Are You Cheating On Me? (Poetry)

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“I tried to change
Closed my mouth more
Tried to be soft, prettier
Less… awake
Fasted for 60 days
Wore white
Abstained from mirrors
Abstained from sex
Slowly did not speak another word
And that time my hair grew past my ankles
I slept on a mat on the floor
I swallowed a sword
I levitated
Into the basement
Confessed my sins
And was baptized in a river
Got on my knees and said, “Amen”
And said, “I mean”
I whipped my own back
And asked for dominion at your feet
I threw myself into a volcano
I drank the blood and drank the wine
I sat alone in begged and bent at the waist for God
I crossed myself and thought
I saw the devil
I grew thickened skin on my feet
I bathed in bleach
And plugged my menses with the pages from the holy book
But still inside me coiled deep was the need to know
Are you cheating on me?”

–Denial, Lemonade (Beyoncé)

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Photography by Teegee Villanueva. 

Reading Paulo Coelho: Adultery (Part 1)

paulo coelho, paulo coelho adultery, adultery

“Apathy. Pretending to be happy, pretending to be sad, pretending to have an orgasm, pretending to be having fun, pretending that you’ve slept well, pretending that you’re alive. Until there comes a point where you reach an imaginary red line and realize that if you cross it, there will be no turning back. Then you stop complaining, because complaining means that you are at least still battling something. You accept the vegetative state and try to conceal it from everyone. And that’s hard work. “

Apathy. Indifference. A woman on the edge. Coelho’s Adultery is riveting. It follows the adventures and indiscretions of a bored Swiss journalist, tired from sameness, who conducts an affair with the politician Jacob Konig (among others, or so implied)–as a means to escape the monotony of her married/professional life.

The book tackles its heady themes lightly–never taking itself too seriously. There’s a comic quality about the opening chapters; but in phases, it confronts its subject with a ferocity that is distinctly Coelho:

“After a certain age, we put on a mask of confidence and certainty. In time, that mask gets stuck to our face and we can’t remove it. 

As children, we learn that if we cry we’ll receive affection, that if we show we’re sad, we’ll be consoled. If we can’t get what we want with a smile, then we can surely do so with our tears.

But we no longer cry, except in the bathroom when no one is listening. Nor do we smile at anyone other than our children. We don’t show our feelings because people might think we’re vulnerable and take advantage of us.”

Sleep is the best remedy”

I am a quarter of the way in and already I’m drawn to Linda–the protagonist. Her nuances are relatable and any married woman can identify with the stultifying routine of Linda’s married life. Even I, a man, can empathize with Linda’s ennui on some level.

Her first encounter with Konig is portrayed so vividly, and explicitly, insomuch that the bit reads like erotica; like a scene from an Anne Rice novel only better and far superior.

At this point, the book dissects marriage as an institution. Coelho seems to imply that marriage is constricting, limiting and that it dulls the human experience. Marriage makes life colorless and repetitive–well of course this completely depends on perspective.

It’s too early to tell but the characters in the novel are so drawn, and so well-developed that you cannot help but feel for them, and their plight, no matter how small or superficial.

Stay tuned for part 2! 🙂

*bracelet by Call It Spring, shorts by Cotton on, jewelry by SilverWorks.

What To Do When People Use You

swimming

The Silent Treatment

“He treats you like shit regardless of what you do”

She takes a sip of her Pinot Grigio

“You want to appear unavailable, or unreachable–”

“And then what? Flee? Ghost the person like a bored and dissatisfied 19 year old? Bitch please, I’m 26,”

“That’s cruel. And you can’t renege on commitments you made because than you’d be no better than a liar. I say, deal with the shit and then go quiet, don’t end the friendship just yet, just drop off the radar for a bit and hope for the best”

Confronting the Person

“Or–why don’t you just talk to him, look him in the eye and tell him to stop it. And then give him the middle finger for extra effect.”

M takes a pink macaron, she examines it for a moment. Her yellow, Versace sun dress illuminates the space around us.

“Tell him you’re having none of it. Tell him after all the help, all the sacrifices you made, that you deserve better.

“if you have any self-respect, you would sit his ass down, cut him like a bitch and pour salt all over the goddamn wound. And when you’re done dressing him down, you can tell him to go f*ck himself.”

Letting Go

And then I ask my two friends

“But what if I just let him go? Burn bridges, you know. I can do the disappearing bit for a while before I confront the bastard and when that’s done, I can end the damn thing”

“But it’s not that easy huney. Human relationships are complicated. And when you end one friendship, you end ten. You lose one, and you lose a tribe. It’s a zero-sum game”

“So I’m fucked both ways”

“Not exactly. But I’m only saying that to make you feel better”

M takes a macaron, cuts the pastry in half and sets it on her plate.

And then I remember what my father told me years ago. I take my journal from my black knapsack and read the entry verbatim.

“Don’t say anything, do not abandon the person and don’t ever confront him. You’re wasting your time. Stay where you are. Stay civil, stay gracious, but say and do no more, and let the thing run its course”

Classy.

***

We leave the cafe, full and pressed for time. M and my other friend call a cab, leaving me to my own devices, I mull over their counsel. I mull over my situation. I mull over an answer but I fail to discern a choice.

People are complicated.

Housewife (Poetry)

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Look at my closet

see the trinkets?

the things

my rings, the bling

and my appetite

for shoes

for thrills

for men who trawl

the intersections at 4

at dawn,

or when the moon

wets the skin

between my thighs

 

Look at my husband

a man

an object

thrice desired

emulated by the soldier

worshipped by the throng

by the God-man

who weeps for his soul

 

And look at me

the housewife

Plain Jane with an apron

and a miscarriage

on the way

–words by Teegee Villanueva

Book Review: Manuscript Found In Accra

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Set in 1099, in Jerusalem, on the eve of an invasion, a man known as the Copt surfaces and provides hope and counsel to the city’s cowering masses.

Paulo Coelho’s Manuscript Found In Accra is a revelation It’s didactic, flowery prose had a poetic quality about it. It read like a secret gospel–the good news according to the Copt. It felt like I was reading something arcane; a peak into the forbidden teachings of a long forgotten philosopher.

Coelho’s novel is structured this way–perhaps as a means to an end, to make it appear like scripture, like sacred text. Coelho forewent of narrative conventions and presented, in place of any discernible dialogue, the observations and uninhibited insights of a man known only as the Copt.

The Copt’s staggering, book length monologue talked largely about the human experience. It dealt with love, beauty, sex and a coterie of other subjects.

The Copt, the only character worth noting, was Christ-like, in fact he preached his Gospel of Love like Jesus did with his a thousand years before and like him, the people were eager to listen, they were drawn to ask, to divine the meaning of his words, and his parables.

Coelho’s Manuscript is a testament to the author’s gifts. This book was no easy feat. To devise an entire novel, rooted on the whims and folly of a singular character takes a lot of guts, and a lot of skill to pull off. It was an entertaining read. Highly recommended

5 stars!

Quotables:

  1. “In solitude, they will discover the love that might otherwise have arrived unnoticed. In solitude, they will understand and respect the love that left them. In solitude, they will be able to decide whether it is worth asking that lost love to come back or if they should simply let it go and set off along a new path. In solitude, they will learn that saying no does not always show a lack of generosity, and that saying yes is not always a virtue.”
  2. “We are used to thinking that what we give is the same as what we receive, but people who love expecting to be loved in return are wasting their time. Love is an act of faith, not an exchange…Life is too short for us to keep important words like ‘I love you’ locked in our hearts. But do not always expect to hear the same words back. We love because we need to love. Otherwise, love loses all meaning and the sun ceases to shine.”
  3. “Elegance is achieved when, having discarded all superfluous things, we discover simplicity and concentration. The simpler the pose, the better; the more sober, the more beautiful”

The Writing Process

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  1. I wake up at dawn. At three or four in the morning. I put on a pair of red socks (for good luck) and a knitted wool cap..
  2. I draw my tarot cards, and divine the day’s events–for fun.
  3. And then I write poetry. And when I’m not writing rhymes and verses (that make very little money…haha artist), I write plays or screenplays. The length of my scripts vary, but they’re usually short, one-act affairs that are impossibly difficult to stage.
  4. I write everything down in paper FIRST, in longhand, on a cheap, upcycled notebook. And then I transcribe the text on my computer, which is a testy task given how awful my handwriting is.
  5. I write for four/six hours a day everyday and I usually end at around 8 in the morning, tired and frustrated but somehow pleased at the day’s output.

Is writing fun? No it’s torture. Jk. It’s alright when your muse is in a cooperative mood I guess. I trawl the city and take photographs the rest of the day and I read whenever I can (a requirement if you want to write). And that’s my life basically.

Love Story (Poetry)

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I lay my head

in the space where you slept

I feel the weight of your memory

your kiss

the smell of your arms, and

the way you speak:

 

And do you remember when you

threw me against the wall

slapped my face

choked me and called me names

when you spat at my feet

and rubbed the mud on my cheeks

when you told me to sit down

while I watched you leave.

Why?

–Words by Teegee Villanueva

Gay Problems

gay relationships, same-sex relationships, relationship advice

Being gay and in a relationship isn’t easy in this city, where, in spire of the fact that segments of the larger population are accepting  of same-sex partnerships as part of the norm, some of us  prefer to “grow together” as couples in relative privacy. As in: locked away in a room or a lodging house, afraid to be found out.

My partner and I are discreet. We don’t ever talk about “us” to our friends. We pretend to lead separate, single lives, and we meet occasionally in secret–once, or twice every other week at home or somewhere chary. We bond, fight, laugh, gorge on gossip rags, and dissect our friends’ Facebook status updates like ladies who tea.

I understand same-sex relationships collapse largely because one partner prefers to keep the arrangement hush hush (in the closet). But we survive–we cope. Or we try to. We cook and we clean after ourselves but I worry all the same. I do not want to stay discreet forever, it’s not healthy and it’s not a lifestyle I espouse; I’ve been open about relationships, and my sexuality in particular, for as long as I can remember.

I just want to kiss and cuddle him in public I guess, wave him around like a flag, and the throng can stare for as long as they’d like. There is nothing strange or unbecoming when two men (two consulting adults mind you) elect to express their love for each other publicly.

Please make no distinction between heterosexual and homosexual relationships. Love is love.

T.