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Publication Date: May 2003
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When her perfect boyfriend—college hoop star, certified hottie and young hotshot legal eagle Itos Ongpauco—decided call it quits, 23-year-old Monica, barista by day and dreamer by night, found herself stepping out from behind the coffee counter and out of her comfort zone-into the mad world of magazine publishing. While starting out at the bottom of the food chain as the overworked, unpaid intern at M magazine can obliterate any trace of a self-esteem, anything—including bitchy bosses, temperamental photographers, rather dull but oh-so hot male models—is a welcome balm to Monica's pains.
Never mind that her freebie-obsessed boss treats her like an on-call, 24-hour proxy service. Never mind that, sometimes, when she's had too much alcohol, male models become irresistible. Never mind that, despite having just had her heart broken, the possibility of love presents itself again.
The anatomy of a breakup...
Twenty-three-year-old self-proclaimed nice girl Monica Tanseco is finding out the hard way that in order to survive a breakup, you've got to grow up - fast. Sure, breaking up is hard to do, but who knew it involved:
* Denial, followed by desperate bid to get back together involving promises to do everything to make him happy
* Severe loss of sleep, appetite and self-esteem
* Acute paralysis - or maybe death - of good judgment
* Compulsive tendencies to document every event, feeling and fantasy in manner of reporter trying to make sense of things
* More compulsive tendencies to over-examine relationship carcass and over-analyze cause of death as couple
* Getting a life
When her perfect boyfriend - college hoop star, certified hottie and young hotshot legal eagle Itos Ongpauco - decided call it quits, 23-year-old Monica, barista by day and dreamer by night, found herself stepping out from behind the coffee counter and out of her comfort zone - into the mad world of magazine publishing. While starting out at the bottom of the food chain as the overworked, unpaid intern at M magazine can obliterate any trace of a self-esteem, anything - including bitchy bosses, temperamental photographers, rather dull but oh-so hot male models - is a welcome balm to Monica's pains. Never mind that her freebie-obsessed boss treats her like an on-call, 24-hour proxy service. Never mind that, sometimes, when she's had too much alcohol, male models become irresistible. Never mind that, despite having just had her heart broken, the possibility of love presents itself again.
All throughout the walk back to the cabana, Beach steadied me with one arm wrapped around my waist to keep me from collapsing on the sand, in case my knees gave in to the alcohol whizzing through my system.
Still, my knees finally buckled under me, and I fell flat on my back. My arms and legs were splayed in all four directions, as if I was halfway through making sand angels on the powdery white shore.
"Hey, are you alright?" Beach asked.
"Uh-huh," I laughed, more than just a little tipsy.
Above me, the stars hung bright and plentiful, punched into a vast tarpaulin sky.
And then I saw Beach's handsome face appear above me. He was shaking his head but smiling. He lowered himself onto the sand next to me. Then with utmost care, he gently lifted my head and rested it on his lap.
"How does this feel?"
"Much better," I smiled.
Much, much better! Giselle was spot-on about Beach: He was really quite a babe.
In the moonlight, his skin looked translucent and ethereal, kind of how I'd imagine an angel's complexion to look like.
But the angelic references had to stop there - the rest of his face reflected a contradiction. Beneath Beach's dark eyebrows were piercing chestnut brown eyes that glinted with a rare combination of fire and ice, passion and innocence, intensity and sweetness. He had a high, European nose. Siobhan said she heard Beach was half-Italian.
And don't even get me started about his mouth. Or that pilyo smile. Because if the French are connoisseurs of kissing, I wonder what their neighbors are good at. The thought was making me giddy.
Ack, had he noticed me staring?
"What's on your mind, little girl?" Beach asked.
"I was just wondering..."
"What's your real name?"
"Beach," he grinned.
"My mom took me to the beach a lot so, it kind of stuck..."
"But what's your real real name?"
He laughed. "Well if I tell you, I'm going to have to kill you."
"What's the big secret?" I teased. "Bet you it's ugly like Salustiano or Procopio..."
"Nah, you're way off the bat now."
"Clue, give me a clue, Beach..."
"Ok if you really want to know, it's"
"Oh, oh!" I squealed! "Oh! Did you see that shooting star?" I asked pointing to the sky. "Make a wish! Make a wish quick!"
I silently made one.
"What? Where?" Beach indulged me, looking up at the heavens.
"There!" I said pointing to what looked like a beam of light traveling across the sky.
"That one?" Beach asked.
He let out an easy laugh. "Sweetie, that's an airplane."
"Oh." No wonder it was moving very slowly.
"You've had a little too much to drink," he said. "Easy now..."
He was so right.
The world was spinning. Lights were going fuzzy on me. Things were starting to blur, then split into replicas of themselves. I was beginning to see double, so I shut my eyes.
Great, Monica. Here you are, basking in moonshine on one of the most glorious beaches in the world, and you're too wasted to even enjoy the view. Or the company.
"What I'd give to see what you see now without the world spinning," I slurred while keeping my eyes closed.
Then Beach spoke in low, soothing tones, saying, "Out on the water, I watch a myriad of diamonds bounce off foamy waves." He paused. "They sparkle in the moonglow for a split second only to get swept away by waves crashing at the shore. If you listen with your heart, you'll hear the swell of the sea whisper secrets meant only for you and me."
I opened my eyes and stared at him, open-mouthed.
Oops, did it again
And then, I did it.
I parted my lips slightly, and pressed them against his. It was a sweet, soft and lingering kiss. Beach smelt like musk and moonlight.
For once, I wasn't pinning the blame on Monique. Or the Kamikazes. Not this time.
This act of courage was definitely brought to you by me, Monica Tanseco. Surprisingly, the kiss didn't make me feel hot and bothered the way Jordache made me feel.
Try warm and tingly...and strangely familiar. I'm not saying it felt the same as kissing Itos - far from it. It's just that I've heard so many people describe love and kisses with a certain phrase before, and I never quite understood what they meant.
Until now. But it was the best way I could describe the experience. Because, really, kissing Beach felt like "coming home."
Now, whether Beach kissed me back is sort of a blur now.
All I remember was his angel face calling out to me, then a soft sensation brushing against my forehead and words being uttered like a name or a magic incantation or a prayer. The next thing I knew I had fallen into some deep sleep.
The dreaded morning after
When I woke up the next morning, the sun was casting shards of light across a white bedspread that smelled of musk. Only I don't wear musk. I wear baby cologne.
The queen-sized bed I was on seemed smaller than the pounding hangover in my head - did I mention this wasn't my bed? Or my cabana?
And I was wearing a man's T-shirt. Last time I checked, I WASN'T WEARING A MAN'S T-SHIRT!
But today, all I had on was this oversized tee with a large guitar emblazoned on it. And oh, by the way, my early morning shock parade was on a roll: I was only in my underwear.
That's all. That's freaking all!
A paper cup of coffee balanced on the side table, with a note underneath the saucer that said, "You'll need this."
Then I remembered Beach. Did we...
Oh. My. God. Please tell me no.
Not that I...well, not that I didn't think about it. You can't enjoy a sultry night, on an enchanting beach, with a full-fledged hottie and not think about... things. You would have to have the imagination of an eraser, or a foot-stool, to not even casually think of... but - ohmygodohmygodohmygod - I couldn't remember a thing! Not a single damned thing!
As I scrambled out of bed, I heard a toilet flush and a doorknob turn. I felt a little faint as I braced myself to see Beach emerging from the bathroom. I mean, am I not entitled to a rehearsal in front of a mirror on what to say the morning after? I'm entitled to collect my thoughts, right? Especially since I never really intended there to be a morning after?
Only it wasn't Beach.
It was Jordache.
In nothing but a towel.
"Good morning, gwapa," he greeted me. "How did you sleep?"
by Lynn Lopez
What girl hasn't ever gotten bogged down by a break-up? In Maya Calica's novel The Breakup Diaries, the second book from Summit Books, the post-breakup trials of a self-confessed nice girl are placed under the spotlight as she chronicles her pain and recovery every step of the way. Female Network takes a chunk out of Maya's busy schedule to talk about her novel as well as ask her for advice she can give to the heartbroken. (Could she be a goddess of breakup wisdom as well?)
First, give us a small overview of The Breakup Diaries.
The Breakup Diaries is about a nice girl named Monica, who begins to rethink whether Being Ms. Nice has its merits after her boyfriend breaks up with her. The rest of the book is her coping mech when her self-esteem and sanity comes apart at the seams.
Would you say your breakup coping style is similar to that of Monica's?
I guess so. I've kept a journal since I was 13, so like Monica I find comfort in writing my emotions down.
What got you started on writing?
I can't recall the motive. But I do remember my first story was called "The Talking Egg" about an egg chatting up a little girl during an Easter egg hunt. I was 9. After that, I'd write poems about anything and leave them on my mom's nightstand, anywhere.
Is there a character similar to Beach in your life right now, and was there ever one like Itos?
I'd like to pretend Beach was pure fiction, but I am a terrible liar. So I guess there was someone who inspired his character--with some tweaking here and there. His name came from a really cute guy I met in the elevator. I had just rolled out of bed with not a trace of makeup on, but he was so cute I just had to introduce myself! Itos is more make-believe though. I've never really gone out with a lawyer.
What kind of books do you read and who are your literary influences?
I love chick literature! I love this Irish author called Marian Keyes -- she wrote Sushi for Beginners and Last-Chance Saloon. She writes the way she speaks, which is my style. I'm not big on big words. I also like Helen Fielding who wrote Bridget Jones's Diary. I'm also into non-fiction. I like inspirational writers like Laurie Beth Jones, Og Mandino, Norman Vincent Peale and Paolo Coelho. They tackle stuff about dreams and positive prophecy and how you can become the best you. Oh, and Oprah. I love Oprah.
Would you say there's still a lot of girls out there who are affected by the, shall we say, Catholic guilt, the same way Monica is--running off to Confession over the smallest things and constantly worrying that they seem like loose, slutty women?
I believe so. I'm not saying I agree with it, but it's the reality. As an editor, I get guilty girls writing me about sex and the like. I'm an old-fashioned girl, but I feel that we need a more positive motivation to hold on to our values or stand for what we feel is right. Personally, I have learned to forgive myself for my occasional lapses in good judgment or stupid mistakes. I still cringe at the thought of some of those dyahe flashbacks, but I've learned that laughter is the best medicine. OK that was so baduy, but it's true. You just have to laugh it off and say, "next time, you know better." Then you move on. Of course it's never a reassurance that you don't repeat that mistake!
Of all the possible occupations out there, why'd you choose to make Monica a barista?
I love coffee, and I guess having Monica make it for a living helped me incorporate one of my life's little pleasures.
Are you hoping to reach out to the newly-brokenhearted readers and make them smile, at least?
Haha, that's my subliminal agenda. I can't help it--I'm a nurturer by heart and I know that a lot of girls are burned daily by breakups. I see it in my email, hear about among my friends. I grew up in a family of seven sisters, so we were each other's support system. When someone you love breaks up, your heart breaks a little too. Besides, when you've been there, you've got to spread the word to those hurting that it can only get better. Because, really, it does. Don't you agree? ;-)
What advice would you give those who've just gone through a horrible break-up?
Cry. Count yourself lucky for your sisters and girlfriends who'll listen and still say it was his loss, even when your nose is swollen like a kamatis and running. Eat something, even if you have to shove it down your throat. Because you won't have the energy when the breakup takes away your appetite. But hey, you'll fit into your jeans better! Keep a journal. And pray. You don't have to be religious. Just talk out loud in your room and believe someone's listening.
Any new books in the works right now?
They're all in my head. But I do have an idea for a book for teens. Kind of like an inspirational thingie.
Let's say the book caught the attention of our local filmmakers and they wanted to put it on the silver screen. Would you agree?
Sure! OK, this is embarassing but when I was writing it I kind of imagined it on the big screen. I've always dreamt of making a movie someday. In fact, my sister Pinky who took up film in California wants to make it a movie na. And she hasn't even read it! What can I say? My family rocks.