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Creative nonfiction.

One of my most favorite subjects this sem was Nonfiction (CL115). It's the literature prerequisite for one of the CW genres I've chosen to pursue, Creative Nonfiction (CW140 and CW141) It was exciting for me not only because it did not require too much output from us but because we got into so many discussions about the definitions of nonfiction and particularly the essay. We discussed two anthologies, Creative Nonfiction: A Reader by Cristina Pantoja-Hidalgo and The Lost Origins of the Essay by John D'Agata. The first one was more spot-on in terms of its objectives because it presented us with works by Filipino authors of essays that we know of today. They all followed the archetypal standard of beginning-middle-end, all were paragraphs put together, and all of them had some sort of conclusion in the end. Our discussions on that one were mostly on the objectivity on some of the essays and the labels Hidalgo used on them in the Table of Contents (she divided the entire book into Reportage, Feature Essays, Travel Essays, etc) Most of the questions revolved around how effective the labels were or how fair the authors were in executing their goals as they write their piece. They were rather typical discussions in a nonfiction class, I believe.

And then we moved on to The Lost Origins and everything was just shattered completely. The first impression the title would have on you would be a presentation of a history of the genre, and that is what it is initially. We were given the first kinds of "nonfiction" that began as a list of financial activities during the ancient times -- mostly for commerce and practicality rather than art. But as we moved along the centuries, we were presented by odd hallucinations, typography, imagined stories, and even poetry. That's when lines started getting blurred and big questions begged to be asked: What is creative nonfiction? Isn't it supposed to be true? Are you telling us what we learned in high school about the essay is wrong? The definitions have been overturned making it difficult to grasp what it truly is. (And consequently, making it difficult for us to come up with our own.)

I'm turning 19 in a few days. I believe I'm at this point in my life where I'm desperately seeking for confirmation on everything -- I need the definitions. I need the answers. Am I doing it right? Have I done something worth remembering? Where am I going? All these things constantly linger in my thoughts. It's a never-ending cycle of trying to be someone we want to be. We want to define ourselves because it will give us some sort of stable ground as we play the role of being this self everyday. No matter how rebellious we claim ourselves to be, having these lines drawn for us help us establish the sense of identity because around these lines, we can create what we are or are not. Without them, where do we even start?

Our CL115 prof (who is way beyond cool and is very hot, just saying) just sent us back our final projects with her comments. I cringe every time I reread things I've written especially for school because I feel like it's not as candid as say, a blog entry; it's more academic or scholarly than Karla-esque. But as I was skimming down through the lines, I noticed one part she highlighted towards the end:
In drawing the lines we are establishing something that it is, and is not – and maybe that is the point. The essay isn’t something that should just be or not be, perhaps it is both. It is a celebration of the questioning, the searching, the hunt. So let us revel in this pursuit, and surprise ourselves with where it leads us.
It is funny that it made more sense to me now than when I was writing it. It's even funnier that it took Karla-of-a-week-ago to make Karla-of-the-present realize something about myself. I've been having doubts about myself for the last few days or so because 19 sounds so old -- it's my last teen year! It's like by this time I should have at least found the answers to most of my questions. I haven't. And I'm freaking out because maybe I don't deserve to be 19 just yet. (And not just because I've been mistaken as a 14-year-old girl two weeks ago.) I haven't evolved enough to be 19 yet. I'm not even sure if I know what being 18 is -- having a boyfriend? Getting to vote at the elections? Learning how to handle alcohol? Staying up late? It is hard to define.

So what is 19 anyway? How can I be 19? Where does 19 happen?

I don't know. And I'll probably never know (yet). Right now, just one thing is for sure. When happens next Tuesday. Whether I'm ready or not, it's going to be there. So maybe I'll just let the year unfold before me as it defines itself. Maybe I'll find it at home, or in my bed, or in the classroom, or in the car. Maybe I won't. Maybe 19 is about the questions, the search.

Maybe 19 is about the maybes. Let's see.