She knew the language of the sea. She could converse well with the sighs of the waves. Like a chameleon, she could change her skin and become another woman. She was a reptile. Her skin tasted like salt and lost adventures. She knew the secrets of the sun, carefully decoded them. She should know – she was born on a summer day.
The universe was drawn to her. The flowers, grasses and trees – they all responded to her, felt her. She was a scientific pantheist. She was a river, satisfying the thirst of the earth, purified it. She was the wind, breathing out life. When she was a little girl, her father said she was born a seahorse. She was a seahorse or anything she wanted to be. She was nature, nature was her. She revered the universe.
She was drawn to riddles. To things that she could not decipher. Mathematical equations. Housewives who allowed themselves only to be defined by an American English dictionary. House + wife = a compound noun. They are not just housewives, but they’re women, mothers and adventurers. So-called science fiction movies defying science. People who made religion a circus of some sort. And men. Articulate men who could not fake orgasms, only diction and emotion. Men who feed on women’s souls.
She was the epiphany. She was the epiphany of her characters. She was the creator, her characters glorified her. She cried and shared victories with them. Sympathy and empathy. She wasn’t too literary but literature was her catharsis. Literature defined her, purged her. She adored Amy Homes. She envied her passion, her skill to weave thoughts and shape her characters, words, and stories to achieve sublimity. She found respite in every structured and unstructured lines, metaphors, and rhythm. She was poetic, but not quite.
She was the antithesis of parallel thoughts, ideas. Theoretically. Hypothetically.
The Dota player peeled off his dirty socks, too focused on his computer’s screen that he forgot everything about your plans tonight. You wanted to be angry. Perhaps nag. Scream at his face that you couldn’t just cancel plans. You didn’t do your perfectly shaped eyebrows for nothing. But he was good at playing dead. He knew when to play dead and when to attack. You could be angry for hours. But he mastered the art of patience so he would patiently wait for your apology just as he patiently waited for his heroes to be resurrected. After all, you were matured enough to realize you shouldn’t be angry at online games or canceling plans for the fifth time this month. It would be a real struggle to be annoyed at him for a long time, especially when he looked so sexy without his shirt on. Damn.
Don’t fall in love with a Dota player. He knows how to play Dota. Obviously, he has suffered loss and defeat. It would be difficult to break his heart. He has survived heart aches each time his favorite heroes are killed. He knows how easy it is to spawn them. He is unbreakable. Your childish actions and lack of compassion (sometimes) are nothing compared to the struggles he needs to face in battle – searching for escape routes, making sure he doesn’t run out of mana and doing combos and micros while engaging in meaningful conversations with you.
You can argue about Captain America‘s abs or destroy his religious beliefs. You can be heartless but he knows the spells he should use to calm your bitter soul. As a Dota player, he has deadly ultimate skills and he is good at quick calculations. He knows how easy it is to kill a hero by doing a quick estimate of the damage output whenever he attacks enemies. He can teach you to be strong but he alone makes you vulnerable, unless if you’re Akasha, the Queen of Pain.
He can identify the errors and mistakes in your relationship. And that is every woman’s weakness – to be with a guy who knows how to apologize. His mind is always alert. He is a strategic player and he will continue to find the best tactics to captivate you. You are his main target. He sticks to his target; he can endure your whining and your nonsense complaints. His feelings are like hieroglyphics – it takes a lot of time for you to finally decipher them. He will make you fall so deep it will be difficult for you to let go.
He knows your strengths and weaknesses just as he knows his heroes’ skills and abilities by heart. You are his Omniknight. He will not get tired of chasing you halfway around the world. He is obsessed with the idea of chasing you. He likes endless chasing games. Like his Omniknight, he can use his Degen Aura on you to prevent your escape. After all those disturbing fights, he may not let you run away. But it is not going to be easy. Unconsciously, you are his Guardian Angel providing immunity against any damage. His Omniknight has the ability to lessen the damage of an enemy’s physical attacks – he can deal with any type of emotional damage your relationship has inflicted you while you suffered the consequences of staying with him. But you want to stay because he is the only one who seeks the secrets maps of your soul.
Do not fall in love with a Dota player if your heart is masked with dread and doubts. Fall in love with a Dota player when you finally learn to be FEARLESS.
You are trapped in a black hole. You like to listen to Matchbox 20 because the songs remind you of your ex who is obsessed with Mars and constellations. You wait for the stars because you want him to listen as you passionately tell him the stories of the constellations in your own terms, how the universe gave birth to millions of stars guided by gods, arguing the flaws in his hypotheses. You know he would be half amused. You despise the fact that he can clearly explain what parallel universe is yet he cannot explain feelings, the death of love and the sudden death of your stars. Constellations failed to interpret your pain.
And you struggle to move on.
So how do you really move on? Let me count the ways:
Forget being an indoor person. You’ve mourned for the same person for a week. Perhaps after a week or two, you will mourn no more. Reconnect with your old friends and enjoy long distance backpacking trails with them. Get busy buying new trekking equipment. The long walks might remind you of your walks together, of those fights that were never left unresolved and his sweaty palms that you strangely find sexy. But none of those memories matter anymore. Like the stars, they’re dead.
Enjoy the sunrise
Feel the wind
If you’re living within Davao City, here are some hiking routes you can check out:
Mt. Hamiguitan (San Isidro, Davao Oriental)
Mt. Puting Bato (Samal Island)
Go to the Gym
Exercise can heal a broken heart. Physical pain is the best distraction. Besides, being in a new crowd of strangers is therapeutic. You can do yoga to relax your mind. Or you can try boxing if you find yoga boring. You will have a sexier body, good mental health and new gym buddies. And you will start to build your confidence. Breakups can lower your self-esteem. You tend to doubt your self-value. The best part is you will learn to rediscover yourself.
Find a gym buddy and motivate each other
Throw away your old heels and buy a new pair of running shoes
Have a Personal Project
Get yourself distracted. If you are into photography, make a portfolio of the pictures you’ve taken. Or you can change something in your bedroom. Check some bedroom decoration ideas or home renovation tips online. Repaint your room. Find some DIY projects on Pinterest. Learn a new skill.
Other personal project ideas:
If you love playing the guitar or drums, find other musicians and form a band. Create an album.
Write a poem. Experience catharsis. Or write a book.
Go on a significant trip. Refresh your mind.
Read books related to gardening and landscaping ideas
Try New Restaurants
Good food can feed a broken soul. Try visiting some restaurants near your place. Most girls are comforted by sweet words and foods. Guys heal their hearts eating grilled meat with different types of barbecue sauce. We have our own coping mechanisms. Our love for food is in our system. Every bite provides a sense of peacefulness and satisfaction. Unsurprisingly, good food is way better than your ex. (No arguments from Sheldon Cooper).
Like the constellations, you are visible yet imaginary. Unlike the constellations, you are fragmented; disconnected.
You are not a constellation
Going to the gym for the first time is like wearing your new shoes, you’ll get blisters. Having blisters is no fun at all but you’ve paid for the item so you have no choice at all but wear them. As for me, I’m glad I conquered my first day.
So far, here are some of the things I’ve learned from being a gym virgin:
- Thou shall not let the heavy equipment intimidate you. Think of them as little objects, only that they’re heavier. I used to be a freelance writer and had the chance to write articles about exercise and gym equipment so I’m a bit familiar with the leg curl machines, elliptical trainers, and chest press machines. But seeing such equipment moved before my eyes made me feel intimidated. My first day was actually fun since I was with a childhood friend so we could help motivate each other. Well, I was heartbroken and thought that the best way to fight the heartache was to suffer physical pain – leg cramps and backaches. I was familiar with the names of the other gym equipment alright but I didn’t know how to use them. So we watched and spent the next thirty minutes of our lives talking about my heartaches.
- Thou shall not let those abs and muscles terrify you. Those six-pack abs might intimidate but remember these guys didn’t wake up one morning and got them without working hard in the gym. Once upon a time, these hot guys and girls were made of fats. God is fair, never fail to remember that. In my case, I let those abs provoke me. It was a constant battle between continuing the program and never coming back.
- Thou shall not expect a hardcore training on your first day. I expected too much. I thought I was going to lift heavy weights, do boxing or maybe do some bench press workout right away. We were too excited we wanted to burn the fats fast. But the trainer recommended some cardio first. The cardio exercise is your constant reminder about your bad smoking habit, how your company profits from your unhealthy work habit – being pinned down to your chair for hours and not having enough chance to do some basic stretches and how you can’t stop nagging about your weight on the social media yet not making an effort to burn those fats.
Your First Day Survival Guide
What to bring on your first day at the gym:
- Towel – because obviously, you’ll be sweating all over and taking a shower after your workout can be refreshing; bring an extra towel in case you need to lie down on those sweaty pads
- Alcohol – admit it, some equipment might be covered with sweat so you better learn to disinfect
- Water bottle – keep yourself hydrated in every physical activity that you do
- iPod or your iPhone – because listening to some really good music is a good motivation; my advice is to listen to some hip-hop workout music because doing exercises for the first time is all about rhythm
- Gym bag / your regular backpack
What to do on your first day at the gym:
- Enroll and have a physical evaluation
- Go to the locker room and change (check the gym’s dress code beforehand)
- Go get some warm-up exercises; if you don’t know how to use the equipment don’t hesitate to ask for assistance
- Meet your trainer
- Take a shower
For gym virgins like me: Thou shall not wear loose tank tops without sports bras especially if you’ve got big melons (unless if you’re there for another reason). I’m a girl and honestly, those big melons and big butts can be quite distracting. I love big butts though. Whoever invented yoga pants know so much about what women really want. Yoga pants are comfortable enough, better than wearing shorts. Shorts might be cute but wearing them might prevent you from doing bending exercises. I wear shorts though. You can wear your gym leggings, sports bras, gym tops or dri-fit shirts and sports shoes.
Here are some of my photos during my first few days of working out at the gym. My abs are there, they’re just invisible – oh well, only those people with good hearts can see them.
Also, another realization: dri-fit shirts can be the best shirts to wear at the gym. I wasn’t a big fan of dri-fit shirts back then. A dri-fit shirt’s polyester fabric helps keep your body dry and comfortable so perhaps it’s the second best thing ever created next to oyster sauce and mayonnaise.
Men can simply wear basketball shorts (or other sports shoes) and dri-fit shirts. Comfort is the key. I wore my skate shoes on my first day and sadly it was one of the worst decisions of my life.
I had my first gym experience in Metro Lifestyle, somewhere in Torres St. Paying 250php for a session wasn’t that bad since the lockers were clean and it offered unlimited classes. Now I’m enrolled in Smashville and so far, everything’s running smoothly. Strangely enough, I still feel like a gym virgin.
Your first heartbreak wasn’t easy. It was one of those broken things you wished you could fix right away. It was worse than a badly written poem or a story without meanings, without forms, without characters. You were hardheaded but too gentle. You were vulnerable.
You resurrected Sylvia Plath within you – yet colder and less poetic. She wasn’t Sylvia Plath. My Sylvia Plath was poetic and creative and sensible. You thought about death often, it’s beauty and how you could end life beautifully.
You were Holden Caulfield. You knew you were about to crash. You resisted adulthood and society. In your ugly little mind, you were attracted to the things adults do – drinking, smoking, sex, swearing, work and paying bills. Still, you felt you were young and you weren’t supposed to feel terrible. Like Holden, you wanted all the beautiful things to last forever. You couldn’t handle pain and suffering. You were convinced they were meant only for grown-ups. You wanted to be a catcher in the rye because you believed that innocence is too beautiful to let go. And you shouldn’t let those kids lose their innocence.
You were too comfortable sitting on your favorite chair. You were too comfortable with old friends, old movies that you kept playing a couple of times in a week and old conversations that meant nothing three or four years from now. You hold on too much – to old things, old clothes and old memories.
You’ve read some books alright but they weren’t enough. You couldn’t write poems because you felt that your emotions weren’t ready. You were too happy. And happiness wasn’t such a good element for you to write something sublime.
Today I challenge you to kill your old self.
Heartbreaks aren’t so bad after all. You’re stronger now. You’re meant for greater things and a heartbreak is nothing but a sad love song. You’ll get over it.
And Sylvia Plath was lovely. She could have despised you for being less poetic. She could have despised you when you stopped writing. You can do all those squats while trying to remember the first lines of “Daddy”. You can be healthy and poetic, there’s nothing wrong about it. And yes death can be sweet but living is sweeter.
You are Holden. Learn to accept the fact that you cannot change the world. Changing the world is too elusive. The world is cruel, learn to live with it. “You can’t ever find a place that is nice and peaceful, because there isn’t any.” In the end, you let those kids fall off the cliff. There is nothing that should be done. You cannot be the catcher in the rye.
Perhaps it’s time not to be too comfortable and gentle. Build your walls. Don’t let your trust issues ruin you. It’s time to be confident and articulate. You can be confident. You can be smart. You have resources and you can use them. Stop thinking about your hair. Stop thinking about your dark under eyes. Stop thinking that you need to be pretty and smart and talented because you want to be different from other girls that you see in the social media. I’m sorry if you felt meaningless, I promise you it’s going to end soon. It’s not you who is ugly, it’s your society.
Go out. Find yourself. You don’t need to be Julia Roberts so you can eat, pray and love in unfamiliar places. Go to Budapest next year and discover why you’re so obsessed with the idea of being there in the first place. Think of those sausages in Germany and convince yourself to stay there for a week, just drinking beer (though you don’t really like beer), eating sausages and learning German. Meet strangers. Go bungee jumping with new and old friends. Do not let yourself be confined ever again.
You do not need to feel sad just to write. You need to write and produce a form of ecstasy within you and your readers. Yes, your readers may be your gods but do not let them own you. It’s all right to be trapped with the idea of the sublime. It’s all right to be jealous of A.M. Homes because she’s gorgeous and talented at the same time. Read as many books as you can. Let them provoke you. Let them inspire you. Sympathize with the characters. Pay it forward and write your own stories.
Happiness can be beautiful in many forms. Continue to find peace, love and happiness. You deserve all the beautiful things in the world. May you live forever.
Gravity” is a form of rebellion. I like to think that there is no conflict between science and art. Poetry is still science. A poet is a philosopher. She tends to understand the forms and meanings around her. As a poet, she is the maker of meaning and as a philosopher, she enlightens it.
The poem “Gravity” is a story of defying gravity as a form of a woman’s escape from the horrors of being a woman. In this case, the only way to defy gravity is to climb a tree and never to fall down.
Women get tired of being mothers. Women get tired of being wives. Women get tired of being women. And so they run away. They become like chameleons, hiding in the trees, in the trunks. Finally, they disappear.
I always have problems with the revision process. It worries me knowing I am rearranging the words because they might change the idea. But of course, the readers always have their own interpretation and it is their right.
And so here are my versions of “Gravity”:
The first draft:
Climb on a
With no thought of gravity to pull you down
Let your feet cling to its body
Forget your children
crawling on the ground now
like hungry beasts waiting to be fed by your
Your skirt sails with the wind
[You would have wanted to let it strip you naked]
And forget about gravity
While your long hair dances
with no gracefulness at all
Let your hands grip tightly
Until your every fingernail scratch the skin of the tree
And not his own skin
that has been scratched many times by different fingernails
Forget about gravity
Forget about falling down again
on his lies
on the horror of the little mouths sucking your now dark nipples
Forget about your clitoris
Forget about your breasts
There is no woman
The final draft:
Climb a tree
With no thought of gravity to pull you down
Let your feet grip tightly to its body
Forget your children
Crawling on the ground
Like beasts waiting to be fed on your sagging breasts
As your skirt calmly sways in the wind
Go on, climb
Forget about gravity
Let your long hair dance
Clasp the trunk tighter
Forget your fingernails you once clawed
On your husband’s skin
Every time he returns home
Scratched by different fingernails
By different sins
Think not of gravity
Of falling down again to his lies
And the horror of little mouths sucking
Your dark nipples raw
Forget about your hair
Forget about your skirt
Forget about your breasts
Forget about your clitoris
There is no woman
“Gravity” was published last March 2008 in Dagmay, a literary journal of the Davao Writers Guild