December 31, January 1

The end of one year and beginning of the next tends to give people pause; it’s a little silly thinking about it sometimes, because January 1 is technically just another day. We were supposed to already be present, not lose sight of our goals, and cherish our loved ones on a regular basis. Still, the slight difference in our calendars tends to make us feel. (I can’t really say the same for everyone else, but in my case, I’m personally both frightened and excited at the idea.)

I suppose we tend to forget our time here is limited, and that’s okay. Sometimes we need a wake-up-call—in the form of firecrackers and horns blaring in our ears, no less—that we are not getting any younger.

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Pushing the bruise

These are three of my favorite breakup movies to watch and rewatch when I feel like emotionally flagellating myself watching a rom-com, set post-relationship. I’ll try to talk about them without spoiling anything.

1. Annie Hall (1977)

Image Image credit

Of course this is here. Woody Allen’s most referenced film is timeless in its insight on relationships. The characters are immensely witty and introspective; I found myself hanging onto every other bit of dialogue long after it’s been said because it’s so relatable that it cuts like a knife. As an aside, I love that they put so much emphasis on the 70′s psychoanalysis trend–so many of the cool scenes (e.g. the classroom scene and the split screen) play on that theme.

He starts and ends with a joke, delivered as he looks directly at you (which is fitting because his character, Alvy, is a comedian)–and I guess I love this movie because, like most people, I need the eggs.

Sample quote: “A relationship, I think, is like a shark. You know? It has to constantly move forward or it dies. And I think what we got on our hands is a dead shark.”

2. High Fidelity (2000)

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I haven’t read the Nick Hornby book that this is based on, but I really like this movie. It’s not so much a love story, as it is a movie on the ruminations of an aging record store owner with too much time in his hands. John Cusack gets gwapo brooding landi to a tee–he is self-loathing and bitter about love, which makes the movie’s narrative delightfully sardonic. One can’t help but see a little of themselves in his hopelessness. I liked Jack Black’s presence as comic relief, although his little dance at the start was a bit disturbing. He seemed to be the foil that offset the protagonist’s glum mood.

Also, A+++ soundtrack, as you might have guessed.

Sample quote : “The making of a great compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do and takes ages longer than it might seem. You gotta kick off with a killer, to grab attention. Then you got to take it up a notch, but you don’t wanna blow your wad, so then you got to cool it off a notch. Eh, there are a lot of rules.”

3. Celeste and Jesse Forever (2012)

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I first watched this while at a bad place with a past relationship. It was the only time I bawled while watching a movie that wasn’t one of the Harry Potter movies. Rashida Jones both wrote and starred in this highly enjoyable film about best friends and longtime lovers who start falling out with each other. The dynamic between her and Jesse (Andy Samberg) really got to me–they were perfect at the start, but then they stopped being good for each other. It all just went downhill from there. I found the Emma Roberts popstar subplot contrived and overly drawn out, but Rashida’s authenticity made up for it. I also love the soundtrack by Zach Cowie and Sunny Levine so much that I had to download it. (I realize that I may be biased because I love both Rashida and Andy.)

Sample quote: “People will let you down, I’ve accepted that fact. But knowing that makes it impossible to be happy. At least it’s fucking real.”

as an artist sketches his muse (napowrimo day 03)

shall we begin with quick strokes, flicks of a blunted pencil,

outlining your slight figure—my saccharine words coaxing

your delicate ego. look at me, old enough to be

your father. look at you—arms extended, as if giving

graces at your feet, in my studio—blasphemous and

immaculate. your naked contours, your virgin forests,

testaments to soiled innocence. it almost hurts seeing

the flames—tantalizing, eating you alive—through your gaze.

what are you doing in here, little girl? what have i done?

recline for me, my million-dollar baby—your profile

betrays all depth—you have been captured, object to my craft.

dead star (napowrimo day 02)

there is nothing new to discover

when we look upwards. Greeks

have paid homage to their gods,

Chen Zhuo has plotted his mansions

in the same sky that connects Cassiopeian pomp with the menagerie of asterisms.

tonight, charting our own night-sky

has proved to be futile. cotton-candy

words spooled to pickup line perfection,

blanket, picnic basket, insect repellant

laid out so we don’t feel the itch—so as not to ruin the cliché.

who is to say that the source of light hasn’t faded without our knowledge?

pull all the right strings, make visible

to the naked-eye all the constellations

that remind me of every schema, every

mental map with the inevitable detour

back to you—even when you are beside me, but no longer there,

when you are lightyears away. i will not be your Esperanza, much less your Julia.

Imaginary Letter to my Twin Sons, by Gemino Abad

Happy World Poetry Day! Not much good at writing my own poetry, but I like reading the genre when I can. Here’s one I remember getting dopamine chills from in first year; I found it by cracking open a Likhaan anthology and turning it to a random page. (Poem copy-pasted from here.)

This brings back bittersweet memories of my time under Sir Jimmy; a lot of ties have been severed since then, and it hurts to think that there will never be the time of day to give them any closure. I watch their lives unfold without me on social media, and it’s sad to think that it’s far too awkward to initiate conversation, or distill all the frustration into coherent sentences, because of all the distance between us. I guess it would be apropos to quote my favorite line in the poem: “I cannot fathom the human sadness that infects our sense for beauty.”

You can check out more poetry-related posts in my blog in this category.


Dear Davie, Dear Diego
I am on an island called Oahu.
Here there are many white people, they are called Haules.
There are also Japanese, Chinese, Filipinos.
I have seen the fields of sugar cane
Where the Ilocanos worked when they first came over.
How poor they must have been and lonely;
No one could follow their speech to their own island home.

There are very few native Hawai’ians;
Their words which are the names of streets and buildings
Outnumber them. “How could happen this be?”
A long time ago, they had a queen, but soldiers came from America
And took away her throne, and then all the land.
Those who fought were killed, and then many more died
Because they did not know the diseases that the soldiers brought –
They were never so sick before on their island.

But it is a beautiful island
Perhaps because nature’s story is so different from ours.
Trees and mountains and falls and beaches are her speech.
And perhaps, because our own story is dark,
We see only half her beauty, and only dream of good will and peace.
I cannot fathom the human sadness that infects our sense for beauty.

Let me just tell you now
About the Chinese banyan tree by my window.
Tonight it is my father because his love
Was like a great tree, but without speech.
Every morning on that banyan tree
Many species of birds are in full throat,
So that now I wonder: would my sons, years from now,
Gather from a tree’s silence my own heart’s affection,
And in that moment know that once, while I made their world,
I had deeply wished, when they shall have left that world behind,
I would be the tree to their morning?

Imaginary Roadtrip

a roadtrip in the subjunctive mood: wind in your hair, salt on your skin and the indelible scent of the one you’ll never get to make memories with

upbeat and summer-appropriate, with just a tinge of wistfulness. there are other downloadables here, in case you want to judge my music taste soundtrip for a bit.


(click on the image to download a .rar of the mixtape)

1. Tourist (RAC)
2. Adventures (Niki Colet)
3. Sol. (Mausi)
4. Holland, 1945 (Neutral Milk Hotel)
5. Camping, 2011 (The Juliens)
6. Eyjafjallajokull Dance (The World is a Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die)
7. Silhouette (Latin Skin) (Seahaven)

update Mar 01 2015 12.12PM: i re-uploaded a .rar with a playable Seahaven track

Smile, Sisyphus

Credit: Darrel Perkins, “The Myth of Sisyphus”

“But in the end, one needs more courage to live than to kill himself.” – Albert Camus

I had to write an uncomfortably personal paper for one of my classes a couple of months back. It involved assuming the stance of a suicidal person, picking a quote from a given list, and explaining whether or not I would kill myself given the quote as context. (It is now exceedingly obvious that said class was Abnormal Psych.) This particular quote resonated with me the most.

The quote came from Camus’ book, A Happy Death (1971). To be honest, I only started reading his works when I saw this particular soundbite. From what I understand, he tackles the problem of absurdism—the conflict within a human being when faced with the stark realization that life has no meaning. I became increasingly interested in Camus’ essay, The Myth of Sisyphus (1955), which centers on the eternal punishment of Sisyphus: He pushes a boulder up a mountain every day, only for it to roll back down again, back to where he started.

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