Why Do I Write

Why do I write?

When I was about 8 or 9, I was a voracious reader. I ploughed through an entire Nancy Drew series, marvelling at the adventures of a plucky titian-haired heroine. I quickly got bored with that and started reading the classics. The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The Pearl. Heidi. The Cask of Amontillado. The Hound of Baskersville. And anything Nathaniel Hawthorne.

And then I discovered Stephen King. The very vivid way of how he wrote sparked an interest of potentially writing my own stories.

But it was a little difficult for me, growing up with two languages. I didn't quite know if I should write in Tagalog or in English. I suppose I could do both, but my geeky side wanted to work on English grammar and syntax. I already have the vocabulary.

But learning the rules of writing in English wasn't enough to motivate me to actually write something.

I knew I could use words to persuade people, make them feel something. I wanted to tell stories, but I also knew if I'm going to write, I needed to be vulnerable. And I had to be okay with that.

Otherwise, there is no point.

The Inner Critic

What the fuck are you doing here?

I'm supposed to talk to you, have a conversation with you.

And who the fuck is dumb enough to ask you to do that?

It's a writing exercise. Frankly, I'm afraid to talk to you, but here we are.

So what the fuck do you want?

You've lived inside my head for so many years. Don't you get tired of putting me down, nagging me and telling me I'm not good enough?

No.

Care to elaborate?

There is nothing much to say. You're my bitch.

I see. Aren't you concerned how I would feel? My mental state? You caused me so much anxiety and pain!

Oh boo hoo, now you're gonna cry and be overdramatic and post your pitiful angsts on Facebook like you always do? You're pathetic.

I'm not! Stop saying that?

Why? Because deep down, you know it's true?

It's not! You're just being mean and really negative.

I don't think you're smart enough to figure out you need me.

And why would I need you?

Bitch, without me, you wouldn't have gotten this far in life without second-guessing your shit.

That's not true. I've survived in spite of you!

I don't care what you believe! You're never going to get rid of me no matter how many dumb shrinks you see to silence me. Hell, I'm the one telling you that you're wasting your money on utterly useless therapy when all you needed was listen to me.

Well, you're not exactly the wise guru that I would hope.

No one gives a shit on what you hope. Now fuck off and leave me alone!

Memory of Rain

This evening, the world was drenched in an unceasing downpour. Intense rain lashed at our patio door glass like tiny liquid whips. In the distance, thunder rumbled hungrily. I haven't heard the rain fall this hard in a while -- it brought up memories of warm monsoon rain, the lash of typhoon winds, glistening dirty puddles in the streets, and rolling clouds in different hues of dishrag gray. Memories of my college years stuck at home reading books in bed, the rain rattling the galvanised roof. The sound would often make me sleepy -- the rain inviting me to a welcome slumber of a drowned world.

Someday

We had a picnic yesterday at Jericho beach with our neighbour Ana. We decided we needed to get out of the house. I didn’t want to hear any more COVID stories, and wanted to feel the sun and wind on my unmasked face.

I packed snacks and drinks, and we headed across town. The day was simply gorgeous — one would think it was a normal summer. We found parking just beyond the Beach Cafe, and settled ourselves under a tree, in front of a huge log. We sat on our chairs, and chatted aimlessly. I wasn’t paying any attention. My eyes were on English Bay, the waters shimmering in the sun, and the verdant hills of the north shore. Further to our right was Stanley Park and the skyscrapers of Vancouver disrupted the placid lines of the mountains.

I closed my eyes and leaned my head back, feeling the cool salty breeze on my face. The sun was too bright; even though my prescription sunglasses were polarised, I was still squinting.

I missed this moment of peace — a moment that all is right with the universe, with the blinding sun heralding a semblance of sweet happiness.

Someday we can have more of this. Someday we can actually get together and hug.

Someday.

Both Sides Now

A couple of years ago, I attended a funeral of a friend who was well-loved in the faerie community. The organisers asked me to sing a closing hymn in full drag. I solemnly obliged, and took to task to memorise a Joni Mitchell classic. The last words of the song hit me so hard that it was almost difficult to finish the song:

I've looked at life from both sides now

From up and down and still somehow

It's life's illusions I recall

I really don't know life at all

It would be erroneous for me think that life would actually teach me lessons, let alone tell me who I am. Life was a bitch, uncompromising yet strangely democratic. Why in the world would life bother with me?

I would like to think I am a stronger person by now, resilient, and wise, but I do not think — or feel — that’s any closer to my own truth.

No, I have no idea what life has told me of who I am. I really don’t know life at all.

The Paths We Take

I was a huge fan of Snoopy and Charlie Brown. I loved Charles M. Schulz’s comics — seemingly innocent and childlike, but with very adult themes that border on wistfulness and introspection.

Snoopy inspired to be a comic book illustrator. I drew and painted my own comics, created stories so fantastic that if I read them today I would cringe so much I would want to shrink to the size of an ant and scuttle away in a dark crevice.

But the desire to create endured, and it became the guiding light of my career. I was eventually accepted to a fine arts college at the state university. But fate had other ideas: a former classmate encouraged me to take visual communication instead of painting, and that prepared me for an entirely different path. I do not begrudge it. I am happy where I am now.

But I do sometimes wonder what would have happened if I had taken painting instead, and how different my career path would be.

Lost Remembrance

I cannot remember any stories from my childhood that taught me who I should become.

All I read about was news of a greedy dictator, the millions who suffered under his despotic rule, and the faceless who vanished from existence. It was a time of fear, desperation and excess. I doubt that any of those taught me what I should become.

It is but with much effort for me to reflect and dig up any relevant stories that I resonated with — the years have changed me as person, experience has moulded my values.

I cannot remember any stories from my childhood. They seem to have vanished in the mists of time, like the faceless who vanished from existence during that dictator’s regime.

Uniqlo + Marimekko

Whilst shopping for a puffer jacket at Richmond Centre with Shirley, I described to her the perfect and comfy puffer jacket from Uniqlo in collaboration with Finnish designer Marimekko: a red and black cocoon jacket with retro floral prints. I told her I didn't get it at that time because it was for women, but I have been thinking about that jacket ever since.

That was 2 years ago.

"You can wear whatever you want," Shirley said. "No one will know it's for women."

I paused and reflected what she said. I have been wearing women's clothing for drag, and I was afraid to wear a women's floral jacket on a daily basis. A jacket that not only would make me happy, but would also make me comfy and warm. And it fits like a dream.

So I promised myself the next time I go shopping, I would venture over to the women's section and not be afraid to try on women's clothing.

Gray

I was born in the early hours of Sunday, the first of my siblings. The golden child. The child who could do no wrong. Everyone in the family knows it.

My mother tried her best to raise me in the Catholic faith, but I found the concept of god numbingly absurd. I actually did make a few bargains with god before realising I didn’t need a man-made omnipotent deity to live my life.

I devoted my life to the arts. Creation and destruction were the same sides of a universal coin. I had learned see both beauty and sadness in every thing and in every experience.

I grew tired of enforced gender binaries; the toxicity of masculinity and the frailty of patriarchy. I hated English for its pronouns defining two genders. I celebrated Tagalog for only having one.

I danced with the faeries under the moonlight, by the still waters of a lake in the middle of Squamish. The magical romp filled me with unrestrained joy. I was laughing again.

I always wonder about the bolts of grey in my hair, inspecting them every morning in front of the mirror—badges of honour for having come this far.

The Vulnerability of Writing

I think that the discipline of writing opens up oneself to a vulnerable authentic side that no one really knows, except perhaps your most intimate relations, a side more hidden than the dark side of the moon. Vulnerability can be scary, and so does being authentic. They both put the spotlight on you for all the world to see — perhaps you would feel judged by what others uncover. Perhaps ashamed or embarrassed of what people may think.

But does that really matter? Can you really control who you are, and the stories of self you may want tell? Being in that spotlight can also be liberating, uplifting even. Like a sunflower turning its face to the unerring brightness of the sun. Imagine the freedom of not being afraid anymore. Imagine the countless words waiting to pour out from yourself like a new fount of clear spring.

Imagine the possibilities.