Being a good writer is 3% talent and 97% not being distracted by the internet.

That’s exactly how writing my paper feels. It’s bad enough that my shelves are in my bedroom and that my books, as a response to being here, look at me accusingly.  Even when it is dark, I can feel their spines against the empty air and that’s perhaps why I sleep with some of them. Books get lonely too sometimes.

Then there’s this borderline addiction to sites like Tumblr. Everything happens in real time and having posts travel in the queue gives that sense of finiteness to something said or viewed. Sometimes I “like” things just to assure myself that I can return to them at a later time because for the most part, everything disappears into the Tumblr abyss and unless the person who posted placed a tag, it will be lost forever.

In the meantime, there’s real life where papers do not just write themselves and ideas must be patiently nursed for them to grow into the kinds that matter.

There are countless people of whom stories have yet to be written. Like this woman who begs in the street across my school. She is from the North and so she speaks our native Ilocano, language of the gods. One evening, she appeared on an overpass wearing enough colors to make her glow against the purple-orange haze behind her. I took her photo in an instant because she was strikingly beautiful and she had such a warm smile. I sat with her after to chow her what I had done and she asked if I could take a set that she could use for identification purposes. I obliged and printed what she wanted plus the photo of her looking wonderful. Then, when i had to give it to her, she was nowhere to be found so I left it with the woman who sells cigarettes. Like the smoke emanating from her customers’ mouths, the woman had vanished only to return a few days ago. I saw her in front of Starbucks this time. She was looking in at all of us. We were animals caged in our safe, comfortable environment. We were lulled to submission by the smell of expensive coffee and a rich, soft, yellow light. Caught in this trance, I almost missed her. But then she looked at me, confused and so I went up to her. We talked for a long five minutes because I was on my way home already. She seemed surprised to see me, to hear her precious language spoken in the imperial city of broken English walls and Tagalog glue. I was glad that she received the pictures and liked them. But then I had to leave. So I did.

In retrospect, there are only two things I wish I could change about all of this: first, the color of the sky because that’s always reminiscent of moments that matter. Then, her name, because despite all this interaction she remains a myth. The representation of all the nameless like her whom we chance upon daily but fail to recall. That image of a woman so beautiful and mysterious that often, she blends into the sky and passes through our thin memory like sunsets in October.


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