Thursday, December 25, 2008

happy christmas

When I was a kid, I used to see Christmas as the highlight of my year. We really knew how to do Christmas then. We’d plan months in advance and our tree would be just the most stunning thing ever. There were years when our house looked like it was taken from some holiday version of Architectural Digest.

When we started moving around though, Christmas became blander and blander. Slowly, it had to be placed on the back burner in favor of other priorities and less-extravagant holidays. I see our tree this year, a silver and blue thing and it kinda looks like a sad disco tree from the eighties. If you think about it, nothing’s really changed though. It’s still us. It’s still the same tree. Some of the decorations have become staples throughout the years but as we became busier and busier, we slowly forgot the little kid in all of us who absolutely pimped up Christmas.

I woke up today feeling hungry like anything. I went downstairs and foraged for food but nothing left me satisfied. I tried to watch a movie but for the next 2 hours, all I could think of was how hungry I was and how a double cheeseburger and a side of nuggets just might do the trick.

For a second there, I forgot why I didn’t have work today. I can’t believe it’s all happening so fast! I feel like I just blinked and poof! It became Koko Crunch, err Christmas.

After the movie I got dressed and went to McDonald’s. Surprisingly, there were a lot of people. I wondered why these people weren’t getting ready for Christmas. Some teenager took my order and I could hear a bored edge to her voice. It’s like she couldn’t wait to get out of there and start with the Christmas festivities. I stifled a chuckle, not wanting to add insult to injury. I, of course, had the wonderful privilege of staying home this Christmas. As she gave me my food and change, she said a very stiff Merry Christmas, sir. I forgave her lack of enthusiasm and wished her a merry Christmas as well.

Outside, three kids came up to me asking for money or some of my fries. I didn’t even bother to look at them. As I crossed the street, I overheard one of them say parang hindi pasko. Napakaramot naman niya.

It seems that in the eyes of three little kids, I had become Scrooge. I completely forgot the meaning of Christmas. I guess to a child, Christmas could mean something else. I guess I was more… logical. While I see it as a time to be grateful that the baby Jesus was born because He inevitably saved us from the eternal fires of hell and all that, they see it as something completely different. I don’t know where he got the notion that Christmas = free food and endless mercy from strangers.

So I wasn’t exactly feeling generous or anything. In fact, I was in a slightly sour mood all day. I went home, ate my burger, fell asleep and woke up in time for Christmas dinner. We were going to celebrate at my sister’s house. I made up my mind that I wasn’t going to make such a big deal of the whole season. In fact I didn’t even send my annual text blast. Because of how I felt, I decided that this year, Christmas would be celebrated at a minimum.

God probably had something else planned for me, though. On our way home, I caught a glimmer of the little kid in me (the one who absolutely adored Christmas). I began to feel like maybe I could still see Christmas the way those three little kids saw it. Some folks were getting into a weird argument over some really small thing and I said para naming hindi pasko. Ang babaw-babaw ng pinagaawayan niyo. Everyone was quiet after that. I usually mind my own business but the kid in me didn’t want any animosity this time of the year. While it wasn’t exactly groundbreaking or anything, the thought that I still cared about dear old Christmas made me smile.

So that’s Christmas for me this year. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday. Thank you to all who greeted me and stuff. I hope you have a wonderful time with your families. Merry Christmas, everybody!!!



Friday, December 19, 2008

this year's love

It’s strange when you wake up one day and find yourself in a routine. Lately, my days have been filled with endless fillers- pointless hours disguised as life and work and all the things we do each day. I’ve learned to stop paying attention, to fake that glow in my eyes when people talk to me. Everything’s a blur and at some point, you have to accept that everything becomes absolutely pointless.

And so, an unwelcome change came. I’ve got this weird virus and I can’t come to work. I find myself with so many hours at my disposal with no single clear resolution. I tried to watch a Wong Kar Wai DVD but after a few scenes, my eyes started getting heavy. I tried surfing the net but I ended up sleepy yet again. It seems my virus has me doing the one thing I abused when I was well: sleep.

By the time I felt well enough, I turned on my computer and finished the post I intended to publish last week. I don’t usually edit my posts so this one is quite different.

Oh grow up.

About a week ago, I met a nice black kitten. He was playing with a twig and didn’t mind much when I came close to touch him. We exchanged a few meows and purrs and after saying goodbye fifty million times, I opened the gate and went home. It was such a breath of fresh air – a street cat who isn’t afraid of humans. I would’ve said he was being avante garde but if I were to be honest to myself and to my new friend, I knew he was being naïve.

Two days later, he was dead. I saw his guts splattered on the concrete and he had a strange expression on his face. I wanted to take a picture to show my friends so that they could confirm but honestly, I think he was smiling.

A bigger black cat walked towards us. I assumed she was his mother and so I got up and let the woman grieve. As I walked away, she sprung up in defense and I could hear her anger through her fangs. She was older and in cat sense, wiser not to trust humans. People will kill you, if you let them, she seemed to say.

People will kill you, if you let them. I’m not talking about getting run over or shot. I’m talking about a harder death. They can suck the youth off of your fingertips if you let them. There’s a voice in my head that tells me to stop and cling to whatever youth I have left. There’s another that says if I’m to survive, I need to be big and brave like that mother cat. It’s a big old world filled with petty quarrels and holidays designed to make you feel like a major loser and if you don’t learn to adapt, you could one day find yourself on the pavement with your pink parts exposed to the world.

Question is: do I lick my wounds and become calloused or die with a smile on my face?

As I got home last night from what felt like such a long day, I glanced at the sky and saw something I haven’t seen before in my twenty-two years of existence. I was beginning to think they weren’t really real but last night, it shone in its brief teal glory. They say you have to wish when you see a falling star. I closed my eyes and through clenched teeth, I wished to grow up.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

daddy's got a brand new toy

One day, I said to myself I'd like to publish my blog at least once a week. It's a Saturday and the post that I wrote doesn't seem quite there yet and so I'm here to tell you why I've been so preoccupied.


I took most of my Christmas bonus and bought me a super small computer.


Polly Pocket would've been envious.


It's only slightly bigger than a paperback novel...


...and (I heard) weighs only two pounds.


The trackpad's about as big as my thumb.


Good luck, right?


But the monitor's touch screen so it's all good.


I must admit, typing wasn't so easy at first. Blame it on my fat fingers.


But I got used to it and I'm almost back to my regular typing speed.


All in all, it's a fun little machine. I think I'm in love.


Here's where you can get more information about the Astone UMPC. In the meantime, I'll be in my room.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

life on mars

I had a staring contest with half a glass of water, pondering on whether it was half-empty or half-full. It didn't really answer my question. It just mocked me for thinking about such inane things. Nothing seems right today.

I woke up this morning with such an odd feeling. My bed felt like it was not my own. My fingers danced on the iron bars. This seems like my bed but today, it's more prison-y. For a second, I checked my phone, forgetting completely that no one texts me anymore. Gone are the days when I had a good morning when I woke up and a good night before I go to sleep. I got up and realized the sky was green and the walls were blue. My red towel (which was blue yesterday) in hand, I went downstairs to take a bath.

The water felt warm on my skin and I could feel it seep into my very bones. Ignoring this awkward sensation (and eyes closed because of the shampoo), I awkwardly felt for my loofah. I winced a little so I could find it until I realized it was right there, biting my right hand. Its fangs looked rabid and so I let it be. By the time I finished bathing, it had already consumed two of my seventeen fingers.

At work, things went from weird to crazy. The cabbie gave me Monopoly money as change.

"Manong, tama ba to?"

"Oo. Dumaan tayo ng
Go diba? May sahod ka."

I nodded but I still had my doubts. Forty pesos and 20 Monopoly dollars in hand, I said goodbye to him and the silver thimble on his right thumb.

I shook my head. Nothing seems right today.

After lunch, I was craving for something sweet. Out of nowhere, a nipa hut bearing snacks and sweets emerged from the benign darkness of the fifth floor. I chose my poison, an innocent pack of mini piyayas.

"Ang strange nung piyaya ngayon. Parang may coconut. Tikman mo nga." I told a friend.

(pops a piyaya in his mouth) "Sira na to. May amag na."

"Ha?! Eh naka-tatlo na ako eh! Pweh! Pweh!"

I went to the nearest toilet in hopes of puking it out. I could imagine the evil little mold particles in my stomach, wreaking havoc like a pack of invaders from a forgotten history book. I almost swallowed my hand but I could not puke. Must be the missing fingers. Suddenly, I was 17 again. Pimples started popping out of my face and I was puking a pack of Sky Flakes at the school restroom. Oh to be young and to have nothing better to do than purge! I miss those days.

A cup of coffee and two bottles of Yakult later, I was still feeling odd. On my way home, a bear dressed as a panda tipped his hat for me. Hopefully tomorrow won't be so strange.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

old friends

She's gone.

It seems almost surreal. As I'm writing this, my mind's still not completely convinced. I wrote about a dear friend a few weeks ago. I had the chance to visit her last Saturday and she seemed fine. We laughed a little and although she couldn't really say much, I could see in her eyes that she was glad to be surrounded by her old friends.

The sounds of the city sifting through trees settle like dust on the shoulders of the old friends.

I called up a friend of ours this morning to get updates about her condition. It seems she had gotten worse over the week. Given that this was just minutes after I woke up, I was unable to process all that I was hearing. They moved her to the ICU. She lost consciousness. She was slipping away.

Old friends. Memory brushes the same years. Silently sharing the same fear.

Minutes later, I learned she was gone. Just 22, she had her whole life ahead of her until suddenly, it wasn't. She was a loving daughter, a gifted educator, and a really good friend. Above all, I cherish my memories of her. Eating deep fried bananas at Lacson. Going on mini-trips to Quiapo. Conversations about anything and everything. She had such a unique sense of humor and a very active imagination. I miss her.

I couldn't help but remember our last conversation. Shortly after I found out she wasn't well, I called her and we tried to catch up. I promised her I'd see her by Christmas and she offered to give us a tour of her city when she gets better. It's sad that we'll never get to do that now.

Time it was, and what a time it was, it was a time of innocence. A time of confidences...

When you're young, it feels like you have all the time in the world. We sometimes forget how fragile life truly is. I take comfort in the fact that she is in a better place- away from crooked hospital beds and the circus of wires, beeps and tubes. She has been released of her pain. I just feel really bad. She was so young.

Long ago it must be. I have a photograph. Preserve your memories. They're all that's left you.

Marie Antoinette Yco
1986 - 2008

To Antoinette, we will never forget you. Rest well, old friend. You will forever be missed.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

everything in time

I was at work watching this ridiculously boring DVD when I learned about the history of Hawaii. I got to thinking about wars and how they were everywhere at some point. I doubt if there was ever a country that did not revolt against their captors and this state was no exception. I thought about all the blood that their people shed for this ultimately doomed cause and wondered if, even despite them losing in the end, it was all worth it in the end.

Centuries later, all the wars that were fought seem rather pointless. Forgive me if I'm young. I don't really know a lot about history to formulate such an opinion. All I have is what I see everyday. A Starbucks on every street corner. iPods blasting American music. Even if we were not completely colonized, everything's been globalized. If I could go back in time, I'd tell Bonifacio and the rest of the KKK to relax and take it easy. Years from now, your children's children will fight to get into the United States.

All wars seem rather pointless. I thought about all the fights I got into when I was in school. Those petty arguments did not really make me a better person. Sitting here now, I couldn't help but feel rather silly for having gone through all that drama. In the end, I would still be where I am today regardless of all the little wars in my past. Again, pointless.

Maybe I'm just saying this because of my current state. I still have war paint on my face and I can still see her blood on my hands. A song plays and for once, I am still.

Lying in your bed, I am a refugee you try to love. But the love that he killed keeps coming back and haunting me. Am I wasting all of your time and all my cute days on regrets? Is it healthy that we met? Everything always in time will show. Then we will know it will show. Everything always in time will come.

I didn't want to start a war. I had hoped that we could resolve things quietly. Wiping emotions away from my face, I fumbled on my cellphone's keypad. A message to break my silence: I'm sorry. I really tried. I guess it's pointless now. Years from now, she might even forgive me. Will I ever forgive myself for putting her through this again?

As her ghost started to slip away, I noticed a very familiar one lurking in the background. I know you, I said. Let go, it whispered. It's been over a year. Let go. And so I did. Or at least I tried to.

So today, I set down my torch. It was feeble and it made my hands hurt. In its place, I lit a candle. Somewhere, someone's mourning too. It'll be morning soon.

photo: Uwe Hermann

Thursday, November 20, 2008

sixty pictures on my sixth month

I realized today that I've been working at GCMA for six months now. It's funny how time seems to fly when you're having a lot of fun. It must be said that things are still interesting and it's probably because I've made a lot of good friends here. I figured, as a nice little tribute I would post some pictures (here) that have been rotting in my phone's memory card. If you look past my camwhoric smiles, there's a story here. Or maybe I just said that to sound deep.

Submitted for the approval of the midnight society, I call this album: sixty pictures on my sixth month at GCMA.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

me

The clock tells me it's 3:33 AM. God knows when I'll finish writing this post because honestly, I don't really know what I want to write about. I just feel like there's something inside me that's itching to be heard. It's a feeling that's not different from getting a pimple inside your nose. You don't really know what to do with it but since you can feel it (it hurts!!!), something has to be done.

I was talking to someone very dear to me last night when I got a dose of some strange realizations. She told me that work brought out my "bad side" and that at times, she no longer knew who I was. Who was I, I asked myself. It's strange to have have to ask that question at age twenty-two.

I couldn't really understand her but I know for a fact that she knows me more than anybody else. I have a suspicion she knows me more than I know myself and so being the spineless dick that I am, I started to consider if her statement had some truth to it. Given that man has one brain, one heart, and one voice, it's clear that man should also have one identity. One face to show the whole world. But if what she said was true, perhaps I was born with two of each.

At home, I'm a regular person. I surf the web in a sando and shorts. I watch hideously pirated DVDs and shows like The Buzz with my mom and sisters. I sulk at the corner and can go without talking for hours. I go to church on Sundays, sleep when I can and basically just do regular stuff.

At work, I guess I could say I'm a bit less sane. I don't really care about what people say about me as long as I have fun. Sing me a song and I'll dance for you. Hum out a tune and I'll belt out the chorus. Shove a module in my face and I'll be in your class teaching it in two seconds. It's all in a days work. Sometimes, I sit at home and wonder why I'm so tired. Perhaps it's from being a little too caffeinated or for being a little too crazy.

So who am I really? Which part of me is more true? More importantly, could the two sides ever reconcile?

Imagine yourself on your fiftieth birthday and everyone's there- all your friends from grade school to college plus all the friends you've accumulated from all the jobs you've had. I shudder at this thought. It's not that I'm afraid they'll see me when I'm wrinkly and old. It's the thought that the me that one group envisions could be different from the me that another group sees. No, this can never happen and as long as I have a voice, it shall never be.

So about the two sides reconciling, I started to think more about what my friend said. Perhaps she's just not used to the me at work. Maybe it's because she and I became friends before that part of me came to be. Or was it there all along, dormant like a volcano?

After reading what I've written so far, I realized I shouldn't really be worried about this too much. I have said the word me twenty-seven times and you'd think I would've gotten the point by now. This is me I'm talking about and no one should have to dictate who that person should be. Maybe work-me and home-me may seem antithetic to some people but to me, they are one and the same. No one should have to tell you who you are. Your identity is something that you should know. And if you don't, perhaps it's time to take a good look at the mirror and see for yourself.

As I washed the day's dirt and oil from my face and got ready for bed, I saw work-me dissolve into the water and down the drain. As the soap suds cleared away to show home-me, I realized that between the two there stands no difference and magically, I had finally reconciled the two.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

andy, you're a star

There was a time when I thought about going into blogging for profit. I heard about it from this seminar I attended for school and while I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to earn extra money, deep down I knew that I couldn't do it. I mean no offense to those who do it for a living. I know it's a decent source of additional income but I just felt like I would be betraying my blog's identity and that I didn't want money to be involved in my self-expression. While it would seem ideal to get paid to do something that I love, I just felt that it would be just like selling (what for years I've referred to as) my baby.

I was on Wikipedia the other night, jumping from one link to another when my phone started to vibrate. It was way past midnight and I didn't expect anybody to be awake and so I got curious and checked my phone. I got a message from a dear friend who was also a frequent blogger. I've been visiting her page for years now, from the time she was still on Blogger to her transition to Multiply. She started a new blog, she said and for her third move she chose a more secure and private domain. In her About page, she talked about her reasons for moving. Her primary reason is that there are too many people in Multiply and she needed to have a safe place for her more private thoughts. She sent us her private password for the protected posts as proof of her personal blog's exclusivity. (Say that quickly five times)

Another friend of mine blogged about something similar. I agreed with her when we were talking about it over break. She said that while most bloggers start writing for themselves, sooner or later they end up writing what they think they want people to read. Instead of expressing ideas, your blog has become a way to sell your thoughts (or at least your more interesting ones). It becomes a marketplace of sorts- strange for what was once meant to be a transparent online fortress.

This got me to thinking: has blogging transitioned from self-expression to self-promotion? I asked myself, have I started writing what I think people would want to read? Do I still mean what I say each time I publish a new post?

I remember when I was still young in blogger years, I didn't really feel comfortable with people close to me reading my blog. Slowly though, I learned to let them in and acknowledged that the Internet is indeed, public domain. I must admit, there are times when I edit what I write because I'm afraid that some people might not like it. It's a form of self-censorship, not unlike editing your diary in fear that someone might find it and read it. If I have made my posts tamer or angled it in a certain way to make it more appealing, how different would that be from writing posts for profit? Money is not the only currency, I learned. Have I been blog-whoring for attention?

Looking at my really old posts, I noticed that a lot has changed in my writing style. I used to talk about everything: music, books, movies, love, hate, crises, drama, life, death. Looking at my posts now, it seems so watered down. I came to the conclusion that while "blog-whoring for attention" may be taking it one step too far, I was dangerously approaching that level of corruption and if I don't stop soon, I may end up sounding less like myself and more like some washed-up advice columnist.

So while the Internet has made celebrities of several bloggers, I can honestly say that I have no aspirations for blog super-stardom. Maybe it helps to have a small reminder every now and then. At the end of the day, this page has become a part of me and the small number of people who frequent it, despite our distances, my brothers in this part of the Internet that we call home.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Odiogo - Voice Your Content


And I thought translating my blog to Filipino was funny. I recently discovered a free service that'll read your blog out for you. You even have the option to publish podcasts directly to your iPod. It's called Odiogo.

It's pretty simple. All you have to do is sign up and install the widget on your blog. This adds a mini-player on each post. The MP3s are streamed from the Odiogo website so there's no bandwidth lost. If the mini-player bothers you, you can always take it out. Just keep the link so that you'll always have your podcasts ready for you.

The output is quite interesting. You get a voice that's a cross between a cyborg and local radio's Dr. Love. I've become notorious for publishing emo posts and I didn't realize how dramatic they were until Odiogo's robotic voice read them to me. It sounded like some strange radio advice show.

This is the page that Odiogo created for me. It had my last 24 posts voiced. iTunes tells me that's close to two hours of my blog podcasted. Talk about vanity.

Try it for yourself. It's worth the two seconds it takes to sign up.

Friday, November 7, 2008

someday we'll know

I got to work at a little past two today but I didn't log in till about 2.30. I felt slow. I dragged my feet all the way to the office. I felt like there was a huge black cloud above my head and it followed me everywhere. It made my sandwich taste bland. It made the mangoes in my fruit shake seem disappointingly pale. It even made the mild rain seem like a storm.

Now normally, I would ask myself why I felt this way but not today. Today, I knew exactly what was wrong. In fact, it's been bothering me since last night.

Last night a friend of mine texted me. One of our dear friends was really sick. I was floored. I couldn't believe it. I haven't seen her since graduation and that was a year and a half ago. We were together for four years. I asked myself how I could've lost touch with someone who was a part of my life for the longest time.

And then, the all too familiar feelings of guilt swept over me. In my memories of her, she was always so full of life. She had a way of laughing over the simplest things and I guess part of me envied her for her child-like innocence. (It's a cheesy way to put it but I can't really claim to be anything but jaded.) I started to feel guilty that I was living my life basically under the radar. When was the last time I made a difference? I asked.

Sometimes I envy the celebrities who have devoted their time doing charity. People like Angelina Jolie and Bono who have so much money that they can afford to feed the kids in Africa or do something about AIDS. When I was a teacher, I felt like I made a difference in the lives of my students. When I was an agent, I had a good feeling whenever I processed accounts efficiently. I felt like I was making a difference. Lately though, I had the impression that I wasn't making a difference anymore.

I can just see myself years from now reading this post wondering how I could turn someone's illness and make it about me.

(Bringing the focus back to her) Last night, I prayed for my friend. I usually just say a quick prayer and then it's lights out but last night was different. I've learned to be realistic when I pray. God's not some fairy godfather who grants wishes (I should know or else I would've had a six-pack by now) so I asked for her speedy and safe recovery. I didn't really know how sick she was but from what I heard, it was pretty bad. I prayed that she would get to live her life and in the process, I sincerely hoped I could find purpose in mine.

When I woke up this morning, I felt like I had to talk to my friend- if only to hear her voice telling me that she's okay. She was relatively fine when I called her. She told me what she's been up to since college and what happened when they brought her to the hospital. We had a pretty long conversation and shared a few laughs. It felt just like old times. I promised I'd go see her before Christmas and when we both ran out of things to say, I told her I was late for work and that I was always there for her if she wanted to talk.

But as soon as I ended the call, I felt bad again. I still couldn't shake the hopelessness that I felt. Like I said, it followed me all day. When was the last time I made a difference in someone's life?

I felt relieved I didn't have class this week because that meant I wouldn't have to pretend to be okay but then a friend from work asked me to teach a sound to her class. It was the first time I taught in close to two weeks. It started roughly because of how I felt but after some time, I was back to my regular self. I felt needed. I saw some purpose in my actions. In the trainees eyes, I saw the difference I was making. It may not be as monumental as feeding the poor or finding cures for diseases but it was a difference nonetheless. And suddenly, things didn't seem so bad.

There will be time for bigger things but right now, this much is good enough.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

clarity

Why is it we find clarity in our most idle moments? Time and time again, I've prayed for clarity during stressful moments in my life. Amidst the breeze that comes from hurrying the hell up, I find that my mind's completely blank. But on days like today- in moments when I have become completely idle, everything's so clear that one can't help but introspect.

I got home and I guess the long walk left me quite tired. I had a glass of water and in a half-assed effort of relaxing, I sat down at the foot of our staircase. I was sitting there, glass in hand and I realized I was completely bathed in moonlight. From head to toe, white light embraced my tired skin. I was playing this song called Leaving Town Alive by that girl in One Tree Hill. I closed my eyes and listened to the chorus. Life is for the living, the forgiven and for leaving town alive, she sung. Maybe so. Couldn't help but accept that she's got a point. At times, I forget how temporary my life is. I guess at some point, I do want it all- family, pets, car, mortgage, bills. Grown-up stuff. But when does this part of my life end and when does the next part begin? It's strange to be in transition. Even stranger is realizing you're in a state of transition.

It boils down to that moment when you have to say goodbye to being young and stupid and accepting your fate as an adult, answered a voice in my head.

I stared at the moon (or at least where the moon should've been) and I realized it wasn't the moon bathing me in light. The neighbor left their lights on and the strange angle made it seem like romantic moonlight. Being young is a lot like that, I guess. You get so wrapped up in the idea of a perfect life and how everything revolves around you until you slowly realize you're just a cog in a well-oiled machine. You study to get good grades. You graduate and get a job. You find someone who makes you feel like yourself and if you're lucky, maybe you won't ruin each other's lives in the end. That's life for most people but a part of me refuses to believe that it's all so simple and drawn out. I refuse to believe that my life's been planned out even before my first step.

Now and then you wonder why life is for the living, the forgiven and the leaving town alive.

It took some time for me to make peace with the fluorescent light that somehow made me look like an idiot in my own kitchen. It's probably going to take some more time for me to make peace with how life seems to me at the moment. I can't help it. I just wish that life was simple and that I could just press a button and I'd be okay with stuff but it's not that easy. If I am to get to where I need to be, a lot of changes need to be made. Like anything grand, a lot of effort comes into planning and introspecting.

Life is for the living, the forgiven, and for leaving town alive.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

la famila lim


My sister found this really old picture of the four of us. I was staring at it last night and I couldn't help but smile. It's got all four of us and we all look so deliriously happy. It's a scene straight out of a cheesy Christmas special.

Yes, I am wearing a yellow jumper.

We bought a new printer/scanner/copier hybrid thing and I decided to scan the darn thing. Our monitor's kinda funny and everything's red so I did what I could using Photoshop's Auto Adjustments and hoped for the best. Click here to see it sans editing.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

sorry

Once again, I find myself clacking away. I was hoping for some clarity but I guess it’s not so easy and we don’t always get what we hope for. To be honest with you, I’m making this up as I go along. I usually collect nice thoughts then I ball it up and regurgitate a blog entry but not today. Today, I can honestly say I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about so if you came here expecting something good to read then I guess today isn’t your day.

I was trying to get some sleep but I had this song in my head and I couldn't remember what it was. A quick Google search later, I ID'd the song.

I first heard Maria Mena's Sorry a couple of years ago. It's a sad song and I guess the rain tonight isn't helping much. She sings and I say baby, yes I feel stupid to call you but I'm lonely. And I don't think you meant it when you said you couldn't love me. It's a sad song. A sad sad song.

I don't know why I'm even getting affected. It's not like there's anything in my life to be sad about. I eat well (a little too well). I'm employed. I've got all my limbs. I certainly laugh enough. But lying in bed with the covers pulled up over my head, I couldn't help but feel unwell. No, unwell's not a good word. Unsettled. Like an account that's pending. I feel so unsettled.

Something's wrong. Perhaps I'm beginning to forget myself. I noticed that lately, I've become numb to a lot of things. Slowly and like that part on your foot that gets calloused from wearing certain types of shoes, my entire being has been wrapped in excess skin. I'm numb and I've been too dumb for too long to even notice it.

I just poured my heart out. There's bits of it on the floor. But I take what's left of it and rinse it under cold water and call him up for more, she sings and I wondered- when was the last time I wrote anything that had this much emotion? When was the last time I wrote anything period? I've got pages and pages on my little brown notebook of fragments and sentences and now that I've taken the time to read it, I realized none of it makes sense to me. Nada. Zilch.

I was talking to this friend of mine and I kept noticing that there was so much life in his stories. I kinda envied him, to be honest with you. He had his heart broken several times and by many people but there he was, alive to tell his story. I envied him because he felt something. I envied him because despite everything that's happened to him, no one could say he wasn't out there living his life. Was I living mine?

Maybe somebody's out there living my life while I'm stuck here living his. Maybe I was supposed to go surfing or bungee jumping today but instead, I encoded verbal assessment forms for applicants.

Bungee jumping... I started to wonder- when was the last time I took a risk or made a life-altering decision? Times like these, I wouldn't mind getting a tattoo or shaving my head or coming up to a complete (and hopefully harmless) stranger to ask for the time. I dunno, something to get me out of this... this.. place here.

I'm bored. I've said it fifty million times today. I've texted it, emailed it, everything less than sending it via singing telegram (♪ I'm booooored! ♪) to every person I know. I'm bored and I'm numb. None of the books I read make sense anymore. None of the conversations seem worth the effort of talking. I sit in bed wondering if anyone out there is more bored than me.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

burning down the house

Thoughts are funny things. Especially the weird ones. While I realize that statement just made me sound like a complete idiot, allow me to redeem myself. Like I said, weird thoughts are funny. It doesn't matter where you are or what you're doing. If a strange thought pops up, you have to sit up and pay attention.

Lately, I've been kind of idle. I have, at many occasions, caught myself staring off at a distance. Sometimes, I space out in the middle of conversations. My mind's just blank and uncooperative for some strange reason. It's been said that idle hands are the devil's playground but no one ever said anything about idle minds. Until now, that is.

Last night, I was drinking tea to make me sleepy. I was staring at the box, waiting for the kettle to boil and I noticed that the bear in the picture was wearing a sleeping gown. You know those really old ones that all the grannies in the movies wear? I wondered what it was like at the mall that day when the tea-drinking-bear went shopping for pajamas. Did people get scared? How hard was it to find one in his size?

Lacking opposable thumbs, I wondered who lit the fire in his fireplace. Beside him is a sleeping cat and I wondered, in a world where bears can drink tea and build fires, what happened to the cats? They're certainly more domesticated and (we had a lot of cats growing up) are certainly more human in terms of mood swings. Why couldn't the cat drink tea and wear that gown and own a pet bear instead?

I usually have thoughts like that in bursts. They're very quick to pass and usually far in between. I just get about two every couple of weeks and that's it. Today was different though. Let me tell you.

We had a fire drill this afternoon and the administration from Pacific Star really went all the way for this one. On cue, about five firemen bearing extinguishers and axes stormed through the twelfth floor and there was fake smoke all over. People with cameras were everywhere. I felt like I was in the middle of a movie.

Anyway, we had to take the stairs to go to the ground floor where there was clean air and the fake fire couldn't get us. People were shouting KEEP RIGHT!!! KEEP RIGHT!!! and the bored steps of people dragged out of their desks formed the bass line for that day's song.

Five flights down, a weird thought popped into my head. What if this was real? I started to hold on to my chest and I breathed really deeply (like I was getting suffocated or something). Then I started to think about the things that I would leave behind. What would happen to the people I love? Who would inherit my immense collection of pirated CDs? Who would come to my funeral? The casket has to be closed if my body gets all screwed up.

I almost dismissed it as another quick weird thought but by the time we reached the ground floor, I realized it wasn't. I hoped that the thoughts would stop. No, they didn't. Yes, there's more.

They set up this stage and a couple of trainers were in the show. Scene: a "typical" day at the office. People were talking in the pantry and all of a sudden this huge fire starts. People were fainting and grabbing fire extinguishers and breaking the glass in that big red box. I don't know what it's called but it's the one that says Break Glass In Case Of Fire (go figure). I thought about that pane of glass and its journey to that big ol' box. I wondered how many people got together to make that pane of glass. Would they have exerted as much effort if they knew that somebody would just break it in case of fire? And how does that pane feel when he/she/it looks at the hose? Why don't they break the hose and kill the fire with that pane of glass? What makes that silly hose more important?

And then they had this man in a stretcher and he was lowered on a set of (hopefully) sturdy cables. He had his eyes closed and everything. He looked like a dummy from where I stood but as they lowered him down, we were all surprised that he was actually a person. I wondered what thoughts were in his head. Was he scared? Did they prep him for this? Did it occur to him to call in sick that day? More importantly (being completely self-centered, I also wondered), what if that were me?

Then I started to hold on to my chest again as though I couldn't breathe. Would my parents be notified? I looked at my ID and saw my dad's name and number. At least they would contact him once they've killed the fire and stripped off the burning pieces of my shirt. Burning pieces of my shirt... I panicked. Would the people notice my fatness if I was burning? How many people would see? Can you give me a ballpark figure?

At that point, the program concluded and I was forced to rejoin the world where weird thoughts shouldn't be entertained. As I made my way back up to the office, I wondered when the next attack of the weird thoughts would take place.

Now I've always considered myself to be a little strange. Early on, I learned that the key is to keep these thoughts in your head and stop before they come out of your mouth. If you're good and you eat all your vegetables, maybe (just maybe) no one will think you're completely bonkers.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

everybody's changing

I wasn't going to say anything but I looked up at tonight's sky and saw all the stars and just felt like my cup was overflowing. In the stillness of the night (or early morning), here I am, logged in and not typing fast enough.

I've been listening to a lot of British music lately and I was trying to think of the first British group that I really liked. I picked up my dusty copy of Keane's Hopes and Fears and Everybody's Changing started playing. For those who know the song, it starts with a weird techno-like screeching but as soon as Tom Chaplin starts singing, you can't help but pay attention.

I started thinking about the people in my life and how everybody seems to be changing. I can't really speak for those who know me but I really feel like I'm still the same person I was two years ago. Nothing's really changed since college. I guess I'm more aware of my pronunciation now and I finally got used to fixing my hair every single day but aside from the superficial changes, I'm still the same person I was then.

Growing up, I went to several different schools and adjusted quite normally. I was always saying goodbye to people I didn't really want to part ways with. You'd think I'd be used to people leaving but it turns out I'm not. I'm still the frail little boy with careless hair who cried as the school bus dropped me off for the last time.

In the office, two of my most favorite people have decided to pursue other options. I tried my darndest to be brave when we threw a little party for them but I guess I didn't really do a good job. To a keen observer, I was trying too hard to be nonchalant. I wasn't fooling anyone, though. I'm very picky about who I hug but I think I gave them at least one hug each if only it would stop them from leaving.

It's funny because I know their reasons. I understand their reasons. If I had their reasons, I'd leave, too. But there's that little boy again inside of me that wants to go beyond reason. Because it makes me feel bad. Because I don't want to lose good friends. Because in the end, these are two people I actually trust and it sucks to have to lose them to their reasons.

Selfishness aside, I seriously understand their reasons. I really do. I guess reading Catcher In The Rye isn't really helping. I'm only halfway done but it's already left quite an impression. The person who lent it to me read me the book's last line: Don't ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody. Maybe I'm taking it out of context. I'm not even remotely near that part of the book but my take on it is that once you start letting people in, you set yourself up to getting hurt. Because nothing's permanent. Everything changes. At some point, everybody changes and if you're not careful, you just might get caught in their undertow.

But then I looked up at the stars again (I can't help it) and seeing Orion's Belt, I realized that I, too have changed. I don't see the same things I saw before. I don't like the same things I like. Even this crinkle I'm eating right now tastes differently from the one I had in my memory. Most importantly, I don't feel the same way about things like I did before.

I guess the trick is to keep moving and maybe, just maybe, change would actually do me some good.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

what a wonderful world

I woke up today after just four hours of sleep. The heat was getting to me. Is it just me or is it unusually hot today? As I write this, I've probably had about a pitcher of water. But it's all good because today is my rest day.

It's funny how I used to be so restless on my rest days. I couldn't wait to get out of the house or if I couldn't, I'd find something else to do at home. After eating lunch today, I went back up, listened to some new downloads and tried to win over the heat with my mind. Mind over matter, right? Aside from the heat, everything was so peaceful.

And then it happened. Thoughts started to emerge. They threatened to drown out The Ting Tings and Rachael Yamagata. I cranked up the volume and when that didn't work, I picked up an old book.

Perhaps it's because I haven't really had a moment to think much this week. Before you think I'm an idiot, let me clarify that most of my major life decisions this week have been "coffee or cream based?" or "this shirt or that one?". I've been in such a hurry to go to work and go to class and go back home that I totally forgot that I was living a life. But I'm digressing.

I picked up an old book. I bought it about two years ago in a second hand book store in Cubao. I suppose I should add that the book chose me. It screamed my name as I walked past its aisle and I fell in love with it right away. It's got these Zen sayings that makes a lot of sense and provokes a lot of thought.
What started as a derision turned out to be the solution to my problems. Cheesy as it may sound, I actually needed this silly book to sort out my many dormant feelings. Allow me to share a few.
  1. If, in the future, a snake is going to bite you, it is unavoidable. Admit it. We spend a lot of effort stressing out on what we need to do or what people think about us. If you're at all like me, this often gets blown out of proportion. Although I hardly believe that everything is random, I have faith that everything happens for a reason.
  2. If there is a part of your life that you don't want, don't live it. When I first read this, I actually thought the word it referred to life and not part of your life so I thought it was advocating suicide but when I read it again and let it settle this time, I realized this- we do a lot of unnecessary things each day to please people we don't even like. To make things easier, let's cut out the complications. I've survived twenty-two years without being specious, I suppose I can manage a couple years more.
  3. If you wait long enough, suddenly nothing will happen. This one's pretty self-explanatory but I included it here because this aphorism completely epitomizes my concept of peace. Peace is that moment when everything is so quiet and you realize that nothing, absolutely nothing is happening.
  4. Make sure your enemies think more about you than you do about them. Although I must say that it sucks when some people don't really like you, I suppose it's only fair that you not fight fire with fire. And how do you stop retaliation? By blatantly ignoring things that you know will irritate you. Out of sight, out of mind. (enter Kelly Clarkson: yeah yeah since you've been gone!)
  5. Above all your skills and weapons, your enemy fears your courage most. There's a Filipino saying that roughly translates to this thought- people who are victimized often allow themselves to be. A little tough for those who have been victims of violent crimes but let's not digress again. It's like that old cartoon with the bear and the heart. I needed to find my heart to be a strong old bear.
  6. Never be angry with something that can't get angry with you. Most fights start with second (or often third) hand information. I've said in a previous post that I could be "mad at what the person was doing and not at the person himself?" Seek out proof before getting into anything serious and never be angry at someone who isn't even there to fend for himself.
  7. We think we are being interesting to others when we are being interesting to ourselves. Some people like the sound of their own voice. I, too, have been guilty of this. There are days when you feel like you're the bee's knees. But then again, the world has a world of opinions and although it may seem like you've just come up with the greatest invention ever, you could be just reinventing the wheel.
  8. Anger is seen as a weapon by the coward. Anger doesn't solve anything. If I really wanted to fix the things in my life, I suppose it would be best to let some really old baggage go.
  9. Loneliness is never cured by people. Although we may be lonely when people leave, it doesn't work inversely. When you're sad, you could make friends with the howhywurrr but it wouldn't really do shit if you're lonely for a reason. I've been lonely but rarely have I walked away from the situation without learning something new.
  10. (and my favorite) Success must be used immediately. I'm living my dreams and nothing (or no one) will keep me from it. (evil laughter)
So that's just me. In a few minutes, I'm off to see Eagle Eye (is it just me or am I the last person to see this?) and after writing this, I feel loads better.

Monday, October 6, 2008

happy birthday bloggy / red vines

At the risk of sounding a bit full of myself, I must say I've gone a long way from my first ever blog post. Four years ago, I logged on to Blogger for the very first time and said:

buena mano
hello! this is my first ever post! hahahaha! bwahahahaha! hehehe! bwahahahaha! this sucks! wahahahaha!

I'm celebrating my blog's birthday with a spanking new layout. Over the span of several weeks, I re-read every single post to apply tags (aka labels) in an effort to make things a little more organized.

And to add to the day's festivities, I just learned I got a blogoftheday award. I just finished adding the badge to my site's layout! :D

(regains composure) Anyway, that's it. Here's today's post.

It must feel nice to be a kid again. It must feel nice to trust again. To have nothing to worry about- candy in one hand, faith in the other. I can only imagine how it feels to have complete and perfect faith in people.

Scene: Tea with a friend. African Sunrise to go with my Filipino Sunset. Animated, she tells me about her current crisis and I listen intently. Bag of Red Vines in hand, I stuff my face with licorice. Unknowingly, I was beginning to zone out of the actual world and into my own.

I rubbed a piece of candy between two fingers and watched the lines move as my fingers do. I remember twisted chaos. I remember finding beauty in something messy. Where was I now?

I realized I didn't know what my friend was telling me anymore so I offered her a red vine and made peace by tuning back in. By then, the rain was starting to really pour and the chances of us coming home any time soon were pretty slim and so I ordered another drink and had another red vine.

In the middle of her next story, I stared at (what felt like my first but was actually) my seventeenth consecutive red vine. I realized that there was nothing inside it. My new best friend was hollow. And to think I had so much faith in its stability. I remember being hollow. I remember trusting that things can only get better. Was I still there now?

There's a wall near my house with an ugly word. It symbolized everything that I thought I wanted. I must admit, it's been a little tough to trust again. To recover, I've pretty much covered up a lot of places in myself. Today, I saw that someone had painted all over that wall. It was a different color from the original paint and so it was quite obvious that it was placed there to conceal something. I am this wall. I've had (emotional) work done, it's obvious but at least it doesn't scare me anymore.

From the top of the hollow red vine, I make a little crease with my fingernail. With very little effort, I managed to tear the whole thing apart. Once laid flat, the lines looked kinda straight. I took another sip of my tea and smiled to myself. Once broken, it became easier to see what was true and what isn't. Every twisted mess (or messy twist), when taken apart becomes straight and easy to understand.

It feels nice to trust again. It feels natural to have faith in people again.

Monday, September 22, 2008

rome wasn't built in a day

I've spent a lot of nights (and afternoons) twisting and turning in bed. I'm pretty sure this isn't ground breaking news. A lot of people go through this but what fascinates me is that while most people think about their jobs, relationships, and other worries, I'm simply thinking about how I can get to sleep. My uncle, a visiting upholsterer just started work on updating our ancient sofa set and amidst the bass line from his hammer, the noisy singing neighbor, and the intoxicating smell of rugby, I found myself wide-awake after a full hour of lying in bed.

Resigned that the concept of sleeping at two in the afternoon was pointless, I got dressed in my most NSFW outfit (it was wrinkly and old) and headed to the nearest cup of Chamomile tea. There in the cafe's lulling ambiance, I hoped to find some answers.

Most people gauge their lives on certain things- a good job, good friends, a good relationship. I had a job that took me to intellectual places I didn't even know existed. My friends have always been there for me and in lieu of a relationship, I always had my writing. But that's the thing about relationships, they don't always take us to where we want, nay need to be. I haven't written anything substantial in months. Aside from this blog, I only write on leave forms, notes to people, and other useless things. I had always seen writing as a form of release but with nothing bottled up inside me, I was afraid that this writer had suddenly dried up.

I realized that I wasn't so lucky; that I did have things that were keeping me from sleeping. I was a dying writer. What was the last story I wrote? When did I last feel the sudden urge to pick up a pen and scribble away? Why couldn't I write?

I had sworn off books for the longest time. It happened after reading Murakami's Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. It took me months to finish it, not to mention two Nick Hornby novels and a side dish of David Sedaris (just to break the monotony). After months of not reading, I picked up Murakami's Sputnik Sweetheart to keep me and my tea company. There, in chapter 2, I found a very interesting take on fiction. There are gates in China that hold spirits of towns. To make this, they take the bones of fallen soldiers and mix it with the blood of freshly killed dogs. Kind of like the mixture of time and experience gives you kick-ass lit. I had lots of time. I had plenty of experience. Why couldn't I write?

Suddenly, my hands reached for the pencil in my 3 day old jeans. I had to write. But what could I write about?

I started slowly. Random things. Was that Billie Holiday playing in the background? I'm leaving sweat marks on the pleather. That lady thought I was in college. Pretty soon, I couldn't stop. When I ran out of paper, I practically ran home and scribbled away. It wasn't much but I had to start somewhere. All in all, I must've filled about three pages of lines and with the right mood, I could probably use half of those lines to form a decent piece.

So here's my lesson of the day. Who knew it was that easy? Once I had embraced my handicap, I figured out a way to get rid of it. And just like dominoes, breaking down one wall broke the next. As I write this, I feel a timid yawn escape my lips. I'm pretty sure I'm going to get to sleep after this. Rome wasn't built in a day and my words shouldn't have to feel any pressure.

Friday, September 12, 2008

hide and seek

Walking home this morning, I finally had a few moments to myself- away from addictions and people who I willingly and unwillingly try to please. You can't please everybody, he told me as though he knew me. His voice betrayed how he thought he had me all figured out. I smiled, feeling my cheeks touch my eyelashes knowing well that this was not a genuine smile.

As I gazed at the undecided sky, unsure if it would rain or shine, I held on to my smelly umbrella hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. Without my umbrella, I could feel little, nay ignorable drops of rainwater. I told the sky to make up its mind. Was it going to rain or not?

Lately nothing makes sense. I find myself wondering if I'm stuck in a lucid dream or if I simply have a lucid life. This weather is a lot like my life right now. It doesn't really matter if the sun will shine or the rain will pour as long as something happens. I cannot be stuck in between two states for too long.

In my phone's inbox are two antithetic messages. Sent by two different people, I wonder how one person's anchor could be another's detonator. By principle, they both have eyes, ears, and other senses. How could I be so different with each one? One asks me if I am safe. The other misses the confusion I brought to the table. Friendship should not be complicated, I dismissed. The messages were sent three weeks apart and both came about a year too late.

If I choose to be safe, will the demons leave me alone? If I choose to embrace what was, no matter how self-destructive it may be, will I be safe? Another voice chimes in, are you safe either way?

I don't know a lot of things but this I know- if it should rain, let it rain. If the sun's going to shine, let it burn.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

swallow

I have been working for over a year now. All this time, I never really had the time to just stop and look at the things that have happened to me. It's always been about my career and getting to work on time and making sure I don't screw up in a major way.

As things started to slow down at my new job, I felt the zeal slowly getting sucked out of me. There's a part in my introduction where I say "training is my passion because it's the perfect marriage of my two worlds." I always talk about how I finally have the chance to do what I want since I never got to teach at a real school. Lately though, I can taste the insincerity as the words come out of my mouth. It's like I stopped believing that my life had finally reached a peaceful state. I couldn't swallow my self-formed ideals. Deep down, I wondered where the happy boy that was once inside me went.

This time last week, I took some time off to relax and got myself a foot spa at the friendly neighborhood salon. On my way back though, the weather was not quite as friendly. By Monday morning, I had a high fever and a splitting headache and (unknown to me) the beginnings of tonsillitis.

Armed with a bag full of Bactidol, Strepsils, and Bioflu, I went to the office that night. Sometime within my shift, I felt weaker and weaker. I wasn't eating much and taking water was too much pain. At the ninth hour, I promptly checked out and went home but I wasn't feeling any better. I slept, sans brushing my teeth, washing my face or even changing out of my street clothes. When I woke up, I sensed that it was no longer just my introduction or my job that I couldn't swallow. I was now unable to swallow food, water, or medication. I had to see the doctor.

I checked in and got some time to rest and think about things. By Friday, I can honestly say that I had a new found appreciation for the work that I do. I just really needed to rest. I felt like I had a new lease on life. Not only that, I started to look at things differently. Ladies and gentlemen, Thoughts from Semi-Private 4.

I need new slippers. My slippers are so dirty, it's not even funny. They look nothing like the pair I bought years ago. When slippers are dirty, they have dirt marks. When slippers are really dirty, they have clean marks. There's so much dirt on my slippers' surface that instead of keeping them clean, I had all sorts of dirt under my feet.




Makati is really pretty. I've been a resident of this city since July of last year and I've also worked here for longer than that. True, Makati is nice at night but it's f-ing gorgeous in the early morning. Even through the hospital's dirty windows, I could still see it, taste it, feel it. It's a cool city and I'm glad we finally made peace.

Pulp = Fun. I had my first taste of Minute Maid thirteen years ago during a lengthy visit to the States. We were in a grocery and I asked my mom for some money because I wanted to try the Coke vending machine (ever the usi). She didn't give me any but that didn't stop me. I pushed the buttons repetitively till a can of Minute Maid came out (or was it a little bottle?). Recently launched in the Philippines, it was one of my closest companions in the hospital. It gave me so much pleasure that I started to worry that it may run out too quickly. How could I find such contentment over a bottle of juice? I guess when you're always in a hurry, you never really stop and think about the small things that make you happy. I had this epiphany halfway through the bottle. I made a quick resolution to pay more attention to whatever is at hand.

IVs suck. They're painful and they make your hand swell up. Since my tonsils were so big that I couldn't take my meds orally, I had to take them intravenously. I always thought taking meds was really easy until I had three syringes full of co-amoxiclav shot up my left arm. Now that's pain. With that in mind, I swore to take better care of myself and that I would never again push my limitations. Tired? Rest. Hungry? Eat. Seconds? Maybe not.


I wasn't wasting money when I bought all those things for myself. For about three-quarters of my entire hospital stay, I was alone. I didn't have anyone with me at night and I had a total of nine visitors and only three (yes folks, count 'em) of them were not related to me. So for all the hours in between Friends reruns and blood tests, I took lots and lots of pictures. I listened to lots and lots of songs. I played Chuzzle, Monopoly, 20 Questions and a lot more. I read books that I bought months ago but never got to read. In between pages of Sputnik Sweetheart and the third hour of songs on shuffle, I realized I was having a blast and I didn't even have to spend for it.

So what started as a step to save my life (and tonsils) ended up becoming an impromptu vacation. I look forward to working tomorrow knowing that I've had my goals realigned and my outlook refreshed. Now if I could just get my left hand to stop looking like a prosthetic...

Monday, August 25, 2008

stress

I didn't say you stole that money. It's funny how putting stress on different words in that sentence could completely change the meaning. Back in Chase, I was told that I had good stress and intonation in my speech and I used it to make people laugh. English is a stress-timed language, my trainer said and this would set me apart from my wave mates.

A year later, I find myself in her shoes talking about stress. Syllable stress (or-ganization!), word stress(I have a pen!), it all means the same thing: stress. I don't really know what this has to do with what I'm about to talk about but I guess it's nice to start with a story from work since work's what brought me here in the first place.

After the most stressful couple of weeks in my life, I've survived two demos, four classes, and a concussion. I didn't really elaborate on it but I mentioned in a multiply album that I fell down the stairs and landed on my head. Yes, I'm still alive, thank you very much.

I'd be lying if I said it ends there. Looking at the mirror, I see that the days have not been kind. The months I spent taking care of myself all went out the window with a couple of neuron-charged days. I see my forehead with the coffins of pimples laid to rest. The bags under my eyes could carry a ton of drugs past customs. Again, I'd be lying if I said it ends there.

These days, I'm lucky if I'm not dead tired when I get home. Amidst shuffling between classes and all the junk I find time for, I scratched my head and a clump of hair fell out. Chemo moment. I brushed it off and told myself that a couple of strands isn't a lot to miss. This evening while getting my haircut, the guy said I should see a derma as I had a couple of bald spots in odd places. It's funny how you can be so secure about your life one moment and be scared shitless the next. I spaced out when I heard "alopecia" and focused on trying to keep a straight face.

Maybe it is just stress but I'm really getting paranoid. Inside the bathroom, I stared suspiciously at the bottles of shampoo. "Are you to blame?" I asked. They stared back with the innocence of a large Chuzzle about to be popped. In my room, I held the container of wax in the dim light. "I've used you for years. Are you to blame?" On my way down the stairs, I watched the four concrete steps that could've been my demise days ago. Was my hair falling because of the shock?

The guy who cut my hair asked if I was under a lot of stress lately. "I'm not stressed", I lied. I just had a couple of things on my mind, I said. I thought about my demos and modules and the stuff I needed to do. Last Monday I had a headache (probably because I fell) and I had to ignore it because I was presenting the voiced th. I thought about getting my hands on some money (spent wisely, I think) and how I needed to find time to get the microwave oven I promised my folks. I thought about my Sun bill and how it's been months since I last paid and how I really should find some time to get it cut.

So am I stressed? Maybe.

I don't even know anymore. I'm kinda getting scared. I took a picture of my head and confirmed my fears. There's a spot. I see it. It's there. Oh goodness me, it's there. Pass the finasteride, please.

Friday, August 8, 2008

hey... piburtdey... teyey!!!

It's official. I'm 22. (BUT) In about 4 hours, I'm due to present a vowel sound in front of our boss aka the only American in the department. I don't know why that should make any difference but to me it does. The last time he saw me do this was when I applied for the position and that was months ago.

So with all this pressure, I've been unable to fully enjoy my birthday. Last night was spent rehearsing in front of anything that would listen- cats, dogs, mice, cockroaches and when I decided to call it a day (or night), I twisted and turned in bed. Nervous much?

It's funny how my online accounts have followed suit. They've forgotten my birthday too! I checked my mail when I woke up and saw that the ages haven't changed. They usually do at around 12 since I've properly input the timezone and country. Anyway, it seems my birthday has to take the back seat first. Today's only celebration will be if they all drop their jaws properly.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

pre-birthday thoughts (turn around)

I heard that the song "Total Eclipse of the Heart" is a duet. You need a guy to sing "turn around" and a girl to sing everything else. I'm not really sure what it has to do with anything I'm about to say but it goes well with the picture I chose for this post (plus my phone's broken so I couldn't take any new ones).

Once again, I find my life completely devoid of bloggable content. Instead of blogging, I've left useless comments on other people's blogs, hoping for some interaction. In lieu of writing, I ran through my blog's archives. But then I remembered. I'm turning 22 tomorrow. I should be happy. I should have pages and pages to write!!!

People always say that my birthday this year is very lucky. Somehow, I find that a little difficult to believe because (1) I don't believe in luck, and (2) 8-8-8 has never happened before so what makes them so sure?

Instead, I have feelings of apathy towards said date. I suppose I'm a little better off than last year when I held on to 20's zero for dear life but after a year of being 21, I suppose it would be silly to curse time for changing the last digit yet again.

Excuse me, Lina from Jobstreet just sent me a birthday greeting. (reads email, hmm.. spam)

(Well anyway) Birthdays are a time usually spent reflecting on what you've done this year and what you wish to accomplish by next year. The good thing about being a blogger is that, much like keeping a diary, you can use your blog like a history book.

This time last year, I wrote "so, i'm 21. ugh, i feel older already. my skin feels leathery." I continued with "birthdays are just a painful reminder of how we are all so moribund. gawd, i can't believe i feel so old." Looking at that post now, I cringe a little. It reeks of vanity, pretentiousness (second quote case in point. who says moribund?) and it's an obvious ploy to get the obligatory "you're not old!!!" (said in a sonnically high pitched voice). Superfriends to the rescue:

Lee: so anong tawag mo sa akin? you're still young!
Achi: Sandali lang, nakakainis ka ha! Anong you feel so old? Eh ako yung panganay, at ikaw yung bunso! Aba aba aba. ;>
RG: kapalmuks talaga nito. feel so old? hintayin mong mag-40 ka.

I couldn't believe what I was reading. Was I really that shallow? Which led me to further investigation. Are all my birthday posts this inane?

In 2006, I talked about how my mom gave me a pink (inedible) pineapple for my birthday. I also talked about how I loved the tea lattes in Coffee Bean.

In 2005, I wrote "i watched 13 going on 30 and i realized i knew who my jennifer garner was. question is, am i ready to be someone's mark ruffalo? eeww... goosebumps..." Before anything else, can I just say YUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK!!!!!!!! (regains composure) Reading it now, I still get goosebumps (but obviously for completely different reasons). Aside from the cheesy chick flick reference, I added "i'm sad. it's my birthday. well, not officially. i was born at 4:00 and it's 3:11 PM on the 9th so it's technically still my birthday. I miss the usual people who would greet me on my birthday." Again, the words vain and shallow come to mind. I want to find my 20 year old self and smack some sense into him. A time machine would be an excellent birthday gift (ahem ahem)

In the spirit of turning around, I figured this year, I should do things a little differently. Instead of focusing on what's wrong in my life (and how incredibly sad it is that I'm gaining another year), let me take some time to pat my back and think about where I wanted to go last year and where I am this year. Ladies and gentlemen, last year's life goals (original post):

"Start thinking of poss career expansion"
I talked about possible career expansion a couple of posts back and I'm happy to report that I've been successful in that department. I left the job that made me unhappy, sought out a future (jumping headfirst and blindfolded) and found happiness and as if that wasn't enough, I took it to the next level and got promoted. So far, all career gambles have paid off.

"Start praying / lean on things that matter"
I've gone back to church after months of turning away. I haven't gone back to sunday school. That'll take more time, of course but at least I no longer have the same feelings I had about God and religion. I feel that the time I spent away from Him made me see why I was with Him in the first place and why I needed to go back.

"Stop thinking about what'll get me through the day and start thinking about what'll bring me to my future."
I've learned to let go of things which I did not have any control over. I no longer have delusions of grandeur. I now know that despite your best efforts some people will never change. If you're one of the people who can, consider yourself lucky (as I do now). Now if I can honestly say I've moved on from the car crash that was my life I'd be this much better. (audience in unison: may ganon?) It's just like Butch Walker says. Take tomorrow one day at a time.

Turn around...

Thursday, July 31, 2008

tabatsooooy!!!

Four years ago, I was a bit of a health buff. It was a little thing that turned into an everyday habit. I wouldn't say habit, now that I think about it. I was literally obsessed. I jogged everyday at 5 o'clock (because I read somewhere that that's your body's peak exercise time), did up to 80 sit ups a day and ate Sky Flakes for lunch. At one point, I tipped the scales at 119 (which was no easy task, mind you). My sisters staged a couple of interventions which were pretty funny but also kinda scary.

Three years ago, I slowly started to gain weight. Then the pounds came rolling in. And then they wouldn't stop. I ended the year at 135 and stopped counting from then on.

Today, I'm at a hundred-something. That's my answer if anybody asks. It's not that I'm M.O. or anything. I just like to eat. I like how with food you get all these different sensations- texture, flavor, smell, anything and everything about food just makes me feel so alive.. and so hungry.

In mundane moments, I find myself entertaining the thought of dieting again. The wonderful cure-all for fattyfoofoos. Eat less, weigh less. Hmm.. maybe not. It's on those days when I subconsciously forgo shaving so that no one will notice that extra chin. Or when I've gone through tons of shirts to find one that doesn't make me look like a dumpling.

It's funny to look back now and see what I once was and what I am now. I haven't completely withdrawn from sanity. I try to walk to and from work as much as I can. I also try to eat healthy food as much as I can but there are days and moments (like today!!!) when I start to wonder how I went from Sky Flakes to this: (ladies and gentlemen, my tabatsoooy moments)
  1. a bottle of VitWater (to convince myself that l-carnitine works without exercise)
  2. a chicken sandwich from mister donut (na-curious ako kasi it looked good. plus chicken's healthy naman diba? and may veggies pa yun)
  3. Grape soda (to go with the sandwich. At least may parts parin na fruit)
  4. A 22oz Fruitas mango shake (it's fruit and it's got milk so maganda yan! healthing healthy!)
  5. Egg rolls (which I found in the house. Snack lang. Nakakapagod magdiet! Kailangan ng reward)
  6. Lunch time na! Seafood platter from the GCMA concessionaire (seafood siya so at least slightly healthy parin. never mind na imitation crab meat is made of mystery meat.)
  7. California Maki (kasi bitin yung seafood platter! Dessert siya at konti lang naman yung roe. Plus the wasabi will be good for my cold (?))
  8. (more) grape soda. I never really paid much attention to the Coke machine at work but the thought of more grape soda seemed so yummy at that time.
  9. (more) Egg rolls. Gotta finish the box. Sayan naman diba?
  10. (and the winner is...) Lechon + Tofu (weird tokwa't baboy mix) from the concessionaire nanaman. While getting coffee with Chama, we passed the food people and the porky parts were screaming my name. It took me a long time to decide if I wanted some pero in the end, *sigh*
  11. (segue to me walking home promising myself di na ako kakain when... tada!!!) tortang talong for dinner!!! with afritada!!! *sobs* a few spoonfuls.
  12. (but wait, there's more!!!) two twix bars and a glass of coke (for the energy to write this down)
Maybe it's because my wallet's been looking pretty thin lately. Payday just happened to fall on a Thursday so everyone's feeling the stretch. I once heard that when you've got only x amount of dollars left, go out and get the biggest steak you can find and treat yourself to a shoeshine. Parang emotional hoarding. You hoard good vibes of fullness and contentment kasi your body's not sure when it'll experience bounty again.

Must... stop... eating...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

introduce yourself...


La Familia Dieta

Part I: Self-Edit
Thought: Hmm.. tough crowd. Suddenly the half room doesn't seem so small.
Speech: Hello everybody *ahem* before we begin I'd like to introduce myself.


T: Introduce yourself, no way, introduce yourself, okay!
S: *ahem* My name is...

T: I am 21 years old. I am 21 years old! Damn it, I can't say that. Must... build... credibility
S: ...I am a trainer here at DIET. I've been in the contact center industry for...

T: 14 months.
S: ...over a year now...

T: I've been a trainer for 2 months. Took calls for a day shy of a year. Scratch that. BE CREDIBLE $#!%@$^!@!!!
S: ...half of which was spent here at this company.

T: Oh crap. Should I have said that? T1: No. Remember the part about building credibility? They can do simple math. 1 year divided by 2= 6 months = boo!
T2: Oh shit.
T3: Oh shit (echo, enter London Bridge Intro)
S: Anyway, I started here as an IP Relay operator. We basically made phone calls for the deaf and hard of hearing. Those with call center experience would probably know what I'm talking about.

T: What's next? Hmm... Training is my passion because...
T1: Is it? You gotta talk about moving to DIET, silly.
T2: The spiel about marriage of both worlds.

T3: The
Grey Goose got your girl feeling loose. Now I'm wishing that I didn't wear these shoes.
S: After that, I...

T: applied?
T1: got promoted?
S: ...moved to DIET. Which is so much fun. I love it here. I really do (with matching eyebrow action towards Bossman) Training is my passion because I find that it's the marriage of my 2 worlds. I am a teacher. I have a degree in Secondary Education from UST but after college I...

T: Sold out?
T1: Slipped into the dark side

T3: (sirens)

S: joined the industry because of the...

T: money

T1: money
T2: ...the wonderful opportunity and the...
T: money
T2: ...sheer joy of getting to meet new people everyday...

T1: money

T2: ...and also because I'm a people person...

S: (high pitched shriek + horse neigh) *mental breakdown*

Sounds stressful? Nope. Just another day at the office. When you self correct a lot, you start to hear four, at times five different voices all at once. Since when did introducing one's self become so difficult? I realize now that despite introductions being tough, I have to do it right at the risk of losing my (big word today) credibility in front of the trainees. I always thought that my youth and lack of experience would be a testament to the company's stance on equal opportunity but after some re-education, I know see that my previous introductions have made me look unqualified and this casts a negative light on the company. Oh, what I'd do for a do over right about now.

I used to think this move to Training meant one thing: less stress. I've always felt comfortable in front of a class and at the time that I decided (to apply), I really felt like I was coming home. I still remember getting really delicate calls and how my heart would just jump out of my chest each time. I figured this change would do me good (I believe I talked about that in some of my previous posts) but with a new scene comes new challenges and this latest one is just the beginning. It's like there's another voice in my head that seems to say...

T5: there's plenty more where that came from (evil laughter)

But I am learning. Learning has been defined as a change in behavior and I can feel it. I hear it, smell it, taste it. Change is all around me. In a mock extempo, a trainee asked me who I look up to and (cheesy answer) in a hushed voice, I said "Let's keep this to ourselves but I really look up to the other trainers. Sometimes, I just watch them in the war room and I'm so amazed at what they've accomplished. Here are people who have lives and families and have made names for themselves and most of them have been in the very same place I find myself in now. So yeah, if there's anybody I look up to, that'd be them."

No, I am not the greatest. I'm not even in the top half. But I'm learning and that's all I need right now.

Part II: Toshie's Dead, well not really.

People who have seen my phone usually say one of two things. The polite ones would probably say "wow, that's a unique phone. hmmm... what's it called?" to which I'd go on about how I found it on eBay and how it's Japanese and blahdiblahdiblah... The crude ones would probably say "wow, diba call center ka (oo, building ako)? Bat ganyan parin phone mo" Kasi, this doubles as a deadly weapon. Blag! As I wipe their brain particles of the phone's display, I feel glad to have defended my phone's honor.

But it's dead now. Well, not really. It turns on and off at different times of the day. The repair guy said he could probably fix it but it would have a 50/50 chance of surviving surgery. So I guess that makes Toshie an ICU patient. Blame it on the Starbucks not-so-spillproof tumbler. I found Toshie wet and coughing as it buzzed goodbye.

I'm still thinking if I should get a new phone or have this one fixed. I really love the camera in this phone and a lot of people who have used this particular model would agree that it captures natural light pretty well. This picture (which I've got up on Multiply) is from the fifth floor of the office and it's one of the reasons why I'm really going to miss good old Toshie. *sad face*