On Keeping a Diary

My Beloved Midori Traveler’s Notebook

Keeping a diary is, I believe, a vehicle for creating myself, my sense of selfhood. Every page of my dairy is to be breathed with my heart that does not have to entertain anybody but myself.  It’s also proof that I have lived situations which today would seem uncertain and fretful, that I have climbed up the paths of my life thus far to reach the peaks so ambitious, so adventurous. Above all, I want to bring out every treasure that is buried deep in my heart. So writing day in and day out in my Midori Traveler’s Notebook is my daily ritual to remember what it is to be me, which is always the whole point of doing it.

My Doodling Notebook

I carry my Midori around with me everywhere I go to write my journal, excerpts and reading pointers from books I read, ideas about my Weblog, and some occasionally attempted drawings for practice. There are three notebooks: One is used categorically for my freedom of thoughts, feelings, and just about anything that is to be kept only for myself. It’s not to be shared by anyone, so my soul can rest herself there. Another one is for notes I take from reading that I need to refer to when I write book reviews. And the last one is reserved for jotting down anything out of brainstorm, from devising storyboards for my short stories, to scratching some images of my poems, to making bullet lists to do, and to practicing my newly inspired drawings for more balanced nourishment of my soul. Most of the times – that is 5 days a week – before heading into my job, I usually go to a coffee shop and write in my beloved Midori. It is during this writing time when I feel creative and special out of the melee, out of the existential horrors of every day, and out of the humdrum of daily life.

My Reading Notebook

I love combining drawings and a variety of crafting to my writing to heighten the expressions of feelings and deepen the depths of thoughts in the way I want them to. The only obstacle I have to huddle is drawing. As someone whose aesthetic standard is as high as that of Pope Julius II, who commissioned Michelangelo to fresco the Sistine Chapel,  I only wish I could draw things I see to its exactness with fine details. But then I always remind myself of the adage: “A flower does not compare itself to other flowers. It just blooms.”

My storyboard for the Avonlea Story

Therefore, keeping a diary is a veritable record of myself, a personal treaties on the breadth and depth of being who I really am. It sounds grandiose, but writing in my Midori gives rise to the elevation of my weltanschauung in reflection of contextualizing concepts and beliefs kept in me and also helps me unearth hidden treasure in the realm of unconscious mind. And by creating a kind of work relating to the crafts of the arts, I like to think that I am fulfilling my purpose of life to live a meaningful life, for the sake of ego qua meaningfulness. That said, I like to cherish Kurt Vonnegut’s advice that the arts are what makes the human life bearable and livable in dealing with existential matters of daily lives, for practicing any form of the arts – however clumsily or amateurishly done –  is a noble means to make my soul grow.


Some of the pictures I took for drafting episodes of The Avonlea Story








A view from the Window on a Snowing Day

Snow Scene In Paris Painting by Eugene Galien-Laloue courtesy of fineartamerica.com


Looking thru the window, what do I see?
Snowflakes softly falling down from heaven,
Smiling faces of little children,
Neighbors shoveling scoops of snow away.

-  'tis in one scene of Winter Play.

Thinking to myself, is everyone happy?
Doing what they've been doing thus far,
Fulfilling demands placed upon their 
life is a surety of simple security?

-  'tis in a script of Life Play.


“Bluebell Haze” courtesy of ArtTudor Store
The tears of dryads in forest, naiads in waters 
over the death of their beautiful prince
morphed into the flowers of dainty bluebells
vowing to the constancy of doleful remembrance
of the once fair face of their beloved with kisses.
book review

Neither Here Nor There: Travels in Europe by Bill Bryson

Neither Here nor There: Travels in EuropeNeither Here nor There: Travels in Europe by Bill Bryson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When John Steinbeck, who wrote The Grapes of Wrath, East of Eden, and Travels with Charley: In Search of America, met a young man in traveling across America in his converted camping car named Rocinante, he met a young man who longed to travel to Europe with the idealization of the continent as he had seen in magazines and books. Steinbeck, being already weary of the existential dealings on the road, advised him, “What’s the need when the world is conveniently at your fingertips in colors without all those travel-related hassles? You can see the world in books and films and still keep your ideal images of Europe.” Which is exactly why Bill Bryson, an American- born British writer renowned for his great sense of wit and superb command of the English language, decided to embark on his journey once again twenty years after he and his pal Katz backpacked across Europe. Bryson wanted to see Europe in itself with a tabula rosa and write something about the cultures that seemed at once so different and yet so oddly similar in his own eyes. The result is the touchy-feely, impetuously hilarious, and astonishingly insightful Neither Here Nor There.

Bryson’s journey began and ended in the two geographical outposts of Europe, Hammerfest and Istanbul. By virtue of his narrative both so inviting and vivid with the use of languages both colloquial and literal that are so characteristic of his writing style, readers will easily and willingly follow his train of travel through the chapters, as he first takes us to Hammerfest to watch the beautiful shimmering gossamer of Northern Lights. We find Bryson feeling not-so-attractive while sitting on a bench at a park in Copenhagen, where all people looked handsome and beautiful. Such existential estrangement became heightened in Belgium, for all along he felt homesick, reminiscing about an old diner in Iowa and its cantankerous but hearty old waitress he frequented. In Amsterdam, he was concerned about the country’s “oddly wearisome” social conventions in regard of its complacency toward untenable political stance under the banner of tolerance. We see Bryson in the streets of Stockholm disappointed in the perfect socialist country littered and defiled by wastes mindlessly thrown away anywhere by its civilized residents without a shade of shame.

And who would not but sympathize with Bryson’s pathos in Florence? Here in this City of Flowers, Bryson saw the ubiquitous Gypsies importune everyone, with their haggardly clothed little children as an instrument for orating their poverty to passers-by at which Bryson was righteously indignant. He questioned himself why the police were not making any efforts to stop the Gypsies from harassing people. Further in Austria, we feel for him as his idealization of Austria as the epitome of all things European was ungraciously punctured by unfriendly services, an irritatingly slow mode of business operation, and a lack of charming coffeehouses where he could rest his spent body and spirit for a time. What a Don Quixote-like journey full of episodes  it was.

Bryson’s cultural notes of each country he visited were, however, devoid of malicious sarcasm or jingoistic ignorance of its customs or social conventions. Things that he experienced in his travel in Europe was a clash of cultures he came from – originally Iowa, The U.S. and England afterwards – and cultures he had imagined in his mind, all of which spellbound him like a Boy in Wonderland. In fact, what fascinated him in Europe was his discovery that the world could be full of variety in which there were many different ways of doing essentially identical things, such as eating and drinking and buying movie tickets. Unlike other travel writers who only write about the sunny sides of the countries and peoples in their interests, Bryson is unafraid of telling readers his observations through his experience with a certain kind of fraternal or avuncular affection added by his trademark wits wonderfully interwoven with intelligence and humanism.

The travel ended in Istanbul with his hope of seeing more of the world, his everlasting wanderlust still luring with a vision of Asia across the Bosporus Bridge. He’s all up for the unforseeable happenings awaiting for him to encounter because that’s the glory of foreign travel, a travel to a terra ingonita where anyone can become a stranger, a wanderer blissfully ignorant of almost anything. To Bryson, the whole existence of traveler is to be constructed by a series of instantaneous guesses and endless actions. Notwithstanding all the woes of a lone traveler who was culture-bound, Bryson’s travels in Europe was something of his experience in Wonderland filled with a great sense of childlike wonder and appreciation of the wonders of each country in its own colors. Neither Here Nor There is his tale of veni vidi, vici experience and entertaining accounts of the world through his eyes with amusing and telling details resembling none other than themselves.



Ballad of Dido and Aeneas

Aeneas leaves Dido courtesy of pinterest
From a land ravaged by a wooden horse
with a golden apple for the fairest of 
the divine beauties appearing to a prince
so young, so impetuous in judgment thereof,
There came a poor beautiful stranger rugged but
destined for the supernal fate to rule the mortal
to the beautiful eyes of a maiden queen ethereal
in beauty, graceful in act, and hapless in love. 

Blindsided by Juno's machination, swept by passion 
growing strong, growing stronger for the stranger, 
the queen bade him with tears and roses in succession
day and night, in desperate attempt to keep his presence,
his body and his soul, all but an entreaty so futile, so forlorn,
with a promise of her kingdom and her fidelity in return 
for nothing but his surrendering of himself to her and herself to him
till the mortal fate was ended, till one had to cross the River of Styx.

Alas, but the queen's to be thwarted, she's to be abandoned
by the divine plan forced by the arrival of Mercury, god of war
whispering to the poor stranger for the imminent departure
for destiny far more magnificent, far more supreme, as dictated
by Jupiter, god of all regions crossing death and life forever
who put forward a divine plan over mortal feelings however pitiable.
Thus did the stranger set to sail the seas full of perils ever more.

The queen defied, she cried, she pleaded, but all ended in nought
as the poor stranger was to depart cruelly with no tender words of love
that's planted, nourished, and admired by the queen so now distraught
by his betrayal of her love with her plea wreathed in tears and flowers.
Now her love became her poison consuming all of her ever more,
Now he became her foe ravishing all of her in surrender of love.

But what of it when all's ended in a sea of heartaches thousand times, 
with no reason to reign as a queen without her lover by her side?
Nothing, nothing's to remedy her spirit that's broken thousand times,
for nothing, nothing would console the lonely queen in cruel abandonment,
but the last will to burn her body and soul consumed in madness of passion
on an ancient funeral pyre that engulfed every part of her whispering
to her departing spirit that love would come never more - Nevermore!

  • Postscript: Upon reading the story about Dido and Aeneas from the Aeneid, I was so inspired to write about her pathos of love. Hence is the creation of this poem. Poor Dido… How cruel Aeneas was.