Placido Penitente

I am a weird organic life form. Not entirely perfect. I walk by the wall.

Matches

10.10.18

Matches

When I was younger, I often stay away from our kitchen stove. I had this tendency, as if on automatic impulse, to run away when my mom started turning the knob then lighting the orbital spiral with a spark of a match. I made sure to keep my distance, as if the little blue flame would engulf the entire pan above it.

People would often accuse me of not knowing how to cook when I turned the age of thirteen. They often associate the sign of adolescence with the sign of knowing how to survive. In our culture, survival is navigating your way in the kitchen. It was a worrying fact that I had no skills in that respect.

I blame my fear of matches.

So, I saw to it that I defy my inferior status against that fear.

When I turned fourteen, I decided to give myself a baptism of fire. I went to the kitchen and took the box of Corona Matches, its heavy font filling the box as if asserting its dominance. But I fought on, ignoring the shaking of my hands when I tried flicking one against the box, scratching the surface with a resistance of the fear spreading in my palm. As the tip meet with the friction, it was then crowned with a yellow flare, stirring up a sudden flicker in my eyes.

I placed the hair-like flame against the end of the cigarette I found, igniting a fume of burning ashes.

Sucking in the menthol taste of victory, I felt freedom when I let the flame die with a symbolic stomp of my right foot.

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Dictionary

10.04.18

Dictionary

I usually reward myself with a trip to the bookstore every time I leave the office. It stands as a gentle reminder that life is more than jeepney rides and long hours spent on paper works; it’s a breath of fresh air for every suffocated soul. The craving for another life found in ink written on papers, igniting both a promise and a destination.

But on this particular visit, my eyes decided to stray away from my usual shelves of fiction and poetry. The adjacent bookstand had in its display a collection of books on languages; the titles brimming with (literally) colorful culture and (unexpectedly) a cry for adventure. Dictionaries stacked up high, their spine proud.

I picked the one on the top. Its blue cover washes gold against the light. The weight surprised me; the ratio of the pages seems to be unequal to the feel of it in my palm. The feel of the pages against my thumb as I flip through them felt like feathers flying through words of phonology and semantics written in crispy font.

What really made my thoughts fly is the fact that every possible word found here exists in every imaginable combination; and they make up the things residing on the lines of shelves found in this place.

A tool, a weapon if it may, sat quietly in my hand.

Hybrids of Self

White Room
9.28.18
11:55 pm

It’s funny. Whenever I talk to people whom I have only known for a while, I often regard myself as a separate entity from my body as I speak. I feel as if the past that has marked its identity on me regressed into being a faint memory. Like for example, when I talk to my co-teachers at Kumon (yes, I’m employed there now), it’s as if my experience at Paco Catholic School was just a dream *slash* nightmare. I cannot fully explain it but I guess it has something to do with the fact that I live in the moment; therefore focusing on the events as they happen.

I don’t miss my former students. Sometimes, when I scroll through facebook and see their throwback posts of their highschool life, I get shocked by the realization that I had been a part of that. I don’t know if it is trauma (lol). But I just feel a certain detachment. Maybe the experience really did scar me.

It’s a little scary to look back on. Even in my sleep, I dream of the state of confusion I once had. I dream of how lost I was in navigating my job. I dream of being in front of the classroom and not knowing what to do. And when I wake up, I often feel this rush of finding solutions and not seeing any. Then reality dawns on the mind and I realize that it was nothing but a dream– that my situation has already gone away from the state of calamity.

I do miss my friends and our hangouts at random places. I miss the long rides. I miss the laughter in cafes, the caffeine pumping heavily in our bloodstreams. I miss the bickering in the faculty room. I miss the long walks in Taft just to look for gifts. I miss having the night sky as company. I miss having dreams. I miss appreciating the small things because I was eager to forget the fact that I was to return to the classroom the next morning.

I really do miss the good times; but as good as they had been, I never would trade them for the feeling of freedom I have these days. And besides, the people I shared them with are always one call away. I look forward to more adventures.

But for now, I think I live in the present.

April Reading Line-Up

Since my employment status has recently regained itself to be nonexistent, I now have all the time in the world to read (and probably study). Soooo here is my reading line-up:

  1. Either/Or is much too intimidating for my brain to tackle (albeit its being literary in style) and I think this one would also do an excellent job in making me feel confused as heck but in a more tolerable level so I’m all up for it.
  2. One word: need. I need more Murakami in mah life. I am not a huge fan of his characters but since this is more of a collection of short stories, I think the vital focus would be on imagery and mood which I like most about his writing.
  3. I have a love-hate relationship with Ayn Rand just because her views on society are too black-and-white for me. I have read three of her books; one of which I have thrown (with great force) against the wall. Buuuut I kinda miss having mixed feelings about what I read so I think this is a good choice.
  4. Same reason as no. 3.
  5. I love love loveeeee Russian authors. This is another one to try. I’m currently reading it (Chapter 18 atm) and though I believe that humans are NOT inherently evil, this book does a great job saying otherwise.
  6. I need me some thrill in mah life. Don’t judge me.
  7. I want to experience different levels of pain because I’m afraid that I would turn into a rock soon if I don’t act on it. I am actually almost done with this (only around a hundred pages left) and I have grown to find the story very dragging; with characters having deep forms of personalities but also with very narrow perceptions.

This is going to be a very hot summer.

A Rejection Letter to Salvation

Halfway into hell, I did the sign of the cross.

The fire licking its tongue against my calloused hands,

Burning the skin as if to expose the bruised sentiments,

Hiding under the silent façade of bravery;

In the name of the Father, knocking my forehead

with the tip of my finger, as if trying to wake up

my sleeping consciousness that I am dipping

my feet in blood as I drag them into broken promises;

And of the Son, stabbing my guts

Trying to assure the dying butterflies

That its rusty cage is still intact despite the

Desperate plea of my finger to turn into a dagger;

And of the Holy Spirit, patting my shoulders

to keep on going surrendering my soul

into an eternity of fumes, clasping my hands in finality.

Amen.

 

One less and lonely

When I was ten, I trapped myself

in book covers, hid between

the gaps the ink missed, my

eyes blurred into white-washed

lengths of paper, my hands molded

into cardboards, my feet pushed

against the shelf, squeezed into

the curves of the corner,

my body disappearing;

 

When I was eleven, I waited for the

last bell, the room emptied and muted

of plans and goodbyes and see you’s,

crawled to my little space, eyes

focused in dance steps, my mouth

moved in synch with the pages,

sang songs as my friends applauded for

me with every flip of their wings;

 

When I was twelve, I started to feel

the weight of my friends on my back

as I walk home with their company,

my steps slower, my breath heavier,

the sidewalk crowded with familiar

faces, the air filled with buzzes,

wishing I could keep conversations with

friends without the need for eyes;

 

When I was thirteen, I cried on the bus

without knowing why, my teacher beside

me oblivious as she stared outside,

my eyes yearned for my friends,

bitterly granted by mixed airs of

laughter and chitchat of classmates,

aware that I cannot do the same

with my friends in a moving vehicle;

 

When I was fourteen, I left my friends

at home in attempt to create new ones,

my voice a sound I knew wasn’t mine,

my feet too slow to keep up,

the sidewalk not big enough for

three people, stretched out yet falling

behind, eyes ached to be with

friends who did not make me feel

I was alone;

 

When I was fifteen, I talked to my

friends more, stayed up all night

with them as they told me about their day;

and I told them about mine as I lifted a pen

for the first time, our realities bridged

into abstract lines, parallel and

intersecting, complicated side by side;

 

When I was sixteen, I saw my friends

in a conversation with someone I

did not recognize, face serious and

straight, eyes dancing to steps I knew

by heart, lyrics my lips whispered

without having to try; but her

movements and melody different from

the rendition I usually did mine;

 

When I was sixteen and a half, I still

trapped myself in book covers,

but with excess space for the addition

of a new colored pen marking

responses on the space between pages

and friends.

 

(I am missing my soul sister very much. I long to go bookstore hopping with her, coffees in our hands. She’s busy with work, though. Also, I’m broke af. The struggle is more real than my own existence lol.)

Hot Springs

I drink iced tea before plunging

in warm water, the acidic taste

lingering inside my mouth as my skin

burns against the ripples I

float in with the desire to defy

the laws of heat;

 

I take another sip, leaning against

the rocky surface, their edges creating

friction against my back, marking dots

as if attempting a constellation

nobody would ever connect

in awe;

 

I take one last sip, heavily bearing more

weight on my back, lifting my head up and

listening to the loud static of the water  running

from a rocky height, taking in the intensity

of the fall, just to embrace a melting

pot of flesh and wetness;

 

I take a deep breath and become one

with the ripples, drowning away the

noise and the taste of iced tea.

Coffee

Every lift of the mug to my lips, I inhaled the aroma of scenes as memories flavored the bitter taste of coffee, dark blend of colors. The somber atmosphere of mahogany black filled the place and made the air lighter. The little corner I found was illuminated by a dim spotlight, directly overhead, guiding my way to pages.

This was how I chose to spend a Saturday. Flipping papers as I drink black coffee. Such a vain attempt at disappearance. I couldn’t even focus on the words, couldn’t form them into structured parts. Instead, they act as an anthology of images of bygone days. Every word is a distant call of a voice I once had. A firm reminder of the voice I lost—of a voice I have thrown away.

A masochistic act of self-incrimination.

I smiled.

To spend time with yourself, the self that disappeared, is to live dangerously.

Interlude

Tv-with-static

I turned off the lights– granting darkness the permission to seize me in its arms, cradling me into a fortress of complete muteness. My soul rocked back and forth into the void, trying to pierce through the walls the universe bounded me as prisoner. My thoughts gathered round in a painful congestion of nothingness, only erupting in a multitude of colors to flash one word we all try to run away from:

Death.

The hour held on to me tightly, twisting me in bundle of nerves that spark endlessly towards that question—what happens to me when I die?

What is death?

Death as a final breath. Death as a limit. Death as a chatoyant of the stillness seeping into my veins, turning me into a solidified mass that makes up walls.

An eerie sound echoed in the hallows of my ears; as if a transmission of networks losing connection.

I tugged myself free from the chord and swam into a vacuum.

Death is static. A numbing sound of monotonous gray—continuously ringing to no end, for all eternity.

My Practicum Experience

I think this reflection would be better supported if I anchored it from my dreams and goals. Now, I never really thought much about the dreams I have in terms of future careers; I consider myself a pretty chill person, only erupting when I reach the impasse of difficulties the last minute. But if we are to take this in a literal sense, I just woke up from a dream I had of me inside a classroom. I was going back and forth through different scenarios, making the images a little blurry inside my head.  I am no Sigmund Freud but I think it sends a message that being a teacher is something that I am still quite undecided of actually pursuing as a career. Quite ironic that I had already been sent off to be a practice teacher yet I cannot be fully assured if this is really what I want to become. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy teaching but I feel like there is still another calling for me that I have yet to respond to.

My taste varies a lot, encompassing such a wide range of subjects that making a decision of focusing on only one drives me into a craze. There are a lot of things I want to try out, possibilities I want to explore. For instance, after finishing this degree, I plan on pursuing an M.A. in Literature. Lately, I have been checking out available programs offered by the University of the Philippines and I found myself leaning towards Anglo-English Literature or Comparative Literature. Having heard discussions on topics concerning these two urge me to learn more about them, giving me the push to finally sail out into the sea of literature with them as the ship.

Admittedly, my experiences during my practicum made me realize that teaching in high school is not the life I’m cut out for. I do enjoy encouraging kids; it’s just not something I see myself doing for the rest of my life. Albeit that personal opinion, I still have learned a lot from my daily interactions with my students. I have come to realize that my students really did come from a wide array of backgrounds that it’s almost difficult to adjust myself to them—and that’s what I constantly work on doing everyday during my practicum: levelling. My students are my top priority so I must see fit that their needs as learners come first and I couldn’t do that when I perceive them as one and the same.

That said, I do confess that this was not the easiest thing to do because my students sometimes got on my nerves. There were times when my temper has gone so overboard that I viewed going to school as more of a jail sentence than a responsibility. It was incredibly difficult handling students who did not even want to be there. It was difficult convincing them to appreciate going to school; it was far more difficult convincing myself that I could direct them into that path. I have never been exposed to this sort of classroom setting prior to this experience so it was hard to test waters and such to arrive at the best way in approaching the whole classroom situation. I had been discouraged a lot of times.

But I realized that if I were to wear these lenses to look at the experience, I would have biased views. I should give it a chance because I wouldn’t really have a complete taste of it if I give up on it halfway. If I do not open myself up to the challenge, I wouldn’t develop from any of this. So, I stood straight even during desperate times—it took a lot of dedication and courage to survive that. Despite all of that, it was exceedingly rewarding.

Because of this experience, I do consider teaching in high school but probably only for a few years. Personally, I prefer a more substantial discourse when I teach, that is why I consider teaching in college. Of course, I am aware that it’s no walk in the park so I have prepared myself for wearing shoes that would endure even the fiery pits of hell. It’s just really something that I’ve fully decided over so I’m all up for the challenge.

Alongside my teaching career, it’s been a dream of mine to publish a book. I don’t mean a textbook in that regard but instead something that would add up to long queue of works in literature. It seems a little too idealistic if you think about it but I have already started thinking of a plotline overview—all that is left is to do is to actually start writing the draft. The thing that I find to be my biggest obstacle is the first few chapters because the story is set in either versions of the afterlife and I do not really know how to start it. Despite doubts, the dream is still burning aflame.

Dreams transcend the dimensions of reality we are enclosed with. I just hope I cross that boundary soon and this experience was a turning point to lead to that direction. I would be forever engraved with the epiphanies I had from it.

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