Psychiatrist in the morning

You're no longer ecstatic happy. That's who you used to be. With the help of marijuana. You were sad to begin with though.

In need of a regimen

For some reason, Department of Eagles' Phantom Other played in my head, along with the Facebook message a former professor sent just last night, about this certain Spaces story I reportedly wrote for his class. I knew it had to be the folio we wrote for my creative writing class, which I edited along with three others, and had it printed and launched in a coffee shop by the campus.

This necessitated me to pay a visit my former Gmail account, which by now has nothing but mailing subscriptions on t-shirts and other merch. Not only did I find out that I didn't have the soft copy of the said folio; I also found out the response of a former classmate-slash-exchange student (the probing question that hovered in the brief e-mail I sent in September 2010 was this: Do you smoke weed?) which, if I remember correctly, was the response I've been waiting for, as my smoking buddies thinned and waned for various reasons--or maybe I was in a deep, existential rut back then. I'm not sure.

I told my professor I didn't have the soft copy anymore, but he said he meant Spaces. The flash fiction piece I wrote for his Sci-Fi class. How can I forget! I had to find the file in my new e-mail address, sans the trappings of my angst-ridden college self. There, lo and behold, was the transcript of my thesis where it was included, and a part of me just couldn't get over the fact that, well, here I am, researching the build for Terrorblade in DotA, playing on a weekend, my son beside me sleeping. Why am I not writing? Why don't I have a theme? Why don't I have a fucking regimen of some sort?

In Case I Die


  • A while ago I thought of writing a note entitled In Case I Die, and it will list down all the blogs I've written, blogs I've never been proud of, just to be transparent. Then I didn't, since one might find it stuck in between the shelves of the office desk before I even die.
  • After a couple of years I've finally decided to go back to watching films. Technically, I've watched films last year, but (pardon me for being too specific) they were most probably out of boredom, those times where I've watched some entertaining fluff aired on a provincial bus, or shown on CinemaOne, and not out of that urge to (willingly) watch a film and treat it as text. Sure, I've seen some good ones (Insiang, Contagion, and this Mylene Dizon-Tessie Tomas film I was too sleepy to finish), but the intent matters. Just this weekend I watched Lino Brocka's Maynila sa Kuko ng Liwanag, alternating it with Arthur, featuring Russell Brand, on the same day, and the next day was the two-hour long L'Humanite directed by Bruno Dumont, a film which was just recently downloaded (i.e. some thirteen months ago) through BitTorrent--which reminds me: why did I even download it? But it was worth the wait anyway, watching all three films during the weekend. Enlightening. Finally, my interest in films sprang to life.
  • The anecdote above on films goes that I can't altogether process books and films. Now I'm reading nothing but back issues of the New Yorker, where I'm currently in December 2013, in between the Digital Revolution and the Cartoons of the Year collections. No novels. No short story collections. I'm hoping for a kind of renaissance in my writing, hoping that it's slowly gaining momentum.
  • I've been dying to write about the experience of traveling with my two-year old son Perry a month ago, but the experience is too overwhelming to write in great detail the day after it happened, and I guess I need to distance myself from something life-changing in order to write about it (contrary to, I think, Didion writing The Year of Magical Thinking shortly after her husband died). Unfortunately, now is not the right moment to write about it--I'm sleeping over in the office until 4AM, heading back to Laguna to take a bath, change clothes, and kiss my son good morning.

Freedom Wall

I've been reading short stories here and there and, had I been scaling them from one to ten, ten being the highest, most of them gets sixes and eights, maybe a ten from time to time. I started doubting myself and wondered if I was the kind of reader who doesn't have any strong opinion on things, the kind who just loves everything and tries to appreciate each story, even the sloppiest of stories--which shouldn't always be the case. Luckily, I came across two stories I didn't like (after a long pause from Murakami's Sleep, that is): the first one was Find the Bad Guy, a short story by Jeffrey Eugenides from The New Yorker I was initially hesitant to dislike (to the point that it needed a confession to my wife) for it was the first story I read from the celebrated author. (Or was it because it was preceded by high expectations?) Kevin Brockmeier's The Year of Silence, a short story from the Best American Short Stories 2008, seemed promising only for a couple of paragraphs, and agonizing all throughout.

from The New Yorker

The nerve of me to nitpick such established stories, I know! But let this be an act of self-discovery, of listing down, for once and for all, the things I don't like (which is very unbecoming of me, since, as I've said earlier, I'm the kind of guy who tries to appreciate each story). I won't be too particular; instead, I'd consider these two stories as a whole, a sort of blank slate with all the things I disliked from Fiction written on it.

*

In Find the Bad Guy, a part of me felt like there ought to be a more "positive" (for the lack of a better term) resolution to the story--a redemption of some sort, a consolation prize, an answer to the reader's plight as he reads the story. The insight on smell (as in the detail on the smell of the de Rougemonts, the former occupants of their house) is noteworthy, as it wrapped the story in the same manner that it started it all: the family, the personality of smells, its connection to ownership.

Its weakness is its voice. It's awful. It sounded like a sitcom that's trying too hard to be funny--which reminds me of Adam Sandler and his self-deprecating roles. (If it weren't for Bedtime Stories, I would have never considered his acting as funny.) The character is a disc jockey originally from Michigan who lived most of his career in Texas, so there's that southern inflection I wasn't worried about. But the voice! Add to that the treatment of marital problems as something trivial and petty makes it unnerving.

Verdict: Maybe all I wanted was a somber story on marriage, that's all. I'm not so sure.

*

Brockmeier's story reminds me of how short stories are like chewing gums: chew it longer and it becomes stiff. The premise is simple: there were short periods of silence in a city, and there were repercussions, and the whole world wanted silence, embraced it, and then they longed for noise, for how things sounded, until they forgo every effort on reducing noise, and the world is back again, business as usual.

There are commendable parts: since the city is the story's main character, there's this part where the government invents noise reduction mechanisms that I think are noble enough, both in itself and in the story. Also: it's refreshing to think of the city as a character with a body (as in a governing body, and an anatomical body).

I can't help but think of the story as an arc where everything mounts in the middle, then slides down to normalcy. Why can't things be irreversible in the story, just as global warming is? If the people wanted silence, shouldn't they stick to it? Whether the story wants to be a testament of that fine balance the world has been making sense of, or simply tries to play with that existential realization that noise and silence comes together, I think it's uninspired.

Verdict: What I would like to read is that part where everyone wanted silence, and stick to it. Otherwise, the story isn't really worth reading.