When I was little

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Anne Shirley and Matthew Cuthbert from “Anne of Green Gables”

Thus declared Oxford-graduated Dyer as if American writers had been his only sovereign muses, and no one else. Maybe his temperament and literary taste were congenial to economic wits and individualism of American writing.

In my case, the very first novel that I fell head over heels was Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Then came The Sign of the Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, which was a birthday present from my father. Thenceforth, Anne Of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery spread thru my mind and lingered in my heart.

I still love all of the aforesaid books, and I think it’s the standard of taste and reason that makes us drawn to our preferences. For this reason, I am always drawn to writers whose writing styles are evocative of sentiments as well as intelligent of reason, so riveting and impressive that a sense of emulation springs forth from the well of my mind.

 

 

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Kinship of Aeneas, George Orwell, and J.K. Rowling

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I see them almost every day with carts chockablock with their haggard belongings at a coffeeshop in the morning. They come in disheveled, reeking of abandonment of hygiene, but they seem past caring of it, let alone resigned to unwelcome glances of strangers. They are no less than Mendicants, Vagabonds, Tramps, Panhandlers, Beggars, or the Homeless themselves, defying the laws of social evolution and Marxist dialectic changes. You see,  they have withstood epochal changes.

It was one Monday morning while I was perking up my spirit still under the spell of weekend reverie with a cup of coffee in my regular Starbucks shop nearby my workplace when a homeless woman approached me and cadged for money to buy coffee. I conceded her plea because her forlorn spirit manifesting in her once beautiful face evoked pathos, which would have stung me with a pang of conscience if I had let it foregone. Besides, the fact that she was a woman living in the street, where all foreseeable and unforeseeable risks were lurking to violate her dignity as a fair sex, vexed my mind and heart. It was all too a fortiori opportune to read the article with the lethargic face of the homeless woman still fresh on my mind.

Never mind piousness, didacticism, and self-righteousness. It goes against the grain to decry poverty at the door of the poor themselves, which is always easy and convenient to pin down based on personal faults, but that would attest superciliousness of being not one of the unfortunate kinds. That is to say, the homeless is the result of addiction to substances, laziness, and careless ways of modus vivendi; therefore, the homeless are unworthy of sympathy nor empathy.

As a matter of fact, the liberals wade in with their de rigueur weary blaming of the heartless conservatives for their preferential treatment of the given, the fortunate, the haves, while the conservatives lambast the cry babies’ importuning their sorry states as a tendency of the cossetted dependency substratum. Both of the parties do nothing but grandstanding against one another for their voting rights that exclude these “marginals” of society they could not care less. However, the causes of homelessness are one collective social evil comprising many a factor; it’s a complex one involving mental health issues for sure, skyrocketing rent fees as a result of rampant trend of gentrification, prevalent lay-offs and unresolved unemployment rates, low wages, integration of families, and a variety of personal elements that are oftentimes looked on with insignificance as trifles. George Orwell, whose brief period of impecuniousness upon returning from Paris to London forced him to live as a tramp as plainly narrated in his empirical Down and out in Paris and London, conceded: “… if they [the homeless] are worse than other people, it is the result and not the cause of their way of life.” That is to say, no one wants to be homeless with a will.

Come to think of it, our human conditions are precarious and many times operated outside the boundary of planned stratagem, for human life is woven by unexpected variables and vicissitudes that befall any one like you never know. Aeneas, a royal Trojan hero in Virgil’s Aeneid, became homeless in the wake of the fall of Troy and found himself and his homeless followers dependent upon the kindness of Dido, the queen of Carthage and her people. The great Russian writer Maxim Gorki and the American Jack London were once homeless. And there is J.K Rowling, who lived a life of near-homelessness with her infant daughter without a job before the first book of the Harry Potter series was published. Woe betides anyone who patronized them for the want of the gumption before they became somebody.

Whether or not we like it, the caste of the homeless will most likely to proliferate unless political leaders stop pontificating about their party ideologies that lose touch with the realistic world of everyday life of the ordinary people. They say the extravagant lifestyles of the aristocracy and their haughty treatment of the poor were the sine qua non of the French Revolution, which was the radical reconstruction of the class system that excluded the welfare of the poor. Then why do I yoke the images of the haughty aristocrats to those of the present-day politicians who seem to thrust the issues of rising homelessness into the bottom of a filing bin and to keep pointing fingers at the homeless for their misfortune? Maybe in an irony of fates, if these politicians wake up one morning and find themselves in the shoes of the unfortunate, they might understand it, but I hope it will not be too late then.

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On keeping a journal

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Frau am Schreibtisch (Woman at writing desk ) by Lesser Ury

Keeping a journal 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.

I carry about my traveler’s notebook  everywhere I go to write my journal and reading pointers from books I read, 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.

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.”

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In the Garden by Celia Thaxter

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 attend My Secret Garden of Mind full of Begonias of Fancy, Roses of Beauty, Tulips of Passion, Lavenders of Devotion, all blooming and bountiful around Spring of Eternal Youth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba” by Handel

IMG_3955 Sally was enjoying alone at Baroque her respite from the demands placed upon her weekly tasks and responsibilities at her new job. Baroque is a newly opened coffee house where her best friend Bonnie is both a manager and attendant, provisioning customers with delicious pastries, cookies, freshly-brewed coffee and exquisitely beautiful Baroque music composed by Bach, Handel, Pachelbel, Vivaldi, et al. at the behest of her aunt Laura, who is the proprietress of the establishment. It is all the more fitting to Sally’s musical taste and sensibilities. Which is why she has made it her elbow room where she can rest herself reading and writing enveloped in an atmospheric ambience of highly sophisticated cultural surrounding rare to find these days.

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Sally likes the delicateness of the Baroque (which means an irregular shape of pearls in Portuguese) music, especially the works of Bach and Handel, the Father and the Mother of Music, or Saints of Music. It’s all in the family blood: her father was an admirer of Bach and felt exalted when listening to Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 In G Major, BWV 1048: Allegro. He might have been wanting of the practical sense of the world or the “gumption,” but his eminent scholarship of the Arts and Humanities was his essence, his primary reality. That’s the legacy of eclectic cultural taste and erudition Sally has extolled and preserved against the struggles of life in which she always tries to grasp on a sense of social and cultural superiority, while guiding her elderly parents on the long taxing climb to financial security. Here in this Sunday morning, Sally’s spirit was flitting in the celestial garden alone, while indulging herself in listening to The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba by Handel. In fact, it’s her favorite musical piece in the world, her primary soundtrack of life, her sui generis leitmotif  that is hers, hers only, hers exclusively.

MI0002991573Bonnie was smiling at her friend Sally’s intoxication with the music outwardly manifested on her pretty face in the form of dreamy look with her eyes closed as if she were watching musicians playing it on stage just for her. That’s one of the reasons Bonnie likes her friend: Sally’s artlessness unsullied by her intelligent prowess makes her trustful, beautiful, and soulful. When Sally opened her eyes, she smiled at Bonnie and started piping up: “You know Bonnie, I love this music so much that all my grief, angst, and trifles desiccate, then die… It’s very vivacious and and jubilant, uplifting my otherwise somber mood to make me believe that the world isn’t that such a bad place to live.” Sally’s eyes becoming sparkling with verve and her cheeks flushed with rose pink, all because of the love of the music. And her rhapsody of love began as follows:

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George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)

The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba is a sinfonia for two oboes and strings written by George Frideric Handel, originally from Germany but later moved to England for advancement of his musical career. By the way his father was an eminent barber-surgeon as it was customary for a barber to work sideline as a dentist and surgeon. That’s a bit odd, isn’t it? Anyway, the music was first premiered in London as the first scene of Act III in the oratorio Solomon. But rather than the whole oratorio, this brightly charming interlude has been widely appreciated as a separate set piece because it’s so appealing to the senses, I presume. Besides, the piece was widely played during wedding ceremonies into the bargain! Come to think of it, it is such a vivacious melody apposite to an entrance of a beautiful bride into a church. You know,  like the beautiful regal queen of Sheba arriving at Jerusalem with a grand entourage, with camels carrying a munificent largess, a resplendent panoply of magnificent treasure!”

IMG_4099While listening to Sally’s lecture on Handel and the sinfonia, Bonnie was envisioning in her mind’s eye a scene in which she as a chaste and beautiful bride in wedding gown like a valley in a vale was entering a cathedral to proceed to the altar where her gallant husband was waiting… That’s a nice change of mundane scenery of life, Bonnie thought. Ah, the power of the music is so irresistibly masculine and impossibly arresting that the only way you can escape from its fatally sensuous intoxication is to yield to it. It’s all because of the magic of music, moody food that is bartered for love. The Bard knew it as well: “In sweet music is such art: killing care and grief of heart fall asleep, or hearing die.”

thanks-for-reading-Rok-Hardware

 

 

 

Friends in need are friends indeed

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“Hey Ed! What are you up to this Sunday? Aren’t you going to a regular Sunday morning Mass with your wife and daughter?” Ralph asked his ever affable chum who stopped by his fruit stand early on the morning of an ordinary but blissful Sunday. Non-conformist he may be, Randy is a deeply faithful man who believes in the existence of God and prays for his divine guidance in his heart, never proselytizing his belief and forcing it on others. He is like Henry David Thoreau, who never went to church in his lifetime but practiced Christianity in everyday life by appreciating the beauty of nature and the love of humanity in its pristine essence in his poetic sensibilities. Ralph is proud of being a bohemian poet/fruit vendor as a confirmed bachelor, who has disembarrassed himself from the burdens of attending martial responsibilities and duties. That being said, seeing his married friend Ed Beaver gives him an associated feelings of sympathy and curiosity, of confinement and comfort, all packaged in the Pandora’s Box of Conjugal Life.

IMG_4095“Hey, Ralph. Well, I am coming from the church after dropping them off there. I would rather bask myself in the Sunday morning sunshine than sit on the dreadful pew and suffer an hour or so by enduring the fidgeting and disquieting of the little ones who have not reached the intelligent  age of learning the Catechism preparatory to their First Communion. These kids… are recalcitrant urchins! Moreover, the parents are complacent about teaching their children how to behave properly in church! That would be no point of hearing a Mass amid the shambolic commotion! That would be a sacrilegious irreverence!” Upon decanting his subdued disaffection toward the uncivil, Ed felt his mind was taken off the anxiety and anger. It’s always so reassuring to talk to Ralph, who’s at once a good listener and reliable friend, thought Ed, who continued: “By the way, do you know Andrew Redfox just opened his mobile hotdog shop? He started it a couple of weeks ago on Grand Avenue, and it got quite successful! The newspaper covered a favorable article about his business a week ago, and people have been talking about his hotdogs and waffles, all handmaid by his wife Monica. Did you try any of the food?”

IMG_4001Ralph heard about the news but did not venture to try the proverbial hotdog or waffle yet because although Ralph was a benign character well balanced with intelligence and humor, he’s quite lazy, succumbed to the habitual routine of staying put in one place, which is his fruit stand. Ant yet, as a self-professed bon vivant, Ralph’s spirit was willing to fly over to Andrew’s hotdog van and have a bite on it, for a hotdog is one of his favorite food in the world. “Yes, I knew Andy’s new hotdog business. Do you want to go there later today? I am planning to wrap it up at 4:00 PM today. Hope Andy’s open today.” “That sounds great, Ralph! Yes, Andy is on the counter today because Andy said he would need to reach his projected profit by the end of this year to pay off his overdue rent fees. You know Andy had been out of job for eight months, and his unemployment benefit was on the brink of being exhausted when his daughter Julie had also lost her job… So this is his big breakthrough in his drifted life, I presume.”

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Hence, both Ed and Ralph went to Andy’s hotdog van and saw it was a success by a glance at a long line of customers to buy hotdogs or waffles, all handmaid at home by his wife Monica according to her honest-to-goodness family recipes passed down from her Belgian maternal great-grandmother. The men were happy to see their friend starting anew once again from the bottom of his existential dilemma beset by economic deprivations and hoped that this new fortunate chance to right the ship of his reinstated life accompanied by his family would sail through. After all, helping a friend in need is what good friends can do because friendship can double the joy and cut the grief in halves. Isn’t that what friends are for?

thanks-for-reading-Rok-Hardware

 

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