Saturday, September 27, 2014

Licking Wounds

The dark story of my family life continues. Having been hit and verbally abused by a family member for years, I took the necessary step of finally moving out.

It's been a good two or so weeks since I left the abusive home where the relative still stays despite what he's done. Outside the family, people have been uncannily kind to me when they heard I have begun to rent. My close friends, if not comrades, in the office have even been offering to buy me lunch just so I won't have to eat instant noodles everyday this month. I paid rent and the advance deposit, plus bought a bed and some furniture, that's why I'm suddenly dirt poor. But I've been happy. I've started to laugh again and become positive at work. It made me feel like a new test is coming, which I didn't want to think, but which sadly did arrive.

I didn't expect it. Things just don't add up sometimes. I may have gotten a better job but that doesn't mean I'm shitting cash. I mean, who actually expects that? Why do people keep assuming I do shit cash? I already computed my budget and had a talk at home that I will need to reduce my contributions given that I'll be shelling out more than half of what I make every month to pay for my mortgage, rent and living expenses. I will also need to set aside 20% in case of emergencies as I don't have healthcare yet. I thought we were in agreement with that.

I then come home only to be shouted at about how my contributions aren't enough. I was even told that if I don't want to give money then don't. Oh, God. Why do these people think of me like I'm some stingy bitch who doesn't want to share money? It's not that I DON'T WANT to give. It's that I don't have the amount you want me to give. If I give that, there's a possibility I will be short of cash before next payday.

I've been eating canned beans and steamed vegetables for days just so I keep my daily cash out at Php 300. Such is the reality of someone just starting out, which when I tried to explain, I was promptly cut short and dismissed. My difficulties don't even matter because I apparently don't understand what they go through at home. Two weeks. I was away just two weeks. Will I need a bulletproof vest on my next visit?

I'd already offered to pay for dinner before I came home today. How come that doesn't even account for any good points on my account? I'm still the girl who doesn't know how to listen. Well let me pose the question, who declared "I don't want to talk about this" and who was screaming at the top of her lungs?

Maybe to some people, nothing is ever enough. They will wait for you to bleed your guts out, and still they won't see that you've tried to give your all. They will dismiss it as angst or drama, because theirs is the REAL suffering. Sadly the truth is everyone suffers in this world. And that's why God introduced kindness and compassion. For people who go to church every week, it's a surprise that I rarely see these in action.

Oh, I try to understand. But this event just wounds me yet again. Pain makes wounded animals bite.

(Readers of this blog must be wondering why I'm suddenly spilling the dirt on my life when I've kept up this noble facade of being an accomplished writer blah blah blah. I kept many secrets and didn't write anything close to home because this caused problems for me before. Well my writings are dirt. And I am dirt. Life will just have to take back the dirt it has thrown at me. I won't keep these secret anymore. Silence has done me no good)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

LONTAR: The Journal of Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction Issue #3 is Out!

I just love, love the cover artworks done for this journal! This is issue 3's cover:

Reposting the details for this issue...

This issue of LONTAR presents speculative writing from and about Singapore, the Philippines, Cambodia and Taiwan.

 Inside these pages, you’ll find:

  • the evocation of an alternate ancient Cambodia from multiple award-winner Geoff Ryman;
  • an investigative automotive revenge tale from Palanca Grand Prize winner Dean Francis Alfar;
  • the mystery of magically appearing furniture from Taiwanese short fiction wunderkind Sabrina Huang (deftly translated by PEN/Heim grant recipient Jeremy Tiang);
  • an uneasy exploration of marital discord on the road from Manila Critics’ Circle National Book Award winner Nikki Alfar;
  • a quasi-Ballardian take on beach resort culture from Ben Slater;
  • the uniquely Singaporean response to a viral outbreak from JY Yang;
  • and speculative poetry from Anne Carly Abad, Arlene Ang, Tse Hao Guang, Cyril Wong, David Wong Hsien Ming and Daryl Yam.

This issue marks the handover of publication and distribution of LONTAR to Epigram Books.

  1. The More Things Change | Jason Erik Lundberg (editorial)
  2. A Field Guide to the Roads of Manila | Dean Francis Alfar (fiction)
  3. Setting Up Home | Sabrina Huang (trans. Jeremy Tiang) (fiction)
  4. Resort Time | Ben Slater (fiction)
  5. The Elephant in the Room | Anne Carly Abad (poetry)
  6. Before the Last War | David Wong Hsien Ming (poetry)
  7. Signs, or The Fate of Big-Footed Individuals | Daryl Yam (poetry)
  8. Harbour | Tse Hao Guang (poetry)
  9. Since We Stopped Communicating | Cyril Wong (poetry)
  10. Three Poems | Arlene Ang (poetry)
  11. Mother’s Day | JY Yang (fiction)
  12. An Unexpected Stop | Nikki Alfar (fiction)
  13. The Last Ten Years in the Life of Hero Kai | Geoff Ryman (fiction)


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A Study of Swarm Intelligence

by Yours Truly


The creatures scatter
at the sight of one of their own
shot dead.
That is when they show
ant-like qualities,
falling into pheromone trails
of fury and protest.
Swiftly, the once-empty streets
crawl with millions.
They parade a new queen
drenched in yellow war paint.
She leads
a swarm so single-minded
that the existing royals
are summarily dethroned
the entire colony repatterned
like never before.


Further observation of the creatures
leads me to suppose that the new age
may not be so new after all.
During a lull filled with fresh elects,
I see what might be a reenactment
of the first dethronement.
The signs follow:
individuals and their little conclaves
calls to reform
jump from one hand to the next.
A loud voice or two is enough
to herd the all-too-ready
onto the streets once more. There,
the yellow queen
endorses another queen.
I know how this ends.


I may have been mistaken.
Their patterns may be more akin to that of bees
foraging, perching from one flower to the next
for ever sweeter nectar—
that is this creature’s quest for leaders
even if they must alight on the shoulders
of rapists, thieves and murderers
which is what I fail to understand
why they refuse to abandon
solutions no longer viable, drawing
from resources long exhausted.
If this is a sickness of the mind
of the individual, or the colony
or the system;
one or all, I cannot tell.
It may all just be a performance
of hardwired instinct.

First Appeared in The Philippines Graphic Magazine, December 2013

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Acceptance from Not One of Us

Whenever I receive good news like these, I still have to ask myself, "for real?" Acceptances are such unexpected gifts, and I'll never stop being surprised by them. I thought I'd never get into the likes of Strange Horizons and Apex, yet with a lot of time, hard work and rejection slips, I made it.

Another wonderful publication that's welcomed my work is Not One of Us. The magazine has been frequently recommended by editors I've worked with and I discovered that the mag has been running since the 1980s. Its focus is on otherness, a rich and powerful topic that will never lose importance in the world. A couple of verbatim reviews from their site:

“I definitely recommend Not One of Us to readers attracted to character-oriented dark fantasy... plenty of disquieting reflection. Fine work.” (Rich Horton)

“The staying power of Not One of Us is a testament to its quality.” (The Fix)

“Not One of Us a reliable source for interesting dark prose and poetry.” (Ellen Datlow, Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror)

Here is a snippet of the email I received from the editor, Mr. John Benson. An acceptance into a joint with this name feels a bit like a pun, which maybe it is:

Dear Anne,
I'd like to use "Why Animals Don't Talk" in one of our future publications. The poem would go either in the next of our annual, variously-titled special collections in January or in the next issue of Not One of Us itself in April. [...]
John Benson
Not One of Us

It's another great week. :)