Tag Archives: writing

The First Time I Fell In Love

The first time I fell in love, it was with my best friend. He was kind and smart and I was 16 and filled with the passionate exuberance of my first time. We sat next to each other during most classes and snuck touches past our teachers. I’d ask, “What if someone catches us?” and he’d dare me with his eyes, “Who cares?” The first time I fell in love was the first time I felt how soft lips could be, how excited your body could get. How deep conversations could run. We talked about our darkest corners and spent countless nights texting till the sun rose, walk into class with sleepy eyes and repeat. But we didn’t care. We were in love. 

When I first fell in love, I was naive. I balanced between being self-centered and too giving at all the wrong times. He’d tell you I was flirtatious but I’d argue I was just friendly. I’d say he cared too much about how others thought of him and he’d claim that that’s the world we live in. He’d say I was crossing a line and I’d retaliate, “We’re just friends.” We were reckless and irresponsible and too full of young love to understand that the world is so much bigger than the conversations we had in between textbooks. We were still finding ourselves.

The second time I fell in love, I didn’t fall right away. He was older and more experienced and I just wanted to have fun. It wasn’t a sudden spark in the darkness, but a gradual connection that molded itself into something I never saw coming. I had left my home to live in a new place and he stood beside me as I explored new experiences. He showed me how big and how small a hectare of land could be, how many worlds could be built in-between the space of two bodies. How I didn’t have to feel ashamed when blood would run down my legs unexpectedly or when he’d find deodorant marks on my black tops. I learned how to take as much as I give in the shadows of my bed, how to free my body from expectation and see my own skin as a home instead of a temple.

The second time I fell in love, I was still young and carefree and unprepared for heartbreak. I’d flirt with other guys to see if he’d notice and he’d pretend he didn’t. I asked if he loved me and he said, “No.” I lied and said I didn’t either. I remember crying for weeks, waiting for the moment I could listen to music or feel enjoyment without wanting to throw up. We agreed from the beginning that our relationship was temporary, that distance wasn’t worth the effort, but in-between the lines of every message we sent thousands of miles away from one another, were unspoken desires and hopes. But he showed me that memory is fickle and that details fade, grow dusty and crinkle like aged paper. Eventually pain subsides and we learn to grow and be grateful.

The third time I fell in love, I had no plans or expectations. I had no idea relationships and love could be so complex. That I could fall for a girl. I learned how to talk and listen and relate, how to understand the push, pull, and collision of emotional and physical connection. She taught me how to see and be seen, and how love–– real love–– should be given. I’d spend early hours working on papers and assignments and she’d drop me food making sure I ate, giving me the lemons in her water, and running with me even after a long day at work.

But the third time I fell in love, I learned how toxic I could be. How loud I could yell and how hurtful my words could be. How selfish and callous we can be when we know how much someone loves us. How much it hurts to let something go but how much better it feels to know we’re no longer poisoning something pure. The third time I fell in love, I realized I didn’t deserve more. She did.

The last time I fell in love, I didn’t want to. I wanted to live and grow alone for a long while with no distractions. I had a plan and he was in a different country. We barely knew each other and I told myself I’d never confine myself to a long distance relationship. He was in the military, wanting to come back home. I was in the middle of my busiest semester and I wanted to leave, to place roots somewhere else. It was everything I didn’t want. But you don’t really get to decide who you fall in love with.

We spent hours every day texting, calling, learning how distance can’t stop your heartbeat from picking up speed when you see their name pop up on your screen. Learning that the last time can be just as new as the first time. Learning how to squeeze a whole year in 10 days. Learning how to plan 5, 10, 20 years down the line with the same person–– what we’d name our dog, our kids, what color our sheets would be, who’d do the laundry and who’d do the dishes, and how we’d stop our Roomba from falling down the stairs.

But the last time I fell in love, I learned how forgiving I can be. That love alone isn’t enough. I learned that feelings scar and scare us. Remain vivid markers of things we’d rather forget, things we carry with us like a skin tag. That unkept promises metastasize into deeply rooted insecurities that we try to lock inside ourselves but that can never truly stay hidden. That even when we’re in love we can still be unsure, but still, we keep trying and hoping it was always meant to be. And maybe one day It will be.

FAQ: My Master’s Program Part I

A couple weeks ago, I asked my friends on Instagram if they’d be interested to hear about my experience in my master’s program. An overwhelming amount of them kindly said they did, so I went a step further and asked what they would like to know. Below are some of the questions I’ve received and my, hopefully, helpful responses. Some questions I reserved for Part II because they require more in-depth answers. I will be posting it soon though!

For context, I am a graduate student at the University of Guam pursuing a Master of Arts in English with a Literature track. I began my program in the Fall of 2018 and my projected graduation date is December 2020. As such, I can only give my experience and advice based on my specific program.

Here’s what I go over in Part I:

The Process and the Program
– What’s the process like?
– Why did you decide to go to UOG?
– In what cases is it beneficial to go straight for a PhD instead of a masters?
– Expectations vs Reality?
– Undergrad vs. Grad?
– Workload?

– Professor interaction compared to undergrad?

The Thesis Process:
– How do you choose a thesis?
– What is the process of completing that thesis?

– Best places for sources?
– How did you know who you wanted to work with? (e.g. thesis chair)
– For your thesis, would you consider doing that with other cultures’ stories?

My Personal Journey and Advice to You: 
– Fav moments?
– Fav things you’ve read?
– Is it worth it?
– Does your future career choice require a masters?
– What can you do with your degree?
– What inspired you to keep going when thesis research got bumpy?
– Thoughts on taking a gap year?

The Process and the Program

  • What’s the process like?
    • Pre-application: For my program, I was required to submit a graduate application with my undergraduate transcript and letters of recommendation. I applied a week before classes started. For other programs, you’ll definitely need to plan as several graduate programs require you to apply a semester before classes even start and might require other documents. Make sure to do your research!
    • Credits: Once you get accepted, the English Program requires that students take 9-12 credits or 3-4 courses before they apply for thesis credits. You’ll need a total of 36 credit hours with 6 of those hours being dedicated to thesis. Most of us opted for 2-3 classes a semester as 4 classes, along with our respective jobs and responsibilities, could prove challenging.
    • Thesis: For those who aren’t aware, a thesis is pretty much a final research project, often in the form of a 45-65 page essay. You can choose to go the traditional thesis writing route or the creative thesis route. I chose the latter. Here’s a snippet I stole from my university’s website:
    • Students who follow the traditional option are those who desire to increase their mastery of a given content area and might be contemplating doctoral work in the future. Students who select the creative option might be preparing to teach creative writing in the schools, to work as editors and publishers, or will be writing for personal accomplishment. (“Admission Requirements“)

    • Whatever you choose will have its own challenges, so choose a path that’s interesting and sustainable for you. The best part about your thesis is that it’s yours. While you get to choose what you want to write about, however, your thesis should still showcase the knowledge you accumulated in your courses, which can include a strong command of language and firm understanding and application of theory.
  • Why did you decide to go to UOG?
    • Everyone thinks of cost when choosing a school. Well, almost everyone. I remember going for a drive with two friends of mine. One of them was complaining about how he had spent over $70k for his degree in business and how his job was only paying him a little more than minimum wage. At this time, I also only had a B.A. and was about to pull out loans for my M.A. while only having a part time job.
    • My other friend, who doesn’t have her degree and who was also likely tired of listening to us complain said, “I don’t even have my degree and I’m still making more than both of you.”
    • That’s when I realized I didn’t want to drop $70k+ on a big, fancy school mistakenly thinking my inevitable success would be tied to its name. I knew I could receive just as good of an education at UOG. I already knew the professors, knew that I wanted to study indigenous and pacific Literature, and knew I could accomplish all I wanted with paying a fraction of the price.
  • In what cases is it beneficial to go straight for a PhD instead of a masters? and/or vice versa?
    • I wish I could answer this, but I can’t as I have no experience with it. I can, however, table this for a later post where I interview my professors or other graduate students.
  • Expectations vs Reality? Undergrad vs. Grad? Workload?
    • Expectation: The classes will be 10x harder. I’ll hate my life.
    • Reality: When I was taking course work, I was submitting 1-3 essays a week and reading 200+ pages of text along with it. The beginning of the semester usually starts slow, but once it hits midterms it felt like the rest of the semester was me trying to catch up. The rigor and expectation is definitely heightened, but I also had the freedom to choose what classes I wanted to take.  Because my program is relatively small, the professors are really accommodating with students. They always ask for our input and what classes we would like to take next semester. I was actually super interested in what I was learning. So while it was 10x harder, it was far more enjoyable than undergrad. 
    • Expectation: I wouldn’t have time to do anything other than school.
    • Reality: I had a part-time writing job, TA’d for my division, joined an outside league for basketball, and still hung out with friends. I just had to plan, prioritize, and recognize when I needed to buckle down and write that paper.
    • Expectation: I’ll finally have my life together and have it all figured out.
    • Reality: I don’t.
    • Expectation: I’ll be broke.
    • Reality: I mean, I’m nowhere where I want to be financially but I had more opportunities presented to me in graduate school. Because I narrowed my area of focus, it was easier for me to find the right place to network and the right people to work with.
  • In what ways did this program nurture and limit your growth as a writer?
    • Great question! I’ll save this for Part II. 😉
  • Professor interaction compared to undergrad?
    • Very good in my program! Some classes are hybrid, meaning it’s a mix of undergraduate students and graduate students (usually 1-2 other grads). In grad-only classes, the typical size is about 5 students, so not only did I form a close relationship with my professors, I also created a much needed bond with my cohort.

The Thesis Process:

  • How do you choose a thesis topic? 
    • Professors often advise students to have a potential thesis topic or area of interest in mind before they even enter the program. A lot of professors are very accommodating and will allow their students to tailor one or more essay assignments to their class and the student’s thesis. For instance, in my SciFi class, I drafted a story with the same theories I used in my thesis (post-colonialism and ecofeminism). What I learned from this essay was a valuable contribution to my actual thesis. So the sooner you know what you’re interested in, the better!
    • I learned, too, that the best way to choose a topic is to find something interesting AND important to me. Then interrogate the hell out of it.
      • Interesting: Mythology, Folklore
      • Important: My culture, my creative writing, valuable ways to create art, uplift voices from marginalized communities
      • My questions: How do Filipino myths shape the perception of women in the Philippines? How do they reflect the treatment of the environment? How can myths be adapted to reflect current times while also remaining a mirror of history/herstory? How can this be valuable and to what communities?
      • Theories: Eco-feminism, Post-colonialism, Abjection
  • What is the process of completing a thesis?
    • Before I decided to write my thesis, I first had to register for thesis credits. Before I registered for thesis credits, I first had to find an advisor or thesis chair (I’ll get into this more in another question).
    • Once I chose my advisor, I chose my committee (usually two to three other professors or scholars) to help me along in this journey. They didn’t need to be experts in my topic, although that certainly helps, but I chose them because they could offer valuable insight to my project.
    • Next, I spent roughly 6 credit hours dedicated to reading, researching, organizing and drafting my manuscript, which is now nearing 67 pages.
    • You can break up your 6 credits any way you want. Some only take 1 thesis credit a semester, others take 3-4. It’s up to you. For some areas of study, your final project might not even be in the form of a long essay. Some colleges have an oral exam. Be aware of your options!
  • Best places for sources?
    • I found a lot of valuable sources on JSTOR, but since my topic deals with indigenous narratives I had to move past the white-men-mostly databases and seek permission to access articles from universities in the Philippines. I also checked the bibliographies of the articles that related to my topic and tried to find the ones of interest to me. If it was a book, I often checked The Project Gutenberg for free texts. Otherwise, I just got really good at wording research topics and tacking ‘scholarly article’ at the end of the google search bar.
    • Before you pay for access to certain sources, check to see if your library or thesis chair is part of an affiliate program where they can retrieve articles from other universities for free. You’d be surprised how many expensive texts and articles I was able to gain access to for free.
  • How did you know who you wanted to work with? (e.g. thesis chair)
    • Before I chose my thesis chair, I had to think about the kind of student I was and the type of professors I needed. I knew I needed structure and too much freedom would be debilitating to my productivity. I also knew I wanted to work with someone who was knowledgeable about the theories I wanted to apply, but who was also open to learning about my own thesis topic and balanced that structure with freedom.
    • So I chose an awesome chair who required me to write up a 10 page proposal and have a working list of references before I even started writing. It. Sucked. But I needed it. This proposal helped me refine my topic in many ways. She also required me to create realistic deadlines and made sure I stuck to them.
    • Some professors won’t require a proposal or will give you all the freedom you need and some students thrive with this method. They have their own methods of structure and organization that, sadly, I lack. So choosing the right person to chair your thesis will be heavily informed by how aware you are of your own study and writing habits and how well you know your professors professor-ing habits (?? idk either).
  • For your thesis, would you consider doing that with other culture’s stories?
    • One of the purposes of my thesis is to illustrate one of the many ways indigenous writers can use creative writing to heal colonial wounds and rebuild their own identities unencumbered by the negative stigmas attached to their respective cultures and beliefs. My project seeks to carve a space, specifically, for Filipino narratives to converse with the wide array of stories already told in the corpus of western academia, young adult literature, and mythology. It’s so specific to my home that my hope wouldn’t be to tell the stories of other nations and cultures, but to hopefully encourage indigenous writers to tell their own stories in their own ways.

My Personal Journey and advice to you:

  • Fav moments?
    • My favorite moments all revolve around my cohort. There’s no specific moment, but there’s the specific feelings of struggling and despairing, doubting yourself and what you’re writing but ultimately pushing through and doing it with a supportive group of friends who are all going through the same thing. Sometimes we’d be so stress that our only response was to laugh like psychos over very real fears like what if we don’t finish in time or what if we can’t find a job after?
    • & to me, those are my favorite moments because they taught me that even in the midst of all this underlying fear and palpable stress, that we could still find the energy to laugh and have a good time. Those moments really convinced me that no matter what happens, it’ll all be okay.
  • Fav thing you’ve read?
    • The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
    • I read it in my EN680: Seminar in Contemporary Critical Theory class and wrote an essay applying my knowledge of environmental stylistics. I hated this paper so much that my love for it was inevitable.
  • Is it worth it? 
    • I’m always weary of answering this question: Is it worth it? It depends on what your goals are and what you make of your degree. I know everyone hates that answer, but it’s the most truthful one I have. I do think my degree was and is worth it because I learned so much about myself and my area of study. BUT I KNOW! We want to know about job opportunities. See the next question.
  • Does your future career choice require a masters? 
    • No. I would like to work in a publishing house, specifically in adult literature, or become a self-sustaining author. Both of which do not require a master’s degree but it does help in whatever profession I do choose to go into and it does entail a pay increase, soooooo.
    • Yes. I would also like to work as a librarian, which does require a master’s degree in Library Science.
  • What can you do with your degree?
    • Other careers I could pursue with my degree: Marketing, Advertisement, Public Relations, Freelance Writing, Media and Journalism, Law (e.g. paralegal, lawyer), Copyediting, Technical Writing, Teaching, etc.
    • You can basically do anything with an English degree if you’re driven enough to apply what you’ve learned and know the value and application of cross-disciplinary skills–– of which English has many. The most common and most valuable for almost all job markets are a strong command of language, exceptional writing, and strong communication skills.
  • What inspired you to keep going when thesis research got bumpy?
    • I didn’t want to be a little cry baby bitch. I thought about how many people would kill to be in my position, people who don’t have access to education, and who don’t have a supportive group of family and friends–– all people who deserve the right to an education. So I didn’t and don’t want to waste such a blessing. CORNY, I know, but that’s my honest answer.
    • When I first began this specific journey, I wanted to make my parents proud. As I near the end, I’ve come to realize that it’s just as important to make myself proud, which is arguably a lot harder.
  • Thoughts on taking a gap year?
    • I think for some people, it’s a great idea! I know fellow graduates who took a gap year, travelled, taught in other countries, accumulated “real world” experience and came back refreshed and even more ready for the school year. They dominated their course work.
    • In contrast, some people would rather just get straight into it, i.e. me. I was afraid that if I took a gap year, I would lose the motivation to go back to school. So, again, it depends on the person.

I’m all written out. Thank you for reading and I hope some of what I’ve shared has been useful in some way. Maybe it even convinced you to say, “Fuck a master’s degree!” To which I reply, “Do you, boo.” I don’t think a master’s degree is necessary (for the most part!) to be “successful” but I do believe knowledge and education are always an investment and you are worthy of that.

Some questions I’ll be covering in Part II:

  • How to deal with full time and school! Mix of online and in person classes? Gives and takes. 
  • In what ways did this program nurture and limit your growth as a writer?
  • What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned?
  • My tips for optimizing your reading and writing time

 

 

 

 

 

“How Do You Know You’re A Writer?”

Sometimes the words fall through the tips of my fingers with the same excruciating slowness as that of the leaves of a hibiscus detaching itself from its stem.
Other days my hand speeds across the page with the same intensity as a tornado threatening anything that gets in its way.
Some moments I wish I never have to pick up another pen or glide it across another page.
Many days I hope to spend the limited seconds of my life buried in words so deep, I’d collapse from my final breath before I’d ever crawl out.
Often, I wonder if I should keep going, keep connecting the curves until the ink runs out. Or I wonder if I’ve fallen hopelessly in a passionate outburst of words born out of over-inflated self importance.
I write and I write.
And I am tired.
I am exhausted by the mental capacity needed to come up with another simple sentence, another worthy thought, which almost always comes up short.
And before I know it, I am just a word that flows into the air, evaporating into the clouds until it is barely the shadow of a letter.
It is like a wish being thrown into a well falling until its echo is just a whisper. Sometimes someone hears it and other times, no one does.
And so it falls like dead weight to the ground.
But I cannot not write
because there is no other choice but to be
and for me, to be is to find those cursed words
that I write over and over again, until they lose their meaning.
And so I write.
And I write.
Nd I write.
D I write.
I Write.
Write.
Rite.
Ite.
Te.
E.

My First Poem of 2020

clip art flower.png

 I wrote a love poem once

But the words never made it on paper
Instead, they flew right out the window
And they rose and fell and evaded me 
before shooting across a rose covered sky
Like a comet during a sunset

For two decades,
They followed the waves of the Seven Seas

Crashed against the banks of countless countries
Weaved their way through Chocolate Hills and 
Machu Picchu, along the Great Pyramids of Giza, 
Through the South Pole, and then into the Northern Lights
Where they stayed for a long while. 

And for a time,
I thought I had lost them forever

That they had fallen into some dark abyss
With no one to catch them
Or found their way into a stranger’s distant dream
who would wake up that morning
And forget.

I had never imagined
that they would have fallen haphazardly onto your lap
–– unannounced and without preamble

ages before I had even heard your name,
 

and

I would have never dreamed
That the stars and the moon and the countless suns
had all planned the exact moment
 when we would meet,
me, with my unmarked paper

you, with my worn and well-traveled words

and that you had been waiting
       all this time
to return them to me. 

 

a simple confession

       I don’t know the exact moment it happened.
I don’t remember where or even how.
But suddenly the stars were silent,
the sky devoid of everything
except the w h i s p e r of the moon.
So subtle I almost missed it.
It called out to my weary heart
trapped my unsuspecting gaze,
and in the midnight my soul soared
helplessly towards the only light.
Only to find
I had been looking into your eyes
the entire time.

Letting Go

Today, I painstakingly unfolded a crumpled piece of paper
That I had been carrying around with me in my pocket
For weeks it had been imprisoned too tightly in my fist
Compressed to the point that I had torn the edges,
trying to pry the page free of its strict creases, over-bent corners, and smudges
With its alternating lines of happiness and despair in now unrecognizable print

I unfolded it from the awkward skeleton of emotions it had become
From the confining lines of unshared passions and unsure promises
And with sure and gentle fingers, with a little bit of sadness too, I refashioned it
with all its imperfections and all its torn sides– into a blue paper crane
That could crane its paper neck, and flap its paper wings
& I let it go, set it free into the deep wilderness of random debris
of empty cartons, and wasted food, all encased in a plastic bag in the corner of my kitchen

when my heart caught up with my sight, when it saw how my hands were brave enough to do what it had failed to
it felt unburdened and f r e  e,
& in that moment, light as a breath
I let loose the bent wings of my own paper soul,
suddenly wild and unencumbered

and I, too

took

      flight

My Struggles with Writing

Another month has passed in the year 2019 and with it came my usual bimonthly identity crises. Unlike my paychecks though, their due dates are grossly inconsistent and always unwelcome. Part of me is really hoping that we only get a limited amount of “episodes” so that by the time I turn 30, I will have already filled out that category of my life that I won’t have anymore identity crises to spare in the future.

BUT ANYWAYS!

So what inspired this month’s episode? Writing–– the one thing I used to love the most. Ironically. A month ago I realized that I hadn’t written for recreational purposes in such a long time. I’d been so consumed with my work–– critical essays, analyses, peer- reviews, book reviews, freelance articles–– that I hadn’t written any new poetry or stories or unqualified reflections on life. & whenever I sat down and made the time to do so, I felt nothing. No inspiration to write, no idea what even to write about. I actually felt like I didn’t even know how to write anymore, which was the oddest thing in the world because this year and the year previous has been the most I’ve written in my whole “career.” Still I felt like I was backsliding. Like I plateaued in my writing. I had to ask myself why this was and I realized that I had stopped writing for fun because the one thing I loved the most turned into a chore. It turned into something that I had to do to get an A or to get paid and when I didn’t have to do it to achieve a goal, I just didn’t have the energy to do it anymore. I started to resent writing.

Growing up, I’d constantly be told the same iteration of this phrase: “Find what you love and figure out how to make a profit/career out of it.” At the time that seemed like sound advice. Now? I’m so surrounded by what I love that I am suffocated by it. For a time, I felt like I had failed because if what I loved wasn’t what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, what do I do then? Who will I be or become now? AND THAT’S when I told myself to stop being so dramatic and chill out. To stop and think.

I started to realize that my career and my passion don’t have to be directly connected. Sure, they can coincide, but they don’t have to be one in the same. And with that came a bunch of other realizations.

I’m not saying I’m giving up on writing. I’m not saying I no longer want to work for the New York Review of Books or write my own novel one day. I’m not saying that death by exegesis or critical analyses on existentialism will stop me from pursuing my PhD. All I’m saying is that 22 is way too young to be forcing myself into a career path or stagnant perception of identity when both are journeys and not destinations. BARF. Cheesy. I know. 22 is also a really young age and to be arrogant enough to assume that I should have it all figured out by now is really unrealistic and unhealthy.

I know that this post is all over the place. To be honest, I didn’t even want to write it, but I forced myself to because the other thing I realized–– and stick with me here because this is even cringier than the last paragraph–– is that my love for writing is a lot like a relationship.

Ya’ll know old couples are constantly saying that they weren’t always in love? That there were times they wanted to get a divorce or kill their partner or feel as if they didn’t even recognize the person they fell in love with. Well, this is a lot like that. Writing and I have left our honeymoon phase. We’re past all that infatuation and at that crucial juncture between staying together and strengthening our bond or going our separate ways and only meeting once in a while when I’ll have e-mails to my boss. What I’m really getting to is that I’m taking that step into a life long “partnership.” Because writing is a part of me. It has opened so many doors, helped me close some too; and it’s a part of my life that I never want to lose even if I may resent it at this moment. So. I’m forcing myself to write, to not give up. & Maybe I won’t rediscover my passion tomorrow or next week or even next month, but I’m confident that I will again. & You know? For now, at 22 with (hopefully) half a century left to live, that’s good enough for me.

just another dumb poem

pt. 1

I refuse to romanticize myself. I am unstable and indecisive.
Impatient and overly impassioned by the smallest things.
I think too much over minute details. So much so that it paralyzes me.
I hate apologizing and I’m too proud to be vulnerable.
Get bored easily and compensate by being impulsive
My hips often bump into tables and I can’t control my facial expressions to save my life.
I hate the beach and pizza is gross. I take days to reply back and often forget what people tell me.
I spill my water on myself at restaurants, pull doors that are meant to be pushed,
and say “you too” when someone wishes me
Happy Birthday.
I am not a handful. I’m not even two
I would fill 5 hands and still overflow
I’m an incomplete puzzle with missing pieces
And waiting for me to open up
Is like standing in line at the DMV
I am an endless winter
That’s constantly on fire
And I am
a hopeless mess
But if you want me
like I want you
Then I would be your mess

pt. 2

I am imperfect and constantly under construction
But I’ll tell you when your hair looks terrible
And kiss the stray strands that won’t stay down.
I’ll cut the crust off your sandwiches
And buy great gifts I know you’ll love
Open all the links you send me through text
trace circles across your arms, run circles around your mind
bury my fingers through your hair
and laugh at every joke you tell.
Even if they suck.
I’ll follow you to new places, run errands with you, get excited when you get excited
split the tab or buy you lunch when you’re sad.
I’m honest and loyal, and know all the best lookouts
You don’t have to tell me to be there for you, I already know.
I’ll find your best angles
Frame them in every corner of my mind
Amidst the chaos and mayhem.
I would be your perpetual autumn,
In a snow-capped summit
and if you deserve it
And if you’re patient enough
I will show you
All the best sunsets

Superstitions and Ghost (?) Stories

Remember the piece I refer to in this blog post? In the spirit of October and Halloween, I decided to post it after all. 

In 5th grade, my teacher asked us if our families had any superstitions. One of my classmates responded that, according to his mom, when his bed isn’t made, his guardian angel is still sleeping. From that moment in my life, I have become vigilant in fixing my bed every morning. Now, I fix my bed out of habit, but back then I can’t deny the impact that simple statement had on me.

But superstitions weren’t anything new to me at that age. When I was younger, I would follow my dad to the field where he would excavate and dig up ancient artifacts and burials (he’s an archaeologist). One day, when he and his crew had been hunched over a skeleton, I sneezed. I didn’t think much of it. Wind and dust tend to have that effect. My mom had a different thought. Without a moment’s hesitation, she pinch my ear hard. A moment after, she explained to me that sneezing in front of a dead body meant that their spirit wanted you to accompany them in the afterlife. During that time, my mom’s word was law. I found myself pinching my ear every. time. I sneezed for fear that there would be a dead body nearby.

When my aunt and my oldest sister became pregnant, I remember seeing them wrap a scarf over their head or wear a hat out at night so the moon wouldn’t steal their baby.

In middle school, my classmate told me never to place my bed across the door because that invites strangers in.

On the less morbid side, every New Year the house had to be impeccable, not an item out of place because a clean house on New Year’s Day meant a clean house the whole year (of course this was proven false time and time again). I also had to wear polkadots and have fruit on the table for good luck.

When I was younger, I not only believed these superstitions, I enjoyed them. They were fun. My friends and I would sit at the lunch table and exchange these traditions and ghost stories that– at least on my end– weren’t true but entertaining. Now that I’m older and relatively wiser and now that I’ve explored more of the world and science, I’ve let go of nearly all those superstitions and learned how to rationalize seemingly “paranormal” occurrences. I could care less if a black cat walks in my path. In fact, my favorite number is 13. Just yesterday, my speakers flew (literally) off my table twice, but I thought nothing of it. I see these events as more curious than scary.

Regardless, while I do believe that everything has some sort of explanation, I thought it would be fun to share some of the weird shit that has happened to me and cannot be explained by science… yet!

  1. Pennies

Earlier last year, I started noticing pennies. Some of you might not think this is weird. In fact, I didn’t think anything of it until it became so frequent that I couldn’t ignore it. I know. I know. “Everyone finds loose change. Who cares?” While this is true, what everyone doesn’t find is a single penny, every morning without failin the same exact place– right beside my car before I drive to school every day. Each morning, I’d pick up the penny and place it in my pocket just to make sure I wasn’t seeing the same one. I can rule out my parents for playing prank on me because they wouldn’t waste their time and I doubt my neighbors would do that because we go through large lengths to ignore each other.

Anyways, as weird as it sounds, whenever I found a penny, I would have a really good day. But one the few days there wouldn’t be one, something bad would happen. Placebo? Maybe. Who knows? I didn’t think anything more of it and since then, I haven’t come across any wayward pennies.

But just recently, I clicked a YouTube video uploaded by a girl I was subscribed to who was talking about a haunted house she lived in. She provided a snippet of an article of “supernatural” signs. I skimmed over the blurb and the word “penny” caught my attention. This caused me to search up on this penny phenomenon which, until that moment, I thought was completely unique to me. Upon some shallow research, I found that pennies are supposedly conduits for spirits to communicate or connect with the living. It has something to do with copper being an accessible metal to them and what not. Finding pennies is also said to be a good omen– often a sign that the one finding them is being watched over by a spirit or guardian. Can’t say I’m 100% sold on the idea, but hey! I need all the good luck and watching over I can get.

  1. Moving Objects – Is my house haunted?

Occasionally, random items in my house will fall off or move from their original positions. Mind you, these are items that have been stationary for a while. Objects would be in one part of the house one day and a different part the next.

I remember one specific moment when my dad and I were relaxing downstairs watching TV in the living room. Connected to the living room is our study, which has sliding doors. While my dad and I were watching, one of the doors decided to slide close. My dad and I looked at each other knowing full well that neither of us had moved an inch and no one was in the study. His eyes got wide for a moment before he shrugged and continued watching TV. That was it! And because I was at an impressionable age and because my dad was my hero, I did exactly what he did and ignored it. This, more or less, sums up my attitude towards the “supernatural.”

  1. Ghost Bell

In grade school, my mom bought me a generic doorbell for my birthday– which really didn’t matter in the end because my parents always walked in my room without knocking anyways. This doorbell was awesome! It was cheap and played an annoying tune, but I loved it. It had two parts: the speaker and the bell. The speaker was taped to my wall and the bell was placed outside bedroom door. Overtime, I outgrew it. It had been years when I last used it and the button eventually broke. I threw it away, but the speaker was still pasted on my wall.

Years and years later, however, probably when I was an upperclassman in high school, the speaker went off while I was in my living room. I went up to my room and saw the flashing lights of the doorbell and pulled it off my wall. It wouldn’t stop ringing so I opened the back to remove the batteries, but only two of the four required double AA batteries were there. Weirded out, I pulled out the rest of the batteries and it grew silent once more. I went back downstairs but moments later, I hear the familiar tune once more and go up to find the doorbell in my trash can, singing away. It was at this moment that I slammed my foot on the speaker and silenced the bell forever. I continued cleaning.

  1. Weird Sightings

While I have seen humanoid figures around my house, I’ve never seen a figure substantial enough to ever assume it was more than my imagination. However, my mom shared a story with me earlier this year of seeing an apparition. Let me just begin by explaining that my mom does laundry at night and that our washer and dryer are in an outside area of our house. One night, she told me that she had been washing clothes late at night when she heard a little girl’s laugh. She turns around and sees a flash of what she thinks is a little girl running past her. Keep in mind that this is probably around 10 at night. What would a little girl be doing running around late at night by herself?

  1. Dreams of my Grandparents

In high school, my lola passed away. Though I didn’t see her more than once a year (considering she lived in the Philippines), she had been the one who accompanied me to Guam when I was adopted. I love(d) her! She was kind, she was intelligent, and she would give the best hugs. One night, I went to sleep and dreamed that my lola had visited me in my room. This was odd because I occasionally have dreams of my house, but it’s never my house. It’s always a different setting but my dream self recognizes it as my home. This time, though, the layout was exactly that of my actual house. In the dream, I walk my lola downstairs and accompany her outside where she hugs me goodbye. Then she gets on a carriage (hella symbolic) with another old lady sitting on the other end of the seat and it flies away.

I woke up with question marks in my head, but didn’t think about it until my mom came to me that day and told me that my lola had passed away in her sleep. I can’t say I wish to be haunted, but I won’t deny that– if that had been her visiting me in my dreams– I was incredibly touched.

Let’s go back a year before to when my lolo had passed away. I flew back to the Philippines to attend his funeral and one night I woke up and saw a vague shadow of  a man at the edge of the bed. As someone who had an active imagination growing up, I told myself it was nothing. I forced myself to go to sleep and act as if it was the items in the room arranging themselves into humanoid shadows. The next day, I got extremely sick. I should mention that a few days prior my cousin had dreamt of our lolo and got sick as well. We were the only ones with fevers that came out of nowhere. My aunt called a witch doctor who chanted a few things, massaged my arms and pinned ginger on me and within a few hours, I felt completely healed. According to my family, my cousin and I had been visited by my lolo. Why us? Who knows? But we’ve both been told that we’re sensitive to those kind of things.

There are a few more stories I have that I find bizarre, but I won’t bore you guys with an influx of stories that require more context than they’re worth.  While I find stories like these fun and extremely entertaining, I can’t say that I’m quite a believer. But I can’t say that I’m a complete disbeliever either.

So what do you guys make of all this? Are you convinced? On the fence? Still denying anything to do with the supernatural? What are your superstitions or experiences? Do you have any explanations? I’d love to hear them!