Contradiction in Terms
You say to-may-toe; I say toh-mah-tah. Deal with it.
Saturday, February 26, 2005

Today is For Pete's Sake Day.

And just so you know I know, the 'Pete' we're talking about in this idiom is St. Peter, meaning that one should consider one's actions in light of St. Peter's ability to bar one's entry through the pearly gates.

signage and branding
They put this sign up in the elevator of my condominium:
Tenants, unit owners, lessees and guests are requested to avoid excessive noise and unnecessary/offensive odors.
I guess this means that necessary odors are okay.

Meanwhile, I am lovin' Asia Brewery's Summit Clear sparkling water. I don't know if it comes in other flavors, but the white grape variety kicks ass. Somewhat disturbingly, though, the label tells me that it has no energy, no protein, no fat, no carbohydrates, and no calories. It is also sugar-free and caffeine-free, which makes it, like, the Emperor's New Drink, right?

Though probably that title should be awarded to the peach Vodka Teaser I foolishly tried last night, which was an experience similar to breathing vaguely peach-scented air on a really humid day. And paying a hundred fifty bucks for the privilege.

Which reminds me of what I'm always telling Andrew about his Winston Lights cigarettes: that smoking them is like having sex on a mountaintop. In other words, friends and neighbors, it's fuckin' near air.

Ah, I live to amuse you.
Nikki bit in at 3:37 AM :: ::
Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Dear My Clients,

I would just like to respectfully point out to you that the Internet, telephones, and project managers were all placed by God on His green earth for a reason: to facilitate the execution of projects and the general ease of remote communication. The people who were chosen by the Lord to invent these things were very creative individuals--therefore, we should all do our utmost to pay them homage by making judicious use of their innovations.

Instead of making certain copywriters (and I know who I am) travel the length and breadth and depth of the city in order to engage in conversations that, in essence, boil down to the following:

CLIENT: Nikki, do this.

NIKKI: Okay.

It's not that I mind seeing your faces, really, but these are hours that I could have spent working--on your projects--instead of listening to myriad cab drivers pontificate on the evils of government and sundry other segments of the human race. I do appreciate that one of you summoned me to your office in order to say "Great job, Nikki. We're lucky to have you on our team." But the facts are, sir, that you work in Paranaque; I live in Ortigas; and the good people at Hallmark Greetings and the post office need to make a living too.

Admittedly, I make a conscious effort to look attractive and be entertaining in all social situations, including professional ones. If, however, you feel the need to communicate with me face-to-face rather than via telecommunications or through PMs simply because you enjoy my company, I will gladly provide you with a photograph of myself. It will last longer than any meeting, and you may converse with it to your heart's content. I will even happily spend for a tape recorder that will play, at the touch of a button, my voice saying the words, "Sure," "No problem," and, of course, "Okay".

I know that I have given you the impression--not entirely untrue--that I am the fastest keyboard-jockey in the East, but you must understand that these essentially pointless voyages significantly delay the writing-and-research process. I know that you are only trying to help by contributing your "inputs", but I wish you would understand that I do have a triple-digit IQ, and I am quite capable of deciphering written or telephoned instructions.

I also wish that you would stop saying "inputs", but I have learned not to ask for too much, so as not to strain the resources of the Almighty.

Sincerely yours,
Nikki Alfar
Unwillingly Itinerant Copywriter
Nikki bit in at 8:26 PM :: ::
Monday, February 21, 2005

K8's new blog design is up!

I'm really so pleased at how well this turned out. Not because it's so damned lovely (although really, it is), but because it so clearly conveys my perception of K8: both strong and delicate, intellectual and emotional, understated and elegant.

She kind of/sort of/oh-so-hesitantly asked me if I might maybe have the time to revamp her blog a couple of weeks ago, and now she feels that she "can't thank me enough" for doing it. Honestly, though, working on blog design is like therapy for me: it gives me problems that I can solve; just me, my programs, and my coding. Possibly I should have been a programmer instead of a copywriter, but then I spent most of that computer course I took after college sneakily playing Civilization instead of listening to the boring teacher. When I wasn't cutting class to indulge in all sorts of naughtiness with my then-boyfriend Dean.

Oh, well. Check out Soul Encounters!

more linkies
If you haven't yet, check Dean out at Jonas's strip, Graphic Detail!

And this is the reason why every woman should try to love and be loved by a writer. You'll have to share him with his first love--the words--but when the words are for you, there ain't nothin' like it, sugar.
Nikki bit in at 12:51 PM :: ::
Sunday, February 20, 2005

Today is the day after my birthday!

Men are under the impression that flowers are just flowers.

Which, okay, they are; but even the least girly of girls will tell you that flowers mean something more than just a bunch of very pretty plant reproductive tools. Flowers have a weight that goes beyond their negligible response to the pull of gravity. They have a synesthetic effect that causes warm-cozy-cashmere feelings inside of you at the sight of them (if you’re lucky enough to have received flowers) or fragile gauzy wistfulness (if you just sadly watch them being delivered to someone else). Even if said flowers are not actually within sight at any given moment, you still enjoy a certain caramel gooiness when it occurs to you that, yes, you have gotten flowers recently, especially if it was from someone you feel… well, flowery or caramel-y or cashmere-y about.

You can tell that Dean got me flowers for my birthday, can’t you? Yup, a big bouquet of cream-to-blush roses, complete with a vase. (We’ve been married for over nine years, and somehow we’ve never owned a vase before.) I also got a veritable rainstorm of gifts from my friends, all of whom seem to know me very well, and several of whom seem to want to make me fat(ter).

I wish I had a scanner so I could show you the kickass portrait El made of me. (Sage claims it is not in fact me, but her. Hmm.) I wish I could upload the CD Andrew made for me without it taking forever to download. (So sweet! It’s like getting a mix tape, way back when…) But I don’t wish I could share the copy of Tim Powers’s The Drawing of the Dark that Vin picked out, or the butterfly bracelet K8 and Alex gave me, or the trade paperback of Tom Strong Marco got me, or the chocolates from Jason and Camy. ‘Cause they’re mine and I’m lovin’ em, nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah!

Ahem. If you get a chance to pick up a copy of Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis (which Dean also got me), however, I strongly urge you to do so. I read it while getting myself a birthday haircut yesterday, and it was so good the salon could have given me a mohawk and I wouldn’t have noticed.

Speaking of my salon, they gave me free purple lowlights in my hair yesterday, which they all rhapsodized about, but it looks exactly the same to me, so good thing I didn’t have to pay for it.

Okay. Now I’m going to go stare some more at the gorgeous gold-and-crystal bracelet Dean gave me; but first, thanks to everyone who remembered me on my supposedly low-key 32nd. You guys so rock!
Nikki bit in at 4:09 PM :: ::
Thursday, February 10, 2005

Attention: Sage's Aunts and Uncles

Hi! For those of you who requested Sage's birthday wish list, I've posted it here. Thanks!

For those of you who wonder what the heck I'm talking about, our little 'love child' is celebrating her third birthday this February 14th.
Nikki bit in at 2:34 PM :: ::
Sunday, February 06, 2005

Poetry 101: lesson 3

At last, we’ve gotten to the final dissection of my statement:
Poetry is the unique expression, commonly in verse form, of universal experience.
‘Unique expression’ is the most critical part, baby.

Now, as we discussed in lesson 1, you want your poem to be something that readers can identify with. But what you want to do, ideally, is to present this universal experience in a fresh way. You can be saying something as banal as “Love is grand” but if you actually just say it like that: “Love is grand. How I love love!”, then banal is exactly what your poem is. You need to shake it up some, revise the paradigm, razzle-dazzle ‘em—because a zillion people have written about love before you, and probably done it better.

I’m not saying that you need to say something new and earth-shaking about love (or whatever your topic is)—for one thing, there may not even be anything new and earth-shaking left to say. But take a look at how poet Ruey de Vera puts it (I’m paraphrasing, okay?): “Let us watch mountains grow together.” Essentially, all he’s saying is “Let’s be together forever”, but how elegantly he puts it! The imagery perfectly expresses an avowal of enduring commitment over time.

Another poet, Nikki Giovanni, tells us that a person in love feels “like a contented cow, chewing cud”. It isn’t what most people would perceive as a poetic metaphor, but see how it makes you view the experience of love in a whole new light. This is exactly what poetry should do: it awakens you, as a reader, to a realization of something you always knew but were never consciously aware of.

Therefore, in poetry—more than with any other form of writing—you need to show, not tell; to illustrate the point, not to explain it. Imagery is important, metaphor is important—as I’ve said before and am saying again, you don’t just say what you’re thinking, put it in stanzas, and call it a poem. You build a little mental landscape, you create a tiny emotional dwelling, you isolate a moment of perfect clarity. And you use imagery and metaphor and alliteration and a million other aspects of craft to do it, because dammit, that’s what makes poetry, not “poitry”. It’s not so much about the writing as it is about the seeing—and making your readers see it with you.

As with all my little online ruminations, take this with a sack of salt: I’m not really an authority, and I could be wrong. But it’s poetry, man—it means something different to everyone, and what it means to you is exactly what it means... Except, of course, when I’m right and you’re wrong.

Nikki bit in at 11:21 PM :: ::
Thursday, February 03, 2005

Today is Dump Your Significant Jerk Day.

To quote my elder brother (which is a mildly ridiculous thing to say, by the way, since all my brothers are elder brothers): "I'm so tired and cute." (Now you see that a certain amount of egregious self-validation runs in our family...)

I am overworked, harassed, and so sick that I wake up in the wee hours of the mornings unable to breathe because my throat has closed up. This, of course, does not stop me from smoking like a chimney, working my greedy ass off, and living on crackers with salmon spread because I'm too lazy to deal with anything more complex when my husband isn't around to scold me about my horrendous eating habits. As a friend of mine once noted, I can do just about anything except actually take care of myself.

As for the ongoing shitstorm of work, I won't bore you with the details, except to say that: Clients--can't live without 'em, can't shoot 'em.

So thank goodness for:
Jonas's new online comic strip, Graphic Detail, which has provided me with a much-needed laugh twice this week now. If you're at all interested in comics, you must check it out. And if you hear that I've expired from laughter-induced respiratory malfunction, then you know who's to blame.

Well, him or Dean, who keeps me going and giggling through the worst, bless his husbandly heart.

tea for thee
Speaking of Dean's redoubtable nursemaiding efforts, he brought me this box of awesomely funky lotus tea. It kind of freaked me out at first, because the lotus tea starts out as this extremely dubious-looking dried-out brown ball. You drop the ball into hot water, and it gradually begins to open, initially resembling a trichinobezoar (Coolness points to you if you know what that is!), but eventually blooming into an actual lotus blossom, complete with little red and translucent yellow flowers. You wind up with a cup of tea that smells (I'm told; I have no olfactory sense at the moment) and tastes divine, with the lotus sending up an occasional tiny flower from the bottom of the cup.

It's literally transcendent, in that I am so tripped out by it that I temporarily forget how wretched I really feel. I don't know where Dean got it, but you must try some if you can.
Nikki bit in at 1:22 PM :: ::
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Nikki Alfar is really not as sexy as El's illustration would have you believe... but she doesn't mind if you think of her that way.
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Location: Pasig City, Metro Manila, Philippines

class act/guttersnipe. tomboy/girly-girl. serious writer/comics hack. wife & mom/tart & tease. obssessive-compulsive/laid-back. sweetheart/bitch. all that.

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