my heart is in my art

I am a user. I absorb somebody else’s emotions and write about it. I am apart from them, and yet I try to feel the emotions as my own, embrace them, cry over them, and translate them into words.

I write poetry. They are mostly my observations of others. They are not my own stories. And I need emotions before I can write one. I have lived a sheltered life, familiar with all possible human relationships only in an intellectual level.

I need a muse. I get fascinated with somebody else’s sad stories. I get sad myself trying to live them out in my mind. But this is my cue. Sadness. I write everyday. I write without sleeping. I write from the emotions that they have provided me with. Unknowingly.

I am complicated. That person who has become my muse confuses me too. Sometimes, I feel like I am in love with him. Sometimes, I feel pity for him. Sometimes, I am appalled with what he does. But most times, I emerge clear with my own emotions.

I have used him for my own art. But I have given him back something special. I wrote his stories in poems. I gave him words. I gave him something that was mine.

 

CG

Age Matters

I am 32 turning 33 at the end of this year.

Most people would say age is just a number. One shouldn’t make a big deal out of it and shouldn’t worry as it adds up each year. Somehow, this seems true for me NOW. When people ask how old I am, I don’t get offended anymore. It’s like being asked how my day was. I tell them it was good and they’ll make a polite reply, smile and walk away. Or sometimes, those closer to me would delve deeper and ask what happened that day.

When I tell those who ask my REAL age, much older people will respond this way, “oh… you’re still young,” smile then talk about something else. Cheeky ones would say, “so you should already be married with kids” which then would lead to more questions about my status (and this is when I wished I just lied about it. Five years ago and until last year, I always told people I was only 27 and I don’t get any more follow up questions. I should just probably stick with 27!) And those younger than me would always say, “oh! I never thought you were that old…” So, a number may not simply be just a number, it represents an image, a meaning, and can evoke certain emotions depending on people’s outlook; and it is the latter that results to “making a big deal out of it”!

Age as a number should not matter much but age as the number of years spent on earth matters a lot. For me, with each year, I become wiser and learn to appreciate life more, I have more opportunities to create and keep more memories, and I look forward to more birthday surprises. A positive way of looking at age? Ahem. On the other hand, since I am still legally single since birth, each year I dread having encounters with those individuals who still walk this earth with their old-school ideas that by 30, every woman ought to be married — pestering me with questions and their suggestions about and how to have a husband.

My parents do not worry about my status, because they still think I’m young. My friends have stopped setting me up with their guy friends, concluding that I am just choosy with too high standards. My own interesting guy friends have long ago been married and some have decided they’re gay. But what do I really think about my status? Undecided. I have yet to find out why time seems to move so fast, why I feel like I have been left behind, but why I sometimes have this urge to move faster so I can catch up.

Some people would use age to gauge a person’s economic status and that by the ripe, old age of 30 one should have a stable income and an established, thriving career. Now, why would society set such a standard? Probably to go along with the idea that by age 30 one should be married with kids. But they should NOT generalize. For those single ones like me that shouldn’t apply. Right now, I am enjoying my work as a part-time lecturer and assistant professor in a university. I just finished writing a book. I have a bit of savings and extra money to get me to my next travel destination. I live alone in an apartment* and happy that I can afford it. I haven’t built a single building yet, but I feel successful according to my own standards!

Unfortunately, there are those who measure the success of an architect and qualifies a career ONLY if she does DESIGN and have the building constructed. It is a reality that those people who think they know better about you and your career exist in this world. If you don’t fit their image of success, then you’re not. They insist that what you’re doing does not bring in much money and can never make you successful. I don’t argue with them anymore, I used to and it just made me unhappy. So I stick with what I believe in. What I know is that I’m alright with what I have and with what I do.

I agree with those who say age is just a number, but I believe that age shouldn’t set the timelines and measure of one’s life. Time shouldn’t be measured in years or even by a single second. What should matter is the journey and the lessons learned along the way. What we all need is a time well-spent, a life well-lived, regardless of how old or young we are!

CG

 

* Until a couple of months ago, I had a roommate who suddenly decided to vanish. But that’s for another entry…

Baking in the summer heat

This post is NOT about sunbathing on the beach or staying outdoors…

My last post had been ages ago.

It’s now summer here in Manila. The heat sometimes is intolerable that it’s better to go to the malls for free airconditioning. But instead, I stay at home during my free time, too busy sweating and mixing… because this summer, I have decided to bake! For those who know me well, I can just imagine the incredulous expressions on their faces doubting/wondering if they read it right. But since I keep this blog a secret from them, there’s no way they can read this post any time soon!

For someone who hates cooking (and as a compromise, bought an induction cooker for heating water and an electric oven for heating leftovers), I also wonder why I decided to buy baking pans (probably because they were on sale at 20% off at Gourdo’s in Gateway Mall), cupcake mold, mixing bowl, measuring cups and spoons, silicone spatula (in orange to add more color to my kitchen since I already have a pink mixing spoon), whisk, multipurpose flour, cake flour, sugar* (and I was too excited to find several types in the grocery lane so I got caster, confectioner, and muscovado but forgot to get the refined white sugar), butter, milk, eggs (for which I have a natural talent of turning into century eggs, buying then forgetting them on the kitchen counter until they get molds and turn black!), honey, cocoa powder, almond and vanilla extracts, whipping cream, rock salt, and some other ingredients which all cost me a lot and exceeded my weekly grocery budget!

I checked out some easy to follow and basic recipes online and ended up with coconut macaroons and fudge brownie for my first baking attempt as an adult (I did play with the oven when I was younger but the cookies I created served as paper weights or as exercise tools for the jaw). The macaroon recipe, I think, was not a good one because my macaroons turned out too dry. So I made another batch and adjusted the amount of the desiccated coconut. For someone without a technical knowledge in baking, you’d say I was prematurely deciding to experiment on my own, but I do believe a lifelong experience in eating (and food critique!) is enough to qualify one to make some adjustments to the recipe. The taste bud is always right!

It’s embarrassing to post these photos but I wanted to have evidence that I DID bake these goodies and remove all doubt that I have just been imagining doing these things because of the summer heat.

Clockwise from top left, first batch of macaroons, fudge brownies, and second batch of macaroons

Clockwise from top left, first batch of macaroons, fudge brownies, and second batch of macaroons

Fail! It was too dry. This recipe used 1:1 desiccated coconut:condensed milk.

Fail! It was too dry.
This recipe used 1:1 desiccated coconut:condensed milk.

These are part of the first batch of macaroons that were the first ones in the oven. They have been discarded! They not only looked ugly, but eating them was like biting into wood.

These are part of the first batch of macaroons that were the first ones in the oven. They have been discarded! They not only looked ugly, but eating them was like biting into wood.

The brownie recipe was easy but I didn't like the final output. Although the taste was rich and creamy, I wanted it chewy in the middle and crispy at the edges. This recipe tasted more like a chocolate fudge cake.

The brownie recipe was easy but I didn’t like the final output. Although the taste was rich and creamy, I wanted it chewy in the middle and crispy at the edges. This recipe tasted more like a chocolate fudge cake.

The better-tasting adjusted recipe look burnt because I realized too late that since I  changed the amount of coconut, it should be baked in a shorter time. The first ones in the oven really looked burnt, the ones at the bottom  and I adjusted the time for second batch.

The better-tasting-adjusted-coconut recipe look burnt because I realized too late that since I changed the amount of desiccated coconut, I probably should shorten baking time. The first ones in the oven look like the brownies! The ones at the bottom of the photo look acceptable though, I think.

Although I am not sure if what I did was technically correct in the language of baking, the adjusted recipe (with less desiccated coconut) tasted really good! It was chewy and very very creamy.

Despite of how they look, they actually taste good! Yum!

CG

* I am a self-proclaimed certified sweet tooth but up until now, I never had sugar in my kitchen because I never use it. I only EAT it! (cakes and other pastries have sugar in them, right?)

Oh, Alice! I believe we’re mad!

“See my pretty, empty little pails? They’re used to water my plastic plants in my tiny, dry garden…” said I.

(Originally posted on Tea Talks. Note: My friend Alice is going through some rough times. A couple of years back, I was able to cope with mine gracefully since she was always there to give her love and support. Now, it’s my turn… And as I always say, be generous with your friends with words of encouragement, you’ll never know when you’d need to hear them back…)

“Have I gone mad?” “I’m afraid so. You’re mad, bonkers, completely off your head. But I’ll tell you a secret. All the best people are.”*

And that is why, Alice, I believe you to be mad because you’re simply one of the best persons I’ve known! You are brilliant and beautiful and you have a good heart.

And aren’t we two of a kind? We are kindred spirits after all!

“I quite agree with you,” said the Duchess; “and the moral of that is–’Be what you would seem to be’–or if you’d like it put more simply–’Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise.”

And why Alice, things happen the way they do? It’s because the people respond the way they are supposed to. Isn’t the world after all made up of rules? And these people have to play their part, regardless if they understood them or not. But we are of a different set of cards. Their rules do not apply to us. That is why we sometimes do not get along well with them.

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”

“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.

“I don’t much care where–”

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.

“–so long as I get SOMEWHERE…”

And remember, we have done this before. And we did get SOMEWHERE together. And there are still more paths we want to explore. We don’t know where they will lead us to, but whichever path we take surely would bring another adventure.

“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked. “Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.” “How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice. “You must be,” said the Cat, or you wouldn’t have come here.”

Strange isn’t it? But we have come HERE, this world that is as mad as we are. And you know what’s stranger, we really cannot remember how we got to where we are now. Surely, there were all sort of signs that we followed.

Along the way, our paths have crossed and since then, like two little girls we held hands as we laughed and talked along the way and continued on our journey.

But lately, we have been walking alone. And I felt some pain. Were they yours or were they mine? Did you stay behind when you missed a step and sprained your foot? Or was it I who stumbled down the narrow steep road?

“It was much pleasanter at home,” thought poor Alice, “when one wasn’t always growing larger and smaller, and being ordered about by mice and rabbits. I almost wish I hadn’t gone down the rabbit-hole–and yet–and yet–…”

I know! If only we can turn back time and stayed at home. We wouldn’t have felt upset by all these changes and all the things we have to do. How we wish we could have remained as children — innocent and without worries. Now that we have grown up, why do we shed more tears than babies do? Why do we feel uncertain and fear what’s up ahead? And so we ask, why did we jump into the rabbit hole, Alice?

That’s because we have not always been afraid. We try to see good things and dream up surprises hidden in the dark paths ahead. It has always been within us, it is in our nature, to not keep still but continue to run after our dreams. How we dislike to think that because of ennui, the sun only rises and sets so it can chase after itself the next day. No, we live in order to experience life.

Nature has its way of reminding us all the time, that life is an adventure. You cannot stay in one place and continue running with the same pace. What did they say in Wonderland, you have to run twice as fast if you want to get somewhere?

Well, my dear Alice, this is your cue… Run! And if you have to do it all over, jump into that rabbit hole again!

We didn’t do it the first time just because we were curious to find out where the white rabbit with the watch was heading… but because we always felt that there was something more interesting down there!

“Yes, that’s it! Said the Hatter with a sigh, it’s always tea time.”

And so it was! We always had tea. And we talked over tea. And we always made life seem more interesting when we try to see it through the looking glass!

We wouldn’t want to miss our tea talks, would we? But lately… there was silence. It’s not a riddle (although life is full of them) when we ask but never really look for the answer. When we want to go places but instead we stay still. I guess, it’s simply the way of things. It doesn’t matter from which pack of cards we came from. Because these rules would also apply to us.

How are we to know then if we will find the answer to our questions? Or if we will be able to get somewhere?

It only takes one single step to make a change. The Cheshire Cast isn’t always there to tell us the rules or to ask the questions to help us understand ourselves better. But perhaps right now, he may be up there on a tree, grinning down at us. Perhaps the Cat thinks it’s best for us to be silent for a while.

And so be it. Just take some time to stand back and let the universe unravel its own mystery.

My silence means I care.

Alice, don’t worry. I’ll be waiting for you at the bend of the road. When you’re ready to join me again, just reach out and we can hold hands and together we can once more skip and jump, and hop through life while we run along to make our dreams come true.

And until then, another story will be waiting to be written…

CG

* All quotes by Lewis Carroll from Alice in Wonderland

I am a Gambler

I don’t know how I got into this mess… again.

On my first ever blog entry, I said, I realized that I wasn’t cut out as a writer. I love to write. I love to tell stories. BUT I cannot write for an audience and on a deadline. I write when I want to. And I write what I want to write about.

I haven’t updated this blog because there was no pressure to do so. When I write something here, I don’t expect that somebody has to read it. I don’t really care if nobody gets to read it. That’s why I called this blog my therapy in the first place.

So now… I got caught in another writing stint. I can’t remember how I became part of it. Maybe I have forgotten how difficult it was to start the first line. How exhausting it was emotionally to wait for the right moment — the explosive burst of creativity!

As I recall I applied as a coordinator for the writers. But somehow, I got bored with what the team was submitting that I gave a suggestion of how to make it interesting…. hmmm, so now, I recall how it all started!

I thought I can write it. They all think they couldn’t write it the way I am describing the book but they think it sounded fun. So now, I’m two weeks behind the sked (and I am the coordinator!).

I need that boost of creativity!

I am crazy to think that I could write. Maybe because I know that when that moment starts, the ideas that flow from my brain to my fingers beginning to  form into a story, I feel the “high”. It’s that excitement and exhilaration one feels when the right mood strikes. Maybe I am gambling. And maybe all these emotional stress is worth it at the end. I am a gambler*!

CG

*My friend Alice just sent me a link to a music by Fun called Gambler. It sounded so wistful and I even cried. So that’s why this idea came in here! And it provided me a title for this entry.