Monstera

Melancholia

Current photo of author.
The author as of last week.

My therapist helped me realize that I only write when I’m depressed. The words and emotions flow more readily from my fingertips in that state.

But I’d like to try to upend that habit. Starting now, even if it feels mundane and trivial.

Perhaps that’s how I see my everyday life. “Mundane and trivial,” and there’s a certain amount of poignancy to be found in self-reflection and depression.

I’ll think of this as a writing exercise. I’ll write about new developments, both personal and professional. Maybe even social.


Professional

I am no longer acting manager at my branch library. My boss returned from his acting district manager stint, which meant I had to “demote” to my part-time, ordinary adult services librarian position.

It’s been a mixed bag. On the one hand, having fewer responsibilities has been relaxing, and traveling to other branches again and seeing more colleagues has been fun. On the other hand, it’s also been boring and less than stimulating. I enjoyed all the extra responsibilities. I enjoyed being the “face” of the branch. On some level, I even enjoyed the extra little stresses that come with being a manager. I feel like I’ve outgrown my current position, but I have to remember it’s only a matter of time before I get my own branch. I have the ambition and skills to make it happen.

Although I’m no longer manager, I’m still planning our branch’s open house on Sunday, Oct. 20. It will be held in conjunction with the Tricycle Music Fest and Sunday Streets, so it’s always a big deal every year. I have at least two performers lined up, and numerous activities for the public to enjoy for about five hours. I would like at least one more performer to round out the day.

On the extracurricular front, I now find myself on the editorial boards of two online library journals: In the Library with the Lead Pipe and WOC+Lib. I wanted to be more involved in the library world outside of my own system, as well as extend my professional network and perhaps strengthen my writing and expository skills. More on this later.

I also signed up as an 826 Valencia volunteer. 826 Valencia is dedicated to supporting under-resourced youth with their writing skills. My first shift looks like it will be this Friday, and I will be helping kids write poetry and develop a podcast. I may even use the writing exercises and prompts to shape and inform my own writing. It wouldn’t hurt to flex those muscles again.

Personal

The strength and stability of my mental health waxes and wanes like the moon. It’s a constant battle to manage my depression and other destructive tendencies, such as drug addiction or self-isolation.

I’ve been trying to get back into reading, but I can’t seem to focus on any of the words, even with the help of Adderall. I can only manage short stories or graphic novels, and even then it’s a struggle to stay on topic. I’ve had to reevaluate my reading goal for the year, from 210 titles to something like 75.

Right now, I’m slowly making my way through Randy Ribay‘s “Patron Saints of Nothing.” If I’m going to read, I intend to support fellow Filipinos with my limited attention span. I’m hoping that once I finish this, I can graduate to heftier titles. Although, the premise of this book is pretty heavy. A young man seeks to uncover the secrets swirling around his cousin’s death in the Philippines.


Despite the reading struggles, I have developed a new hobby: plants!

One of my favorite things to do at home now is throw on the radio and tend to my plants. I water them and dust them once a week, and just marvel at how quickly some of them are growing. My fiddle leaf fig tree has two new leaves already, and my Monstera plants are sprouting new stalks and leaves too. My goal is to create a mini jungle within my apartment and cover as many surfaces with plants as possible. Between my cat Gizmo and these plants, I’m surrounded by living things that rely on me for their survival. If I overthink it, it’s a heady feeling of responsibility. So far, I haven’t managed to kill anything.


Buy me a TattooBuy me a Tattoo

I have also embarked on another personal venture: crowdfunding a tattoo! I have the tattoo bug, in spite of my dad’s wariness of them. And I know it’s cliché, but I would prefer tattoos that have some kind of personal significance.

I recently got a tattoo of the Philippine national flower, the sampaguita. It’s a type of jasmine flower and it is really fragrant. My maternal grandmother used to grow them in our front yard, so the tattoo has dual meanings for me. I researched tattoo artists for years, and finally bit the bullet this past spring. The tattoo artist I selected, Sai, is really popular so I didn’t have my session until this past August. I am ridiculously happy with how it turned out, and now I think of my grandma whenever I see it.

Instead of gifts or dinner, I’m asking for help with my next tattoo for my birthday. I’d like a tattoo of my first pet, Tiger. She died last year and I still think of her often, especially because Gizmo is a pain in the ass and constantly reminds me how different they were. I am considering Paw Tattoo as my next artist. She does very realistic portraits of animals, and that’s exactly what I want.


Some weeks, I hole up in my apartment after work, high as a kite, watching reruns of “Frasier” and not much else. Other weeks, I’m out almost every night having dinner with people I choose to keep in my life.

I’m being much more selective about who I spend time and energy on. Frankly, I have a lot of trust issues, and even though I can be pretty open about my struggles, relying on others is a different story. The phrase “chosen family” keeps running through my mind. I had a really rough summer with friends, but now I feel empowered to make the difficult decision of who to keep in my life. I’ve found that the people I can feel closest to are the ones who are also able to be open with their own struggles, and it helps when we have similar backgrounds or life experiences. When it comes to friends from my hometown, Carson, I connect better with people who left to broaden their horizons.


After a fairly long hiatus, I’ve started dating again. I went on a couple of promising dates. One fizzled out rather quickly, but the other is going relatively well. We’ve decided to keep it fairly casual, which satisfies both my need for companionship and my fear of commitment. I’m not looking for much more besides occasionally hanging out; I’m in the “no more marriage” camp at this point in my life.

He’s a nice guy. A sous chef at a fancy ass restaurant in downtown SF. We have a lot of common interests, so the conversations are always entertaining. I really don’t mind taking it as slow as possible. My past has made me wary of men and relationships in general.


Well, that was a bit of a blitzkrieg. A fleeting glimpse into the thick murky soup that is my brain. I tend to see my life as boring and uninspired, lacking passion and purpose. As I write it out though, there is obviously a lot more happening than I think.

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