On Love [Old & New]

Over and over again, I’ve found myself recommending this book by Alain de Botton (author of How Proust Can Change Your Life) and I think it’s because it so easily resonates for anyone who’s ever been in a committed relationship. If you don’t want to think about love, I do NOT recommended reading this. Young or old, male or female, gay, straight or what have you… if you’ve ever experienced the fall (or something like it), you’ll find yourself relating to the narrator or his beloved and imperfect Chloe.

The book itself takes an analytical approach to love and brings the subject down to the barest of circumstances making each stage of love (from the first jump to the extremely depressing end) universal in every sense of the word. His obsessive dissection asserts that love is not individualistic and it is only believed so because what we want in the end is to have the beloved love us for who we are, not what we represent. As such we convince ourselves that the love we share with our special someone is unique and it is only that person who truly understands us at our core.

On a personal note, reading the book brought me back to my one and only real relationship which ended about 3 years ago. During the 7 years we were together, I definitely felt my share of experiences relatable to both narrator & Chloe but one passage that really evoked some old emotions that have long been put away was this:

One does not get angry with a donkey for not being able to sing, for the donkey’s constitution never gave it a chance to do anything but snort. Similarly, one cannot blame a lover for loving or not loving, for it is a matter beyond their choice and hence responsibility—though what makes rejection in love harder to bear than donkeys who can never sing is that one did once see the love loving. One finds it easier not to blame the donkey for not singing because it never sang, but the lover loved, perhaps only a short while ago, which makes the reality of the claim I cannot love you anymore all the harder to digest.

The arrogance of wanting to be loved had emerged only now it was unreciprocated—I was left alone with my desire, defenseless, beyond the law, shockingly crude in my demands: Love me! And for what reason? I had only the usual paltry, insufficient excuse: Because I love you….

At one point of the us that once was, I played the narrator. I was left feeling deserted and out of control and damaged. I looked back on the years we had shared and deemed him despicable. Just as we so often believe that “…the one who rejects is labeled evil, & the one who is rejected comes to embody the good,” I followed suit and played the role of martyr remarkably well. Then we came back to each other, years passed and we came full circle but in the end, I was Chloe. I was the aggressor, the hateful person who could somehow wound a loved one, the vile betrayer of a love once shared. Unsurprisingly, while the world hated a way (at least for a spell), I thought I was doing the right thing. Freeing the person who I cared for but for whom I no longer loved in the way that makes a romantic relationship work.

Hollow. 8.5"x12". Oil & Acrylic on Paper. 2009 Stella Im Hultberg.

The book is in so many ways a tour de force. It made me laugh, cry and I still find myself picking it up from my bedside table to reread old chapters even after I’ve moved on to my next good read [Blindness by Saramago if you were curious]. Though the narrator definitely has his lows, the book ends on a positive note (somewhat): “We are all more intelligent than we are capable & awareness of the insanity of love has never saved anyone from the disease.” In the end, though he realizes to fall is a folly… it is one that is unavoidable and absolutely worth the risk.

I figure, I’ll get there one day. Naturally, of course.

Post a Day 2011

I love challenges.

WordPress is experimenting with a new site called The Daily Post to give professional, amateur and casual writers a-like a bit of motivation to write more and more and more. I’m definitely in the third class of blog writing but it’s always fun to test my ability to stick with something.

So far this year I’ve had three goals:

[one] STOP SMOKING—even socially. I always promised myself I would stop at 25. It’s time to do the cold turkey route and stop back tracking. I once stopped for a year a half, but stress and life and drama caught up with me and I used smoking as a means to distract me from my real problems. But no more excuses, I have to stop… J’arrête! Pára! Halt! Pare! ¡Alto! [I somehow remembered how to say “stop” in six languages. Can you guys add any to my list?] It’s been 9 days and I’m smoke free. Yippee!

[two] Try to keep my word of the year in mind: Positivity. I’ve always been a rather sarcastic person but relatively drama and judgement free but since moving back to good old Los Angeles, I’ve found I’ve become quick to question people’s intentions. So, in hopes that I do not become yet another one of the jaded souls in the film industry I’m going to try and stick with some positive thought. Here’s hoping.

[three] Practice playing the guitar every single day. I did not take any music lessons growing up and while that is regrettable it’s definitely not an excuse to not try and learn now. I’m not attempting to be a musician. I love music because while it’s hard for some people to understand how I’m feeling at any given moment Billie, Harrison, Lennon, McCartney, Starr, Michael, Aaliyah, Ellington, Costello, Thomm and the other ever present loves of my life always will. So as long as music remains a huge part of my life, it would be absolutely wonderful to be able to accompany myself without cringing because of stupid errors.

And now [four] posting daily.

I just have to hope you guys won’t get sick of me.

Callback: New York

My amazingly talented sister Lorelei Conover posted a lovely album of New York from my birthday weekend.

I almost cried while looking through these photos of my old neighborhood, apartment, Central Park, Times Square… *le sigh* how I miss my home away from home.

“I Miss New York” by The Brendan Hines & Co.

Hello, 2011.

First thing’s first. I’ve moved back to LA. It’s been an interesting adjustment but a fun one. I actually just hung out with my best friend since forever, the lovely Ms. Jamie (aka James), and she seems to be the only person who understands (so far) what a weird transition this is for me. Suffice it to say, though I grew up here… I never really lived in LA as an “adult”. I left when I was 17 and save for a few sporadic visits to see the family, I haven’t really been back. Now that I’m living here, it’s been pretty cool getting reacquainted with the city and all it has to offer. Not going to lie, I miss my neighborhood bar (oh Woodwork, how I yearn for your mac & cheese), my friends, Prospect Park, my apartment, SoHo, LES, the subway, walking through the city, my bike, the different pockets of NY, weekly gallery openings, impromptu dinner parties… the list can go on and on. Who knows what’s in the future, but for now, LA suits me and this is exactly where I need to be.

Another crazy thing I’ve experienced in the last few months… I was mugged. I refuse to let it change the way I live my life, but the experience was terrifying and some of the physical effects are still present, unfortunately. It was quick, I remember half-of it and I still can’t believe it happened during my last week in NY at around 9pm no-less… but whenever I think of it, I remember how shaken I was. The only time I really get angry about it is when I reach for my keys and realize my Filipino flag keychain is gone… or my favorite wallet that fit perfectly into my pocket and was not “female” sized but not so masculine that people looked at me funny, is no longer in my possession. I can’t completely be angry though since it could have been SO much worse had a random stranger not run out to scare off my attackers. I was already bruised, battered, passed out and (once I came to) terrified out of my wits… but had it not been for him, I don’t know what would have happened to me. So thank you random stranger… I hope the detectives gave you the batch of cupcakes I sent.

I think that’s why I’ve been so thankful to be home. I haven’t really changed anything about my lifestyle. I still like to go out. I still like to meet new people. I still “wild-out” every now and again. But knowing that I have a home to come to full of people who I love and who love me back is the biggest blessing in the world.

That and the fact that I’m working on projects that challenge and excite me… but that’s another post for a later date.

So hello, 2011. May this year be just as crazy, evolving and wonderful as the last.

But please: no more violence.

One thing’s for sure… guys still have ZERO balls. Ha.


I miss Robinhood too. *sadface* Stupid, muggers.

Subway Car Preacher.

To the bible thumping, subway car preacher:

I get it.

You want to share your one “truth”. You want to spread the word of your lord. You want me to believe in your god. You want to “save” me.

Here’s the thing though—

I have my own truth. Yes, I happen to be Catholic but the values and principles I have, I inherited from the strong and respectable family in which I was privileged to be surrounded by my entire life. That is my truth.

Though I think it necessary to read the bible because it is a great literary piece that is oft referenced by other great works (& I have, actually, cover to cover), it’s just that: a literary piece. You cannot pick and choose which passages are to be taken literally & which you can excuse as “outdated”. I mean think about it, love and commitment between two men (or two women) are wrong because the bible says so? Are you telling me then, that you would actually follow through with cutting off a woman’s hand because “Bible says”:

If two men, a man and his countryman, are struggling together, and the wife of one comes near to deliver her husband from the hand of the one who is striking him, and puts out her hand and seizes his genitals, then you shall cut off her hand; you shall not show pity.

Deuteronomy 25:11-12

If you would, you have more problems than I originally thought.

I believe in people. I believe that we are all inherently good and that we are all connected. I believe that the best thing I can do in my lifetime is try and be as decent, compassionate, forgiving, generous and gracious a person as I can be to man and animal alike. If god is who you says he is, that’s what would matter in the end and not whether I gave money to and attend your church every Sunday.

I don’t need to be saved. Period.

So next time you decide to play show and tell, please do it in your church. Preaching to grown men and women in a subway car because they have no other choice—they’re literally trapped—is not just irritating it’s offensive. I get enough of it walking on the street, please leave my morning commute alone.

Conjecture: Colons & the Revitalization of the Pinky Finger

As a frequent user of the colon in all of my daily writing—general work, texts, twitters, emails and blog posts—I found this article both amusing & fascinating. It’s funny: I never realized that the colon was once on the decline.

“It is sad to think people are no longer learning how to use the colon…” muses grammarian Lynne Truss in Eats, Shoots and Leaves, “not least because, in this supreme QWERTY keyboard era, the little finger of the human right hand, deprived of its traditional function, may eventually dwindle and drop off from disuse.”

In “Colonoscopy: It’s Time to Check Your Colons“, writer Conor J. Dillon lists the standard textbook usages of the colon: the lister (the one I’m employing now), the talker, the natural extension and the juxtaposer. He then goes on to describe and name the new colon: the jumper (Oh my! I just used the natural extension).

For grammarians, it’s a dependent clause + colon + just about anything, incorporating any and all elements of the other four colons, yet differing crucially in that its pre-colon segment is always a dependent clause.


For everyone else: its usefulness lies in that it lifts you up and into a sentence you never thought you’d be reading by giving you a compact little nugget of information prior to the colon and leaving you on the hook for whatever comes thereafter, often rambling on until the reader has exhausted his/her theoretical lung capacity and can continue to read no longer.


See how fast that goes? The jumper colon is a paragraphical Red Bull, a rocket-launch of a punctuator, the Usain Bolt of literature. It’s punchy as hell. To believers of short first sentences–Hemingway?–it couldn’t get any better. To believers of long-winded sentences that leave you gasping and slightly confused–Faulkner?–it also couldn’t get any better. By itself this colon is neither a period nor a non-period… or rather it is a period and it is also a non-period. You choose.

He then goes on to theorize the reasons for this colon renaissance in which he credits emoticons as well as “compression typing” via twitter, texting and the like.

So for all my grammar lovers, literary buffs, writer friends or for those who are just bored & enjoy a good article: read it. If anything, it makes you aware of how many times a day that little pinky on your right hand gets a work out.

Trust me: it’s probably a lot.

an interesting curiosity.

I was talking to my wise-beyond-her-years, little sister today and she brought up a very good point : there is a big difference between curiosity and actual interest.

I’ve been single now for over two years. For those who don’t know, prior to those two years I was in a long and loving 7-year relationship with my high school sweetheart. We parted ways for several reasons that I would rather keep private, but one thing is for sure, he was my first and only boyfriend in the 24+ years I’ve been living and breathing in this world.

Now that I’ve actually experienced what it’s like to “date” I can say with a certainty that though it’s not as bad as some say, it’s definitely not a walk in the park. I never really thought about the whys and whats that make single life (especially in a large city) so complicated and messy until she brought up the simple idea that a lot of people confuse their curiosity for real interest.

I’ve been in so many situations where I was really “just curious” and not so much interested in pursuing something other than a few meet-ups and then a “see-ya-later” with this guy or that guy or whomever. And then I’ve had about a handful of scenarios in which I played the other role and unfortunately, that other role can really suck.

But that’s just it. I don’t think most people realize when all they’re pursuing is a curiosity and that the person on the other side just might be mistaking that curiosity for a genuine interest in something more… more what? Stable… real… not-just-sex?

Who knows?

I do think, however that when there’s an honest (& balanced) interest on both sides, the complications should fade and the stupid and bothersome rules of dating that I try to avoid like waiting for the right time to call… or not asking someone out… or having to play aloof would be completely unnecessary. I’d also hope that this situation would result in a natural relationship in which that irksome “conversation” would never have to occur.

Ugh… “The Conversation”. It’s so irksome, I don’t even want to blog about it.

Goodnight folks. See you when the sun comes up.

friends, phones & rooftops.

What a fantastic and interesting weekend.

First off, I got the new iPhone. The last activity my outdated (but much loved) g1 performed was to photograph the shiny & skinny iPhone 4. What a regrettable, yet entirely suitable, ending—

This of course led to a weekend filled with the same position in various locations—head down, eyes focused, with the occasional “huh” when I realized someone was trying to speak to me. It’s a pretty nice phone considering I didn’t have to spend a dime on it [thank you, new job] although it is true what everyone’s saying about dropped calls and lost signals when you hold the phone in a certain position. The irony of this has not been lost on anyone but I still feel inclined to put in my two cents.

Though the design is beautiful why on earth would you create a phone that does everything it’s supposed to as long as you don’t hold it? Better yet, why create one of the most commonly thrown around objects that is most likely going to be used, held and abused on a daily basis out of glass ON BOTH SIDES. I guess aesthetic quality is more important than practicality. But, like I said, not one cent of my own money went into this purchase, so I guess I can’t complain. I do have a shiny purple cover to protect my new little toy so as long as I’m not as clumsy as I usually am I’m guessing the phone will survive a good… year? 6 months? a week? I’ve already dropped it once (thank gulay for the cover) so I’m going to have to be extra, extra careful.

Also on my weekend’s agenda was the wonderful time I spent with my old friend Jono who was in town for the week before jetting off to China to film a documentary [oh the life he leads]. I hadn’t seen him in over 5 years, so it was quite the treat. There was too much done in too few days to really & truly give it credit through words but suffice it to say that there was drinking, dancing, roof top mischief, waiting for the sun to rise, singing, poetry, storytelling and a LOT of catching up. It’s interesting to think that I can spend one thousand, eight hundred, twenty-six days and counting without seeing this crazy, artistic and amazing fellow living on the opposite coast, but within a few seconds of seeing him and getting over that initial shock of oh wowza, we’re actually standing face to face, it’s like no time has passed at all. I actually LOVE when that happens.


I also got to see my lovely ex-roomie, Lara for some dinner, drinks and a little bit of a life catch-up session. She is pretty much the sole reason I moved to New York in the first place, so it’s always great to get a sit down with this crazy, busy and tough little Asian lady.

And now that my weekend of dancing, galavanting and singing throughout the streets of New York and Brooklyn is over, I have to give a great big MALIGAYANG BATI to my wonderful and talented sister, Lorelei. She’s the best friend, cousin, daughter, wife and mother anyone could ever ask for. Mahal na mahal at namimis kita, Ate!

Happy Monday, everyone. ♥

No.thing of Inter.est

Is it really possible that there are only 6.5 days left in June? I feel like 2010 just started yesterday. How did half a year pass by so quickly? This month in and of itself involved so much : moving to Brooklyn, a new job, award shows, moonlighting as a hair model, a trip to LA, skydiving, too many barbecues to count, drinking, dating and everything in between.

Despite the craziness of my schedule and the endless cycle of ups and downs in both my personal and professional life, I feel like I’m always waiting for the next step, the next big plan, the next change… the next anything. I’ve never been too good at reading myself and now I can’t help but wonder : what in the world am I waiting for? I recently finished a great book by Lev Grossman entitled The Magicians in which the title character continuously struggles to find satisfaction and fulfillment even when the happenings of his life unfold exactly as he had yearned for, albeit his ability to actually enjoy it.

I found it so frustrating that this character could have everything in the world he wanted, yet still failed in feeling gratified. As for myself, it’s not that I’m unhappy or dissatisfied—it’s the exact opposite actually—but there’s always this incommunicable desire for something more. Maybe that’s a good thing.

At least it keeps me moving, no?

Unrelated, but I feel like sharing, I did another video. When I was home last weekend I remembered this wonderfully morose song about almost loves that my friend and I did back in university. There was always something so lovely in the melancholy yet simple melody.

On that note… I miss my piano. I think I’ll go play in the park. <3

www.nystreetpianos.com | 21 june to 5 july