Thursday, July 04, 2002

Creative Writing

Just the other day, a friend of mine, Duke, told me how he wanted to take writing classes. His course was management so I asked him why he didn't take comm. or creative writing as a major. He replied that his parents wouldn't allow him as he had to take over the family business. It really surprised me that he was interested in my course. That reminded me of people's reactions when I told them I was in creative writing. Some were in Duke's situation, wherein their parents didn't allow them to take it. Others, while they loved the idea of taking such a degree, didn't think it was practical. There were also those who asked me what career I'd have once I graduated. Looking back at all that, perhaps I'm privileged to have been able to choose creative writing as a course.

I don't know if it's in the genes or the way they were raised, but most Chinese families have an orientation towards business, especially the males. When I was still in high school were most of my classmates were Chinese, a lot of them were planning to take business courses or were encouraged to do so. According to them, someone had to "take over" the family business once their parents were gone. Hence, perhaps 75% of those who graduate from Xavier run off to pursue a business degree. As usual, I was the exception.

Not all Chinese males are doomed to a fate in business. There's usually a way out that doesn't involve being cast out of the family. For me, it was an older brother. He's eight years older than me (I'll tell your another time the story of the "accident" that was us) and is currently helping my father. There was no pressure on me to take management or its equivalent.

That didn't mean there wasn't any pressure on me. Aside from my classmate's remarks about creative writing, my dad, who doesn't know how to use a computer, wanted me to take computer science. Perhaps that's the strange thing about Chinese parents. They don't ask their children what they want to pursue. Instead, they "order" them to take something very practical and one that earns money. My father's perceptions have always been clouded as such. I remember once when my father quit being a member of our church when he found out that our pastor gave up preaching in the US to preach here. His reasoning was that in the US, he was getting paid ten times of what he's been being paid here. For father, it was "unfair". Basically, what he wanted was for our church to match the pastor's salary in the US. Which obviously couldn't be done. And the pastor wasn't even asking for it. What father couldn't understand was that there's something more than money. To him, satisfaction is equated with monetary returns. But that's not always the case, especially for the pastor, and me.

From the start, I was intent on not taking a business course. I wouldn't allow my parents to take that away from me. I've had enough of their ordering around for the past several years and I was slowly standing up to them. And then, I was confused on what course to take. I had two choices: one was on psychology, and the other was on writing. Psychology because I understood people more quickly than others, and I thought it would have been interesting studying people's behavior. Writing because I loved to read and I was interested in publishing and other forms of media. When it came right down to it, I was in creative writing because of a choice not made by me but by the colleges. My first choice in UP was AB Psychology while my course in Ateneo was BFA Creative Writing. I didn't get into UP. That basically solved my problem of choice (on a side note, my course in DLSU was a double major in psychology and creative writing).

Of course before the results came out, I was already leaning towards writing rather than psychology. I was daunted by all the research involved in psychology as well as the lack of psychologists here. I mean most end up as either researchers, guidance counselors, or teachers. I also did end up knowing the difference between psychiatry and psychology last year and so I was probably thinking more along the lines of psychiatry rather than psychology itself. In the end, I was happy with writing since it's more natural for me.

Throughout all this, it also occurred to me how flawed the career programs of high schools are. I mean most are given during fourth year, when they've already filled up their application forms. It should start earlier. Ours was during our third year, so I had a year to think about what I'd pursue. Perhaps it could have been made as early as second year so that the person can deliberate on what course he'd like.

As for me, I have no regrets pursuing creative writing. In fact, if there's anyone having regrets, it's those who didn't pick creative writing. I like the course, although I honestly don't know what I'll do once I graduate. I do love writing and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I don't know if I'm any good but I have a passion for it. And in the end, perhaps that's all that matters.

Tuesday, July 02, 2002

A Double Edge

Sometimes, seeing my crush isn't something I look forward to. You might think I'm crazy for saying that. I mean a crush is someone you always look forward to seeing. Well, I do look forward to seeing her. However, there are just times when you crush doesn't want to see you or you know seeing her could prove disastrous. And when that happens, I'm torn between two conflicting emotions. Choosing can be a big ordeal.

For one thing, there are times when people should be left alone: sometimes when they're studying, when they're mad at you, when they're exhausted and busy, etc. At these situations, I can be selfish and try to approach my crush. Of course what you end up with is a frown and a person in no mood to converse.

Another time is when they see you too often. People sometimes mistake me for a stalker because I run into them all the time, as if I was conspiring to meet them every single day. Well, be it coincidental or not, it might be helpful to disappear from sight. The last thing you want is for them to be fed up and irritated at your ever-constant presence. You don't want to be mistaken as their shadow.

Lastly, there are also times when seeing your crush could prove fatal for you. When you see her, you're bombarded with emotions of depression and jealousy. I used to lament the fact that she didn't like me, or sometimes think how lucky some of her classmates can be as they can be with her all the time.

Of course, there are also times when you just can't stand not being near your crush. For me, not being able to help my crush when I can is tormenting. For example, I remember my crush trying to solve a physics problem that I knew how to solve. Of course she was mad at me at the time so I couldn't sit beside her, explain to her the problem, and help solve it.

Another time is when I see them all alone, a lone tree in a vast desert. I just want to go up to her and keep her company, at least until her classes start or someone comes by. However, I remember not being able to do that because she was still mad at me. It really tore my heart to pieces. Of course I did the next best thing: found one of her friends to keep her company.

Still, there are rewards in the rare moments I'm with her. We get to talk and know more about each other. I think that's one of the most satisfying things for me, for a person to share their stories with others.

I also try to make her smile as often as I can. When I see that pretty expression on her face, my day feels complete. Nothing else matters and I decide the risk I took in talking to her was well worth it.

Seeing and not seeing my crush has its ups and downs. It's hard for me to find the delicate balance between the two, and resist the temptations at the same time. Fear is also a factor that I constantly try to conquer. No matter how many times I've been disappointed in the past, I constantly try to approach my crush. Sometimes it pays off and sometimes, it ends up a good story to tell.