O once asked me who I was a fan of. It was smart of him to ask. :) I realized it was the first time I seriously considered the idea of fangirling for anyone. But that is another story.
I should have told him I was a fan of Benedict Anderson, the one who imagined Imagined Communities
, the phrase that has lived on in my memory for the last eight years. His book of the same title captured my imagination as a cynical eighteen year old and I use the phrase every chance I get which isn't very often but useful, always, when I think about love of country.
What exactly did he say? Here was his idea of a nation:
“I propose the following definition of the nation: it is an imagined political community and imagined as both inherently limited and sovereign. It is imagined because the members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow-members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion
... Communities are to be distinguished, not by their falsity or genuineness, but by the style in which they are imagined.... Finally, [the nation] is imagined as a community, because, regardless of the actual inequality and exploitation that may prevail in each, the nation is conceived as a deep, horizontal comradeship. Ultimately, it is this fraternity that makes it possible, over the past two centuries for so many millions of people, not so much to kill, as willing to die for such limited imaginings.”
Anderson underscores an obvious point: that a populace is loyal to their motherland because in the minds of each lives the image of their communion,
and with this imagination the populace is willing to die for their motherland if need be even though they are unable to meet most of their fellow members. The only bond they have with every single person of the population is the imagination of their kinship mostly because they live in a shared space and they have collective memories.
Needless to say, my eighteen year old self was blown away. :) I carried his words in my cynical heart, and I believe it was because of his book (and Rizal's) that I eventually nurtured my love for this country.
I never thought I would meet this man at that time, it was enough for me to have come across such powerful ideas in my P-tang I-a 100 class in my third year in college.
Fast forward to day 70 of 2013 and I find myself attending a forum my grad school jointly organized with other UP departments. A Conversation with Benedict Anderson
was a momentous event, at least, for the geek/Gabriela in me. Funny how I was able to attend: first because I was invited :) by Asian Center and because my boss knows him personally. Ben Anderson was actually the THESIS ADVISER of my boss when he was studying as a Phd student in Cornell University. So I told the boss I was a fan, that I read his book in college and so on. The boss was mildly surprised.
The forum was arranged as a panel interview - professors of the Asian Center asked him many interesting questions on binary or even multiple nationalisms (as experienced by diasporic individuals), on the many similarities that the Philippines shared with Latin America more than its Southeast Asian neighbors among others. It was just too bad that he spoke so softly and the audio failed to magnify his voice.
That was the first "meet and greet" I have ever attended as a fan. And I wasn't the only fangirl/boy, of course. All of us waited patiently in line for his signature and the shortest/longest conversation we will ever have with him. When my turn came, I told him my nickname. "Coco Martin?" Hahaha. I get that a lot. And I know why he knows all about Coco Martin. "Isn't this a name for boys?" "For girls, also." :)))
Anvil ran out of copies of Imagined Communities
, I only have a photocopy. What they had at the event was Under Three Flags
which I bought for a discounted price and which eventually inspired the essay I submitted for my PS201 class. Yes, I take note of the small coincidences. :)
I thank the Universe for this day. I was one happy fangirl that morning.
My father used to sing me this song.
Moon River, wider than a mile,
I'm crossing you in style some day.
Oh, dream maker, you heart breaker,
wherever you're going I'm going your way.
Two drifters off to see the world.
There's such a lot of world to see.
We're after the same rainbow's end--
waiting 'round the bend,
my huckleberry friend,
Moon River and me.
I need him today. I need him to sing to me tonight.
You could have told her your name. So I didn't have to prod her for your details. So I didn't have to ask her what you looked like. She fell inlove with you at once, you know. And the moment I saw the sparkle in her fourteen-year-old eye, I managed to smile. I did. I knew how she felt. I felt it too. When I was her age too. She described your crooked teeth, your earring, and how beautiful you were. Effortlessly, shamelessly beautiful. Your teeth remind me of vampires. And she did almost say she wanted to be bitten by you.
You could have told her it was you. Or, you could have told her you were back from the grave so I would have understood instantaneously.
She has seen you already. I have not. It's been ten years.
Gestern, ich habe nicht die Hausaufgaben gemacht.
Gestern habe ich die Hausaufgaben gemacht. (The verb stays in the second position in their normal sentence. I almost forgot that.)
What a bad student, I am, I know. That's why I'm cramming today.
The instruction was to answer the question: Was haben Sie letzes Wochenende gemacht? (10 Satze, im Perfekt)
Here's what I came up with:
1. Wir sind zu Hause geblieben.
2. Das Wetter schlect war.
3. Wir haben schwer gearbeitet.
4. Ate Sarah hat in der Waschküche gewaschen.
5. Ich habe im Badezimmer geputzt.
6. Mein Onkel hat das Arbeitszimmer abgeräumt.
7. Wir haben alles die Fenster zu Hause geöffnet.
8. Ronald hat den Rasen im Hintergarten gemäht.
9. Wir sind totmude. 9. Wir waren totmude. 10. Um 9 Uhr wir haben geschlafen. 10. Um 9 Uhr haben wir geschlafen.
Most of these were copied and pasted. Gah.
Things are looking up now, for me at least. This poem serves as my pat on the back after everything I've been through this year. Thank goodness for poetry.
Wait, for now.
Distrust everything, if you have to.
But trust the hours. Haven't they
carried you everywhere, up to now?
Personal events will become interesting again.
Hair will become interesting.
Pain will become interesting.
Buds that open out of season will become lovely again.
Second-hand gloves will become lovely again,
their memories are what give them
the need for other hands. And the desolation
of lovers is the same: that enormous emptiness
carved out of such tiny beings as we are
asks to be filled; the need
for the new love is faithfulness to the old.
Don't go too early.
You're tired. But everyone's tired.
But no one is tired enough.
Only wait a while and listen.
Music of hair,
Music of pain,
music of looms weaving all our loves again.
Be there to hear it, it will be the only time,
most of all to hear,
the flute of your whole existence,
rehearsed by the sorrows, play itself into total exhaustion.
I purposely withdrew myself from you after I realized that I have lost, and to you most of all. Nowadays, I still cannot look you in the eye for fear that you might rub this matter to my face and I would only feel so much smaller.
At the onset I thought I was playing my cards right. You chided me for what you have called as my martyrdom and that I should be canonized for fervently believing that he would come home to me at the right time. As we both know, he never did. I was grateful you didn’t mention anything about the incident since it happened, and I remember now that we even quarreled the very night before. But with your silence comes this recurring thought: sometimes I imagine you saying, “I told you so” over and over.
And then you were right, again, when you told me that I shouldn’t be hopeful or relying on anything or anyone. I chucked your words out of my head and into my repository of “things to be forgotten” because even though I was heartbroken, I felt that I was still in the good side of the Universe and that it would grant me passes to study in Europe. Again, I was wrong in believing I would win this time around, that I could prove you mistaken, that there is nothing wrong in being hopeful over reaching out for things that would make you happy even if they were as far-fetched as Europe.
When the second bad news reached me, I felt I had to completely ignore you already because you were so good at predicting my downfalls. Yes, you might have opted not to directly point them out to me but it is just as well that I veered away from you because like I said, I do not like losing, especially losing to you.
Twice you have won, R, and I do not know when I shall be able to look you in the eye again and dare you to another match. My ego has been bruised and at the moment, I am still licking my share of wounds.
But when the time comes that I open my mouth to talk to you again, you can be assured I am ready to get into another match. If all else fails, I would gladly get into a fistfight or a drinking match to settle the stupid score.
I just absolutely hate it when you win.
Until then (and just you wait),
"Lit (or: to the scientist I am not speaking to any more)"
Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz
Don’t say you didn’t see this coming, Jason.
Don’t say you didn’t realize this would be my reaction
and that you never intended for me to get all worked up,
because if that were true, then you are dumber
than Lenny from Mice and Men, blinder than Oedipus
and Tierus put together and can feel less
than a Dalton Trumbo character.
You put the Dick in Dickens and the Boo in kowski
and are more Coward-ly then Noël.
But you don’t understand any of these references,
Do you, Jason? Because you ‘don’t read’.
You are a geology major and you once told me
That, ‘Scientists don’t read popular literature,
Cristin, we have more important things to do’.
Well, fuck you.
Be glad you don’t read, Jason,
because maybe you won’t understand this
as I scream it to you on your front lawn,
on Christmas Day, brandishing three hypodermic needles,
a ginsu knife and a letter of permission
from Bret Easton Ellis.
Jason, you are more absurd than Ionesco.
You are more abstract than Joyce,
more inconsistent than Agatha Christie
and more Satanic than Rushdie’s verses.
I can’t believe I used to want to Sappho you, Jason.
I used to want to Pablo Neruda you,
to Anais Nin And Henry Miller you. I used to want
to be O for you, to blow for you in ways
that even Odysseus’ sails couldn’t handle.
But self-imposed illiteracy isn’t a turn-on.
You used to make fun of me being a writer,
saying ‘Scientists cure diseases,
what do writers do?’
But of course, you wouldn’t understand, Jason.
I mean, have you ever gotten an inner thirsting
for Zora Neale Hurston?
Or heard angels herald for you
to read F Scott Fitzgerald?
Have you ever had a beat attack for Jack Kerouac?
The only Morrison you know is Jim, and you think
you’re the noble one?
Go Plath yourself.
Your heart is so dark, that even Joseph Conrad
couldn’t see it, and it is so buried under bullshit
that even Poe’s cops couldn’t hear it.
Your mind is as empty as the libraries in Fahrenheit 451.
Your mind is as empty as Silas Marner’s coffers.
Your mind is as empty as Huckleberry Finn’s wallet.
And some people might say that this poem
is just a pretentious exercise
in seeing how many literary references
I can come up with.
And some people might complain that this poem is,
at its core, shallow, expressing the same emotion again,
and again, and again. (I mean, there are only so many times
you can articulate your contempt for Jason,
before people get bored.)
But you know what, Jason? Those people would be wrong.
Because this is not the poem I am writing to express
my hatred for you.
This poem is the poem I am writing because we aren’t speaking,
and it is making my heart hurt so bad, it is all I
can do just to get up off the floor sometimes.
And this is the poem I am writing instead of writing
the ‘I miss having breakfast with you’ poem, instead of
writing the ‘Let’s walk dogs in our old schoolyard
Instead of the ‘How are you doing?’ poem, the ‘I miss you’ poem,
the ‘I wish I was making fun of how much you like Garth
Brooks while sitting in front of your parents’ house
in your jeep’ poem, instead of the ‘Holidays are coming around
and you know what that means: SUICIDE!’ poem.
I am writing this so that I can stop wanting to write
the ‘I could fall in love with you again so quickly
if only you would say one more word to me’ poem.
But I am tired of loving you, Jason
cause you don’t love me right.
And if some pretentious-ass poem can stop me
From thinking about the way your laugh sounds,
about the way your skin feels in the rain,
about how I would rather be miserable with you,
then happy with anyone else in the world.
If some pretentious-ass poem can do all that?
Then I am gone with the wind, I am on the road,
I have flown over the fucking cuckoo’s nest,
I am gone, I am gone, I am gone.
I get a good laugh when hearing out other people's Tagalog vocabularies because I realize I am barely scratching the wide range of Tagalog words when I speak.
For instance, awhile ago I emailed Auntie Arlyn...
May anak? May anak?
Me: Hi Auntie, I received this letter from Deutsche Bank. I almost forgot about it Auntie. But I don't understand what it says.
AA: That is the present balance of the bank account. If there are changes, they always send a copy. May anak na 4.33eur!!!!
It took me sometime to understand what that meant, until I figured that the supposedly untouched figures got "impregnated" by the interest rate and gave birth to 4.33 euros. Cool!
This laughtrip also happens more frequently when speaking to Ryan Beaufort Edward Julio, who has a very interesting collection of Tagalog words.
Me: So wag nang sasabihin, ganun?
RB: Wag na, baka maging lantang gulay pa sila pag nalaman nila.
Hahaha. I don't get to hear this often at home, really. So he provides me entertainment without meaning to. He peppers his talk with similar words such as, "bomalabs
" aka malabo, "bwenas
" aka swerte, "anakngjueteng
", and when it comes to food, it's never "kinakain
" but "binabanatan
I also get to hear this slang when I work at Shaw. When Ryan Clemente had his haircut, people called him, "Boy Tabas". And for a few days he was always referred to as the one was "bagong tabas". Hahaha. When Kuya Larry morphs into a pain in the a, someone always asks him, "kung ilang gramo ang tinira niya kagabi." And, most of all, when I get sarcastic, they ask me, "kung gusto kong masampal ng boobs ni Dors". Great! Great diba!
Wala lang, natutuwa lang ako sa mga bagay-bagay. :P
- the world has moved since they gave us our names at birth, since kindergarten, since snot running unnoticed down from red noses, since going back and forth the swings to see who can go up higher, since puppy loves and puppy broken hearts, since blue skirts and long ribbons, since geometry and trigonometry.
the world has moved on since then and.. well, we either get left behind or move along.
we grew up fast didn't we.