Dreaming of Words (and hoping it’s not a nightmare)

I always wanted to be a writer. Actually, I desperately wished to be one. Well, I tried. God knows I really did. All those papers dumped into trash bin, those torn and creased sheets scattered on my bedroom floor, those wasted lines of poetry I have attempted to do – they all bore witness of my desire to master the art of the pen.

I, unfortunately, cannot recall to memory the very first piece I wrote. Fortunately, though, I wouldn’t have to remember how hideous it could have been. But one thing is certain: those letters I diligently and carefully learned to write some ten long years ago held so much magic I dared not say no to the pull of putting them together to create a masterpiece. Or at least something worthwhile to read. And I’m glad that I’m still as captured as I was to that magic.

Opportunities came knocking on my doors, surprisingly. And I took advantage, of course. (You know what they say about opportunities getting too impatient on tapping doors.) It was through opening doors that I got to have this editorial position in one of my university’s publications. Though it remains uncertain if I had wrongly picked up the door, I have to say that I was actually thrilled to fill in such big shoes of responsibility. And hey, it’s now a mile closer to my as-distant-as-the-moon wish.

I thought it was all fun. Like the Powerpuff stuff – sugar, spice and everything nice. But barely halfway through my term, I realized that I would not be spared from the proverbial nights of worries and headaches. Managing a newspaper proved to be a not-so-easy job; in fact, it was a fatal one. No, I’m not referring to all these media killings. I’m talking about horrible nights - sleepless, at one point; nightmarish at some – and stress levels up the bar. See, we had excellence as a goal. And when you have such a really ideal vision, you are bound to commit mistakes in the process. My paper became known for the unforgiveable typographical errors which earned us an unpleasant reputation. Our adviser had called me a poor leader and accused me of insubordination before finally declaring she’s quitting. My staff, though competent, was very unmanageably difficult. And I have, regretfully, done a lot more whose effects and consequences no correction ink could conceal. I touched huge personal egos. I irked people’s feelings. I shook foundations. I unchained links. I messed up. Real bad.

But I enjoyed it, nevertheless. I had a taste of how it felt to be finally writing for an audience. (For years, I had contented myself assuming both the roles of the writer and the reader.) It was fulfilling, I can say. It made me feel like I may have done something right seeing people read our paper. Through the bitter and nasty remarks, I taste the sweetness of being able to make my ideas and views materialize into print.

Though I’m not sure if I made sense or I actually just sucked, it does feel great to have that one shot at fulfilling my wish. I missed, perhaps, but I have learned. And I will continue living by my dream. I shall write as long as I live, as long as the words still live in me. I know I may never reach the heights of Shakespeare or Rowling or Bob Ong but hey, you’re not a writer because of your readers. You are because of what you write.

Reaching Standards and Falling Short (or Does Failing Require a Standard?)

Grade 5, circa 2002 – I flunked my Music final examinations. I got 26 out of 50. I was totally devastated. I cursed myself for not knowing what adagio and pianissimo are. I did not mention a thing to my parents. I said, “I’ll get out of this myself.” That was my first taste of academic failure.

3rd year college, 8 long years after, circa 2010 – After a gruesome semester of failing and hanging on to the half mark of my Accounting requirements, I got my first ever 70+ grade. I scored a 77 and another 78 in my two 6-unit major subjects. I could not tell a thing to my parents. I could not say a thing to myself either. They soon found out. And they were devastated. I felt like I was a failure.


I was an achiever. Or so I thought. Constantly, I would cheer my parents up for getting good grades. Not excellent grades, but good ones. The kind that would make everybody say that you’re intelligent. The kind that placed me on the upper echelons of the academic rankings. The kind that gained parents’, the Alma Mater’s, and believers’ pride. The kind I got used to having.

It was my standard. Getting something below 85 was below my average mark. This may sound arrogant and self-conceited. But people who have lived a life of endless expectations will understand with no explanations needed. I know it’s not low – my arithmetic knowledge is not faulty. But the standard has been set. Falling below it is a disappointment. A failure.

For years, I managed to surpass the limits. My parents had come to believe that I would carry on. They looked at me like I was the Pope. Like I was infallible. Like I don’t commit mistakes. Well, I tried. I thought I could because I know I could. I have always believed in my capabilities. I know, with the right push, I can make it. And I have the dream, the dream to excel. Not against anybody, maybe; but excelling my own personal limits. I needed the fuel to pursue the dream, and believing that I could was the most potent.

But I fell short. I failed. I am not a Pope. I stained my almost immaculate transcript with grades of doom that screamed of mediocrity. (My mom thinks otherwise. She terms it ignorance, the sloth style.) And though I know better that there’s no way anybody could carry the weight of the earth, it felt like such a huge mass crumbled over me like an avalanche. Years of glorious academic successes revisited me like memories of the good old past that would never be relished again.

For a while, I resulted to blame and finger-pointing. I blamed my teacher for the Board-like examinations and all those nasty near-death experiences fulfilling his requirements. I blamed the school for employing such heartless educators and making us pay for them. I blamed my course for its excruciating nature. I blamed the books for not teaching me enough. I blamed my parents for the expectations whose heights surpassed Everest. I blamed Luck for not siding by me this time. I blamed my neighbor’s canines that would howl like demons during the wee hours of the morning. But most of all, I blamed myself. For the standard I placed upon me. For the inadequacy and incapability. For expecting too much of myself.

I’m in grief now. It approximates the grief people feel when something real valuable had been lost. It feels like a bit of myself died. Though I know I can still revive that dying part, I also know that whatever I do now would not bring it back unscathed. I can make myself pledge to do better next time, to never take left turns that distract me from following the path, and to keep an eagle’s-eye focus on my prospect but my Fate would still be left like it is now – hazy and undecided. I could devise a plan to bring it all back but then a break from impressing everyone sounds more appealing to me now. All I wanna do is to take the standard out of my system and play my own game. And be left in it alone that I may win it my way.

Don't Sing That Song

You can dream every night about him and wish that you were his.
You can build your castles in air and pray like a saint for his kiss.
You can publish your own novelette of a love that would stand the test of time.
And you can write your names; together as one, side by side in a line.

You can imagine your both hands wrapped up with his in a tight knot.
Or you can rest your head on the illusions you’ve made up.
You can close your wishful eyes and think he’s beside you.
You can gather the shooting stars to make all your dreams true.

You can have him. Well, that’s if he wants to be yours.
You can stay and wait like his dog every evening by his locked doors.
You can call yourself the princess. (Though you look better as the frog.)
You can hope against hope that he’d see past through the smog.

You can dream, of course. Everyone can.
But fantasies, you’ve forgotten, are meant to end.
It’s time to wake up dear and continue going on.
So please, could you now stop singing our song?

I'm Here for Us

drop that frowning
screw that sulking
what's stopping you from smiling?
I'm here to keep you glowing

wipe your eyes of those tears
shoo away your intimate fears
scream it all out, I'll be near
I'm here to swear I won't disappear

'cause we can make everything right
can bring colors to the darkest night
can spread our wings and take flight
can spin dreams with our fingers entwined
can slide our ways through every rainbow
can conquer the heavens and the earth below
can banish the monster off our shadows
can paint the earth and leave it in awe

we gotta do it together
believe in our power
I'm here for US

no need to look back now
celebrate; I'll show you how
we'll weather the storm, that's a vow
I'm here and I'll always be around

spill out your secrets
be not afraid, don't you hesitate
trust me 'cause you wont have to hide it
I'm here to be the one you wanna be with

'cause we fit in just so easily
like beautiful notes to a sweet melody
like carefully-thought rhymes to a poetry
like rose buds that fill the air with beauty
can shine like stars because we glitter
can paint the horizons in perfect color
can amaze the universe like we're blockbusters
can make them jealous of the way we're together

no way we can't make it forever
our future's tinted gold and silver
I'm here for Us

don't go looking too far
I'm just a call away
erase the blues out your radar
I'm here to stay

I'm here for us
take my hand now
I love you much
we'll make it through somehow