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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

YGRT
































as soon as i could bore the littlest hole in my strenuous schedule, i will tell you why this is such an awesome book. in the meantime, the suggestion is disguised as an entry title.

You Gotta Read This

Saturday, June 20, 2009

THE ART OF LIFE

My friend Mark, a Eucharistic Minister from Church, had given the Host to hundreds, if not thousands, of communicants but this credential did not prepare him for the occasion. It happened one gorgeous Saturday morning in May when little girls and boys in white attires beamed in their quest to fulfill the next Sacrament in their young lives. Little Andrew stood before Mark, his shy tongue sticking out for the grace, but Mark just looked at him and appeared lost. The truth is, he wasn't; he was just hoping for intercession that his knees did not turn to jelly which would have folded him like a piece of cardboard. Mark was so joyfully overwhelmed by what he was seeing - little Andrew as virtue personified - that it took some prodding from the Minister standing next for him to give the host to the waiting tongue of little boy already. But everyone understood. It was Andrew's First Communion, and he was Mark's 12-year old son.

A lot of things and people and events in life come and go but some, while a little less common than others, happen to strike us like a bolt of golden lightning that move us to a stupor of great scope. It could be a matter of newness of the experience, or has something to do with our relationship towards the deliverer of the experience, or however we look at it it is just beyond explanation - we simply feel it with new heart, see it with new eyes, and it makes the occasion our own version of Adam's in the Naming of the Animals. The great Ralph Waldo Emerson hits it in the head when he said that the art of life has its own pudency and will not be exposed; that nature, like books, belong to the eyes that see them. Which means that while one occasion may be mundane to others - the occasion leaving the person the same way as it greeted them, nothing gained, nothing lost - the very same occasion may mean to others as the secret key to levitation.

My sister D had been to many places and had herself immersed, even if momentarily, to hundreds of cultures, but she could not get over the experience of witnessing the ceremony surrounding the formal incineration of a tattered American flag. The simplicity of sacredness, to her, was simply breathtaking. The young boy in Arthur Miller's Bulldog comes home after having sex with an older woman and starts playing the piano. He never knew how to play it before, but plays it nonetheless with notes that must have been snatched out of the air, with a melody so magically beautiful that it shocks his mother.

In a previous post I have mentioned about seeing a woman officiate a Mass at St John the Divine Cathedral in Manhattan. I did not know it was a woman, at first. I was by the door and she was facing the altar. When she turned around, directly looking at me, that was when I found out it was a priestess, my first and only time to see one and officiating at that, and I thought her eyes beamed like flashlight, causing me to freeze that felt like an eternity. I swear, too, in the divinity of Fr. Mother, that I moved an inch above that holy ground.

Ahh, my moment's monument, I found the secret key to levitation.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

MY TEN GREATEST BOOKS

...in their order of greatness.

This selection is not cast in stone. One day I will read a better book and it will snatch its own number. One day, too, I will explain why these wealth of literature mean so much to me.


Monday, May 25, 2009

ODE TO FAVORITES

Sinusulat ko itong post naaalala ko ang pamangkin kong si Ann. Bata pa si Ann pero super-organized na, wehehe, siguradong di nagmana sa Tito nyang disorganized ang buhay. Tuwing mag a-out of town si Ann (halimbawa maga-attend ng summer camp), hindi sya basta basta mag-eempake. Kung ako yun, ganto ang plataporma ko sa pagta-travel: ano man ang maispatan ng mga mata kong bored, isasaksak ko na lang sa maleta, quesehodang wala syang paggagamitan sa aking lakarin; syete, magtatagal lang talaga ako sa pagpili kung anong libro ang bibitbitin ko (mga kalahating oras na pagninilay-nilay!)

Si Ann, on the other hand, ilalatag nya ang mga damit sa kama, pipili ng mga damit at pants na magkakabagay, tapos tatapunan ng underwear para maging isang set, tutupiin ng maayos, tas ihahalera sa maleta batay sa araw na ito ay susuotin (ang set na ito pang-Lunes, ito pang Martes etc etc). In other words, kung ang camp ay Monday to Friday, yung pang Monday na attire ang nasa pinakaibabaw ng maleta, at yung nasa pinaka-ilalim ang kasuotan papauwi ng bahay.

Hay buhay. Magaya nga itong si Ann. Tutal Memorial Day ngayon (casually, though not technically, considered 1st day of summer) at kung saka-sakali makapag summer travel, maisalansan nga din ang mga susuotin ko batay sa magandang kumbinasyon ng mga paborito kong t-shirt at cap. Ayann, eto sila, kaya kahit iisang nanggigitatang jeans lang ang dadalin ko, at least, pag suot ko ang kumbinasyong shirt at cap, ang tanging masasabi sa akin ni Ann ay Wow Uncle C, you got an attitude!





























































Monday, May 04, 2009

WITH APOLOGIES TO WALT WHITMAN

...New York, itself, is essentially the greatest poem on earth
















































































Wednesday, April 15, 2009

alang bolahan

nung Christmas party namin last year sa departamento ng mga insekto, bukod sa kainan at tsismisan ay meron pang pa-raffle chuvachuchu. 20 kami sa department, 5 ang premyos. ang tanong: ilang katao ang babalik sa kanilang desks ng luhaan?

katabi ko sa hapag yung analyst namin na si d. habang ngumangasab kami ng pasta, sabi nya sa akin, alam mo, c, lumaki ng konti ang tsansa mong manalo. hindi kasi ako nananalo sa mga pa-raffle e, sambit nya.

tinawag ang mga tikets, pareho kaming buta. story of my life, sabi ni d. the only time my name was called in a raffle - dagdag nya - the rule was different: whoever was called was out.

how about me, what's the story of my life? uhm, eto, 2 weeks ago may pa-raffle ulit, pero open na sa buong kompanya. bili ako ng 20 tickets na $.50 isa - ika nga spend money for the cause. nung pagpasok ko ng Lunes, tawag ang HR. c, you got the first prize.

wohow.

eto yung 1st prize, simple lang, tumatalbog-talbog.

Spalding official NBA basketball. pirmado lang naman ng buong Miami Heat.

o, sino gusto one-on-one?








Sunday, April 05, 2009

heaven is a place called key biscayne


















































































































ayoss, di ko alam kung pangilang anibersaryo na ng punta naming ni kumag-utol sa key biscayne para manood ng sony-ericsson (na tawag dati ay lipton open, na naging nasdaq 1000, pero ang dapat talaga sa kanya ay key biscayne open). ayann, kinodak (or accurately, ikinoolpix) ko lahat ang mga litratos na yan. isa-isahin natin:

1. pagdating namin nung byernes, 27 de marso (di ako pumasok sa opis, tsura lang), takbo agad kami sa practice court. kita namin dun si sania cutie pie mirza, haynaku, mahabaging chicken tandoori, napaka-cute na bata. dun sa kabilang practice court, kita nyo ba yung nakapulang t-shirt, si gael monfils ng france.

2. unang laro na napanood namin nung byernes ay safin vs hernandez (di ko kilala tong kumag na to, pero may pagka-masokista kasi hinahalibas nya yung bola sa dibdib nya tuwing may unforced error). ngapala, yung kumag sa kanan na naka-cap, si toch yan, utol ko. magaling mag-tennis yan, tsaka mas pogi sa akin.

3. si james going through the motion blake. haynako, ewan ko ba.

4. gilles simon, number 7 in the world. matapos nyang paglaruan si lleyton hewitt, binato nya yung nangangalingasaw nyang twalya sa crowd. ang nakadampot ay teenager na pilipina.

5. paboritong player ni utol, si david nalbandian ng argentina. talo naman, kahit panay ang hiyaw ng mga argentinians sa grandstand, vamo davi!

6. john isner serving against david ferrer. si ferrer ng spain, 5'9. si isner ng usa, 6'9. david ang goliath ang laban. pareho din ang resulta, splondeng si goliath, nagmukang tanga!

7. nakatalikod sa camera (mga bastos, humarap kayo!) sina julien benneteau at jo wilfred tsonga ng france, laban kina daniel nestor (ngaba) at tsaka ewan ko kung sino. papasok sana kami para manood sa court 1, kaso dumaan sa likod namin si gilles simon, hinarang ni utol at kinausap ng french, ayun kinunan ko sila ng litrato, kunyari friends sila.

8. juan martin del potro ng argentina. parang si lastikman ang pagkakabaluktot ng katawan habang nagseserve kay vasallo-arguello ng argentina din. vamo del po!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

anatomy of distraction

richard and cara are husband and wife, both thirty-four years old, in love with each other, and childless despite years of trying. notwithstanding this seeming void, they remain faithful to each other and their married life is as normal as any other's. then something happens. she is raped by a popular math teacher - a serial criminal who, prior to his capture, was only identified as the reservoir rapist - and with this violent act against her person she gets pregnant.

this is the plot around which michael chabon's story son of the wolfman (from the book werewolves in their youth) revolves, and in the first few paragraphs alone, two ironies from this multi-ironied story are told: the first is that richard realizes what he had been trying in vain to accomplish in ten or so years of intimacy can be achieved successfully by another man in just a few minutes of violence. the second is that while cara's doctors had been previously helping her to conceive, they are now asked to do its very opposite -to expel the fetus now growing in her tummy.

in any other time i could have finished this story in under an hour, complete with analysis of its many layers, with notes flooding my journal of character studies - but i could not find enough focus to do this because ten feet away, in the southwest corner of my apartment where the stereo dwells, cassandra wilson's voice jazzily goes up and down like the rising and falling of the waves. i remember one time i was in manhattan, i was craving for nothing at all - not the hungarian pastries from across columbia university, not the raw oysters from the oyster bar in grand central station - but the sound of her voice delivered live and in person, and yet despite this time allotted to her music by the jazz station, my mind withers and flies back to where it was because

cara decides to keep the baby. she decides to keep the baby for some reason the narrator finds no need to disclose, even if we learn at this moment of one secret irony residing in richard's mind: all those times that him and cara were trying, he did not really want to have kids. double ouch.

and so the marriage becomes sour, the pain growing in him being multiplied by the number of days necessary to make the fetus become a full person, although less sour -or bitter for that matter - is the taste residing in cara's mouth even if she, much much more than richard, is the abused person. and as a reader, i don't know why i get to understand her feelings, her excitement over the movement in her belly and the bulging of her breast. maybe i do, i just do not know what i do not know because

my eyes swell and puff, i sneeze at a rate of 2-3 times every five minutes, and i remember the doctor telling me the other day, "you are this close, this close, to getting a pneumonia" gesturing an inch of thickness with his thumb and forefinger, the other hand giving me the prescription for bronchitis. i blow my nose on a tissue from the box knowing its rightful place on my nightstand. there is blood. another vein may have been ruptured by this constant sneezing. oh well, at least i don't have the pain that cara feels because

she is now ten months and the baby is growing, she hates to undergo c-section as she hates to have the thing end violently as it begun, and to assist in this painful contraction, she asks Richard to give her a natural lubricator that her midwife advised. prostaglandins. "and you've got them", she tells him. "i do?, where?", he asks. she looks down at his crotch and says it's her only hope. and so he understands the prostaglandin delivery, and this thought of entering the cave where a set of bones, a pumping mini heart, a blind creature witnessing his entry somehow arouses him, and she was surprised (i come to think that they may not have had sex for ten months) by his act and uttered, wow!

wow!, really, that's how i screamed as dwyane wade splits the defense, moves left, moves right, and halfway through his leap contours his body to avoid a charge call, and to hell with gravity, he dunks the ball over the outstretched arm of his hapless 7-foot defender.

and then i realize richard is right there, in the hospital, helping cara in her delivery, and as he waits to catch the baby, it goes out, head first of course, and he looks at him straight in the eye like nobody looked at him this way before, and so at this juncture i leave things to chabon -

"The consciousness of a great and irrevocable event came over him; ten months' worth of dread and longing filled him in a single unbearable rush. Disastrous things had happened to him in his life; at other times, stretching far back into the interminable afternoons of his boyhood, he had experienced a sense of buoyant calm that did not seem entirely without foundation in the nature of things. Nothing awaited him in the days to come but the same even progression of disaster and contentment. And all those moments, past and future, seemed to him to be concentrated in that small, dark, pupilless gaze."

wow. as i finish the story i tell myself, if it's good it's good despite cassandra wilson's and bronchitis' and dwyane wade's attempts at distractions, but in point of focus, chabon delivers the goods. in fact he tells the secret, through cara, in these words which we can all apply to our own distracted beings: there is a need to feel composed of our own materials, the need to be shaped by our own hands.

yesss!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

ayan, post

abkdeghilmnngoprstuwy

bow

Friday, February 13, 2009

HAPPY V

Imitation of Christ
by Thomas A. Kempis, translated by Stephen Mitchell.

Love is a great thing, a great good in every way; it alone lightens what is heavy, and leads smoothly over all roughness. For it carries a burden without being burdened, and makes every bitter thing sweet and tasty. Love wants to be lifted up, not held up by anything low. Love wants to be free, and far from all wordly desires, so that it's inner vision may not be dimmed and good fortune bind it or misfortune cast it down. Nothing is sweeter than love; nothing stronger, nothing higher, nothing wider; nothing happier, nothing fuller; nothing better in heaven and earth; for love is born of God.

Love keeps watch and is never unaware, even when it sleeps; tired, it is never exhausted; hindred, it is never defeated; alarmed, it is never afraid; but like a long flame and a burning torch it bursts upward and blazes forth. Love is quick, sincere, dutiful, joyous and pleasant; brave, patient, faithful, prudent, serene, and vigorous, and it never seeks itself. For whenever we seek ourselves, we fall away from love. Love is watchful, humble, and upright; not weak or frivolous, or directed towards vain things; temperate, pure, steady, calm and alert in all the senses. Love is devoted and thankful to God, always trusting and hoping in him, even when it doesn't taste his sweetness, for without pain no one can live in love.


Ang Panunulad Kay Kristo
salin ni cbs

Ang pag-ibig ay maringal na bagay, kahanga-hanga sa anumang hanay; anumang bigat ay napagagaang, napakikinis ang magaspang. Pangko nito ang pasanin at 'wag alalahanin, pinatatamis ang mapait, pinasasarap din. Ninanais ng pag-ibig ang kanyang pag-angat, nawa'y di pigilin ng sa taas ay salat. Hangad ng pag-ibig ang maging malaya, maging malayo sa makamundong pagnanasa, kung kaya't ang saloobing pananaw ay di adyang mapalamlam sa kapit ng kapalaran kundi'y maitutumba ng kamalasan. Walang kasing-tamis ang pag-ibig; walang kasing-lakas, walang kasing-taas, walang kasing-lawak, walang kasing-saya, walang kasing-buo, walang kasing-buti sa langit man o sa lupa; anupaba't bunga ito ng dakilang Maylikha.

Sagad sa pagtanod ang pag-ibig, walang humpay, tulog man ay 'di mawawalang-malay; hapo man ay 'di mapapata; hadlangan man ay 'di magugupi; balaan man ay 'di matatakot; may dingas itong pumapaimbulog, pumapaitaas, paris ng buhay na apoy sa nagningning na tanglaw. Ang pag-ibig ay maliksi, matapat, matugon, masayahin at malugod; matapang, matiyaga, mapanalig, maingat, mapayapa, malakas at di-makasarili. Sa tuwinang may pagpapakasarili, nawawala ang pag-ibig. Ito ay mapagmasid, mapagkumbaba, at matayog; hindi mahina o hangal, o mapaturiran sa anumang kayabangan; ito'y mainam, matimyas, matatag, payapa at alisto sa bawat angking sentido. Ang pag-ibig ay mairugin at mapagpasalamat sa Diyos, pirming mapagtiwala at umaasa sa Kanya, kahipa't kapos sa tamis, dahil kung salat sa kirot, walang buhay ang mamumuhay sa pag-ibig.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

JOHN UPDIKE, 76

...and just like that, the greatest living literary critic my generation had known is living no more.



Friday, January 16, 2009

TRIFECTA

1. In an instant I was awake. The moments of my sleep and wakefulness proceed with the same fidelity as an accessory to his principal. My consciousness and sub, in certain areas, are peas of the same pod. Friday night I dreamt I was with my brother in a mall, and out of the blue a man and woman forced him to join them in posing foolish and making faces before the mall's security camera. I reacted by taking my own slr and zoomed in to the face of the man. The dude saw me and apparently didn't like being papped, so he walked towards me while drawing something from his waist which I figured to be a gun. Before the plot - if not the blood - could thicken, I programmed myself to figure out, pffft, it's only a dream! This, my friend, was what I was saying at the outset. In reality as in subconscious, from the harshness of the streets to the comforts of my bed, my rule of thumb is to shy away from squabbles and arguments where I could not become a better person. I simply step out. I go away. I wake up.

2. I looked at the clock and it was 3:00am, Saturday, or four hours away from the 7:00am alarm set the night before. But I felt so stoned to get up, even to head to the bathroom while my internal sewer mimicked Engelbert Humperdinck, Please release me let me go. My blood was circulating like crazy and I felt completely wired so I tried to reach for something within my arm's length to knock me back to sleep: a mallet, a bottle of nyquil, probably a picture of an ex, anything awful. What I grabbed was a collection of short stories edited by Joyce Carol Oates called The ECCO Anthology of Contemporary American Short Fiction (Harper Perennial, 2008) which I bought 4 days ago but have not started reading yet. eUREKA! with a small e, I knew then that given my current zone I should be able to finish one story and the goddess of sleep could lull me back to lalaland in no time at all.

The story I randomly picked to read is entitled Poor Devil by Charles Baxter, a tale of a couple facing the ugly ramifications of divorce and this situation is so casually played up in an awkward moment when they clean up the ex-conjugal house for the benefit of its future occupants. In a fit of irony they talk about themselves while drinking beer and the tales they tell are to be heard by the other person for the first time, the tale-telling almost sounding competitive, provocative even, like a teaser that says There Is Something You Don't Know About Me. The tension heightens during this conversation from time to time not only by the newness of the tales, but by remarks being said in between, like when the woman tells the man the mere sight of him makes her sad, or when he makes fun of her constant use of "archaic" words. From this conversation we can gather clearly all incriminating evidence that led to the divorce: the couple had lost their fondness for each other. And to further juxtapose this misery and thus complete the story, the divorced couple go to a nearby park where they see a mother and her little child holding hands like a private languange and the woman notes the sense of calmness between them.

3. Before noon of this gorgeous Saturday morning I was already driving around Coral Gables, and no other time in my memory that it befitted its monicker as the city beautiful. I headed to Miracle Mile's Actor Playhouse to secure tickets for the March staging of Les Miserables. There was the Beaux Arts Festival at University of Miami campus which I noted down to visit in the afternoon. The trees patrolling the streets along Coral Way, the majesty of Biltmore Hotel, the early brunchers sipping coffee at street cafes add a little zest to what the counselor might otherwise say, Please, heighten your sensitivity to beauty. Then I looked to the woman on my right, on the passenger seat, with her chin resting on the thumb of her upturned right arm and the forefinger constantly tapping on her nose like an art historian analyzing a painting. I noticed she was looking up with keen interest at the mango trees lined up along the road, the trees showing a canopy of flowers that signal a good mango harvest in the spring. She likes mangoes so much they, collectively, could be her 7th child, and noticing that I was sharing the beauty of this projected bounty, she gave me the thumb's up sign. I put my thumb up, too, and screamed yesssss! yesss! yessss!, none of which she heard, of course, and then I held her hand with a strength she struggled to reciprocate with crooked fingers. And then I headed back to drive her home, and in silence, while holding hands, I knew we were both hoping for the fast coming of spring.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

HOLIDAY OF GOOD CHEER

It was 7am of Christmas Day and I was driving home, all roads empty and all skies gray. The car stereo was playing my favorite Christmas song, What Child is This, sung by Third Day, but my mind was drawn more to the city that was damp and quiet and absolutely deserted. I wanted to scream, Hello!, Hello!, Is this a joke!, Uncle Frank!, Is this a joke! - like the little Kevin who woke up one morning finding himself home alone and of no family, but of course I can't be a big Little Kevin; I had never dreamed of my family to vanish even by way of a joke... and I will not want the scenario of a post-apocalyptic Miami either; the place was just a little too methodical to be apt for doomsday.

I was driving from the hospital. I had to go home and be relieved of my chore by a sister because of the 9am Mass that holy day that I needed to usher. The entire year I looked forward to shaking Miamian hands again on Christmas Day, having spent it the last four years outside the city. Nothing beats the experience of saying Merry Christmas to parishioners while standing by the door of a welcoming Church - every warm handshake seemed to entrap and discharge a sin off my soul, and every contact, I was to learn later, was like holy shock that jolted me off from a slumbering moment of denigration.

At Church, while doing the usual functions, I was thinking how the previous night, Christams eve, was unusual. It was spent in a hospital and holding the fort, and watching each drop of dextrose unto the tube that will later settle in the patient's vein had its own sense of calming quality, like watching an hourglass in a sacred moment of consecrating time.

Three days before Christmas, it was a Monday, I was talking to my mother on the phone. Before I hung up, I heard her scream, Virgen de la Soledad!, which was then followed by a commotion. I had to hurry and find out what happened, and the 3 minute drive from my place to hers felt like all of 3 hours. When I got to my sister's house where Mom lives, she was lying on the kitchen floor, a bump the size of half a baseball on her head, a bruise the size of my hand on her shoulder, and her right ear was bleeding; the fell caused such an impact that her hearing aid shattered inside her ear into a hundred tiny pieces.

New Year's eve we were back at my sister's house, and as we clanged each other's champagne glasses we found no other word coming a close second to our moment of cheer, To Moms!, and each sip of the bubbly was as momentous as each New Year's eve spent with the family. There was a pad and a pen close to Moms as she was sitting at one end of the tabble. The sheet contained scribbles, Happy New year...I love You... Did you need anything else?... and other worthy scribbles which somehow represented some significant communication.

She was smiling her gorgeous smile, belying a world of body aches and pains that would have equalled the fate of a tortured human condition, and she took everything in good stride. This, she must have thought, is the smile of somebody who will no longer suffer the noise of the world.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

FIRST READ FOR 2009


















The Chilean Roberto Bolano rocks, wherever he is now. His Savage Detectives is the best book I read in 2008, and is one of the 10 greatest books of fiction in my long reading life.

Thank you, You, for this literate pair of eyes...