Things that used to make me feel very alone and lonely, but now not so much

 

  1. Getting sick—dragging myself to the doctor, holding my left hand with my right on the examination table, buying meds, making myself some soup, tucking myself into bed
  2. Deplaning and going through the airport arrivals hall with my pack on my back and the hope of a short taxi queue
  3. Walking home at half-past three in the morning after a night of checking papers at some café
  4. My birthday and Valentine’s Day.
  5. Cooking, eating out and being served portions large enough for two
  6. Moving house
  7. Anxiety attacks (in the shower, during yoga practice, in an FX, in the MRT, in the mall, in the office, on an overpass, in the corner of Wait and Do Not Wait Streets)
  8. The fact of Facebook
  9. The beach, especially on very hot days
  10. Rejected invitations (because I seldom make invitations)
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Some tips for young men of my acquaintance seeking favor

 (or, this is why I don’t have a boyfriend)

1. It is generally a bad idea to message me too often, too early in our acquaintance (too often being every day or even every other day, and too early being a month), especially if your conversation starter is “How are you?” Not only is the question too general, but my default answer to it will be one or all of the following:

  • Okay naman.
  • Busy, hehe.
  • The usual! Work, studies, hobbies! (See previous answer.)

Externally, my days follow a pretty constant pattern, because I am a creature of habit and consistent preferences, but internally, my thoughts and emotions are often roiling, but I won’t tell you that, because we’re not close.

A better conversation starter is some information about something we are both interested in, be it books, travel, music, art, hiking and other sports, comparative religion, economics, politics, sustainability, coffee, dogs, anime, etc. If you are knowledgeable about something and can passionately talk about it, I will likely be interested.

I am a polite person, and will usually reply to messages even if I am not interested, but if I stop replying to you or taking your calls, it means I have found correspondence with you an uncomfortable, anxiety-inducing affair. At this point, step back. If you press on, I may block you on Facebook and put your number on the list of automatically rejected calls. Harsh, but I am easily upset by too much clinging, too early on, because my energy for socialization is very limited, and I prefer to spend it on people I already care about.

2. On social media: We all stalk someone’s Facebook/Twitter/Instagram accounts, and sometimes have no problem admitting it, but some expressions/signs of stalking are more pleasing than others. For example, if you “like” many pictures of me on Facebook (recent and old), I would take it to mean that you focus too much on appearance, whereas if you like one of the poems or article excerpts I post, and comment on the content of the article or message me about it, I would take it to mean that you share one or more of my interests, appreciate my mind, and would like to engage it in intelligent discourse.

3. On correspondence: I teach literature and composition, and edit literary and scholarly works, which is to say that I am a grammar nazi. Try to message me in complete, grammatically correct sentences, with proper punctuation, capitalization, and spelling, especially if you’re using English (Filipino is, actually, a “safer” language to use with me). You likely won’t succeed every time or even most of the time (for even the best writers commit errors in grammar), but I will appreciate the effort.

4. Do not call me “dear” or any clichéd term of affection, it gives me the creeps.

5. Do not touch me unless I touch you first, on the arm, on the shoulder, on the back. Do not flirt with me in any sexual way. This puts me off immediately and irrevocably. I am not physically attracted to a person before I am emotionally invested in that person, which does not happen until I am intellectually fascinated. (See #1 and #2)

6. On compliments: I am suspicious of flattery and sweet talk, but if you must praise my qualities, I appreciate compliments about my work more than my appearance, my taste (in music, books, clothes, etc.) more than my face, my physical strength or character more than my dubitable beauty. But don’t go the opposite way and mock me, because I will likely think that you mean it, and take offense.

7. I am a sincere person. I don’t play games. If I like you, you will know. If I don’t like you, you will know. I also expect sincerity from other people. If you like me, let me know. If you are simply bored by your life and just want to play, pray, find yourself a Manic Pixie Dream Girl and don’t waste my time.

8. Rudeness to service staff is unacceptable. Sexist comments are unacceptable. Homophobia is unacceptable. Non-support of the RH Law is acceptable, if justified by rational and morally compelling reasons.

9. I prefer shared experiences to material gifts. It is easy to give things, not so your self, your world. On dates: I hate noise, crowds, and glaring/bad lighting. I hate malls, especially SM. I do not eat meat; I still eat seafood, but I am trying to become vegetarian. I like long walks, but not in hot (upwards of 32 degrees) weather. If you spend the time with me checking your smartphone, browsing your Facebook feed, I will never want to see you again.

10. Be patient. My trust and affection are not easily or quickly gained (give it at least a year), but I make a devoted, caring, consistent partner, and I will try to fill your life with meaning and beauty, as much as I try to fill mine.

yoga in the morning

I loop my body into knots in the morning, right after I wake up and gently rise in a hot pool of light pouring in from the east-facing, gauze-curtained window. I draw the curtains close against the buzzing, rumbling world, peel the powder-blue pashmina with a spray of white stars off my mat, stow the pillow in my closet, and begin salutations to the sun. There are few sounds more satisfying than this: the cracking of my spine, bending and twisting, of ligaments pulled and joints rotating as I move into each pose. There are few sensations more gratifying than feeling muscle stretching over planes and ridges of bone, or feeling the full force of my weight on my crown and forearms, or on the flat-pressed breadth of two palms as I kick my legs up, abdomen tensing, struggling to keep myself from bowling over, trusting my arms, trusting the wall, hearing my breath rush out of my lungs, my pulse throbbing just below my breastbone, between the ribs, counting softly before the inevitable slow fall—all for this end: to drop dead-tired on my sweat-strewn, storm-blue mat after practice, unraveling in a warm bath of piano notes, my mind lighting up and my body deliciously aching for the rest of the day. Every day.