Wednesday, July 25, 2007

16 seen below

After seven days

Nadal metaphors

Metaphor 1. The first time I went home to Baguio after having (not really) moved to Manila, I found that a very important person in my life had decided to move on without me. Instead of letting things lie and going on my way, I responded like Rafael Nadal. I felt like I was two sets down, and serving to stay in the match. In true Nadal-like fashion, I started hanging on for dear life. I doggedly chased down shots, went for winners and played every rally like it was my last. I just wouldn't go away. A rousing energy permeated me and I refused to back down. That was until yesterday. Nadal usually goes on to win the match in five gripping sets, but I have decided to hang up my racket. I realized I'm not meant to win this match.

Metaphor 2. (This one actually has something to do with tennis.) Do you remember the battle at Helm's Deep? Think movie here, not book. When the forces of Saruman found the culvert running under the Deeping wall, they decided to enter this weak spot by blowing it up. An orc, running from God-knows-how-far, held a torch to ignite the explosives. Aragorn spotted him and started yelling "LEGOLAS, TAKE HIM DOWN!!!" in Elvish. Legolas turned and with hawk-eye precision, shot arrow after arrow into the orc's muscular neck. But the orc, imbued with a terrible sense of purpose, would not die. Riddled with arrows, he shoved the torch right into the drain and KA-BLAM! For the first time in Middle Earth history, Helm's Deep was breached. Rafael Nadal is like that orc. Everyone in the ATP is Legolas. And Roger Federer is Aragorn. This scenario applies more to Wimbledon than any other grand slam, though.

Bookstores and priorities

In Manila, it's hard not to feel small in the urban landscape. Tall buildings, winding alleys, long unfamiliar streets. What one needs in this daunting city is a good sense of direction. And I thank genetics for leaving me with a decent internal compass. My parents know their way around.

I find that whenever I feel myself getting lost, I think of the last bookstore I saw and work with that. Like if I have trouble finding my way around Greenbelt, I walk to Powerbooks and gather my bearings from there. Bookstores are also a kind of sanctuary. When I want to escape the heat and a host of zombies shoving me in a direction I have no intention of moving in, I walk into a bookstore. Outside, there is an unshakable feeling of being alone and unwelcome. But when I pass the threshold into a blessed room filled with books, it's like being home.

Last Sunday, I was taken to the Fully Booked at Global City in Fort Bonifacio. On the wall, it said "When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes." They didn't put who said it, but those are exactly my sentiments about how my money should be spent. Case in point: Because my Geekiness couldn't handle everyone knowing something I wouldn't know for a while, I spent an ungodly amount of money to buy Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. My dad left me some cash for either a bag or a new pair of shoes. The rigors of school life prompts one to own big bags: I needed a backpack to accommodate all the new readings and bottles of water. I also needed an extra pair of shoes because I've been doing a lot of walking here. But things change. Ominously, they do so during release dates. *cough, cough.*

On July 21, 2007, I casually strode into Powerbooks to casually survey the new Harry Potter books being put out for display (and purchase, of course). I circled the table about three times before daring to pick one up. As I did so, I became painfully aware of the smell of new books and how right the thick yellow-orange book felt in my hand. I was awash with feelings of nostalgia and this irrepressible tugging I get when I want a particular book. I was in a daze. I dropped the book and ran. I had to retreat. The desire to buy it was too overwhelming.

I walked around a department store and began a frenzied poll. I texted everyone whom I thought would think logically for me. Book or shoes? Book or bag? To which everyone replied, BOOK! My resolve was cracking. And my one beacon of light, my only true hope of objectivity - my own mother - said: You buy the book nalang. And so it was that I came to own Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Wow. That story took longer than I'd intended.

Random events

This morning, I went out unto the roof behind the house to leave some of my delicates out to dry. I was just about to go in when I realized some of our neighbors below were watching me. Most of them were men, and they were sniggering. I was half-asleep so it didn't dawn on me until I'd climbed through the window that they might be checking out my mismatch array of lingerie. (Haha. It rhymed. Couldn't resist. I don't own lingerie. I own underwear.) I peered secretly out the window, trying to make out what they were saying. Nicole was laughing her head off, telling me to quit spying on the people who were mooning my underwear. What a wonderful way to start my day: I had people staring at my delicates.

This afternoon, I finally managed to get a school ID. But not after a little boy got his. He was from UP-IS and was getting his ID for the first time. He was ahead of me in line and was being accompanied by his rather cool dad. He got his picture taken, no problem. Then the ID guy asked him to write his name on the digital pad thing for signatures. He did, and by the loopy way his hand was moving, I could tell he was writing in cursive. He did this a couple of times, but the side of his hand kept landing heavily on the pad. It wouldn't show properly on the screen. Finally his dad gently said, "Kahit huwag nang dikit-dikit." When you're in the first grade (like, I assume, he is), it's a matter of pride to be able to write your name in cursive. I knew that had to hurt. So he tried again. His dad, with a small smile on his face, informs him that he spelled his name wrong. The little boy looked up and gave the rest of us a sheepish smile. Everyone in the short line was chuckling by then, but I think he knew we weren't laughing at him. They were reassuring laughs. Then he wrote again, aware that he was holding up the line. He did well that time, and when the ID came out, I saw that he'd managed to write his name legibly in clear script. Conquering cursive would be for another time when a bunch of jaded college students weren't looking over his shoulder. His T-shirt said: This is what a destabilizer looks like. I hope I run into that kid again.

Thank yous

Even if my Internet bill is making me generate enough acid to burn ulcers all over my digestive tract, I feel it is necessary to say thank you to everyone who keeps coming back to my semi-dormant blog and leaves a little bit for me to chew on. Lately, I haven't been the best comment-returner, but I am reading your comments and your posts. They're what I look forward to all week. Your feeds are salvation.

Not really forgetting the rest of you, I'd like to mention these three in particular: - Because of a weird lapse in good judgment, Kevin included in me in his list for Top Ten Emerging Influential Blogs. Joking aside, that seriously made my day. Thanks, man. - Massa P. always finds a way to mention my mediocre blog in her brilliant maze-like posts. I feel the love has to be returned. - As far as I've observed, Paolo is my most loyal commenter. I'm lucky too, because his blog is destined to conquer the blogosphere. Waw. Rubbing elbows with greatness.

Ciao all. Be back again next week.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

8 seen below

There can only be one

The thing about blogging is it's addicitive. More, more. I want some more!

I was too emotional to write about it then but Roger Federer beat Rafael Nadal 7-6 4-6 7-6 2-6 6-2 in the Wimbledon 2007 final to join Bjorn Borg in the Five-Wimbledons-in-a-Row Club. Federer has been accused of not being able to hack it in five-set matches. But in glorious and convincing fashion, he showed us all he wasn't going to take shit from anyone on grass. Five sets of utter nail-biting, hair-grabbing excitement. Bliss.

In the fifth set, Federer had to face break points in two consecutive service games. He saved them, and went on to break Nadal. Grace under pressure. Calm in the face of near-defeat. It was a stunning display of resilience and genius from both players. Epic.

Writing shorts

I have all this free time, and I haven't been blogging. Forgive me. It costs money to go online in this here Metro. Having been unemployed since May 28 (exactly), I have taken on a Scrooge mentality. But in one glaring moment of enlightenment, I have decided to write weekly. It remains to be seen, but I will try my darndest to contribute to this tangled Web we weave.

Blogs are to be thanked for broadening horizons. Mine are becoming increasingly familiar and I'm sick of them.

I clicked on and came upon a most stimulating post on a new writing adventure. Shari takes note of all the important stuff, and more goodies and details can be found on the Philippine Genre Stories blog. The Digest of Philippine Genre Stories advocates for literacy among Filipinos and seeks to highlight a little-explored style of expression among local writers.

I'm glad for the information and grateful for the little nudge. I have 9 hours of class every week, leaving me with 159 hours of free time. My past transgressions have come back to haunt me, I have begun questioning my existence (where for about two minutes, I decided I wanted to become such an exceptional human being that when I died, the world would be a sadder place. Haa. Sure.), I wonder if being back in school is truly what I want, I'm engaged in a war with the creative bits of my brain (which seem to be trying to claw out of a very dark place), and sunderings are occurring here and there. I've been accused of overthinking.

I don't know if I'm still capable of writing a short story. Creative writing has recently been absent from my life. The last time I wracked my brain for story ideas was with a wolf. Most of my story ideas are squeezed out of my brain by hungry direwolves. The hunger is there. It is patiently forming into something palpable: I WANT TO WRITE. Ngrwar. It will probably be a while before I come up with something worth showing, but it's good to know that there's a place I could pester to get published. The important thing is, there will be notebooks again. And there will be direction.

I love short stories. I'm not sure if it's just something I agree with from somewhere or I came up with it myself, but I've always thought that the real worth of an author is most apparent in the short stories they write. They have only a couple of pages to convince you that the shit they're selling is the good kind, and the ending has to be pitch perfect. The whole point of a short story is to leave the reader stupefied. It has to evoke feelings that cannot be shaken in a mere number of hours. A good short story will take you out of place and out of time that when you look up from the last word, you are a little disoriented (Where are you?). A good short story will leave a gaping hole in your chest because of how it ended and that it is over. A good short story will be the last thing you think about before going to sleep.

Let's all write to make the world a better place.
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