Sunday, September 6, 2009

Me at 34

Although I hate to admit it, let alone acknowledge it, 23 days from now I am to turn 34 years old. Wasn't it only yesterday that I entered college and was running around the campus looking for my first class for the day? Well, time does fly fast. I wouldn't be surprised to find myself waking up the next day to realize that another decade has passed...And with that, I would have to expect seeing the tell-tale signs of aging(wrinkles, crow's feet in the corners of my eyes, and more gray hair here and there) more concretely by then.
Not that I am afraid to grow old, it's just that I don't want to see the years creeping up on me and still see no sign of improvement in my life. For as long as I can remember, I've been working very hard and trying very hard. Through the years, I've had my fair share of good times and bad times just like everybody else. I've laughed and cried over many varied instances that have marked my progress and growth as an artist, in both the literary and visual fields.
From the way I see it, my love story with words and images has defined my entire existence. Ever since the day both my consciousness and subconsciousness were activated, I reacted to the world around me by drawing people that looked like cookies with eyes and a smiling mouth, along with a pair of arms and legs sticking out like toothpicks on their properly designated places. If I am not mistaken, I was only two years old then. My mother, however, corrected me, saying that I was only one year and eight months old when I first started to draw.
Nevertheless, that fateful day when I first held my mother's red orange dressmaker's chalk(which I called Dixon until I was 10 because of the embossed brand name on one of its side) and started drawing these cookie people all over the lower portion of our living room wall that my love story with art began. 
Writing came later when I was eight years old. I wrote my first full-length story entitled "The Dragon's Den in the Butterfly Kingdom" at the age of nine. Uncannily, it covered nine pages(back-to-back )of the back part of my Science notebook, which was labelled notebook number 9. Also, I finished writing the whole piece in nine days. So when I put the numbers together, I have 9999. I do not want to give any interpretation to them, but the fascinating way in which these numbers just fell into place is what made them so interesting and memorable to me.
The urge to write came while my then Science teacher was conducting another one of her usual boring lectures. Because I had gotten into the habit of reading my school books from cover to cover during the entire second month of our summer vacation, I was already familiarized with everything she discussed. And  much to my surprise and annoyance, she discussed the facts exactly as they had been presented in the book. No creative presentation or any interesting additional information, which I expected. 
Usually, the back part  of all my notebooks would be filled with many drawings of females with long flowing, curly locks. Though I was inclined to draw again and weave stories in my head as I have always done, one of the voices that  once dwelled in my mind suggested that I pen the story instead of just imagining it as I draw. Needless to mention, I willingly obliged, commencing my new love affair with words- another viable medium I used to tell the many stories that revealed themselves on their own accord and compensated for  my inadequacy to deal with my intense emotions or the lack of them.
I grew up thinking that every body could also do the things that I do. However, my peers saw me in a different light: as a weird brainiac, hence I have been bullied until my high school years. Although I excelled in school, my childhood was a bittersweet mix of carefree, habitual almost endless fantasizing; quarterly art and academic competitions; cherished memories with childhood friends; relentless bullying; and that all too common mind-shattering loneliness. 
Nobody ever suggested that I was special or extraordinary in any way. To me, I was either the strange class nerd or the typical nice girl-next-door. My parents treated my academic achievements like they did the usual oatmeal and milk we had for breakfast. As for my relatives, I have always thought that  they never saw me as anything more than the average good natured schoolgirl. In fact, I have an uncle who must have seen me as a  dunce who could never be more than a housewife or household help maybe. Too bad, I  am never easily  swayed by others' opinions. 
I have always kept a big chunk of myself hidden from others' view. Behind that smiling, innocent face lies a defiant little female whose imagination no one could fathom.. I knew all too well that I have no right to judge anyone. But I was also aware that no one has the right to judge me either, especially if they do not have so much as the slightest idea as to who or even what I truly am.
For sixteen lonely years, I have thrived and grown up in the constant company of certain voices that only existed and spoke in my head. Right from the very start, I knew  they were not  real. .They were my constant companions who knew me far better than anybody else. Although  they had no corporeal existence, I treated them with the same sincerity and respect as I did others. I just left them be and enjoyed their company for  many years. But after I deliberately poked a newly sharpened pencil to my temple after one of them told me to do so when I was eight, I was alarmed: they were getting stronger and uncontrollable. Young as I  was, the realization that it was not right for them to have such a power over me really turned things around, and got me thinking about them seriously. I  tried to shut them up, yet I failed miserably.
There were three voices. And more often than not, they contradicted each other.  The first one pushed me to find answers, so I can vanquish all of them. The second kept prompting me to release all the pent up anger, frustration, sadness, and disappointment. The third one remained silent most of the time and would only speak to tell stories the moment the first two began contradicting each other. When the second voice became more insitent and aggressive, I spilled my secret in an effort to find an answer, a solution. I asked my parents ,  teachers, and many guidance counselors. None of them gave me a straight answer. All of them were united in their response that I was imagining things. 
But I wasn't. 
If they had not vanished when I nearly drowned to death when I was sixteen, I dare not imagine how I would be like today. Losing them finally in a way I least expected was both  a relief and a most  absurdly  sorrowful  experience.
Now as I approach my 34th year, I still do not see myself as the full-grown woman that I am. The voices have long gone and left me to contend with reality by myself. I am proud to say that even in their absence, I thrived well enough and managed without their help. But in spite of my conspicuous maturity, I  just can't get myself to feel anything like the adult I should be. 
In my mind's eye, I remain the six year old little girl lost in her fantasies, forever enamored by the world unravelling inside her head as she drowns in one fantastic tale after another. I am neither married nor attached romantically to anyone. How could I be? Up until now, I have not yet even revealed half of  myself to the world at large. Thus, I am doing my best to share, explore, and unleash all my God-given abilities before I reach the end of the road. This is something I owe to God and myself.
I've been secretly battling these dark depressive thoughts for as long as I can remember. Even if I think I really need to see a shrink, I am adamant that I can keep my intense sensitivity bottled and under control by simply using my own will power.
These days, every time I dream, I am bolted awake by a mind-splitting headache. Remembering dreams no matter vivid and complex is nothing new to me. As a girl, I could  control them easily. But as I matured, my  control over them waned. Almost twice or thrice each week, I wake up all of a sudden with these freaky dreams still playing out in my already conscious mind as yet another pounding headache wracks through me like lightning electrocuting every nerve in my head. Luckily, the pain only lasted for a couple of hours after waking.
I do not want to think this is serious. I pray not.
One day my eccentricities and freaking headaches would eventually outdo my will power and strength. But before that day comes, I would see to it that I do what needs to be done: set myself free and reveal my view of the world using my God-given abilities. No one can truly tell what kind of soul lives in this temporal cellulite-ridden body if not through my works. Crazy as it may sound, I am defined by them.

(I know for a fact that I did this painting in watercolor in 2000. But since I have given it a mile-long title, I have forgotten it save for the first word "The". I took this pic a couple of weeks ago as it hung in our living room framed in glass, hence my reflection on the side. At first I thought I had to take another one since I did not really capture its entirety. But then again, I saw how this particular pic suited my personal introduction here. I will just post a clearer pic of the whole painting sometime next week, and maybe decide on a new shorter title for it.)

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