What I Talk About When I Talk About Myself

When I was in college, I venerated the writer Haruki Murakami. I made it my mission to collect all his books, despite then living on a meager student allowance. Norwegian Wood was my favorite book in my twenties. I attempted to read it first when I was nineteen, got sidetracked and abandoned it, picking it up again just before I turned twenty years old. I don’t remember how long it took me to finish it, but I know I cried buckets while reading it. It was the first book that I felt I read at the perfect time. Serendipity. The main character was twenty, too, after all.

This was a decade or so before I was put off by how Murakami used female characters in his stories and how excessive the unnecessary sex scenes were in his 2017 novel Killing Commendatore and stopped reading him altogether.

One of Murakami’s few non-fiction books is a memoir called What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. The title, of course, came from Raymond Carver’s collection of short stories What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, which I have never read, but decided I should as I wrote the outline for this blog entry.

William Zinsser, in his guide to writing non-fiction On Writing Well said, “Believe in your own identity. Writing is an act of ego, and you might as well admit it. Use its energy to keep yourself going.” This is what triggered me to write about myself. Not that I write about much else.

I am now in my early thirties. I live in Japan with my husband, whom I met on Tinder over five years ago. I come from a small town in Pampanga, where I lived with my parents and younger brother until I moved to Quezon City for college, where I majored in English. Kept considering switching to a different program because I couldn’t figure out what exactly I wanted to do, but played it safe and stuck with English Studies. Graduated three years late because I left school for a couple of years to work in call centers.

I’m an introvert, and since moving to Japan, I feel like I’ve only gotten more introverted. I spend a lot of time alone, which I don’t mind even one bit. I used to get lonely a lot, but these days, despite not having a lot of friends here, I feel most comfortable being by myself. On days when I don’t feel like staying home, I take walks or sit in cafes and read for hours. Sometimes I visit museums.

These days, I’ve been writing more. I carry a pocket Moleskine with me everywhere so I can write whenever the mood hits me, or when I’m overwhelmed by thoughts and feelings and need to unload without burdening someone else. When I was younger, I wrote all the time. At some point I even dreamed of writing for a living, and decided to put Creative Writing as my second choice in my college application (my first choice was Accountancy, which was actually my parents’ choice, of course), except I mistakenly copied the course code for Economics instead and ended up getting waitlisted for it and having to choose three other degree programs that may have slots for me. That’s how I ended up in the BA English Studies program. My other two choices were BS Hotel, Restaurant, and Institution Management and BA Philosophy. Is it obvious I didn’t know what I really wanted to study?

I’m an atheist. I grew up Catholic and attended a Catholic school in elementary, but just wasn’t ever completely sold on the idea of a one true god. I’m an agnostic, too, which simply means that while I don’t believe in god, I also think it’s impossible to prove its (non)existence. As you can imagine, it’s no fun being an atheist in a country like the Philippines, where the majority of the people are Catholic.

I am also a feminist, and thus I am perpetually angry, since sexism and misogyny are very much alive in 2021, and many people (other women included) continue to enable the patriarchy and the horrendous and oppressive culture it perpetuates, as well as the violent and abusive behaviors it cultivates. This is a topic my college best friend and I talk about quite often in our podcast.

This blog is probably my tenth or fourteenth. Over the last fifteen years, I’ve kept blogs on various platforms—i.ph, Friendster, LiveJournal, Tumblr, Blogger, Wordpress, Squarespace—and while some of them are dead, several still exist behind a curtain of privacy, accessible only to me when I get into one of my retrospective moods. I read them once in a while to remind myself of who I used to be, and to see how much I’ve changed, or if I have at all.

In college, I discovered visual kei, and for a few years was obsessed with a band called Alice Nine. I became an active member of several LiveJournal communities and became a writer of fanfiction. Initially, I wrote stories around a ship between the vocalist and one of the guitarists, but as I got deeper and deeper into the fandom, I developed an infatuation with the guitarist and wrote stories about him and an original female character based loosely on myself and the self I then wished was closer to who I was in reality.

The story was called Home. I started writing it when I was nineteen, and eventually finished it at twenty three, after receiving an offer to publish it as a novella in digital format from a friend who worked at a local publishing company. I still keep a copy of it in my iPad and read parts of it every now and then, much like how I do with my old blogs. I guess it’s sort of a blog too, the way it kept a record of my fantasies of flying to Japan to meet my favorite guitarist and falling in love with him. It’s hilarious, now that I think about it, but isn’t this sort of make-believing what one’s youth is for?

Truth be told, I don’t have much confidence in my writing. I don’t think my English is good enough to weave the kind of sentences I dream of creating fabrics of stories with, but we gotta make do with what we have, don’t we? After all, we only get better at writing by doing it often.

As I was drafting this post, I realized I was writing my work history. That was weird. I never saw myself as someone who defined herself by what she did, and I still do not, but then again there are countless things about ourselves that are buried deep in our subconscious, that we become aware of only when we take time to self-reflect.

I suppose I should end this here. I realized as I was thinking about how to do so that there probably isn’t a need for it even. Everything I write about in this blog is, after all, what I talk about when I talk about myself.

#self #introduction #writing #reading