My Great Perhaps

I’m always going away. Lately I feel like I’m always leaving something behind. Whether it’s people, memories, places, the horrid past, regrets or the thought of yesterdays and unrealized dreams. The worst part is that I’ve left these without even knowing I was going to leave them.

Anecdotes always tell you that whatever you leave behind couldn’t possibly be greater than what lies beyond and waiting for you. The Great Perhaps, says Francois and Pudge.

But no one tells you what to do between leaving the past and arriving at your next destination. I’m floating somewhere in between the past, present, and future. I cannot give anyone a straight answer because I don’t have one. I don’t know what will happen to me in the next few months or where I will find myself or who I will be with. I’m turning 25 in five days but there will be no big memorial to the Silver Year. I do want to celebrate with people, but I’m not exactly sure what to celebrate about. I’m not really big on birthdays to start with. I didn’t even celebrate my 18th birthday properly. I wore a white shirt and jeans, much to my mother’s dismay with her only daughter.

But it’s not really about celebrating my birthday per se, is it? It’s getting a year older and wondering what I learned the past year, or if there is any at all. I always feel like I lack something; that I’m in search for something that is so elusive, even I don’t know what it is. All I know is that I have to find it and I need to feel it. Is it courage? It is that raw and unparalleled drive to just go for it (whatever IT is)? Or maybe I don’t even have a dream. With everything I blabber about, what is it that I really want to do?

Write? I have a love/hate relationship with writing. It’s like being in a ten-year relationship with the same person. Most of the time it’s okay because it’s familiar and comfortable, but sometimes I just feel smothered by the mere thought of it and I just want to get the fuck away.

Teaching? I cannot get over my ideals when it comes to education and I despise the politics. I’ve tried teaching in high school and in elementary. Both times, the educational system disappointed me. Sometimes I think that I care too much that it bothers me. Sometimes I think I don’t care enough to want to teach at all. Until I learn how to acquire the exact amount of care needed in teaching, it will only ever be a dream.

What else am I equipped to do? I don’t know. I really don’t.

Maybe what really gets me these days is not that I’m always going away and leaving things behind. It’s that I don’t know what I’m leaving these things for. I don’t have a purpose. And it sucks not having a purpose.

Most Inaccurate Self-Portrait

I have been trying my hands on watercolor the past few days. Why? I originally intended to use it to color the cardboard cd cases I’ve been designing for friends. Why? I wanted to make mix CDs for a number of friends and I wanted to customize everything down to the CD case design. Why? I had nothing to do last weekend. Why? I didn’t feel like going out on a Friday night. Why? It was raining.

So I tried doing a self-portrait earlier tonight. Why? I was curious at how it was going to turn out.

It’s interesting. This is possibly the most inaccurate self-portrait ever done by anyone in the history of self-portrait making. The only things remotely similar to the real me are the two moles on my right eye, and the current color of my braces. And my hair a little bit.

I’m going to redo this some other time, when it stops being interesting.

Weird braceface.

Original photo I based the drawing from.

Why I quit the social network cold turkey

In hindsight, it probably seemed more dramatic that it actually was. I dropped off the radar for a few days last week, and some people asked what that was all about. They were surprised. I deactivated my accounts in Facebook and Twitter. But how do I put it without sounding dramatic at all?

It was social network suicide. I wanted to prove that I have power over social network. I wanted to be strong enough to delete my account without worrying that my life would fall apart, or that I will lose contact with my friends (because I believe friendship goes beyond all forms of social network sites). I wanted to shove it up to the Man.

Wait, that did sound dramatic. But the long and short of it is, I wanted to disconnect from the world. Not merely log out. Really disconnect, when no one would be able to scan my profile as if they were going through my entire life. Disconnect from everyone and everything. And I did for a few days. And it was refreshing.

I reactivated my Facebook account after because I missed talking to friends from abroad. But my Twitter account, I have let go permanently. I’m re-learning not to write one-liners and actually compose a post long enough to make sense. It helps me keep my focus.

I’m thinking I should do this more often.

Dear 15-year old self

Before you start reading that book, I should warn you, you’ll never be the same after. I wish I could tell you now to just stick with your classics and leave contemporary alone. But I understand the need to find out things, to look for something—or someone, be it fictional—to relate to. I know that it’s a confusing time for you right now, with all the changes that are happening. But I’ll tell you a secret. Every 15-yeard old around you is confused and overwhelmed about the world, too. Maybe they are just better at hiding it. Or maybe others are better at coping with it. But believe me, every single one of you has no idea what lies ahead when you enter senior year or what happens after you graduate.

Don’t worry about the current friends you have. Luckily, you will remain best friends with the same people after ten years. It sounds funny, doesn’t it? That nothing will change between you and your friends after a decade. It makes you wonder what paths you took that made you stick to each other. You wouldn’t believe me even if I told you right now. I’ll let you discover that for yourself.

That faceless and nameless guy you dreamt about the other night? Eerily enough, you will meet him. You will think for the first few years that he is almost exactly how you thought he would be. And then he will turn out the complete opposite. Don’t worry, you’ll live through the heartache. There’s nothing I can tell you now that could prepare you for what will happen, but just know this: you’ll get through it and you’ll live. And you’ll be better off without any of the complications he brings.

But let’s get back to that book. Now that I think about it, there is no stopping you from reading it. It’s not like you have a choice. It’s a major requirement in your English subject, and you were assigned as the director of the “movie”. It’s funny how your classmates put so much trust on you. But it has already been decided and you don’t have any choice but to finish that book and start writing the script. Don’t worry. Your brother will make sure you commit to writing the script. You told him to make you, and he will.

However, here’s the thing. There is more than a good grade and a good read waiting for you. I’m telling you that it’s not just a book. It will be where you will base your philosophies in life as you go through senior year, all throughout college, and even a few years after graduation. It’s overwhelming, I know, how a book could change your life. But I think you already have an idea after Little Women. Stop crying about Jo and Laurie, seriously.

I can’t tell you, though, not to let the book affect you that much. If it hadn’t, I wouldn’t be here writing to you in the first place. Who knows what you would have become if it hadn’t been for that book? I don’t know, but sometimes I do wonder.

A decade after the first time you read that book, you will still wonder.

So what is it like at 25? Sometimes I feel like I’m the same person you are. I know that it’s not completely true, but sometimes I feel that way. One thing has changed, though. You have improved in writing. Remember how just two weeks ago, your English teacher asked you to write for the school paper even though, according to her, you can’t write? Don’t lose sleep over that, because it’s true. I know you think right now that you are the bomb at writing poetry, but I gotta tell you. You really suck. Thank goodness you’re writing only on paper now. Imagine if what you wrote leaked on the Internet. I would die. You’ll have many opportunities later to practice your skills. And you will eventually find writing creative non-fiction to be especially fun and interesting. But I’m sad to tell you that you will not make a living out of it (yet). You will do corporate writing for a living at 25, although not for long.

And that’s actually what I wanted to write to you about. Here I am, the 25-year old you, and I feel as confused as you are at your age. I’m facing crossroads again. I’m uncertain once more about the future, and just recently, I’ve read another book that changed my life. But now I’m learning not to worry too much. I wish you could have done the same thing. But I know, too, that the book had a lot to do with most of your decisions. It’s okay, really.

The bottom line is that I would like to believe that you’ve come a long way since 2002. And if I really could tell you the things I just said, I’d also tell you that things aren’t always that bad. Cake will be your most effective cure for loneliness—that and watching Singing in the Rain or Anchors Aweigh. Music will be a big part of your life. So will caffeine. You will forget about Holden little by little because of another boy named Charlie. Eventually, you will stop reading The Catcher in the Rye every Christmas. Lastly, you will be less and less scared about taking risks because you will have friends who will push you to take risks. So really, we’re okay. We will be.

Love always,
Almost-25-year old you

On second thought, do mind a girl who writes

Ever since Charles Warnke published You Should Date an Illiterate Girl, I think that’s the time that a lot of people (and by people I mean those who are around my age more or less, and within my circle) started paying attention to a particular persona, a stereotype even—that girl who seems to be perpetually happy and upbeat and lost in life all at the same time. It was a fun observation, really.

The ones who were considered too school for cool, the geeks who had braces and snorted when they laughed, those who were considered lame because they had a favorite Shakespearean comedy and could recite one of his sonnets (other than Sonnet XVIII, please) by heart, the girls who everybody else thought never had anything to say because they were quiet, and those who didn’t care about being too chatty about protagonists they were sure they were in love with (Jay Gatsby in his white suit, Mr. Darcy, Mr. Rochester, Holden Caulfield, etc.)—all of those girls who had taken a back seat when it comes to dating, finally had the spotlight on them.

All (or mostly) because of Charles Warnke. All because he wrote something so painfully true of girls married to literature and linguistics and poetry. But it didn’t stop there. Others wrote variations–less literary and more straightforwardly just listing stuff. Some other dude from Thought Catalog wrote something about dating a girl who reads, and a girl blogger from Tumblr wrote a post about why men should date a girl who writes. Another dude wrote an interesting post addressed to women this time, about dating a man who reads. There are countless poems about dating a girl who writes, reads, studies literature, who travels, etc. all in beautifully written truths not masked with condescension or irony. Of course I couldn’t resist so I did my own thing with Never Mind a Girl Who Writes.

All these posts make my heart flutter. And it’s not even because of all the interesting things people have to say about women writers (my age more or less). Yes they’re mostly true, but it’s not about whether they’re all accurate or not. No, not at all. And it’s most definitely not about the “dating” part of it.

Personally, it’s because of the fact that I feel that so many people have written about ME. I don’t care who wrote what for whom. I feel like I’ve been written about so many times over through those posts, and I think that other writers (aspiring, amateur—whatever) would agree. And they probably feel the same way I do. Or not. Maybe they just shrug because they’re more used to it than I am.

But God! Being written about! When I read blog posts like those, I smile. I spend so much time observing people and noting down little details about them and writing about all of it that I’ve forgotten how it feels to be written about. And not like in blurbs of novels where you see a paragraph-short description of the author, where he lives and what his current favorite color is. Neither is it like a thousand-page biography, which sadly sometimes turns into a major snorefest.

It’s because someone—a boy—understands. Someone understands the mess in my head and actually puts it into writing for everyone else to read and understand. Someone took the effort of listing in detail the things I thought was pointless to explain to someone who doesn’t “get it”. Someone knows me inside out, and he doesn’t even know me. How could that possibly have happened? I was shocked.

I was seriously spooked when I first read Warnke’s piece. Especially the second half. First thought was, “holy shit he knows about us.” Second was, “Ha! [insert name of friend here] is going to love this. That sentence is totally her.” Succeeding thoughts were along the lines of, “How the hell is he right about almost everything?” “How does he know we recite Keats!” “He’s wrong about that one, I don’t like Joyce,” or “This guy is actually good” until finally, “Charles Warnke, marry me.”

All this time, I thought we were the misfits, the misunderstood, the weird bunch. I thought other people have given up understanding us so I stopped giving a damn. And then Charles Warnke comes along and changes things.

So maybe it’s not too late to let other people in. Maybe, finally, they won’t find it too weird that you’ve already written something about them even though you’ve had an actual conversation only three times. Maybe someone won’t find it weird at all. Maybe it really is okay to tell people to date a girl who writes.