Skies on chipboard

From The New York Times comments section, I found an envelope as lovely as that of my college workshop group where we photocopy stories and critique them almost always every Wednesdays. The original article, Desperately Seeking Synonyms, which challenged its readers to paint "a realistic picture of sky using precise and surprising nouns and adjectives", remarked:
"One of the hardest things to describe in a fresh way is the sky — whether at dawn, at dusk or before a storm." 
I handpicked these comments like I would encircle a paragraph during a workshop, putting a star somewhere around it, but as it accumulated it bore weight, like trying to see fifty snapshots of skies in one sitting.

I am posting this like a kid who has just discovered the possibilities of pinning anything on a bulletin board.

From L. Egan:
I'll tell you how the sun rose,--
A ribbon at a time.
The steeples swam in amethyst,
The news like squirrels ran.
The hills untied their bonnets,
The bobolinks begun.
Then I said softly to myself,
"That must have been the sun."
- Emily Dickinson
From RMC:
The sky reminded her of her ex-husband: grey, brooding and portending violence. The clouds reached toward the horizon like gloved hands hovering over a sleeping, unsuspecting torso. The boats, clustered together like schoolgirls in summer dresses, had no warning of the mayhem to come.
From Kevin Burns:
That morning the clouds had squatted over us like fat schoolboys over an anthill. Now the sun pierced the shadows, the sharp contrast magnifying the burning rays so we had to avert our eyes. Thick white fingers of light stretched earthward, and we instinctively avoided their touch.
From Chris Bradley:
I was five and the sky was my mother's apron: blindingly wide, white and covered in flour.
From Baruch:
The sky was the colour of cold. A coarse cotton sheet that no-one could be bothered dying. You wrap that around your firstborn and he says it makes him colder.
From Don Westrich:
The beginning of William Gibson's SF novel "Neuromancer": "The sky was the color of a TV tuned to an empty channel."
From Bob:
In winter, what’s left of sky? The stars have flown south. Morning reveals a famished tree with a cloud snared in its branches.
From Amy:
Oatmeal. That was what the sky was like. It was the color of oatmeal with big ponderous clouds rolling through, clumps of rain falling in great glops coating the pavement with their sticky splatter.
From Raisa:
It was their anniversary, he invited her out. "Big Expectations" was the name of the dinner. They sat in a booth. His back was to the window, she sat across reading the menu, he started talking. She drifted away. There was the window, there was the blue sky, clear, illuminating, attractive, and enchanting.

On orientalism

You’re right that “dispassionate observer” doesn’t properly describe the character I assume in my nonfiction writing—especially in the writing of recent years. When I first started doing long fact pieces, as they were called at The New Yorker, I modeled my “I” on the stock, civilized, and humane figure that was the New Yorker “I,” but as I went along, I began to tinker with her and make changes in her personality. Yes, I gave her flaws and vanities and, perhaps most significantly, strong opinions. I had her take sides. I was influenced by this thing that was in the air called deconstruction. The idea I took from it was precisely the idea that there is no such thing as a dispassionate observer, that every narrative is inflected by the narrator’s bias. Edward Said’s Orientalism made a great impression on me. And yes, probably this did add to the character’s authority.

- Janet Malcolm, The Art of Nonfiction No. 4, from The Paris Review


Later on, the old woman died doing the same thing she had been doing for seven years: saying something gibberish. That afternoon, it was not her husband's name. I am eating a pear a few steps away from the bed when I learned about it.

After the call, I have to find another home whose blinds would welcome the nameless, whose beds were willing to take care of anybody's steps. The pear in my mouth I found too gritty that I spat the mush on a clasped hand. Then I swallowed it like a pill. Maybe the days will be new, that day when I will eat pears beside the window, with the blinds raised, and there will be the first leaves of spring, the blinding sunlight, and from the mailbox were envelopes bearing my name.


At a bookshop was the cashier and a sigh spent people do in the afternoon. A man approached.

"Do you sell pens?"
"What kind of pen," the cashier asked. There was a shuffling of feet, but all was quiet.

I was busy looking around their shelves of notebooks with the label 20% OFF.

"I don't know," the man said. "Just a pen."

The cashier found a pen from one of the drawers, said "here you go", and gave the man a pen.

A block away from the bookshop, clutching a copy of The Ginger Man I found a pen on the sidewalk. (My poor posture allows much rumination in the ground.) I am pretty sure it did not resemble the pen the cashier gave to the man.

Idylls and the Internet

It's really true: we've come to a point where reading overwhelms writing, since there's so much to read, and most of us--trying our very best to sift this pile of information we're getting in the best way possible--couldn't help but say, hey, I should read this later.

That later evaporates into your browser tabs, every now and then. By the time most browsers solved the nuisance in opening and closing browser windows by converting them into little tabs (which are, come to think of it, miniaturization at its finest), setting aside must-reads are so much easier. (Safari currently has its own Reading List function.)

Now I've been garnering a lot of browser tabs (ranging from Omniv... Binder... Amatria... Los Sec... etc.) and they still are a nuisance. I guess they didn't solve the problem in essence. My Google Reader's unread: 800+ (from April 26, I think). Compared with what I've read in my room in Bulacan, I wouldn't wonder wonder why I haven't read that much lately. My list is embarrassing:

1. That wonderful introduction of Barthelme's Sixty Stories by David Gates
2. Some seven pages of Ashbery's Flow Chart (my nth rereading, though the poem never fails to conjure something new--such wonders of poetry) at the bus
3. An introduction in J.P. Donleavy's The Ginger Man
4. Two chapters of Miguel Syjuco's Ilustrado
5. A broadsheet copy of The Onion from St. Mark's Bookshop

There are reasons. The bulk of what I'm reading lately is online. The graduation gift I received--a modest iPod Touch 8GB--is becoming more of a bane. (Yes! After my six-year affair with an iPod Shuffle!) What more: I've made up my mind in getting an Internet subscription when I get home to Bulacan this last week of May. (Our last Internet subscription was seven years ago, when WiFi was still a subject of daydreams in the household.)

The online landscape has proven to delay reading the necessaries: a simple click and you're on Facebook; a link here and there and you wouldn't know you've been drifting away from the subject at hand (most of which are off-topic). I've written nothing aside from my 100th post, which, by the way, is a cheat!

Perhaps I couldn't really write in a city like New York. There's too much of everything--from subway grime to obnoxious jaywalkers--that one needs a retreat (look at this guy). I couldn't see my five-week stay a vacation. Though, sure, I've rekindled with my mother and my sisters and my niece and everyone else, I still ache for that solitude of not giving a fuck about anything and do my rituals of eat, drink, and read some stuff I could only do in Bulacan. The days are becoming slimmer as that necessity of employment looms, and though my sister said something about having a good time for a couple of months before getting a job, I can still hear the ticking--of what, I don't know, but I better put my time in reading a lot of stuff.