Juxtapositions on Water

1. My uncle has given up his fight against lung cancer. "Tanggap ko na 'to," he said. There were waves of people talking to my uncle. I rarely go to family gatherings, so I had to ask my father who's who. That one, he said, with the cane, is his Tito Perry.

2. The old man, upon his departure, whispered something about their life in Pasig, and how he could still remember everything from his life in the 1960s. I wish the man didn't wither; there would be no pithiness, no room for a story with much imagination.

3. In the attic, on a hot afternoon day, I found myself rummaging after a certain baby picture in a beach in Honolulu, 1996. The face I had was a look of a kid who had just tasted the salt of the water and found it peculiar. Until now I think of water as neutral: not salty, not painful.

4. My aunt from San Francisco had stayed for ten days and left after seeing our hometown, Obando, sinking in chest-deep floods. There were only pedicabs, creaks of rotten wood as they gradually shift with the tide (or the non-tide, the dikes inefficient) and corpses of pet dogs and cats, foul and floating.

5. The house in Obando is an obra maestra of our late grandfather--he made sure it would stand the test of time. "It was one of the elevated houses back then," my father said, in a bus at Saturday night.

6. Manila is bustling with people and malls, yet etched in our memory were hulks of abandoned childhood--the musk of an afternoon tan, the dinners.

7. My cousin had named his daughter Summer--had thought of it as apt, as flowery.

8. My cousin assists my uncle to those occasional trips to the comfort room. It's better than the midnight screams of help, my Dad used to tell me. How morphine dulled his sense of importance.

9. There are yet to be cloudy days, an afternoon thunderstorm, and at some days in the household when my father copes with the clouds of life, his sinaing: most of the time burned, parched, or soggy.


1. I found our stray cat dead last Saturday. Its stomach was ripped apart by dachshunds owned by Korean neighbors. I am one with those who believe that cats and dogs can cohabit.

2. I reread J.D. Salinger's Teddy from Nine Stories, and it said something about death being natural (because of an assumption that reincarnation is not only true, but natural, since things just don't stay where they are).

3. Teddy is the last story. Salinger, or his publisher, is fond of wasting no paper for any fly leaf or NOTES section. This tidbit revived my old demons: the fact that there is no page left... is simply poignant, especially when (spoiler alert) in the story, at the last page, the child dived in an empty swimming pool.

4. There is nothing but the empty back cover to deal with the loss of a child named Teddy.

5. The back cover is composed of an absence in the color of cream and textured by shelves.

6. The back cover tries very hard not to express anything at all.

7. I found a dog barking at the site of the cat's corpse (which I buried on a vacant lot), three nights later.

8. The cat has nine lives, I guess.

Ideas at 1:04 AM

It is such a struggle to concentrate on a single work lately. I tried apps like Think and Anxiety and they both didn't work, simply because distraction is still just a click away. I guess the idea behind this mild suppression is lame: it's like putting the bait right under our noses.

1. Why not create an app with a password from a friend, or parent. Upon choosing the sole program you ought to take time into (like writing something for a thesis), the only thing you can do is to use that program--no more, no less. Last week I was at Jolibee and thought of the system they have in canceling orders: the cashier calls the boss to swipe his card.

The big problem is when the parent/friend forgets the password. Which can be the case, especially if you were calling them every now and then for some Facebook break.

2. An app for time management (I've seen one but it isn't for free). Every morning the laptop alarms at a specific time to ask you the tasks of the day.

Computers should not only flash warning signs. Humans have adapted to it. Delete a file, then enter twice, and it's done. We all know the are-you-sure question. If computers can threaten us by deleting a random file or by playing Kazakh music because of time mismanagement, life would be so much zen.

P.S: Good lord, iPhone 4S is unbelievable with its Siri app. Tailor-fitted for us who are not really fan of texting on touchscreen phones. (To tap is to occupy at least two letters, which can be nasty most of the time.)

A Night of Dumplings

Questions relating to Donald Barthelme's writings are not always easy to answer. Or I should say that they are wonderfully not easy to answer. Barthelme himself, in "Not-Knowing," an essay devoted to the act of writing, stresses the importance, to a writer of fiction, of a certain type of anxiety--the anxiety that inevitably accompanies working without concrete or material awareness of what, precisely, one has to write; or even of how one might set out to write; or whether, for that matter, a thing can be written.

-- Donald Antrim, in his Introduction to Donald Barthelme's The Dead Father

1. Can the anxiety be the anxiety we have had prior to reading this?
2. Is it elusive now, that anxiety which replaced this anxiety?
3. Is there something wrong about acknowledging the beauty of uncertainty through its creation via stories?

Sous rature

In my attempt to write you
I also (un)write you, always, always, always.

I thought of this as a post with three titles


I'm not that busy lately. I noticed a certain pattern, though I'm not so sure if this is just personal, or what. Whenever I dream, I get up and write something. Then I knew I'm in for a treat. I'll write some things, poignant things, and leave them here, or in a file. It feels nice.

There are days when I regret about the day I wrote something and thought it would be a good thing to do lying in a hammock with a teacup and write. It was such an idealist of me not to think of pens drying up, or the teacup smothering the entire paper in a warm mess, or that I may really end up purchasing a hammock for my entire life.

This is not that day.