I heard a song a few months ago shortly after He passed. There was no fanfare and I was thankful.
The way He developed it, you would think He lived inside the song. The way his face falls after the last note, well, it would be an understatement to say it was “so emotional.” It was gut-wrenching. Not overworked and not over sentimental. Though, it had the ability to reduce me to tears. He played it for what the context in our relationship was and, while She may have performed it better dramatically at the funeral, no one could touch Him vocally and spiritually.
We were connected.
She and I were the only ones to hear it. Of course, she only overheard on the night he serenaded me. He wrote it for me originally. He was always spontaneous. He thought songs weren’t supposed to be saved for make-ups after a quarrel. He thought they should be heard, regardless of the time and moment and reason.
What happened shortly after was surreal, as if it were one of those tragic events were emulated from a movie scene. One stormy afternoon, she went out to let off some steam. Highly inebriated to numb her loss, while driving on the shoulder of the road, she eventually lost control and totaled her vehicle into a tree.
It’s a shame no one will ever hear it now. It only exists with him resting in the song, and the song in my memory.
Sound matters. Nothing ruins it more than some shoddy sound system notorious for skipping more beats than Ferris skipped school days. Even worse than that night when two youngins decided to bring onstage their electronic drum set. “Get an actual drummer, fag!” someone shouted from the crowd. “Did your mummy buy that for you, eh?” another obnoxious, possibly intoxicated guest ratted on. Who cares. Their judgment was muddled. Unfamiliar faces with established names, yet I couldn’t care much for their narrow existence.
I sent them packing as soon as possible. But in their condition, I tipped the cab driver extra to make sure they got somewhere safely.
This was live music. Live poetry. Not some cheap, fast-paced, glitzy, vulgar, sweaty ash heap. This was not some place to grope women or “cop a feel” off of an unsuspecting person. We made love, all right. We made love through words. And we felt each other by the perking of the ears and sedate concentration. If you think that’s uncomfortable, you have a lot to learn.
“Calm, cool, collected! My mother told me so!” a girl with a husky voice snapped. How many times has that been uttered? I chuckled.
It was amateur night at.. The Place. I can’t tell you exactly where it is, but I’ll tell you that it is definitely worth the train ride to Brooklyn. There’s a garbage sign by the entrance. When the lid is on, it means anyone is welcome. When it’s off, that means it’s closed. The best thing about this place is that although the unspoken dress code suggests a casual attire, we have characters dressed down, and some dressed to the nines. The only casual thing about us is our personalities. We love the neighborhood we’ve integrated into a 1,000 square foot space. We take pride in the enveloped care-free atmosphere we’ve created, away from the tourists. Away from the huff-and-puff. Away from the upscale expectations and status-obsessed moguls. Victims of society. As a matter of fact, some drifters got married here last week. St. Patrick’s was apparently too “crowded”. Ornate, yes. Romantic, no.
“She played me for a fool. I gave my heart away. I felt like a.. um, tool. It was a very sad day.”
It was a boy’s turn now. I watched a thin, brown haired girl swizzle her coffee stick against the rim of her mug, totally withdrawn from the show.
At The Place, we actually have intentions of making a profound connection with one another. Like an alluring woman who looked like Betty Grable who, with one enticing conversation, could turn the poison in bitter hearts into medicine. And this rugged rogue who glorified his independence in rejecting the rules of society in favor of following his own personal goals and values. And I certainly couldn’t forget the guy who’s always in a layered get-up. He tells newcomers about how “stumbling upon The Place was the best mistake” of his life. He was on his way to some birthday party, and stopped to ask for directions, then decided to never leave. The story behind his get-up, however, is simply to immortalize his image. He came to The Place during a blizzard and chooses to layer up every time he comes down here.
It’s the only place I could let my hair down and have individuality encouraged. Embraced, rather. And there was a consistant pattern I noticed with the people who found their way here. Their walls wore down. Their masks were taken off. It’s like that scene in a movie where people share stories and cry all the time. But in a good, healthy way. The Place was the antidote to the plagues of materialism, self-absorption, racism, self-esteem issues, and hatred that infects our world today.
Quality vibes rebound off the walls. Incessant chatter muffles my hearing.
“Blessed be,” a woman trembled. “Then something about going null.”
I live for stuff like this. The handsome quietness. The big liberal hearts. And mostly, the unparalleled quality that The Place possessed:
It always felt like night time there. Not because it was blatantly dark. It was because of the privacy. Off the beaten path. The lack of obligations. The ultimate isolation, unusually pleasant with the company of perfect strangers, in a 1,000 square foot room, where the only things that mattered were love and sound.
You’re stuck in this rut of interpersonal communication. You apply yourself to a series of questions, perhaps to dwell on or to nitpick at an issue. Why are you making the gears turn in your head for no productive reason? Most of these thoughts are not thought of simply because you’re intrigued. My dear, they are destructive. Wielding these thoughts are not beneficial. They won’t provide you with some sort of insight or answer to life. And even if your perspective has gotten better, what are you going to do about it? You have this script all set up in your head about what you could’ve done or said, or what you’re planning to do or say. The urge to question yourself is so tempting. Do we like making ourselves miserable? Why is it so alluring to dwell in “that old room” when we know every drop of the present is precious and must not be wasted? Then we end up questioning ourselves more about why we’re questioning ourselves in the first place. My word, do we derive pleasure from being cruel upon ourselves? If that’s the case, then we must be all mad. Or is that normal. I mean, I don’t like being miserable. I don’t know any sane human being who actually likes being miserable. So why is it so hard to stop thinking these bittersweet thoughts, that are more bitter than they are sweet?
You know what.. what I’ve learned is that those who are miserable allow themselves to be miserable. They question everything rather than just accepting their mistakes or life as it’s served to them. Me? I’m happy. Have I had it easy? Hell no. I know what it’s like to be bullied. I know what it’s like to cry myself at sleep because I thought I was ugly and lower than dirt. I know what it’s like to be played or cheated on or to have your heart broken. I know what it’s like to slip up and be humiliated. I know what it’s like to feel like everything is your fault and wishing that there was a rewind button so that you could fix your mistakes. Oh, you know. These are all just shallow, petty first world problems that people would normally blow up rather than trying to place things into perspective. I even knew what it was like to be homeless. Yea, homeless. As in I didn’t have four walls and a roof built around me. Now, I don’t take my room for granted. My walls are my best friends. They keep me safe, and the world out. If I’m having a tough day, I’ll always calm myself down. I tell myself that I could definitely have it way worse. If I have a rift with someone and I’m angry and I feel like the world is unfair, as irrelevant as it may seem, at least I have a room. Because if all the world’s problems were thrown into a pot, and I had to dig one out, I’d take my problem right back out. I’d rather deal with people’s nonsense than having to starve night and day. I’d rather have no problems at all. But everyone has problems. So I shouldn’t question my disposition. Rather, thank the Lord that I’m blessed and open my eyes to everything I shouldn’t take for granted. Because all of that can be taken away from me in an instant.
People think that they HAVE to go through the suffering NOW so that they become “stronger” in the end. But that’s not how it works. When you lie in bed awake and have a breakdown and burst into hot tears because you’re stressed or lonely or angry and want to scream into your pillow until your vocal chords collapse, you’re only entitled to one good cry - and that’s it. After all those emotions are released and your mind is cleared, pull yourself together. That’s how you make yourself stronger - by not allowing yourself to fall apart every time an issue arises. You’ve tortured yourself enough. Stiffen up that upper lip and be strong. It can’t be stressed enough.
Sometimes, it’s easy to get caught in the drama. Some part of you says, “Yes, I’m crying. Now, there will be some truth when I tell people that I have suffered and cried for nights at a time.” Don’t take this path in thinking, because now you’re just looking for attention. And yes, you may think you have people fooled. You may think that they sympathize because you have been impacted so negatively by this whole dilemma, that they’ll nurture you and baby you for life. But no. You’re more transparent than that. They don’t know how to break it to you. They don’t know how to tell you to shut up and move on with your life. Because trying to have a decent conversation with an unstable person is like walking in a mine field. Any of the nurturer’s well intended words, “It’ll be alright” or “Things will get easier”.. those words can set off an explosive response. They hesitate to say that because they think you’ll retort with, “Oh. That’s easy for you to say.” even when they were only trying to help. And you will keep pushing people away to see if they’ll keep coming back, when the truth is, people can only handle so much abuse. They would love to stick around, but only if you let them. Because they think your attitude is legit! Then both parties end up miserable and frustrated and you question why you’re lonely and why you’re so attention seeking. Could it be something in the past that made you like this? Who cares about the past? You have to reinvent yourself. Stop questioning yourself and your situation. Stop questioning others who are actually legitimately there for you, and don’t take advantage of them. Stop questioning, period. It’s not about the cards you are dealt; it’s how you play the hand.
And those people you keep pushing away to see if they’ll stick around, they have lives, too. As much as you want to believe that there is some magical being out there who will “never get annoyed by you”, someone who will stay by you, yes, they probably will be patient. But only to an extent, before they’re fed up and show their true colors. Therefore it is best to reduce this tension, by learning to work around things yourself. Oh, don’t get me wrong. They’ll be there for you if you actually have a problem. But if you’re blowing something out of proportion, then naturally, they’ll start to question your character and themselves for why they’re wasting their time.
Also. Stop questioning yourself. Stop going back and forth. You’re never going to be satisfied if you keep asking yourself why that girl is prettier than you. Why that girl has a “better” body than you. Why does that girl seem happier than you. What could have happened if I was with this person? Or what could have happened if I saw my potential future with them, re-assessed the situation, and never spoke to them? I guess it’s comforting to think of what could have been. But it’s also nerve wracking. Am I right or am I just nit picking? Stop this vicious cycle in its tracks.
I am probably the biggest hypocrite when it came to writing this, but at least I got it out there.
Some like to think we’re all young for one brief, shining moment. That we’re only young when we’re “innocent” and that once we hit puberty, we can never go back. We’re expected to merge with the teenage demographic and be cultured. More worldly. But what the hell, we don’t even know what a teenager acts like. Any age group has its set of interesting characters. A middle aged man can be just as stubborn and immature as a high school senior. While a five year old girl can be as sophisticated and reserved as a Harvard college graduate. Do you get where I’m going with this?
If you’re a woman, there’s a great deal of complaints about the pressure we get from society, primarily through the media. We need to somehow supply the makings of a high-powered career, a hunk of a husband, a “hot” body, the ability to manage 3 kids, and the Martha Stewart homemaking proficiency, all without missing a beat. And it’s unfair and unrealistic.
I used to put great spirits into expecting things from people. I liked to think that the world was safe, back when I didn’t know any better. I thought it was okay to cross the street without looking both ways because I expected the driver to see me. I expected them to be cautious and to brake. I expected them to be the blame if I got into an accident, because they were supposed to be responsible. But you can’t always depend on people like that. People are faulty. People wonder why I’m afraid of streets so much, and it’s because this beautiful girl I knew back in Kindergarten, she got ran over by a car. And I visited her in the hospital to give her this stuffed rabbit I bought for her as a present, but she wasn’t in her room. She was getting surgery. By the age of 11, she had already had 16 surgeries on her face since the accident which was around 7 years old, if I am not mistaken. I remember when I first heard about her tragic ordeal. I was getting changed after swimming practice, and my mother was talking to another classmate’s mother. The next time I saw the girl was in church. I said hi and smiled. I still thought she was beautiful. She was strong. I always envied her, you know. She always colored neatly in the lines. She always had pretty clothes. She always had better snacks. I was the poor kid with the thick Filipino accent. But I seriously digress.
Sometimes I expect too much even from God. I know I shouldn’t. But my doubt often led to testing, and I would ask Him for signs. Signs that people shared a liking for me as I did for them. Signs that my mother would come home safely from work. I expected him to make my mother win the lottery so that she could just stop stressing. I expected him to cease all the hurting my family has gone through because I hoped that we’d have something to at least live for before our time came. And now we’re stronger and I learned not to expect. But rather to just put faith. Faith is a loophole with expecting. You just believe in the authority of a higher power, without expecting a certain outcome, because God works in mysterious ways. And I shouldn’t question that.
We expect things too much. We expect from presidents, who are just as human as we are. We expect people to be fair and courteous, only to be disappointed when they are not. If you are a landlord, you expect your stayers to pay their rent on time, forgetting that they may be struggling for money just as much as you are. I think as you expect more, the duller your life gets. If you knew something was going to happen just because you expected it, that it would take all the fun out of life. My mother told me that if your life was perfect, that you would have no drive. That is why I dated an admiration for those who are capable of pulling through strongly, while rolling with the punches.
My mother.. I remember I would expect my mother to cook me breakfast every morning, and I would be gravely disappointed when she didn’t. I would act spoiled, but my mother, instead of scolding me for my fit, would bite her tongue. She didn’t expect me to have that understanding yet. The understanding that my mother is only human. I used to think that you turned this magical age, and then you knew everything and that you executed everything perfectly. Which is why I would always get so frustrated when my mother wasn’t perfect. When she didn’t know what to do when the car broke down. When she didn’t know how to heal my scraped knee on the spot. When she didn’t know how to make macaroni and cheese yet. When she didn’t know how to drive. I think I placed my mother on this pedestal because it made me feel safe. I could always turn to her. But I had to stop expecting. Expectations lead to disappointments. Let’s just leave it at that.
So, I’m Fiona. I have too many nicknames to date, so just call me by my first name. I like hearing my first name. Hearing it reassures me. I don’t know why, but it just does. Maybe it is because I know that you’re talking to me and that you want my attention. It’s nice to feel wanted or needed. It’s pleasant. I hope it’s not too much to ask for my name to be said before you speak to me. I feel uncomfortable guessing if people are talking to me or someone else, unintentionally ignoring them when they’re talking to me, or talking to them when I’m not being spoken to. My second name is Cinelli. It’s Italian. Yes, I was named after the bicycle manufacturing company in Milan. My father is a bike enthusiast and named me after his prized possession. I don’t live with him anymore. I live with my mother.
Unfortunately, I have no interesting story to grasp your attention with. There is no huge headliner about me saving a puppy from a raging fire that I can share with you in order to distinguish me from the rest. Although I believe if you got to know me, I’m sure we would have our bundle of sentimental experiences that would set me apart from the crowd. Perhaps riding down hills in cardboard boxes, fooling around in Ikea, and having shopping cart races are some of the many spunky adventures you may encounter as my friend. Or maybe I’ll totally fall in love with you. Either way, it’s an adventure. It’s spontaneous. It’s life, dude.
I’m the eldest child, born in Manila, Philippines on February 20 and moved here when I was two years old. I’m pretty sure the doctor delivered me under normal circumstances. I can also speak my native tongue. I’m Catholic, but I hope that doesn’t scare you away. I don’t proclaim bullshit sermons about tolerance and expect other people to act accordingly. I just show it. Easier said than done, better done than said. I am capable of liking anyone and everyone very much, although I don’t act like it. Usually, I stick around because their stupidity entertains me. I’m ambivalent towards humanity. Sometimes I like it, sometimes I don’t. I have a very funny way of showing my feelings - but it is consistent. Look, as long as you give me a chance, I’ll give you a chance. You can never have too many friends, you know. Although I’m quite content with the few close ones that I treasure and keep close to my heart. Don’t have a lot of friends? Good. That’s less people to worry about.
If I ever confuse or hurt you, I am not a difficult person to talk to. I don’t believe I am, and I can talk to anyone about anything. I also am aware I talk too much. Uncannily, I’m quite comfortable with silence. I write too much. I think too much. I laugh heartily and with great fervor. It’s how I cope.
Please note that in this blog, I am not one to forbear what I say, no matter who’s reading. I didn’t make you read this. I’m just talking to myself, in order to get to know myself. If I may have lead you to this blog, then that’s great. But I’m not using this as a subliminal way to communicate with anyone. This is for me, and if you just so happen to come along and enjoy it, then that’s great! It makes me happy and flattered when people are interested.
This is a bit of an overwhelming introduction, don’t you think? Well, I do not care what you think. I can make an introduction as thorough as I want, and I could make this even more thorough, but I will stop now. Hopefully, as I strive to complete this challenge, you will get a taste of what to expect as I grow older within the pages of this oddly formatted archive that I’m debating to call my “life in black and white” or merely just a piece of it.
Alright, maybe “tatters of my soul”. Nothing too grand.