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


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...