Since the beginning of 2021, I’ve been restlessly moving and re-arranging the plants by the window. Last week, I noticed that some of the plants, especially the ones I placed in plastic pots, were teeming with fungus gnats. Chili spray seemed to do the work, as well as placing bowls of water with a dash of apple cider vinegar by the affected plants. I keep constant watch, wanting to ensure that the pothos will to thrive, the purple oxalis was issuing more growths each day, and the succulents appear to be in steady sleep. The bigger plants—a monstera, peace lily, and zz—were unaffected.
I grew up in a house filled and surrounded by plants. In front of my childhood home was an empty lot. Empty because it was the steep slope of a small hill, on top of which was an abandoned club house. On the lot, we planted vegetables. At the abandoned club house, me and my friends played. But on Sundays, a church group would hold sermons there and the pastor would warn his flock of the decadent Catholics that lived on the street below. Decadent because, my father explained, some of us had three cars. Our parents, in turn, warned us about suspect figures, among them a man who would show his genitals to anyone who happened to look up at random hours of the day. Once, someone threw down a bottle of Tanduay rum perhaps to assert dominance. Eventually, nine papaya trees grew on the empty lot, among eggplants, okras, and malunggay. Shortly after, my mother developed terrible rashes. At its worst, the rashes had fluid inside them. My big sister spent nights picking on the tiny boils with a sterilized needle. My mother claimed she felt no pain. The shaman my parents consulted blamed the tikbalang living among the papaya trees. But after a trip to the dermatologist we learned that my mother was allergic to lamb— which she had during a work trip to Australia— and she was given effective ointments.
I share a ground floor apartment with my partner and a senior cat. When we buy roast chicken, we eat the skin, the thighs, drumsticks, and wings; the cat eats the breasts in chicken broth I would make from the left-over bones. The weather and the climate have been especially punishing, we stretch food for as long as we can.
It seems each month is a tumultuous beginning. Let me end my days in a small place I can constantly re-order.
Currently reading Jacques Ranciere’s The Edges of Fiction, where in the introduction he writes that fiction is a result of a surfeit of rationality, which he notes is an idea postulated by Aristotle. In a series of tweets, writers give writing advice, one of them being that if a reader is able to guess a foreshadowing through a series of well placed hints in the narrative, it means that the writer has done their job. Indie publisher Inside the Castle defines writing in general as the re-ordering of a preexisting order, to offer the reader novel ways of thinking and looking. What other creature has a mind that whose intelligence is determined because of its openness towards novelty? The octopus.
Days in 2020 were exercises in turning and returning. Memories and thoughts would be visited in loops and dips in emotion. In my mind, I see myself tearing pages off my journals to create a nest, leaning towards tending and protection.
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