A busy bookworm’s mid-year resolution

So here I am following the tweets of my Clarion classmates like a creepy stalker, when I come across one thread concerning two of them talking about how many books and short stories they’ve read this year. One guy’s read 20 books, the other one 8 (although he says he’s read more short stories).

I have a read a grand total of 6 books, and it’s already halfway through 2014. (To be fair, I only named 2 off the top of my head.)

I am also not done reading the books of the Clarion 2014 instructors, and I still have to review a novel for my job. I swore off novels since March because I wanted to imbibe the short story form in time for Clarion, but what the hey, life doesn’t mean you get to tie all the loose ends.

I’m not sure if it’s my job or the fact that multitasking has actually destroyed my ability to get anything done faster even though I persist in such a stupid method. But I need to read more books.

So, I will try to get through three books before I leave for San Diego on June 21. After Clarion, because I may take another long writing break to rest the creative part of my brain (if my college thesis ordeal has taught me anything, this may just happen), there will be plenty of time to eat away at my To-Read pile.

And boy, are all those new books I acquired this summer starting to look real shiny. And it isn’t the plastic covering I put them in.

The things I miss about my second home

Photo by me.
Photo by me.

I returned to the Ateneo Fine Arts office today for the first time in months, purely on a whim while waiting for my sister to get out of school. It was like going to a spa for my brain after the last few hectic weeks at work (which is also why I’ve been unable to post anything new lately, but I’m working on that).

I talked to some old friends and teachers. They showed me this year’s Creative Writing Seniors’ chapbooks, asked me about work, told me about this year’s contenders for the Loyola Schools Awards for the Arts. It hit me that all of that had happened to me a year ago; suddenly, I felt like I was home again somehow.

That, and I realized that I was falling into old habits with every room I passed, every hallway I walked in, every chair I sat in. Here are the things I used to do that I miss the most about being in school:

  • Spending a few minutes in the College Chapel every morning. When I first passed the ACET, I promised that I would go to the Chapel every morning and meditate or pray, the least I could do for being given the opportunity to study at my dream school. I consider myself more spiritual than religious, but nothing beats being able to spend a few minutes at the start of each day clearing your mind and setting goals. There is no quiet space at work where I can do that.
  • Greeting all the cats. The cats I used to love and say hi to any time we crossed paths at any time of day were not there when I went up to the FA office. I’ve heard a rumor that they were rounded up again, but I hope it isn’t true. Particular cats really brightened up my day, like the fat ginger we called Tapa. My mornings were incomplete without seeing them at least once. Today, I saw two unfamiliar cats who simply walked away when I approached. Yeah, I’m a crazy cat lady.
  • Hanging out in and around the FA Lounge. You never know what you’ve got until it’s got–and in this case, I once had an excellent place to sleep, eat, complete my homework in, write more of my thesis in, watch movies and episodes, read books and comics, draw, rant, joke around with friends, help hide cute baby rabbits. I looked at that area from the other end of the hallway, and suddenly, the ghosts of memories began going about all those activities all at once.
  • Getting picked up at the Gonzaga shed. I had no idea what a big part of my life sitting on those benches in front of the Chapel waiting for my ride home and watching the world go by were. The Gonzaga shed is a nice place at night, what with all the brightly lit lamps and a good wind passing through.
  • Walking across the Dela Costa-SocSci-Leong field at night. This didn’t happen every night, but man, that place is especially lovely during Christmas, what with all the lights strung around the trees. The field became really homely after Plet Bolipata sort of donated her cute animal sculptures and mosaic benches for the area.
  • Lounging around MVP Basement. Except it’s not quite the basement I know and love anymore. The LS Bookstore expanded its space and the little of it left is now occupied by a cute little coffee shop (Bo’s?). Gone now is the favorite pillar where I spent my long breaks watching movies, where I was deposited after a fainting spell by the bathroom, where I watched CADS practice their dance routines, where my barkadas met up and goofed around. Even the place where I had my first kiss is gone and there really isn’t anything left to do but move on, is there?

There’s more, so much more that I miss about college–more than will ever fit in a blog post. But what all this helps me remember the most is that I had a good run–a really good four years, maybe some of the best anyone can hope for.

Those are the best four years of my life so far, but I don’t want them to remain that way. I can’t wait to see what else in life is going to top that. It’ll be great to be able to impart a wealth of life experience to students–as a teacher–when I come back.

Learning to take care of your sanity, or enjoying rest in all its forms

I had one of those rare days off in which I simply stayed at home in my house clothes and did nothing but eat/lounge around/mentally work out a few stories/play computer games/surf the internet all day.

I watched two episodes of Disney’s TV spin-off of the Hercules movie and discovered that I really like it, whatever reviewers may say.

I even went on to see what a bunch of blogs had to say about Disney movies (particularly The Princess and the Frog) and their feminisim or lack thereof (needless to say, I opened a can of worms).

Reading all those reviews got me thinking about a certain point regarding how it’s okay to say of a work that it’s only fiction sometimes and at others, dispute how it is untrue to life and unfair to certain minority groups even if “it’s only fiction”—but that merits a whole other post altogether.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that today was rather productive, if only because it engaged my thinking faculties. I am trying to tell myself that it is all right to spend a day mostly resting—even from writing stories or catching up on submission deadlines—because sometimes what you really need to do is let your brain veg.

I don’t know if I’ll ever again have a day spent mindlessly playing computer games or doing something certain high-powered individuals I know wouls call “useless” or “lazy.” But if I ever do, I am training myself to think that that’s all right, too.

After all, it would be best for my sanity to move on my own time, at my own pace, and do whatever I want to do with what I’ve been given.