Saturday, January 30, 2010

Haiku Story Train Started!

Hazy, hazy pictures. It's not foggy here in my makeshift studio, but the pictures all came out hazy! Oh, well, anyways, these are the first two pages of the haiku story train book I am working on. What I'm planning to do is to write a story  in a haiku format with each part accompanied by an illustration, making concrete the visual imagery embodied in my words. I would be a hypocrite to say that I am not fantasizing about releasing this book one day. I am. But since I know how hard it is to become a published book author, it is best to just focus on what I want to do and just worry about the whole publishing shebang when I'm done with my book. 
Looks familiar? See, this is a portrait of my Tweetie bear, whom I use to symbolize me(which explains why it is her face poking out of the bag in my profile pic). As usual, I used a variety of pens and liquid eraser on her. And yes, I worked on her during breaktimes at the office. It took me a total of two or three hours to get her done, meaning I spent two to three lunch breaks working on her. But the haiku introduction accompanying her turned out bad. Not the haiku itself, but rather the way I have written it down. So I would rewrite it but not by hand anymore. Or maybe, I'll just have to work on my calligraphy skills and do it all over again manually. Oh, well, the illustration is finished, and the cover illustration is partly done, too. But like the picture I took of Tweetie bear's portrait, it is blurry. Likewise, I used a variety of pens with liquid eraser.
Since I've just started, there is a chance that I may change them or not use them in the book at all, depending on how the circumstances would turn out after I am done. And the poem I am talking about, which I had intended to use for Tweetie's illustration, turned out differently from what I had originally planned since my moods have again shifted, thus my thoughts were diverted as well. 

My Insanity

I first started writing this poem right after  finishing my tasks at the office. I don't remember exactly what day that was, but I clearly recall not noticing my boss's presence as he stood behind me after I have just finished the first stanza. I couldn't tell him that I finish much earlier since years of experience has gifted me with speed along with precision when it comes to writing. Doing so could mean risking being given more tasks. Not that I think he would take advantage of us(because after all, he can't ask just anybody in the office to do the things we do and neophytes or those who are not as skilled would eat up the entire  eight hours), it is just that we have done what we ought to according tho their mandated duties and that settles it. 
Anyways, I think he had somehow gotten the idea that I was already done with my tasks and wasn't shirking my duties because I immediately sent him my daily production report after that. It has never been my habit to put off my duties until later and intersperse them with a little browsing or poetry writing here and there. First things always come first. And when I'm at the office, my writing responsibilities and other work-related tasks are my first and foremost concerns. 
I think that this is the only time I would be posting an actual picture of myself here in my blogs. I apologize for the poor quality of some of the shots(which turn out hazy at times or something else still far from perfect). All the pictures I take are courtesy of my trusty cellphone. I used to work as a professional photographer at a studio several years ago, but in truth, the only camera I could call my own was the one my father brought home when I was in secondary school. And needless to say, it has already run its course and gone to retirement more than a decade ago. This year, I am planning to save up for a fine digital camera. But until then, I would have to make do with my cellphone. 
Not all the shots are bad. Some, actually, come out quite beautiful(much to my surprise). And there are others that turn out to become strangely beautiful, even a bit haunting, in the sense that the imperfectness of the settings had somewhat given the picture a unique aura, a character that hits the spot in an uncanny yet precise way. This portrait of mine is one of them. 
The haziness of the whole picture and my smile exemplifies the soul I have imbibed in "My Insanity." To be honest, I have lots of pictures of myself. I found out not too long ago that taking my own pics while waiting for my students was an enjoyable way to kill time. This portrait was taken December of last year on a cool and foggy Saturday morning. Hence, it stands to reason why the pictures, this one included, all came out hazy, giving them that nostalgic and dreamy ambiance. And all these without any photoshop trick used(I have yet to learn how to use it actually.)!
One of these days, I would recreate this portrait by making a painting of it. Given my imagination and penchant for details, I would give a different twist to my face and bring out the insanity hidden beneath. Oh, well...But as to when I could get around to start working on it...It could be anytime, depending on my schedule and of course, my ever erratic moods. Enjoy "My Insanity."

My Insanity

Let me not rest my head now,
for I fear losing this dawn before me.
Hazy is the morning light,
reflecting beauty, my insanity.

This face I claim for my own
with eyes reflecting the sea so blue.
Remains to many, unknown,
whose eyes see past this soul I hold true.

And if they could only see,
I know not how it could be defined.
Deep madness in reality;
visible only to an open mind.

So I fight to stay awake,
lest I lose sight of who I truly am.
If sacrifice I must make,
I be here as much as I can.

And stay in this place where my heart is found
So please...Just please leave me be.
Walk away and dare not turn around;
Leave me alone in my reality...

Alone with my insanity.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Soooooo Tired

I've already finished a new illustration. After revising the poems I've written a couple of weeks back, I would take a picture of my new illustration. Then I would write a blog about it here along with the newly revised poem that would go well with it. But all that would not be done until much later after I have rejuvenated my pulped brain and recharged my physical and mental energy. 
Today was another one of those days when I was required to do a task that was nowhere near my job description: coordinate. And by coordinating, I once again had to wear that sickening sweet mask of conviviality necessitated in efficiently discussing business matters with various managers or their representatives or even their executive secretaries or phone answering machines/voicemails (which is actually the most pleasant to deal with of them all). 
Although all the discourses and inquiries were done on the phone, the stress and time it took to get the message clearly to each one of them was more or less the same as discussing it with them face to face. 
I have never been this exhausted even if I had lots of challenging topics to write about. Being genial and enterprising or should I say holding up a warm and tolerant front took up thrice the energy! Unbelievable (lol)! 
How hard it is to pretend you're accommodating and fine when you're on the verge of puking from all that pretense and just a breath away from throwing a full-blown fit! 
But sometimes, life offers no chance for compromise, let alone refusal. My boss needed my help. And I gave it. Not that I am boot-licking for want of a promotion. I just had to. 
The situation was more like being forced to help your friend finish his plateful of broccoli because you know he would get a nasty beating if he didn't. And even if you're not that close to him, it still doesn't feel right to just ignore him and let him get hurt. How's that for an analogy (lol)? 
Oh, well...Next week he has asked me to continue doing him the same favor in exchange for the usual tasks I do until we have gathered all the needed information. As to when that would be...Okay, time to hit the sack. I've got a poem to revise and an illustration to photograph later during the day. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Spending a Two-Day Vacation at Home

At exactly 9:30 in the evening tonight, I would be back at the daily grind after spending four days at home, doing practically nothing lucrative save for cooking a new dish(spicy rice cake) and finally watching Avatar with my mom. These four days is a combination of the two-day weekend vacation we have weekly which was extended due to the two-consecutive-day vacation leave I filed for the 25th and 26th(Monday and Tuesday) respectively. Again, I failed to live up to my promise that I would continue with the haiku train notebook I started a couple of weeks back. I already have three new poems to post here, but no new illustration suitable enough to further express the pain(for the nth time!) I have woven into the words I used for each. 
I bet that the people at the office are thinking that I have used this month's vacation leave to go job hunting. But I didn't. After our manager met up with us and clarified matters, all doubt I have surrounding our current position and the desire to look for a new job was dispelled from my thoughts. Like I said, this job is just another stepping stone. I am willing to give my all to it for two pragmatic reasons: It's what I am getting paid to do, and I need it to continuously hone my skills in writing. I would wait it out until the end of this year before deciding how I would push through with my ambitions next. 
Avatar is a masterpiece. From the story down to the cinematography, everything is just breathtakingly beautiful. It was well worth the 250 bucks I paid for it, even more I think. But as perfect as it is, there are some people out there who disses it. And among those I knew who were so blunt about it is the pope. Based on the article I read at Yahoo last December, he mentioned that the movie condones nature-worshiping, a typical religious practice among tribal groups, hence automatically making it just another sci-fi movie with fantastic special effects. 
I am a Roman Catholic, but I totally disagree with him. Obviously, the main reason why he found the movie to be as such is because the Catholics who came over to Asia were guilty of the same pretense. Brandishing noble purposes of educating and spreading Christianity to what they called savages, they used these as a license to conquer and colonize countries rich in natural resources, including my motherland. 
I appreciate the fact that their supposedly noble purposes had been crucial in transforming the course of our country's history. But it cannot be argued upon that these changes had also caused our country's patriotism and innate identity as a nation and as a people to be crushed beneath the smorgasbord culture brought about by varied influences, as a result of being colonized several times by diverse colonizers, each one with their own differing culture, religion,technology, and yes, that all too altruistic "noble intentions." 
But for all I know, all these may have been part of God's great plan. 
Anyways, past is past. There is no use digging up old wounds. Enough of the digressions for now. Going back to my job, (I really can't keep my mind off it, can I?) I think it best to stay put until I have enough confidence and experience to really launch my solo writing career. As of now, I am but a fledgling. My wings are not strong enough to keep me above ground for long. Nor does it allow me to cover great distances. 
Despite battling my usual lethargy and self-defeating fears, I keep my head up high. My struggle to extract these ideas and give them the form they need to become reality could take up my entire lifetime. That is perfectly fine with me. 
My passion lies in what I do and what I could do because they comprise my entirety. In all honesty, I hold the belief that my existence is all about sharing myself with the world through them. And I can't think of any other way to live, let alone exist and thrive, if I am bereft of them. So...I might as well get  a move on it.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Witching Hour

The last time I've held a brush was three or four months ago. I've been planning to resume my painting this weekend, and start working on the new journal notebook I got from CoffeeBean(after spending more than a thousand bucks for great coffee which is equivalent to 14 stamps needed for claiming the journal). I was planning to turn it into an illustrated haiku notebook filled with, of course, haikus--a kind of a haiku train where the first line of the following haiku begins with the last line of the previous. 
But alas! It's already early Monday morning and I've accomplished neither! I was even planning to relax at the mall yesterday by watching Avatar and Sherlock Holmes, yet I ended up staying at home, playing blasted pc games, and napping for hours on end. Well, aside from these non-productive activities, however, I was able to do something a bit productive--cook chili chicken for lunch?
I can't seem to snap out of this lethargic mood as easily as I want to.The year has just begun and I'm feeling a bit tied and tired already. I shouldn't. By the way, my big mouth was at it again. I have casually mentioned to our officer that I was blogging about the office, and she threw me that negatively alert expression, which I found both amusing and dreadful at the same time. 

Unlike our former colleague, who had really bad-mouthed our bosses to the point of wishing them dead and mentioned the name of the company, I am considerably more subtle, careful, and objective. I only ranted about the uncertainty that we're facing right now due to the current financial constraints. I also voiced out my stress over slackers--colleagues who cheat not only on the company but also on their fellow colleagues by shirking responsibilities whenever they could. I don't suffer sloths and fools gladly. Having people like these around really gets on my nerves at one time or another, depending on how much and for how long I could force myself  to pretend being blind to them.  Yet on top of it all, I never once made mention of a single person's name, let alone the name of our beloved(yeah, right) company from which we get our bread and butter. 
I'm not sure why I had to hint at it. Maybe I want her to know what's going through my head, in the hope that she might be able to do something to address the issue. After all, she's our immediate superior, isn't she? Now that I've started discussing office matters again, certain issues regarding my work performance and the task itself have surfaced once more. 
I've always been scrupulous in doing my job. My desire for literary excellence compels me to put my best foot forward in every single piece of writing I work on. Although there were times when I really feel like puking as soon as my fingers touch the keyboard, I managed to pull through nevertheless, submitting my work on time and without so much as the slightest complaint. I am well aware that there are other writers who are better and far more experienced than me; however, I never give up too easily. Nope. I still have to push further into the limits of my potential. And despite the occasional lethargy, my objectives remain intact. 
But I still can't get the nagging feeling that I am unappreciated. They keep saying that my works are too wordy in spite of my efforts to shorten it or make it more concise. From the way I see it, I've already improved. If long or loosely written sentences is what they imply by "wordy," then they are technically wrong. Wordy is a technical term in writing used for sentences whereby the meaning becomes redundant due to repeated words or additional phrases used implying the same meaning. These are squeezed into the same sentence or in a follow up in the same paragraph. When it comes to writing, drone writers are never permissible to begin with. If we're to write in the exact same style as one another, then how could we possibly produce the best works? The advantages of having a team of writers is the differing styles which allow them to present ideas from varying angles using virtually  the same set of given information. These angles allow more diversity and possibility, giving the creative edge and twist needed to meet variegated demands.
I don't want to discuss this anymore. I'm just going to continue practising and honing my ability. Bend, twist, and break if I must, I really don't give a shit so long as it's for the sake of excellence. Even if I've long resigned myself to the truth that the journey towards fulfilling my dream is a fucking hard one, I'm still not immune to the rejection and lethargy. And these I stumble upon from time to time(good Lord). 
Sometimes, I think that my positivism is just a farce. A foolish show of bravado in an attempt to mask the underlying depression and insanity beneath. But I don't see myself being given any other choice. A few years back, I've realized that there is no such thing as a middle ground in life. Neutrality is just as good as deciding against taking the righteous path.  Maybe is nil. There are actually only two viable choices: "yes" and "no." And each one corresponds accordingly to choosing between living(yes) or dying(no). 
And I have chosen to live because I have something to live for: to share myself with the world. 
If psychology had been popular in my culture, I would not be the least bit surprised if I'm diagnosed as manic depressive-- the uncontrollable high that drove me to paint and write poems or whatever unrelentingly during many a sleepless night, the burning desire to create without so much as a thought about time or appearances, and the vivid dreams whose details haunt me long after I have waken. All these eccentric tendencies, which I desperately tried to keep secret, made for quite a confusing yet interesting mix along with that insatiable desire to forge on and on and on--a mad energizer bunny running high on emotions. 
Ever since, I have defined that burning fire that drives me to do as I should, as a voice far more powerful than anything that it simply can't be dismissed no matter how hard I try. When it hits, it does so without a thought or care about anything and everything. Like a raging bull, it just charges, rams, and tramples on anything that gets in its way. It just possesses me. And when it does, I gladly let it, knowing and believing that it is the hand of God at work in me. 
Fortunately, the magnanimity of my God-given talents did not go unnoticed. Even if I have yet to be fully appreciated by the eternal stranger whose heart has always been beyond my reach, my old man, I've already been accoladed by other people, artists and non-artists alike. Yet  through it all, I am still dissatisfied. It wasn't too long ago, after having immersed myself in the corporate environment where supposedly sane, normal people thrive, that I realized how low this fire has been burning in me. 
However, these days, I don't think I'm doing enough to make it burn higher and more brightly as it used to. Have I achieved some kind of normalcy? I don't think so. But nevertheless my passion and drive is burning low. It would never die and is not on the verge of dying, but it's burning low. 
I know I can't go on like this lest I change my mind and decide to just get swallowed up by the void, the drone-like existence(need I say intellectually numbing?) prevailing in reality. Nope. Never. I still choose to live. And to do that, I must find a way to get that fire burning high again. 

Monday, January 11, 2010

Losing Respect...But

Just as I was getting comfortable, I felt the urge to leave again. The bubble of respect in which I have encased myself for quite some time now has burst. As the underlying secrets began to unfold before me one by one, I felt myself gradually losing every good expectation or attribute I had associated with.... At first I thought I had lined myself up with distinguished people--hard-working, talented individuals, worthy of being emulated for their passion and dedication in their work. I had toiled scrupulously so as not to lag behind them, thinking that they were deserving of esteem and admiration for their intellectual prowess, honesty, and credibility as... But what started as a tiny, excusable crack made by one slacker was followed by another, lengthening the crack, making it bigger and longer still that it wasn't long before it split  in every direction, forming a complicated web of hairline cracks that became more pronounced as the days wore on. Until the day finally came that the whole bubble was nothing more than a deplorable orb swathed in cracks, leaking throughout, trembling from the pressure of unanswered questions and bottled emotions that accumulated on top of the already thinned respect which had built it in the first place. Then as expected, it burst. Just like that.
Oh, well...But hard times demand for practicality. Emotions, no matter how overwhelming, would not pay the bills or feed my family. I must not be too hasty. I have already learned from experience the importance of balancing reality with my idealism. Emotional as I still am, I know better now than to let my heart override my reasoning. Pain has been an excellent teacher. After having been humbled and bent this way and that, I can say to myself that I have now mastered containing the destructive side of that creative fire which fuels me as an artist in both the visual and literary sense. Furthermore, I have learned to transform its destructiveness to something constructive and advantageous. Something very substantial and concrete that I can use to forward my ambitions. But...
For now, I am biding my time. Better to focus more intensely on sharpening my literary skills than entertain thoughts of working elsewhere...after having given my resignation that is. What do I care about slackers and cheaters? It isn't my duty to salvage their sorry asses. At their age, they should already know what consequences await them. I can be very selfish, too. However, I would use it because I love myself. And because I love myself, I would never want to see myself get swallowed up by my own frustrations and disappointments. So...
I would keep my silence and move on, as though I am still oblivious to what is going on around me. As though I didn't care. If they do not give a damn about their reputation that they wouldn't lift a finger to resuscitate themselves, why should I trouble myself? We can remain friends. After all, their attitudes towards their work is totally separate from how they truly are as friends or even just acquaintances for that matter. And...
Life goes on. I move on. They move on. We plod on as we stay in the imagined safety of our separate little worlds, apart from each other's idiosyncrasies and whatever. And now that this ranting is over, I continue with my journey for which I am fortunate to be required  to extract every ounce of potential and energy I've got. 

Monday, January 4, 2010

Emergency Self-Talk 1

There is no telling what would happen next at the office. After the sad farewell last night, as we have learned that some of our colleagues had been retrenched, I nervously anticipate the precarious developments that would take place in the coming days. I can't be too sure about my hunch. For all I know, it could be otherwise than what I had predicted. But the looming dread and uncertainty are no excuses for shirking my responsibilities. Busy as a bee...Busy as a strait-laced, obnoxious, obese bumblebee...
In confronting my boss before our Christmas vacation, he had not confirmed the dissolution of our division that we so feared. But...Can I really count on his words? Haven't they just removed the people whom they have informed will be trained for new positions?
So many fucking questions but not a single answer. Too many possibilities but not even a glimpse of what is to come. And through it all, I can't let the uncertainty overwhelm me. Never. Today is as good as any other day to keep one's composure and sensibility. 
The best antidote for this nagging anxiety and discomfort would be to immerse our heads completely in our tasks. Now is not the time to bum around. Given the delicate situation we are in, we should exert more effort and complete our work to the best of our abilities. But does this messed up head of mine really need such adjustments? Since when have I been a slacker, anyway? In using my good judgement, I think it best to just proceed with my work as I always have. Being a natural tight-ass, this is the best time to take full advantage of my severity and obsession with excellence. I just have to loosen up a bit when it comes to my personal standards. That is the only adjustment I have to make(lest I want to drive myself crazy that is). 
"Just relax and have confidence in myself."
"Relax and sail through the day as scrupulously as I have always done."
"Everything is going to be just fine." 

Keep me in your light
Out of the grasp of madness
Away from the fire

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Return to Reality in 2010

How fast time flies. I can't believe the five-day vacation is over. Tonight, I return to the same reality I have had for almost a couple of years now: the daily 8-hour grind. Wasn't it only yesterday that I was eagerly anticipating the coming holiday vacation? The anticipation seemed long, even torturous, as I dragged my weary butt to the office and forced my overtaxed mind to produce reasonable ideas worthy of being put down on paper or published online for that matter. I couldn't contain my excitement the minute I succeeded in finishing my usual tasks, which became several times more arduous than they are. When one's thoughts have already shifted to vacation mode, lethargy in anything and everything concerning work is expected. But now, I have no choice but to contend with the fact that we would not be having our long vacation for 2010 until April or late March(for drones like me a 2-3 day vacation is long enough). Funny, although I know that I still want to spend a little more time farting around at home, half of me is excited about going back to work tonight. Strange, isn't it? The five day vacation has somehow made me miss my immaculately clean workstation and my stuffed pets(which I used to adorn it) at the office. Also, I cannot deny that I miss resuming the routine tasks that have eaten up a good chunk of my time for almost two years now. Alright then. That settles my post for today. And since I have to wake up earlier than usual, so I can take the bus and save money on fares, I might as well call it a day and turn in. 

Meet Me

I remember having dreams of beating up a child, a little girl to be exact, at certain times during the not-so-distant past. As these dreams unfolded, my emotions would be extreme. Usually, I was filled with rage and sadness at the same time. Each slap and kick would be accompanied by my nerve-shattering shrieks of agony and anger. The girl's body reacted in accordance to my blows, but her countenance remained passive. She would not do so much as to even blink. All the while, she would just stare at me with those large expressionless eyes. At times the dream would be too graphic and brutal that the white dress she always wore would become stained with her own blood, as I spilled my rage at her, hitting and scratching, and tearing off chunks of her long shiny black hair. Yet through it all, she just took the beatings I gave her. Not once did she react, even when she was already pinned helplessly on the ground with me on top of her, pounding at her like a mad woman. Waking up mid-sleep after having these troubling dreams, my chest would heave from the intensity of the emotions that still haunted me long after I have been conscious. The anger and remorse that followed were too strong that there were times I could not keep myself from just crying after I had awaken. I was so sorry for what I did; I felt so guilty and sad for hurting the girl badly. I knew who the little girl was. I knew her very well...but what I didn't understand was why I would be so angry at her. For quite some time now, I don't recall having dreams of her. I want to think that the little girl must be happy now. However, despite my wishful thinking, I still can't get the nagging thought that up until now she still feels sad...

If you could see the girl living inside of me,
what would you say to her?
Would you nod your head in greeting?
Would you shake her hand and say, "How do you do?"
Or would you just turn your back on her
and walk away
As though you haven't seen her
As if you've never met
As if you haven't looked into those large, sad eyes
Pretending she never was there
That no such girl existed at all
And that no such girl could have lived in isolation
Deep inside of this woman you have known all your life
Whose smiling face perfectly contrasts
That of the eternally sad expression in those little girl's eyes
who has lived in total isolation for an insane thirty-three years
Unrecognized, neglected, and unloved
Imprisoned in loneliness as she counted imaginary stars
and told of many a great story that have yet to be penned
Collecting every tear drop she shed for the sight, sound, or thought 
of anything and everything that is beautiful
As she stayed in her forced isolation of shattering silence
All the while praying and hoping that you would come knocking one day
at the tiny door of that prison which held the secrets of her endless universe
And say, "Hello."

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Movie Watching Hiatus Ended

Just came home from watching a movie. When was the last time I've been to the movies? Two years ago? A year ago? Half a year ago? Ha ha my life has been so solitary and silent that I have nearly forgotten the joy of watching movies. Before I headed to the cinema, I spent four hours tutoring my students first. Then, I eagerly took a public cab to the mall and bought myself a movie ticket for the current local horror flick being shown this week. Being the 11th installment of a famous horror flick which started during my fifth year in elementary school, I didn't know exactly what to expect from this year's "Shake, Rattle, and Roll." In the previous years, most of the stories had turned out crass. But last year and this year had been quite entertaining. The one I have just watched had been the darkest so far compared to the other four installments that came before it. Oh, well, I'll just write a longer post tomorrow. I am so tired already. 

Friday, January 1, 2010

Taking Away the Sadness

"Can you take the sadness away?"
While watching "Where the Wild Things Are", this question raised by one of the monsters to their newly crowned child-king struck me. Although the theme of the movie is centered on helping children understand the nature of their passive-aggressive behavior due to their parents' divorce, this particular query is something that all of us can identify with, whether or not we have gone through the same dilemma. Parental issues are not the only  instances whereby we feel sad. When we look at it, there are many aspects about life that do make us feel sad. 
I, for one, have to deal with this seemingly deep abyss of sadness from time to time. As to what causes it, I know of only one answer: loneliness. 
Yes, I am lonely. I have friends and my family but I still feel lonely. Every day as I religiously attend to whatever chore is required in the various games I play at facebook, I couldn't deny that nagging loneliness suffusing my being with every click of the mouse. My profession as a writer and artist requires me to go on alone and use loneliness to extract every last drop of creative juice from my brain. And this is a daily exercise in confronting and using that loneliness. 
Loneliness could have been tolerable if not for the prevailing sadness. But ironically, it appears as if this sadness is such a vital component of my existence that without it I wouldn't be what I am today. I don't want to be lonely but I can't function the way I should if my situation was otherwise. 
So, can anyone take the sadness away?
Yes, but not permanently. Like a ferris wheel, life would never be without its ups and downs. We can't stay too long in one condition, for we risk getting too familiarized with it that in time we are likely to take it for granted. That's one of the downsides of being human. When we are exposed to one facet far too long, we become blind to its reality. Like they say, you can't have too much of a good thing. When we look at it, the same idea also holds true for its counterpart. Maintaining our equilibrium necessitates that we be exposed to both the good and bad.