Making Room

"When I first met him, I knew in a moment I would have to spend the next few days re-arranging my mind so there'd be room for him to stay.”  
Brian Andreas


Goodbye, R.E.M

Dear Peter Buck, Michael Stipe, Mike Mills, and Bill Berry, 

So central rain, that's how your decision to disband feels like. I'm guessing each of you must have taken the time to process this huge decision before making the announcement. I admire the courage that must be behind the decision to pursue your own projects. Still, we, your fans (no longer kids, struggling to be adults, succeeding in some parts, failing in others, winging it in most places) will miss you. We'll feel sad that the concept that you guys are actively collaborating on something are nil for now. 

Thank you for the past 31 years. Your songs have made life infinitely more meaningful. 

Thank you for producing some of the most beautiful songs I will ever know, with lines like "I count your eyelashes secretly, with every one whisper I love you, I let you sleep,(At My Most Beautiful), which my 19/ 20-something mind understood as the possibility that a great love, the kind that leaves sweet, awkward rhymes on answering machines and one that counts eyelashes, could exist, but which, in my late-20s, I finally understood as a reminder that when one loves greatly, one is at her most beautiful. 

Or how about this line, "Your light eclipsed the moon tonight, Electrolite,"(Electrolite) which is a line I don't think I'll ever tire telling my someone, just because. (Just because you always want to remind them of that great, blinding light within). 

I love the band that you guys were. Trust that your music will never be erased from the ipod and that they'll always be migrated into whatever format music players of the future evolve into, not because I'm sentimental, no, but because whenever I wish to feel better or feel safe or feel home, it's your songs I've always reached out for. I suspect I won't stop doing that. A lifetime of thank yous is not enough.

And all this talk of time, talk is fine. And I don't want to stay around. Why can't we pantomime, just close our eyes and sleep sweet dreams, me and you with wings on our feet.

- from that song of yours that always drives me to tears, "the Great Beyond."


Free falling

You just have to embrace the leap.
... & trust that the Universe is working in your favor - entertain the doubts, accept the questionings, but don't succumb completely. Going after the things that you really, really want, the kind that you only imagine is possible in your best life, will always be scarier than the things you can easily have (and may therefore only be settling for*). The not-so-perfect days are just that: not perfect. Even these are part of the whole. Kanye West actually puts it way cooler than I do: "Everything I'm not made me everything I am."

This morning, a quote from Kierkegaard: 
The greatest lie of all is the feeling of firmness beneath our feet. We are most honest when we are lost 

*Props to Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet and Tweet Sering's Astigirl :) 


Random Silliness

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (May 2011)

The Sun Never Says

All this time
The sun never says to the earth,

“You owe

What happens
With a love like that,
It lights the

- Hafiz



Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.
Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet 

Luang Prabang

One morning in Luang Prabang

Sometimes the whole thing seems unreal. I mentally pinch myself to remember that the backpacking trip did happen. 

One day, I will go back and, again, sit on the road to watch monks pass by, marvel at the quaint houses, stare longingly at river Mekong, haggle with the adorable Laotians at the nightly walking street, talk to the young monks and past monks hanging out at the temple, and, perhaps, take a cooking class. ;) 


Walang kupas na Shakespeare

via i can read

(Speaking of Shakespeare, PETA is currently staging William and my good friend Ian plays one of the leads. Please watch!)


The Burmese & why I'd like to stay there and teach English

I fall in love with Burma all over again each and every time I browse through the photos. Yes, the landscape is beautiful, but the deal breaker is her people. Always her people. I've never met such a warmhearted bunch who just take the punches thrown their way with such grace. One day, I hope I get the opportunity to stay there (3 or 4 months sound like a good idea) and teach English to kids in the community, to the monks.

While learning English is something we take for granted in this country, I think it would be of great value to a country like Burma. When you have a government that is perennially deaf to your voice/ plight/ desires/ wishes/ needs/ sufferings, etc. etc., getting the attention of the international community is perhaps one way to improve life for your family, your friends, your community. But before you get help, you first have to get heard.

Like any oppressive regime, the junta has made sure to produce only a small group of intelligentsia. When we were there, we were amazed because almost all the college kids we talked to were studying to become engineers and doctors, but so few were studying to become historians, writers or social scientists. According to a Burmese cousin, there's an operating bias in society that "liberal arts are courses for the weak-minded."

Most of the time, we hear about Myanmar when there's news about Aung San Suu Kyi or if a big tragedy has happened. I don't discount that any news about Aung San Suu Kyi is a HUGE DEAL, but I think Burma and the Burmese deserve more. They are a treasure trove of stories, why aren't we more curious?  There has to be more stories about life in Burma told - the small inspiring tales, alongside tragic truths; the quiet everyday life in Myanmar which would clue us in on how they keep it together.

Stories could be game changers; this we know because we have Noli me Tangere and El Filibusterismo.

From my amateur assessment (I'm not any Asian scholar, I was just a tourist), the ordinary citizens we've met are desperate for the world to listen. This is why I wish that more Burmese would learn English. I hope they could have more storytellers. And this is also why instead of asking you to boycott the government, I'd rather that you go there and talk to them.

But that's me. I have lofty dreams of teaching at a Burmese monastery.I daydream that during the short course of my stay, I'd be able to reach out to someone and equip that someone with enough skills to express himself and write a letter that would improve the life of his/ her community. This is really every teacher's dream, no?


Experiencing Magic

I've been fortunate enough to experience magic in this lifetime. What is magic, you say? Magic is different for everyone. It could be tangible, like a dream materialized, or intangible, such as a fleeting moment you will remember forever. Most of the time, it comes out of the unexpected.

To me, "magic" is when I find myself whispering a thank you to the Universe, a wow, or a now I understand. These are those once-in-a-lifetime events I will one day be telling/bragging about to my grandchildren and the very same things I will wish for them.

Off the top of my head, some of those epic experiences:

Magic from places I've been to
1. Seeing the Bayon Temple in Siem Reap up close for the first time. As blogged previously, Bayon was just magnificent, parang templong ginawa ng may pag-ibig (like a temple built with love). I couldn't help hugging one of the rocks and shedding a little tear.

2. Watching the sun set at the U Bein Bridge. The monks quietly crossing, a few tourists milling around taking photos -- witnessing the life of a very, very warmhearted community at a day's end.

3. Hiking the rice terraces in Batad/ the hike back from Batad to Bangaan. This was a trip that was 20 years in the making and I've dreamed of seeing the Banaue Rice Terraces since I was 7 (of course one grows up & finds out that Batad is the main event in the Cordilleras).

Mountains make me happy. I felt like a girl from a Miyazaki cartoon whistling along as she goes up and down the steps amidst the vast greens (must climb another one soon). :)

Falling in love with taste 
4. My first sip of sugar cane (with my dad; I was around 5 or 6), I knew the drink had the word "sugar" in it, but I remember thinking how the yellow green liquid did not taste exactly like sugar, although it was sweet. Every sip from the first time I had sugar cane was delightful and tickled something within. I think this was the day I became a believer of the transformative power of drinks (a belief that has obviously been applied to alcohol).

5. My first ever encounter with dinuguan. After picking me up from a kindergarten class, Rosie (my yaya of xx years) prepared this strange-looking "black" ulam for us. I was hesitant but trusted my yaya enough to take a bite. The first spoonful spelled out for me what masarap ("delicious") meant. A-HA. I finally understood.

From two sneaky encounters 
6. Kazu's laughter. It was late night in Fukui and I was staying over at my mom's, I was either chatting with a friend in Manila or downloading a show in the living room. My brother Kazu who only speaks Japanese so we don't really talk and spends most of the day asleep suddenly laughed inside his room, emitting uncontrollable fits of hyena-like giggles in his matinis (shrilly) voice. His giggles spilled over from his bedroom to the entire living room. If I can only bottle that sound, I remember thinking then because I knew a year later I'd be back in Manila. To this day I hear it in my head whenever I miss him.

If I could ask for superpowers (I want several), one of the things I'd request is the ability to remember & play in my head the laughter that people make, i.e. the throaty laugh that was Manuel's (my dad), the brave and loud fits that Cecille (my mom) indulges in, Froi's hagikgik, Turtle's loud HAHAs, etc.

Laughing says much about how a person embraces life, don't you think? In the movies at least, how a character laughs is telling of the role he/she plays.

7. A particular first kiss. We skipped some classes that afternoon, and this boy & I were chatting about something mundane (which, I'm sure, felt very important to our 18 & 19 year old selves). The weather was hot and humid, the kind that makes one feel a little sleepy. The details are hazy now, but I remember closing my eyes and then a kiss, and suddenly my world was spinning, it was nighttime, we were the only ones on Earth and I saw the planets align. Yun. Magic.

Magic could happen everyday, but you have to be sensitive to it. An out-of-the-blue text from someone you like is magic, but so is a flash of understanding & respect for what you do from your parents, partner, child. It's being on the receiving end of someone's kindness, much as it is when you are the one extending the generous act. Magic happens to you when you hear a song you so badly needed at a crucial moment or when you get inspired by something you see or read.

My friend Rach tags herself a money magnet (which totally worked for her, btw), and I've been telling her how instead of magnetizing money, I'd rather magnetize giddiness and magic in different aspects of my life now- spiritual growth, creativity, work, travels, and in my dealings with the people that I care about.

I think the coming "-ber" months will be interesting (September included). Bring the magic on, Madame Universe!

Care to share about your own magical experiences? :)


Because chaos is part of the balance

To lose balance sometimes for love is part of living a balanced life. 
Ketuk, Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert

*Turtle, if you're visiting, this one's for you, too. ;)


Uncle Ho at the Fine Arts Museum (Hanoi)

If classical Philippine visual arts in the 19th century was shaped by the Spanish (think Juan Luna, Felix Resurrection Hidalgo and even Fernando Amorsolo), modern Vietnamese art (also dating from the 19th century onwards) have been largely influenced by the French, who put up the École Supérieure des Beaux Arts de l’Indochine (Indochina College of Arts) in the 20th century to teach European methods to the local Vietnamese. 

As with most colonial society, Vietnamese artists have adapted these influences and used it to enrich representations of their own culture, document history, and, more powerfully, as a tool of protest against the very same colonizers who taught them the method. 

One of the highlights of our trip to Hanoi was taking the afternoon off for the Vietnam Fine Arts Museum. If you plan to take in everything, prepare to spend about 2-3 hours there, where you will find sections devoted to Buddhist sculptures, lacquer art, woodblock prints, folk arts, and the modern paintings. 

To me, the Social Realist (SR) art of Vietnam was the main attraction of that museum. These are paintings that depict their revolutionary ideals- the guerilla life, warfare and the everyday tragedies and victories of the community. 

What struck me about Vietnamese SR art is how intimate they appeared. One of my favorites of the bunch was this portrait of Uncle Ho, which shows the leader placidly smoking and sitting amidst a gorgeous Hanoi landscape painted largely in blue. What this painting highlights: the revolutionary leader's accessibility, wisdom, and calm. There's no show of outwardly strength or brute force; there is gentleness, but also strength, the kind that is internalized by the leader and the land. Most depictions of Uncle Ho follow this tradition, whether it be in paintings, photographs, or sculpture. No wonder the Vietnamese love him with so much affection to this day. 

***The Fine Arts Museum is located across the Literature Temple and is surrounded by Pho shops. A very strategic location, especially for foodies and culture-hobs. 


After the Quake

Five straight days she spent in front of the television, staring at crumbled banks and hospitals, whole blocks of stores in flames, severed rail lines and expressways. She never said a word. Sunk deep in the cushions of the sofa, her mouth clamped shut, she wouldn't answer when Komura spoke to her. She wouldn't shake her head or nod. Komuro could not be sure the sound of his voice was even getting through to her.

"UFO in Kushiro," After the Quake, Haruki Murakami

After the Quake was the first book I reached for after a breakup. I had been saving the book for a while, kind of like a wine lover keeping a treasured vino. How apt was the first paragraph, I thought then. While I never pictured I'd be opening this book under a circumstance like the one mentioned, the book gave me something to toast about in the midst of all the rubble. The wine became my celebration.

On another note of over-sharing: I think the paragraph captures how I respond to life changing tragedies events in general. I've never been one to outwardly flail and, as much as possible, I refrain from putting out sad bastard tweets. Please understand that for some people, staring at wrecks is the first line of response. "Stare" and not "glance." This phase usually lasts for some time.

On another note, this book is also where the following quote can be found:

 No matter how far you travel, you can never get away from yourself.

True that. And this I say with much optimism now. :)


A Guide to Siem Reap, Cambodia

Why go:
Experience the Angkor Archaeological Park, eat Cambodian cuisine (very friendly to the Pinoy palate), bask in the rich cultural heritage the town has to offer. Forget any notion you might have about Siem Reap being all backwater, rough roads, etc. - the town itself looks very quaint with French colonial architecture, a French-inspired promenade, and pretty bridges. For a simple map of Siem Reap, go here(For practicalities - where to stay, what to eat, should you get a guide or not, proceed to the bottom of this page.)

You would really enjoy Siem Reap if...

1. Culture is a big reason you travel. Upon arriving at the airport, sculptures like these would welcome you:
A more modern sculptural piece made of wires 
Taken at the Siem Reap International Airport

  • There's a sublime quality to the sculptures you will find in Siem Reap. We went to other places after Cambodia (Laos, Thailand, Vietnam), and I think when it comes to sculptures (which includes items of worship found in the museums, temples, the Angkor complex, plus the public monuments), Khmer (also "Cambodian") art remains unparalleled. 
Apsaras on the walls of various temples in Angkor (Angkor Thom and the elephant temple, if I'm not mistaken)

2. Southeast Asian history has always been a point of interest. If you're one with a scholarly interest like our friend Turtle, you fancy yourself a Southeast Asian geek or are mildly passionate about Southeast Asian history, art, and religion, start planning the trip to Siem Reap now! Through the relics, witness the fusion of the two great religions, Hinduism and Buddhism, and imagine the ancient ways of life in the Khmer kingdom.

3. You love stories. The whole Angkor Archaeological Park is not so very different from a book, only it's 4D. When you're in the midst of Khmer archaeological greatness, it's easy to vividly picture life in Southeast Asia before the 15th century (before the Renaissance!)- the battles fought (elephants thundering down the mountains to attack!), the courtly rituals (dancers dressed like Apsaras - yes, those curvy, bare-chested women you can see engraved in stones above), how myths about their gods were formed, and the life of royalty and commoners, as told by wall mosaics like the one below, which fuses the Ramayana legend with actual events that happen in the kingdom:

A mosaic from a wall in Angkor Wat which tells the tale of the Ramayana

About the Angkor Archaeological Complex 
Just how big is the Complex? It's 400 square kilometers huge. If it's your first time there, we highly recommend allotting at least 3 days. Passes will be one of your biggest expense in Siem Reap, costing $20 for a 1-day pass, $40 for a 3-day pass and $60 for a 7-day pass. Should you fork over the dollars? Yes, because it's worth every penny, especially if you're into culture, history, archaeology, and heritage conservation. In case you're wondering, you can't use your friend's pass because each pass has a photo.

The Angkor National Museum
You can still save a few pennies, though, by skipping the guide and visiting the Angkor National Museum before visiting the temples. A visit to the Angkor National Museum will cost $12, way cheaper than a guide's day rate. In my opinion, a visit to the Angkor National Museum is not only optional, it's essential.

What you can learn from the museum visit: 
  • An overview of Khmer history, dating as far back as the 8th Century 
  • History of the individual temples - which also clues you in on what the major temples are and which are the ones that you have to see
  • Kings that ruled Cambodia, plus the temples that they built, their sense of aesthetics, etc.
  • Elements of Buddhism and Hinduism, which is crucial to understanding the temples
  • See important artifacts, i.e. the Buddhas which used to be housed in the temples themselves. Commit those artifacts to memory and when you start visiting the (now empty) temples, fill them up in your head one by one with the precious objects from the Museum. 
Personally, I prefer to forego getting a guide and go exploring and discovering a place by myself. On this trip, when Lira, Anj and I checked out the Angkor National Museum, it really put a lot of things in context for us and enriched the whole Angkor experience. Our regret was that we only did so on the 3rd day, reserving it after making the rounds. Imagine if we visited the museum first! 

Won't the museum be boring?
I assure you, it won't. As an institution, the Angkor National Museum has funds. You won't just be reading off walls and staring at object displays- this museum caters to all kinds of learners: visual learners, auditory learners, even the kinesthetic ones. The innovative curation is complemented with high-tech gadgets: there are a number of videos & recorded narrations, which you'll have fun utilizing and learning from. All in all, this was one of the best museums I've been to.

One critique I would have though is that some of the displays in the Buddha room were too far up to be inspected closely.

Must-see Temples in Angkor
Unless you're staying for 5 days, it's quite impossible to see everything. There are some temples you shouldn't miss out.

The Angkor Wat 
Back view of the Angkor Wat  

From another angle, Lira's photo
The Bayon Temple
Hands down, this was my favorite.

Getting past the curiosity, it was magical the first time I saw Bayon. I think a tear or two formed in the corner of my eye. :p 
An image of King Jayavarman VII from the Bayon Temple
photo by Mine Ferrer

King Jayavarman VII fangirls

Unlike Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, or Bantay Srei, the thing that makes Bayon very distinct are the stone images. Some say it's of King Jayavarman VII himself, other sources claim it's a combination of the king's image and Buddha. We don't have to go too far to guess that his reason for doing so was to inspire respect and achieve a deity-like status. 

King Jayavarman VII is thought of as being one of history's earliest humanists. He built hospitals, constructed rest houses for passing travelers, and built two more temples in honor of his parents (Ta Phrom for his mother and Preah Kahn for his father).

According to this wiki site, bas reliefs in Bayon portrayed the life in 12th Century Khmer kingdom.

Ta Prohm
Famous for being the site where some parts of Tomb Raider was shot. It's also quite huge and has maze-like features. 

An oft-photographed entryway
Photo by Lira Maranan  

The Angkor Thom 
One of the biggest complexes, give yourselves hours to explore this area. This one has many interesting sections, like the Elephant Terrace.  

Photo by Lira Maranan

Look at the sheer magnitude
Photo by Lira Maranan

At the Elephant Terrace

Lions with butts
See those tower-like structures at the distance? Those were the first resthouses King J VII built 

Banteay Srei

Some people refer to this as the "Pink Temple." It's pretty far from the main Angkor complex and takes at least 2 hours to get to. The structure itself is not as grandiose as the Angkor Wat or Angkor Thom. On the contrary, it's smaller and more intimate- which is why it's worth checking out.

From Banteay Srei
Monkeying around
On the way back, drop by the Landmine Museum created by Aki Ra (a former child soldier of Pol Pot who later on defected) and learn about the atrocities committed by the Pol Pot regime and what you can do to help.

Cultural elements to note (or things we've learned from Turtle):
The concept of Yoni and Linga- represents duality; yoni is female, while lingam is male. Yoni is the source, a place of rest, home or a nest. Linga, on the other hand, is symbolic of male creative energy, or the phallus. It represents power. In structures, the yoni is the base, while the lingam is usually that structure rising towards the sky, i.e. the "tower."


Can you distinguish which is the yoni part of this structure and which is the linga? 
Yep, there are 3 lingas here
How many yoni/ lingas do you see? 

Apsaras. Aside from learning so much about Buddhism and Hinduims, one creature we fell in love with are the apsaras, those angel-like creatures/ nymphs/ celestial beings in Khmer mythologies.

Apsaras can dance very gracefully and their art is the source of their power. In stories, they entertain gods and (according to Wikipedia) take care of fallen heroes.

In contemporary culture, the Royal Ballet of Cambodia performs indigenous ballet with movements inspired by the apsaras. Lira, our dancer-friend, inquired about learning the basics of Apsara dance. According to our tuktuk driver, to learn you'll have to start as a child.

An Apsara upclose, photo by Mine Ferrer
Goof Around
In spite of all the blabbing about things we've learned there, of course my girlfriends and I also had lots of fun taking photos! The joke was that we have amassed enough Facebook profile picture photos to last us til we're 40! Anyway, here were some of our best attempts: 

Our friend, Lira, was a celestial nymph in her past life :D
Mine, whose loyalties to Thailand were, at this point, being questioned

Anjie Jolie, Temple Raider
Me, hoping to levitate

The most sweat-free ways to get there:
  1. Plane, via AirAsia from KL - if you don't mind flying to Malaysia first, this is the most convenient and cost effecive way of doing it, IMHO. Our 1-way KL-Siem Reap ticket cost us around Php2000, booked 9 months ahead of time via the AirAsia website. 
  2. Overland, via Bangkok 
    • A number of van/ bus operators offer packages from BKK or Khao San (backpacker mecca) to Siem Reap, just make sure you're booking a trip with an agency that's reliable. A lot of horror stories about being scammed, being made to pay additional charges upon reaching Siem Reap circulate around the internet. 
      • What to do so this doesn't happen to you: only book online if reviews from other travelers make you feel secure enough. Alternatively, if you have time to spare, spend a day in Khao San checking out the agencies and talking to other travelers/ backpackers who've gone to Cambodia (check out the shirts they're wearing!) and ask them for recommendations.  
Where to stay 
When it comes to accommodations and food, Siem Reap is very affordable. We stayed at Mom's Guesthouse (deluxe room cost around $30/night for 3 people, breakfast included), which has a pool you can use, a pleasant staff, and kept their rooms clean. It's close to several laundry shops, so you don't have to have this done at the hotel. Should you book ahead? If it's off-peak season, I don't think it's necessary. The thing with Mom's is that it's pretty far from the night market, which is where you and your friends will most likely go at night. Taking the tuktuk to get there is an unnecessary expense. 

What you can expect to eat
Food-wise, Cambodian cuisine is really good! It's less spicier than Thai or Malaysian cuisine. Try the amok, their local curriesand fish soup, have a barbecue picnic at the local market where you sit by mats or banigs, and have a Cambodian hotpot (a must!).  

Getting around - do you need a guide?
Many tourists opt to get guides especially if they're only going to be in Siem Reap for a limited period. One advantage of a guide is you can entrust them to come up with an itinerary and they provide you with a great context of Khmer culture. The downside? This cuts down on some of the legwork (makes things too convenient) and I think it can get pretty boring once you rely on them to understand everything about Angkor. I think you can only listen to a stranger for a certain period of time. Three days with a guide in tow everywhere you go? Tsk.

As you might have guessed, we opted not to get a guide - we got a reliable and honest tuktuk driver-with-a-good-heart instead, Mr. Sra Pon. Most of his guests end up becoming his friends. One of them even made him a website, MyTukuk.
Mr. Sra Pon, our Tatay in Siem Reap
Get his services, his contact nos. are in MyTukuk

Getting him as our driver/guide made our stay really pleasant. Proof of how much my friends and I trusted him? By the 1st day alone, we already started called him "Ampok" and "Tatay" (the first is Cambodian term for "father," the latter is the Tagalog one).

Tatay basically planned our route, after informing him about special circumstances like one of our friends only having a day & a half to spend in Siem Reap. He arranged our route in a way that really maximized each day.

Another major plus to Tatay: he knows good places to eat! We just tell him our budget, what we're in the mood for, and he'd take care of the rest. Aside from being reliable and trustworthy, his rates are cheaper than the driver rates offered by most hotels.

In case you're interested to get his services, go to his website. We also took his video, so I bring you the man himself:

There you go, my (I hope) culturally-focused guide to Siem Reap. Obviously, four days were not enough to see everything and we're all talking about going back. If we get another chance to visit, these are things we'll make sure not to miss: 

1. A trip to the Tonle Sap Lake
2. A performance by the Royal Ballet of Cambodia

If you have done these two, fill me in, will you? And if you end up contacting Sra Pon, give him a big hi from us, his anaks from the Philippines.

*Kindly ask permission should you wish to use any of the photos in this page. 


Templates and definitions

There is always one person you love who becomes that definition. It usually happens retrospectively, but it happens eventually. This is the person who unknowingly sets the template for what you will always love about other people, even if some of these lovable qualities are self-destructive and unreasonable. The person who defines your understanding of love is not inherently different than anyone else, and they’re often just the person you happen to meet the first time you really, really, want to love someone.

Chuck Klosterman (via quintessential.)

*What Greenminds and I were discussing today, which included a conclusion of our respective pitfalls.

(After being friends for 10 years, we've seen each other try to float above our waterloos, sometimes successfully and other times not, but as with having friendships you're proud about, I echo his sentiments: eternal gratitude for having friends you can get mindlessly drunk with and forget about being judged, at the very least there's an interested set of ears who'll try to listen, no matter how repetitive your stories have become.)


Cinque Terre - Vernazza by Irene Suchocki
Please check out her awesome photos in Eye Poetry

I love gawking at city windows. They conceal and reveal so much. 


You, as the painting you have studied

Starry, Starry Night by Van Gogh

I want to describe myself like a painting that I studied closely for a long, long time, like a word I finally understood - Rilke

I've been looking at this painting since I was 16. Undoubtedly one of the most well-known paintings in the world and perhaps even one of the most reproduced, its magic is such that I (along with those who make a pilgrimage to the MOMA just to see it and weep in its presence) have never grown tired of it.

Why I found Rilke's lines very powerful: imagine being able to paint yourself with the same accuracy that you would a beloved object. Imagine being able to look at yourself with all the cliched portrayals, the flaws, the weariness brought about by time, and transcend those imperfections to also see color, vividness, and beauty. Now, imagine being able to look at yourself in this form: unflinchingly accepting your cracks and fissures, with the full awareness that you're not just that. Imagine knowing and unapologetically loving yourself this way.

One day, this is a power I shall fully own.


A life of one's choosing

From the Book of Hours: 

I am too alone in the world, and yet not alone enough
to make every hour holy.
I am too small in the world, and yet not tiny enough
just to stand before you like a thing,
dark and shrewd.
I want my will, and I want to be with my will
as it moves towards deed;
and in those quiet, somehow hesitating times,
when something is approaching,
I want to be with those who are wise 
or else alone.
I want always to be a mirror that reflects your whole being,
and never to be too blind or too old 
to hold your heavy, swaying image.
I want to unfold.
Nowhere do I want to remain folded,
because where I am bent and folded, there I am lie.
And I want my meaning
true for you. I want to describe myself
like a painting that I studied
closely for a long, long time,
like a word I finally understood,
like the pitcher of water I use every day ,
like the face of my mother,
like a ship
that carried me
through the deadliest storm of all.

Rainer Maria Rilke

*Italics, mine.