Achieving Happiness

January 11, 2010

Almost Emily

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ina Alleco @ 6:26 am

“Almost Emily” is what I saw spray-painted on a wall somewhere along Kalayaan Avenue. The words struck me as wistful, their rhythm rueful. The calligraphy was somewhat crooked, as if the creator did not know how to use the spray can, and the letters skittered across the wall’s rough surface. Who is Emily, and why was she only almost so? It’s a mystery I know will never be solved, one among others I have discovered through the years — useless but intriguing, they make me see the world from a different angle yet again.

This is my first official blog for the new year. The first one about Ka Bel doesn’t really count – I just pasted the words written almost two years ago in a Microsoft Word file. I’ve missed Ka Bel badly, and it’s still unreal that he’s no longer here. Still, the book project….

I’m writing press releases etc for Ka Satur Ocampo now. How lucky am I that I’ve been given the opportunity to write for yet another legend of the national democratic movement?! It’s a great honor, really.

For Christmas, Kim gave me two books — Alain de Botton’s ‘The Architecture of Happiness’ and Douglas Coupland’s ‘JPod.’ I finished the latter and have begun the former. JPod isn’t Douglas’ best. I think Eleanor Rigby still takes the trophy home, and the next-best ribbon goes Hey, Nostradamus.

JPod is mostly a rehash of ‘Microserfs,’ only it’s grittier and has less heart. There’s a thread of genuine emotion that runs through Microserfs, the characters being charming, highly intelligent and a lot lost because they had yet to discover their true purpose in life.

In JPod, the characters are angrier, less charming, and less complex even if there was the (failed) attempt to make them appear interesting and hip. They are people have lost their innocence and mostly they just want to get by. They roll with the punches, and they have no more questions: they have found the answers, and they have been disappointed. Instead of asking more questions, however, they chose to entertain themselves instead, hoping to keep boredom at bay. Life for them is primarily a matter of adjusting, and their hearts have somewhat petrified. Like I said, JPod is a harsher version of Microserf, and I didn’t enjoy it as much. There is no delight in finding that powdered cola seeds can be brought and one can make a cola drink in one’s own home. Poking fun at Ronald McDonald and painting him as a demented clown with a violent and sordid past (not of his own doing) generated only the weakest smiles. I didn’t care about Ethan and his friends — they could all drown in a ditch somewhere and I wouldn’t weep.

As for ‘Architecture of Happiness,’ ah, well, Alain de Botton has never disappointed me. I’ll write a lengthier review after I’ve finished reading it. All his books make me both think and laugh — they’re intelligent and funny. I don’t care that some reviewers find them pedantic, or think that they’re pompous and essentially useless; they’re books I like to read again and again because they amuse and give comfort on a day that’s particularly ordinary and blah. The language sings and the prose is poetic. I am often tickled by his insight, and while the advice tucked between the paragraphs is not profound, it still makes me stop an consider: often the key to making life bearable is to live simply and to find joy in the smallest things. Then life can begin to beautiful, and you can enjoy it.

Kim and I have been watching the True Blood series. It’s twisted and funny and sickening and amusing. I am both repelled and intrigued by the sex and the violence mixed with the vampire lore. I never liked vampires, but they’ve been a staple in a lot of the horror books I’ve read and movies I’ve seen since I was a child. It’s funny how every writer comes up with their own set of rules when it comes to how vampires live and how they can be killed; but for my sister and I, it will always be Anne Rice who’s the main authority. She made vampires come alive, pardon the pun. Bram Stoker’s Dracula was plain creepy, and I couldn’t wait for Jonathan Harker to drive a stake into him and good riddance.

What else? Dezaato’s bread is better than BreadTalk’s. More delicious, bigger and cheaper. I could eat two in a row and not feel guilty or greedy.

Miko turned 18 months the other day and she continues to thrive both mentally and physically. She’s in a love-hate relationship with her daddy: she’s nuts about him as a playmate, but is somewhat resentful when daddy exerts authority and tells her ‘No.’ It’s an interesting study in child behavior.

2010 resolutions
1. I promise to read at least one non-fiction book a month.
2. I promise to try to curse less often. Sometimes I’m worse than Debra Morgan and I have a toddler who easily picks up words, hell. Oops.
3. I promise to bathe Galliard and Milkpot more often.
4. I promise to learn to cook more than just sinigang and nilaga and recipes that don’t have the equivalent of commercial pre-mixes.
5. I promise to be more patient with Kim’s sometimes infuriating sense of what’s funny.
6. I promise to eat better.
7. I promise to write more.
8. I promise to dust the shelves more often.
9. I promise to try to be more in touch with friends beyond poking them in Facebook.
10. I promise to get more exercise.


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