She awoke with a bitter taste in her mouth, as if she had just swallowed an extract of the distasteful flavor her unpleasant dreams had. She had been dreaming much too often the past few days: a sign of a disturbed subconcsious. Her dreams had a way of expertly maneuvering from one scene to another, from one situation to another. They were a medley of images in a Freudian study. What a terrible thing, she thinks.

For a brief moment, perhaps as a result of the hidden desires in her dreams, she believes she misses him; she fools herself into thinking that she still cares. She pictures him holding her, whispering words of love and happiness, with both of them trapped in an embrace so perfect, so permanent, and not at all breakable. An image of true love. She thinks she wants this again. And then, suddenly, she opens her eyes and is troubled by reason: No, this is not what she wants. She is vulnerable and scared of emptiness, such that he easily penetrates the soft shell of her reality. It is easy to be fooled by thoughts of the past–by thoughts of a hazy past. She sighs and realizes that her boredom had become the devil’s playground, a site of desire and attractive images of decaying situations.

She gets up and feels inspired to participate in the glorious new day that God has given her. For once in her life, she knows she is content, and if anyone were to ask her how she was doing, she would say more than just “okay.” Because she is so overwhelmed by happiness that she could tell the whole world just that, and wish for everyone else’s happiness. She loves how everything is at this moment–imperfect and confusing. She loves the distressed birds crying out in the sun, the creased, unmade sheets on her bed, the air in her lungs, the virus in her throat… She would not choose to be anywhere else in life, in the world.

This is where she is, and this is how it should be, regardless of whether she is alone–of whether she is to be alone.

I am happy, she whispers. I am happy.

Dear you,

I feel that I am shedding off skin today–the very skin that you caressed and adored and kissed, now dead and cold without your touch, skin infused with memories I have long held on to, but  possess no more magic for me.

Today I have finally realized that I am so much better off on my own. I worry and am sad at times, but I do believe I am doing very well for myself at the moment. And in some way, I am content.

I will never forget what you meant to me, but the time has come for me to move on with my life, and let all this go.

You aren’t here anymore, but maybe it’s just as well. I’ve understood more about myself than I have in the twenty-something long years I’ve been alive.

And so I want to put the memory of you to rest. So that you can stop running through my head and so that I can put all my energy into things that need my attention.

For your sake, I hope you do too, if you haven’t already…

So please stop trying to talk to me and making me feel like I still care about what you think. Because I don’t, and I’ve always known, I think, deep down, that we can never be.

Please let me move forward, maybe into the arms of someone else, maybe alone. Just let me be, because there is nothing else you can offer me. Were you to come visit me, you would not attempt to put things back to the way things used to be. We won’t have another chance, and you know it.

I should have done this long ago–bury your memory six inches deep. But I was too afraid, and the thought of valuing someone beyond reason seemed an attractive feat.

But I don’t want to hold on to you any longer, and I beg you to do the same.

Forget me.

My old professor shared a photo on his blog with the caption: the case of the cluttered photo with no strong focal point.

It hit home.

Lately, I’ve sucked at taking photos–or maybe I have ever since. My problems include not finding the right angle, not focusing on a subject (as mentioned), not getting enough color in the photo (which I know can be solved with the right aperture and shutter speed settings–the very things that are hard to achieve with a point-and-shoot camera), and many other things.

I’d like to think that at one point, perhaps during the time I was taking photography class during undergrad or the months after that, I was a good photographer. Very much inspired to take shots without hesitation, driven by the belief that in some ways, I had talent. I don’t know what happened, why all that disappeared. The courage, the not-caring about what others thought. I guess the hype surrounding photography reached its height, or my will was shattered by other people’s talents, which were displayed everywhere online.

Still, it may have also been because of my dad.

This weekend, I was reminded of how my dad hates every shot I take. We were out celebrating my parents’ wedding anniversary, and on our way home, we stopped at a picturesque area in Tagaytay to take some pictures of the scenery, and the both of them together. “It’s our anniversary; it’s only right that we have a photo together,” dad said. My brother, having just awoken from a short nap, wasn’t in the mood to get out of the car and help take the pictures, so as usual, I was the designated photographer.

As usual again, I just couldn’t get the shot right.

Dad had a look in mind: he and mom would be standing against this railing, and the background would be a view  of the mountains and trees and a lone building at the foot of a hill. My first try was a complete and utter failure. I said the background looked so white because of the clouds and the fog, but when dad took a shot the background looked clear. My mistake… was that I didn’t hold the camera right–I should’ve placed it higher. Strike one. Then when I finally got the background, I didn’t get to include the building in its entirety, which was apparently something he wanted shot. Strike two. At this point dad was incensed with me, which was hurtful and embarrassing. After what seemed like five shots I finally got it right, and we all trudged back to the car. Or at least I did. Trudge, I mean.

Dad and I have always had our differences in photography. He hates it when I don’t put the subject in the middle, or when I don’t focus on what he wants me to focus on (as a subject), or when I don’t whip out the camera fast enough to take a shot of the scenery we’re passing by. This all began during our trip to Hong Kong in 2009, fresh out of my fun semester of photography class. It began because my camera was the only (functioning) camera we had back then (we also had a good video camera which could take stills, but we only used it for videos), and so I was assigned the task of taking photos. More often than not, I would be chided for not thrusting my camera at the right landmark or not knowing how to fix the settings for night shots, which were mostly blurred because of the many lights, as well as my nervous, unsteady hands, for fear of being reprimanded yet again. That vacation was one of the most memorable, because I loved that place and the fashion and the hustle and bustle of the daily activities of professionals. It was a beautiful vacation, but dad’s remarks during those three days really ruined me. I don’t know if that’s what destroyed my confidence in photography, but it may have been. From then on, I’ve just sucked at every shot.

Before the aforementioned happening in Tagaytay, I was contemplating buying a new camera for this outing my friends and I are planning sometime in October/November. The place my family stayed at this weekend was so stunning, I thought I should try photography one more time during my outing with friends in the future. But then dad’s little outburst reminded me why I kind of stopped. My simple, ugly shots of our vacation also reminded me why I’ve often felt inferior when it comes to photography. So at the moment, I don’t know about that new camera. Maybe I’ll just study taking shots more with my Canon Ixus before I spend for a new camera. I just know dad will make some nasty comment about getting a new camera.

The thing is, I can’t really beat dad at anything. The reason he’s been so easily bothered by my lack of abilities with taking shots is because he’s good at it. Not good like professionals and enthusiasts. Just good in the sense that he’s able to take snapshots of places and events and people that are memorable, that he’s able to save them all.

I guess it ruins me that dad’s so great at everything, there’s really no room for me to excel in anything he isn’t already good at. Maybe that’s bull, but I just can’t prove that it isn’t. More on this in a separate entry..

I often wonder how my life would be like if I’d grown up in a different decade.

Perhaps if I had–if I’d been born in the era my parents were born in–I’d be much more curious and intelligent.

These days, it seems that the availability of information and technology has killed the adventure of pursuit, of creativity, of curiosity. Gone are the days when, in order to complete a research paper, one had to spend hours at the library poring over scores of tangible pieces of literature, and when, in writing down that paper, students didn’t rely on spell-check and other grammar-correcting applications, but sought to learn correct grammar. And still, the days when one would try to learn things on his or her own, such as how to play a piano, guitar, or violin piece, without checking out tutorials on YouTube, are long gone. The tragic truth is that now, few embark on the frenzy of self-discovery and exploration, because everything is laid out for us, and readily available, on the World Wide Web. It is as if there is no need to exercise our minds and activate our imagination. We cheat on ourselves by relying on the WWW to borrow the intelligence, the ideas, of others.

I say all this because I have been guilty of relying on technology for a lot of things, and I just can’t help but wonder how different I would be if I were growing up at a time when technology hadn’t progressed so much yet, and when there was so much room for creativity and originality, because we still lacked so much.

Of course, many things still need improvement, but technology has become so powerful, we can do almost anything we want with its help. That’s what makes us rely so much on it: the fact that it’s so powerful and can do the thinking and creating for us. And so I fear that the those who constantly depend on it will lose their desire to innovate, neglect their capacity for thinking and problem-solving, and therefore not reach their full potential as human beings.

My fear is that I might be one of these people, when I don’t want to be. I don’t want to be a part of what could destroy us.

“Are you a writer or something?” – Allison Van Doren to Rachel Armstrong in Nothing But The Truth (2008)

The confrontation.

I didn’t know I was going to be watching a movie about journalism. If I had, maybe I would have watched it sooner.

Nothing But The Truth, like most of the other movies with this theme, is about a reporter on a rough road. Unlike the other films on reporting I’ve watched, though, it has been the first to generate thoughts in my head that want to just spill over on paper. It’s not that I never pondered on the conflicts presented in Shattered Glass (2003), Blood Diamond (2006), The Killing Fields (1984), State of Play (2009), and so on, but this was the one film, a simple, non-award winning film at that, that made me want to share a few things with others.

The film explores the right of a journalist to not reveal his or her source. In college, I learned this from my Introduction to Development Journalism professor. It was one of those things we didn’t dwell on too much (libel just had more attention), but I did know that this right could be expunged in the face of national security. In the movie, Kate Beckinsale, who plays the role of the journalist Rachel Armstrong, writes an article exposing a CIA agent whose report on the lack of Venezuela’s involvement in an assassination attempt seemed to have been ignored when the US attacked the country. The story is explosive and the feds pressure her into giving up her source. But she doesn’t do it, despite the whole deal about national security. She ends up in jail and stays there for nearly a year, refusing to speak. As a viewer, I was stunned by her willpower to protect her important source, and her reverence for the principle. I thought then, Could a person really go that far to defend a principle? Wasn’t she serving her “own” interests in refusing to name this source, when it was a matter of national security? In the end, when it is finally revealed who the source is, we both understand, and don’t understand, what she did.

Most viewers may have considered the original source to be unreliable. This could have been the case, but  what the source said got our heroine thinking. So she poked around–and when she got another source to corroborate and the go from the editor, a thousand words later, she had her Pulitzer-nominating story. I think that it was being a sharp reporter that enabled her to write the story. If she had just shrugged off the info, thinking it was a joke–if she had not even posited it to be true, then the big story would never have made it out there. I believe what Beckinsale’s character possessed was curiosity–a heavy amount of curiosity, which, had she been without, would have made her unfitting to be called a journalist.

Once we learn who this source is, we are either touched, or filled with vehemence for the journalist and the source. We get to thinking, Armstrong chose to save that person’s family’s peace over her own? Didn’t her family need her? Honestly the whole drama about the family made me realize how inconvenient it is for both journalists and CIA agents to have one. It strengthened my [sweet] disposition of avoiding marriage in order for my journalism career to sprout and grow and blossom… And while this thought is disturbing, there is another: the thought that, perhaps, it wasn’t just about the families, but herself–that maybe, having taken the source’s information so seriously, her journalistic tactics would have been criticized, since, as I’d mentioned earlier, the source could have appeared unreliable to others.

Watching the film with my family was an ordinary experience. I have a feeling they considered the film’s story ludicrous, especially with the revelation of the source. I also feel that since they do not respect the media that much, they do not want me to be part of it. But, I want to write stories and let people be heard. I’d like to think that I can do that, despite my parents’ prejudices and my personality type. I’d like to think that I have enough of an inquisitive mind and wits to truly earn the title of a journalist someday, like the fictional Rachel Armstrong–only, without all the drama and jail/prison-time.

“I often felt inferior. I just wanted to get away from them. But there was no place to go.” – Charles Bukowski

It’s no use being shy and infused with low self-esteem.

One tends to just feel sorry for one’s self and project an ineffective picture of a lady not bothered at all by the wave of inferiority being transmitted to her.

One tends to prolong eye contact with all things dispossessing a face, eyes, feelings, and perceptions.

One tends to be aloof. Indifferent, they say. One tends to think that one does not belong anywhere, that one could not belong anywhere because no one could possibly bear one’s idiosyncrasies.

And when one walks, one tends to bow down to the world, and walk quickly from one destination to the next, one’s shoes passing by sandals, boots, slippers, sneakers, heels, and, occasionally, bare, calloused feet. Being stepped on is common. Bumping against a stranger is a hazard (perhaps one had not been noticed). But it’s okay. It’s part of one’s life.

There is nobody.

One will just keep walking, trying to get to each destination, as the feelings of inferiority and shyness eat away the spirit of the individual.

——-

…Someday, though, perhaps some shoes, slightly dirtied and frayed, yet still decent (which had probably joined the traveler’s exhausting long walk), might pause in front of this person and force the person to look up, meet eyes, steal glances, crack smiles, exchange hellos… Until one finally found a person, a group of people, an eclectic selection of strangers, who would make her feel comfortable and alive and invincible all at once.

And she would think, There is a place for me after all. There is a place.