Friday, September 26, 2014

Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping: suicide, adolescence, being different, losing someone

MARILYNNE Robinson's Housekeeping is a work of art. Every word, carefully chosen, reverberates in one's consciousness. Every punctuation matters. One does not sense the struggle in the writing process, if there ever was, because she makes it sound so effortless. Her prose reads like poetry—quiet, calm, soulful. Her language is masterful, often restrained, but so packed with the written and the unwritten that one should read it carefully, slowly, never in a rush, in full concentration, lest the story dissipate elsewhere. She deals away with clichés but makes use of the full armament of her vocabulary to illustrate something or make a point. The landscape she paints of the town of Fingerbone, Idaho, where much of life is built around the lake, takes the reader to its darkest, hidden corners.
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Thursday, September 25, 2014

On "An Auto-Corrected Journal of Printing Properties: Selected Texts On A Contemporary, Art, and The So-called Elsewhere-Anywhere"

WHILE STUDYING for the Boards, I often hung out with Renan Laru-an, the founder and current director of DiscLab | Research and Criticism—he, working on a book to be launched in New York in the Fall; me, rereading my annotated textbooks. I felt so scholarly in the presence of a writer/editor.
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Saturday, September 6, 2014

Chronicles of my passing (the Boards)

TWO DAYS before the Boards I trained myself to wake up at 4 am—not exactly a gargantuan task, since I'm pretty much a morning person. The exams would start at 8 am, but the call-time was set at 6:30, at the Manuel L. Quezon University in Quiapo—a dangerous place where snatchers abound, or so a friend told me. This friend related to me a story about someone she knew, a medical graduate ready to take the exam of her life, only to have her exam permit snatched away. That someone was disqualified from taking the test.

Before August 23 were three months of intense studying—not the most stressful period of my life, because reading and taking down notes and outlining are pleasurable for me, perhaps among the very few moments when I'm actually mum. (And, thankfully, preparing for the Medical Boards was not as discouraging as studying for the Bar Exam, where only one in five people passes). Finally I was making sense of concepts that were previously vague to me, things I always got wrong in tests, or sets of facts that didn't appeal to my academic interests but needed memorization anyway—like cancer staging. I remember, with regret, that in med school I had sailed my way through rounds by 15 minutes of cramming, or with the help of Medscape, the UP-PGH intern's most useful textbook app. What could I have done without it? There was hardly any time for rigorous personal study time then. So I welcomed the Boards as an "exclusive" opportunity to go back to my books, something my mother correctly said I should have done since Day One of med school. (She was reprimanding me for dwelling more time on my literary readings; mothers do know best.)
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Friday, September 5, 2014


prc result

THIRTY MINUTES ago I woke up with a jolt, my eyes still adapting to the dark room, for I had already been asleep for some time. In a corner I saw my brother browsing his phone, then I heard him calling out to me, his voice pregnant with urgency: “Lance, Lance … you passed.”

I knew this time would come—I just didn't know when, or whether the results would make me jump for joy or seek a distant hideout. My first impulse was to thank the Lord for His goodness. What good thing can I do apart from Him, after all? In my heart of hearts, I knew I couldn't have done it without Him. He has seen me through med school; He has seen me through the Boards. All glory and honor to God Almighty!
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