Monday, June 30, 2008

I look in the mirror and who do I see?

I see me, plain ( well not so plain), not quite old, sometimes boring me. I am aware of who I am, how I look and how the world sees me ( or doesn't). I've said before that I am the kind of person who never wants to attract attention, but I'm not really that shy a person actually. Mostly, it's a reflex, a reminder of how I have perceived myself and how I thought and felt people saw me. You know how they say not to be too worried about how people see you because they're more worried about how you see them? Easy to say, harder to achieve. See, I've been overweight since I was thirteen. The summer before I was to enter high school, I grew taller and gained weight. Thus, when the school year began, I was no longer the gawky, thin 12 year old my friends knew, but someone with more flesh on her bones. Apparently, more than they were used to, as one  friend promptly christened me with a new learned word for her, that of a certain prehistoric woolly animal. A name which stuck through out high school, that every one thought was endearing (because I appeared to tolerate them calling me that name) but cut every time I heard it referring to me ( she's still my friend by the way, I've learned to forge an uneasy peace with what she had done and have long chalked it up to youthful exuberance, she was after all, prone to giving people nicknames, whether they wanted it or not, bully for me that she was popular and that the name she gave me stuck). It gave good practice for me as well, and I learned early on to ignore the snide comments and take the well-meaning phrasings from my relatives in stride. I grew a thicker skin, padded by insecurities and hidden behind the worlds I found in books. But thicker skin or no, words still hurt no matter what they say about stick and stones doing more damage. Invisible though it may be, words hurt and scar and maim. And for someone on the cusp of adolescence, it was really bad for my self image and confidence. Although I can not trace every insecurity I have about myself from that day in my freshman year in high school, I knew that that was when I started perfecting the art of drawing attention away from myself. For most of my life, my weight figuratively weighed me down. I went through high school and college carrying that burden so to speak, it colored my relationships with people and way I saw myself.

But as much as I could not trust how I saw myself, I knew that I had other attributes, that I was smart and that smart was way better than pretty. Although of course, most days, that gave me cold comfort. Being able to get into the choice university among my peers was also a very good boost for my confidence. I did manage to lose some weight in college but that never changed the way I saw myself. Then I entered law school and substituted the sleep I lost juggling work and school work with food and gained back all the weight with some more added. But by then I had started to make peace with my body, I was learning to be comfortable in my own skin, and loving myself. The confidence I gained complemented the thick skin I had retreated into over the years for me not to care too much about what people thought or how I thought they saw me.

I will be the first to admit that there are still days when I hate the way I look but then again everyone has those days. I now know what works for me and recognize myself for who I am, a reasonably attractive, smart, and confident woman. And although there are still days when my decisions are still colored by the hurt, overwhelmed, fat young girl that I was all those years, most days, I think, I'm just me.

Sunday, June 29, 2008


I was cleaning out my room, which in and of itself is an event given my personality, and I found an old journal. Well it wasn't even a journal actually, more of a date book where I scribbled little observations about my life as well as my schedule. I also found the notebook I used to scribble on in high school, when I was in the throes of my infatuation for H ( which by the way lasted long enough to affect my college love life, such as it was) . I reread every cringe worthy "poem" that I wrote about him and proceeded to tear the notebook apart. Closure in a warped sense I guess, and ten years too late I would say, given that I still can't bring myself to carry a conversation with the man without being a little giddy, I suppose it's always going to be that way. I wish there was some way I could exorcise A as well, but short of forgetting every little detail of my first European trip, I will just have to wait. How is it that the 15 year old me and the 30 year old me pulled the same stunt? Becoming enamoured of someone unattainable and then spending an inordinate amount of time trying to forget them. Is it because I have never learned my lesson from my experience with H that I repeated it with A? Of course, adult me topped adolescent me by becoming enamoured with someone who, although apparently interested and thus not entirely unattainable, happened to live on the opposite side of the world. What did I think I was going to get out of it?

Why do we choose who we choose anyway? Why do we love who we love? I mean I could have picked anyone else right? Why make life and love more difficult than it already is? Maybe I should have chosen J, gave a relationship with him a try, ignore the misgivings in my head, including the silliest one, that I just couldn't see myself kissing him. I used to wonder, but there just some aspects in my life that I can never bring myself to merely settle for what is there, being a bona fide fence-sitter aside. Why is falling in love so easy for some people and so apparently difficult for me? Or maybe because I have too much romantic notions floating around my head from all the books that I used to escape into in my teens that despite the cynicism I tend to project, the truth is that I have idealized the concept of love so much. So here I am, ten years after hesitating to dip my feet into the water, still unattached, still prone to being smitten with guys I can't have. Obtuse, thy name is M.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

of falling in love and unbroken hearts

I don't think I've ever fallen in love, not really. Or does one fall in love even when that love is not returned? My love life can be defined partly in the following words : it never got the chance to bloom. Because you know picky, and convinced that she was not attractive enough, and prickly, and stand-offish, plus equal parts naive and oblivious equals zero forays into the intricacies of relationships .

Why do we choose who we choose anyway? And am I really missing something by letting life pass me by?

Friday, June 20, 2008

coming to terms with grief

I suppose people grieve in different ways, some cry their hearts out and move on, some drown their sorrows in mindless distractions, some choose denial. I have dealt with mine in my own way.

Four months ago, we lost our father to cancer before we even had the chance to fight back against the disease. My sisters and I deal with our loss in our own way, supporting each other and dealing with our grief separately. Mostly, we have tried to move on with our lives and find a semblance of normalcy, and most days, I do just fine. But the tears are always close to the surface, bubbling up at the most odd times, mostly when memory strikes so that I could be sitting at my desk and reading something and would find myself tearing up. As complicated as my relationship was with my father, I have become acutely aware of the rightness of that line I read in a poem somewhere, that  no matter what your relationship was with your parents, you will miss them sorely when they're gone.

I miss my father the most on days when I feel overwhelmed with life, because he always managed to ground me, to make me stop and think, and to gain a better perspective of where my life was going. I miss the fact that I could come home absolutely mad about something from work and he would listen to me rant. I miss the fact that he listened even when I did not. I miss him because he used to let me argue with him till I was blue in the face about whatever topic it was that caught my fancy.

Now that he's gone, I am learning to appreciate all that he has done for me and my sisters. The fact that while he nurtured us and made us believe in ourselves unequivocally, he never allowed us to have an overgrown sense of self-worth, to have airs and feel as though we were better than every one else. Thus, no matter what my insecurities were, about my self, about the way I look, I always, always, knew I had the smarts, that I was good at what I did, and that I could be whatever I wanted to be,  and that he would be proud of me no matter what I do or don't do, no matter how I decide to live my life.

It is not that my relationship with him was ever easy. I was the first born, bequeathed with all the hopes and aspirations and expectations of  first time parents. I suppose I must have disappointed him and mommy with some of the decisions that I have made with my life. But the thing with my father was that he let me decide. I regret that the last years of his life, the ones he spent with me, were tinged with resentment on my part, a fact which still gnaws at my conscience four months after his death. It was not that I neglected him, it was that there were days when I resented the fact that I had to be his sole provider when I was just starting my life.

But despite everything, I miss him and there are still days when the tears are much too near the surface. I guess there will always be days like those because moving on doesn't mean letting go and forgetting, but instead merely a dulling of the pain.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Think about it

I love this paragraph and what it says and I figured I should share:

open your eyes and see
that always we are taught ongoingness:
the same and turning leaf;
earth's rhythmic tilt and tow;
the soul candling into shadow,
before it flickers back to life - J. Neil C. Garcia

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

another one

The creeping sadness, blurs the edges of the dream
like a mist descending, quietly invading
the oblivion of sleep

The muted melancholy tugs at my waking
worming its way carefully, inexorably,
into the numb routine of every day life

The quiet sorrows bubble from within
rising to the surface, sharp, piercing,
evoking bittersweet memories of broken dreams and dashed hopes

And the tears slide down silently,
like rivulets of raindrops
a mute testament to the emptiness inside.
mf, final version, June 08

I am not depressed. Let me just get that out of the way. If anything, perhaps one can say that I am a tad melodramatic which is why I like to write these sad, pathetic poetry if you can call it that. Mostly, when inspiration hits, I get about a few lines, which turn to unwieldy ones such as this because I stretch the words out. For this one, I wrote the first lines without much effort but the following paragraphs took soooo long. I must have oh four or five versions of this before I settled on this one.

Here's another example of the skewed sense of humor that my muse has:

prayers whispered fervently
in corridors of hope
dreams, what might be
trying to change reality

that's it, I couldn't turn it into a halfway decent ( for me at least) poem so I left it at that and just turned the first line into the title of my blog instead.

Monday, June 16, 2008



changes, changing, changed,
everything's different
somehow I'm lost, I do not know how
lost, broken away.
life lines, I find that
I am not alone
or am I?
adrift in a sea of my own making
my own choice
am I happy?
all that I am sure of is that
I am alone.
6/24/2000 maf


awash in a sea of change
forlorn, alone, confused
should I sink or swim?
should I give in to the currents
tugging me down, pulling at me
or should I fight to keep
my head above the water?
I feel so overwhelmed, so lost.
Is there no escaping this?
7/18/2000 maf

This is something I wrote about 10 years ago, when I was going through a major upheaval in my academic life. And instead of talking things over with a friend, I decided to pour my heart out into this. Its funny but 10 years later, there are still days when I feel this way. I suppose we all do at one time or another. I wish I could say that in the period between then and now, I have learned to share my feelings with others. I haven't, not really. Which is why I love doing this, blogging. Its sort of a cross between a journal and a confessional, because I know that someone somewhere will stumble upon this and that I have at least somehow managed to share what I feel, what's going on inside my head without losing my anonymity and crumbling the facade that I have worked so hard to build up.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

more dispatches from the skewed side of reality

"What if my twenties were the best years of my life and I've nothing to show for it?" I can't remember if it was a friend or a character in a tv show I once heard this from. But what if? My twenties were spent juggling a full time job and law school, and what do I have to show for it? If you look at my life right, nothing, nada, zilch. Sure I did get the law degree eventually, but ran out of enough steam to push me through taking the bar exams. I sometimes feel like I've wasted my twenties, because it passed by more or less uneventfully, that I cannot recall one significant event in my life that was my own doing. Sure, a lot of things happened in my twenties that shaped me into who I am right now. In one of our more circumspect conversations, my friend W told me that our twenties were supposed to be the time for discovery, of learning who we are and what we want to be, that we shouldn't try too hard to see the significance in every time, that life passes in moments ( okay so that was me), that we have to live our lives one day at a time ( I know, there's an abundance of cliches today).

And you know, cliches aside, I think there is something to that. I was thinking about it earlier as I was preparing dinner and I realized that although a lot of people seem to be so put together in their twenties, the majority of us are still stumbling along, getting by, learning about ourselves. That it was okay to be lost once in a while. That that is the only way after all, for us to learn, to find our way, and so what if it takes us years and years to do so? So what if my twenties were insignificant compared to some of my friends who have their lives figured out, so what? It is the journey that is important and to use another cliche, life is the journey, and no matter how smooth or bumpy the road is, this is the only one I've got.

Friday, June 13, 2008

dispatches from this side of reality

there is a line that I read somewhere that says " why am I afraid to show you who I am? Because I am afraid you will see the real me and run away" or words to that effect. It just struck me that that is who I am like,  I hide my self from everyone else because I am afraid of being hurt, of not being wanted for who I really am. And the funny thing, the funny thing is that I have more or less convinced myself that the me I show the world is the real me.

I'll tell you another thing about myself, I love compartmentalizing my life, my friendships. So much so that I am certain that one group of friends would probably not really jive well with another group. And I so, so carefully ascertain that they never converge. This is probably why while my sisters have always always been comfortable bringing friends over to our home, I have rarely done so. Because to do so would make two aspects of my life converge. Thus, the me at home will never be reconciled with the me at school or at work. I think that's a sad testament to who I am. Or maybe its a testament to how screwed up my brain really is.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

words escape me

Do you ever feel like there are oceans of words inside, welling up, ready to surface if only you could find a way to express it? Sometimes I feel as though I have so much to say but somehow I can never find the words to say them. Or that sometimes, they flit through your mind at the most inopportune time such as while you are sitting in a bus on your way to work, and you come up with these eloquent sentences that you know will escape your grasp when you sit down an hour later to commit them to paper?

This is one of those days. I don't know. I sometimes think that there must be something wrong with me.

Friday, June 6, 2008

hiding in plain sight


a quiet descends
over the stillness
of a life half-lived
seemingly, vicariously,
through printed words

the stories she's read
of love, of woe, of hope
of sorrows
weave around her
providing her escape

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Fence sitting or knowing when to jump ( part 2 of taking chances)

Fence sitters of course should not expect happy endings because happy endings are reserved for people who know how to take risks, to open themselves up to others. For most of my life, I have been wary of taking chances, I was happier to go with what I knew even if it meant that I was painting myself into a narrow and monotonous existence. I wasted my twenties in that way, the years when I should have been trying everything new, I spent sitting on a fence being safe.

I never did like too much change, I'm the kind of person who does not like rippling the surface or worse, making waves. The more unnoticed I was, the better. Typically, I would just close myself off to the things that I could not deal with or to the unfamiliar. Much too often I have found myself shrinking from taking a step towards something new. Thus, I am usually left in the dust, watching as my friends go places because they have embraced the quest to seek the life they want instead of settling for what they can have. It is not that I lack the courage to try new things, it's just that if it were a choice between going after something novel and taking the tried and tested way, inevitably, I choose to go with what is familiar.

I once read a book where the one of the characters said that " everyday, the opportunity to change your life exists". As much as I agree with that statement, the trouble is that most days, the mere idea of having to change the big things in my life, of weaning myself from long entrenched habits and ideas, seems to entail entirely too much work. And although I realize that part of the adventure that is life is not knowing what is waiting for you when you take that turn in that unfamiliar bend in the road, I still insist on sticking to the well-trodden path, sometimes even staying put, thus I miss out on what might be waiting for me around the corner. Sometimes, even when the opportunity has presented itself to me, I still choose to ignore it, refusing to join in the fray, because ultimately, time and again, I would choose to sit in my perch on the fence, feeling safe watching life pass me by. Sure, I have often felt the stirring of envy but never enough to warrant my taking action.

Life has taught me a few lessons however. I've learned that guarding against the hurt is not only boring, it also leaves little room for growth, that allowing yourself to be vulnerable is part of the learning experience. I've learned that perhaps, the key is not to change the big things in your life all at once but instead to take things slowly, step by step, like putting up my writing online instead of letting it languish in my PC, or maybe trying something new and scary once in a while like standing in front of an audience and singing for a friend's wedding without worrying whether that you sound silly or are making a huge fool out of yourself, or even learning and trying out "the moves" (as my friends call it) on some guy you like and just enjoying the heck out of yourself without analyzing your motivations.

Above all, I've learned that the key to living and having the life you want is to let go of your fears, step outside that comfort zone, climb down from your perch in the fence, and face life head on.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

because the rain inspires dark thoughts sometimes

Hard rain doesn't last
or so they say
why then do i feel
as though I've been
standing in this downpour forever?
as though my hopes
have all been soaked, tattered,
ruthlessly washed away
by the torrents

hard rain doesn't last
why then do I feel
as though the cold
has seeped to my bones
and i am left here,
shivering, bereft of warmth
stumbling blindly,
reaching for comfort,
coming up empty...

hard rain doesn't last
it may be true
but it lingers long enough
to chill your soul
and change your perspective

copyright 2005 by maf

I wrote this about 3 years ago, when I was feeling down and a little depressed as I am wont to do at certain times of the year. This is an example of what A was talking about when he asked me if I still wrote, because I used to write sappy poems when we were in high school. I like to think I've grown more discerning since then and that my writing has somehow grown.

why I write what I write here

I've a friend ask me why I blog, and my short answer would be because I need an outlet. See, a long time ago, one of my old friends, A, asked me if I still wrote because I used to when we were in high school. I said not really, not stuff that I would want to show to other people anyway. This blog allows me to share my thoughts and maintain relative anonymity. This means that as the subtitle of this blog states, this will contain my ramblings. I have another blog over on LJ where I write about the mundane everyday events of my life.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

taking chances or why I am convinced I'll never win at life 1

Have you ever wondered if the life you are living is the life you really want or if its simply the life you can have, the one you settled for because you were either too afraid to go for the life you really wanted and perhaps have grown too comfortable with to try something new?

I have been asking myself these questions for several years now, since I turned 27, convinced that it was brought on then by the impending big three-oh, stirring myself into a mini-crisis of self doubt and self-recriminations. I am now 31 and I still do not know any better. I have pondered on the above questions on and off in the past four years, specially whenever I would come home from another trip abroad. Those trips always trigger a mini-crisis in my head, causing me to become antsy and feel needlessly unfulfilled.

Not that I don't know the reason for my discomfort, I am aware that the fault lies with me, because it is typical of my character to become too entrenched in my habits and routines, embracing the life I am living and never mustering the courage to take a stab at the life that I want.

The life that I want. A loaded phrase, certainly, the bigger problem however is that I cannot seem to determine what it is that I want out of life. I have countless journal entries containing the same theme to no avail. All I know is that I live a very narrow life.

Life expands or shrinks in proportion to one's courage Anais Nin once wrote, and she's probably right. Because watching from the sidelines, never taking a chance on anything, translates to a narrow and boring existence. No wonder I love taking refuge in the books and stories that I read. It's funny because I only figured it out when my horizons expanded. I am quite certain I would never have these rumblings of discontent if I never met the people I have met in the past two years.

However, regardless of that, I've learned a couple of things in my 30-odd years of existence. For one, I've learned that being adept at fence-sitting means that I should just wave goodbye to my grand notions of happy endings. Because I have learned that unless you take a chance on something, there are no rewards, no chances at a happy ending. And I am not referring here to happy endings in fairy tales, where you find your prince charming and other such nonsense; I am talking of personal fulfillment, of finding your own bliss.