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Pia Besmonte

is back

I just finished reading Steven Pressfield’s “The War of Art”. I like the idea of Resistance, but had major red flags on martial metaphors. Why does art have to be so combative? More on these tomorrow.

 

Emotional Labor and Multi-Level Marketing

I wrote something about emotional labor.

Emotional Labor

My late mother was a wonderful human being. She gave all of herself to her husband and children. I wonder, though, if she would have lived longer given the knowledge that emotional labor is not hers alone to bear.

Emotional labor is real, and is a gendered task. The burden of managing the emotional needs of everyone around us has been instilled since birth. The imperative to be more sensitive to other people’s emotions is reinforced in girls. It is demanded from women in relationships, at home, and at work.

Now that I have the language for it, I have the power to wield it.

Podcasts

I also found a great expository podcast on multi-level marketing that targets women desperate for money and belongingness. Still thinking about it.

And a podcast about my secret pleasure, makeup.

Also this:

Podcasting relies on impulsive, free-form conversation. It’s never going to be perfect and that’s okay! Sometimes the best episodes are ones that include a little messiness. Podcasting has taught me to trust that I can still create something wonderful without agonizing over whether or not it is flawless and polished. (It has also taught me that flawless and polished can be pretty boring.) (Man Repeller)

A valid excuse

I re-connected today with Paola, a kindred spirit, so I don’t have time to flesh out a full post. Taking time to forge mature female friendships should count for something.

The post on The Pinayist was a heavy one, though. Will try again tomorrow.

Female Anger fuels my Monday

It’s Monday. It’s a new week yet I am stuck with residual anger from last week. In an effort to turn this negative energy into something meaningful, I think about female anger in literature and in real life.

pia Besmonte female anger Beyonce

Female Anger in Literature

This article argues that we need more angry female heroes. Unapologetically angry ones.

Classic heroines from Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar and Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway aren’t angry enough, at least for our generation. We need heroines who are (self-)destructively angry:

“My depression does not feel passive. It feels firecracker angry, seething just below my skin, ready to be set off, activated against the world.”

-Elizabeth Skoski

Because literature is cathartic. When we read heroines acting, releasing their pent-up feelings, enacting some sense of justice in this crooked world, we feel liberated to release our own.

Female Anger in Life

When young women get angry, they call us names: bipolar, crazy, bitch. And sometimes we believe them: we internalize the anger.

Am I really mentally unstable? I have asked myself more than a couple of times.

In moments of clarity, like on this Monday morning, I heard a voice loud and clear inside my soul:

There is nothing wrong with you. You feel angry because there are circumstances done to you that you feel the need to correct.

And if you look at history, I am not the only one.

Female Anger in History

Jane Anger wrote against the rhetoric that women are dumb sluts.

Female thinkers and writers from Mary Wollstonecraft to Elena Ferrante create with female rage in mind. It’s in video. It’s a manifesto.

For these women, anger is purposeful.

Anger is what drives women to fight against erasure, the lack of opportunities and agency, and mis-representation. I hate being written (poorly) about, that’s why I wrote my first book.

Anger fuels our creativity, and our hunger to keep creating in a world that tells us to behave, to hide our feelings, to play coy.

I am angry, but I’m no victim. So back to work.

Homecoming Week Ends With a Period

This week is my homecoming week. A week of coming home to poetry and writing online. As Odysseus would tell you, coming home is not a linear plot. Unprocessed emotional baggage was dropped at my doorstep. Old wounds opened, sanitized, and hopefully closed for good.

Great week, all in all. And then this morning, I had my period.

Homecoming week and Dead Stars

Remember that first short story in English by Paz Marquez Benitez titled “Dead Stars”? It was about a guy who was engaged but wanted to meet his first love again, just to make sure there were no sparks left.

As you can assume from the title, of course those sparks have died, decomposed, and became fertilizer for Manic Pixie Dream Girl plots.

I realize now that that guy = total jerk. Which mature person getting ready to marry one person for the rest of his life would seek out an old flame just to make sure he isn’t making a mistake?

I am that jerk, figuratively. This week I tried to go back to my former spaces.

Back to Normal

I went back to my Alma Mater to see if I am still called to teach there. Because even if the culture there along with some people should stay in the 1900s, I feel a deep connection to teaching because of my parents.

My parents were teachers. I am who I am because they loved knowledge. They were devoted to sending their kids to school. I assumed that I could change the world the way my parents raised me to love learning. So I took Education majoring in Literature.

I realized that the academe is an old institution. An old institution that forgot they exist to think deeply about real problems in society and then propose solutions for them. Instead, like GoT’s maesters in Olde Town, they “problematize” the concept of problems, focusing on the methods and formalities and credentials.

When students leave the academe, they are slapped in the face: credentials mean nothing out here. Out here it’s hard work that guarantees no upward mobility. Being smart does not excuse you from hard (physical, emotional, psychological, intellectual) labor. Everybody works to live.

Pay your dues, and then we talk

I realized that in our culture, more established people in any field do not care at all to help and mentor young aspirants. They raise their noses at us and tell us we’re entitled when we ask for advice.

Last week I emailed a female writer whom I have followed since I was in high school, offering to send her a free copy of my book and asking her advice about writing for Filipinas. I didn’t even receive a no, thank you reply.

It made me feel bad that I reached out and offered a copy of my book that I can’t afford to give away to just anyone. I don’t feel entitled to a response, but if I were that person knowing that I encourage some young writer I’d write back no matter how short.

I realized that I can’t expect anybody to inspire me anymore. I’d have to do it myself.

Pia Besmonte Homecoming week Statefields School Cavite

at Statefields School Cavite

 

Writing is Righting

pia Besmonte mike check writing righting

“Your message is important,” my fiancé hugged me as I got in the car this morning. I was on my way to Cavite. Another talk. Today I told young people: writing is righting.

The Power of Female Friendships

I dropped by Buku-Buku Kafe around lunch time to drop some more books for consignment. Buku Buku Kafe is owned by my friend and fellow UGRAD alumna, Jess. I wasn’t expecting her because she told me of her schedule, but she was there when I arrived. We had lunch together and caught up.

It is such a privilege to have people with whom I can check in. It has been a year since Jess and I last met in person. I performed at Buku Buku Kafe for an open mic. Jess and I come from different life circumstances, and that enriches our friendship because we can see things in the same light.

Jess has a space where she features upcoming artists like me. I perform at Buku Buku and tell my friends to drop by the cafe.

Pia Besmonte Jess Santiago

Book Talk at Statefields School Cavite

May Anne picked me up at Buku Buku. She was ecstatic that I agreed to speak at her school. Of course I am too, and I asked for more information about her school and the audience. She sheepishly warned me that I might have to dilute my message a little bit for their comprehension level. They are junior high school students.

pia Besmonte statefields school

They were the best group of students with whom I have shared my work. The Grade 11 Stallions (I called them Statefielders, it was a hoot) were responsive, empathetic, and encouraging. If they represent the next generation of Filipinos, I feel assured that we are going to be okay. Also because they don’t have finstagrams.

Writing is Righting

Liz Gilbert once said, do not abuse yourself for the choice that you made when all you knew was what you knew today.

There is something about self-forgiveness that is very visceral. I need to forgive myself many times a day to stay focused on my purpose in this world. I cannot be my own enemy while trying to write to save a hypothetical someone out there in the world. I cannot stop flailing my legs to keep afloat when I am trying to rescue those who are drowning.

I cannot stop and I will not stop writing.