Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Addicted to writing ... getting addicted to blogging

Must have been too excited to start blogging that it surprised me when my best-friend asked, "Why do you have two blogs in different locations?"

Before I was able to make a reply, Bam suddenly said,"Split personality kasi si Mama." (You see, my mom has a split personality.) Oh my, before you start believing her, I think I need to inform you now that they just love teasing me about my changing moods and the shift in my perspective that goes with it.

Going back to my friend's question ... I started blogging without any idea how many blogs i will be creating. But for sure, I had no intention to have as many blogs as the number of posts I publish. I just wanted to explore how things would look like if I create one with Friendster and another one with Blogger.

Along the way I enjoyed learning new things. I read a lot on how to start blogging ... until my head felt like a balloon on the brink of blowing up.

After several attempts, I finally congratulated myself after being able to do the basics of creating and changing the layout, creating a new post and editing earlier drafts, creating a guestbook (don't know if am gonna need this at this early stage), finding a means to know if readers and other bloggers have started to visit my blog site, creating a photo album and publishing it, too (but that's in my Friendster blog) ... and many other things I need to know to get on with the next steps.

Blogging is indeed therapeutic. It helped me forget about my sorrow and start to appreciate things once again. If you can only see my learning curve here, it's really steep.

After experiencing so much sadness last week, I found it hard to sit down and write another entry (except for the one I wrote to release the pain I felt inside a few days ago). Although many things are running at the back of my mind, I couldn't write a coherent paragraph that would make sense to anyone who reads it. My thoughts were all over the place.

But I knew I need to write. I want to write. I am addicted to writing. The act of writing is my best way to make sense of what is happening to me and whatever is happening around me.

Rather than worry about not being able to write anything, I decided to focus on form (the interior design of this house) when I sat down to revisit my blog here tonight. I started by making a few changes on the layout (again!?) and placed a photo to my profile. After several experiments, what you see here now is the product of my 3-hour 'artwork' in front of my computer. I know it still looks a bit bare right now but in due time, I hope it is going to take its own form and content as it wants to be.

I wanted to expand the width (of this space) reserved for blog posts but I don't know how to do it. I hope someone would be kind enough to provide me some tips how to go about this. I have a feeling I need to work on the template and maybe, click on Edit HTML or something but beyond that, is a big unknown for me.

I am not really much of a techie and these jargons are just overwhelming for a new blogger like me! But I hope to develop my 'conversational skills' level on this soon. By then, I hope to be able to help other friends who are also struggling with their own attempts to blogging.

For now, I am okay with this. I'd better rest my head tonight and hope to dream of nice entries for the next few days.

Good night Fluffy! Good night moon! Good night to everyone ...

Sunday, October 28, 2007

When the pain remains, the best way out is always through it

“Typ mo conspi?”, a good friend texted yesterday afternoon.

“Yup,” I hastily texted back, without even asking sino ang may gig sa gabing yon.

Had been through a lot this past week! It sure felt like being on a rollercoaster ride! Though, i admit, i have never ridden on one in my entire life ... ever! The exhilaration one experiences in this ride is something i can just vaguely imagine.

Going to Conspiracy Bar is a much-longed-for break. I wanna be away from it all. It’s been months na hindi ako gumigimik and I couldn’t even remember when was the last time I went out for a drink and enjoy the warm company of friends.

While cruising along EDSA on our way to Visayas Avenue, my friends started asking, "So how are you, Azl? Haven't seen you for a long time!"

Such a simple question really ... but at that very moment … I found it so hard to give a straight-forward reply. This is unusual, my friends must be thinking then. They have been used to hearing me tell one story after another whenever we go out like this.

But that night I just couldn't describe how I felt inside. As the traffic was starting to build-up on the northbound lane of EDSA while approaching Cubao, my stories started to build-up, too. Soon I was blabbering about Bam and Kim’s enrolment, about finally seeing Bam’s serious efforts to get readmitted and enroll this coming semester to pursue her studies. That at long last I was able to sit down in front of this laptop without Yachi or Wabbit or Turkey (our 3 pet cats) claiming their space and sleep on top of the keypad. And how excited I was to be doing a new research project, something that hopefully, would benefit NGO workers.

And how relieved we were when four of the 5 puppies found their new pet-owners because our space at home is not big enough to accommodate 3 dogs, 3 cats, and the additional 5 puppies. Literally, they were all over the place.

Then my voice began to falter when I started talking about Fluffy, one of the 5 puppies. Told my friends na dinala namin siya sa vet at 9:30 PM last Saturday because i found out he wasn't taking any food and was just lying down on the throw pillow in one corner of the room.

"He has a 40 degree fever," the vet told us a few minutes later. Then he gave us a list of medicines we need to give Fluffy.

We went home with high hopes that the medicine prescribed would bring back the frisky spirit in him.

The following day, however, we had to take him to another vet to get a second opinion because there were instances when he was rapidly shaking his head. We didn't know what it was and what was happening to him. We only found out later on that these were already 'seizures' when the vet gave us a brief description of her diagnosis to Fluffy's health condition. That same day, we had him confined at the animal clinic.

I was trying to hold back my tears while relating this story to my friends because I, myself, was wondering at my own reaction to this situation ... why it hurt so bad and why I can't stop myself from crying.

"Last Wednesday night," I went on with my story, "I was with Bam and Kim (my two daughters) at the vet's clinic ... couldn't stop my tears from falling on my cheeks while we were singing softly a lullaby for Fluffy. We had to let him go to sleep na because his condition was fast deteriorating and his body couldn’t fight the infection spreading inside his bloodstream."

Two bottles of beer weren't enough to numb this feeling i was trying to hide. I still can't get over the sadness and this piercing pain whenever I remember carrying Fluffy in my arms every time he had a seizure. It's almost the same feeling I had every time one of my two daughters got sick.

I was on my 3rd bottle of beer when I suddenly asked : “Why is it so hard to understand feelings? Why can’t we control it? I know that letting Fluffy go was the best option on hand ... but why won't this pain go away?”

"Whether it's a puppy or a kitten, it is still a baby! That is why." My friend tried to console me with this explanation when she noticed this mixed feelings in me. She knew very well that we treat our pets as animal companions, other beings like us, but only in animal form. And we love all our pets very much.

I knew there is more than one answer to this makulit kong tanong and yet every time intense feelings overpower me, I still find myself asking these same questions. I have always believed that once you get to understand something, once the lesson is learned, it helps one to transcend a difficult experience and dissolves the pain as well. And so this time, I did everything I could to understand what was happening to Fluffy. But still the pain won't go away.

While in the middle of this reverie one of my friends replied, “Maybe there was something else that happened to you before this incident about Fluffy, that affected you so badly…you know, and it only ‘exploded’ now.”

Hmmmm ... I can’t help but agree to his comment. Fluffy was the 5th pet we brought to the vet the past six weeks. Oh, but those were regular visits for deworming and controlling ear mites and ticks and fleas! Although medyo mabigat ito sa bulsa but these check-ups didn't give us any problem at all. No heartaches at all, except this last one.

"Well, yes," I finally admitted after a few moments of hesitance to reveal a feeling I've been keeping to myself. "I’ve been through some pain and turmoil ... a couple of months ago. But that's another story I am not ready to talk about yet."

The truth is, I found out that whatever affection I had for Fluffy came from the same source as the feelings I had for this other person I-just-can't-talk-about yet. I may have only one heart but at that moment, I found out this heart could love and embrace several people and beings all at the same time. But the price is just too much to bear. The pain can be so devastating.

Once again I heard my friends telling me, "... when you love deeply, Azl, you also hurt deeply. You can't take one end of the stick without the other. "

During those moments, i was really contemplating the idea of 'going back' to the workaholic and stoic person that I used to be, that I learned to be, to cope with this kind of situation. Magpaka-bato na lang muna kaya uli ako. Am confident i can do that. Been there done that, I told myself.

But the moment I looked up and saw the faces of my dear friends ... thoughts of the warm hugs I get from Bam and Kim ... I knew I can't do it any other way. Despite the uneasy feeling of pain and sadness that sometimes come with disappointments and unmet expectations, I knew there is no other way except to get through this.

I just hope that this time, this 'bridge' i need to cross is shorter than the ones I've been through before.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Finding my way around

"Wow, Ma, ang haba ng nasulat mo ah!" was the comment I got from Kim, after she saw my first blog post yesterday. I couldn't help feeling a bit insecure that I might be 'talking' too much again... *sigh* ... as this is one of my usual response when faced with a new experience. On other occasions I tend to be more of a listener, an observer until I get familiarized with the environment.

But when it comes to my work and meeting up with a new client, things just flow quite naturally. Got no worries about talking too much or not saying enough. Discussions flow as it is and as if on cue, pertinent questions are raised, and views and opinions are shared quite openly.

These running thoughts sent me wondering about my initial blogging experience.

Is it having a face-to-face interaction with another person that makes the difference? Is it the confidence in knowing what one is supposed to do that make communicating easier? -- these questions I continued to ask myself on my way back home from my meeting this morning.

Is it the Pinoy culture? I've thought of this, too, because I've often heard that we do have this penchant for verbal communication and verbal traditions.

Now I am beginning to understand why friends who have started blogging long before I even thought about it, often asked for comments to their posting. That while there is so much freedom and space to be creative and expressive in the world of cyberspace, it still helps a lot to build something based on interactions with others in this new world out here.

I guess I better go and find someone to 'talk' with first .... or read on someone else's blog and send in my comments, too. I really want to learn more and make new friends soon!!!

Good night everyone... good night dear Self ... good night moon...

Monday, October 15, 2007

The road to get here ... anxieties of a new blogger

Believe me when I say that writing this first post did not come as easy as I thought it would be.

What am i gonna write about? Which story am I gonna tell first?

Have you experienced meeting up with a long-time friend, someone you haven't seen for maybe more than a decade now? I mean, someone who has been dear and close to you who probably knows some of your secrets and has probably heard those stories you wouldn’t dare tell others who are not that close to you.

I guess so, too!
Cold sweat on your palms!
You bet!

That’s exactly how I felt when I sat down to write this entry for my blog.

It sure feels like those few minutes before actually meeting up, when all the stories you have stored in your memory and kept inside your heart suddenly come to the surface and flood your entire being.

The decision to start blogging came even before I realized it. This happened a month ago while I was browsing through these 'small notebooks' (a.k.a personal journals) that is now starting to fill up a large portion of the bookshelf standing right beside me now.

Come to think of it, I haven’t touched any of my journals for the past 10 years. Although writing in these personally-selected notebooks has become a daily ritual, it’s just that ... as soon as I finish writing on the last page, got this habit to simply keep them together with the rest of the growing stack of journals, sitting there patiently, probably waiting for the time when I would be visiting them once again. I often make that promise to myself whenever I start writing in a new notebook -- that one of these days I'm going back to read them all over again.

Years passed, and soon I completely forgot to remember that I haven’t fulfilled that promise at all.

That afternoon, reading the first few chapters of the book Leaving a Trace by Alexandra Johnson made me jump from my seat to go and pick up one of my well-kept “small notebooks” and started reading from a page that actually opened up by itself. Soon, the floor piled with all the other notebooks and I was scanning briskly one notebook after another.

This book, by the way, is about keeping a journal. It talks about the art of transforming a life into stories. It offers ways to find the story underneath the surface of what has been written in one’s journal.

I waded through layers and layers of thoughts and memories, each claiming to be prioritized as THE story I should use as ‘starter’ in our conversation … but I continued wading some more to give me enough space for the ‘preliminaries’, as I often call it, to say “HI” and “Hey, how are you now?” … and maybe, an intentional silence after that … the way we often do when we finally find ourselves in front of someone distantly familiar, but familiar nonetheless.

While in the middle of being thrown 'back in time', I suddenly realized that while previous entries (meaning, entries written 8 - 12 years ago) were written primarily for my own future reading purposes, entries for the succeeding years (2000 - current year) revealed a subtle shift … a different voice, different voices actually, have started to assert themselves! There was also a change in the tone and the way things were written.

At first I couldn’t recognize what the difference was. After a few more days of re-viewing more stories of what happened way back then … I finally found the ‘difference’ I was looking for!!! I discovered that for the past 5 years, I was starting to write for an-other audience!

I guess that signaled that journal writing has slowly ceased to be purely a private matter for me. I even removed these notebooks from their boxes where I used to keep them, and placed them alongside with all the books on display in these shelves.

For some of you who may have experienced writing in personal journals and have now become experienced bloggers, you could probably imagine what that ‘shift’ means. I was telling myself that I got an inkling about it, I guess … but every time I try to catch it, to describe it … words continue to slip out of my fingers. Such definition remains elusive. Maybe, it’s not meant to be defined after all. It’s just that. The way stories are told and shared with others … in search of that resonance and affirmation that we are not alone with what we experience in our day-to-day lives.

Now that my 2 daughters are both teens, we also enjoy exchanging stories: they, with their recent 'episodes' with their friends, and me, with my own stories as well ... and some stories culled from my journal entries, too.

And aside from dear friends who continue to encourage me as some of them have already started their own blogs, reading stories shared by other bloggers touched me so deeply so much so that all my apprehensions and hesitance to share mine slowly dissolved to oblivion.

And so here I am, introducing to you this world of Meandering Thoughts,** with a vague notion of what this Blog is going to be all about.

Hope you'll visit often and join me meander a bit more...

** Meandering Thoughts is the original title of this Blog.