It’s like a stupid infection.

“Oh fuuuuuuuuck,” you might say one day. Better be prepared.

It creeps up on you, slowly, inch by infiltrative inch.

One minute, one week, and you make the mistake of thinking it’s okay. That you’re okay. That it’s safe to be familiar and it’s safe to sit a breath away. That it’s safe to look at and it’s safe to smile. Out of a hundred, you estimate that the chance of you catching it is around five percent. Or less. Likely zero.

Here, have a non-committal snicker. Not you. Never you. It’s probably just a myth after all.

That’s when the symptoms start.

It begins with the little things. Trivial minute details that you (or anyone else for that matter) barely notice.

First you see. (No, not yourself. A little bit later on you will, when it’s too late.) You notice the cause of the sickness first. Wow. When did those smiles get so unique? When did you start wanting to see them so much? What’s that scent? Since when did it smell so good?

Since when did your gravity shift from the world in general to just one, previously insignificant being?

And then you start fussing about the little things, ‘I look ridiculous‘, ‘Does this hairdo suit me‘, ‘Do I look awful‘, ‘Did I say this right‘, ‘Do I sound desperate‘ ‘Am I being obvious’Shit, could they possibly know I…‘- you put an end to your average carefree life and constantly live through the exhausting thrill of thinking too much, assuming too much (oh my god, he looked this way; oh hell, she smiled at me today), with occasional dips of depression that out of the two of you, you realize you’re probably the only one who gives a flying fuck about what stupid shirt you wore today.

It’s an affliction that eats you from inside out.

Of course you deny it, like all infected do. Some lie, so well in fact that they end up believing it. And the sickness festers, rots, and gnashes, and throbs- until it hurts too much so they succumb to treatment or they try to kill it themselves. Others acknowledge it with defeat. With hope. With dread. Few take the flippant approach where the symptoms are pushed to the surface (because truth is so rarely spoken out loud these days- it’s a lie, it has to be, otherwise why would you say it and risk it?)

Then again however you may deal with this it’s final. You caught it (or rather it caught you- hook line and sinker) and you have no idea how to cure yourself. Comparable to addiction maybe but no, addiction gives you the first hit, the first choice- try it? No? Yes? – this one however- Hey, hi, nice to meet you. Yeah, what are you talking about, of course we’re best friends. Or, yes, I hate you. Despise your very existence. Or, I’m straight, I can’t possibly- that’s gross. 

Wait.

Uh. I think I…

It’s hardly a matter of choice.

It creeps and creeps and when it finds one weak point, it tumbles all at once and breaches all precaution like there’s no tomorrow. You wake up and you find yourself sick and aching for a cure. A look maybe. One message? A laugh? A glance? For just a second?

Like every infection there were ways to avoid it. Of course like vegetables or exercise, the healthy way isn’t always the tastiest. The happiest. The liveliest. You just had to go and gorge yourself on delectable personality traits and feast on physical attributes that suddenly became your ideal. Now it’s too late.

This is the kind of infection that you either nurture with the right medicine where the cause is the cure. The medicine is costly, the stakes high. Painful. You may get the medicine or die trying. It can take months, weeks. Depends on the gravity of the cause or the level of infection. You can try your darnest and still suffer pain until you die.

When you die, good luck, you’re cured.

Or you cut it before it consumes you whole. An amputee- less of who you were, but hey, at least you’re alive.

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Hopefully too long and disjointed for decent reading

//word vomit and a healthy dose of whiny self-pity incoming


After a few years, I’ve come to the conclusion that I‘m a single-minded person.

Well, not really me per se on the “coming to conclusion” part. It was a few years of people constantly pointing it out for me, me ignoring them, and then me eventually admitting that hey, wow, I actually am pretty fucking obsessive about the things I like.

This is why I mostly flinch and inwardly recoil when someone remarks, “You’re so lucky you draw,” or “It’s nice that you read so much.”

To be honest, both things have probably ruined my life or any chances I had of exhibiting what’s considered healthy behavior.


Starting with drawing. Or art in general.

shameless plugging.

Drawing used to be fascinating.

When I was three or four, I remember vandalizing our walls with permanent markers. I did lots of DIY shit. Cars, castles, and people out of paper. Cotton robots for everyone. Fancy paper androids and hand-made cards. Powder plus alcohol in a mini-washing machine with red dye and tissues (don’t ask).

God, I was a messy kid. Every inch of my house was lathered in paint. Pretty much anything I could find was subjected to my feverish drawing, cutting, and gluing. It was the highlight of my childhood, watching all those stuff pile up. I remember thinking this was normal behavior. And it was, up until my playmates started growing up or some other shit that required us not to waste time on artsy-fartsy stuff.

I don’t remember when it started. Me hating art, I mean.

Maybe it was during first grade, when drawing ships and constructing families out of clay didn’t get me a smile anymore. Maybe it was when my dad, this one person I regarded so highly and feared so much, started saying he resented me for drawing when I didn’t really need to, and did I really think I had talent? -because I didn’t. I should stop kidding myself. Problem is, I was well aware of this already. I guess the discouragement wasn’t that effective. I wasn’t really dismayed, with my “hopes and dreams crushed, forever emotionally crippled and unable to engage in my calling” or some other dramatic artist complex. I was just really fucking scared shitless. Basically I still did what I’ve always done, only coupled with a sense of paranoia that would only grow worse over the years.

I started doodling behind my notebooks, which all kids were bound to do. I got scolded of course. It was a new thing for me. My parents used to encourage “creativity” (yes, that is exactly how condescending it sounds in real time with the italics and quotation marks) so long as teachers and other acquaintances ooh’d and aah’d over my cute little efforts and I cleaned up my mess afterwards. Well, until the habit started eating away at me. My time. My thoughts. My personality. They told me to stop. Stop it, don’t draw anymore. It’s pointless. You’re not going to get anywhere with art as a career.

And you know what’s the most effective way to have me itching to do something so bad I’d die? It’s telling me not do it. It’s weird. I’m a passive sloth but I get random bursts of irrational defiance. It’s shitty behavior. I’m still trying to fix it. I don’t know how I would have ended up exactly if my parents didn’t tell me not to draw. Maybe with a less shitty and apathetic disposition when it comes to life in general.

I lost myself in sketching. I was horrified to find out that the more I tried to stop, the more it got worse. The more I got verbally and physically scolded, the more I felt that drawing was horribly wrong, and so so right. It wasn’t relevant, it was a waste of time- and it’s true. It’s true, when it’s consuming you like that. When the drawing is drawing you. It was like a vomit of my thoughts, inversely proportional to how I felt.

Sketch, sketch, it went. My parents acted like drawing was something akin to watching pornography and I did as well. (No, not watch pornography, c’mon, I mean like, felt the same way they did about drawing.) They’d hover over my shoulder, poised to catch me in the act. I’d take out my pad and pen when no one was around, stuffing it under some pillow or corner at the slightest noise. Fucking James Bond dramatic shit, but I was- in all honesty- a dramatic little shit back then. I was all for the theatrics because somehow making it look worse than it was made me think it wasn’t that bad after all.

What really freaked me out is when I developed this habit of automatically covering or immediately hiding whatever the fuck I was doing/drawing, even at school, far away from my parents. People would look over, I’d duck it out of the way, and they’d either think I regarded my drawing too good for their mortal eyes, or that it was a faux shyness move, or me attempting to be movie-esque mysterious.

All I ever felt was this violent, nervous churning in my gut.

Whenever a feel someone looking, I get an irrational urge to gouge their eyes out. The fact that I could do it freely in public but this stupid urge to hide it because I got used to doing so got me furious- and you know how I’m a master at projecting misplaced anger. Why the fuck was I doing it? What the fuck is wrong with me!? Fucking goddamn-

Man that sounds horrible of me, seeing it written down. It’s a little okay now though; from gut-churning violence it’s just this uneasy bubbling in my stomach. It was a cold, creeping realization when I knew that I hated drawing but couldn’t, for the life of me, think of giving it up. It made me feel complete in the most awful way possible.

Keep in mind that I don’t resent my parents for this. Some might argue over their methods, but their priorities were in the right place. They didn’t want me to fail. And I didn’t. I never did. That’s what I thought was the injustice of it all, I never did fail despite my inclinations, and they still acted like me engaging in anything relatively artistic- calligraphy, cutting, coloring, folding- was like walking in on me smearing bloody pagan symbols all over the walls, attempting to summon some transvestite pole dancer.

But really, all they wanted was a stable study habit and I was making cities on the back pages of my math notebook for christsake. Any parent would be frustrated. I wasn’t being productive. Sure maybe they played a part in me being this ungrateful mess of pompous cynicism, but it was mostly me. I had the primal desire to do things anyone insistently tells me not to do- then when that defiance wears out, I either get the luck of losing interest in it or- much like this drawing case- an unfortunate parasitic roundabout dependency that I just can’t do moderately.

I knew what was wrong with me. It just felt doubly awful that my parents thought the same thing. It’s a fucked up cycle of feeling bad about drawing, then curing that bad feeling by drawing, which is what made me feel bad in the first place. I never felt comfortable labeling what I did as ‘art’ or calling myself an ‘artist’. It sounds like a farce. How can something so beautifully described in the books I love be so horrifying? People throw that word around all the time and it’s really unsettling.

That’s the worst thing about being mediocre at drawing. You’re not that bad, so you have these wonderful people complimenting you and saying how good you are. But of course you know that you’re never going to be good enough, that there are a million people out there better than you. And this fact is okay with you when you really love drawing, but if you dare voice these sentiments out, saying “Oh no, I’m not that good,” there are only two main sentiments that you generate from other people who hear this (at least the ones I’ve had the wonderful experience of witnessing over and over and over).

It’s either this silent thought that creeps on their face like a cloud on a sunny day: “Douche, you’re just pretending to be humble. Fishing for more compliments, expecting me to coerce you into ‘believing’ you’re amazing at this,” or this other one that they’re more inclined to dramatically voice out: “How on earth can you say that!? Do you know how lucky you are? How dare you feel that way about your talent!”

It made compliments painful to hear. It’s nice, you want to feel nice. But you can’t and you feel hopelessly lost instead. It’s supposed to be a compliment but then it starts getting invasive. Or am I just an ungrateful git? No one is aware how a simple, inconsequential “how dare you feel that way about your talent” triggers unwanted recollections of how it’s always been drilled into me to feel that way. It’s no body’s fault that I feel awful, since it’s not really something I say out loud. Like, “Haha, oh yeah thanks- but can you not do it? It makes me feel sick.” What the fuck, right?

Welp, eventually I got over it- hahaha, no, I didn’t. I’m still as fucking obsessed with drawing as I was then. I just gained more privacy when I got older so I got found out less. I got a little comfortable.

So what’s the moral lesson? Nothing. It’s a destructive habit and I still do it, because even after hating it so much, it’s been with me for so long that love and hate are starting to mean the same thing.

Sometimes I dream about getting my own apartment one day, a place where accidentally leaving a sketch out in the open won’t send me into a mini cardiac arrest or make my parents obsessively converge on this single piece of illustration as a beacon that my life is on the road to hell once again- with the dramatic tears, anger, violence, and look of disappointment usually reserved for situations where other teens confess unplanned pregnancy. But then again, if I ever do get an apartment I’ll probably die of starvation first because I can’t cook for shit.


Books, books, books.

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heaven

 This is what I’ve always wanted to ask people who make reading list goals: why do you do it?

By “reading list goals”, I mean people who go, “My goal: To read 50 novels this month!” as if they need to set a minimum amount of books they have to get through. Like reading casually is a task they have to get over with. These lists are totally devoid of caring whatever title they want to read, all the purpose it serves is to tell people that they must read something at this amount or they have failed. The way I regard reading, it’s like people saying, “My goal: To take a maximum of 50 packs of marijuana this month!

I was under the impression that reading is a voluntary act for most people. Why would you need to tell yourself to do it if you really wanted to do it? The reason, “Oh I’m too busy so I needed a reminder,” really doesn’t fit in either. I mean, isn’t it, “Oh I’m too busy- fuuuck! MUST. RESIST. DOING. IT.”

Usually you only need these compulsory ‘reading goals’ when it involves academic textbook reading. If I had a goal that involved books they would probably go along the lines of, “My goal: Do not fucking touch a novel for a week while trying to review for your prelim exams”, or “My Goal: Go to sleep”

Unlike drawing, reading didn’t get better over the years. It got worse, because now I have easier access to books I wanted to read and no one can ever guess that I was simply reading and not texting.

Same scenario: when I was a kid, I loved reading. I’d alternate between sketching this dude’s face and finishing a book. My parents (again) thought it was cute when I was like three or four. My picture books fueled both my addictions. The words were comfortable tunnels, the illustrations my own temporary universe. I had an epiphany too: “I can write my own story and draw my own pictures, holy shit!” I shed the picture books early enough, deciding that I wanted more words, more twists and turns. My head and hand can take care of the graphics. (No. Mind out of the gutter please.)

Reading books, unlike drawing, didn’t immediately set alarm bells ringing. It was so easy to think that reading books is good for your child, expanding her vocabulary, and making her explore new worlds. I guess they just got worried around that time I burned through my own selection of books and started stealing my sister’s books from her high school library.

The warnings started endearing at first- “You read too much,” they’d say smiling. Then it was, “Why are you still reading,” until it got to, “So help me god, I will burn that [censored] [censored] book if you don’t [censored] put it down,” and eventually exploded into a series of, “PUT THAT GODDAMN BOOK DOWN. STOP WASTING YOUR LIFE.” [Cue in a bunch of shattering glasses and banshee screeching.]

You can probably guess what happened next.

They forbid me from reading, so at seven I started hiding in closets and reading through the slits of light that filtered in from the cracks. God, those were some pretty weird days. Forget drugs, doing that shit had me zoned out for weeks.

I’d read things I shouldn’t be reading till the wee hours of the night- and when they were asleep, finally I’d flip my lamp on and read it out in the open. Karma, I found out when I got older, is truly a bitch. My eyesight needed over 200 graded lenses during sixth grade which eventually deteriorated into 600/550. When I take off my glasses everyone is just a blob of iridescent light now. If you think that kind of obsessive reading is something to be proud of or something worth telling others without shame, then you must have serious issues. If you think I could have stopped doing that as easy as, ‘Oh, I should stop reading now and do it later,’ then I’m clueless in explaining how I couldn’t have done that either.

Some friends comfort me by saying, ‘I know, it’s the story, it pulls you in, you can’t blame yourself over a good story. Sometimes I stay up all night because the story is so exciting and I finish everything’.

I wanted to believe that, I wanted that sense of kinship so much. And I did find friends who read to get lost for a while, who sometimes desperately tried to stop but couldn’t. But most I just wanted to gag for implying that reading is always for fun and for socialization with others who’ve read the same books while blithely shrugging off the idea that reading can both be rapture and desecration at the same time. “Really now? Don’t be silly,” they’d say. And it hurt.

The idea of an entire life in those pieces of paper themselves was so enticing. I’d drown in longing even before I got to the first chapter, just thinking how I can lose myself in those pages. Those goddamn convenient collection of words that spin one alternate reality after another. I’d run amazing stories over and over again in my head until it made me desperate to flee from it- enough to read another book that I’d inevitably get addicted to as well. Rinse and repeat.

As the youngest in every class and in the family for five years, people never took me seriously. I can repeat their dogmatic adult arguments and how much I wanted to grimace at how homophobic and prejudiced they are. It felt like they were deliberately slandering the diverse characters I admired. But I couldn’t, I was a kid, and if I questioned them they’d start asking where I knew, where I learned that word, and then they’d take my books away the same way they took my sketch pads.

Hunger frequently gnawed at the edges of my thoughts. I’d read just to hear that satisfying crack when reality ceased to exist for a while. I’d remember the Ostrogoth camps in vivid detail, with the bloody and brilliant conquests in between while Saio Thorn the Mannamavi won over my admiration. I’d remember it all, and forget I was simply reading and not witnessing the unification of the Gothic empire myself. (But more than those amazing tidbits, I knew they’d focus on the fact that my hero was a heroine at the same time, and that I shouldn’t read things like that. I don’t know, I guess they thought there’s an age appropriate time to teach a kid the word “Hermaphrodite”? I wondered then what they told the kids who were born as such.)

When I got older and age versus maturity didn’t really match up anymore, I thought this would be it, I can talk with sense, with people who expect me to make sense. Sadly, society is a little piece of shit, and they pumped out this curious generation. At this age, people don’t actually like going into details- or they like going too much into details that they lose sight of why there are details. Simply put, people I could comfortably converse with more than books are still few and far in between. So I read. And read some more.

I can go on and on, trying to describe the horrors of falling into this cycle and never actually wanting to get out but I probably won’t convey the whole sentiment across because there’s a stigma that reading is always, always good for you. Reading must make you brilliant and profound. Reading must mean you’re a smart cookie.

Reading can’t mean that you’re a junkie. Reading can’t mean that you started questioning and stopped believing in religion when you were in sixth grade, and you were so scared because why am I thinking this? Why is this happening to me? -but you couldn’t talk to anyone about it.

Reading can’t mean that it made you hate people you were best friends with. Reading can’t mean that you questioned and thought twice about anything you say, which led you to not saying anything at all. Reading can’t mean you tuned everyone out and ran away from present concerns because you’re too much of an insecure scatter brain to actually do things that need to be done. Reading can’t mean that you’re starting to think everyone is so sickeningly idealistic, that permanent happiness can’t possibly exist, that you’re turning into a fucking disgusting hateful cynic during your formative years. Reading can’t mean that you start thinking you’re so special, so different, and it comes crashing back that you’re pretty much like everyone else thinking they’re special too. Reading can’t deal you two totally opposite cards of self realization and self hatred at the same time. Reading can’t mean that the more you read, the more you feel like you’re turning into a horrible person.

Funny, because it totally can.

But yes, that was a rather harsh portrait of an activity that got me through my childhood. Reading can be all that, and so much more. Reading isn’t just good or bad. Reading is something that doesn’t only tell you what “good” and “bad” is- it tells you there’s so much more in between.

Might sound horrible, but do I regret any of it?

Reading, or drawing?

Never. I wouldn’t be me otherwise.

Eventually, I’m going to pick up a book to forget I typed down any of this.


So yeah. 

Those were the big two, I guess. Others are like their babies. Those two obsessions have given birth to the others.

Writing. (Ha. Now that I think about it, writing should be one of the big two- wait, three. Except I write like some viscous chupacabra is chasing me and I have to type in sentences as if it’s my last. I use the word ‘like’ a lot. I know it’s confusing. They spill, these thoughts, I have to string them all into one giant train wreck or they’ll scatter off into the woods. I’m sorry. I’m not a story teller so I don’t think I can claim dedication to writing. I only do that chronological narrative for pretentious bullshit. Most of the time it’s just me writing in tangents. Like this. In this stupid fucking long arse side note parenthesis. Fuck.) But yeah, writing is great therapy so I guess it counts.

Coffee. Comics. Bands. TV Series. Lots more.

When I don’t like something, I plain out don’t. But when I do like something, which is few and far in between… uh, you could say I don’t go half way. I plunge into it with vigor and forget anything else exists. I like scorching my interests down to the core, leaving nothing to look back on.

What did I get in exchange? The burden of knowing useless things (well what do you know, ignorance really is bliss), shitty socialization skills, devastatingly poor eyesight, and a cognitive mistrust for humanity.

As usual, there is no moral lesson. My life is just one big accumulation of petty concerns and fucked up cycles.

Don’t do it kids. Don’t follow your childish impulses.

Don’t draw the things you dream about, just draw the ones that teachers tell you to. Don’t read books you like, read the books you want people to see you reading to amp up your image instead. This way you can stop at will and do something productive with your life afterwards.

.

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Overbearingly long rant over, thank goodness.

Alright. Shut up, me.

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Describing the color red without using the word itself : a tiny writing exercise for myself I guess

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It’s the first color that greeted me when I walked into that room.

It’s the fire I felt spreading across my face when I remembered I hadn’t worn the prescribed dress code for Fridays.

 

It’s the raging inferno that constricted my lungs when I saw you for the first time.

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You, who wore that garish shade and made it seem as if the intensity was crafted just to compliment your alabaster skin.

 

It’s the subtle glow in your cheeks when you talk, completely oblivious to the fact that you have me enthralled with every flick of your hair. (For what seemed like an eternity, I am captivated. I can’t look away.)

When finally (regrettably), the class ends; I’m still swimming in that shade of your lips that held my attention throughout the whole day. (Even if I never really did get a chance to hear what they had to say.)

It’s the sudden jolt of panic in my chest when we accidentally exchange glances from across the room (don’t ever turn) -and I immediately look away.

(No, I didn’t mean it- I need to see your eyes again.)

 

It’s the heady mixture of giddiness and paranoia in my head when you change seats by chance -in front of me- (so fucking near, so fucking far away) on the last day of the semester.

It’s the streak of ink that marked my paper, when I finish the test earlier than intended and run away.

 

It’s the figurative flames I use to burn the few pointless memories I have of you in my head.

It’s the persistent flicker of embers that refuse to die each time I try.

It’s the vibrant hue of the little trinkets scattered all over campus on valentines when I regret not catching even a glimpse of your lean, wispy frame.

It’s the the color that would then annoy me for days.

It’s the frantic pulsing in my ears every time I see you walking at least five steps ahead.

It’s the silly shame that drowns me when I think that, between the two of us, I’m probably the only one who cares.

It’s the warmth of the sinking sun the last time I cross paths with you on my way home.

It’s the sensation I felt leaving me when I realize this might be the last day I’ll see your face.

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That sounds insanely stupid. Of course I’m in. (LVBMM Chronicles)

I love my best friends.

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shudder.

Oh god, I am so sorry, I’m not good at this sentimental thing.

Anyway, why am I writing this? Just to be clear, I’m not trying to suck up to you guys (by guys, I mean those two, if they happen to read this) ’cause I did something horrible that you have yet to find out or anything with ulterior motives in mind. You know me, completely affectionate and innocent creature that I am.

I’m doing this prompt where I talk about something ‘traditional’ or ‘ritualistic’, and I thought, hey, why not get my best friends involved because what kind of a friend would I be if I didn’t write a blog post and advertise their faces on a public website without their consent? (A kind one, that’s what. This is why we are friends if anyone is wondering.)

Look, we’re already pretty much a cult with what we do so I guess that counts as ritualistic, right?

I say yes, we qualify indeed.

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Now, to describe our constant LVB Movie Marathons… where do I start?

LVB y’see is short of ‘LaVelBia’, which is short for ‘Lance, Vel, Bianca’ which is short for ‘yes, we so totally named our group like a bunch of animu high school cliche misfits on a manga fight us about it’.

We have movie marathons. It’s a sporadic event that we do when we have time, considering the fact that we are now in different colleges and for some weird cosmic reason we just couldn’t stand not seeing each other’s faces for long.

On a specific night- or morning, or afternoon (whichever time we’re all comfortable with) (okay, to be completely honest when we’ve finally gotten off our lazy bums and decided to function like human beings) we plan a movie marathon at Lancelot’s house. Dude’s got a huge TV, a nice source of food, and a convenient area we can crash on when we feel the pull of slumber. On some nights we get hungry or bored, we trek outside and go over this Ministop branch five or ten minutes away on foot. We buy nice stuff to snack on and talk about anything and everything along the way.

This tradition of ours- if something so impulsive can be called tradition- was actually first recognized as a ‘sleepover’. We’ve ceased to refer to it as such when we realized that, “guys, um, I don’t think we’ve been doing the sleeping part at all.”

Anyway, one blog post can’t really encompass all that happens during those nights. Or those days. Or mornings. (Ugh, christ, I need to stop getting technical.) This would be littered with annoying side notes and confusing parentheses if I had to explain every single detail.

But I had to write it. Something that means so much to me has to be written down in my confusing, drunken narrative.

It’s tradition because those haphazard movie marathons have somehow turned into a piece of something perfect, something familiar and nostalgic from way back, taken and preserved in a jar. Something that I can plunge into when reality seems too much. Something permanent that I’d like to stay that way. Life would totally suck without these dudes. *gags* I mean, awww. ❤

Okay. So what I’m actually trying to say here, I think, is this:

I love those four to five AMs spent with my best friends. I love the domestic ease when we cook our instant meals in the kitchen in the dead of the night. I love the subtle hum of a long-forgotten movie on the screen as we eat and comfortably mumble or excitedly gush out anything that comes to mind. I love how we crack up every single minute, how everything seems hilarious, whatever the hell we might say in our feverish midnight haze of adrenaline. I love how we pierce the silence with manic laughter at the simplest issues that we’ve twisted into the most bizarre scenarios. I love how we can be weird and comfortable and fucked-up and simply not care when we’re with each other. I love experiencing the proverbial comfortable silences instead of the common awkward ones I feel with other people.

I love the fact that no matter how far, how busy, how vastly different we are, we always seem to find our way towards each other.

We’re also planning a little bit of world domination on the side so we are kinda working on that.

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The Modern Chicken: A Theropod At Heart

I will never look at my chicken the same way again. Also, this reminds me strongly of Bo Burnham where the prose starts off as hilarious and somehow gets standing-ovation-worthy introspective at the end.

You Monsters Are People.

ChickenDNA
Tyrannosaurus rex is more closely related to a chicken than it is to an alligator. Think about that the next time you’re at a farm and you see twenty potential man eaters pecking away at food scraps. These little omnivores would absolutely eat you if they could and, if they ever get organized enough, I see that as a total possibility. Their ancestors once ruled the planet through unconstrained violence and a piece of that fury has to remain burning inside of their tiny chicken hearts. While a passing glance might make it seem an innocuous beast, holding a chicken’s gaze even for a moment hints at the rage swelling within. There is documented proof that all chickens are prospective killers and if you choose to ignore that proof then I feel sorry for you.

The lesson to be learned is never underestimate anyone. That clerk might be one…

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Would you like fries with that? (Or, why I miss my first grade teacher so bad right now.)

Eating a pack of fries at the moment. (My logic: dentist said doing salt gurgles every twenty minutes would help get rid of my toothache. French fries is salty. Ergo, french fries will help me get rid of toothache. Suck it, logic.) I started thinking if there’s any legit reason why I like these wonderful and unhealthy Mcdonald bits, aside from the obvious.

Well, I can think of one reason.

Which is still pretty pointless now that I roll it around in my head. Maybe it only really ever mattered to me.

(Now here’s where I go off tangent to reason it out, and hopefully it all coagulates into one big cause and effect at the end because I really don’t understand it myself.)

You see, back in first grade, I had a favorite teacher like all kids do. Sadly unlike most kids, I didn’t develop any genuine favorites after her. ‘Favorite’ would actually be an understatement. I really did like her. The like you give to best friends, parents, and siblings. The kind of unconditional like that you experience because you just do; liking the way she is, liking the way you are when she’s around, that kind of sappy stuff.

I can still spell her full name, a feat that I can’t even manage with my professors from last semester. I vividly recall her voice, her mannerisms, her face (before and after) as if I’m expected to attend my first grade classes the next day.

It was a small public elementary school. There were good teachers, bad teachers; spartan teachers, compassionate teachers. All kinds of people in one institution cramped in a room for a maximum of eight hours a day with at least thirty kids screaming and playing and angsting it out with each other.

You only ever truly know them when they’re angry, these teachers. And I remember her anger. Partly because I never wanted to disappoint her again, partly because I thought, “When I grow up, I want to have that kind of anger. Anger because you cared, anger because it’s needed. A calm but fierce anger that made the one you’re angry at feel sad and loved at the same time.” Of course not that eloquently thought, but such thoughts I had all the same. She gave french fries in private after I confessed my sins and cried my eyes out.

I was occasionally trained for quizbees, oratorical contests, spellingbees or some other academic stuff. I was pretty involved back in elementary now that I think about it (until I deteriorated into… well, me.)

She was my mentor most of the time. My parents were there, proud of course. Pride for me that made me happy and crushed me, suffocated me all the same. She was different. She was proud not because I won contests. She was proud because I liked to read and draw, two things that meant the world to me back then. She tucked me in the school clinic bed when I fell asleep over some tests during after-school review sessions.

She dropped by McDonalds and gave me fries while we chatted about this or that. I was five then, but she talked to me the same way she talked to any other adult with enough sense. I thrived in it. She didn’t coddle me, she appreciated me.

Eventually I grew up and advanced grades. Had different teachers and different lessons to take.

Every teachers’ day though I’d be there, waiting. She was the only one I remembered and willingly gave a gift to. Not that I’m ungrateful to my other lecturers, but I’m the type of person who’s not very keen on keeping track of special occasions, nor comfortable with giving out presents. Up until now I willfully forget even my best friend or my parents and other siblings’ birth dates. I remember to make a small gift though, every teacher’s day.

On regular days when I had the time, I’d drop by her classroom; always that classroom at the first building, first floor, beside the stairs. I’d sit in the back and sometimes take care of the kids when she had errands to make. After each class, she asks me to have lunch with her. A variety of meals she’d choose, but each and every time I’d pick fries on the side. I assumed that she thought it was amusing. Years later I’d come to realize (when there wasn’t much time left) that she laughed because she was happy, happy that even after years there are some things that didn’t change.

When I was in my first year of high school, she got sick. She had to do dialysis and went on sick leave. She couldn’t teach anymore; she couldn’t do the one thing she’s dreamed of doing all her life.

I visited her at home with another female face that was part of my childhood as much as hers was. I realized why I never met a guy in her life all those years I spent with her. She looked fragile, but more than that, afraid. I told her she was the best (the only– I didn’t say, she wouldn’t have approved) teacher I went to each teacher’s day. We talked more comfortably after that. They held hands, and I missed her teaching me again. She still looked beautiful and fierce, the teacher that showed me my worth wasn’t based on my achievements but on who I am. Beautiful, despite the darkening of her milky skin due to the constant blood transfusions. Beautiful, even if she couldn’t sit up nor walk anymore. When I went home, I bought myself some french fries and stared at it, not really eating any.

In my second year of high school, I thought it was cruel. It was that point in my life where I blamed and thanked God for everything and anything, as if everything really does happen for a reason and I should just take things as they come. God must have known, I thought. He knew. So why her? Why now? Cruel, cruel, cruel.

I was a day late, see. I just got home from the province, a day after teacher’s day. I had everything I wanted to give her; I wrote something quite like this, a chronicle of those days that only she and I would remember and laugh about. She would like it, she would laugh despite her pain, I think- and they tell me I need to attend her funeral the next day. It was more painful for her partner. Those days she looked as if in between entertaining the other mourners, and handling expenses, she never ate or slept and only cried.

People thought I was probably going to cry during the funeral too. I didn’t. It’s been my way of telling when something really, really matters. I know it the moment I try to cry and no drop comes out. It’s like I’ve shriveled up from the inside and something vile is trying to claw its way out of my chest and burn my lungs. Like I want to scream but I can’t. I usually pull a blank when I try to recall whatever was happening around me at that time. It’s always blank. When my sister got confined to the ICU for a month. When my grandfather died. When one of my best friends died. When I accidentally injured another kid out of sheer blind rage, the blood blossoming on his chest and I thought he was going to die. When they cremated my favorite teacher who was the only person in this world who never told me I was lazy, or that I was a waste, that if only I tried hard enough when I was already doing my best. She smiles that exasperated smile and says I worry too much about making mistakes, and how I shouldn’t because I make wonderful things when I don’t worry.

I hated myself for being selfish. She’s dead, she’s gone, she can’t ever talk or love anymore- yet all I could ever think about is what do I do now? How do I do this without her?

I didn’t want to look at those stupid fucking french fries that still dared to exist on this stupid fucking planet when she didn’t anymore. Anything remotely similar-scented made me vomit for a month.

I felt a little closer to okay eventually though. She would have wanted that.

.

I hate writing about death-

but hey, sometimes spewing words without having to think is the only way to cope, when something happens and you try to find that person who can make it better- only to realize you won’t ever be able to find that person again. That you’d have to make it better on your own somehow.

.

It’s an elaborate reason for liking fries. A stupid reason, if you will. But when I wonder why I like fries so much, why it’s the food I usually eat alone when I feel angry or worthless or mad- she’s the only one that comes to mind.

Wow okay that got gloomy real fast. Have a nice day folks.

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Of High School and Curtain Calls: When reality far exceeded the drama on stage

It’s funny how high school makes you treasure the simplest things that probably don’t count much out in the proverbial “real world”.

Remember that time we went for weeks without sleeping just to finish up this booth for some project and it ended up not being used at all? Or that time this classmate sawed half his thumb trying to construct a haphazard wooden bed for Sleeping Beauty’s school parade and you suddenly decided he’s probably your ideal guy?

Out of all these nuggets of sentimentality, I vividly recall one school play during my first year. Our class was divided into two groups and each group was given free reign on what topic to choose. So we elected a leader and zeroed in on which plays to use.

Weeks went by without anything special happening. The other group was avidly rehearsing pieces and conducting a lot of methodical acting. (From what I heard that time, they even had this panel of people who forcefully made one single person ‘absorb’ his or her character’s emotions and express them on demand.) Their play was heavy drama. Ours? I can’t really recall our first choice now.

So they had grueling rehearsals and we… well, we waited for an announcement and after every class, it’s always a nonchalant, “We don’t have practice today.”

Hey, it’s not as if we were complaining. Truth be told, we cheered and felt relief that our assigned head was laid-back, foot loose and fancy free. It seemed as if we had all the time in world. A little jealousy and unease maybe that the other group showed intense dedication and were making evident progress. (But who cares, sleep right?)

And then there he goes. Our leader. He up and announces that he switched to the other group.

Good bye, good luck suckers.

Anger, betrayal. It was such a TV cliche turn of events that it was easy to fall into the role of hurt and bewildered subordinates. Then came the panic. The other group- progress. Intensity. Method acting, for fucksake. Fuckfuckfuck- everyone felt it. We were in deep shit.

And here’s the part where I sometimes hate myself: we needed a new leader. (Even a new play. The one we chose proved to be… inadequate.) Groan. I’m not the most responsible person out there. I’m not a leader, not really. I’m a huge control freak and I just love having everything make sense for me. That’s the problem. I’m not a leader and I’m so used to working alone, to having everything in perfect order in my head. So what do I do? Stupid little me assigns all the tasks to myself. They assign two of us as unofficial leaders and we’re already crushed enough that neither of us thought to refuse.

I use this magnificent indie play I heard by word of mouth. I stay up all night, ignoring my assignments to make a script with the scene, the sound, the entrances, the exists, the cast, the setting, the costumes, the stage all specified. I worry over the fact that I might have difficulty illustrating this wonderful play I’ve created in my head to the audience- even to my group members. I add in details. More details. I disseminate the script. I play director. Scream, scream. Cry here. No, laugh. Like this, like this- no! Like this. Don’t recite it, you’re not a fucking robot, say it like you would in any other conversation. Court her. Anger her. Appease her. Slap him. More screams. Go over there and study your script. Wait, what the fuck do you mean you have to go home, we haven’t even finished yet and we’re running out of time, and god, can everybody shut up for a second-!

We rehearse till midnight for the last remaining days.

We argue, bicker, fight. Cuss. Fuck you, fuck this. What the fuck are we going to do. Time time time. Shit.

Despite that, I wouldn’t trade that experience for the world.

We laughed. We had breaks and ate together. We discussed the play itself. We had delirious and jittery fun. There was this instance where, to make the order of the story clear- in my desperation to make them feel, make them see, because why can’t they imagine the soft yellow glow of a lamp casting shadows on the hero’s face and his lover’s tears?- I told the whole story in a narrative form. My voice grew scratchy an hour later. I was afraid they’d get bored. But they didn’t, and even though it didn’t miraculously enhance the acting of some stiff cast members, they listened, and they got it- and that means more to me than anything.

It was stressful, and draining, and fun, and exhilarating- it just made me feel alive.

A sort of pre-presentation event happened in class where we show our progress just to ensure that we’re actually getting somewhere before the actual performance.

I know all my group members would agree with me on this: we performed like crap.

We were half-baked and totally unprepared. Cues, what cues? Script? Positions? What?

We messed up.

Needless to say, the other group performed spectacularly  which further buried us in shame. Our ex-leader, the git, was actually a good actor in his own right and it’s like a fucking stab to see him perform so well and amplify the other group’s performance while we writhe in incompetence.

I felt horrible for my group members.

I felt horrible myself.

Troubles just started to pile up from there. The props. The sequence. The time. The members actually having to attend practice, hello.

.

Fear not, fear not. This is a prompt about triumph against the odds, is it not?

Now imagine this on the day of the performance:

There were three sections with two groups each, so six performances all in all, and whoopdeefuckingdoo, we get the last slot where the panel of judging-youuu teachers are probably sick of all the kids doing their plays and most of the invited students are eager to go home.

I paced and bit my nails. This is it. THIS IS FUCKING IT, GUYS.

God bless one of my group member’s mom, we borrow these glaring stage lights (the warm, archaic yellow I’ve always wanted).

We get curtains (not the splendid ones, but hey, it’s still something compared to the other group’s patchworks.).

The performances drift one by one. There’s a concurrent theme of the TV drama violence, the comical sitcoms- even dancing cats. (Idk man.) They were good. Like, really-prepared-for-this-thing good.

Did I mention that our play, unlike all the others, was a complex faux romance play that actually symbolizes patriotism and sacrifice for our motherland, with a lot of deception and plot twists and screaming and conflict and shit?

Our turn. Ohgodohgodohgod was the general chant.

And then for some insane, magical reason, all that practice paid off and everyone acts like fucking pros on stage with everything they’ve got.

The symbolic intro was a fucking blast that gave everyone chills. All cues followed, all comedic relief scenes go well with the audience, all shouting matches charged with tension… dear god. The intense yellow lights cast just the perfect shadow for a 90’s circa film.

And it’s really fucking great that we were pretty much crap at the pre-play performance because they so totally did not expect this, oh boy. Significance and talent all in one ball.

Every single time I recall how everyone performed out there, I get the shivers and an intense pride for everyone involved.

Then we bowed and smiled, the kind of tired and electric smile you get when you know you’ve done your best and you don’t even fucking care if anyone liked it or whatever they thought about it- you did your best and you loved every moment, that’s all that mattered right then.

.

Bonus: when the grades came out, guess who got the highest.

Aw yeah, *vague wave in our general direction*.

I can almost cry. (Specially when they all dwelled on the fact that hey, yo, ex-leader could have had the same grade but… oh well.)

.

(On a side note, like I said, high school has that way of making the most trivial things seem like your life revolved around it. This particular defacto leader of ours is still a great friend at present. Irregardless of the high school drama, he’s a nice dude.)

prompt

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“So. Uh. Nice weather today, huh?” Groan.

I don’t like meeting new people, but it seems to have molded itself into my daily cycle.

Sheer agony.

Make no mistake, I don’t dislike the idea. I dislike the process itself. Everything about the getting-to-know-you stage makes me uncomfortable. It makes me jittery. I tend to make really intricate friendships with a lot of hidden context piled in over the years. Without that solid ground, I’m lost. I don’t know what to say. Will he get this joke if I say it? Will this topic sound off if I suddenly mention it in relation to their conversation? Will I sound stupid, or arrogant, or just plain out weird?

What are these ‘social norms’ you speak of? More importantly can I lather that in cheese?

It doesn’t help that now that I’m out of high school, I realize the media’s depiction of college isn’t that far off from reality- well, in my college at least. Though not that confined to stereotypes, I’ve been finding it harder and harder to work out just how the hell I’d start off conversations and keep them going. I’m in the worst stages of the getting-to-know-you-phase and even more awful still is the fact that most of them are already clustered in groups with their own stream of banter.

And- get this, plot twist- I don’t think I actually want to know new people that much. It’s just that I don’t like pity, and some think that my constant wanderings and solitary walks around campus is something that I didn’t choose for myself. So I’m occasionally strung along parties and lunch periods with people I barely know, making polite and dead conversation that drains all my energy and soaks me up in anxiety.

Meeting knew people has its ups and downs, I get that.
And I’m so frustrated hearing everyone say that you’re missing a lot by not ‘putting yourself out there’.
What exactly am I missing? I wouldn’t have met my best friends if I hadn’t gone through the getting-to-know-you stage, but they wouldn’t mean that much to me either if I didn’t dread said stage so much.

I guess this is all just going too fast for me and people already jumping ahead to conclusions about what I need, or who I need feels invasive.

I’m tired of meeting new people in this environment, but I seem to find myself going through the intro routine ever day.

*prompt

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a day in the life of ID’

Daily Prompt: Make Your Own Planet

assembler_by_Kosmur

Everything’s quiet now.

I know this kind of quiet. Been living for quite a while up here, it’s hard not to memorize the patterns.

The silence was a welcome reprieve from the colorful chaos of the atmosphere- not that I didn’t like the almost constant buzz of activity. But sometimes quiet often make the land and the sky even more beautiful afterwards, splashing it with a thousand possible lives, universes- galaxies!- to dive into. Some new, some old favorites I’ve stayed in for years.

Oh, we don’t actually have lands and skies. It’s just a concept I’ve seen, one of those times when the atmosphere felt like being solid and stable, imitating another far away. I’ve also learned from another place that had flying circles and bizarre looking creatures said long dead- but living for eternity- of the term ‘atmosphere‘. It seemed like the perfect word to apply on everything that’s happening around me.

I have a lot of friends too. Some live in this planet with me. Some in the other places our atmosphere create. My friends from here think it’s foolish, considering these other creatures from an ‘illusion‘ (that’s debatable, I said) my friends. But we have a lot of fun, these other friends of mine. I have a hunch that they’re imitations of some other entities, only they’re better. Don’t ask me how, I just know.

Know, in exactly the same way I know the vague rules in my planet. Go to sleep when you need to. Stop exploring this other planet when it triggers the transition to some other planet we’d rather not see. Love, or rather ponder on the absence of it and what it really means. Learn, although this is highly subjective because sometimes the things I need to learn and things I want to are completely different things. Nothing concrete. They’re more or less guidelines that we flow through day by day. It’s like we’re sustaining the existence of some other universe, so that it can function with other universes and form their own galaxies.

From the other planets I’ve explored I do know this existence is far from normal. But we can imitate theirs for a while, so when has my planet ever been normal?

Oh, there goes the clock. Time to sleep, you say?

Okay.

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Soooo

Daily Prompt: Random Act of Kindness.

Here’s me taking a go at writing prompts. I’m not very direct, so if you can just bear with my long winding babble, please.

To start it off, I’m far from kind.

It doesn’t take much digging up to affirm that I’m actually a pretty crappy person. For the most part, I dislike people. I’m lazy. I’m quick to judge. I lash out a lot of misplaced anger. I don’t do things unless I can see there’s something in it for me. I lack a lot of empathy. I’m a pretty vindictive jerk. All of these traits- I’m not proud of them, but I often state them. I find that saying them early on lessens people’s standards and their tendency to breach my personal space, take advantage of me, or think it’s okay to constantly demand my presence as if it’s an obligation. I don’t really talk much. I’m not good at saying no. I dislike all the niceties entailed involved in first-base friendships. (Going to the bathroom together, going home together, spending lunch together, compromising my schedule to accommodate their plans… the list goes on.)

It eats me up, the guilt of knowing and still being who I am, yet I’m so used to life this way; it seems awful trying to change now.

Random acts of kindness are my oases.

When I just go, sure, I’ll do this. I bet she can finally release that breath she’s been holding in for a while now. I bet he’ll have a smile all day long. It’s eating a minty ticktack after a series of flavors. I don’t like mint much, but I don’t hate it either. It’s good occasionally, which what makes it special.

I like the idea that I’m making someone’s day brighter without them knowing it was me. A note. A sound. A word. A book. If I look at it a certain way, I still do get something out of this. I’m still doing it for something, just not what I usually go for. (But that thought just makes me a little frustrated, the inescapable sense that I’ll always be selfish, and I prefer not to dwell on that.)

I’d feel uncomfortable specifically stating each and every act though.  In my head, ‘an act of kindness’, can’t be divided into little moments or instances. It all just culminates into this one act of ‘I made someone happy about living today’. Just one movie I pause and play at random intervals.

I guess just cause I seldom indulge, it means more to me than it does to the people I do it for. I’ll never know, and that’s what makes it different and special to me. An act of kindness to others is the biggest act of kindness I give myself.

I’m not kind, but maybe I can give away kindness too.