef’s Table and watched the first episode of the first season. It opened with a scene where Massimo Bottura of Osteria Francescana talked about how an earthquake almost damaged the parmigiano industry of Modena and how he, through his utter genius, saved it.
Massimo’s wife Lara once brought him to an art exhibit. She recalled how Massimo was always in great disbelief for not getting any of these art. Then he saw pigeons. These pigeons were literally pooping on some of the artworks. They found out that these pigeons were actually taxidermy pigeons and that the artist painted on them and as well as the pigeon shit on the artworks. It was a great Aha! Moment for Massimo.
Since then contemporary art had a lot to do with his recipes and plating. Recreating heirloom recipes with a bit of a post-modern spunk. The Modenese were insulted by it. Food critics thought his work was empty and was trying to be edgy so much that it fails to deliver. To them, all Massimo does is disrespect Italian tradition. But the man did not stop. Now he owns the world’s third best restaurant.
His story reminded me so much of the defense of Socrates. Thorough resistance for the promise of truth. Livid hard work for the pursuit of authenticity. We all can take different sorts of inspiration. Unless you work, inspiration will just be inspiration.
Massimo poured himself an espresso from a moka pot. I was deeply inspired by that short clip. Then again inspiration is an empty word so I poured myself a moka pot espresso in the morning.
The levity of art just makes the ordinariness of life bearable. Always phenomenological, however.
Where’s my pigeon shit moment? I shall start seeking for it.
The other night was unthinkable.
I could not grasp everything all at once. But I remember that feeling in my heart. That feeling that you get before you cry. I was standing very close to Explosions in the Sky and it was just too much to take in. I never even imagined that a day would come when I can finally tell myself that they are actual people. When the yellow light hit my eyes, they all looked lined with strokes of neon purple. Think Tron. For every unexpected silence in between loud guitar sounds, I felt happy I am alive. I thanked God I am alive. I believed in God. All this while holding back tears. I believe tears make me very human when I hold them back. I do not want to free them because I simply want to keep all the joy in my heart. To feel all my emotions. To let my emotions engulf this vessel I often criticize and ridicule, my body, with warmth. Like hugging myself from the inside.
I stood there in the middle of a crowd attached to their other lives, phones up. As if all the radiation caused by the electricness of musical genius was not enough.
The Temper Trap played at almost two in the morning. All the bodies were tired and aching. My body was asserting its limitations. I was hungry, exhausted, gassy, and sleepy. I could cry. But the first incomprehensible chords reeking through the sound system set me so free. It felt like the beginning of a reckoning point, the end of a learning curve that somehow went on and on.
They were in front of me. Doing their art like how they do it for themselves. Dancing to the beat of their own songs. I was so happy to be alive. I held Dougy’s hand before they finished the night.
I lost my phone. I left it in the plane and I figured someone else took it. All of my demos are there. So I guess I’ll just rely on my memory when Alvin and I finally come into terms with our laziness. I can’t wait to fuck things up. One day I would dance to the beat of my own songs. The dream is to move others to dance to the beat of their own songs, too.
Freedom is free. We should all pay it forward.
I wonder how bad I messed up to claim so much years to fix myself. To come back as the same person but with enough reason. Not a cardboard standee. I want to be real. And if real demands going back to square one to establish roots then I won’t be ashamed to start again. To start again with no words. Like a little child trying to learn language and maybe with a vague hope. A hope to be eloquent through my struggle.
You don’t just conceal ignorance, you know. You admit it and do something about it. You don’t sweep debris under the carpet. You don’t cover dust with black paint. You don’t put more knots over a miscalculated knot on your knitting project.
You fix what’s left or where you left. If nothing works, you begin again.
Six years ago, I followed someone’s hot chocolate recommendation. So off I went, ordered the hot chocolate, and sat at the shop’s veranda. From where I sat, I saw a lovely woman. I can still remember the large windows that allowed me to see her. I remember her very long hair.
Today, I sat where she sat six years ago. The hair that I grew long because of her, I now cut short.