Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for the ‘Emotional weather report’

How to be good?

February 20, 2011 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Current Events, Emotional weather report 18 Comments →

Note the question mark: it is the most important part of the title. This is a column pocked with question marks; I do not have the answers, nor do I trust those who claim to have them. I am especially wary of people and groups who issue prescriptions about how we should live—too many of those become the stars of tabloid exposés.

We think our moral compasses are so finely-tuned that in moments of crisis we will always, automatically, do the right thing. We want to believe that when we are tested we will know exactly how to answer, and that answer will be firmly on the side of truth and justice. How do we know this? Where does our absolute certainty come from?

Read this. Just read this.

September 27, 2010 By: jessicazafra Category: Emotional weather report 3 Comments →

Borghese Gardens, Rome.

To an Aesthete Dying Young by Andrew Solomon in the Yale Alumni Magazine.

It creeps, then it leaps

January 22, 2010 By: jessicazafra Category: Emotional weather report, Music 12 Comments →

Scary old age: Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard.

It creeps up on you imperceptibly—the tiny shock when you’re filling out a form and you have to compute the answer to “age”, the lone white hair sticking out on top of your head, running into classmates at the mall and being introduced to their tall, articulate children (They can speak now?!).

You shrug it off and console yourself with the observation that all the guys who were considered cute in school are now paunchy and losing their hair. Meanwhile you have to ask your stylist to layer your hair to make it less big or it will fill up the room. It was an excellent decision not to marry and have kids—not that you’d ever intended to get shackled for the purpose of expanding the gene pool. Your forehead is not ridged and creased like those of your contemporaries, and you can still move your eyebrows and face. Plus you’ll never feel the compulsion to read the text messages on your spouse’s phone or pay unannounced visits to the people in his directory.

But it continues creeping up on you and getting more and more conspicuous. Now you have to pretend not to notice that you just spent ten minutes plucking out white hairs from the back of your head using two mirrors and a spotlight. Now the vet says there’s really no need to have your cat spayed since she’s nine years old, which among felines is old. You raised her from kittenhood; what does that make you?

On the onset of age in Emotional Weather Report, today in the Star.

Emily Postal at the taxi queue

September 04, 2009 By: jessicazafra Category: Amok, Emotional weather report 3 Comments →

My grocery chores done, I walked to the taxi stop to catch a ride home. As I approached the door leading to the taxi stop, a heavyset man darted in front of me, barely avoiding a collision, and parked himself in front of the queue. Since there was no one else standing in line, there really was no need for the person to cut in front of me. (Bakit siya sumisingit, e wala namang pila?)

I gather this. . .queue-jumper. . .did it for the sheer pleasure of annoying total strangers, or maybe he was in the habit of racing people to the taxi stop. Usually it is best to leave such individuals alone—perhaps he needs this split-second sense of triumph (“Nakaisa”) to make up for the general misery of his daily existence.

It could also be a case of what my friend calls “utak-gutom”, famine mentality, the feeling that if one does not hurry up and take whatever he can, there will be nothing left for him. “Parang mauubusan”. (Do you ever observe how people behave at buffet restaurants? It is a subject worthy of the National Geographic. Note the diners who, though clearly neither destitute nor starving, heap their plates with food then leave most of their meal untouched. That’s utak-gutom.)

Emily Postal at the taxi queue in Emotional Weather Report, today in the Star.

In hindsight, Happiness

August 14, 2009 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Emotional weather report 1 Comment →

Through the NYT’s Happy Days blog I discovered the work of Tim Kreider. The prose first, and then the cartoons for which he is better known. He’s Brilliant.

My Desk
“My Desk” from The Pain—When Will It End?

This piece about how we only realize we’re happy after the fact kills me not just because it is beautifully-written but because it’s absolutely true.

Averted Vision
by Tim Kreider

In 1996 I rode the circus train to Mexico City where I lived for a month, pretending to be someone’s husband. (Don’t even ask.) I remember my time there as we remember most of our travels — vivid and thrilling, everything new and strange. My ex-fake-wife Carolyn and I often reminisce nostalgically about our honeymoon there: ordering un balde hielo from room service to cool our Coronas every afternoon, the black-velvet painting of the devil on the toilet that she made me buy, our shared hilarious terror of kidnapping and murder, the giant pork rind I wrangled through customs. Which is funny, since, if I think back honestly, while I was actually there I did not feel “happy.”In fact, as mi esposa did not hesitate to point out to me at the time, I griped incessantly about the noise and stink of the city — the car horns playing shrill, uptempo versions of the theme from “The Godfather” or “La Cucaracha” every second, the noxious mix of diesel fumes and urine, the air so filthy we’d been there a week before I learned we had a view of the mountains. . . Continue reading Averted Vision.

The problem, I think, is that we now view the pursuit of happiness as a competitive sport. “How come she’s happy and I’m not?” “Why is he happier than I am, what am I doing wrong?” “Is there something I could buy or ingest to guarantee my happiness?” And that, people, is the path to unhappiness.

And now for something really basic

August 12, 2009 By: jessicazafra Category: Clothing, Emotional weather report 3 Comments →

The women’s underwear section at Marks & Sparks. Good engineering. Boring styles.

Years ago when I was writing in TODAY, the column that elicited the largest number of reactions was not about world domination, movies, or covering books in plastic. It was the column about brassieres. At the time there weren’t many brands available locally, and we were getting our first email accounts. Now there are many more brands, and you can order underwear on the net, but we have the same complaints.

Breasts. That’s all I need to write to get your attention.

Everyone on earth has them (Some even have three nipples), but their omnipresence has not diminished the obsession. A multimillion dollar industry has been built on the desire to make them bigger. Transvestites take birth control pills in the hope that hormones will enlarge their mammaries. Starlets have attained fame disproportionate to their talent by displaying their boobies.

There is an entire branch of magazine publishing devoted to the worship of breasts. If for any reason you are dissatisfied with the volume and density of your chest area, you can go for plastic enhancements.

It’s when you happen to like the breasts you were born with that the problem begins. What if, like the classic Seinfeld episode, yours are real and spectacular? For committing the crime of contentment (which is inimical to the market which promotes dissatisfaction in order to sell you stuff), you are punished.

Real and Spectacular in Emotional Weather Report, today in the Star fashion section.