Tag Archives: writing

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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hands, feet, rhyme, rhythm

(copyright 2011 So You Think You Can Dance)

There are rare times that I wish that I were more devoted to dance than to poetry. There are rare times that I would fantasize about my life taking a different route. What if I did not join the Creative Writers’ Guild in high school and opted to be part of the Dance Club? What if I did not focus on the kids from the orphanages in college and focused more on winning a slot in a dance organization (read: What if I decided to become selfish?)? What if I’d known about Makiling School for the Arts just in time for my mother to consider enrolling me?

I would probably be dancing now, and at night, I would be writing about my frustrations, the choreography, the weightlessness I would feel from a routine. Aaaaaand see here! I go back to writing even as I fantasize about dancing. I am doomed to remain Writing’s mistress forever.

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so there i was

lounging on my favorite couch at ride & roll bar trying to enjoy my glass of screwdriver last night. it is ride & roll’s twilight week, and we were set to increase their revenues even by just a percentage. it’s the least we can do for a place that served my favorite adobo rice.

how did i end up with a glass of screwdrive when i was looking forward to a bottle or two of red horse beer?

let’s start with this admission: i am acutely afraid of germs, especially new pathogens from new locales. when i am settled for the day, bathed and happy, and we get a text message for a late-night out jaunt, i wear a cap and a jacket. i compromise “fashion” for my “fear” if only to protect myself from physical contact with strangers and with dirty tables and countertops.

so when i discovered an insect in my half-finished bowl of binagoongan courtesy of ambula at xavierville, i wanted to barf right there on our table. i wanted to get my spritzer of isopropyl alcohol and burn my tongue with endless sprays. i was in a panic, and i was giving out nega vibes. so i went out and brooded and sulked and channeled all of holden caulfield’s cool sense of hatred toward the world.

jazz told me i can kill the germs by drinking vodka or tequila. ride & roll only had ladies’ drinks. the screwdriver and a glass of margarita were my germ busters. i sincerely hope the two glasses worked.

and so there i was lounging on my favorite couch at ride & roll trying to enjoy my glass of screwdriver last night because it is the bar’s twilight week when joel toledo walked in to use the men’s loo at the second floor.

that. is. joel. toledo. i thought.

i’m.so.stupid.for.not.bringing.my.copy.of.chiaroscuro. another thought.

how.to.say.hi.without.looking.like.a.fangirl. i mean i was drinking and i was still channeling holden caulfield but a part of me that’s giddy and perpetually in awe of writers is kicking and screaming to be let out.

i let that part of me out while holding on to a retreating holden persona and said hello to him.

so here are what i got from joel from the two instances we talked: One when i went out to greet him; two when he bade us goodbye and thanked me for the CD of anthology my co-fellows and I at the Silliman Workshop prepared as a token of thanks to our panelists and to friends.

– he’s happy when i introduced him to my friends and i said “SIYA yung book na binili ko!” and he said, “Tama yan, dapat patay na ang writer pag anduun ang work niya”
– he’s leaving for a three-month residency in Iowa
– he’s looking forward to meeting a dean at iowa and meeting ROBERT HASS. yes, meeting ROBERT HASS (i just needed to repeat that).
– he’s been neck-deep in poetry and other works because of the Under the Storm antho and because of Phil. Free Press’s upcoming awards

yesterday was an eventful day. i marched with LGBT people and supporters at the UP pride march under the banner of task force pride and not under our home org’s simply because of a mix-up about our tarp. i met joel toledo in quezon city (the first time was at Silliman University) which was a surreal experience. and i ate something that housed an insect’s icky juices and all its baggage of germs.

i’m still alive, still brooding, still clingy to ride & roll, still toying with the idea of spritzing isopropyl alcohol inside my mouth like a breath freshener. so there.

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a meme

what’s a meme anyway? i’m too lazy to google it. if you’re kind, maybe you can explain it to me. suffice it to say that i got this from baby jopai who got this from glenn who got this from alyza who got this from somewhere. i want to answer the questions as a sort of affirmation that i am on the right writing track and to show you dear readers that i haven’t read as much books as i project myself to have done so. guilty as charged!!

oh and before diving into this, i want to share that i finally met karl r. de mesa, author of news of the shaman and damaged people — tales of the gothic-punk.

i first encountered his name and work when i was asked to report on his memoir, reports from the abyss, for philippine literature 151 under the very amazing and uber brilliant ruth jordana pison. i had to get in touch with him and scuttle to his blog to bug him for quotes. afterward, it was sms and emails between us as he became part of my writers’ pool for another magazine. he, in turn, made my dream come true of writing for Monday magazine.

we met up at bookay-ukay on wednesday evening and had a bottle of beer each at the adjacent tomato kick. we were joined by his friend from a great local band. it was a conversation that swerved from media chismis to local music and took a sharp turn to other topics like tattoos and the perpetual haunting of the ivory tower (this was primarily my issue during our exchange).

it was a rainy evening, and i was glad to have glenn around who taught me how to commute to tomato kick.

here goes nada:

1) What author do you own the most books by?
Haruki Murakami, Charles Dickens, Salman Rushdie, Sylvia Plath, Margaret Atwood

2) What book do you own the most copies of?
A book by an author I’m too selfish to share with the public. Mom Weena met him at one of those Iowa gatherings. Also Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. Strunk and White’s Elements of Style.

3) Did it bother you that both those questions ended with prepositions?
Yep, but there’s beauty in letting go.

4) What fictional character are you secretly in love with?
Estella of Great Expectations and Esther of The Bell Jar.

5) What book have you read the most times in your life (excluding picture books read to children; i.e., Goodnight Moon does not count)?
Satanic Verses, Where the Wild Things Are, Midnight’s Children, The Ground Beneath Her Feet, The Little Prince, The Robber Bride

6) What was your favorite book when you were ten years old?
Island of the Blue Dolphins and The Christmas Carol (yes, I’m a Charles Dickens fanatic)

7) What is the worst book you’ve read in the past year?

Wala namang worst book.

8 ) What is the best book you’ve read in the past year?

Sylvia Plath’s Ariel.

9) If you could force everyone you know to read one book, what would it be?

The Ground Beneath Her Feet by Salman Rushdie dahil sa word play and allusion to pop culture and to Orpheus and Eurydice with a rock culture setting. Yeah!

10) Who deserves to win the next Nobel Prize for Literature?

Edith Tiempo

11) What book would you most like to see made into a movie?

Any Umberto Eco book. Mind fuck!

12) What book would you least like to see made into a movie?

Any lesbian book like Orlando.

13) Describe your weirdest dream involving a writer, book, or literary character.

Marami na so it’s hard to recount them, and I’ve forgotten most of them. If we treat Jesus as a literary character, then I had a very weird and scary dream involving him. He was looking for me as he climbed the stairs, the cross borne on his shoulders going thump thump thump on the stairs. Next scene: He was on the cross, and he suddenly fell to the ground. And then he looked up: His face was the devil’s. This was a recurring nightmare when i was a kid.

On a lighter note, I recently had a dream with Jopai in it.

14) What is the most lowbrow book you’ve read as an adult?

Ayoko baka maka-offend ako.

15) What is the most difficult book you’ve ever read?

Umberto Eco’s The Island of the Day Before because you need full concentration. Also Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift from the Sea dahil… wait for it… ang boring niya. Samahan mo pa ng Norah Jones in the background, and it’s suicide country. Kill me now, lord.

16) What is the most obscure Shakespeare play you’ve seen?

Obscure? Parang wala naman.

17) Do you prefer the French or the Russians?
Russia as a destination, Russians for novels, French for poetry.

18) Roth or Updike?

Honestly, wala pa kong nabasang works nila.

19) David Sedaris or Dave Eggers?

Same as my reply in 18

20) Shakespeare, Milton, or Chaucer?

Shakespeare or Chaucer

21) Austen or Eliot?


22) What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading?

Kapag binabasa ko ang mga guilty pleasure books ko like Kikomachine, haha! Biggest lang, not embarrassed of them. I like that set of books. They always kept me company during therapies.

23) What is your favorite novel?

A novel by the author I’m too selfish to share with the public. Second best favorite: Midnight’s Children. Third best: Sputnik Sweetheart by Murakami

24) Play?

Midsummer Night’s Dream by Shakespeare. Forever Witches by Estrella Alfon (i’m crazy this way). Rent by Jonathan Larson.

25) Poem?

Isa lang? No can do. you fit into me by atwood. purple bathing suit by gluck. autumn by rilke. proxy eros by mookie katigbak. variation of the word sleep by margaret atwood. plath’s lady lazarus. alunsina takes a walk in the rain by conchitina cruz. on loving an atheist by ashley polley. no umbrella by cynthia ayala. mad girl’s love song by plath. eileen tabios’s causing adultery and the secret of her happiness. love poem exercise 197: loss by ramon sunico. dear one absent this long while by lisa olstein. etc. etc. etc.

26) Essay?

Essayists na lang. Joi Barrios, Thelma Kintanar, Gilda Cordero-Fernando, Carmen Guerrero-Nakpil

27) Short story?

The Cries of Children on an April Afternoon in the Year 1957 by masterful Gregorio Brillantes. The lottery. A story by kurt vonnegut that was unjustly titled a long walk to forever. Dancing girls by margaret atwood. ALL stories by kerima polotan-tuvera. Professor quemada’s last words by eric gamalinda. The laugher by heinrich boll. Wants by Grace Paley. Sexy by Jhumpa Lahiri.

28) Work of nonfiction?

Alice Sun-Cua’s travel pieces. I, Do, Still by Rica Bolipata-Santos (thanks to walkingwithsunshine for the painstaking work of typing it)

29) Who is your favorite writer?
The author I don’t want to share with you. Others: Salman Rushdie, Haruki Murakami, Margaret Atwood, Sylvia Plath.

30) Who is the most overrated writer alive today?

Yung writer ng Twilight saga.

31) What is your desert island book?

Which one is it? Stuck in the desert or on an island? Welcome to the Monkey House by Kurt Vonnegut kasi kelangan mo tumawa at umiyak pag stranded ka. Good luck if you have Eco or Marquez that requires more brain power. Plus Jill Thompson’s A Little Endless Storybook.

32) And… what are you reading right now?

All my pretty ones by Anne Sexton, Chiaroscuro by Joel Toledo, if i write you this poem, will you make it fly by simeon dumdum, Brothers Karamazov, Zyzzyva (anthology of West Coast writers), The Game by A.S. Byatt (yes, I can’t focus on one book)

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quotes, elements, whatnot

I promised tweeps that I’ll be uploading my notes from the Silliman Workshop. Fyi, not notes as in notes for every piece critiqued but actually, quotes and a reading list and elements of a couple of genres.

I was lazy to type them as text; just download them as images. No apologies for the handwriting, but I do apologize if I may have misspelled authors’ names.

Happy reflecting!

Elements of a longer short story

Quotes from discussions

Readings + elements of a prose poem

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she’s always had that knack for over reading the relation of events to one another.

allow her to put it more clearly. for instance, after receiving word that she got into silliman workshop, she looked back to those times that made it possible: her first attempt to write verses when she was a kid; the time in high school when she joined a club called Creative Writers Guild; that time when she met her mentor, ricci guevara, at taumbayan who rummaged inside her bag looking for her journal amidst sterile work documents; that time when she decided to take up M.A. studies; that time when she first met Gemino Abad in Poetry class; that time when she decided to join silliman workshop a week prior to the deadline; the pitiful moment when she bugged LBC personnel to ensure that her documents arrive on time (because the next day was the ultimate deadline). she is convinced that all these things conspired to fulfill one of her biggest dreams.

now, she’s made new friends, she has a new family (and that one is so rare for her you can’t even imagine). once in her high school year, she was desperate to find out the title of a song that had moved her deeply for months. she called up NU 107.5’s Saturday DJ on remote control weekend and sang the chorus to the DJ. the DJ played the song even if he told her that it’s been played on air hours ago.

when she lived in the writers’ village for three weeks, she met magnificent people. one turned out to be her kin when it comes to music. they both liked artists as tori amos and cranberries. they had songfests most evenings over beer and rhum and whatnot. they sang at the top of their voices, the trees lured by the light in their eyes.

now, she is posting this video to honor that friendship. “could we stay right here til the end of time til the earth stops turning?” this is the same song she pined for when she was in high school, the same song she crooned to the radio jock out of desperation to find out its title.

and when she sings this song now, she can feel its weight, knows its string of stories. she knows that if she is given the chance to go back to that lost time, she won’t feel as bewildered, as nude as a newborn, because she knows that in this future, she’ll have someone by her side, tremulous voices and all seizing the wind.

“here is true peace, here my heart knows calm.”

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