Sunday, July 12, 2009
8:13 PM |
By Patricia Evangelista
Never take up with a writer, I tell you. They notice everything, including the hole at the bottom of your argyle sock, the inconsistency in your choice of cheeseburger, and that confession you made one drunken dawn in 2006. They will stay awake at three in the morning, and insist on walking down stretches of dark street to speak to the July rain. They are useless at parties, and will either stare blankly into space or vehemently campaign for the legalization of third-world prostitution in a conversation comparing condom elasticities. They will correct your every sentence, forget vital pieces of underwear, and will not hesitate to record your conversation on a scrap of damp McDonald’s tissue paper. They are constantly afraid the sky is falling, and are more afraid when it doesn’t. They will conveniently forget birthdays and unpaid phone bills, will hiss at the good friend who commits the sin of breathing while they pound away at what they mistakenly believe is the Great Filipino Novel, and have fits of moaning in dark corners when the voices in their heads refuse to go away. And there are voices, I tell you.
Today I will write about why I cannot write, and if that does not fill 6,500 characters – approximately 1,200 words – the impoverished state of my own personal nation will be announced very soon when Meralco cuts off my electricity. I am told I must have it easy, sitting on my couch and rambling my way into a monthly paycheck. I suspect there are many, many more difficult lines of work than spending long blocks of time rearranging words on blank white pages, but as I have no affinity for hunting mountain lions or diving into sewage, I will content myself with carefully going mad.
This is the day I choose to conduct my own personal revolution. I will not talk about politics today, because although diving into sewage is not part of my job description, I seem to be wading in muck half the time. I will not write about the President’s breasts – although I do not know if technically they can be included in her Statement of Assets and Liabilities, as I am told Asian Hospital footed the bill. I will not write about the very odd decision by a Caloocan judge, who dismissed a case on falsification of documents by a city accountant because the paperwork had “some semblance of truth.” I will not, for example, jump on Senator Francis Escudero’s statement, when asked if he is running for President, that he will not stoop down to the excuses that his colleagues have made on not declaring their candidacy. He will not, for example, claim he is waiting for an endorsement (as they say Gilbert Teodoro is) or that he is waiting to accumulate the necessary P1 billion to campaign (as Manny Villar says is necessary) or announce that he is waiting for the masses to call him to serve (as Loren Legarda now claims). No, Chiz says Chiz is different, he is simply “not going to think about running or not running,” will “simply go with the flow,” as if the decision to run a nation had the same importance as deciding whether to get Wendy’s over Jollibee. But that is not the point of this column, as you may suspect if you’ve read this far, there is no point, only writing.
Let me tell you where I am. I am sitting on a couch stolen from my mother’s living room, and am happy to report the half-smashed chocolate bar I excavated from under the grimy blue cushion. The walls are green, the curtains are white, and the linoleum floor is ripped and stained from stoves thrown in temper and what appears to be radiator fluid. There are tricycles rampaging under the window. At the corner unit, a woman is drilling through her walls with a power saw for the third time this year. My ceiling is still dripping into the bright red bucket saved from Jollibee takeout chicken strategically positioned on my bed. It’s drip and rip and bang and boom, and there’s not enough onomatopoeia in the world to imitate the racket inside my head.
Understand, there is no other occupation I will choose in the world. I’ll tell you why I write. I write because there are voices inside my head that knock at my temple and scratch at my ears, and typing pounds those words into a keyboard and out of my head. I write even if it means no more than 11 eggs in my refrigerator, two cans of tuna in my cupboard, and a fifty-peso thrift store wooden bust of a Hawaiian princess that sits staring from over my underwear drawer. I write to know what I’m thinking, or not thinking, or pretend not to be thinking, and to justify the moments of irrationality that cannot believably be attributed to PMS. I write because I am 23 in a country going mad, and if I do not write I cannot pretend I am not part of the madness. Mostly I write because arranging constellations of words on blank pages gives me an odd sort of thrill – the same thrill I get when I use a word like “constellation” – and because I do not know where to find mountain lions.Published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer
Labels: writers, writing
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