Day 047 – 2018.16.02

Apparently, “We Are the Ants” has a short story companion piece titled, “What We Pretend To Be” which copy was pretty easy to find in the generous World Wide Web.

The short story is a compilation of different alien abductions, each character with a different dilemma in their life and reactions to the encounter. Henry’s first abduction was also written as the finale piece of it.

In conclusion, the short story boils down to what the novel also wanted to reflect: everyone has a choice. Diego always emphasized this idea to convince Henry that he can make his life better if he chose it to be. Every character in the short story were also given choices by the alien which ultimately affects their life.

With this short story, I’m more convinced that the alien abduction in the story is merely an allusion to that line between the past, the decision, and the future.

Well, I might be wrong, but I’ll stick with my impressions until someone argues with me. After all, this is the beauty if literature, isn’t it? It’s openness to interpretations? πŸ™‚

On the other hand, MALEC (Magnus Bane x Alec Lightwood) is eating up my time. It has been for the past three days, I think?

The funny thing is, I don’t have any intention to watch the show Shadowhunters at all, nor read “The Mortal Instruments” which the show is based on (because I’m not into fantasy stories), but I can’t help but fall in love with the pair. I think their characters have layers of interesting things to learn about and their dynamics is slowly being revealed to me, thanks to compilation vids and the few fanfics I’ve read.

I never paid that much attention to it when my friend mentioned that Harry Shum Jr of Glee was playing a gay role, but Youtube took my hand and lead me to another western gay fandom just like Skam.

Well, it’s always lovely to find new fandom.
With hot guys, may I add? πŸ˜€

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Day 046 – 2018.15.02

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhwwwwwwww.

It’s a hybrid of “ahhh” and “awww” which can only be summoned by a satisfying ending to a long story.

I thoroughly enjoyed my reading experience of “We Are the Ants”. The angst, sarcasm, and layers of finding answers to the meaning of life is 450 pages of worth of reading. I also love the fact that despite needing to put down the book for work and other side reads (eherm, fanfic), it’s so easy to go back to Calypso and Henry’s head.

There’s a lot of endearing elements in this very angsty story which is already plus points for me. Take Henry’s family for example.

Henry’s family is the image of a home with so many holes and cracks that there’s always the possibility of it collapsing, but it endures as much as it can.

He describes his brother Charlie as a worthless human being incapable of success or ever providing for his own family, but there were parts of the book that tells us that he loves his brother all the same. Charlie equally loves Henry the way he knows how. It’s physically painful at times, but we instantly know he isn’t as shitty as Henry describes him to be.

It’s very rare for me to tear up in reading, but when Henry’s mom finally was done drowning in her family’s misery, I celebrated with tears of joy. She just had so much on her plate: her depressed son, a soon-to-be father of a college drop-out first son, a missing husband, and a senile mother. She had forgotten to dream to survive reality.

Nana was probably as adorable to the readers as she was to Henry. There’s just something so heartbreaking and endearing about a person who loses memories because memories are like that: you can remember it fondly, but never live it again. She was the shaky pillar of her family, and I think Henry at a time considered pushing the button just for his grandmother.

I didn’t fall in love with Diego as much as my friend who lend me the book, but he was important in the story. His presence never pushed Henry to do something he doesn’t want to like Audrey (but she’s a great friend), but his place in Henry’s life is to make him reflect on how he perceive himself; that even if he feels he is not important to the universe, for one person–Diego–he is the universe, he is important.

And that’s worth pushing the button.

All in all, I think my Goodreads review sums up my appreciation to this book:

Whether the sluggers were a state of mind or a reality, this book asks a fundamental question: when shitfuck of everything explodes to your face reducing you to a minuscule being not worthy of the world and it’s mysteries, albeit misery, will you still fight for the chance at happiness again?

Angst is probably a guilty pleasure of a read for me, so Henry’s internal monologues kept me good company. Sometimes I wanted to save him, other times I just wanted to be on the same slab with the sluggers with him.

The dysfunctional family element is always the oasis in a desert; that the drought, heat, and vastness of the same plain planes of rough sand under our feet, the thirst for water, for salvation, exist. You just have to trudge on to find it.

“The universe might forget us, but it doesn’t matter. Because we are the ants, and we’ll keep marching on.”

In terms of writing style, I really appreciate Shaun David Hutchinson. His descriptions are on-point, metaphors and references beautiful.

The last novels I quoted so much were “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” and “Call Me By Your Name”.

Too bad I had to return the book, so I eventually had to remove all those tabs after I saved my favorite lines.

Because of this book, I think I’m going to read as much Shaun David Hatchinson from now on. I quite regret not buying my own copy of this book before. No wonder it called me so many times. Well, I’m sure I can do something about that in the future.

“We Are the Ants” – Shaun David Hatchinson (novel) – 5/5 stars

Day 041 – 2018.10.02

A belated celebration for Tita’s 54th birthday had me riding in a car with brothers grooving to cringey local music that I shamelessly started liking as well by the time the song finished. LOL

And Tita blew her cake! That was awesomesauce.

For all the sleepy moments I had throughout this day, I was able to finish “Fan Art” by Sarah Tregay.

I simultaneously read this book in my Kindle alongside “Simon and the Homo Sapiens Agenda” which I think make the latter book even more dragging to read since Tregay’s writing style appeals to me more. Both had simple stories: in love with someone, in the closet, someone in school knows their secrets, does not want to be outed by force (who does?). I guess Tregay’s book gains her edge in the voice of the characters.

I think both Jamie and Simon were trying to be funny, but Jamie’s metaphors and sarcasm appealed to me more. The side characters are endearing like Eden who is a closet lesbian and yaoi fangirl and had become one of Jamie’s greatest friend through his ordeal of staying in or outside the closet and figuring out what to do with Mason.

Mason, Jamie’s best friend and love interest, seems very lovely too. Jamie all the while thinks that Mason will hate him if he ever finds out his best friend is gay, but there’s one or two chapters that already hints to Mason flirting (even courting) Jamie and he still dismisses the hints. There’s the question, but his answer is always a no no no, he can’t possibly like me that way. So it’s entertaining and I wanted to find out so much how things will turn out for the both of them.

I gave this book a 4/5 stars just because the ending felt cut short. If probably the author gave a glimpse of the two of them riding out of town to college to live their lives independently, and finally, as a couple, then that would have been a very satisfying ending–for me.

Nonetheless, even without the help of Simon to highlight the writing of this book, I actually liked it a lot. Good read. πŸ™‚

Fan Art” (novel) – 4/5 stars

Day 036 – 2018.05.02

And so, we’re down to our last day in Cebu. We’ve done most of what we can in our short stay, and I rather like the laid back vibe of this trip. However, I guess since we traveled by plane to get to this city, I feel that we could’ve done more and maximize our time to do more activities and visit more places.

Mao and I rate our trips in five categories usually: transportation, company, accommodation, food, and cultural experience of the place.

Transporation: 3/5
I missed the airplane experience, but Cebu Pacific fucking us right into the entry point of this trip pulled the rating down. Also, we used Uber all the time, so the local transpo experience was immediately striked-out of memory. Nonetheless, for comfort, there’s the rating for you.

Company: 5/5
I love these set of friends: Jen, PJ, and Geli. They’ve been constant companions even if they were just my co-workers for three months. We had good serious conversations, and the laughter never waned. Most importantly, in decision-making, we had our heads in the same page most of the time.

Accommodation: 4/5
The condo rented through Airbnb was very nice. Not that spacious, but it had a great view from the 20th floor. Necessary tools in the kitchen and bathroom, and the bed were comfortable. On the other hand, I would appreciate an addition of a bidet, thicker bedsheets, and a cabinet for clothes.

Food: 5/5
We were not able to eat all the local food recommended for us, but at least we got to try the “never-miss” ones like the Cebu lechon and sea food. There’s lechon and seafood in Manila too, but the way they make it in Cebu can only be experienced if you travel there yourself.

Cultural Experience: 4/5
As my friend said, Cebu is just like Manila, except it has closer beaches and people spoke in another language. There are the historical sites, but everything has history anyway. The people were very friendly and I learned some new words in Cebuano, so that’s a treat. Nature’s beauty was a big plus to this rating. No wonder so many foreigners love visiting Cebu for its beaches.

Overall rating: 4.2/5

———–

“Falling From the Sky” (5/5 stars, novel) – Nikki Godwin

This book was kind of a revelation from for me because I think it’s one of the first gay-themed books wherein we get the point of view from a straight guy who was falling in love with a gay man. Usually, it’s the other way around because it seems more tragic in the closet, but there’s also a story of not having any closet in the first place, but finding yourself in one–suddenly–upon falling in love.

“Falling From the Sky” is a summer love story, but I’m happy that by the end of the novel, there’s a preview of seasons after summer. Ridge found his peace in Micah, and Micah allowed himself to love again when Ridge came to Bear Creek.

There’s nothing much to note about the story, but I celebrated on the details of Ridge’s thoughts, especially over his developing attraction and feelings towards Micah, and even his family. His thoughts over his Dad’s passing was also one of the reasons I connected with Ridge easily. Also, the author’s use of the theme of “falling” as a metaphor for different events in the story was a really nice touch.

There’s a home kind of feel to this coming-of-age story. Recommended!

Day 032 – 2018.01.02

Finally. Finaaallllyyyyy~~~~~ I’ve finished reading this Simon book.

*breathe*

Okay.

I’m usually not happy to finish reading a story if they are good, like there’s the feeling of accomplishment for being able to focus and just read, but then you’ve grown somehow attached to the characters that you don’t want to say goodbye just yet, but then there’s this book with all the unnecessary dialogues–internal and external–that I’m like, yasssssss, we done here!

It was only half of the book when the plot seemed to be moving. Yes, Simon’s friends are important to his development as a person, but then there’s too many details about them which are unnecessary for the plot to move. The conflict was established immediately, like in the first chapter, and then it only moved by half of the book. The next parts of it felt like fillers instead.

I just wanted to know who was Blue because the email exchanges were very nice, at least.

So I’ll just look forward to the movie. At least, in the limitations of the medium to not include some internal dialogues, I’ll be saved from them with the story still in tact.

Simon Versus the Homo Sapiens Agenda” (novel) – 3/5 stars

Day 003 – 2018.03.01

In the middle of my novel-thirst phase, my Kindle died on me, so I resorted to physical books again.

It’s kind of sad because I have a ton of SKAM fiction waiting to be devoured through Benedict, but then I think I have to device a way to read them, somehow, without getting myself either blind or a migraine permanently visiting me because of the LCD glare.

So.

Since most of my practical wants had been turned into a gift, the least of my need is a book as a gift.

Of course, reading is necessary for mental development, but I have a ton of books eating dusts on my shelf, so I ought to read them instead of buying another companion beside them. Nonetheless, my mom said yes to buying a book for Christmas since I really wanted to read Simon and the Homosapiens Agenda. I actually have a 500-peso in my Fullybooked Gift Card which I also requested for our Christmas exchange gift at work, but I was already enthralled by the line of YA books in National Bookstore when mom and I went to the mall, that my memory sort of short-circuited to just thinking of gift now! rather than using the GC.

I could’ve had new shoes, damn it.

Well, the moment I picked up The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin, we had an instant connection. I mean, there were more interesting and entertaining reads, but I was looking for a story that speaks to me at the moment: grieving.

In the book, Suzie is searching for a way to prove her best friend, who died a few months back, was stung by the most venomous jellyfish, the Irukandji and that it was worse than the guilt she felt over how their friendship ended.

In the story, Suzie internalizes everything–literally–as she refuses to use her words as it has brought trouble to her, and ultimately, the end of her friendship with Franny, her ex-best friend. Without communicating her ideas and feelings, she succumbs to her imagination and conclusions. It was her way of grieving for Franny.

I can somehow relate to Suzie because with how I act now, I don’t seem like a person who lost a father.

But I am sad. I am grieving. I’m just not expressing it the way other people would. I feel conflicted, I have regrets like Suzie, I sometimes don’t know how to feel because it feels like there’s a void inside me which makes me not sad and happy either which I think is worse because I don’t like it when I’m not able to rationalize what I feel. When I cannot rationalize what I feel, I don’t have control of my impulses. Don’t worry, it’s not something destructive, but I feel like I’m in a loop and I don’t feel comfortable with it.

Like Suzie, I don’t know how to communicate to my family members or friends how I feel, so I turn to writing, I turn to books, I turn to distracting myself rather than stay and analyze what this is about.

Maybe, like in the book, things like the death of my father and stepmom, and this void I have now just happens:

Neither of them told me what I suddenly understood–that whatever it was, it didn’t really matter. It had “just happened.”

Somehow, that act–that sometimes things do just happen–seemed like it might be the scariest and saddest truth of all.

In the future, I want to be more comfortable in speaking about my feelings, because like Suzie’s realization (“Maybe you lose track of whether the things inside your head are normal and reasonable or filled with cracks and flaws”), I might be wrong about many things, after all.

Day 343: 12.09.2017

Day 343: 12.09.2017

“Call Me By Your Name” by Andre Aciman – 5/5 stars

Total intimacy that transcends time. Narrative is rich, raw, and contemplative. What an experience reading this story. (Goodreads review, December 9, 2017)

What an experience indeed.

I cannot exactly pin-point what makes this book so magnanimous for me. It’s possible that I read this story on a cusp of thirst for novels again, the characters are gay (and that’s already plus points), or…I’m not sure really.

Most of my friends do not appreciate the narrative because the point of view is unreliable, the vocabulary is heavy, the references are academic and literary (too much at times!), and the sentences are running a mile long before the period. But I love it all the same.

I’m nowhere near the author’s caliber in writing, but my writing style is somewhat similar, with sentences spliced with dashes, commas, or semicolons, and the period is always a distant, unwanted relative.

Anyway, I’m always equally entertained and scandalized by Elio’s thoughts about Oliver. He talks to the reader as if confessing one’s most vivid, raw, and even dark passions and desires to a journal/diary, so it’s definitely a privilege to be given such permission to read (quite literally) into the heart of a person. Elio is already in his older years when he tells the story, so as he hops back in time, he is reflective of his actions and thoughts about the experiences and awakenings taking place in his life of that summer when he was 17 and the role Oliver has in it.

The title carries the theme of “total intimacy” which I first encountered in this book. Intimacy is relative to each person who experience it, and I dare say the meaning could be different for each person we share it with, but the meaning of total intimacy based on this book (as I understood it) is by mirroring someone physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Elio and Oliver have the same interest in history, literature, culture, and music; they are in love with each other, but they don’t put a label to sexuality as they are also sexually attracted to women; they are both Jews; and they become one physically through sex. They call each other using the name of the other (hey! Title!) when they are alone, when they are most open to each other. There’s a scene wherein Oliver drank Elio’s eherm saying that since it’s a part of Elio, he wants to have it. There’s also a scene where I’m not sure if it was Elio or Oliver who were taking a dump and the other wanted to be in the same room. Like that is gross and embarrassing even between spouses, but the point is that they didn’t want to leave anything kept between them–even the most shameful act is shared or experienced as one. In Rome, as Elio joins with Oliver’s friends, eating and drinking (even when he’s only 17) and discussing what they ought to discuss with Oliver only (if he was absent), Elio experienced the same. He was Oliver, as Oliver was Elio at that Summer of 1983 in Rome.

The most gripping part is of course when they needed to part. Both of them knew that their relationship was on borrowed time. Somehow, they both understood that after summer is over, they can never have the same thing back. That they had that one summer and all the memories and emotions in that one summer of 1983. So when Elio confirms that things were distant after (Oliver with a family and him continuing to university) and in many years he avoided being in the same room as him, physically, Elio also confesses that there are bouts of longing in the span of 15 years until he had the courage to finally see Oliver nearing his 40s. I think this is the part when I needed to put down the book for a while to breathe because I’m a sucker for people who can love that long and the thoughts of many grey areas produced because of that summer. Although Oliver is a desire that Elio was able to realize, it burned him so deep that he was probably charred, but all the same that left a passion lit even when Oliver left.

It seems there’s a lot of what ifs for Elio and I ache for him, even when he reminds me as well that it is a bitter part of reality: that you can never take back what time has already taken. He talks of lovers he categorized as pre-Oliver and post-Oliver which tells us how keen he was of Oliver, the only one he has been totally intimate with, and confesses that it remains only Oliver who shares that with him.

The ending is actually a happy one with Oliver and Elio going back to the Italian mansion as they promised 20 years after, and Oliver admitting to Elio (he was scared of this!) that he remembers everything. As Elio is an unreliable narrator, Oliver could be hinting that he feels exactly the same as Elio, longing and carrying that feeling, but of course we’ll never know for sure. They have the memories, the experience together, and that’s all that matters.

Haaaay. Well, after all that yapping I still cannot coherently construct my love for this book. I’m thinking of re-reading it just for the experience again, or well, to see if it will still be the same? Let’s see.

Day 340: 12.06.2017

Alright, since we missed the movie and I’m still on my BL reading spree, I began reading the novel version of “Call Me by Your Name”.

I’d have to say so far so good! I really enjoy Elio’s stream of consciousness and how raw his thoughts are about Oliver. It’s a little scandalous at times, but I appreciate it nonetheless. I think it’s the first time I’ve encountered a character this bold. On the other hand, I’m getting massive nosebleeds due to the many unfamiliar vocabulary! Some of them are probably archaic or just too academically literary for my shallow English. So thank god for my Kindle’s built-in dictionary! I’m a Literature major yes, but I’ve never been that keen on classical literature as Elio and Oliver are. This is also the reason why the references are also of classical lit. I know I should be a proper Lit student and research when the reference escapes me despite context clues, but I’m too hungry for plot that I just let it be. LOL.

Unfortunately, I only get to read this book to and from work since I’m also busy with many things to consider even after work hours. And well, I’ve started season 3 of “Skam”!

Wee~ more BL!

And shit, Even is so hot, and Isak is adorable as fuck. Together (like kissing and flirting) is daaaaaaaaaaaaaym!

Day 337: 12.03.2017

I didn’t expect to love that book so much. And I didn’t expect it to be such a fast read either.

Either I’ve become a faster reader over the years, or I was just hungry for the content.

Well, both theories are absolutely agreeable with me, so I’ll settle with maybe it’s both. (A conceited conclusion)

So what’s my take away from this novel?

Well, I think we’re all an Ari one way or another. Some of us are comfortable being alone, at home with the chaos in their heads, but at the same time wanting to escape all the wondering and wanting to break free from the silence that we’ve been so used to.

I didn’t like Ari in the first chapter of the book, and by the end of it, I probably don’t like him as much as I expected to like a person who found a resolution to their problem. I’m probably envious of him that he was able to unlock a secret from his universe, he has his Dante who was able to make him look at his world differently, and I’m still alone with my thoughts and wondering about the mysteries of life.

I’d like my Dante soon, thank you very much.

It’s sad that I’m not 16 anymore, and when you’re an adult, at 29 going on 30, it feels irresponsible to not understand how the universe works yet, or to even question it. As a teenager, one seem to have the right to question everything–it’s part of transitioning to adulthood, it’s part of your body, your hormones telling you’re outgrowing your shell and it’s time to explore the bigger world. As an adult, time is dedicated to establishing structure, finding stability–emotionally, mentally, financially, socially–and building blocks, continuously, for an ideal future.

But at 29, I read this young-adult book and I realized I’m still an Ari to the core. I still question how the universe works.

And I’m fine with that.

It will never be time nor age which will stop or make us begin wondering what are the processes of their surroundings or the logic behind every event, it’s essentially, basically, up to us when we allow things to begin and stop.

The universe will always be around. We won’t.

Nonetheless, I’m fine with always questioning about everything. Not everyone finds me pleasant when I do, and I even tire myself out when I hear myself, but then I guess that’s just the way I am.

I think I’m fine with me.