An attempt to make sense of things in a random universe, one Friday at a time.

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Location: Philippines

Leaving my footsteps for you to find and follow, my love.

30 June 2007

End of June

I'm really getting into the habit of reporting what books I finished reading. So here are the books I have finished reading between April and June 2007:
Telling Women’s Lives by Linda Wagner-Martin
Aguinaldo’s Breakfast by Ambeth Ocampo
Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley
Aspects of the Novel by E.M. Forster
Shelter by Jayne Anne Phillips
The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes
Here At The New Yorker by Brendan Gill
How to Read a Book by Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren
The Strange Case of the Walking Corpse by Nancy Butcher
Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark (a rereading)

And here are the books I bought within the month of June 2007:
Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
Possession: A Romance by A.S. Byatt
The Music Lesson by Katherine Weber
The Good Men by Charmaine Craig
Death and Nightingales by Eugene McCabe
Silent War by Victor N. Corpus
A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations by Kate Turabian
Ulysses by James Joyce
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

I seem to gauge my levels of sensitivity and perceptiveness by the kind of book that I am reading. Something like Telling Women's Lives tend to make me a little more secretive, a little more rebellious in analyzing things. Something like Here At The New Yorker makes me just a little bit more ironic, and my sense of humor tends to veer towards the dry. I have just begun reading Possession: A Romance, though, so I'm not yet sure what effect it will have on me. My writing is also very much influenced by what I am reading. For instance, I have written "Tepid Water" years ago after reading Diary of a Mad Housewife by Sue Kauffman, and I have written an unpublished story, my very first, called "The Library" while reading Don Quixote. Would it be an oversimplification to say that I am the sum total of what I read and write? If I were to take every single book I have read and written, would they form the exact same me?

Incidentally, I first began to discuss my reading lists in June of last year, although an even earlier post discussed only my "top fives". Lately my my reading has taken a more serious turn, so it was only appropriate that I would have this pile coming to me.

And now here I am, at the end of June, with yet another pile. With every pile of books I read I open vistas of myself that I have never thought existed. Sometimes books connect with each other in my sensibility, so in my mind there live sagas of peoples and worlds and times beyond anything that I have ever read in one single book. Maybe someday I can find the fortitude to write these stories.

27 June 2007

Why I blog (or, In honor of the quiet)

I have honestly never thought about why I blog, but since I have been invited to contribute a post on QuasiFictional: The Fine Art of Blogging, I have thus been pondering over the question for a few days now.

As all answers go, especially when regarding something as changeable and shifty as blogging, my answer is not definitive, but works for the meantime. I blog so that people can bear witness to my quiet victories.

See the full post here.

23 June 2007

On shedding skin

This long, thin photograph on the left is a resized screen grab of my entire blog, from beginning to May 9th. That's approximately seventeen months of blogging right there, sixty-three posts in all. My blog may very well have been the only one-page blog in the blogosphere. I've always had the links to the monthly archives in the sidebar, but up until now, if you scrolled down, everything was right there, on the first page, all my posts in full. See how long it has become.

When I first viewed the entire photo on one single screen, it looked like a road, very straight and very narrow, not at all like how I have lived my life for the past thirty-one years. No life can ever be completely straight and narrow through and through. No person could ever not make mistakes, not change, not waver. This is partly why bloggers change blog skins -- and even blogs -- seasonally. They know they have changed; they know they have moved on.

I, on the other hand, save for adding more data to the sidebar, am still using the exact same template I signed up with. It's not that I have not moved on, it's just a matter of sticking with what feels comfortable. I have grown into this skin. Or rather, it's this skin that has grown into mine. I've liked it from the first time I saw it, I never felt the need for a custom skin, and the ones available out there look a little too fussy. Too many colors, too many fruits and shoes and caricatures of smiling young women, too many overedited photos of people posing, too much dark and brooding themes, too much Lucida Handwriting and Monotype Corsiva. I wanted a classic, a template that had an "agelessly-aged" look, something that would represent me all throughout no matter how much I myself would change during the course of the months and years. I wanted the skin to be constant, immutable; it is the changing contents of the blog that will make the template -- and the blog -- truly mine alone.

But then again, I decided that maybe I can make a bit of a concession. After all, it would be a nice way for me to prove to myself that I do have some html skills and I am thus not a complete technomoron. So I have made a tweak to my template. Although it is barely discernible at first glance, a teeny tiny step when compared to the immense changes always going on in the blog world, it is nevertheless a giant step for me. I have a new background. The old one looked like this:

This new one is actually quite nice, if I may say so myself. It's elegant and understated, dainty, a little more feminine than the old one, has a little bit more dimension, and is a little brocade-ish but not overwhelmingly so. It's just right.

Also, I have collapsed the older articles and am now showing only the most recent forty articles on the main page. This makes the page faster to load, I suppose. The old posts are always available in the archives links. Maybe, in time, I can bear to show just twenty, or perhaps even ten posts on the main page -- and I do admit the idea still scares me -- but for now, forty will do. And as for the rest of the elements, they will stay the same. The skin will not be shed; it has only gotten a new blouse.

Looking at the full blog screen grab again, it does not look so much like a straight and narrow road anymore. Now it looks more like a line that I have drawn, a mark that I have left as I walked along the blogosphere, like walking along a road and dragging a stick in the dirt to mark the path that I have taken. It's a line that I can cut now, now that I know that it exists, now that I know it has made its mark. That blog has had its time. Now it's time for this blog, the same one, but different.

12 June 2007

It does pay to think

Because I have been nominated for The Thinking Blogger Award by Daddy Papersurfer! Which means that I must have made him think in turn.

One late evening, tired of scanning yet another sheaf of drafts, I scooted over to his blog and rather belatedly saw my nomination. I immediately tossed the sheaf of drafts to the floor, and pored over my blog links with gusto, searching for my own five nominees, and alternately thinking about my nominees and about thinking. (Yes, the nomination does that to you.)

But first, the rules, by originator Ilker Yoldas:

1. If you are nominated, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think;
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme;
3. Optional: Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' - you can find more details here - with a link to the post that you wrote (there is an alternative silver version if gold doesn't fit your blog).

Thinking about thinking, though, I could not bring myself to write about the subject, since I have thought too much that I have out-thought my thinking, and now my thoughts are all over the place. (Yes, the nomination also does that to you.) After posting this I need to take out my butterfly net and catch these tiny blue fluttering things again so I can get back to my sheaf of drafts which I'm afraid of tripping over if I don't pick up. So in lieu of my thought-inducing words, I give you these quotes:

The world we have created is a product of our thinking; it cannot be changed without changing our thinking. ~Albert Einstein

Some people do not become thinkers simply because their memories are too good. ~Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

Few people think more than two or three times a year; I have made an international reputation for myself by thinking once a week. ~George Bernard Shaw

Did you ever stop to think, and forget to start again? ~Winnie the Pooh

And now, my nominees. There are so many that made me think, and keep making me think! But fortunately for me, many of them have already been nominated for The Thinking Blogger Award, helping to narrow down my choices to the following:

Away With Words
The Literate Kitten
The Books Of My Numberless Dreams
A Work In Progress
A Garden Carried In The Pocket

Thank you for my golden badge. It is indeed an honor.

07 June 2007

Rinse cycle

Summer is over, and the rains are starting to take over lives again. I take out my rain boots from storage, notice how the laces have hardened from disuse, and wonder if they now come in colors other than drab green and bright yellow. I always tend to frequent places that flood. During heavy rains some parts of Camp Crame and Edsa get flash floods. There is ankle-deep mud in some parts of the camps of the PNP-Special Action Force during the rainy season. In Evangelista Sreet the drainage seems to have been fixed, but A. Bonifacio Street still becomes a shallow pool during heavy rains. Everytime June comes I begin to have the habit of parking my car a little up the street, nearer Evangelista, to keep my car from being flooded everytime there is heavy rainfall in the middle of the night.

Time does not just fly, it gushes down and floods the heart. All of a sudden school will be starting again, and the air smells different. Early mornings bring a fresh and dewy quality to normal early morning routine. Waking up, having breakfast, and walking outside feels new again, clean again, as if everything has just been freshly washed.

Mud and floods notwithstanding, there is beauty in the present. Here is my new desktop to celebrate the coming of the rainy season.

01 June 2007

Oh, to be seven

My son turned seven today.

He has always been a happy baby, and he is still the light of the house today. He's just a little bit grumpy most mornings, especially when he has to wake up early for school, because he takes after my habit of staying up late (I to read, him to take apart his toys and put them together again). He laughs everytime he reads Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and sometimes, out of the blue, he tells me about spaceships. His favorite computer game is from Disney Channel, one where two players are in a kitchen and throw food at each other. Sometimes, too, he texts me gibberish, just for fun.

His favorite color is red. His favorite toy of the moment is the cheap and tiny Spiderman action figure that turns black when placed in the freezer. He doesn't like wearing slippers when inside the house but when he's outside the house, with shoes on, he'd rather take the long way than step on a small wet spot on the pavement. Once after watching Mr. Bean: The Movie, he said, "Mommy, I like the ending. It's good. It's not happy or sad. It's just good."

When I was seven, nothing was sad, many things were happy, and everything was good because they were just so. My son's lifestyle is vastly different from the lifestyle I had when I was seven, but I always hope things are good for him. I've never been so anxious for a seven-year-old's opinion. From what I can see, though, things are okay. Things are not perfect, but they are just so, and more important than having the habit of going to bed at the right time is having the habit of finding things to be happy for. My birthday wish is for him to have that habit.