The Portable Dominatrix

Sunday, March 7, 2021

When I think of all the Jessica Zafra pieces I loved and admired and stolen ( as in Austin Kleon’s Steal Like an Artist) over the years, it’s a disappointment that I haven’t written a decent piece about her. Of course, this is not an assurance that this will be decent because decency is overrated. 
My apologies. Deep, seething apologies. 
Let me begin by saying that I am not worthy to write about her. And even if I already am a published writer myself, has authored a collection of short pieces/essays which admittedly have tinges of her reverb and verbs, I am inadequate and I bask at my inadequateness. In a way, I love that I haven’t tried ( up until today where I berated myself to high heavens) because I know that I am not opening a threshold of pent-up frustration and wretched failures. Writing about a personal idol is something I haven’t attempted for as long as I started transferring all the swirling thoughts in my head to a metaphysical form. The words simply won’t materialize to my liking, the ideas sucky and hazy like caught inside a smoking area where smokers puffed and huffed at the same time. Here’s a caveat: I can still do better than this in a hundred years. At least, I have inscribed this here for the record: I am going to write a better Jessica Zafra essay.  I am going to write a better Jessica Zafra essay. I am going to write a better Jessica Zafra essay. Repeat and rinse. 
But in the celebration of #Twisted25- a collection of the crème de la crème think pieces off her iconic Twisted books, I simply have to even if it kills me, even if the attempt thinks that I tried too hard.
My first introduction to Jessica was through my English teacher back in high school. I was a voracious reader then ( I like to think I still am now but the Internet vaporizes it for me, darn it) and so he thought that I might enjoy her. I judged the book by its cover and as if caught by a whiff of strong, awful smell, probably of distaste ( you have to forgive me for my ignorance but I grew up reading Sweet Valley and Nancy Drew so the cover did not thrill me), didn’t even bother reading the blurb so instead of burying it to my face with a flashlight and heavy mattress the way you saw it in the movies where a tween sneaks reading way past his bedtime, I buried the book, next to historical romances of Cherokee Indians where the covers’ skinship is way too graphic for my age, and not to return to actually reading it until my teacher asked me his copy. Which I probably returned in its most haphazard state: much dogeared, much dirtied, much halfway folded. I was even tempted to engrave copious footnotes even if I don’t how footnotes work at that time. He knew that I loved it because I dramatically feigned a straight face when I should be teeming with embarrassment from ever returning a book which appeared as if the soul has been sucked out of it. I might have quipped a discreet apology and still managed to ask if he still has more Jessica Zafra. 
So here’s an oblique retelling of the oral history of my prodigious regret that I am still amending up to this day: by reading all of her published pieces and absorbing all the stings and lashes and whips that I inflict upon myself for ignoring her for the first time when her book Twisted 3: Planet of the Twisted was introduced to me. I even had it signed by her years after my good friend gifted me a nondiscount copy of the same book that I wore out like a favorite jeans. 

For Ryan acisseJ arfaZ. The note read. Her name written in reverse, so uniquely Zafraesque, in distinctive violet ink that still appears to be freshly signed as if she just had her book launch yesterday in a post-pandemic Manila and I was weeping to finally be meeting a writer to whom my future articles will carry a smidgen of her voice interloping with sentences, gallivanting with the internal narrative arcs, and reinvigorating dead-end paragraphs with wit, vivacity, and bravura. Not that my essays have the trifecta covered because I am not her but if at least if one of my essays that you read has that effect on you, then you have Jessica Zafra to thank for.
Planet of the Twisted has 7 chapters or parts or loops of crazy-cool which to think about now is a tour de force akin to movies that she tried not to despise. She never minces her words whether she reviewed all of the movies and collectively titled them as: Sometimes They Just Suck or speechified her frustrations having to dwell in the place that we call home in I Live Here. And as a disciple to her cult following, I found myself agreeing as if under a karmic trance to all that she had chosen as subjects. Whether it be the horrible sad plights of fairy tales’ antagonists in ‘Tales from the Sisters Grimm’ or the astrology as read by someone under the influence in ‘Horrible Horoscopes’ or the dissection of human intelligence in Evolution… or Moronization?. 
I am always the proverbial reader who laughs out loud when a book is uproariously funny. If, back in the days, one of you thought I’ve gone insane because I sniggered alone and smiled that may have the Cheshire cat meowing in recognition, I just hope you had the decency to check whether I was clutching this book or any of her books that I collected over the years looking for stray copies in the Filipiniana section of National Book Store. If being crazy is attributive to having understood the acerbic observations that she repletes on the pages because it made you snicker out loud and people obsessed with assigning labels start to brand you as such, then call me the crazy gay-man who rubs his nose with a book, with dark-rimmed spectacles, and with strong urge to opine. I’ll always take it over a crazy ‘man’ who rubs his member and dry hump a pole, with dark sunglasses to cover his bloodshot eyes and with an even stronger urge to sow what it can in brute force. 
Sorry about the burst of paroxysm but this is me justifying that reading her many celebrated essays turned me into being hypercritical of issues that have marred and derailed this daily existence. We wish we could turn them into something riveting, something unapologetic, something less uneventful so we can distill this infuriation into excellent pieces that people still rave after 25 years or more. 


That’s the yielding power of Jessica Zafra. She opens your eyes to dark, grim realities, suspends your disbelief of the everyday absurdities, and turns you into a cackling, messy but well-read, well-informed, and well-versed dominatrix in-training. 



Collage Art: Nichi app

Jessica Zafra image: Anvil website

My February in Journal

Tuesday, March 2, 2021


And just like that February is over! I mean it is not called the shortest month for nothing. But what it lacks in the number of days, it makes up for moments that's purposely bittersweet ( read: VDay). I wrote about my me time in the holiday that sneers at me time and honestly, it was empowering: it takes sheer gut and power to go out somewhere when that somewhere could all be lovers' lanes. Let's just say that I am a pro in The Art of Being Alone that I didn't even blink. Lols. 

But enough with my so-called aloneness. I want it to be so natural that people should not talk about like the Sword of Damocles hangs over in my head. It's not really a choice on my end because nobody's really asking HAHA but I love that the only commitment that I ever think about are my job, my book for the month ( which is superb btw) and my JOURNAL! 

Speaking of journal, I will shake up a bit my way of documenting here. If my January journal entries can be mentioned, I only have the paper supplies that I used for each layout. Starting this month, I am going to take it up a notch by writing a  pithy anecdote alongside each entry. 

Thank you for reading and I hope I inspire you to create your own journal someday. Let me know your personal analogue journey that you take. 

Let me tell mine below: 

Let me start with the frontispiece. Since I am casually reminded that Feb is the love month, it is kismet that when I was flipping through an old magazine called Stella, I chanced upon this girl + flamingoes with long necks forming what can be called as a heart combo. So appropriate to usher in this season. I also tore a page off a book that I haven't really enjoyed reading. I know, I know, I am committing a bibliophile's faux pas and this might revoke my bookish card so apologies are in order. The magazine which I bought from Abbey Sy before in her days selling at Carousell had been ruined by rainwaters the pages are sticking together, it's unreadable and frustrating, so there. In my defense,  I am giving them new life. 

What's in It: 

old book pages, Stella Magazine advertorial and the February sticker given to me by Chuvaness. 


I was home editing all my stuff when I found out that I used to own a Utada Hikaru CD. The only downside is that I might've probably lost the disk inside to my chagrin. This CD, together with an Inu-Yasha manga ( also gone) was given to me by a Japanese friend to whom I am currently searching everywhere. This was the late 2000's and I was still living in Masbate. I might've quipped that First Love is my favorite Japanese song ever and I also was collecting manga that time. When he returned to Japan he prolly remembered me and sent me this. His package arrived just as I returned home from my Licensure Examination for Teachers so imagine the thrill of this all. 

What's in It: 

The official Utada Hikaru CD cover (which contains the lyrics), Papemelroti paper, a chessbooard-designed card. 


It's a Friday and I just finished my talk to the HUMSS students of Sumulong Memorial Schools System where I discussed about writing for short film. So, as a way to relax because this week has been exhausting, the gang decided to drive all the way to Art Sector in Angono, Rizal. No, we haven't set foot inside the arthouse so we went to admire the panoramic views that Angono and Binangonan have to offer! The trip was cheap since we did not spend so much but it was fun and memorable and that matters, too. 

What's in It: 

Linex tissue from Dubai ( from Ate Lui where we ended up the day drinking coffee and eating lugaw, Pringles paper lid (my baon), stickers from Typo, Lizzie Lees 'Create Your Own Collage' ( also the background) and Abbey Sy, washi from Jopay.


My good friend Rizza (she's single and pretty, date her) knows that I love pretty packaging so as soon as she saw this lying around, she simply has to give this to me. Thanks dearie! 

What's in It

Body In Bloom packaging from Watson's, papers from an old notebook I bought at Powerbooks and Lizzie Lees' Create Your Own Collage' book. 


You know how hard it is when the Internet sucks and you have an all important interview that you need to attend to because it could potentially change your life? That's probably what's in my good friend's mind ( the same Rizza) when she invited me to come with her to First Pacific Leadership Academy. We had our lunch at Tipulo Restaurant inside and spent almost the entire day inside Griffin's Hub where wifi is strong and *free* coffee overflows. Late afternoon of the same day, I went to Drip Kofi at Beverly Hills with my cousin Kristel and my friends Mayce and Balot and we had the Pasta For The Day ( I forgot what it's called because it's nothing spectacular) and a caramel macchiato. 

What's In It: 

Tissue from Drip Kofi, business card and brochure page from Kingfisher Way Outdoor Events ( Wedding Coordinators and Planners), coffee packaging from Griffin's Hub, sticker from Starbucks.


It's the eve of Valentine's and I went to Sta.Lucia East Grand Mall to buy discounted clothes from my favorite Artwork but unfortunately and this saddened me, the store was closed. The company was probably affected by the pandemic. Good thing the nearby Mumuso is open so I got lost in Korean aesthetics and bought some stuff to make me happy. 

What's in It? 

Scrapbook Decor texture and geometric shapes from Mumuso, stickers from Daiso and my sister's Thank you sticker from her crochet business.


Today is the day that the Lord hath made for lovers lol so I went to my favorite mall for self-care. I wrote all about it here. 

What's in It

Pepper Lunch's hot plate paper lining, Kitkat's Single & Happy product campaign packaging, geometric patterns from Mumuso, stickers from Chuvaness and


There is no way that I'll visit Megamall and not buy stuff! 

What's in It: 

Packaging from Fully Booked and French Baker, sticker from Typo


A package from Chuvaness arrived today and I couldn't be more excited unboxing this. Chuvaness has been showering me gifts since 2015. From GCs to bookshelves to Kindle Fire! 

What's in It: 

Amazon gift card ( which I already loaded to my account to which I also used to buy something which I'll post here when it arrives), assorted stickers, vintage rubber stamps from Cavallini Papers & Co, floral washi from Jopay.


I was just lounging in my bed because I just finished my online class for this week when my friend Fae told me that she's on the way to Antipolo and asked me to meet her! It fully supports the idea that unplanned trips are the best. We went to the Cathedral, said a little prayer and finished the day at Robinson's Place Antipolo. Thanks Fae! 

What's in It: 

Paper from Marison's, card from the "Happy Mail' book, stickers from Francine's, Daiso and Chuvaness, stamp from Travel Life.


If you are still doubting my love for Chuvaness, look no further than this journal entry. 

What's in It:

Chuvaness x National Bookstore postcard and travel-themed sticker, stamps from Cavallini Papers & Co, sticker from Daiso


My first Happy Mail arrived from my soul sis, Janinn and I am so pleased with what she got me. It's her first time and she's turning out to be a natural happy mailer! I can't wait for April! 

What's in It: 

Duct tape and donut sticker from Miniso, doily and stickers from Craft Easy, cat stickers from Kutusita Ryanko 


It's a Sunday and laidback it is so I decided to go to Robinson's Place Antipolo and meet with friends Gracia and Shie. 

What's in It: 

Paper from Lizzie Lees's Create Your Own Collage book, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and Krispy Kreme, stickers from Daiso, Typo and Miniso.


It's KonMari day so I was happy finding this old New Yorker card from my stash and some embellishments that will totally make it to my journal spread! 

What's in It: 

Papers from New Yorker, Lizzie Lees Create Your Own Collage book, old book, Mumuso, sticker from Abbey Sy and card from Mr. DIY

February 28

I have been coaxed by my friends to finally go on a roadtrip because they are close to slapping me lols. We went to Martessem and just admired how breathtaking everything is! God must have spent a little time in Tanay! 

Thank you beb Rhons, Jays and Janice for the excellent company! 

What's in It: 

Papers from Mumuso, Martessem brochure, Instax film from Fujjifilm, stickers from Daiso, Mr.DIY, Typo, washi tapes from Jopay and MT

What's your February like? Did you get some lovin' that you deserve? Thank you for reading Faurish! 


Cover collage created using Nichi app