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Filed under: How to keep yourself entertained while studying 27 cases for Tax

"The power to tax is the power to destroy."

- Chief Justice John Marshall, in McCulloch v. Maryland


"The power to tax is not the power to destroy while the Court sits."

- Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, in Panhandle Oil Co. v. Mississippi


"The power to love is the power to make whole again."

- Karla Bernardo, in Karla v. the feeling of overwhelming sleepiness while reading for Taxation 1


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Things to be happy about today

(1) Ludwin surprised me with something today: a Dymo label-maker! IN PINK! 

Label-making happinesssssss!


People closest to me know that the way to my heart is really through school & office supplies. And boy, did he give me the ultimate school supply to shame all school supplies! A little background: As a kid, I grew up incredibly fascinated with my aunt's blue Dymo label-maker. But since it was considered a "grown-up" gadget, it wasn't something I could really play with. I remember telling this to Ludwin a few months back, but I didn't actually think he would go out of his way to look for one, let alone buy me one for no occasion at all! Not our anniversary, no big fight  nothing. He said he just really wanted to give me this, partly to motivate me for school, but mostly because he wanted to make the little 6-year-old in me really happy. Folks, I am not a usually cheesy person, but I am telling you: This. Booooy. :)

The Caption-Maker (as it is now apparently called) comes with three wheels: uppercase letters, lowercase letters, and cursive. And it even comes with a matching pouch! How incredibly cute! Can you feel my giddiness?? I've just finished labeling my Rules of Court. All the other codals are up next :D #geeeeky

Thank you, Louie! You're awesomesauce, as always.


(2) Dingdong proposed to Marian on live television!

Kiliiiig!
(Photo from GMA News)

It was only in law school that I had the guts to come out of my secretly-jologs closet: I like keeping myself updated with local showbiz news. I found a soulmate in Clarisse, my law school best friend. It's become our little hobby / official sport to visit entertainment blogs and take a shot at guessing the blind items. This is not without merit though - we do learn a lot from it, especially when these celebrities get embroiled in legal disputes! Sarah Lahbati, Claudine & Raymart, Zoren & Carmina, James & Kris... the list goes on. Their lives are crazy, yes, but they're ripe with opportunities to test ourselves with the law, too. #justification

But really, we're just suckers for romance and baduy-kilig feels. And #DongYan is our ultimate OTP! You can say what you want about Marian, but that girl is beautiful! Her underarms are soooo putiiiii! Her IG feed is always so positive, and inspiring, too. (Jologs emerging! I repeat: jologs emerging!!) I love that she always posts pictures when she visits old churches, and pays tribute to Mama Mary. It's evident how deep her faith in God is, and it shows in the love she shares with her family, friends, fans and Dong. And also: HAVE YOU SEEN HER KILI-KILI! Sobrang idol lang talaga :)) 

So, really, we could not be any happier that these two are finally engaged! I was texting Clarisse like crazy when I caught the proposal live on her show. Grabe, I think the two of us have to go out and celebrate! 


(3) UP wins its first game in two-years! 

#UPBonfire! #UPFight! #UPFought!
(Photo from Robert Mano)


Need I say more? It's funny how small victories can bring an entire community together. There's nothing like the school spirit of UP. May halong humor, self-deprecation, and above all, heart. Puso. Laban. 

I may not be able to go (because readings, huhu) but you can't question my love. Congrats, UP MBT! One game at a time! 


*


What today is: Proof that nothing — NOTHING  is impossible.


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Week 1, completed: GPOY Friday


Today marks the end of my first week back in law school, so allow me to say hello before I head off to UP . Doing this because (1) I made a promise to my mom that I'll take a picture of this top we bought last week, (2) the light in my room this morning is just too pretty, and (3) this is probably the last time I'll look this fresh and pleasant this semester.

Give me a day or two tops, and Haggardo Versoza na ulit ako. I guarantee it.

Woohoo! Oh, Malcolm.


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So that was summer

It's 11:35 pm, my first night back in Katipunan, with the rain pouring quite heavily outside, and somehow a part of me still can't believe that (that four-month) summer is over. Bakit ang bilis? D:


The last four months have been great  I've spent a lot of time with my family, met up with friends I haven't been seeing, learned a lot while working in a law firm, discovered what my mind and body were truly capable of, and rekindled my faith. I read a lot, and I wrote even more. I've traveled, and stayed put. Prayed, and gotten answered. Believed, and came out better.

I'm happy for the summer that was. It really was the kind of break I truly needed, and yes, deserved.


*




I just finished re-arranging my bookshelves and organizing my (new) study table - you know, the usual pre-war rituals I have to do in order to wean my way back into the academic groove. There's a certain kind of pleasure derived from cleaning out the old, and making space for something new. As messy as I am, I also get a thrill out of seeing my clutter, well, de-cluttered. I like seeing everything clean, and the fact that it was actually myself that put everything in place. Organizing my law school stuff makes me feel like I'm in control of my life in law school, at least momentarily. And it's a great feeling. It's a rush I look forward to; it's a rush I don't always get. 

In the midst of all the organizing though, I came across my undergraduate thesis and some old notebooks from a few years ago. As much as I miss (and love) college though, I'm surprised to find myself glad that all that is over. I was so young then, and at times, still so naive (naive because I didn't actually realize how naive I was. Ha.) There was still so much to learn — about sacrifice, and fulfillment, and love. Marred as I am by whatever life has thus far thrown me, I'm actually pleased to know that I came out unscathed, and I'd like to believe, a little wiser. There are things only struggle and time can teach you; and I've come to know now that wisdom is often a better gift than innocent joy.


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A postcard from (120) Days of Summer

Borawan Island, May 2014


It's been marvelous, summer. How I'll miss you so.


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FINALLY! Say hello to Bombastarr.com!

Yes, folks, after nine years and five months -- I finally have my own domain! Welcome to www.bombastarr.com!

A moment of complete screaming and hysteria in honor of this momentous occasion: AHHHHHH!!! WOOHOOOOOOOOOO!!!

That's for my 13-year-old self, who started a blog in 2005 and had a simple wish of having her own space in the Internet. She didn't know much about HTML, CSS, and CNAME redirects back then, but it was already clear to her that she wanted a dot-com one day.

First, a little history:

Let me bring you back to the days of Internet yore, the golden age of blogging: the early 2000s. In my case, 2003 to be exact. I remember spending my lazy summer days on my dad's old silver laptop sitting ever so gloriously atop the wooden table by our dining room, and the newly installed wireless internet that I so spiritedly abused. Blogging was such a new, hip concept for me - I only came across the term in one of the magazines lying around at home, and out of curiosity I decided it was something I wanted to try. It was equivalent to having your own address in the Cloud for your thoughts, feelings, and ideas - a place that isn't constricted by the form of a social media profile (aka, Friendster). It sounded so cool.

My first blog was in Blogger, under a different username. It wasn't very creative - after all, what is there for a 12-year-old to write about? But it was a great start. I found friends online, in different parts of Manila, who had the same motivation I did: we just wanted to write about our (actually uneventful) lives. No matter that we didn't have the coherence or the focus a proper writer should have. And it didn't mean much that we knew very little about actually designing a good layout. We were writing! About our lives! In our own blog! We had an audience! It was enough to keep us all entertained in our happy little bubbles. I was definitely ecstatic to have a place where I can write about periodic exams and lyrics to (the early, tattoo-less-and-still-single Adam Levine-fronted) Maroon 5, and have people say they like it.

Eventually I moved to Geocities (because it was cool to "move out" and have a place where you can have a splash page), where I grew to learn more about HTML and coding. Not that I got any good at it; my layouts were really, really terrible (hello, neon colors and blinkies!). But it was there that I started thinking about writing for an audience. And it was there that I realized how much I actually enjoyed just laying down my thoughts on paper-- or rather, on screen.

It was in 2005 when I created Bombastarr - this very blog. By then, my Geocities was the more "official" site I "advertised" for people to visit. I realized I could no longer blog there about certain feelings about certain people without stirring a bit of trouble. (At this point, let's zoom out for a bit: again, this is a high school freshman you're looking at. Consider the "Oh look at me, I'm interesting and super relevant!" mindset I was in, and be a little more kind or less judge-y to the teenager, haha. Okay, zoom back in.) So I contemplated on creating another online journal, this time back in Blogger again, for all my dramatic thoughts and rants.


Now here's the answer to the nine-year-old question, "Why Bombastarr?"

It began as a joke between me and a couple of friends during our freshman year. We were practicing for a field demonstration dance which involved the use of shawls, and being the crazy-always-trying-to-be-funny person that I was (or I always attempted to be) I started doing poses with the garment. Someone started taking my picture using my phone, and one shot looked like I was posing for those B-list movies (or should it be R-list, as in R-rated?) of the vegetable-nomenclature variety. #IKYWIM. Hence, the word, "Bombastarr." Yes, very cheeky, I know, but for a 13-year-old, it was quirky enough to figure as a username.

That, plus I was going through a phase where I wanted to be "emotional" and "dramatic" and everything a hormonal teenager is entitled to be. I claimed I wanted to be "honest with my emotions" and be "explosive." And so, Bombastarr was born. "Exploding" was what I called my online rants back then. How completely schmaltzy, I know, I know.

And yet, ridiculous at it sounded, it stuck. When I decided to permanently move to Bombastarr, I seriously considered blogging as a part of my identity. For the remainder of my high school life, I enjoyed having this separate outlet where I could not only tell something about my life but also know how other people wrote about theirs. Looking back, I really believe it was the affinity I had with blogging that launched my dreams of being a writer.

I wouldn't have seriously considered Creative Writing as a course if it wasn't for my blogging background. I had no legitimate experience in writing prior to that. I did join (and win) several essay-writing contests, and got good grades in English class, but that was about it. No school paper experience, no journalistic training. Save for my immense love for reading, I felt that I wasn't qualified enough to take CW as a major. But because of how much I've grown to love writing - albeit informally, and online - I realized it was something I was willing to dip my toes into. I was willing to learn more, and earnestly take it as a craft.

And here we are, many years later. A college graduate, a struggling law student - and still, someone who writes.


So why the need for the domain, and why now?

Like I said, this is something I've always wanted to do. But back then, the original plan was to buy my own domain and leave behind this blog. That is, move out again and have a proper website, where I can put not only my blog, but I guess a portfolio of sorts as well. However, I never got the motivation to do so - primarily because of laziness, but also because of sentimentality. Moving out meant leaving behind years' worth of anecdotes and stories - not that they're such treasures in any way. But before this blog, I've never been able to successfully maintain any kind of journal, and to leave this all behind was something I couldn't bring myself to do. I wanted to lug around all the memories with me, but it was going to take a while to learn how to export from one host to another - nakakatamad. So out of convenience, I just kept on blogging here, and eventually found no need for moving out.

But, I don't know, you know how sometimes, you just want a change, even though everything is actually alright? Like a haircut, even without the broken heart?

Bombastarr has become many things for me in the last nine years - journal, portfolio, profile. What started out as just a diary ended up becoming a part of my growth, as a writer, and as a person. And while I hardly consider myself a "creative," I'm happy to say that it has become one significant outlet for different sides of me: the side that writes, reads, listens to music, explores art, and enjoys a variety of fields.

Despite the many other chances I've gotten to permanently move (to Multiply, Livejournal, Tumblr, Wordpress; to a bigger platform where I can earn or use the blog as a venue for commerce), I've come to realize that Bombastarr is something I can never truly leave behind. It is a place I've grown to appreciate and love because it is a place I can call my own. It's a venue for my rants, my views, my writing. It is home, and it is who I am.

Bombastarr is a glimpse of my life: the thoughts, ideas, and stories that shape it into what it is, and what it will still become. This journal has been with me for all my crazy, often embarrassing adventures -- which is why I found it fitting to finally give it the proper address that it deserves. It's been with me through so many ups and downs, I felt like it warranted something new for a change, after sticking out with me for nine years.

So I went ahead and used part of my first sweldo from my internship to pay for this domain. Granted, it's only a redirect, but I still got the best of both worlds: my own domain, without having to leave behind the blog. I guess this is me making my 13-year-old self very, very happy. There you go, teenage Karla, your adult self has finally done something right!

I'm glad and thankful for everything I've learned, gained, and become because of this blog. Call me corny and excessively sentimental, but I really am glad to have this thing for myself. It is something to be proud of, right? Right? (Sige na, pagbigyan niyo na!)




www.Bombastarr.com - finally. It feels so, so good.



Here's to more tales, explosive and otherwise!



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Deep breaths

In the last month, thanks to the prodding of my boss (and the discount coupons she sent me), I've started doing Bikram Yoga. In a nutshell: 26 poses. An hour and a half. 40-degree Celsius room. Yep, that's pretty much all there is to it.

Except it's not.

Because in the last month, so many things have happened - things left unwritten, or unsaid, or unacknowledged. And for the most part, those ninety-minute sessions (and the heavenly shower that comes after) have been used for a lot of thinking. And also for a lot of breathing, literally and metaphorically. I'm very grateful.

Allow me to illustrate.

*

A few weeks ago, a blockmate of ours passed away. It was one of those really unfortunate accidents: on his way home, he suddenly felt dizzy and fell down the flight of stairs in the MRT. He hit his head pretty badly and suffered severe hemorrhaging in his brain. He was in a coma for about a week before finally passing away, as a result also of his heart condition. To say that it was shocking would be an understatement. He was actually one of the brightest people in class. We weren't very close, but to have someone you always see everyday suddenly die so young - it's so, so shocking. The rest of his life was still ahead of him. He was 24; he was so loved by his family, friends, and girlfriend (of eight years). How can it happen to someone our age? It's truly heartbreaking.

I'm no stranger to such tragedies. My family has gone through similar circumstances with different family members. Just a year ago, my maternal grandmother, Wowa, fell down inside a restroom cubicle in Trinoma. She also hit her head, which resulted in blood clots inside her brain. And about two decades ago (before I was born), my father's brother, Tito Bobbie, had an accident with his gun, which he mistakenly fired. The bullet hit him in the head, and he ended up in coma for a while. Both of them are fine, alive, and perfectly normal. (Granted, half of my uncle's body is paralyzed, but he can walk and even travels more than I do.) But that doesn't disregard the complete devastation both of these incidents caused our families. The idea of possibly losing your loved one because of one quick, fatal hit or blow - how completely and utterly senseless. It's a thought that still scares me, really. One moment you're just talking to the person, and the next, she's lying in bed, unconscious and on the brink of death. It's scary.

All these accidents somehow point to a same set of facts: at some point, the brain lacked the oxygen it needed to function. The heart was too weak to bring it there; the body, too fragile to continue on its own.

*

Bikram requires a certain discipline: focus that holds together the form, form that extricates the breathing. The inhaling and exhaling is both the relief and the affliction - the heat and the exhaustion makes you want to breathe quickly, but too much dampens your composure. Short, quick breaths that allow for recovery does not allow your body to acclimate well to the stress.

It's always a tug-of-war between the mind and the body: where the mind dictates what the body should do, it is the body that decides what it is capable of. The breathing tethers both.

In all those times I had to stare at the ceiling, or the floor, or in the mirror in front of me, I am forced to feel and hear my heart raring to break out of its cage. The body is tired, it says, and the mind is clouded. Time to rest.

But there is no stopping. When the mind sees the others, the body follows. And even when the heart says it can't, it will. The breathing will bring it to the next pose. Hands on the sky, feet on the ground, all muscles engaged. It's incredible, what the body can do when stressed and what the mind can bring it to. It is when I am most fatigued that I am most determined; when I am gasping for air that I feel most alive.

*

There is no room for regrets, or hesitation. So much about this summer was about catching my breath, and taking the time to give my heart and body the chance to recover - spending time with my family, having the best conversations with my friends, experiencing new things with my boyfriend, appreciating the law, reigniting the flame with literature. Rekindling my faith. Realizing how much there is to be thankful for, about life and love.

No reason to not welcome everything with anticipation; no reason to not be grateful. How beautiful to be reminded of this with each deep breath.

*

It is almost the end of July. This summer (and Bikram) winds down to this: Everything is illuminated with each breath, let each gasp be that of wonder.



To be alive, to be able to take breaths deep and slow to feel each tremor inside my chest.






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all the accidents that dot the maps of my life





"Accidents" by The One AM Radio

All of the mistakes I made,
All the ways that I fucked up the plans I laid,
All the times I showed up late,
All the places I left when i should have stayed,
I know.

Now I know.

All the chances I let by,
All the accidents that dot the maps of my life,
All of those long worthless nights,
All the times that i know I didn't get it right,
Now I know —

It brought me to you.

All the shit I went through,
Well, it brought me to you so I don't care what it took.
All the shit I went through, it brought me to you.
Yeah, it got kind of rough,
it seemed like hoping never mattered enough,

But then it ended with me falling in love,
because it brought me to you.



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Today, in the compliments department

July 8, 2014    |    0 Comments
Today, in one of the e-mail exchanges I was having with a client over some discrepancies I corrected and resolved in his records, I received the most interesting compliment:

"Karla,

You are doing great. [...] You seem to be analytical and detail-oriented. Perhaps you should have been an Engineer like me."


Possible responses:

(a) I'm also very bad at math, sir.
(b) Sir, our house has room for only one engineer: my papa.
(c) I'm not analytical and detail-oriented, sir. Wait 'til you see... everything about my life, basically.
(d) May you please repeat that to my mom? Can you please tell her you said these very kind words? See, mom! I'm detail-oriented! To some people! Just not at home and not when it comes to other details like remembering to unplug stuff or bringing my keys!
(e) Interesting you point that out, sir. Let me show you the history of my life in UP and the friends I've made in Melchor Hall.
(f) I did the next best thing, sir. I'm currently dating one ;)
(g) Hehehe, thanks p0hwz.
(h) All of the above.


Actual response:

*vertical cursor still blinking*



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Finding phrases for feelings that began more than a year ago

24
You're in a car with a beautiful boy, and he won't tell you that he loves you, but he loves you. And you feel like you've done something terrible, like robbed a liquor store, or swallowed pills, or shoveled yourself a grave in the dirt, and you're tired. You're in a car with a beautiful boy, and you're trying not to tell him that you love him, and you're trying to choke down the feeling, and you're trembling, but he reaches over and he touches you, like a prayer for which no words exist, and you feel your heart taking root in your body, like you've discovered something you don't even have a name for.

— from "You Are Jeff" by Richard Siken


when I am in your presence I feel life is strong
and will defeat all its enemies and all of mine
and all of yours and yours in you and mine in me
sick logic and feeble reasoning are cured
by the perfect symmetry of your arms and legs
spread out making an eternal circle together
creating a golden pillar beside the Atlantic
the faint line of hair dividing your torso
gives my mind rest and emotions their release
into the infinite air where since once we are
together we always will be in this life come what may

— from "When I am feeling depressed and sullen" by Frank O'Hara


Do you think of me
as often
as I think
of you?

"Please" by Richard Brautigan



*



They say
milestones are
just numbers, and
for once I actually believe it.
Definite dates no longer matter as much as
moments that evidenced feelings -- feelings of certainty defeating feelings of apprehension.
When did it actually begin? is no longer a question that needs to be asked, just as Does it 
matter, as long as it will never end? is an answer that needs no further emphasis. I think
the idea of being ready again revealed itself more than a year ago, that night you sliced
my steak and I let chemistry point its knives at my heart again. Maybe even before;
maybe it was that day you handed me the jar of deep purple, or that day I first
rode your car and it was raining. But in the calendar inside my chest, it does
not matter what day it was. What rings truer is that it's become clear how
much it just made sense then, how it still makes sense, and how sure I
am that it will continue to do so, for far, far longer than that graffiti
of drumsticks and smoke stamped across your heart ever will.


 Ship, me





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Lolo's girl



One of my fondest memories as a kid was reading the newspaper every night with my Dodo. I remember snuggling between him and my grandma while he reads the dailies before going to bed. He would point to a letter on the day's headlines, and I'd shout what it was. This was before I went to proper school: I was three years old, and not enrolled in nursery yet. But because my aunt was a teacher, and our fridge was filled with alphabet magnets, I knew my ABC's. It was our nightly ritual - him going over the headlines, me going over its letters. Over time, I would graduate to simple words like "oil" or "up" - words that didn't mean that much to me yet, but were almost always present in the front page.

We didn't stop there. When we would go out on weekends, he'd point to signs and words we'd see on the road when he's on the wheel. When we were stuck in traffic, he let me indulge in reading out sari-sari store names and bank branches. Roadtrips were never boring and heavy traffic never felt that long - for me, at least.

A lot of things have changed since - my lolo now reads his newspapers in the morning (because he's long been retired) and I've since graduated to reading novels and law books.

But I'm glad for the many things that still remained the way they were - how we'd both spend hours on the couch or on the bed, just reading until our eyes give up. I grew accustomed to the habit of keeping the bedside night lamp turned on, and falling asleep with the magazine or newspaper or book on my chest. Reading before bed became a habit; so did reading until dozing off.

Some people say it's bad for the eyes. But it's always been good for the mind - and the soul.

Thank you, Dodo, for teaching me how to read, and for teaching me to love it. It certainly changed my life in unfathomable ways - I'm glad it was you I first shared it with.


I don't think I've ever written about my lolo yet - so here goes. Happy Father's Day, Dodo! ♥ I love you!


__


And of course, happy father's day, Papa! :* Thank you for the great weekend - and all the other weekdays and weekends :)



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