Memories of Blood and Strawberries

Yesterday, I posted a throwback Thursday photo on my Instagram. It featured an artwork from one of the first art exhibitions I worked for. Nostalgia struck through me the moment I was editing and uploading the photo.

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The Menstruation of the Goddess or the Apotheosis of the Strawberries. Sandra Palomar. Coloratura Exhibit. mospace. 2009

Coloratura was the second show I officially worked for. The first one was Gaston Damag’s Exploding Idols at Pablo Fort, but it wasn’t as full on as this one. For Coloratura, I read books and journals, including texts in French. For this exhibit, I learned photoshop, laid-out manuscripts, sourced for volcanic rock and paper stock, documented a performance, and written and submitted press release personally.

Yes, it was the first time I wrote press releases. Back then I had little confidence for my writing. I was barely out of college and it was so much pressure knowing my words will come out in the Lifestyle pages of broadsheets and magazines. I made two drafts, so the editors could choose which to use. I initially submitted the copies to our Project Manager, Sandra, who was also one of the artists, just for her to review and judge my writing before the rest of the world does. I remember her telling me “This would do”. It came out the papers several days later. We were having a meeting in our office then about last minute preparations for the exhibit when she told everyone that my Press Release was beautifully written. It all felt glorious that moment, considering it came from a Paris-based artist whose aesthetics and literature were so refined. I was more than flattered. Eventually, she assigned me as head of exhibitions/events planning and PR for the gallery.

It was really a tough project. That was but one portion of the entire learning experience. It was not just writing. Actually, there were more physical activities involved, like transporting the paintings, hanging them, using those weird rulers, adjusting lights and wall texts. I was a fresh graduate then, and this I thought was some surprising kind of training. I loved it though. Everyone was not afraid of committing mistakes, if they did, they would turn it out into something they can work on. That’s one of the things I actually love about artists. They can always think of a creative way of turning things around. They make the process lean more to fun and learning.

It was all tedious and messy work, but I felt the happy kind of tired at the end of each day I was working for that exhibition. The entire experience was happy and fulfilling.

I rarely get that kind of feeling these days. So much feelings for a throwback Thursday.

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When “it” is Over

I remember to have written before in my old defunct blog something about love, loss, and longing, and the waiting, uncertainty, and anticipation entailed. It was about you.

***

I have already been used to not seeing you, not speaking to you, not even thinking about you. You were my “could have been”, though eventually I deemed you my soulmate. Sounds weird I know, but remember when we went around randomly and wasted time on things that were irrelevant to our lives yet seemed to have made sense? Those became remembrances that brought clarity as to how and why we can never be. Those were the moments that haunted me, but at the same time hauled me back to safety and sanity whenever I was in great irrepressible pain.

I even wrote to you and wrote about you. How can I not? When you were the one who taught me the meaning, value, and gravity of each word, more than the dictionary could ever offer. Of course, I added romanticism to that. That’s how we deal with things and people we used to love, right? Also, I could not help it then, knowing that’s the farthest we could ever/never be.

***

And as you always do in the past four to five years, you came to me as a surprise. But this time, with utmost realness (discounting the fact that it was virtual). It was not surreal though. Nothing magical, really. It was unexpected, I cannot put a feeling on it. This was what I wanted years ago. This is what I would have given up things for. But that was not an option then. All we did was pack our things up and leave.

It kind of makes me happy though of the time we have spent apart. Maybe we needed that to wonder and wander. Maybe that was one way of making us grow and realize some things. Maybe it brought us into thinking how we cared for each other in each’s absence.

This is my story of love lost. A narrative of longing, waiting, and anticipation that have gone. It will never be the same love as before. This is now the kind of love/friendship far more than your words can convey.

I am thankful I already have my life on track, and to have people I have lost back is a mere bonus. I guess friendships really do not end. You gobbled up your own words. In the end, it came from you even; that it has to be rekindled.

You were one of my greatest (and weirdest!) friends after all.

The Skinny on the Skinny, The Flat on the Flat

I am skinny. I was a skinny girl who grew up to be a skinny woman.

***

Puberty arrived a little late in grade school. I was already awkward then when all these growing up things occurred, which just made me even more awkward. I was a bit envious of my gradeschool friends who already looked like full-grown women. Their bodies already have shape, they have already grown breasts, their hips have widened and their bottoms have become plumper. I thought I’d be the same come my period. But nothing happened, even after years of monthly bleeding.

My mother was alarmed of my health. My weight was no longer proportional with my height. She had me eggs every day, aside from the smoothie (?) she prepared which consisted of raw eggs, chocolate, banana, and milk. It tastes good you know, but it kind of wears you off knowing you are basically fine and wasn’t sick or something but had to do/drink it anyway.

***

I remember wearing my first brassiere in high school. It did not fit me well. The A cup size was already too large for me, but my mother insisted that I should start wearing because that’s just what a growing woman should do. I came to school the next day and people thought I grew boobs overnight. I was teased – that it was all pad and air inside. They asked me if I had put in pieces of bread to make up for the hollow spaces. I hated these jokes. Aside from the fact that these are corny Pinoy jokes, they were all just mocking me.

I hated that they associated flat chested-ness with me. I hate it when flat chested comes up their thought bubbles when they hear my name. I hate it that they made fun of what I didn’t have or what I partially had. I hated people because I was aware that I am more than my lack of boobs. I’m smart and witty. But this was the idea of me that stuck to them. I mean, come on! This is puberty people, you learn this in school, along with GMRC, so be nice to those having this kind of bad phase.

Good thing, I was not the type to dwell on physical things. I give credit to my parents for always telling me that I have my brains to boot and nadaaah to what other people say about how I look. Flat-chestedness did not become an insecurity. I was no longer looking at other girl’s boobs. I mean, what do I get from comparing anyway? The story went on, and I made it through high school skinny and flat.

College came and the people I knew were less judgmental. Must be the carefree environment of the university, or the theoretical and serious approach of the academe, or must be my course’s focus on thinking and problematizing, or maybe we were more drawn on what appeals to the mind rather than the physical.

Adulthood came and I still had the same body type. I don’t remember anyone mock me as much as in high school. Or maybe they do, but I just shrug my shoulders and that’s it. I met a lot of people, men and women, and not even one dared to take make a big deal out of it. Well, except for my current boss who thinks I have the perfect model type body (at size 0 or even smaller); he even transforms me to a mannequin at times. And honestly, that is kind of gratifying, knowing finally, someone takes high regard of what others have made you feel terrible about.

I guess it’s just that people really get into dirty and awkward phases, or worse, never get out of it. My story is no less different as those who have been mocked and laughed at most of the time because of what they lacked. It’s a struggle, but it’s just a matter of acceptance – of knowing and being aware of who and what and how you are and turning everything around for your own good. After all, what people see is in you is what you pass on to them.

Finale

We were bathed in tears and our skin was scarred. Every drop, every contact, thrusts deep. Daggers shoved to an unfathomable depth, beyond skin, beyond flesh, beyond bones.

And we just laid there, hurt and punctured, by our words, our lies.

We resolved to clothe each other with what remains of our love – half-truths, misgivings. We wore them hoping that what had led us to this weaves back what was lost.

Tomorrow, when I wake up, shall we still be in each’s skin?

The Cubao X that I used to know

Last week was all about my utter excitement and anticipation of going back to Cubao X for INK’s Anniversary Exhibit. It seems like years since the last time I was there. Well, for the record, it really has been a year, or even more.

Cubao X was one of my favorite places after college. I do not know if it had something to do with my profession then, but it was where artists of all kinds unite. It was also one of my top booze stops in the metro. I mean, my lonely soul and broken heart sought refuge in bottles of beer, smoke, noise, and insightful ideas of random musicians, film enthusiasts, writers, and visual artists. A night in Cubao X (sitting in the gutters) was enough to take all the week’s weariness away.

I don’t know when the decline started – when Meiday stopped perhaps? Or when Mogwai closed down. It devastated me so much knowing there’s no longer mozarella dynamite sticks, or that sinful chocolate cake. And indie bands to raise beer bottles or Meiday mixes to.

Last night, there were only few establishments open. No Mogwai, no Future X, no loud music, just a few artists from the opening.

What happened Cubao X? Have all the new establisments killing you? I miss you, your fun and your rage and your energy.

*Also, trying to do some blogging via phone. Been a while, dear blog. I miss you too.

Escape

We were on the beach that evening. Each had a horror story to share. I told mine, or my sister’s I should say. I had nothing to share but a monstrosity of feelings which was also the reason why I sought a time out of the city, and I am not sharing it in any way.

I lied down in the midst of their stories. Their words were diminished into unclear and incomprehensible murmurs. The bottle of beer slipped out of my hand, it reached and burrowed in the sand. I looked at the sky. It was clear and beautiful. The stars looked like the moment sugar is thrown into a mug of dark coffee.

This was not what we were supposed to be. We wanted to be together. But things changed. I no longer take warmth from your hands cupping mine. Comfort was no longer the blanket you put on my back while reviewing in the wee hours of the morning. Company was not as delightful as we walk from our house to school.

On my Graduation, the only sad thought pinching through the joyful celebration was the promise of us together marching from the school grounds to the commencement hall. It was too late to be possible. You remained in school for two more semesters from the day I graduated. I can no longer remember the time we felt victorious together. That could have been the chance.

I grabbed the bottle of beer, sat, and looked around. They were already done with their horror stories. I got myself up and got into our pick-up truck. Alcohol was not enough to cover their fear. They were scared out of wits on the way home. I was not, well I was, actually. I was afraid I’d be back to the city tomorrow morning. I was afraid of the odds of seeing you again.

Dear Lover, I am taking you to Baguio

It actually feels like saying, I am taking you home.

People normally beat the five to eight hour travel to Baguio for a glimpse of the Lion, for a walk up Mines View Park, for a stroll around Burnham, for a taste of strawberries, and for a million pictures they could post on Facebook and Instagram. It is a heartless journey; sad to say.

I won’t be taking you to those places. I’d take you on a different travel.

We’ll take the midnight bus. We’ll draw the curtains to the side and watch everything outside pass us by. I’ll ask you to close your eyes as soon as we get into the freeway. No, it won’t give you an infinite feeling as that of Charlie’s; but I’d let you feel what it is like being somewhere and nowhere at the same time. You’re moving, but stuck. You’re lost, but not really.

You have to recline your seat upon arrival at Pangasinan and La Union, I’d like you to look at the stars and how clear the sky is. You’ll notice a great difference when we arrive at Baguio. You may take a nap after the admiration, but I’ll wake you up when we’re already mid-way Marcos Highway. You’d open your eyes to the sunrise overlooking the mountains and the sea. I’d point the direction of South China Sea and watch your face glow, with awe and wonder and a teeny bit of sunshine.

We’d get off the bus and tell you to exhale on your hands and watch your breath become visible. I’d laugh because you’re another of those I asked to do it and did. We’d walk around and get breakfast somewhere. I’d tell you this is where my blockmates lived, this is where I would’ve marched for Graduation, this is where a white lady shows up, this is where I was almost robbed of my phone. We’d rest in a familiar place. I might even request them to have the fireplace set up for a Baguio newbie like you.

We’d walk up and down Session Road. We’d pay a visit to the Cathedral and its chapel. We’d take the stairs at the side so I could show you the tilework which seems to say, This way to the Cathedral. We’d say hello to my friends over at La Azotea. I’d show you their small gallery and sit by the window for a cup of Cordillera coffee. We’d look over a busy, beautiful, but less-known road. Its beauty overshadowed by the famous Session Road. We’d continue walking and stop at thrift shops. We’d wonder at how cute and cheap Japanese toys are, but we’d be disappointed and sad upon finding out they no longer work the same. I’d get you a leather jacket you’d only get to wear here and bury in your closet once we get to Manila. We’d walk farther, to Burnham Park this time. I’d take you to the lake. I won’t tell you the story that existed here. You know it, you’d think about it for a while, and smile.

We’d walk across Burnham and up the hill leading to the Café by the Ruins. We’d stroll a little back to get a jeepney leading to Tam-Awan. We’d hike up its slopes and rich terrain. We’d enjoy throwing coins at its bamboo wells. We’d cross its hanging bridge. We’d get a massage at one of cottages. We’d stay at the view deck and wait for the sunset. We may not be able to see the South China Sea on a cloudy afternoon, but this is, beyond doubt one of the most breathtaking sunsets you’d ever have. We’d stay here until sundown, after the artists have finished their sketches and are already dancing in the dap-ay. We’d drink with them and eventually stay at their cottage because we’re too tired to travel for the night.

We’d be greeted with Cordillera coffee in the morning, and freshly baked bread, and herby scent of pesto. We’d bid them bye and head on to my then school. I’d tour you around and introduce you to yet another Oble. We’d cross the street and pretend I am marching for my College Graduation.

We’d decide to go to the Botanical Garden next. No, we won’t take photos of the locals in colorful costumes. You know I despise that. We’d walk (again) instead and follow the trail to the Greenhouse and sneak at the ongoing exhibition inside the house made of scrap bottles and plastics. We’d take closer looks at uprooted trees and flora. We’d walk even more until we reach Wright Park. We’d throw coins and make impossible wishes in the rectangular well. We’d take a rest at the hills and take a book out to read because taking photos of with The Mansion as background is too boring and mainstream. We’d take a jeepney ride back to the City proper. I’d point you to this and that, to the haunted Teacher’s Camp, to the haunted White House, to the Pink Sister’s Chapel, to Korean Restaurants, To Diners, and to schools around.

We’d climb the only mall that exists in a hill. We’d drop coins and use the telescope at the top floor. We’d watch a movie because it’s cheap at Php 60 per screening. We’d view the entire city and look at it as if it existed in our palms. We’d stroll a little further for a Pizza and Pasta stop at Volante’s. I’d tell you stories of how I met friends here whenever I visited. We’d consider going to the market by then. We’d get our friends dreamcatchers, and pasalubong because they are suckers for that. I’d tour you around. From where the best Ilocos longganisas are, to where the cheapest vegetables are, to where the biggest and most literal ukay-ukays are. We’d take a cab home because we have too much to carry. We’d give Manong driver no tip because he might get offended and upset, but we’ll reward him with a warm smile instead.

We take a warm bath and spend the rest of the evening preparing dinner then cuddling at the fireplace.

We’d leave with happy and contented hearts the next day. On the way home, treading down Marcos Highway, I’d like you to close your eyes and feel how it is again to being somewhere and nowhere. To feel a sense of affinity and longing to the land you just left. To feel what it feels like to have found and left a home.

That was my home. It has been yours too.

On Summer’s End

I took the last bus ride home from the beach. I usually liked taking the night trip as I find it more relaxed and comfortable. I used to like passing through dim-lighted streets, making the stars even brighter. I used to like looking through the window where the featured sceneries that were once brimming with life has gone to sleep, dark and peaceful. I used to like the feeling of being above the earth, as if I was cradled in a hammock, with lullaby inducing sleep. However tonight, everything feels far different.

I feel uneasy. There’s something that keeps me awake, aback. My hair still smelt of seawater, making it dry and sticky at the same time. My skin was still warm and moist and dewy. My fingers moved not to the rhythm of the songs in my ipod, but paddled to the waves instead. My feet are a little dry and scaly with the tiniest of sand and dust in between my toes.

I no longer see the stars midst the dim streetlights, nor the streets gone dark and peaceful. All the windows exhibited was the playful sun, the balmy weather, the cheerful waves, and me running to the shore to greet the water. All i know is that, all that has been flashing through me is but the most recent and the swiftest memory. And the more the bus treads on its path, the farther I get from it, inch by little inch.

I wonder what is happening? I wonder how it has gone this way this time.

But all seasons are supposed to be short and temporary, does this mean this will be the end and/of the last?

The 11 Tracks of 2011 – Perhaps The Late-st New Year Post

I have mentioned in my previous blog that I am to answer the generic 2011 survey, but I chose to skip it this time since a.) friends have already done it in their blogs b.) I’ve done that in facebook and multiply some N years ago and c.) I don’t feel like answering a roster of questions as if I’m in a talkshow or something.

I’d opt for a mixtape of sorts instead. 11 tracks for 2011. Yes, what a concept concerning numbers! I guess I will have to try to be more creative next time. Also, all links lead to last. fm since it’s the easiest way for me to search and backtrack my 2011 playlist and ponder about last year through music. FYI, I had my last.fm resurrected/reactivated last year. 🙂

So here goes a little of 2011:

  • Friends Lovers or Nothing by John Mayer – Vague boundaries and uncertainties. Proof that one small lacking thing makes a whole lot of difference to the whole. Lessons in unity of opposites learned.

 

 

This is the last time I’ll ever say I love you/This is the last night I’ll fall among these graves/The first and last time that I’ve cried/And walk beneath the dark lonely sky

  • Happy by Natasha Bedingfield – Instant get-happy song. Reminds me of good little things around and all the reasons to foster a positive disposition.

Keep your pride young girl/It’s your life, it’s your world

  • The Quiz by Hello Saferide – My questions and riddles. Your wit and unpredictable ways. Exactly the prelude to our story.

 

  • One Sweet Love by Sara Bareilles – To being lost and found, and the anticipation between. Because all Sara Bareilles songs need not be sad and sappy, some just have to be slow and sweet.

 

 

  • We Will Not Grow Old by Lenka – Says as much as Jewel’s This Way but with a more upbeat and playful touch. Cheers to our youthful hearts!

 

 

  • Your Song by Ellie Goulding – Part of the random mixtape of us I made up in my head. When no song seems to fit us, this might be probably apt. Or so I said because this is one song I wish I could sing you, or maybe I would, one day.

 

Thus “He” Spoke (A Repost)

This post was lifted from my personal journal, then published here.

Still, I remember her. It’s been more than a year since we both sat in this bench facing the lake. Same warm sun, same cold wind, same paddled boats, same pedaled swans, same dome of yellow blooms above our heads. Same everything – except her.

Right there before we have entered the park, I could have said what I felt, what I was suffering from; but her imperfectly orchestrated ways got the best of me. She flew me right to the other end of the rainbow even before I opened my mouth.

She was silent until we sought refuge at this bench. She was in between a smile and a frown, in between laughter and tears. She spoke no words – as if I have never taught her to perfectly choose and use them, or maybe, because she felt like they were awkward – more awkward than her silence.

We just stared at the lake. It wasn’t actually a beautiful sight. Thus, we sought beauty in the eyes of lovers passing by, in the smile of kids riding their bikes (I still know looking at them makes her happy and envious at the same time).

We left with the usual parting words. I would have liked to hug her and tell her things the way I did that cold December night, or simply give her a high five so I can catch and hold her hand – that she’ll find security in me and that I’ll feel assurance in her.

Months after, she told me she wanted to talk to me. I asked her to meet me at the library. Eight in the morning. Just us two. She nodded. She smiled.

But when I woke up in the morning , a message from her said she cannot make it. She already left the night before for something more important but she promised she’ll save the words. I insisted that she tell me still. I asked, yes I did, and she let out the words. It wasn’t the most beautiful litany – it was more of a random set of words she confusingly put together to make sense, but its chaos was concrete enough to understand what she was trying to say.

I did not know. Maybe I found something inadequate, or maybe, I found myself uncertain. Things kept coming and going in and out of my mind. For once, I did not know which words to choose. Seemed to me, a “goodbye” was the only remaining thing that made sense. And that I said – without a hug, without a touch, without a bitter smile.

She spoke foreign words as her farewell. I never heard of her since. But sometimes I feel her – in sincere smiles, in soft drizzles, in loud laughs, in smiling eyes, in girlish giggles. Weird though, I remember her in winning playstation matches, in warm well of coffee, in nighttime study breaks, in comic films. and yes, I do think of her and her stars when i brush through Exupery’s The Little Prince.

I wonder if she has already turned me into literature – calling me different names, utilizing different metaphors like what she did to my yearbook testimonial.

I know she comes here every now and then. I’m just not sure whether she sits at the same spot and feels the same way again.

It was our last long walk and talk together. Now i wonder where’d she be. Who she’d be walking with, who she’d be sharing a bench with. But with her imperfectly orchestrated ways, which I actually find interestingly beautiful, she must be flying right now. She’s probably flying to places only a few people could find and explore – but not the way back to me, not even to back to this bench.

***

Dear Former friend,

I’d rather not call you that way, but how else will I? Anyway, something reminded me of you, although I’d rather not be reminded of you in that light. Same news reached me days ago, it coincided with your birthday. It didn’t concern you though, it just made walking down memory quite painful. But that’s just how it goes. You’re way better now anyway. Hope you always will. That, and a Happy Birthday.

Asteorra