On my bedside table: April, thus far
I've always believed that where we are most broken, we are also most accepting - of faith, of love, of healing. This week has been tough; tough enough to make me want to give up on things entirely. But for every part of me that wishes to walk away is also a bigger part that wants to finish what I have begun. I've been told to look at what I really want, and find strength in that. I have four months to figure the big questions out. But right now, what I really want is to just read, and write, and find comfort in books that embrace me and welcome me home.
Dealing with this (career-related) heartbreak the only way I know how: Going back to my roots and realizing what it means to find courage in the characters whose shoes we can wear, one page at the time.
Because there really is no better cure better than a book. Or rather, books.
1. "Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore" by Robin Sloan
When my boyfriend and I went out on a date after my last exam and he told me he wanted to buy a book for me, of course my eyes twinkled in anticipation - not only because this is will be my "reward" after having survived finals, but also because it's going to be a book, and books are always lovely and wonderful and perfect. But when I do shop for books, I don't usually have a title in mind, despite the presence of a wishlist somewhere in my Gmail drafts. I'm the old-fashioned book-buyer, I guess - I wait for the book to call out to me. (Or rather, I'm guilty of judging some books by the cover.) This was the one that drew me in that day.
Finished it in just a few days, thanks no less to the sudden presence of free time in my life. The story, I kept telling Ludwin, was kind of fitting for me, because it dealt with the question of books and technology existing in our culture. For someone who still loves the smell of actual books yet devours online media on a daily basis, are the two mutually exclusive? It's quite a modern adventure, involving a centuries-old secret society that valued the written word and the important, almost-inescapable omniscience of Google. This is actually the kind of thrilling mystery our generation of slightly-indifferent-but-easily-excited kids need and want. The handling of the mystery was not at all bad, considering that any book containing some secret 500-year-old brotherhood is bound to teeter on some cheesy Dan Brown territory. But thankfully, it did not. The characters could've been more fleshed out but then again, the bigger protagonist of the story isn't the people, but the book itself: how it lives, how it persists, and how it still matters, despite modern technology telling us otherwise.
2. "Noughties" by Ben Masters
Status: In Progress
I grabbed this book over the Christmas break but didn't get around to finishing it because  I was busy writing digests for Civil Procedure and  I ended up finishing the other book I bought along with this one, the guilty-pleasure read "Crazy Rich Asians" by Kevin Kwan (which I should stop apologizing for, really).
This has all the elements of a soon-to-be-favorite: It's got a witty, idealistic English major at the middle of the story. "Noughties" sets out to encapsulate the sometimes-exciting, often-exhausting life of every impressionable young adult in college. Having gone to college during the latter part of that decade, I've been curious as to how much (or how little) I can identify with its characters, but so far, I'm enjoying every bit of beer banter and colloquial cynicism this book has to offer. Written in a way that resonates with the style I really identify with, this book is exactly the kind of prose I wanted to come up with for my fiction classes. Hopefully the style sustains the tension. And hopefully, it pushes me to write something again, given how close it's hitting home.
3. "Sexus" by Henry Miller
Status: In Progress
This has been on my shelf for almost three years now, but only saw it again the other day after fixing my shelves. I do have a tendency of buying books and leaving it out to read for later - and now that I needed to take my mind off (a lot) of things, it seems like the perfect time to immerse myself in some Henry Miller. I'm no stranger to his prose, but I just can't consider myself a Miller fan until I sink my teeth into this one.
It's about time I completed The Rosy Crucifixion. Consider that a priority on my 4-Month-Summer To-Do List.
4. "The Ultimates" by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch (The Avengers, published by Marvel)
Status: About to start
I've been slowly making my foray into comics and graphic novels in the past year, and with my limited knowledge of the Marvel Universe thus far, as well as the recent movies produced by the Disney/Marvel powerhouse, I was led here. So far, I've read mostly Season One comics, and while I'm unsure if that's the best place to start for most characters, it's good enough for me to get through adequate back story and sufficient fleshing out of characters.
Since watching Captain America: The Winter Soldier with Ludwin, I've gone on a comic-hoarding frenzy, downloading every bit of Avengers, Iron Man and Captain America essential series I can find (with the exception of "Iron Man: Extremis" which I've already read a few months back). The search, aka Google, led me to this, which is said to be a more current retelling of the super group's dynamic - best for fans who are familiar to the characters mostly because of the recent movie franchises. From the looks of it, it won't be taking me long to immerse myself into this world and finish this thing - which is great, since I have 3-GB worth of (mostly Marvel) comics in my hard drive just waiting to be enjoyed.
As you may have noticed, they are vastly different from each other, and that's not without purpose. They say the best way to forget one's troubles is to drench yourself into other people's troubles - and what better way to do that than to start reading different books? There is nothing like comfort from family and friends, but there is relief to be found between words and chapters as well - relief that there is life within the pages, that there is life outside yours.
"After that, the book will fade, the way all books fade in your mind. But I hope you will remember this:
A man walking fast down a dark lonely street. Quick steps and hard breathing, all wonder and need. A bell above a door and the tinkle it makes. A clerk and a ladder and warm golden light, and then: the right book exactly, at exactly the right time."
- from "Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore" by Robin Sloan
In which I reunite with my books
“Perhaps the human soul needs excursions, and must not be denied them. But the point of an excursion is that you come home again."
- from Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence
More than anything in the world, I missed the freedom to pick up any book I want and read them without worry -- one by one, or all at once; in small doses, or in periods still unbound.
Hello, bookshelves, come give me a hug.
How I Met The Mother (aka My own goodbye to the show)
I've yet to watch the finale, but before everything is finally revealed - here, consider this my own tribute.
That was taken last October, when I celebrated my birthday at home with some high school friends over the semester break. I played it for my two friends, Hope and Tin, who were huge fans of the show as well. Hope recorded the entire song, but because of Instagram's 15-second limit, it had to be cut up a bit. Oh well, I'd like to believe the essence of the entire theme was there in that clip anyway (aka, it's still recognizable!)
This show has certainly been a rollercoaster ride. It's made me sad and happy for many things, for reasons within the world it has created, and for reasons that go beyond the 20-minute mark for each episode. It has been, in many ways, the encapsulation of a truly great friend - someone to be with you for the good times and the bad. Each episode is the equivalent of hanging out with a friend and a bottle of beer - it's easy, it's natural, but it's not always senseless. With each swig, a story is told, a laugh is shared. This show has taught me the importance of always valuing each story and each moment - because isn't that what we can all take away from this? The fact that everything leads up to something bigger, the fact that it all makes up a part of a greater picture?
At the end of the day, How I Met Your Mother has made me believe in love - all kinds of it. The kind you have for your self, the kind of fondness that grows for the people you choose to consider your family, the kind of love for the unknown and the uncertain. The kind of love that's grand, and unexpected. The love that makes sense, and the love that doesn't.
For many people, HIMYM probably doesn't make sense anymore. It doesn't make sense sometimes to me either. Truth be told, I'm scared about the finale (and I have a lot of ranting to do if it goes the way I fear it would). But however the ending goes, here's my takeaway from the entire series: The stories we're now living - we've yet to find out how they play in the greater scheme of things. And we'll never know. But the hope that one day we will be able to figure it out, the hope that one day we'll appreciate every little bit for what it was -- that's the dream.
Thanks, How I Met Your Mother. Adios, muchachos!
To say that I hated the Finale would be such an understatement. But I'm still too insulted over what happened, I don't think I can write about it objectively, without being so incoherent and angry. I'd have to reserve putting down my thoughts and feelings on paper for some other time - but I definitely have something to say about this. #veryaffected
March 24: Credit Transactions
March 27: Administrative Law
March 29: Civil Procedure
March 31: Criminal Law 2
April 4: Medical Jurisprudence
UP Law: Dangal at Husay!
UP Law dominates the 2013 Bar Exams! 5 out of the Top 10 places are from UP, taking the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 8th and 10th spots.
The 1st placer, Nielson Pangan ranked 96th in his batch. Wow! You don't know how happy this makes me and my batchmates! Considering the treatment we're getting from the administration (especially our batch), this little fact gives us so much joy and promise. I hope this will change the way things are run around the College. Pangan's stellar performance only further cements the one thing I've been clinging on to since Day 1 of law school: You don't need to be on top of the class to deserve your spot in Law. :) aka WE AVERAGE JOES CAN NINJA OUR WAY TO THE TOP! Take that, admin!
And the 4th placer, Eden Catherine Mopia, is a Portian! So proud of you, sis! ♥ And to all the sisses who passed as well - all 25 of you - congrats! It made all those sleepless nights and long mornings of the BarOps last October so much more worth it! It's true indeed, all excellent things are as difficult as they are rare. #PortianAndProud!
Congratulations to all the bar passers, especially the new UP lawyers! Dangal at husay!
And her kiss, the color of a constellation falling into place
My days end best when this sunset gets itself
behind that little lady sitting on the passenger side
It's much less picturesque without her catching the light
The horizon tries but it's just not as kind on the eyes
Arabella - Arctic Monkeys
The night was yet to start, and the place was still empty, but the music was already blaring. Such was the scene of a club before the start of the party: tables still in place, hair and make up still intact on the face. The drinks were neatly arranged on the bar, with no spills. The girls-in-charge were still trying to put everything to where they belonged.
But the fortune teller already had cards laid out on the table.
When it was finally my turn, I said hello like a nervous high school freshman. It wasn't my first time - there was a fair from years ago, and I had my palms read in a dark little tent - but it was new having her all to myself. No other people waiting outside the curtains yet, no drunk couples making out before their turn. Just me, the empty bar, and the thumping music that no one is dancing to.
I said my name with my palms on the deck, as instructed. Then I cut the deck, and drew my first card.
The emperor, it said.
"An older man," she murmurs. "There's an older man watching over you."
This creeped me out a bit, and immediately the word Wrong flashed itself in neon lights across her forehead.
"Are you a bunso? Or the only girl in the family?"
My eyebrows shoot up, and I nod. "An only child,"
"And a daddy's girl?"
It just became interesting. I said yes, and she smiles, as if she expected the hesitation, and knew she was bound to shatter it.
Everything else seemed to happen in a flash, just as the blinking neon lights of the bar started gaining momentum.
Suddenly I wanted to know more. Questions that were ripe for asking came out with answers I wanted to hear. I pointed my finger at a card. Surviving law? Yes. I picked another from the pack. Passing the exam ? Yes. I cut the deck. Travelling? Yes. I was to travel the world, with my eyes and my feet, she said. I would find eventual happiness in the legal field. I would always, always find my father in myself. Everything that has ever happened and will ever happen is hugely influenced by my dad. My mother is my soulmate.
She told me that there will be stories heard and told, to be put down on paper, to help the poor. My service will go to the needy, she said, but before that I must first go out and see the world outside the bubble I move in. There will be new shoes to walk into, new languages to speak. There will be peacefulness, at last, and for good.
The swelling of music started getting louder, outside, and in my head. I liked what I was hearing. A suspension of disbelief was still in order, though. At that point, I was glad with what I was being told but everything sounded too right. Like it was meant to make me feel good about what lies ahead. It was a party for law students - of course she would draw the destinies we wanted. Align the stars for us, if she must. But still I welcomed the auguries, out of politeness, curiosity, both.
After a few seconds of silence, I was ready to open the curtains and leave, my thank yous and polite pleasantries waiting to be said. I had heard what I wanted to hear - time to go out and go back to the entrance door to welcome guests. But then, she looked me in the eye and asked, "Anything more you want to ask? About..."
She didn't need to finish. I sat back down and drew the next card.
"You're the one," she said. "It was never like this with anyone else. You will bring him places, literally and figuratively."
She didn't look at me yet, the way she did after every question. Other cards were drawn, placed around a circle, around the emperor card that held the center of my orbit. There was a but coming.
"But.. others are still waiting. Two, in fact."
I didn't even need to ask. Again, the details came in a flurry. From the past. Both arrived the same year. Feelings unresolved. Etcetera, etcetera.
And then for the first time that night, I was nodding along without much interest in what the other person was saying - kind of like how you usually do in parties, except I wasn't even tipsy yet. I appreciated the warning. I was honestly impressed with the accuracy. I respected the prognosis. But at that point, I was no longer interested. It didn't matter anymore what the cards said. As much as I'd like to believe everything she said until that moment, it was of no significance. The cards, the stars, the universe - yeah, we all like to believe in that. Me, most of all, especially after I've long acknowledged the role that kismet has played for the great part of my life as I now know it.
But the party and everything else has already begun. Outside the curtains, I could already hear people trickling in. The music was getting louder, the neon lights, brighter. As enjoyable it was to momentarily cling on to the magic of tarot, there was a much bigger belief I had to hold on to - something more real, and something actual. Something beyond the cards, the curtains, that club.
In my head was a sudden moment of clarity. I was brought back to a warm June night, made even warmer by the plate of sizzling steak in front of me, and quite possibly, other feelings. A moment after dinner was served, I remembered I have trouble cutting my own food. (I've always had my dad slice my meat and skin my shrimp for me.) I forgot about this little concern when I suggested the steak place earlier that evening, but alas, it was too late, because we were already there and I had no choice. I picked up my knife and fork carefully, like any proper young lady on her third date, and did my best with the slab of oven-roasted chops. But then, after a few seconds of trying (and failing) to cut up a bite, very nicely, my date suggested that he do the slicing for me. I asked him if it was okay, with a sheepish grin, and a very shy chuckle. He said he didn't mind. And he hasn't minded a lot of things since.
It was an evening of good steak. And many other good things.
I said my thank yous to the kind woman, hardworker that she is. She seemed like an earnest, kind-natured lady. There was already a line outside as I stepped out the tiny room - couples, candidates, friends, people who were ready to have their futures momentarily revealed. I already knew of mine long before I stepped in, I realized. It was never up to the cards.
A friend handed me my first beer. A dubstep version of Frank Ocean was playing. The beat was barely recognizable, but the words were there. This time, it was the chorus asking me.
Or do you not think so far ahead? Because I've been thinking 'bout forever.
Labels: finger exercises
La Vie En Rose: Portia Induction Ball 2014
I had the privilege of being tasked to organize this ball for Portia's 81st anniversary (there's a long story behind it, but I'll save it for next time) and for most of the school year, I've been preoccupied with putting this entire plan into place - from scouting for venues to deciding which colors should go with the chairs. It's crazy - I didn't realize how much work goes into putting together an entire event, especially for an occasion so important. I've never had any experience about planning these kinds of things before, but I'd like to believe I handled it all pretty well. Couldn't have done it without the help of my sorority sisters (and my mom!) of course. If anything, knowing that I'd be able to make my sisses really happy is the one thing that kept me going during the most stressful moments.
Last night was a night of celebration. The theme was La Vie En Rose, which meant life through rose-colored glasses. I wanted us to acknowledge that despite whatever troubles and hostility life in law school may bring us, we will always be able to see the silver lining. Life is tough, and it's bound to hit us in the jugular every once in a while - but the important thing is to still see it as a mere challenge, as a blessing in disguise. There is always room for optimism, idealism, and growth. It is always in the most difficult of times that the truly excellent stand above the rest - because we see the beauty in despair, and we find the nobility of purpose in the muddle of chaos.
I'm so glad everyone seemed to have a lovely time last night. Everything paid off, I must say. It was such a great honor preparing this Ball to cap off this year's Portia Week. ♥ What a way to hit restart and look forward to the remainder of the semester with so much hope.
Of course, the highlight of my night was having this incredibly dashing man as my date. It was Ludwin's birthday weekend, but he agreed to spend it with me. I actually asked him out to this ball last July, back when we only started going out -- breaking Barney Stinson's rule about not asking a person out for an event in the future that's longer than the time you've been dating. But I don't know, I guess when it's your crush of five years, you both throw all caution in the wind and just go for it? :)) No more mindgames.
I didn't have the traditional dances for my 18th birthday, and I've never gone to an actual prom with a date, so I have to admit that the deprived-giddy-high-school-girl in me was kilig beyond comprehension. Never in my twenty-two years did I imagine that I'd actually be looking forward to dancing with anyone for a formal occasion - let alone a cotillion.
But what do you know. For the last two weeks, I secretly couldn't wait to waltz along to the swelling of the violin strings. Guess it just takes one person to change everything.
P.S. 2008 Karla, you're very, very welcome.
Joie de Vivre
Celebrating the UP Portia Sorority's 81st year with my lovely fellow 2nd-year sisses :)
Photograph by Arcade Fire
"I'm just looking at the world and writing a new piano piece."
"Can I hear it? What's this one about?"
"Well, I was thinking, we don't really have photographs of us. I thought this song could be, like, a photograph that captures us in this moment in our lives together."
"I like this photograph. I can see you in it."
This was such a beautiful, poignant piece in my (our) favorite scene in the movie, Her. Funny, because we weren't able to take pictures today. So here's this song instead. It perfectly captures how today was, and how everyday has been since things fell into place.
Happy February 14th :)
Love Poem Medley
by Rudy Francisco
I want you to bite my lip until I can no longer speak
And then suck my ex-girlfriend’s name out of my mouth just to make sure she never comes up in our conversations
I’m going to be honest, I’m not really a love poet
In fact, every time I try to write about love my hands cramp
Just to show me how painful love can be
And sometimes my pencils break, just to prove to me that every now and then love takes a little more work than you planned
See I heard that love is blind so, I write all my poems in Braille
And my poems are never actually finished because true love is endless
I always believed that real love is kind of like a super model before she’s air brushed;
It’s pure and imperfect, just the way that God intended
See I’m going to be honest, I’m not a love poet
But if I was to wake up tomorrow morning and decide that I really wanted to write about love I swear that my first poem…
It would be about you
About how I loved you the same way that I learned how to ride a bike: Scared
But reckless with no training wheels or elbow pads so my scars can tell the story of how I fell for you
You see, I’m not really a love poet
But if I was I’d write about how I see your face in every cloud and your reflection in every window
You see I’ve written like a million poems hoping that somehow maybe someway you’ll jump out of the page and be closer to me
Because if you were here, right now
I would massage your back until your skin sings songs that your lips don’t even know the words to
Until your heartbeat sounds like my last name and you smile like the Pacific Ocean
I want to drink the sunlight in your skin
If I was a love poet
I’d write about how you have the audacity to be beautiful
Even on days when everything around you is ugly
You see I’d write about your eyelashes and how they are like violin strings that play symphonies every time you blink
If I was a love poet
I’d write about how I melt in front of you like an ice sculpture
Every time I hear the vibration in your voice so whenever I see your name on the caller ID my heart
It plays hopscotch inside of my chest
Yo it climbs onto my ribs like monkey bars and I feel like a child all over again
I know this sounds strange but every now and then I pray that God somehow turns you back in to one of my ribs
Just so that I would never have to spend an entire day without you
I swear, I’m not a love poet
But if I was to wake up tomorrow morning and decide that I really wanted to write about love
My first poem it would be about you
And after all of that she was like, so how do you feel about me?
And I said, put it like this:
I want to be your ex boyfriend’s stunt man.
I want to do everything that he never had the courage to do, like trust you
I swear that when our lips touch I can taste the next sixty years of my life
And some days I want to swallow stacks of your pictures just so you can be a part of me for a little bit longer
If I could I would sample your smile and then I would let my heart beat
Do the bass line, we would create the greatest love song of all time
Whenever, we stand next to each other, love I was the only one made for you and you can be at last my Etta James
I’ll be oh child when you’re in pain or you could be candy coated drops of rain
Even though it never rains in Southern California
And together, we could be music
And when my friends ask if you’re my girlfriend
I’ll say no
She is my musician
I’m her favorite song
Mouthful of Forevers
by Clementine Von Radics
I am not the first person you loved.
You are not the first person I looked at
with a mouthful of forevers. We
have both known loss like the sharp edges
of a knife. We have both lived with lips
more scar tissue than skin. Our love came
unannounced in the middle of the night.
Our love came when we’d given up
on asking love to come. I think
that has to be part
of its miracle.
This is how we heal.
I will kiss you like forgiveness. You
will hold me like I’m hope. Our arms
will bandage and we will press promises
between us like flowers in a book.
I will write sonnets to the salt of sweat
on your skin. I will write novels to the scar
of your nose. I will write a dictionary
of all the words I have used trying
to describe the way it feels to have finally,
finally found you.
And I will not be afraid
of your scars.
I know sometimes
it’s still hard to let me see you
in all your cracked perfection,
but please know:
whether it’s the days you burn
more brilliant than the sun
or the nights you collapse into my lap
your body broken into a thousand questions,
you are the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.
I will love you when you are a still day.
I will love you when you are a hurricane.