#006: How do we answer 'how are you?'
Emotional capacities, nature trips, farm-to-table meals, and more tiny yet precious life moments
Hey, friend! Thank you for being here. This is a Sunday newsletter! It may be or may not be every Sunday, but this OK to BE email will arrive in your inbox anytime on a Sunday. At the moment, you will receive musings about relatable everyday adventures, more silly than serious stories, and some tiny yet precious moments of life (well, mine, mostly) in between. If anything here touches you in any way, I encourage you to write back or leave a comment—and I shall reply! Also, this is a public dispatch, so feel free to share with a friend or two. Enjoy! :)
“Kumusta?” has always seemed like a pretty harmless, ordinary question—a way of greeting, a springboard for connection, a bridge to the main point of conversation. Maybe adds to the sparkle, but rarely the star itself.
These days, it’s more different. Asking “How are you?” has become quite sun-like, but in a not-so-invigorating way. I used to reply to these check ups with lightheartedness, flinging it right back to the other person not just out of courtesy but of genuine interest; now it has become so loaded I often feel like someone slumped a 50-kilo sack of rice on my back when asked, or that I am pushing someone towards a steep water slide when asking.
Okay, not the whole 50 nor would I ever put anybody in danger, but the weight is there, and it makes me pause. It’s not that I don’t want to answer or that I don’t know how to, it’s that I first try to gauge if I have the capacity to deal and if the timing is right. My own emotional range fluctuates throughout the day nowadays (whose doesn’t, pray tell?), and so I do think the concern of “Should I? Should we? RIGHT NOW? REALLY?” is valid. I don’t want to unload without will the same way I don’t want to stack up without consent.
In fact, I meant to send this newsletter last Sunday but didn’t because… ano ba, ang dami-dami nating pinagdadaanan, tapos may pa-how are you, how are you pa ako. But when my friend Tina tweeted this last week,
“How are you?” is such a hard question to answer nowadays *sleepy face emoji* So what if instead of asking that question immediately, maybe send something else first, like a meme or a photo or an article that you think the other person might like? And if they respond, then ask that question.
I felt it spoke to my soul, slapping me (softly) with the reminder of the different ways we can answer and ask ‘How are you?’
Even if this is the first time since the pandemic hit that we went on a break (and only within the city), I’m aware it’s still a privileged experience and for that, I’m super grateful. Basking in nature (or Namjooning, in ARMY speak) was recharging, but it’s also only fair to say I need 700 days more of it.
(I just hope you already ate or are eating.)
OK MCDO U GOT ME WITH YOUR KBURGER
If you could eat only three kinds of food for the rest of your life, what would they be?
Poetry remains intimidating and I need to practice way more than I can, especially about being more vulnerable and personal as I lean towards fictionalizing my poems such as these ones below, but happy to report I’m improving! My clerb mates said so, OK, so the progress is legit, haha! But I’m glad I accepted the invite to join these writing sessions; I learn so much from @isagarcia, @mariellewelley, and @marlamini’s processes (follow them to read their poems!). It’s also comforting to have another safe space where asking, experimenting, taking baby steps, and making mistakes are welcome. (Btw, I’m looking for journaling sessions. Anyone, please?)
prompt: the loneliest hour
Pink was the color on her cheeks
When she told them
She was leaving
The color of the late afternoon sky
When she ran home
The color of her mother’s sauce-stained blouse
When she opened the door.
Pink was the color of the decade-old mantel in the kitchen,
Taking her back to everything that went wrong—
Where did she go wrong?
The color that inked her lines and circles,
Drawing the hope that
She would be good enough—even just enough
But pink was the color that tainted her dreams
Fingernails and pens pointed at her—
“A mistake,” they whispered
The color of the bougainvillea
In view from where she sat,
Her mother holding her so gently,
As if she was the last petal about to fall.
prompt: in a car, heading somewhere
...Word of the Week — Binisaya: digos, which means taking a bath or showering. In a sentence: “‘Agdigos kan! (Go take a bath!)”
...Words of the Week — Ilocano: tambok, which means chubby or fat. In a sentence: “Daghang tambok ang humba? (Does the humba have lots of fat?)”, “O lagi, nitambok ko! (Yeah okay, I got chubby/fat!)”
...Sign of the Week — Filipino Sign Language: I can sign but it’s best to learn from someone within the community or from an expert. This time, I’m sharing this short explainer about FSL, and how it’s different from all the languages we use in the Philippines.
...Books of the Week: I brought along some books with me to our mini vacation. If I even finished them, let alone opened them, you decide! All these titles can be accessed via Bibi Mangki Bookbed.
That’s it for now! Thank you for being here. I hope you picked up something fun or useful! See you in the next one. ☀️
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