Preloved and parting

I am a self-confessed pack rat, and I’m trying to change that.  It’s not only a move to get more organized, but I’m at that juncture in my life where I find myself having to reevaluate what I want to keep and let go.

Being in the process of a major life change, I have made up my mind to change as much of what I can to start afresh, and keep only that which is essential to the real me.  So much has happened in the last 3 years (going on 4) that I find a physical need to actually change my surroundings to get rid of the old and move forward.

Some of it is a necessity being that I have changed sizes in the last couple of years, and it doesn’t pay to wear something that looks frumpy even if you have only worn it a couple of times.  It’s time to make room for the new, beginning with my closet.

I used to be the type who would keep something even if in an obviously bigger size because I told myself, it fits– why get rid of something I can wear?  But coming across the concept of a “capsule wardrobe” which wouldn’t work for me, I was reminded of how I had so many pieces I hadn’t worn or touched in some time.  They have been relegated to the darkest corner of my tiny closet, collecting dust, unworn.  While I am nowhere near paring my wardrobe down to 37 or so pieces (I have a dozen skirts at least, for one!)– I recognize a need to declutter and find a new home for those pieces that are still wearable, just not by me.

During my trips home to Manila last year, I took the bigger clothes and left them for others.  My luggage came back with outfits in my current size and style.  I send a balikbayan box home occasionally and have already sent more, but I haven’t really systematically gone through what’s left here with me.

They said the rule should be to sort between keeping and giving away.  Generally, anything you hadn’t worn in a year should go — whether they are too big or too small.  I have read that keeping something in the hopes of “shrinking” back into a size that’ll see it fitting you again isn’t being realistic, unless you are already just a teeny weeny bit away from being able to wear it again.  I have a couple of those I keep because of the brand or the original cost of the item.  They went into the “giveaway” box this time.

Obviously, there are the pieces that have just gone out of style.  The thing is, what might not be fashionable here might be wearable back home, so I folded those suits and made sure to pack them in a plastic bag with the matching trousers.  There are t-shirts that have some sentimental value or other — such as shirts from the companies I had worked for in Manila which I wear to bed during the colder months.  Even those have gone into the donation box.   In the summer, I wear cotton nightgowns from the tiangge in Greenhills which also need to be sorted.

I must say the act of actually putting any piece in the “to give away” box has been a source of relief– as if I was “shedding” or saying goodbye to an older, former version of me.

I wore this loose fitting shirt over the weekend which I bought the summer before last.  It was a size bigger than what I wear now from that particular store.  It still looked good on me but it hung very loosely over my frame, like one of those shirts that was good to hide under.  If I could get that same shirt in the smaller size now, I would get it, and if they had it in a different print even back then, I would’ve gotten it.  But it is way too big now.

So I put it with this weekend’s laundry and washed it, and as I was straightening it up after drying, I made a decision to say goodbye to it.  Instead of hanging it back in my closet, I folded it and put it in my giveaway bin.  Another preloved piece which I know can make someone else feel as good and comfy as it did me.  Taking it out of my closet signified a commitment to stay healthy and be healthier, and not giving myself the out to slide back and gain weight again.  It was also an acceptance of the me that I am now — more confident and comfortable in my own skin, hitting the age of 50.

I wish it was easier to sort through everything and make the decision to let something go.  I tend to be very emotional about what I have and own.  There is always that thought at the back of my head that I might regret the decision later, forcing me to take the safer choice to just keep it — “just in case.”  I used to tell myself, “(but) I might want to wear that sometime some place.”.. or “I might lose enough weight to fit into that again.. ”  (Which has never really happened because I planned it.. but rather because I lost weight with other things in mind.)

This time, though, I’m determined to shed as much as I can — to make room for an even better and healthier me.  Four suits packed, so many shirts and pants set aside.  Parting can be difficult but can be a literal sigh of relief.. It actually is a very tangible unburdening that can help one to focus on letting things go.  Parting this time, is nothing sorrowful — but on the contrary is literally sweet joy.

The Waiting Game (Lawyer Wannabe Anxiety)

I have been slow to write of late because the little guy has been down with strep throat.  I can deal with pressure from work at any given day, or even with the unexpected potholes in life, but when my guy is sick, everything is up in the air.

I had my week planned, and of course that went this way and that.  I’m good now because he is well and back to school.  The marathon to catch up and get ready for school and tests has already begun.  Why are they studying The Odyssey in sixth grade?  That was senior high school reading for me along with the Illiad.  The good news is, it’s just the “story” and not the book.  Still.

Homer Simpson wrote me during the week and I received a similar question via a comment here from Kim a while back.  (My bad for taking forever and a day to write a reply.)   Their queries have more or less the same slant with anxiety creeping up because of having taken law school entrance exams or planning to take it and regretting or worrying about how they had done in pre-law.

So here goes.


Let me tackle the two together, although if you read what they wrote, they have a different slant on the question I’m trying to answer.

Kim wrote:

Hello ma’am! I read your post about law schools and I am a UP/Ateneo/Beda law school aspirant. I am quite anxious but reading your blog posts helped me.

I was enrolled in Ateneo de Manila for 3 years but transferred to a school in province. I was not kicked out, it was financial. However, my grades are not that clean. I had my fair share of drops (PE classes) and fails (Accounting). My average was alright because my other subjects pulled it up. When I transferred to a university here at the province, I took up Political Science and Public Administration. I am on my last semester. Even though my General Weighted Average could make it, my TOR spells “inconsistent”. Again, there were a few dropped classes (PE mostly- again). However, I enjoy my Political Science subjects and it reflects in my grades. The law schools ask you to submit your TOR and I am worried about my grades more than the entrance exams. I passed ACET, UPCAT, etc before. Also, I have been a paid part time writer online for 6 years and a recognized student journalist and debater for as long as I can remember, but, my grades are not that pretty. What can I do about it? I cannot bring back time. I was immature then and did not think I would be worrying about grades someday.

I also want to ask if a very nice co-curricular would help? I was President of the PolSci org in school and VP for the city-wide and regional Polsci orgs. Although not perfect, I am confident I can speak well and write well. I won in writing contests and debate competitions. However, I feel it wont’t be enough. I am very insecure about my grades it is giving me this feeling of hopelessness. 😦

Meanwhile, Homer Simpson wrote:

I’m really anxious about the Ateneo Law Exam Results. I really want to pass. I know I have the option of attending other law schools but still. Being an Atenean is still different. I live in the south so it’s a lot nearer than SBC. Living in the dorm is not an option because I have to take care of my parents. There are a lot of construction happening right now in Sergio Osmena highway. I’m incredibly worried that I’ll spend most of my time in traffic if I attend SBC, and I can’t risk it given the mortality rate there. You see, Metro Manila traffic is really bad right now.

I’m just really worried that my undergrad grades aren’t worthy for ALS. I have one failing grade and I am not from UP or Ateneo. I worked harder to get my grades up after my first year in college and it did. I worked at a law firm for a year so I think I did mature a lot since graduation and I do think I’ve changed. While I did proper preparation prior to the exam, I’m worried that it won’t be enough to get me in ALS. I reviewed using LSAT reviewers. I reviewed like crazy. Would that be enough? I actually finished the exam already. Not to brag but it was easier that what I expected ( I took UPLAE so I expected it to be a lot like LAE, if not more difficult) but isn’t that the scary part? I might have answered it wrong or it is too easy that a lot of applicants will be good at the exam as well. Also, how do the interview portions go? Do you have any tips? How do I go about calming my nerves!? Results come out in 2 months. I really want to pass ALS..

and the Pinay New Yorker says:

First of all, let me declare it here that I am in no way privy to the criteria nor the process of selection beyond my actual experience of having successfully passed two of the three law school entrance exams I took.  I cannot say with authority that one thing will work or not.  I can, however, speak to what worked for me, and what I think should be taken into consideration by the people who are going through what I have gone through now as they try to go through the process of entering or being in law school.

That said, here’s what I have to say.

I have a rule of thumb about trying to focus on how to channel my anxiety.  I try to deal with that which I have control over, and just hope for the best when it comes to those that I cannot steer this way or that.  Like things that have already happened and cannot be undone.  They are beyond your control so while entertaining bouts of remorse about what one could have done differently, the truth of the matter is, the die, as they say, has been cast.

I used to be guilty of the same thing they are indulging in — I would worry myself to death and then spend sleepless nights with “what ifs”.  Then I came to terms with the fact that worrying about them didn’t exactly solve the problem.  So yes, I still indulged myself with a bit of worrying and then whipped myself back up and moved on.  I let the anxiety be a mere blip instead of a horn blowing over the sound of the world going on around me.

I’ve written about it time and again that the entrance exams are meant to pinpoint aptitude — which is defined by as ‘a natural ability to learn or do something’.  So for all the figures and math and words that you encounter in the tests, they are actually picking through your brain trying to see if there is an iota of a chance that you have the ‘natural ability’ to embrace learning about the law.

I will be the first to admit that my grades in college were never sterling.  I wasn’t a Dean’s lister, and I basically went to college to do away with the pre-law requirement.  If I could go straight to law school, I would have.  I felt that that was my end goal.  I wanted it THAT bad.

I did do a lot of extra curricular activities, (student council and all), but really, I don’t think that figured much into my getting into law school.

Entering the law school of your choice, or any school for that matter and taking the entrance exam to that school (such as the much anticipated, dreaded and heartbreaking UPCAT), is a numbers game.

You have to consider the fact that there are so many souls out there vying for only so many slots.  So with that in mind, do not lose the dream just because the law school of yout choice did not pick you.  It might not just be your performance in the exam per se, but there are other factors like choosing the wrong university location, the wrong course combinations, etc.  Given the number of examinees and the actual slots open, you are actually competing with the rest of the world.  The first step is to actually pass that exam, or at least find yourself in the top percentile of exam takers, high enough to make it above the cut, so to speak.

So the entrance exam is key.  If you don’t make it then, your grades will not even factor in.  You may graduate with one of those ‘laudes’ — but if you don’t pass the exam, that speaks a lot about your ability to handle law school.

The fact that there are so many passers who will make the grade is what puts your performance in college or pre-law into play.  That’s when the ‘laudes’ will matter.  Or the ones, or the fours, depending on which school you went to for your prelaw.  Will they look at your extra curricular activities?  Logic tells me that they will, but only if you make it to the interview process.  That means you’ve been shortlisted from the shortlist — passed law entrance exam and brought a decent transcript that didn’t push you to the bottom of the list.  Will that sway a decision to bring you in?  I honestly don’t think so.  I have always been heavy on the extra curricular activities back in school, but the truth of the matter is, while they help you come up with better-rounded personality, school is really about academics.  And schools evaluating who gets to sit in your classrooms will look at the aptitude and performance of those vying for a slot.

As for the location of your school, Homer, my university of choice way back when was really DLSU which was located on Taft Avenue.  My Dad vehemently protested saying the driver would have to wade through the traffic caused by the original LRT construction back then, and it might adversely affect the schedule for my siblings who were in Pasig (St. Paul) and Mendiola (San Beda) respectively.  He wanted me to go to UP Diliman.  When the UPCAT results came out, we ended up in UP Manila, a ride away from DLSU and which was hit by the LRT construction — but I was in UP and he was happy.  No regrets, but at the start, I was really upset.  And yet, it worked out.

Law school was really a toss up between UP and Ateneo for me — and okay, maybe San Beda — but when UP said no, I figured I just wasn’t meant to be there.  Of course I said, it was their loss.  (After all, when I passed the Bar, I became a chalk mark for Ateneo instead of UP.)  But things happen for a reason, and sometimes, we have to listen to the universe when it says this isn’t the place for you.  “You are supposed to be somewhere else.”  And just like in taking law school entrance exams, these tests are supposed to tell you where your brain is best suited, even if your heart is screaming “LAW!”.

I was about to hit “publish” when I recalled something from when I was taking the Bar Exams ages ago.   Back then, I sat with people taking the bar exam for the nth time — and some of them were old enough to be my grandmother or mother.  They looked as determined as any of us haggard and harrassed Ateneans clutching our printed-on-blue-paper reviewers and tips.  We saw familiar faces but usually, we were the only one from our school in any given room.  There were that many of us taking the exams.  One of those Sundays, I got terribly sick because the airconditioner was on full blast and my body was ready to give in to the pressure.  I was having a hard time focusing and them I was reminded of what brought me to that point — after all was said and done, there I was, taking the final battery of tests in my pursuit of a dream.  And that jolted me to reality.  That was my reality.  That was where I was meant to be.

You have to tenaciously hold on to your dream, yet at the same time, make room for adjustments, if needed.  We don’t always get what we want, but we can help prod the universe, by going after it.

I know that what I’m saying isn’t very reassuring, but I think you have to go back to the rule of thumb I have put down somewhere at the start of my reply: don’t fret about things you have no control over.  I would put my heart and soul to preparing for the test (for Kim) and I will sit it out and just wait, Homer.  Good luck to you both.

Related posts can be found here at Lawyer Wannabe.  (See navigation bar.)

Black and White

Daily Prompt: Contrast

I have always thought of CONTRAST as a “black vs. white” kind of thing.  To me, it’s about night and day.  Two distinctly opposite sides or ends of the spectrum.  Clearly delineated.  No blurred lines.  No grey.
Contrast daily prompt

In my every day, I look to that as a way to focus or get me “centered” when I feel like I’m losing my footing.  I think about the happy and focus on that being present in my life, and I tell myself it still outweighs the sad.  

I have always believed that everything  has a good and a bad side and one reinforces the need for another.. And it makes the bad necessary or we would never really get to appreciate the good.

When you find the words

I started writing poetry at age 7.  They were the kind of sing song poems that had a set cadence to them that meant each line was approximately the same length and the last words rhymed.  I had scribbled down my first poems in pencil in an old diary which was quite the find for me back then.  I think that was when I started my love affair with paper.  I liked notebooks and journals and I liked to write on them.

There were times when I could churn out one piece after another.  And there were times when I would experience a dry spell.  Like the last 15 years.

I wrote back when there were no computers to encode them in yet.  But I was always diligent about keeping my pieces, published (in the school paper) and not– and through the several trips I’ve taken home, I’ve managed to bring them here.  So I have the words of the younger Dinna scribbled in my own hand here.

Words have always been a bestfriend.  I am used to giving formal definitions based on how I use and know the word.  I guess you can see where the writing comes from.  I can say something formally or simply.  In law school, I learned how to structure a story so that the retelling of something I had read could be better explained.  So all those complicated cases were easily and well-digested into the facts/issue/decision blocks that we had to put them into.  Verbally, I could explain it so it would not be as complicated as it was written.

But poetry or prose was a totally different thing.  I didn’t want to call them poetry because I didn’t feel they deserved that categorization.  I wrote prayers as well, so I had a series of prayers I called “Prayer in Prose.”  I wrote scripts for speech choirs, and I wrote songs.  I penned our graduation song and corps song in the the Citizens Army Training Corps back in high school, and one of my dreams had always been to join the MetroPop.  Never happened — but that was a dream I nurtured in my heart for the longest time.

I would sit and just feel it flow.  Back when I was conscious about rhyming, I would think hard to make the lines sound melodic.  As I grew older, I became a free spirit in terms of writing and found myself writing more spontaneously than before, not caring so much about rhyming or rhythm itself.  It was a different form of release and while I did not write to be published, I found great fulfillment in writing and being able to show emotion in the words I wrote.  Even now, when I come across something I had written, I hear a different ‘me’ speaking through those lines.  It is a revelation and at the same time a way of reminding myself of who I was and who I am now,

For some reason, the creative juices stopped  flowing when I moved to New York 15 years ago.  The last poem I wrote I had written just before I left Manila in 2000.  Not for lack of trying, but somehow the inspiration never quite hit me.  I had enough emotion, both happy and sad, regular and extremes, but the words just didn’t come.  Where it would flow like there was a mill in my head just churning out the words, there was just absolute silence.

Until a week ago.

I had this line that kept stabbing at my brain for days on end.  I wrote a stanza.  It showed promise.  Then I sat down and read the lines to me and it didn’t sound good.  So I rewrote it from scratch, and in no time, the whole poem was done.  As I ended the poem, I found myself amazed that finally, I found the words again.

And it wasn’t a giddy happy poem, or a heart-wrenching piece.  It was more “middle-of-the-road” or “off-road” even.

It came out at the start as seemingly a poem with sad notes.  And then you get to the middle where you see that there is that realization that there has been so much gained, that even if lost, I would still come out the winner.  That from the start of the poem until the end, I was claiming victory — no matter what happened.

I typed up the poem and sent it to four friends.  Two who knew my work from way back — friends from high school who both knew the words I had written, because they had, at one time or another, been the subject and recipient of my poetry.  A third person who had exchanged poetry with me and who would know what the words I wrote meant.  And another, I sent the poem to, because she knew what the lines meant to me as I wrote them in the here and now.

I feel as if I had unlocked the gates which had been barred shut for more than a decade.  I haven’t tried writing again although I know that if I did, I would be able to write with more ease.  I don’t really consider the poem finished — even though I think it’s more than good enough as it is.  It is to me, a new beginning.  I am writing again — and I am so floored by that thought.  I think of it and utter the words and I can’t help but beam with pride.  Something has been set free.  My spirit is soaring again.

But I’m not ready to share it with the world.  It is more than enough that I have written poetry again.  There are feelings that are too private to shout out — even when the stop has been pulled and you feel it all gushing out of you and part of you just wants to share it with the universe.  This one needs some working on, and I feel myself enveloped with that trepidation to claim this is worth sharing.  “I’m shy,” as a friend often teases me.  Ha!

Our brains and our hearts work in very mysterious ways.  Like the masters have their artistic blanks — when they just cannot create — sometimes we just lose the words.  Then we find them again.  I’m just glad to be reacquainting myself with the words that had helped me sing a long, long time ago — be it sad or happy tunes.. It’s just another part or me I welcome back.

Daily Prompt: Secret

Blog graphicI haven’t participated in the Daily Prompt in a bit, but I’ve had some pingbacks due to some recycled prompts that have appeared in the previous weeks.  I thought I’d give this a stab and then hit publish.

There are times when I feel the urge to write but then I am lost between feelings and questions and ideas racing through my head.  It doesn’t help me to come up with a coherent post, so it’s during those times when I try to calm all that activity in my head by doing something deliberate.  Like writing a post based on the daily prompt.

Today we have a one-word prompt: Secret.

For some reason, the word resonated with me and here I am typing away.  As spontaneous as can be.  Just writing.  For the sake of writing.

We all have parts of us that we want to keep secret from the rest of the world.  I’m not talking about those things that some people who are in our circle of trust know but which the others don’t.  It’s that part of us that only we know about ourselves.

That’s a little difficult for me because I’m basically an open book.  I don’t hide my emotions very well and I tend to be transparent.  What you see is what you get. After everything I’ve been through, any former attempts at civility or propriety have been forgotten when it comes to being brutally honest with how I feel and what I am thinking.  But I have learned to temper that with a more pragmatic approach to things that tend to prick at my persona — I no longer pounce like I used to. I now tend to sit back, let it sink in, maybe let it pass, or slowly formulate a response.  I am not quite as spontaneous like I used to be.

So I no longer get mad or angry as quickly as before.  But I no longer edit myself as much as I used to once I allow myself to react.

And yet I wish that I wasn’t so easy to read or that I wasn’t so forthcoming about things.  There is this part of me that I want to tell the world about, but which I cannot because I have chosen to do that anonymously.  There is a part of my story that I want the world to know, but I cannot write it under my byline nor have it link back to me — at least not for now.  I feel that anonymity will serve me well if I am to write as openly and honestly as I want to.

There I was thinking of the appropriate pseudonym.  Something “me” — yet not easily connected to me.  When I finally found one, I felt like it was a stroke of genius.  It wasn’t obvious on the outset, but then a connection could be made when you saw the name.  I am dying to blurt it out here but I cannot.

That is a part of me that will remain secret for until the time when I feel it is time for it not to be.  I have been struggling to write that secret out, but I have it all structured in my head. It’s like a half finished canvas that I want to unveil but cannot.  At least for now.

It’s that artwork that you wish you can lay claim to, but out of deference to people who matter to me, I cannot.  So if people rave, I will just listen in silence.  Until it’s time to let the secret out.

Sometimes a name can embody more than just an identity.  This one does.  This one will.  And that’s a name that will remain secret until such time that I think I can reveal it.