Valdrada, the city reflected

Valdrada's inhabitants know that each of their actions is, at once, that action and its mirror-image, which possesses the special dignity of images, and this awareness prevents them from succumbing for a single moment to chance and forgetfulness.
At times, the mirror increases a thing's value, at times denies it. Not everything that seems valuable above the mirror maintains its force when mirrored. The twin cities are not equal, because nothing that exists or happens in Valdrada is symmetrical: every face and gesture is answered, from the mirror, by a face and gesture inverted, point by point. The two Valdradas live for each other, their eyes interlocked; but there is no love between them. 
"Cities and  Eyes," Invisible Cities, Italo Calvino


The Perks of Being a Wallflower and my manic pixie (younger) self

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is such a good barkada film. I want to be friends with everyone Charlie made friends with, i.e. "trip" with Mary Elizabeth, talk about boys on random dates with Patrick, go to gigs with Sam.

The movie reminded me of Almost Famous, perhaps because they were both coming-of-age films and music played a crucial role in the re-shaping of the main characters' lives. I saw Almost Famous when I was younger though, i.e. I had just begun college, so I empathized greatly with the coming-of-age-feel of the movie: I was looking for my own heroines and manic Pixie girl Pennylane became, for quite sometime, the epitome of free spirit I had wanted to be. She was a proud groupie. She loved bravely. Plus, I was also trying to "discover" 60s-70s rock music and hippie culture then and Almost Famous was shown when the hippie era was relatively unexplored and not too cool yet (it was the pre-hipster period).

Manic Pixie Girl no more
Watching TPoBaW 12 years after Almost Famous provided an unanticipated evaluation of what happened to the projects Music/Hippie-ness & Manic Pixie-girl-slash-groupie I began when I was 18 and just starting college:
1) The music were ones I already like and have heard of (that's also thanks to the more contemporary playlist) 
2) I'd rather be manic Pixie-girl Sam (played magnificently by Emma Watson)'s ate and friend than her.

It's like seeing Paul Rudd play the teacher: an affirmation that I'm a lot older now, haha. I still love Pennylane's character, would hug her were we to meet in the fictional world and tell her how I did learn to love stupidly and bravely at the same time and take on life somewhat like she had, but I have other heroines now. And I think if I tell her this, she would say she understands where I'm coming from and tell me she knows what I mean. Then we would exchange knowing looks and trade stories about those trips we took, sometimes intentionally, other times because we had no choice, that forced us to stare at ourselves long and hard while asking "What the fuck is wrong with you?" and then learning to forgive and accept who & how we are, and then getting on the bus/ the route/ the journey again, stumbling/learning/struggling/practicing this notion of self-love, and then have a silly laugh and say, "Those manic pixie girl days were fun times, right?"

I know that had my Pennylane-adoring me met Sam earlier, she would probably feel like she found a new bestfriend. To her I'd say Sam is right, things are gonna be better or at least, it could be better if you allow it to. Then I'd tell her to be excited. Knowing the younger me, she'd probably get so anxious and a little scared. I'd tell her it's going to be real, affecting, and world-&-self-changing but oh-so-worth the ride, she should stand up, embrace the uncertainty, and wave her hands in the cold air like Sam does in that tunnel scene.


What it is.

Love does not begin and end the way we seem to think it does. Love is a battle, love is a war; love is a growing up.
James Baldwin in The Price of the Ticket: Collected Non-fiction, 1948-1985 (via Brainpickings) 

Looking back and pushing onwards

Window, Penang 2012
I'm a little late in posting about 2012. Let me just say it was one of those years where a lot of learning was done, some still ongoing to this day. In contrast to those years where one lives out the questions (Rilke), 2012 seemed to be a year for living out the answers -- where answers don't always lead to heaving sighs of relief or keeping the heart spared from heartbreaks. While those heartbreaks did lead to more questions, they also forced me to look at other options.

So early on in 2012 some dreams were broken, but along the way new ones were created. Clarity came dressed in poetry (Mabi David's You are Here and Chingbee Cruz's Disappear), in creative non-fiction (Katrina Stuart-Santiago's Of Love and Other Lemons), in that Tres Marias (Lolita Carbon, Cookie Chua, Bayang Barrios + Cathy Go) gig, in the trips I was fortunate to have been able to take, and, of course, in the countless conversations with women friends (that band of sisterhood with Turtle, Rach, Joelle, Ina, Lira, Anjie, Checo, & honorary sisterhood member Froi). 

Work-wise, 2012 threw a curve ball too. Suddenly, I couldn't do corporate training full time anymore and no local training job opportunities were opening up. I did more freelancing work, like that part-time "journalist" post (I didn't even know you can do that), the (awesome) trip to Baguio and Banaue for Sidetrip, the Pampanga fieldwork to document the best practices of the communities under Mother Earth (the NGO)'s care, and the online teaching consultancy. 2012 placed me in situations where I wrote more in terms of word count and significance. I also learned, through work, another model of teaching English. All these proved of value to my going to Malaysia. 

Sticking to graduate school and staying here even when I so wanted to go home (newsflash: I fell in love) was a decision which is proving to be right. What I have learned about teaching language and all those other intricacies involved when learners try to acquire a second language were gifts, pure gifts. One of the highlights of the first sem was conducting an actual research on a Japanese English writer and writing a paper on his language use difficulty and coping strategies (will spare you from the very technical terms for now). That my professor was quite happy with how the paper turned out felt like an affirmation. It's nice to be imbued with a purpose, teehee.

Love and integrity were the keywords for 2012. Looking back, love and integrity were indeed poured on me as lessons and as rewards throughout 2012. I have those two in different measures and won't let go just yet. In continuation, 2013 will be about passion and consistency hopefully leading to abundance.