Saturday, February 17, 2024

The late magazines


My copies—printed copies—of The New Yorker arrive at the most unpredictable times, usually a few months late. Last year, the magazine's marketing campaign captured my attention. I'd be given a few months of free subscription plus a free tote bag, the email said—a foretaste of the riches of the magazine's years of exemplary journalism and short stories—after which I would be charged an annual fee. By the time the free subscription ended, I had only received three copies, all of them arriving together at once through the ever-reliable PhilPost. At which point I forgot to discontinue the free subscription, and PayPal had already charged me for a year. The tardiness of their arrival does not, in any way, diminish my enjoyment of them. It is like observing the night sky from a rural farm: the light you're seeing is many light-years away, from stars so far out in the galaxies that had emitted such visual energies from before you were born. 

The magazines are stacked—I would not use the term, "displayed"—on a table in the living room. Although guests are welcome to them, they hardly ever notice the magazines. They are more entranced by Paul's needy approaches—our aspin believes he needs to welcome all guests by smelling their crotches, hoping to be rewarded by a prolonged and gentle belly rub—or by my mother's plants, which Nanay describes as unruly, at which point she would invoke the name of Michael, her gardener. "Tawagi na si Michael. Ipa-trim na ang hilamon," she would say. 

On this cool February morning, I read Eren Overbey's Point Blank, which was about his father's murder in Turkey. Then I read Rachel Aviv's profile of Joyce Carol Oates. Mornings are the moments when my head is clearest; those are also the times when I make to-do lists on a whim, half of which I never accomplish, such as finally making time to read Oates' novel I bought from the now-closed Booksale at KCC Gensan—a cultural tragedy. It was the only truly decent bookstore in the region.  What struck me the most from the profile is this line where Rachel Aviv quotes Oates saying that reading is "the greatest pleasure of civilization." I looked up and saw that the sun had not yet risen and that I was in no rush, suspending the cares of what was looking like a long day ahead. My heart was grateful. 

It was then that I remembered that my tote bag has never arrived—or hasn't arrived yet. You never really know how things work at PhilPost.



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