The Space Between Us

There’s  a difference between loving from afar and loving too close.
They say proximity measures affection and relationships are defined by intimacy and commitment

When you are too near, you can hear the person’s breathing next to you.
Even the sounds that are not of interest, they catch your ears
like how someone snores and that repetitive surprise fart
that is intimacy. that is live performance

When you are miles apart, you define intimacy
by private messages and phone conversations
they are always private and people will always think you have a quiet time with your boo
but in your head, it has an overflowing passion, as perfect as a sonnet

Sometimes some things are beautiful from afar.
I can invent our life together in photoshop, in wonderland
I can’t see pimples nor trace the rough edges of your face.
They are replaced by a flat screen and a smooth surface.

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But as I make a reality check, it is mundane, just like one of the stories

When I pat you on the back, I am patting a pillow or a pet
when my hand is reaching for your hand, it is reaching for a phone or a mouse
when I crack a joke, I can’t hear you laugh
the decibels of your laughter, and the stretch of your lips
are replaced by three letters, LOL
Going to a cinema meant going to a website
Your voice over the phone sounds like the best customer service
Your mass weight and body mass are shrunk into text, jpegs, and emoticons

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You can spend hours staring at the camera, but there is nothing more awkward than staring at someone face to face
I miss the awkwardness
which leads to losing a taxi ride, forgetting our itinerary, losing our cash.
Sometimes I feel like gadgets are living things too, I cuddle them to sleep.

Face to face, silence is a beautiful and meaningful pause.
It is an opportunity to take a deep breath for the arms to extend or the fingers to lock
and for my eyes to find your eyes
There’s a space between us
and between us is a black hole where all the warm hugs, teardrops, and long gazes, are trapped
And the airwaves can only send   “hahaha” and “hehehe”

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Happy Hearts Day to all girlfriends and boyfriends in long distance  relationships! 😀

Photos taken in Sky Ranch, Tagaytay

Detour

It has been more than six months since the day I took a lewindmill 1ap of faith.

Like other millennials, I romanticize quarter life crisis with existential questions, and empowering quotes. Quotes like “It’s never too late to change, to try, to be what you are supposed to be” were very appealing to me. And if you’ve heard that outrageous advice: “Quit your job and travel the world”, you are truly a millennial. I once thought that  that was a good idea but realized  later on that  it sounded too middle class.

I was contemplating hard on my desk.  What should I do next? I constantly felt depressed and I could not focus on anything. I kept asking, “Were my feelings valid?” Perhaps God was just so good to me that he only let me problemitize how was I going to survive adulthood. I did not know what I wanted to happen in my life. I tried all the options I had. I wasn’t complacent at all. It was just that my heart and mind were floating somewhere. I questioned the choices, the circumstances, the philosophies I had in life. Do I want to focus on career? Can I see myself getting married? Do I really want to study? Can I just be carefree forever? Do I want to have lots of money so I can do this and that? Am I productive? Useful? Is this all I’ll ever be? I’ll ever have?

Sometimes the choices I made were quite absurd, such as living alone,  taking master’s degree in women and development, to be temporarily unemployed and the choice to be indecisive and free. At times, it is a choice to be indecisive. I want to keep on experimenting my life and wait till everything falls in the right place. Some people would probably think that I did some pointless and useless things in life.

I am quite fortunate that I had the privilege to make drastic changes in life. I quit my job without any backup plan. I then thought of studying full time while I was still figuring out what I wanted to do next. The first three months after my resignation were a major adjustment. I was anxious all the time.

Minimalist lifestyle experiment was not just an idea but it was a conscious effort for me. Later on, I made an effort to cut down my expenses. Right after  new year, I tried to track my expenses. I wanted to know where most of my money went. I stopped going to the laundry shop, and opt to hand wash my clothes. Back those days, I was willing to spend a lot on food just to satisfy my adventurous palate. I eventually stopped taking food photos for instagram because I was no longer having special meals. Though I miss the comfort of coffee shops, I stopped thinking of coffee shops as best escape. The coffee Americano, worth 50 pesos in the nearest convenience store was already expensive for me. My grocery list became shorter than the usual. The only time I spend a lot on food and drinks is when I am with other people. Was I depriving myself? No, because it was a consequence of the choices I made.

As what I always I believe in, I’d rather be broke than be brokenhearted (cheesy?). No, I’m not yet broke. I am still surviving. What I can’t bear most is receiving unsolicited advice from different people, that I have to answer the existential questions: What are your plans? And what do you want to do? Those were like birth pains after I decided to make a detour in my life –  from a stable life to a more unpredictable one.

I felt like I was immobile not only because of my expenses, but also because I lacked routine and a regular set of people to meet. I then decided I could not be just a full time student. After I enrolled for my MA, I  immediately took the job of an English teacher. I must say it was like a spare-of-the-moment decision, just like all the decisions I made in life but it was worth it, just like all the major decisions I had to make in life. It’s quite odd that my spontaneity was always my compass in making life changes. If I have to be sexist about it, women are just naturally intuitive.

I am enjoying the process of getting to know myself all over again. Teaching English was somehow part of the process though it was not really planned. It did fill in some empty spaces. I realize that even if I am an introvert, I like to be with people. I like to have an audience (how narcissistic!). And I like the feeling that at the end of the day, I have shared something. Maybe it’s a piece of information or just a new word.

I like my life now but I know this too shall pass. I like that I don’t have quiet time to analyze my life, to reevaluate my mistakes and imperfections. I’m pretty sure I’ll have to repair and upgrade my life with career choices, relationships, and lifestyle. What matters is that these changes are aligned to my interests and values. And that these changes are not too far from who I am.  A line of a Broadway song goes likes this : “Don’t lose sight of who you are.”

I also change my perceptions on weaknesses. For me, weaknesses should not be viewed as something to be cured or impairments but these are maps that guide us to what we should do and have in life. It guess it’s part of growing up to realize that I can’t have everything or try everything in life. If I keep on focusing on what needs to be improved, I’ll lose significant amount of time and energy, which could have been used in cultivating relationships and on things that can truly make me happy.

Would I recommend the choices I made? No.

Would I  give an advice: “Quit your job when you just feel you don’t like it”? The problem is not your job. As long as you can find meaning and purpose in whatever life conditions you have, then what you have is a well lived life. Fighting for your principles such as fighting for your country or women rights per se are indeed noble but fighting for your family and living for your family are equally worth fighting for.

Would I recommend to quit your job and experiment? If you have a lavish lifestyle that you can’t just give up, no. Though I did not have a backup plan, I was quite prepared. I had foreseen that I was going to be anxious and restless.

As long as you are accountable and responsible for the decisions you make, you have the right to do so.

Live your life. It’s your life. Define happiness in your terms and conditions.

Inner Selfie and Imaginary Audience

fb userDo you have friends in Facebook who regularly post photos of themselves? Does it starve you staring at Instagram photos of your friends’ meals? Do you want to hide someone in your wall  because s/he occupies your news feed? Do you like to believe that you don’t care about the new car, new shoes of your friends  posted in Facebook? Do you wonder why this person has to broadcast every detail of his day including the place he checked-in with Google map attached? At times, these people can be very annoying. But wait, you can be one of the self-centered, self-absorbed, self-conscious people. As I believe, each of us has an inner selfie waiting to be unleashed.

Everybody is using social media for self-promotion. If you like to sell a product or service, make a Facebook page. If you have an idea, share it. If you have a show, promote. If you have a talk, invite. If you support a cause, inform. Sometimes, it’s funny when we talk about ourselves as third person. If you are a performer, you might tweet: “I am going to perform this Valentine’s Day, catch me in Music Museum.” If you are a motivational speaker, you might tweet: “I’ll be having a talk on How to Improve Your Life. See you in Cebu.” Even FB wall status encourages you to use third-person voice. Jackie Bello is listening to Mozart. Jackie Bello is feeling loved. We become our own publicists.

Whether you share news articles or state a political opinion, it is your inner selfie who wants to be relevant. Even if you use alias or pen name in your blog, you are still making yourself important.  You believe your thoughts, your life events, are worth publishing online. Whether you rant and write your depression in life, you are aiming at an audience whom you assume will understand you. And this imaginary audience that you subconsciously think of before you upload and update, includes your peers, high school classmates, new-found friends, acquaintances, the guy you met online, the ex of your ex, your future mother-in-law, the people you admire, the last person you just gave your business card, the people you envy, the  people you hate, and others. Imagine a big cyber crowd is waiting for an update of your life. This is what your inner selfie has been whispering to your head. In real life, we don’t like stalkers but when we are online, we like stalkers. We build a fantasy that we are celebrities. And I plead guilty.

Hence, I appeal to the general public: do not judge the selfies. Do not complain about  their prominent presence online. Do not complain about the number of photos they have, wearing the same outfit, same hairstyle, same lightning. Yes, they are in love with themselves but I prefer them over people who type negative comments in Youtube, who backbite online using blind items in their wall status, who share disappointment and anger over traffic, weather, and over anything else. We just need some positive people around. Besides, we have a fair share of narcissistic moments online. You and I are guilty.

I initially want to conclude this by saying: “Choose what you share online. Evaluate if it’s worth sharing. Sharing is good.” But in the internet world, sharing is not very different from bragging. What do you give when you share a selfie photo? Will it brighten someone’s day?  Or will you make a bad impression by showing how idle you are? What will people get when you share a photo of yourself?

Entertainment, I guess.

We live in our imagination.

Here are a few lines from Vanesa Hidary, in her piece, Forever Beautiful till I Saw You on Facebook.

You see there is  an amazing place in my brain called my imagination. And even though it might have me delusional and have me think that my recent love is home miserable by my absence. I’d like to live in that place… It’s so ridiculous I know to not know things when you actually can. But  like the busy signal sometimes I just like to be unavailable to be reached.

This will not end without a selfie photo.

sample selfie