Approaching the inevitable dull of the summer, I find that I am losing reason and meaning in everything. You can tell by how I have resorted to writing once more. This is the cascade of sorrow, of drunken days toasting forgotten sobriety, cloud nine high at the glimpse of yourself in the mirror, morning sunlight fights against the dusty carpet with the shadows, husks, and living dolls strolling around your home. This is the rekindling of my god complex; an earnest screech of life tracks against the drone of forestscapes, an avalanche of the world that surrounds me — a girl in the dead of the night playing games with her fatigue and mental instability looking back and recounting the months that had passed.
In other terms: this is the most that I had ever done. I live a haze, a beautiful, distorted, warped reach towards so many things that I label off as driven and passionate — learning how to speak (figuring out that I actually quite like it), still figuring out how to not be an awkward, flustered mess in public spaces and places. Going so many places at once, stepping into trouble and getting used to the sight of my Gmail more than Tumblr, Facebook, or KissAnime. Stupidity revels itself in the new craze of being stupid. I fall into the league of students, the problem minority that seeps out this generation — a craze of Model United Nations fanatics, delegation after delegation races and constant, endless reminders of why we are not enough. In review: these are the months that had passed. We near April, and it still doesn’t feel like living — that anything is real. I have given my life up long ago, or perhaps seconds ago; everything is timeless and feels one and the same. Losing everything like sand slipping down the crevices and chasms I have built in the locks and tracings of my palms — we bare the reality of the life that has been set forth for us. A haze. A shadow. A husk, like the ones I avoid and fear in my own household. Into everything and nothing at once, becoming everything, playing god, the lowest of all, the most nothing there is — welcome to this inexplicable blur that had become our lives.
Like an exploratory, extremely risky delve to see who cares, who doesn’t and what I can do. Clutching the management, logistics, and resources for an event without much assistance and raising a good amount of money from it (mostly attributed to getting the venue for free) was interesting — lots of lessons were learned. The valuable aspect of this, though, wasn’t just the money or the fact that we earned money or the money or the… yes. It was the lessons and insights, the people that came and the community that we were able to gather — like some sort of weird, exotic, gathering of weeaboos outside of Mall of Asia Convention Center Anime Expositions; even I stepped out of my duties for two of the films that we showed to sit in and watch (Patema Inverted and Hotarubi no Mori e, the former of which is a masterpiece).
And wow, it was fun. It was strange, and gave us this reputation for being an anime-centric organization even if… we don’t want to abide by that title (it’s supposed to be lowkey!) it brought a community of unsuspecting people together. There were faults and flaws, but not as much as I had expected as well — one of the most daunting tasks of that day consisted of rescuing balloons that floated towards the top of the ceiling, and a panic midway through the day since we ran out of Yakisoba so early. (We literally had a tower of it, that was about a thousand pesos worth of Yakisoba and it wasn’t even two hours until it was all gone.)
We gained money on the event mostly because the venue was free, but it was such a good deal. Four movies and two shorts (though we only were able to show three movies and one short due to time constraints) with unlimited, eat-all-you-can food throughout the day — I sincerely hope that everyone who visited was satisfied, as much as I was — because it kind of ignited this spark inside of me. The sense of community, a close, tight-knit community banding together for something that they love, meeting one another, being selflessly giving with a thousand pesos worth of Yakisoba that were finished early on. That’s what I want to see, but not in the anime setting, next time. Though that was still nice, less anime.
Prom — Vivant
Ah, like everyone’s supposed, picturesque dream of a day — Prom was fun, but was filled with a lot of what ifs and other regrets and turnarounds. The night itself was alright; they only played the good kind of classic songs in awkward moments, it died out with a disappointing crowd at the front for someone we paid like, 40,000 pesos for who spent half their appointed set time setting up rather than actually playing, y’know, good prom music — and my middle school fantasy of hearing Dance, Dance by Fall Out Boy blast out of the surround speakers and fill the air with the existential morbid dread of teenage angst never happened despite my tirade of requests for it (and being on the committee itself and having done a ton of work where I suffered endlessly for nights on end, mind you) — the people made it great. Run-on sentences can’t suffice to describe the small moments that made me gloss over the lacking music (no Come On Eileen haze to perfectly timed rewatches of Perks of Being a Wallflower). Dancing in a circle with people that made your year at the edge of the dance floor to shitty electronic pop (Shut Up and Dance With Me) — wishing I had forgiven people sooner, and wishing that I hadn’t given chances to those I did. This is a prom story.
I discovered the plight of heels, got angry before and after about makeup and hair and how I looked and suffered mini-existential crises while putting my dress on, got kicked out of a hotel room and was picked up by my driver alone after being surrounded by silent strangers in a post-midnight hotel lobby. There was no moonlit midnight memory, laughter with friends, or truth in anything that surrounded me. It was alright. It was fun in the moment. It was something I worked for to see shine and was disappointed of the background scenes within it; it was me, stolen alcohol and my best friend’s guitar in the lone of the night with a bag of chocolate and Wonderwall playing and some other strange dissonance of a guitar melody I played relentlessly despite not knowing a single chord.
And, that’s it. The reality of a prom story. You won’t peak in high school, but it’s not worth it to go all edge lord and go on a personal strike against prom. It’s worth something. Not everything. But something.
Because I am not a very smart girl, I decided that I could handle an intensive two-day competition right after the event. I had not attended a single training for the competition. On Sunday, right after my prom “sprak”, or as I’d like to call it — “One of Chia’s depressive episodes where she binge eats and plays the guitar (she doesn’t know how to play the guitar) while singing her nostalgia throwback emo sentimental hits playlist on Spotify,” I found myself on a bus ride, not thinking that I would really push through with the competition but not wanting to disappoint my two other teammates who were going through the same thing as me. If they could handle a competition after prom, I could — too!
So my initial plan was to join just for collaborative writing, because writing is my thing. I’m g to do it anytime. Especially moreso after a drunken fiasco with myself the night before. The thing is — I never actually read the rules of the competition, or got the gist of it. I went into the day not knowing we had to go through three rounds of debate (of which we lost the first and won the next two with me carrying hard) though I had never debated, we picked up pretty good. Honestly, I am still angry that we weren’t able to win the first one — topic was something along the lines of “Should the government inform the general public if the world was going to end?” with us on the affirmative side — their arguments were flawed and crumbling on one another, yet because they weren’t stuttering or sipping from their Starbucks Americano every now and then they won. Still angry.
Aside from that, I was honestly confused the entire event. They were saying things like “pwaa” and talking about how this was a friendly, healthy academic competition; it was more of something like a nightmare reminiscent of my 2010 random phase, the predecessor to my emo phase. They gave me a toy, a black stuffed alpaca which serves as a reminder of my school’s gracious godsend gift for shouldering the registration fee and for me stomaching the prom sprak with academic debate between people stuck in 2010 and angry, serious debate people that ignored the terrible Bruno Mars song that they kept playing and making the room dance to. I didn’t want to kill the vibe or anything, but I was so fucking sleepy and my head was not in the right state. I looked like the living dead. It was a room filled with a handful of La Salle Greenhills people and the rest, teenage girls that thought alpacas were cute and some shit and actually studied and were passionate about this and that is inspiring, but my god, did I want to leave.
Awkwardness and my crippling self-loathing for dragging myself into the event aside, I remember being placed into the cold as hell auditorium and having to take a weird test. The Scholar’s Challenge, as the organization dubs it, it basically a standardized-like test wherein you can pick as many answers as you want, but the more you pick the less points will be awarded if it was wrong. It wasn’t right minus wrong or anything, and I looked up tips on my phone before it started and it said probability still blesses the fact that you guess one out of five if you don’t know shit, so that’s what I did. I also though that I won’t do too bad, but then I found out that there is a set “curriculum” to it where you have to do research on various topics that span the regular fields (for example, moonshots and GoogleX and sucking on Elon Musk’s wunnywusk for Science) which mainly constitutes of reading their Wikipedia page. I relied on my stock knowledge, apologized to my teammates because Godspeed, I did not know anything — I genuinely wanted to die because I would bring our team’s grade down. Pretty badly.
But I did not. I actually scored higher than one of them in some categories, but she still got a tad higher score than me over-all; for the other teammate I had — bless. I miraculously scored higher than her when the questions were things I had… almost no idea about. There were some things on conspiracy theories; I tried to sober up and remember that video I watched a year ago about the current Pete Wentz actually being a lizardman with the real one having been killed in 2010 and it actually helped — there was something about Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and like yeah I watched that movie when I was fourteen and saw that Reddit said it was the greatest thing ever so I got at least two questions out of over a hundred right — maybe, it seems? I did know though, that not knowing anything on a test feels like utter shit and it is so degrading although my background on why I couldn’t answer it as well was understandable. But I apparently did above average even if I relied on stock knowledge — which makes me think of what I could have done if I actually looked at their Wikipedia pages for five minutes each.
This was actually a fun experience — it was weird, I almost backed out, but I actually won a ton of awards that saved my grade in Reading and Writing; another that I am actually really proud of is the collaborative writing essay! The reason why I joined — the reason why my grade was saved as well — I saw the themes for it wherein you could choose from six categories and my atheistic little heart was set on the “Special Area” where the question was “Is religion just mythology that won?” We were given time to research so I pulled out my phone, prayed to God and added some random quotations and statistics at the back then began drawing alpacas, found out that I couldn’t draw them then drew what I imagined Sonic the Hedgehog would look like if it was this organization’s mascot. Writing proper started and I didn’t have an outline in mind, I kind of just write along as I go. I wrote about Finding Nemo, bookstores, dinner table conversations and how religion sucks, especially Christianity. I panicked after the test because the way they judge these competitions is actually by volunteer college students and adults — picking the area was super risky since there was a high chance that the one who would grade my essay is one of those devout holier than thou types — but I actually won second place in the entire region — when I saw my scorecard a few weeks after the competition proper, I almost perfected that fucking essay. That person who got first place better have written about Pocahontas or something more obscure like Lady and the Tramp or Anastasia, because nothing can beat atheism with Finding Nemo.
(The essay was something in the context of: If I walk into a bookstore and see Finding Nemo books about talking fish and stuff and am told that it isn’t real and that we cannot buy a clownfish and subject it to torture in an undersized aquarium — then proceeding to the Bible section and reading about Noah’s Ark and expecting that a magical deity flooded the entire world and that every single pair of animals were on the ark and were able to procreate the world and repopulate afterwards with a rainbow on top — that was just absurd. If I move into another bookshelf and see Rick Riordan writing about Percy Jackson and shit and see that it was actually a religion in the past that now turned into young adult, teenage girl fuel — what gives? I actually wish I had a copy of the essay, so I can burn it.)
A Trip @ CSB
Not much to say about this other than the fact that we went there for an event organized by my Thursday club. Got to sit into a photography class and found out that college life isn’t all glory; there’s that guy who doesn’t know how basic lighting works, uncomfortable chairs that make me wonder how people survive three-hour classes, a table that I am seriously questioning how my 15″ laptop would fit on, damp cold rooms, and the crippling fear of how I am going to pick new outfits for every single day. A nod towards Catholic private school uniforms and all that. We also listened to a talk by this renowned art curator, he was so inexplicably fascinated by old photographs of Filipina women — identifying them in dumps of old photographs, stating that he was piecing together history. History pieced by the portraits of my culture, ripped apart for foreign eyes, photographing unsuspecting girls in exchange for petty things. I forgot his name, but he was so fascinated by these pictures of Filipina women in the old ages. Open to the idea of modern photography for someone who seemed so upbeat and elitist, talked and joked to us about how amazing iPhone 7 cameras seemed to be. It was strange. I liked him a lot.
That captures some events that changed me during January and February. Just a tiny glimpse — and I write this on the first of April and ignore so much more, like hosting YouthHack South-Manila-Makati, holding Developers’ Society events, or releasing my first poetry chapbook, attending Wanderland and pulling off something just like Prom where I attended a Genetics Camp hosted at UP Los Banos. It’s not that I am required to write about everything, but I want to. It grounds me, and reminds me of where I have been, and where I’m going.
More will follow in these summer days as I fall back on the past. These are just pieces of something so much bigger. They can’t be forgotten, but then they are not everything — not the whole of those months. If I could, I would capture each possible memory. The sky one day, something that someone said that struck me for an entire day but just slips by a week later, those weird moments where I take my vantage point and understand where I am, who I am, and everything that surrounds me and everything that I will become. This is how I live.
This is a piece of a blur that has become my life; it’s not extravagant. (Haven’t been offered my full-ride scholarship to MIT yet, right?) But together, it means something so whole.
I’d be lying to you if I said that this was the norm, though. I have done so much in the past months, more than ever in my life — some things are going fast the way I like while other facets are still slowly growing. It is all exploratory, but it is still everything I had ever known. Each month, I move forward becoming more and more, knowing more and more than before; it’s amazing, but what is even more amazing is how I constantly crave for more.
Maybe that was self-indulgent, but this is where we live. On the brink of everything.