Silver Lake, Los Angeles, Mid-January — I attend a creative writing workshop entitled “The Empty Notebook”. I sit down for the next two hours with 6 others. Introductions are made. One is a native of Florida, another is from New York and the rest are locals. “I’m from the Philippines and I am new here.”

Emily, our teacher, asks if we brought our notebooks.

Exercise 1: She reads to us a poem in a book from her Vassar College days, and then asks us to write down the first impressions after listening to the poem.

All I remember is a chilling cryptic poem about familial violence. The tough part comes — read out what you wrote.


I read the first two pages of my notebook — My mind is blank. I’m trying to focus on something I was, I’ve been passionate about. Leaving home seems to have robbed me of the rawness of emotions I used for nurturing something in me. I am sometimes lost in emptiness, living in a place that is so new, unfamiliar and so far away. I need to bring the fire back to keep me sane and grounded. Despite the emptiness, so much is in my head right now — it drowns me. Half of me is here, and half of me is in a place so impossible to be in. I can’t turn back. I’m trapped. I miss sunshine, I miss the exoticness of home, I miss the beach, I miss sand covering my feet, I miss the noise surrounding the walls of my humble abode.

Palm Desert

Bump and Grind Trail, Palm Desert, early February — My only brother brings me to climb a rocky path. In the next one and a half hours, we catch up with each other’s lives. I reminisce the younger days, how much I missed being with older siblings, childhood dreams, rough times, as well as happy times.

Like a second wind, there is nothing more consoling and liberating than the point of view of a brother. Novelist and poet James Joyce once wrote, “Men are governed by lines of intellect – women: by curves of emotion.”


My brother taught me more manly stuff like riding a bike. He inspired my love of adventure and the great outdoors. He always brought home beautiful photos from nature destinations such as Sagada and Mindoro. Little did I know that the Fuji film cam he gave me would kickstart a deeper passion for photography. (He took the photo below with the phone he and his wife gifted me for Christmas.)

Bump and Grind Trail, Palm Desert, California

We finish the trek.

I hear it from him, “Failure is not an option.”

If only I had half the grit of a man.

© Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2016

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