Tag Archives: writing

Finding The Bright Side to My Four Hour Commute

Commuting to New York is the bane of my existence, as I imagine it would be for anyone who similarly suffers the mind-numbing isolation of sitting pretty on a train for hours at a time. My twice daily trek between the Jersey Shore & Manhattan is an arduous one; I spend nearly four hours getting to and from New York. When you add it all up, that’s 22.5 hours per week, 90 hours per month, and 1,080 hours per year. As much as I cherish my proximity to the sea, commuting from where I live is not a breeze.

My commute is an earthly hell that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Yet despite the cold resentment it’s brewed in me, it can be a slight meditative experience at times. At times, we pass through layers of leaves which rapidly blur into a woodland menagerie. Walls of green encapsulate us in a vision streaming forth. Trees and vines enshroud the shores that lead to the sea and alluring possibilities of escape. In some moments, phones are put down while curious eyes peer out to the horizon, longing for freedom from the stationary. In the morning, sunlight touches our skin and kisses our eyelids— a teasable return to consciousness. In the evening, dreamlike sunsets tell me I’ll be home soon.

The way we rush past scenery in nature whilst on a train mirrors the way our commute forces us to rush past the scenery in our natural lives. At home with family and friends. But beneath our grievances is a slightly soothing truth: I’m not the only one who sacrifices precious time and money to travel day in, day out. It’s calming to know that I share my commute with others.

Our collective nature to commiserate is in some ways a blessing. When I step onto the train early in the morning and see rough and familiar faces, my aching body exhales a sigh of relief that I’m not alone. It’s more than a gesture of coffee and pastries. Something in the morning air unites our consciousness, allowing sparkles of comfort to proliferate our daily travels.

Though no one speaks, I’ve grown somewhat attached to my company. I wonder what everyone does for a living, how long they’ve been commuting for, and if they ever think about me. When I notice someone is missing in the morning or heading home, I wonder what might have happened. Perhaps they missed their train, or were working late. Or maybe they quit their job or got a new one. Better yet, perhaps they saved enough money or received a promotion that allowed them to move closer to their work.

By the end of the day, it’s painful knowing we share more time with each other riding a train than we do with our loved ones. It’s unfathomable that some people have been doing this for years. But there’s still something delicate about sharing an experience that requires us to relinquish much control of our lives. For as long as I must bare NJ transit, I’m thankful for the people who make the trek just a bit more comfortable.

Featured image by Jörg Schubert.

Today is my birthday

1-25-2016. I’m another year older. Another year clueless. But, I have a more tangible insight as to where my life is going and how I’m getting there. 2015 was not glamorous by any means (besides my trips to the Philippines and to Baltimore with my girls). In fact it was probably one of the worst years of my life, if not the worst. Contrast that to the previous year, 2014, which was undoubtedly the best year of my life. The year of travel, freedom, soulful luxury and wholeness. I felt more sure of my identity than ever before. My end to 2014 and beginning to 2015 were magical. I was able to spend time with some of the people who mean the most to me. For my birthday last year, I got to see some of them in the same room interacting with one another, meeting each other. I love bringing brilliant people together. People I believe in, people who believe in me. After they left I thought about what 2015 would bring; I never felt more unsure in my life. Regardless, I was elated by them caring enough for me to come together and celebrate.

In 2015, I experienced an arduous job searching stupor (still kind of am) which featured very promising interviews and interactions, but outcomes that were only semi-fruitful and not enough. I often felt choked betwixt the layers of reality and fantasy. Doubtful about choosing the necessary evils that would ultimately help me reach my dreams. For the record, I still plan on pursuing an acting career. Where and exactly when I will actively begin my journey is unknown to me (currently leaning towards NYC, who’s with me?). However, I am super close to paying off my student loans and once that happens, I immediately plan on saving enough money to seek the life my soul aches for.

Other things happened last year that I don’t wish to disclose as I don’t wish to reflect on them any further. But I’m praying to God that 2016 is much better. Please God let it be. I now know though, that we’re all on a journey together. I’ve come to realize that I need to constantly work at being who I want to be. It’s not a dream anymore. I’m not a kid in school. It’s become my concrete reality and my youth is gliding on the ice. One of my resolutions for the new year is to say yes to things, invitations, people, I normally would say no to. My world has been too controlled by me thus far. I want to broaden it and my experiences, the depths of my senses and relationships. You never know who you’ll meet or what you’ll learn.

Studying in Jerusalem taught me the importance of being open to opportunities. When I went to my first ever strip club in Tel Aviv, I initially refused because it wasn’t how I imagined my first experience to unfold. I was with two friends and we had just come from swimming in a gym pool- my hair was dry and unkempt, I was wearing the most basic jeans and a pull over hoodie. This was not how I wanted to feel or look entering a strip club for the first time! But I was convined to stay by one of my friend’s friends. As he introduced himself to me, he looked me right in my eyes and shook my hand, he kept his eyes on me and didn’t let go of my hand. I complained to him how crappy I looked. “You’re hot. You should see how the other guys look,” he replied. My jaw dropped on the inside and all of a sudden I felt ready to go 🙂

I guess this birthday blog post is basically about me using lessons I learned in 2014 and 2015 to guide my 2016. Which actually means I should relinquish some control. This year I want to work harder and stay more focused, but it’s time to let things happen! Let happiness happen. Let simplicity happen. Let love happen. Let friendship happen. Let boredom happen. Let it all happen. But then deal with it. Analyze it. Move on. Start over. 12 months to go. I hope I’ll see you there. xo

Pussy Scream

Throw me in the whore house.
Collecting stds.
He looked at my grapefruits crusting over,
I said honey you don’t want these.

I see men by the hour.
Trying to dazzle me with false power.
One brought me a flower.
I left it wilting in the shower.
We were in the lonely hour,
Reminiscing upon time lost and silent regret.
He said “Baby I’m sorry, you can’t even get wet.”
But oh he was wrong, the tear flow was strong.
My face was soaked with the ghosts
I kept to myself.

He tried to put his cock in my mouth
But I wouldn’t allow it.
So we lit up a smoke and he told some bad jokes.
About a woman named Sally, a prude little queen.
To her suitors she was mean. They only wanted the green.
Their eyes gazed diamonds and her pussy pristine.
She made them fuck off saying “Bitch I am me!”
Sally went home that night to her pretty pink palace.
She fingered her cooch and screamed “Yea I’m da baddest.”

Happiness is real. I know one day I’ll fine it.
When I get out of here, I hope to God I won’t be blinded.
I’ll find a doctor and I won’t suck his dick.
If he pull it out and play with it, I won’t even lick.
I’ll get a new job brewing coffee for the joes.
I won’t even slap my own ass or think I’m a ho.
But you know what I’m ready for?
To treat my stds and make my own pussy scream.

 

Artwork: Hypnotic Circle by Lucas Lasnier (parbo art)- https://www.flickr.com/photos/parboart/

Fantastical Girls

Leaves of Havana
Blessing skin in the morning
With the breeze and sunlight
Feeling free to touch.

Bells chime and signal
The turns of the sea
And the ending pages of summer.
God promised we were safe.
I believe.

Romantic failures subside. We get by;
There’s still more promise
In the fruits of the garden.
Bewildered, breath stolen,
In each other’s arms.
Lost in the streets in adoration
Of the magic that could transpire at night.
Moments that we least expect
Reflecting off of Rhinestones and Remedies.


You are the girls I’ve been waiting for.
Praying as if children,
As if drunken,
As if in love.
Romance radiating in our vibrating voices.
Collecting in pools,
Blue and grey.
Swirling throughout theories of misery.
Diamond eyes and sincere smiles
Never fade but the songs we listen to.
We forget the kind gestures of strangers at bars, who stare
Whimsically within what we present as our souls.
Be they enlivened and feverish from the nocturnal essence
We evoke. Hallucinatory yet not absinthe or leaves of grass.
But bitchy and Vogue, urban and glamorous.
We are free people,
But we choose the party and deny the cars.
Because only once in a while do we give real chances to people who don’t understand,
Nor could ever dance to our rhythms
Of who we are and what we want.

The Only Place For Me

I haven’t unpacked my things and I almost don’t want to. At least not yet. My clothes still carry the smell of the room we stayed in in my lola’s (grandmother’s) home. I know my memories will fade, as certainly as I know, the smell of my clothes will one day fade until next time. The truth is, I don’t want to be away from them. We say goodbye, we think see you later, then they’re on my Facebook timeline and in the back of my mind until one day out of the unpredictable blue my mom asks me if I want to go the Philippines. Could my answer ever be “No”? I wish we could go every year. My heart goes out to immigrants everywhere that wish to be with their families but cannot for whatever reason.

Smell is the closest sense tied to memory. I hope the day never comes that I would ever forget the smell of the Philippines, the different scents of my home and the air. We returned five days ago and my luggage still houses my clothes and keeps the familiar scents embedded in them and I am lovelorn. My wishes are pearls and my tears are crystals that I drop whilst praying for the safety, health, and happiness of us all. I wish I had dollars- mountains of dollars that I could share with everyone so that we would never worry. And dollars that I would keep so I could always visit. Dollars for the things we really need and some for the things we want. I’m always praying- just like Lola every morning. I don’t know what she prays for, but I hope she says some for me. And I’ll say some for her.

There is no full happiness and appreciation for life and beauty without them. I will always pray for us and I will always fight for all of their love, big or small, smothering or invisible, distant or close, silent or loud. My eyes are tired from all the water that’s poured out. We all make mistakes. Lord forgive me for the ones I’ve made, including not knowing how quickly everything would come and pass. Life was dandy when I was 5. But what was it like for everyone else? The adults in my family and the ones to be. Did they also have a candy view of life? We were all much closer when we were younger. Has the fact that we’re not as close or as young changed the way we feel? Or is this how getting older makes all adults feel, that responsibilities that come with age make life less sweet?

I drag things out to the very end. I don’t unpack. I don’t clean. I pack until the last minute. I hope my future partner will forgive me these things. If something impacts me, I’ll hold onto it and I don’t let myself forget about it. My family is irreplaceable. We’re unforgettable. We’re a force for good. You’ll never forget us. You’ll always remember. The silver stars will twinkle and the dogs will always roam. The hearts that I’m surrounded with will always be my home. With you, I could never be angry, I could never be hurt. My spirit wrapped in your tenderness all the times you washed my shirt. Pink sorbet New Jersey skies are pleasant and bring me to the present. They make me miss where I belong. Memories pure in soft rock songs, bouncing from the radio. I wish we didn’t have to go, that instead I’d say “See you tomorrow.”

The night we arrived in the Philippines I knew it would crush me to say goodbye. Out of all the times I’ve ever visited, this time hit me the hardest. I first visited when I was infant, around age one, then when I was five, when I was 10, when I was 13, 15, 21, and now. That place has got a big piece of my heart. I’m not the best that I could be, but I’m trying to be. You deserve it all and I honestly don’t deserve all the love you’ve given me. But thank you for loving us anyway. You’ve all inspired me to love the same.

Love always,
Me.

Gallivanting The Green Menagerie

Yesterday was probably my favorite day so far here in the Philippines. My mom, and sister and I went with our two cousins from my dad’s side to Danasan Eco Adventure Park in Danao City. It was literally our first time spending time with them and having actual conversations. We’re all in our 20’s and never connected until now because we were always shy when we were younger. Now that we’re more mature, it’s easier to let go of that and simply be real and connect. As I get older, I look to remove old layers of myself and my shyness that have prohibited me from growing and expanding my relationships with people and my place in this world. At times I forget that I am in control of my life. But then I have those periodic moments of soul rejuvenation where I realize I am in control of my destiny and that I have agency over how I want my life to pan out when given opportunities. When I’m at a celebratory family dinner and my relatives are in front of me whom I haven’t spoken to in a while, I realize I have the ability to speak and breathe life into those connections. I have a voice, I have a charm, I have a personality, as well as my family in front of me. We don’t have to stay mum and sit idly as time passes us by. We have a choice to make the most out of each day and every moment.

According to the Danasan Park website, it “boasts of 133 hectares of beautiful outdoors. The Park has three (3) caves, a waterfall with three (3) astounding drops, several fresh water springs, and a man-made lake. It also has a wide range of eco-friendly activities that will surely satisfy one’s thirst for adventure. All Park facilities are fully environment-friendly and were carefully planned so as not to cause any harm to the natural beauty of the environment. The Park leverages on nature’s splendor after all.” The activities offered include zip lining, wake boarding, caving, trekking, rappelling, tyrolean, ATV riding, horseback riding, 8×8 off road trailing, and you can also rent a bike, camp, and swim in their infinity pool. There was also a new activity called the SkyDrop, which was basically a launch swing where you’re hoisted high up in the air. I would have done it, but we didn’t have enough time. We arrived at the park at 1 pm, and had lunch at a cute and slightly fancy eatery within the park. We finished lunch at 2 and since the park closes at 5, we only had time to do the ATV trail and the joint activity of zip lining and horseback riding. It was a wild day of many firsts, including hanging with my cousins! It was my first time riding an ATV and my first time riding horseback! Unfortunately, my guide kept smacking my horse in the face with a branch of leaves, albeit lightly. My horse seemed tired and kept lagging off to the side of the path. I wish I knew how to say “Please stop hitting the horse.” [I think I could have said “Ayaw pak-pak si ya.”]

The ATV was our first activity and definitely the most adventurous. I’ve always wanted to ride one and own one myself, but during my first couple moments of riding it, I was scared I would be thrown off. The path was super rocky and seemingly unsafe, but thank God I never fell. We faced a few metaphoric bumps in the road: my mom initially tried riding with us, but after bumbling to the side only a few meters ahead and being stuck on a rock, she decided not to move forward. At one point, my vehicle uncontrollably veered to the right and I almost crashed into a fully grown albino horse that was eating. It jumped to the side in fear and I thought I would hit and that it would trample me, but I was able to swerve away and back onto the path. We all eventually got a better hang of our vehicles and were able to tear through the edgy terrain in amusement.

Although the park was fun and wonderful, the real adventure was getting there…
From Cebu, there are four ways of getting to Danasan Eco Adventure Park.
1. You can call the park and have them shuttle you directly.
2. You can drive all the way there.
3. Take a bus from the North Terminal to Danao and then walk 25 km to the park.
or 4. Do what we did and once you arrive in Danao, habal-habal, or ride with random dudes on motorbikes and pay them to take you to the park, which is the way most people go that don’t schedule a shuttle.

Riding on a motorcycle was another first. In Israel, many dudes have these cute little moped like bikes, but in the Philippines, we have actual motorbikes that many people buy because they’re cheaper than cars. Once we were in Danao and got off our little van, we walked in the direction of a sign that read “This way to Danasan Eco Adventure Park” and went to a sari-sari store, which is a mini convenient street store that sells packaged goods, foods, and hygiene sachets, owned by many families as a main source of income; you can see hundreds of them in cities here. The woman who owned the store told us that the park was far and that the only way to get there was to “habal-habal” and find guys who would be willing to take us there for a price. Soon enough, a couple guys rode up to us and asked where we were going. “Danasan Park” we said. One of them went off to find a third guy to take us and once they found him, we started to negotiate. It was a very interesting process because it seemed like the men were total strangers who banded together for this job. They said it would be a 2 hour ride to the park, which at first sounded so unthinkable to ride on the back of these bikes for that long, but it was our only option because there is no other transportation to this park. We finally agreed that we would pay 550 pesos per bike for round trip and that the three of them would wait for us at the park until we were finished.

After we did a quick gas fill up with gasoline that amazingly looked like red soda, we were off! I had no idea what to do with my hands when I hopped onto the bike except grab onto his shoulders, because that’s what I always see on screen of people being romantic and in love, but then he motioned for me to put my hands on his waist instead. I was initially scared I would get hit by a car and thrown off the bike because the way people drive in the Philippines looks so reckless and lawless, but there really is a method to it. On a more personal note, my cousin’s father died after crashing into a tree while riding his bike. In a strange way, it felt like all of us riding on the backs of these bikes was a weird step into adulthood and coming to terms with who we were all becoming, especially since we were traveling together.

We traveled winding roads with the island wind blowing in our faces. We ascended and descended upon mountain slopes with the sunlight beaming overhead. My eyes were transfixed upon the picturesque revealed in front of me. I was right in the thickness and glorious beauty of the Philippines. When I turned my head left, I saw elevated fields of green, hillside rice paddies, banana tree farms and young green coconuts crowning palm trees. When I turned my head right, I saw slender trees that stood tall and straight with loose vines that dangled down above the heads of children and delicate wooden bridges drenched with a provocative musk of rustic adventure I so desperately wanted to explore. I wanted to ask my biker to stop so I could walk along and take photos and touch and live inside the scenes I was viewing. The artful tropical landscapes set off fireworks in my mind and left me breathless. I couldn’t believe this was the adventure I was living. From being in the Middle East one year ago, and now returned to my motherland of the Philippines, riding on a mountain on the back of this dude’s bike, holding onto him and passing by the people on the street, life couldn’t be sweeter and I couldn’t have asked for more. My sister sat behind me, my mother rode with my cousin Clifford, and his brother Shane rode alone with his biker. Our biker was the best. He was always first and was certainly the fastest, although he never made it a show to be. He led without trying to lead, and the majority of our ride there and back, we were so far ahead of the others that they weren’t in sight behind us, so we pulled to the side a few times throughout and waited for them and let them pass us until we caught up and led once again.

Along the first quarter of the way, we passed under grey clouds and looked to the rain in the distance. Soon enough, we felt droplets of rain and I imagined we would continue traveling like this: swiftly darting in between the raindrops as the air cooled our skin, our senses delighted in the ever changing atmosphere as I pondered my life and how my cousins felt about our bike ride. But we took cover under a wooden shelter because our bikers sensed greater rains ahead. Then the rain really began to pour and the air cooled down and I was grateful for this shelter and for our bikers and their nuanced senses of travel and the weather. There was a house and sari sari store across the narrow road that housed whom I imagined built this protective space. Residing in the shelter beside us was a slender and playful goat that Micah fed with grass; it kept jumping above the wooden bench and crawling underneath it to come closer. We snacked on syrup encrusted banana chips and spicy chicharon [pork rinds] while we waited and drank water and apple juice wondering when the rain would end. It calmed me to watch the heavy rains pour on the greenery below. The rainfall was so thick, it looked as if massive nets of glimmering water were lashing in the air, pounding the trees and spreading across the fields. For a moment, I was worried that this was what our ultimate hangout with our cousins was going to be, sitting and watching the rain, asking each other questions and exchanging friendly, curious glances with our bikers. But thankfully, rain storms in the Philippines, despite being heavy, are relatively brief, comparable to thunder storms in New Jersey minus the thunder.

Eventually the rain softened and we hopped back onto our wet bikes. We raced through the light rain, as the water pressed against our bodies and into our eyes, momentarily blurring our vision, but never dampening the inescapable air of romance and adventure that soaked into this incredible sensory experience. The rain cleared and the sun was out again with skies of blue as we raced through barangays, or small towns, upwards into the mountains and towards this uniquely remote and isolated park with the weirdest and most unbelievable road leading to it. I felt like a high fashion model beyond the realm of Chanel, working an extremely extended, once in a lifetime, otherworldly photoshoot for Vogue or similarly exclusive ad campaign, proud to model in a stunning location in the Philippines; I wished Mario Testino was there to capture the whole thing. Only those who have habal-habaled to this park know what this was like. I knew once I hopped onto the back of the bike and saw the fields of green, that this was going to be one of the days I always remember. The entire journey was visually and physically stunning, and simultaneously tinged with an extremely personal and intimate layer of what it means to be family. Riding with my cousins on the very cause of their father’s death, truly being with them for the first time, witnessing the irreplaceable land of my roots and the pearls of my heritage, feeling like a world class model, latching onto to the back of a stranger, being physically close as he seamlessly guides us on an enchanting yet obscure road, cutting through rain and mud and mosquitoes flying into my eyes and me blinking them to their deaths, as my eyes lock with the dozens of residents throughout the barangays, wondering about their lives and who they are, them wondering about me and who I am. Yesterday was a blessed adventure I never knew I would have as well as a physical demonstration that life and living is about the journey, not the destination.

Header photo credits: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jonicdao/

4.8.07

I do things deliberately. Some things that I do don’t make sense. But I like to imagine that there’s someone who does. Someone like you. I am lost oftentimes in the universe of understanding myself with my past and tracing where the energies have transferred. Rediscovering that I am not lost. Although alone, I have friends. People who finally understand the eccentricities of my fiery crackling character. But that doesn’t take away the loneliness. Of missing what it would feel like now to have your arms around me after all these years or your lips on mine. Your lips on mine. After all these years. Have you not forgotten me? Have you not found a new love? Maybe a husband. A wife. Something that isn’t me nor what I was meant to be for you. Or maybe.

Four years ago, they cursed our hearts and called us young.
Saying we don’t know what love is.
Love is me watching you, watching me.
Love is laughter over and over again.
It is the deep gratitude for your shelter and your rescue, as it is the ever flowing of tears.
Love is not uncertainty.
It is wild and reckless and sure of itself.
Love is not a flower.
Love is not a word.
Love is all encompassing.
Love is absolute but simple, beautiful, and dangerous.
We are never fully prepared for its touch.
Love is why I love you, to show you it exists.

8 years ago on this day was the happiest day of my life.
Here is the truth.