Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Comfort, A Quilt and Some Questions

I was in a lighter mood last night, especially after watching "How to Make An American Quilt". But I was vexed prior to it all. The commute to retrieve the MP3 player I had fixed was its usual mess, and the grogginess I felt from sleeping-in till early afternoon, as well as the blistering heat got me out-of-sorts by the time I met with my friend for dinner.

Hanging at his house was and always is a big help to appease my restlessness. One, I get to escape from the noise of the busy avenue fronting the condo I live in; and two, the presence of a friend's company (even without the conversation) is always comforting to me. And so there I was, at his delightfully lived-in 50's style home, laying on his bed and watching t.v. Somehow, I've gotten used to him busying himself with his own "thang" (chatting online usually) while I simply lounge about, either reading a newspaper, answering the day's crossword, munching crackers from his father's tub of Sky Flakes, smoking and/or watching t.v. Even my body seems to be accustomed to the snugness of it all. I find myself often pooping in his rather roomy bathroom.

And last night was just like one of those days. But the movie I caught made everything all the more a respite from the bitch that is my life and its eccentricities. I actually found myself lightheaded and smiling (it's been a while) after watching the film. Over some cigarettes, chugging on gallons of water, and a good helping of crackers with strawberry jam and hazelnut spread, my friend and I chatted on thoughts on the movie.

I've always enjoyed "How To Make An American Quilt". The first time I saw the movie was in high school, and immediately I fell in love with it. Not just because it was about the lives of women, and that the actresses portraying the roles were people I enjoyed watching (especially Winona Ryder); the movie score was delicate and touching that I even ended up buying its soundtrack, listening to it during my dreadful days, even utilizing it as background music to fantasies while I was reading Jack London's "The Call of the Wild". I enjoyed the mid-afternoon feel the movie and music emulated-- a palpable quietude and brightness I often observed and enjoyed during the siesta hours of my childhood.

Now, with more experience (and hopefully more wisdom) in my pocket, watching the film made me appreciate it even more. I found more in it other than just its escapist aspects. I realized that so much of the film reflected my own life and current experience, most especially with the topics on finding love and being comfortable in being in a relationship. The movie revolved around Finn (the central character) and her fear of commitment, of loosing herself, of settling, and thus becoming immobile and imprisoned by her coming marriage. I immediately translated it into my own fear with relationships. I began to wonder why it was so hard for me to surrender myself when faced with a romantic opportunity? Already, I've pushed away several. Why do I set so many rigid standards for a possible partner? (Funny thought: can I even pass my own standards?!). Is it true that the only way to love fully is to surrender one's self to it? Is anyone really ready for love? Is there really a cork up my ass?

Even the film posed interesting questions: Who would you rather marry, a friend or a lover? (a character responds that she'd rather marry her soul mate... I find this a little too bathetic); would you rather do foolish things and blame it on the folly of youth (and end up paying for the rest of your life), or be safe and wonder instead without really experiencing them?

One of my favorite aspects was when Finn was shown a poem by one of her aunts (played by Alfre Woodard)who believed to have met her soul mate while she was in Paris. The man she met was "the only one [she] didn't have a picture of", was a poet, and was almost perfect for her, except for one thing: he was married. Though Woodard's story was a bit too plebeian and melodramatic, it was the content of the poem that was striking: "Young lovers seek perfection.
Old lovers learn the art of sewing shreds together
and of seeing beauty in a multiplicity of patches."

Indeed, why do many people like me seek for more? What if all that we have is all that there is?

Monday, April 7, 2008

My Own Private Hell

Lately, I've been in a pensive mood. I feel as if I've gone back to my angst-ridden adolescent days; constantly bitching about everything, irritable and lonesome. My current sloth and inactivity seem to have brought about so many moments of emotional volatility and viciousness (towards myself and to others). I do not really know if such instances were newly created or long-repressed. With constant thoughts and feelings that skirt around issues such as insecurity, violence, and self-doubt, I've even found myself having an affinity for the supernatural. Indeed, I currently seem to be in a dark space.

Regarding violence, I find myself brimming with so much hate whenever I commute. I am easily irked by the people around me; terribly annoyed at those who shove, who step on my toes, who hog the holding rails, who smell of a hard day's commute, who lean on you with damp backs, who brush their naked skin against yours, who breathe down on you, who talk so loud in an affected manner, the jeepney rides where people are cramped like a bay of pigs ready for the slaughter, the exhausting summer heat... The angry litany simply goes on whenever I commute! I constantly imagine hiding a shotgun. And then I point at someone irritating, and blow him/her away to kingdom come!

Earlier, while waiting for a friend at a coffeehouse somewhere in Quezon City, I felt I was the butt of jokes of a company of Filipino-Chinese. I sat in front of them in an attempt to make my heavy presence felt, yet they continued in their careless banter. I felt all the more agitated because somehow I knew that they were aware of my being there in close proximity, and that I was within earshot of all what they had to say. Even with my earphones on (in the hopes of drowning my distraction), I could make out (possibly imagined even) that they were pointing out my resemblance to one of their friends. They chided and chuckled, and I couldn't help but boil in silent anger at their rudeness. As I puffed my cigarette away, the shotgun fantasy played in my head.

I was relieved that my friend appeared. Glad that he arrived, I blurted the line which ran through my head throughout my calvary: "I was so close to being a racist! These fucking dumbass chinks are ugly as hell!!!". Each aspirated vowel and consonant was deliberate in the hopes that the group heard me. I had no fear. I was consumed by anger. My tirade at them went on for a good twenty minutes till my friend distracted me with conversation.

Regarding insecurities and self-loathing, I cannot help but doubt myself lately-- my capabilities, my talents, my entire life! A friend of mine asked me a couple of times why I constantly disregard my ability or the possibility of being brilliant. Another pointed out my fear at being so. The verdict is: I am afraid of taking responsibility with whatever being brilliant entails. Sad (and even pathetic!) but true. I am well aware of my strengths and weaknesses, yet I cannot seem to muster the courage to go the extra step and take on these challenges. I find that I have moments of brilliance, that I have glimmers of being so, but I give up and lay low ever so easily when I get the chance. It's difficult leaving some place when you feel so snug.

I take out all these on myself and the people I love. I'm currently getting better from an infection, a contamination from one of my casual trysts, and yet my misguided search at sympathy and love keeps me craving for the next encounter. I think ill thoughts of my family and friends, assuming them selfish and exploitative. It's terribly unfair for all of us.

Maybe it's the sloth and idleness about me lately. Maybe it's the lack of diversion. Maybe it's my being burnt out from the chaos of the city. Maybe I should just be grateful and love myself more. But at the moment, they seem too much to ask.