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One Day, I’ll Be Bullet-Proof and Nothing Will Hurt

Slowly, Manila tries to be home. I am adjusting, I think. I have gotten used to the noise and the smoke, I think. I am even making friends, I think.

Which makes the next sentence all kinds of ridiculous: but I try not to think too much.

Thinking complicates things. The trick is to believe that everything works itself out, in time. Hurts fade, wounds heal—slowly, yes, but maybe there is a point to having to take things one day at a time.

So yes, I have been throwing body and soul into work. I work hard, harder, hardest grateful for the chance to crawl to bed every night too exhausted to do anything else but sleep. It’s easier to go through life on auto-pilot. When you’re knackered, thinking is difficult and feeling is next to impossible.

When do all the things that have gone wrong in one’s life begin to go right? I wish I know. I can sit here all day thinking about it and not come up with an answer. Maybe it is this age I am at. Or maybe it’s the world and where it’s at. Everyone’s lost; everyone’s losing. We are all struggling, trying, learning, loving, earning, fighting, crying, finding, dying—and we have been at it for a long time. How old was Edwin Arlington Robinson when he wrote one of the poems I’d learned in school that I’ve never been able to forget? He isn’t my generation, and yet he speaks of the same despair. Surely he knows what this feels like; he must or he wouldn’t have written this:

So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.

Strangely, without meaning to and without knowing why, I end up thinking of my beautiful friend Ana. Of all the things that have ever been written about Ana–and there have been many, I like Mike’s best.


in memoriam: ana escalante-neri (1978-2007), poet and dear friend whose life was an ellipsis of exclamation points

Rest in peace, dear Ana. God, in his infinite mercy, will hear your poetry.

Five years ago, Ana killed herself. I have always wondered why she did it; we all did. What made her so sure she’d had enough of everything: sunrises and sunsets, sky and sea, the languor of the province especially during siestas, the ruckus that the city makes as it comes to life, the lovely little girl who waits for her eagerly, crayons on hand, angel wings slung over a back that has not known hardship? I think about what the final moment must have been for Ana, and what made her decide to end it all.

I do not think I’d be as brave as Ana but every now and then, especially on days like this one when all the things that could go wrong do go wrong and I am reminded of all that I’d lost or given up and how far away I am from the family I love, I think about death, too, and wonder if I could do it like she did. When does too much feel like too much, and would I be as certain or as unswerving? Will my hands be as sure?

One day, I’ll be bullet-proof and nothing will hurt. But God, in his infinite mercy, will know all that I have left unwritten and unsaid, and understand.


  1. rdelc

    Chin, this broke my heart. I don’t know how or why, but it just did.

  2. ging

    Ms. Chin, sending you love and prayers…

  3. vet

    achinette!!!!! go easy on the thoughts…