books, books, books

This is me recording here the e-books I read in the past years. It comforts me to know that I still make time to read books. I hope that in the near future, I start making time for writing poetry since finding myself back home always evokes the deepest thoughts in me.

Sexing the Cherry, Jeanette Winterson
Oranges are Not the Only Fruit, Jeanette Winterson
Why be Happy When You Could be Normal, Jeanette Winterson
Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman: Adventures of a Curious Character, Richard Feynman
Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, Catherynne M. Valente
Norwegian Wood, Haruki Murakami
Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, Haruki Murakami
Shit My Dad (Never) Says, Oscar Wilde
No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission that Killed Osama Bin Laden, Mark Owen
Neverwhere, Neil Gaiman
Good Omens, Neil Gaiman
American Gods, Neil Gaiman
A Series of Unfortunate Events, Daniel Handler
Life as I Blow It, Sarah Colonna
Heaven is For Real, Todd Burpo
Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell
The Evil that Men Do, Stephen Michaud
The Marriage Plot, Jeffrey Eugenides
The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell
Orange is the New Black, Piper Kerman

The Wisdom of Psychopaths, Kevin Dutton
I Was Told There’d be Cake, Sloane Crosley
On another note, my latest book conquest was Farahad Zama’s The Marriage Bureau for Rich People.
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Step 2

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” ― Eleanor Roosevelt

Learning something new unhinges me and shakes me from my life of chosen stupor. I turn on the pressure tap. I push myself to ace everything, get the perfect score, impress the teacher, get the trophy/treat/high marks. I treat everything as one or all of these three things: Is it edible and pleasurable? Will that benefit me? Will that make myself proud?

For approximately eight weeks, I learned a new language as a requirement. Everyday, after work, I would attend class for four hours and 15 minutes. After that, I would reach my place at around 10pm, feed my cats, clean up their mess, cook their food, eat whatever unhealthy was available, do my homework, and talk to my Person. The next day, I would be tired and scared and stressed out. It was strange to feel in my head and see before me English words as part of my proofreading day job then attend a class after and face foreign words, different sentence configurations, new grammar rules.

I was a sponge, ready to absorb everything. I was participative, I made new friends despite my rough attitude, and I was getting good grades. But I was very, very tired, and part of what I prayed for when I say the rosary was for me not to get sick. Because I know, when I get sick, that it would not stop me. I was actually more concerned about being driven away by my classmates and my teacher who might be afraid to catch the flu from me if I had gotten sick.

Weeks leading up to the final exam were crazy. I was distraught, I abandoned my other friends. I dove deeper into my work and into my lessons. I needed to pass. It soon dawned on me that as with other parts of my life, I was seeing the final exam as a battle, a war. Everyday before leaving for work, I would read a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt (that one posted above as an epigraph). I wrote it on a piece of paper and tacked it right beside my main door. I was training myself to be more fearless, and when I want something this bad, I just have to get it.

April 17, 2015 was the exam. It had four parts. After the exam, I attended Cynthia Alexander’s gig at Whitespace. I needed to return to what made me essentially happy, and having Cynthia Alexander back here in the Philippines, in our birthday month, was a good sign. Please make a mental note that my birthday and Cynthia Alexander’s are only a few days apart. Die of envy, suckers.

The waiting time for the release of the results was agonizing. Days before the exam, I had decided to watch Parks and Recreation episodes. Amy Poehler, alongside Ilana Glazer, Patrick Starfish, Little Delirium, and The Joker, was my spirit animal. A warrior needs her animals as her co-warriors. I knew the decision to binge watch Parks and Recreation could prove disastrous. I always get distracted, my attention span is that of a fish’s, and every minute away from studying could be fatal. Yet, this series helped me keep my sanity. I was almost losing it, remembering random foreign words and scrambling inside my head for its gender and meaning. I was crying out loud for no reason, and every time I whooped out of joy (those moments were the following: Googling images of waffles and cakes, reserving VIP tickets for Cynthia Alexander’s Teatrino concert, looking at photos of cats and other animals), my colleague would ask, Is that your exam result? And I would feel deflated and become morose again.

What I wanted was either to get a very high grade or not to pass at all. There was no middle ground. There are no average performances for me.

I got the exam results on April 23, 2015. I was scrambling for the details in order for me to see my results online. I needed the receipt number, and my exam fee receipt was at home. My school administrative head broke the rules when she gave my receipt number over the phone. My classmates were messaging one another that they passed. That was it. The drumming sound in my head was growing louder. My heart was doing its own rituals. The war paint on my face felt heavy.

The results of my exam were awesome. I would have wanted to perfect the exam, but I guess that was not for me. My class was awesome, too, because everyone passed.

And now for my red carpet speech: To all my classmates, thank you for all the crazy and fun moments. Thank you for putting up with my mood swings and OC moments. To my teacher, you are awesome and admirable. To all the Über drivers who knew the way to my school, thank you for letting me take catnaps during the drive. To my office mates, thank you for not letting the ball drop when I passed the ball to you and thank you for saving my wonderful ass. To my siblings and to my mom, thank you for letting me disappear further and for letting me do it at my own pace and time and style. To Isa, Karyn, Sarah, Glenn, Alan, Philline, Jov, Beleny, Bianch, Nina, Gela, Anj, Mea, Sandra, Maan, and Bern, at one point or another, you helped anchor me and did favors that you never knew you were doing for me (mostly, I was leeching your positive energy for good vibes). To my Person, thank you for everything, for remaining patient while you were the target of my rage and stress, for calming me down, for seeing this through with me, for comparing me to a hurricane because hurricanes are powerful and amazeballs. To all musicians whose music became the OST of this experience, you rock as always. To my cats, I wished you were more useful, but oh well, this was asking for too much. To my neighbor who owns a very noisy and whiny dog, you fucking suck because you fucking don’t know how to fucking treat a dog right and if I fucking failed the fucking exam, I would have fucking made your life (not your dog’s) fucking hell because your dog’s barking is now part of my daily routine. And to my stepmom, wherever your soul is finding its peace, thank you for looking after me after all these years.

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When I watch movies or TV series episodes, I look for very specific moments. These become my foothold. I look for the dining scenes. I like it when people eat with their bare hands. I look for cats and their hiding places. I also look for scenes with trains — idle trains, trains in motion, and trains being set on fire or exploding into a million sharp pieces. My attention is piqued when the hands are too anxious like birds unable to find suitable places for rest. I look for scenes where the characters just look up in ecstasy toward the ceiling or the sky, and their eyes and the jut of their chins say it all: I am here, look at me, do not dare look away.

about her

“No, one must remember the dead; weep softly, but grieve long.” – S. Kierkegaard

It’s November. I let October slide away because October is my ghost month. October is the month things start going wobbly. Well, October or September of every year since years and years back.

You know how you expect television series to start a new set of episodes at an appointed month? I like that sense of certainty. Because come that certain month, that show WILL be airing, for sure. There are series that have witnessed the ups and downs of my life, similar with how there are people who have seen me at different stages in my life. One is Glenn, the other is Lois.

I am writing this to commemorate the 14th death anniversary of my stepmom. It’s a yearly vigil I keep. It’s one consistent aspect of my life, next to my love for music and cats, next to the existence of my tattoos.

“Some things just can’t be fixed.”

Whatever I do or say, she is gone. It’s just what it is.

Two things are for sure: If she were alive today, she would fall in love with my cats in all their sweet monstrosity. If she were alive today, she would look past my being an asshole, she would claim me as her own sweet monster.

dance, dance, dance, and dance

I was fortunate to be given free entrance to a contemporary ballet play staged in the Cultural Center of the Philippines. I watched the performance of artists from the James Cousins Company. Without Stars was a sequel to There We Have Been. These two stories are intertwined, with the first talking about the demises and the little joys in romantic relationships. I was after the second act, There We Have Been, as it was based on the first half of Haruki Murakami’s novel, Norwegian Wood.

The second act made me feel breathless for its entire duration. The female dancer danced while her feet never touched the stage floor. Her ground was the male dancer’s body. Every movement she did was precise, heavy, measured, restrained yet flowing. She had immense control of her center of gravity, and the man provided very solid and fluid ground.

My words cannot give justice to the performance. Watch this preview.

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There was a time when I went to visit my mom at our place in Makati City. Because we had more time than the usual, she shared all the things that happened to her when it came to her bad experiences with her deceased common-law husband’s relatives. The relatives are poor and uneducated, therefore, they had once harassed my mother for their claim over the house that my mom and her second husband had constructed. My point is this: There was too much heavy energy from my mom that I absorbed it; I started palpitating; my head throbbed and throbbed. I felt I was being punched, but the punches were coming from deep within. Another point: Uneducated people who feel entitled are the worst.


Watching 30 Rock episodes (it’s never too late to catch up on series like House and Breaking Bad and 30 Rock), I realized my life is shaping into something akin to Liz Lemon’s life. Liz is the show’s protagonist. As if I still needed convincing, life presented a piece of evidence in the form of an “almost meeting”. See, the usual suspects and me were drinking somewhere in the armpit of Manila (a far cry from our usual Quezon City watering hole) one time. I wasn’t out to check out people, but there was this person that passed by and that person’s stare was toxic and dangerous and needy and sexy. In between my friend complaining that I was the only one enjoying the night and that person’s eye-fucking, I just had to sneeze and blow my grey matter into a thick ball of tissue. The sound was unnerving, and my cough was the sound of death’s little sibling’s punk song. Needless to say, the person disappeared; that person might have even sprinted away from the scene. Liz Lemon moment.


I have a new-old illness, and it has besieged my left leg also. I have an impairment. Should I be bothered?


I am surprising myself with my recent decisions. Surprisingly, I feel calm. I guess it’s because it’s going to affect my cats in a good way.


I am reading a book on the wisdom of psychopaths and another book that has essays in it whose topics range from the romantic side of lying to Liberals vs. Democrats. My thesis is starting to take the backseat again, but I shouldn’t let it. Because I have to graduate in a certain semester or else I’m screwed.


Oxford comma excites me.

Once I had a burger, and it tasted yummier than an actual person. Another poem of mine came true.

Secrets are delicious only when they’re performed right.

dolores o’riordan have sung about this

So strange to have two friends from different circles tell me that they dreamt of me.

Person A dreamt of me last Monday.

Person B dreamt of me last Friday.

Person A was happy to beat person B for having that dream about me first. Very funny to be competitive that way. And they haven’t even met each other.

I am seldom in touch with these two (but I am very much entitled when I bug them for favors haha) so it’s strange for them to have me in their thoughts.

Odder still for person A to have dreamt of something that I have recently been doing, which person A never had a clue about.

Funny and strange, right?

An acquaintance also describe me very aptly when we were having a senseless banter online: “Nene-looking ka kasi / but a deadly one.”

Like a poison in a nondescript bottle, like a bad LSS on loop.

(I miss writing here. I have been busy with work and with watching TV series and just bumming around and listening to music and obsessing over Fassbender. This blog took a backseat. Poor blog.)

Dancing it out, writing it out

I have not been writing for months.

My job and life drain me. As it is, I don’t have a family of my own, but the upkeep of the house and those that belong inside my house is taxing. But I am lucky enough. Every one that counts is healthy, the furry kids are healthy, I despite my illnesses am struggling to be healthy, my job gives me security.

Today, I decided to watch the last episode of Grey’s Anatomy season 10. This season is closer to my heart because it has the character, Cristina Yang, as the focal point in the latter part of the season. She is who I am in the series, and her decisions, her words, and some of her choices would have been mine if she were an actual person and I were in her shoes.

In the series, she leaves for another job in Switzerland, and I am proud of her as if she were a real friend.

Cristina’s “person,” a.k.a. best friend and light, Meredith, pushes her to leave Seattle for good and fly to Switzerland, no more excuses and enough of Cristina’s wish to finalize the small things. Thinking that Cristina is on her way to the airport, Meredith is surprised to see her back in the hospital.

Cristina: “We have to finish. We have to dance it out. That’s how we finish.”

Cristina and Meredith

Cristina and Meredith

As an aside: For those people who know me, I LOVE to dance. As to my cats, they know I love to dance. They have seen me in my underwear and without, dancing whatever it is out. They have suffered through my dance-outs to even start caring.

Meredith chooses a song close to my heart. It was one of the first songs I learned how to play on the ukulele, and it remains one of the songs of the band that never fails to knot my heart’s strings.

The song was Tegan and Sara’s Where Does the Good Go?

I had an idea that a Tegan and Sara song was to be used in that scene. I guessed that it would be Hop a Plane or Where Does the Good Go?

It’s always good to be partly right. It’s better to be fully right.

Like Cristina, I still need to do crazy things that I promised to do with one or two people. I still need to keep my word about skinny dipping with Jepoy and about dancing with Kat in a cemetery with us wearing tutus and tiaras. I still have to visit more lighthouses, a pact I made with myself and with the creatures I bring with me when I travel. I still have to write more poems. I still have to find or realize who my person is. I still have to do a lot of mental dredging, maybe see my brain doctor, or maybe just dance it off.

Here is the dance-out scene, Grey’s Anatomy, season 10 (copyrights belong to the proper parties, not to me)

And if you want to reminisce, here are more Cristina-dominated dance scenes (copyrights belong to the proper parties, not to me).

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The months in music

2013 was steeped in music in my case. There was the Tegan and Sara concert in Singapore; there was the Metric concert in Taguig; there was another Tegan and Sara concert right here in Manila.

2014 started off with a blast thanks to music again. I attended the Febfest concert in Pasig, a two-leg concert featuring Warpaint/Mogwai on the first week and Buke and Gase/Youth Lagoon/The National on the second week.

The first week was awesome. The lovely girls of Warpaint signed my CD and poster and even called me “Eveeee” Wall-E style. They performed impressively, to say the least. Mogwai was in their element, and the people swelled in number when it was time for Mogwai to perform.



The second leg of the Febfest saw a tremendous number of attendees. The noise and craft of Buke and Gase were amazing; Youth Lagoon did not disappoint.

Buke and Gase

Buke and Gase

Youth Lagoon

Youth Lagoon

The National was a different story. The band was hypnotic. Matt Berninger knew how to make a sizzling performance. Credit that to beer and adrenaline, to a crowd that adored him and sang with him in every song he belted out.

The National

The National

Matt was also a challenge to the security team. He came dashing toward us and made a motion of leaping toward the audience. It was funny because one of the spots he chose from the mosh pit area was the one where there were mostly girls. Not to be sexist but our frames were not built to catch someone like Matt wishing to crowd surf. Check out my YouTube page with this video and wait for that moment when everything slipped off from the frame because I was jostled and pushed back and away from Matt (apologies for the audio). I was able to touch Matt’s chest (more like his tuxedo) before the crowd swelled and elbowed me away.

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Metric’s Manila concert

A fallen angel with a halo of blond hair set on fire by neon lights.

This was part of my thoughts when I was watching Emily Haines perform with her band, Metric. Her band is a powerful band. Every member is a powerhouse. Apart from Emily, James Shaw is a formidable musician.

November 2013 was the time of the Tegan and Sara concert. December was Metric’s time to wow her Manila-based fans. I was there at the concert venue with like-minded people. Metric is not at all mainstream; Metric occupies its own planet in the universe that is music, and we were happy to be part of its orbit.

To say that the concert was amazing was an understatement. Emily was on fire. Her signature moves and her perfect legs stole the show. At one point, her mic didn’t work, and half of the song was on mute. We sang with her, provided her the missing words.

What a dynamo

What a dynamo



She was touched by the strength and power of the crowd. We were relatively a small crowd, but it was a crowd that counted, that was perfect for Emily and James and Joshua and Joules. She promised she would return; I said a tiny prayer of affirmation after she made that promise.


A wild angel on keyboard

A wild angel on keyboard

Emily's creative 'partner', James Shaw

Emily’s creative ‘partner,’ James Shaw

I was behind two very tall guys. I hated them from the start to end of the show.

I was behind two very tall guys. I hated them from the start to end of the show.


Lovely, lovely James Shaw

Lovely, lovely James Shaw

She closed the concert with Gimme Sympathy. There was a female foreigner who decided to park herself beside me. As Emily sang Gimme Sympathy, every one felt the song’s power. It was like the song magnetized us. We felt the words. The foreigner felt the song so much that she suddenly held me and swayed me. The swaying was alright during the chorus part, but I felt awkward from the second stanza onward. I finally got to pry my arm away from her when it was time to applaud the band.

When my companion was ready to start the car, I told him about what happened with the female foreigner. He exclaimed, “I thought you guys were hooking up!”

And so it was that we closed this sacred day with a “face palm” moment.

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