Mandatory Margie is Scared of Good Friday Blog Entry
Friday, March 21, 2008
Well hello, Deadest Day of the Year.
I understand the solemnity of this day, I do. I understand that, even if you do not subscribe to a particular faith as is the case with me, there is a need to hush up and think about certain things. But this hasn’t stopped me from dreading Good Friday. I’m the type who needs a live city, who finds comfort in the knowledge that all this artifice is functioning as it should. That, and memories of Good Fridays past, especially those during the early 90s, have continued to lend a special lethargy to this day that’s just plain hard for me to stomach each and every time.
One particularly bothersome Good Friday always comes to mind. I was around nine or ten, an age that my grandparents felt gave them license to spook me with those you are a sinner, you will go to hell, look straight into the eyes of that man bleeding on the cross and feel the licks of flame you so obviously deserve
kinds of sermons. And as if I wasn’t harrowed enough, this was the Ramos brownout era, which made that sense of gloom and doom far more palpable. The shadows. The hot, flat summer air, the equally stifling silence. There was no juice to run the Family Computer, the one true object of my salvation in those days. And if the power did happen to flicker back for a while, the only thing on TV were end-of-the-world documentaries, or consciously creepy features on miracles, the ones where the image of Jesus slowly surfaces on photos developing in darkrooms, or blood starts trickling from the eyes of countless plaster Marys. I was a kid. Of course it was hell.
Fortunately, Good Friday is a tad more tolerable now, what with dibidis and better cable fare and the fact that, as announced in part by a superbly sacrilegious print ad of the McDo façade gleaming from outside a church window, more commercial establishments stay open the hour Christ conks out. It is 3:07 as I type this sentence, and I hear tricycles sputtering outside all the same. The only regrettable thing about the latter is that I can’t lie down in the middle of our street like I used to in recent Good Fridays. Can’t bake myself on the asphalt anymore, can’t relish the fact that everyone else has locked themselves in, mumbling from frayed prayer books, sluggishly feeling sorry for things, while I’m outside having my own little blip of reflection. But I’ll live.
posted by marguerite @ 3:20 PM
Here Goes Nothing (Part 2)
Friday, March 07, 2008
Aaaand we’re back.
Having graduated from Makiling as a Creative Writing major, the following sentiments may apply more to my fellow major-mates, though I’m sure those from the other fields have similar nits to pick.
So what happens next? You’ve graduated. You are told to continue with your field (or any art-related field, like my own Communication degree in Ateneo) upon entering college. And then suddenly, the second you step off that incline, it hits you that pursuing what you love is far more difficult than you had ever imagined.
Yes, this is how it has always been for anyone who wants to follow their passion. It is all up to you and nobody else. You have to get off your ass, find the right avenues, assert yourself not only by having concrete output, but by getting this output published and read, and all on your lonesome. You have to have gumption, a shitload of self-confidence, and a sense of independence. If you love what you do, you have to actually go out there and continue to do it, no matter how many times you get dissuaded or rejected. It will take great effort, maybe even great pain, but it is beyond worth it. Common. Fucking. Sense. There are enough Disney movies and creepy self-help books about this.
The thing is, Makiling can warp your judgment. On the obvious end, there is that culture shock in retrograde. Life after Makiling, especially the first year or two, can seem horrendously dull and constricting in comparison. God knows how many times I’ve spaced out in class wondering what the hell had happened to me. After four years of Crazy in high school, college—which to others might seem so fantastically fresh and freeing—appears bland. Makiling is a purposefully strange and over-overromanticized alternate dimension, where tourists in buses come to gawk at you like you were some three-headed woodland creature, where long exams in Math require dancing or filmmaking or acting instead of sitting in front of a piece of paper, where your dorm-mate plays a mean violin solo while you’re busy by the washing machine, and where you’ve seen more guy classmates in bahag
walking around casually than most people would their whole lives (hahaha, sorry, I just had to add that). Thus, in college, you can end up feeling very lost. But this reverse culture shock is actually just a teensy backlash.
There are more harrowing issues here. First of all, you’ve gotten so used to having opportunities handed to you all the time. That’s where post-Makiling life really gets tricky. When before contests, trips, festivals, and many other great opportunities were things you were practically required to experience, this proverbial spoon-feeding vanishes after grad. And while it is certainly your responsibility to try for these things from that point forward, the sense of urgency needed for this has yet to truly develop in you. You can’t help but feel intimidated all of a sudden. All this freedom to assert yourself purely on your own terms can be very, very daunting. Like you’ve been derailed, and all that baggage you’ve accumulated from high school has made it a bitch to get back on track.
Secondly, there is something I will now call the Where Are They Now? syndrome. Makiling expects you to be very active in your field after grad. Having had such a unique time growing up, you can’t help but feel immense, and at times soul-crushing, pressure because of this. True, you didn’t spend four precious years of adolescence concentrating on your craft only to get lazy after. If you love what you do, then that shouldn’t be a problem. Nonetheless, a paranoia can surface. You start to stress over what you have or haven’t accomplished, start to wonder if who you’re becoming is someone your snot-nosed art school teen self would’ve been proud of. This is ridiculously unhealthy. You shouldn’t judge yourself in that way; it is the wrong way to take yourself seriously. Being good in what you do not only takes maturity and experience (especially with creative writers), but takes a self-respect that should’ve been there from the start, that isn’t something you have yet to earn. But while you shouldn’t be beating yourself up over so many little things, you can’t help but do so due to your stint on the mountain. Makiling can loom over you that way. Menacingly so.
And this, whoever was bored enough to read this humongous load o’tripe, is why I have qualms about my alma mater. Bow.
There is certainly much, much more to be said about this. I think this entry has taken enough out of me, though, and the topics that can branch off from my argument deserve their own grueling discussion. But finally, to end what is the longest entry I’ve ever done in my seven years of blogging, I will say this:
I know I’m doing the best that I can. I have loved to write for as long as I can remember, and this has kept me from letting my high school anxiety swallow me whole. It is workshop season now, for instance, and I have been happily busying myself because of it. Makiling has taught me to work hard. But not working to the point of getting mad at myself, that I had to learn on my lonesome. And I will stop typing now because, gademmet woman, this is too much schmaltz than even I can take.
posted by marguerite @ 10:07 PM
Here Goes Nothing (Part 1)
Thursday, March 06, 2008
I suppose this is for my own convenience. This should be something I can link to in future blog entries to save myself from redundancy. Besides, I’ve been asked recently to write something about this, I’m bored out of my butt, and there’s a certain, inexplicable funk to this day that’s been keeping me on edge. Thus, once and for all, I will post That One Makiling Entry I’ve Been Meaning to Chuck Up Since Forever. I’ll try to make this short. Or not.
It’s no secret that I have qualms about my alma mater. I love the place, don’t get me wrong. I still stand by the notion that my four years there were the craziest in my little life so far, and I remain very grateful and lucky to have been granted all that bedlam. The Philippine High School for the Arts, a government-run boarding school whose thrust is to hone the skills of a bunch of kids in their chosen art fields (theater, music, dance, visual arts, or creative writing) right smack in the middle of Mount Makiling, is bound to offer that sack of Crazy in the first place. Yet I feel that the reason why it’s such a wonderful, unforgettable place is the very same reason why it can be a source of anxiety later on.
You’re this young, naïve, highly hormonal human being dropped off in the boondocks. Tuition, board and lodging are free. There are roughly only 120 students and a handful of faculty there at any given year, so it really is this close-knit community. This little world, rife with customs apt only for such a queer environment, grows on you. Gets under your skin. Any bright-eyed teen who deems creative expression a priority will feel invincible there, in a way. You take academics in the morning, and then art classes in the afternoon and well into the evening. Dorm high-jinks (and then some) are standard. You are reminded everyday that you are special, be it by your teachers or by the fact that trees, boulders, hills and cliffs greet you at your cottage veranda every single, nippy morning and not the bland streets of your hometown. Moreover, as an iskolar ng bayan
, you have been made to understand that excellence is key to who you are, that you must render a service to this thing called Philippine Art for the rest of your life. Thus, you get to take trips all around the country and abroad to help prove this. You get to perform onstage, or exhibit your works at galleries, or have a collection of your written works published. You have the time of your life in more ways than one. You graduate feeling mighty damn proud of your ass.
And then what? Aye, there’s the rub.
Being in an art school has its trials, definitely. But the overwhelming pressure to excel, the vicious student-teacher favoritism, the stress on your body and brain from an unconventional workload, the fact that classmates drop out or get kicked out more frequently than in other schools, and the rest of that hackneyed art school drama (not to mention raging hormones and classic teenage angst) are par for the course. It’s what you have to go through next that can prove a mite hellish. You’ve had too singular a time there on the mountain, and therein lies the flaw.
Okay, I’ve run out of steam. I’ll punch out the rest of this rant soon. (Dear god, this is my first two-part blog entry ever; I really am that bored.) Cheers.
posted by marguerite @ 11:05 PM
Falafel for Brains
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
It’s been a while since I saw The Kite Runner
, but thanks to Pubey Boy, who had just seen the film a few hours ago and got so perturbed that griping over Hassan’s fate to me over text and YM was the only conceivable way to go, I started tearing up over that servile, sexually-violated little Afghan boy all over again. Some critics feel that the film had taken too cloying an approach to telling the tale, but I think that everyone needs that simplistic, fail-safe reason to feel like pure doody every now and then. Pubey Boy: we should have a celebrate hassan day
Pubey Boy:for all the good in the world
Pubey Boy: he makes me wanna be a better person
Milkmaid: yes. we'll wear visors with his face on it and feast on pulpy fruit
Milkmaid: he makes me feel like shit
Milkmaid: when they showed the pic of him as a dad, that's when i REALLY started bawling
Pubey Boy: you're right!
Pubey Boy: i know
Pubey Boy: 'cause it really looked like him!
Pubey Boy: wait i need to be consoled!
Pubey Boy: i want hassan to be alright!!!
Pubey Boy: hahaha
Milkmaid: he is! he is! his son will warm up to his new american family! they will persevere! his new dad will run for his kite forever and ever and ever!!!!
Pubey Boy: i love that line: "a thousand times...blahblah"
Pubey Boy: ano uli yun?
Pubey Boy: SHET
Pubey Boy: it's like a metaphor for jesus
Pubey Boy: or goodness
Milkmaid: for you, a thousand times!
Pubey Boy: or God
Milkmaid: stop it!!!!!!!!!1
Pubey Boy: are you crying?
Milkmaid: tearing up
Pubey Boy: marge its okay
Pubey Boy: hassan is in a better place now
Pubey Boy: btw is this a true story
Milkmaid: based on a, anyway.
Milkmaid: *twitches harder*
Pubey Boy: OMIGOD
Pubey Boy: AAAAAHHHHHHH
Pubey Boy: *convulses*
Milkmaid: *enters a nunnery*
Milkmaid: *leaves nunnery after five minutes, realizing that that was too drastic*
Pubey Boy: *meets marge at nunnery entrance and takes her to a branch where there's farsi written on it*
Pubey Boy: *they cry some more*
Pubey Boy: *bawl, actually*
Pubey Boy: *but what difference does it make? Hassan is still dead*
Milkmaid: *they eat moussaka mixed with tears*
Pubey Boy: yeah
You know it’s hit him when Pubey Boy can actually manage to type “it’s like a metaphor for Jesus” down and go from there.
We also saw Dan in Real Life
together last week, and we pretty much left the cinema near-weepy and utterly bowled over. We couldn't really manage to say anything else after that, being the impressionable, feeling
-forlorn fucks that we are, so we went our separate ways. Dazedly. The two of us should really stop getting so affected.
posted by marguerite @ 6:30 PM