bright lights

Based on how the relative invisibility of being a home-based freelancer has affected my self-esteem a little bit: I do think some attention would be nice.

If I think about this question logically, someone like me should be averse to fame. The spotlight would inevitably land on my faults and burn my sensitive skin. Invisibility should be a comfort — but it isn't. My brand of self-conscious leans a bit too far into conceited territory for total invisibility.

I care more about being actively liked than I let on. It's a fixation. Sometimes I feel like I'm performing this convenient character because it's the adaptation that won the popular vote. Casual affection is transactional; I can only acquire it after putting on a show.

Transactional isn't the only kind of affection out there, but I do think there's always going to be some measure of give-and-take. In any relationship, if one party isn't adding value, then aren't they just cargo?

When we throw away the measuring stick, go all in, and trust the other person is doing the same — that's probably love.

I don't want to be famous. I like how the idea of fame means having the affection of a big group. I think I just want to be liked strongly enough that people would be willing to take on my mean streaks, hypocrisy, long silences — and still choose to stay.

(But! If I'm going to achieve celebrity-fame for anything, I want it to be a result of having mastered something and earning respect for it. It's going to have something to do with stories, I just don't know what yet.)


First zine collection

After two years of saying I'd go, I finally went. BLTX was a lot more crowded than I thought it would be. The zine fair was held at Sikat Inc. along Tomas Morato on a Saturday evening.

That same Saturday I was on the second day of my period, fatigued from an overnight Christmas party, and scared shitless of going out. The recent wave of kidnapping stories has had me clutching a pepper spray like a rosary. Hey, it might be a good idea to start wrapping my hand in prayer beads, go back to wishing for divine protection and miracles.

But yes, I dragged my terrified, painkiller-laced ass to Quezon City. I ended up cashing out of an ATM twice (it was conveniently across the street from the event space) and my fatigue definitely got worse the next day.

from You Wish by Chingbee Cruz

From “You Wish” by Conchitina Cruz

It wasn't FOMO. What happened last Saturday was a trade-off. Showing up at the event had higher value so I gave up the relative safety of staying indoors. As Thomas Sowell put it, “There are no solutions, only trade-offs.”

I've been swiping my “next time” card as if I wouldn't have to pay for it with my life. Something's gotta give. I want to keep being human.

from Soundless Crying by Electromilk

From “Soundless Crying” by Electromilk

To edit the writing of someone uninterested in writing is the biggest frog I have to swallow as a content specialist.

Let's call her Baby.

We all squander words, especially in our shitty first drafts. I'm not a particularly good writer so I need both an editor and many edits for something decent to emerge out of the cesspit. Baby squanders with much abandon even after several rewrites. Some of her sentences are downright incoherent.

Part of me thinks she has little desire to get any useful information across; that she fell asleep on her keyboard and submitted whatever her forehead typed out. I'm also pissed she's never apologized for all the extra work I've had to do just to raise her D to a C-.

(Okay, the apology bit is just me projecting what I would do onto somebody else. This whole blog post is a result of me wanting to be angry but having no valid reason to be. Nothing was committed out of spite.)

Generous Me thinks the piece lacks intention because Baby doesn't fully understand what she's writing about. It's simply not her area of expertise. If you haven't guessed, Baby is very young too.

When I was starting out, barely anything I wrote matched what my mentor had in mind. I squandered so many words—most of it intended to make myself sound smarter than I was. You know, to overcompensate for my massive inferiority complex. I believe it's a phenomenon called adəˈlesəns.

For me, the most productive (and humane) way to critique is to: 1. Point out areas for improvement by asking, “How can this be better?” 2. Explain why they have to be improved, with the aim of clear, intentional writing in mind 3. Provide space for the other party to defend their work or come up with their own solutions

I pontificate about this now, but there was a time when I just mouth off blunders based on lofty ideals that I'm not sure I meet myself. I whip out a stick the same length as the gap between the ideal and the actual and then I beat somebody with it. I̶'̶m̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶o̶n̶e̶ ̶b̶e̶a̶t̶e̶n̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶a̶ ̶p̶u̶l̶p̶ ̶m̶o̶s̶t̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶t̶i̶m̶e̶.̶

Much, much growing up left to do.

I started running and writing in a journal because I was angry. Rage was eating me from the inside. I had been simmering even before she raised her voice at me and asked me not to tell. It was her anger management problem, she said. I never took the red flags seriously until they led to a casualty. Dominoes fell. The fallout spread faster. Old biases remained in her favor. I kept running.

I would only get my back pay two months later, but I didn't know that then. My attachment stemmed from other things. Conversations with common friends were continuations of conversations we've always had. Fanning old flames kept us steamed. The heat would only evaporate from our system much, much later, but we didn't know that then. For months, it felt as if I never left.

Sleep and exercise log

First the reading plan and now this? Yes, pretending I can draw lines around the intangible (learning, rest) makes me feel like I'm in control of my life. Sometimes I am and sometimes I'm not.

It's the first time in a while that managed 7 uninterrupted hours of sleep so I thought I'd commemorate it here. I slept well, hooray! What an achievement.

Yesterday, the 1993 rape-slay of Eileen Sarmenta resurfaced in the news. It was reported that Antonio Sanchez—the ex-mayor convicted of her rape and homicide, and sentenced to nine terms of reclusion perpetua—is set for possible release within two months. He has spent a total of 24 years in prison—336 years short of his sentence.

The details of his crime are gruesome. After raping Eileen, he handed her over to six other men to be raped again. The amount of semen collected from her body could fill a can of sardines. Eileen was shot in the face with a baby ArmaLite; her boyfriend, Allan Gomez, was tortured and shot to death. Two years prior, Antonio Sanchez also masterminded the murders of Nelson and Rickson Peñalosa, allies of his political rival.

His crimes didn't end there. In prison, he smuggled P1.5 million worth of meth hidden inside a Virgin Mary statue. Claiming to be a devout Catholic, his prison cell was covered in religious paraphernalia, but it did nothing to conceal his flat-screen TV, air conditioner, and refrigerator when they raided Bilibid in 2015. There are rumors that he's been sighted out of prison for months. The Sanchez clan still benefit from a modicum of political power in Laguna.

This living rot is set to be released in two months' time for “good behavior,” because of a law that further reduces prison confinement based on an inmate's good conduct. Law good, application bad. It gets worse: Some senators are exploiting the controversy to justify the death penalty bill.

I activated my Twitter account to peruse the public discussion. Naturally, that only made my headache worse. The Amazon is on fire for fuck's sake, and Bolsonaro is pinning the blame on NGOs. A kid in Catanduanes is suffering from a fractured skull caused by bullies. Duterte wants to increase his intelligence fund by 2 fucking billion. The Hong Kong protests. Incompetent senators are pro-ROTC and anti-SOGIE.

It's too much. I've been crying on and off yesterday and today.

I know the world's authoritarians have been known to inundate citizens with vitriol, to divert the heat away from their more sinister moves, but these aren't even cover-ups anymore. These are just major fuck-ups, one after another. How does one build up emotional stamina for too much?

One history lecture, one stage play, one coffee workshop, and one grant proposal writing course⁠; my last payout has afforded me these out-of-apartment activities that I'm hoping will inspire something other than myopic introspection. If I'm lucky, I'd end up embarrassing myself in front of some industry hotshot and have plenty of material to cannibalize here on my blog.

There's one more interesting activity from, but I'm still undecided on whether I should participate. Rappelling off a 700-foot mountain sounds exciting, but doing it for the first time with perfect strangers might be two notches too dangerous. I can invite friends, but how do I even broach the subject? “Hey girl! 😜 Wanna forfeit your life? 👻”

But first things first: I should sign up at a rock climbing gym to check if I'm even cut out for this kind of bondage sport. I really want to go rappelling, to be honest. Everything else I signed up for are too city-bound, too potentially superficial; too much consumption and too little action.

But who knows? I could be wrong or I could end up embarrassing myself.

You can tell a lot about a person by their bookshelf. What's embarrassing about mine is that I never finished reading 83 of the books in it.

Here's all of them in a spreadsheet. It's both a sobering reality check and a reading plan. The idea is to read through it one row at a time, left to right, one title a week. The genres are spread out so it's a different experience per book as much as possible. Breadth over depth.

At first I thought of going deep with books that would complement my interest in social development. This was a short-sighted solution considering how my interests and the way I interpret them are always changing. Each one of these books topped my priority list at one point or another because of things that came and went in my life. I want to read all of them. Besides, I'm not going to last on the depth plan — one serious book after another would be too repressing. I'm already repressed in more ways than one.

Assuming everything goes well, I'll finish the spreadsheet by March 2021. It's sobering to know it'll take me a year and a half to read all the paperbacks I've hoarded, but that's not what woke me up. It was the precarious piles on my work desk. The pell mell on my divan (a storage divan that also has books inside it). The random books I have to sleep next to on my bed. The amount I own is oppressive in a micro-apartment.

I've always known I had a lot, but now I have the weight of 83 unfinished books on my mind. 83 is not a lot, it's excessive.

Now on to The Power Broker.

Stephen Fry. I recently came across a Graham Norton clip, where Stephen Fry's anecdote was about a surprise New Year's visit from Prince Charles and Princess Diana. He just had some friends over, his house was messy, and he mentioned Hugh Laurie had to hoover his place.

House? Hugh Laurie? Hoover? I consulted Google. I suppose all the Brits knew “Fry and Laurie” was a cute comedy duo back in the day. (To hoover means to vacuum!)

Every time I encounter Stephen Fry, he's doing something different. He's writing a book about Greek gods here, acting in Love and Friendship there, he's delivering a statement against political correctness elsewhere. Hear him out:

He also said this:

We are not nouns, we are verbs. I am not a thing – an actor, a writer – I am a person who does things – I write, I act – and I never know what I am going to do next. I think you can be imprisoned if you think of yourself as a noun.

Maybe it's the freedom-lover in me, but I admire people who follow through on everything they're interested in. These people are smart, interesting, not bound by generic assumptions, willing to be wrong. I love all that in human beings—and I romanticize the hell out of them. I would invite Oliver Sacks, too, if he were still around.