Grandma! I love you in a salad way

What keeps me up at 4AM is the fear of dying, that crippling fear of not being able to share my passwords to my loved ones, of forgetting things, of not being able to do what I used to do. I rarely have time to do anything else these days. It's crazy. There's just routine after routine. When I feel like I'm not making good use of my free time, I add another routine into the mix. I signed up for a gym subscription last July and lost close to 40 pounds after seven months. Then last December, I signed up for a year-long intensive course on marketing on top of work. Sure, it's all online, and paid for by the company, but I never thought I had to read a hundred-plus pages of stuff on market segmentation, and spend a lot to park myself in a cafe for three hours - because that's the only environment I find conducive aside from libraries. My first exam is on the 10th of April. After 17 years, my mother will arrive at NAIA on the very same day. I will be on a business trip for the next four days, and I'm afraid I won't see her until the 15th. I got to a point where I had to stay up late in the office on my birthday. My response to my sister's greeting was to tell her that I'm so tired, but she said something comforting, something like: you'll be able to spend your birthdays better after your course. Which is true. I like long-term thinking a lot. I've never given long-term thinking much thought until I had a son. I feel like I've spent most of my (teenage?) days not doing anything - and I know I couldn't make up for lost time, only I had to jog and lift weights to combat heart disease at 40. Maybe the health benefits of drinking black, unadulterated coffee will pay off. I find it funny when people still ask me about writing. I still write - but not fiction. (I write emails!) I'd like to think I still have that sensibility - that process of meaning-making - and that, in itself, is the most important thing I learned about creative writing. That sensibility makes life much more bearable. That sensibility tells you to watch the sky at 4AM while walking towards your tricycle, duffel bag on my shoulder, mind blank. That sensibility tells you to write a story in your head about writing to ten dead people about their regrets - not because you're sure no one has ever done it before, but just because it's amusing. That sensibility tells me to attend that PAG-IBIG seminar in Mandaluyong not because it's mandatory but because all the stories I read about had interesting stuff coming out of the most mundane of things. (In my case, I found a Turkish restaurant across the road that sells authentic Turkish coffee.) I always think of the product of that sensibility - musings, imagination, whatever - as a layer on top of life - like, if life were made in a pre-installed iMovie on an office laptop, life would be the main track, and there would be two or three tracks on top of it. In this case, this is another layer that sensibility told me to do: to write something about your life from time to time. 

Club to club

One of the best remixes/covers I've ever heard.

In flagrante delicto

I rarely liked acoustic versions, but this song is sad and yet irresistibly dance-able.


In every Crystal Castles album, there's always one or two instrumental tracks that feel like it's part of a longer clip. In the self-titled album back in 2008, there was "Tell Me What To Swallow"; in their second album, it's "I am Made of Chalk"; in their third album, it's "Child, I Will Hurt You". In their most recent album, Amnesty, aside from "Their Kindness Is A Charade" is "Teach Her How to Hunt", a clip so aural and raw it gives me goosebumps. It laid down a background of scratchy excerpts - of a woman shouting (the typical shout from any Crystal Castles song), of animal-like growls? - that retreats when a Tim Heckeresque kind of drone creeps in, reaching full crescendo before it crashes - cymbals and car crash - towards the end of the song. I love how this song hints at something grave and tragic in less than two minutes.

Danh Vo

“Lot 20. Two Kennedy Administration Cabinet Chairs,” from 2013,
a disassembled chair from the personal collection of Robert S. McNamara.

“Oma Totem” (2009) made from a television, washing machine, refrigerator and a wooden crucifix.

A detail from Danh Vo’s “We the People,” a model hand from his replica of the Statue of Liberty,
in a survey of his work at the Guggenheim Museum. 

I like how "readymade" some of Danh Vo's artworks are. I also like the stories behind each artwork: how an innocent-looking keychain was about the apartment the artist once shared with an ex-partner and the car that the man gave him; how the stack of items in "Oma Totem" are the three items his grandmother - a refugee who fled Vietnam during "McNamara's War" - received from relief organizations upon her arrival in Germany; how the "chair" acted both as furniture and as an allusion to the concept of power (as in "seat of power"); how the gift of France to America, a gigantic statue of bronze that symbolizes liberty, was dismembered (and you can feel the rage here), because the French was never innocent in the formation of Indochina - nor was America innocent in the American War. Another interesting angle: the fact that the artist himself, educated in Denmark, civilised and Western through and through, to make art about colonization and understand the tragedy that made him him. It's a vicious cycle, and it's bittersweet: Can't you make this art without being colonized? Isn't he better off after everything happened? You cannot talk about that which had not taken place? <link

Nap times

We were in New York, with a group of ex-officemates and my family, and we went to a Chanel pop-up store and you wanted a really nice cloche hat - not sure what it's called but it was worn in that silent film I watched last year - and it's $300, and there were perfumes on sale, etc.


Every time my son goes to the hospital - which is enviably rare compared to other kids his age - I always think of this short story by Raymond Carver called A Small Good Thing. It's the simplest stories that haunt me the most: here's a birthday boy who fainted and died without any reason. The parents were completely devastated - so much so that they totally forgot that they ordered a birthday cake from this baker in advance. The particulars are probably wrong, but I don't want to reread the story - I might cry. Link