Friday, January 29, 2010

the universe sends me messages

Disclaimer: This is a departure from my usual emo-ridden posts. I woke up a few days ago and found a pimple the size of Tahiti on my forehead. Since then, it has slowly invaded my brain and other vital organs. My pimple has a mind of its own, with thoughts it wants to express on this page.

The universe sends me messages. Not on my cellphone or through the mail but through a more subtle medium. There’s no need to get scared. It’s completely normal. It’s more of a fifth sense rather than a strange trait inherited from generations of inbreeding so there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. Anyway, I’m getting waaaay ahead of myself.

So… the story begins. Last night, I heard from a friend-slash-ex-colleague who was raving about how green the grass was on the other side. She told me about a great opportunity at her present company. If I joined her, I would still be in the training department but would have less work for more pay. Who wouldn’t jump on such a fantastic offer, right? I was at home when she texted and so I told her I would email my application first thing in the morning. Like most model employees, my most updated résumé was created and stored in my work computer.

Universe Message #1: The next day, work was super crazy. Two trainers were absent and we had to have all hands on deck. I couldn’t work on my application! I was in class the whoooole day. I couldn’t take a dump or pick my nose or bloghop like I always do on regular days. I was dead tired by the time my class ended. After work, I told my friend that I would email my application as soon as I got home.

But then American Idol was on. Damn it, why does this show have to be so damn addictive?

Universe Message #2: After dinner, I took my last P100 bill from my wallet to buy wireless broadband credit. The universe sent me my second message. When I was trying to connect to the internet, my USB modem thing didn’t want to work. It just kept flashing and when I touched it, it was really, really hot. I didn’t want to burn my laptop so I just unplugged the device and tried to troubleshoot. A few hours later, I was on the phone with a highly incompetent representative who basically told me that there was a big problem with my device. A big problem!

*clap clap clap* Amazing! Who wouldn’t want a recap of the last three hours of your own life? If I didn’t know that, I wouldn’t be calling you. She told me to call back in 24 hours if it was still acting up. I guess Sheena Easton was right. Time does heal all wounds, even the technological kind.

I gave up on the higly incompetent representative and decided to call my friend instead. I needed to tell her about the universe and how it was conspiring against me and my application. As I was dialing her number, I realized my cellphone was a little hot. I think it’s because I’m hot I had been on the phone with that amazing representative for a couple millennia. I went through my things to find my earphones but it was nowhere to be found. That set me up for my third and last message of the day.

Universe Message #3: As I was looking for that stupid accessory, I found a mysterious wooden instrument. It took me some time but I soon recognized it from five years ago. It was before I got into this industry, this life, this whole craziness. It’s a wooden percussion instrument (whose name escapes me now) that I imagine natives use to play songs and stuff. I put it in my mouth and started playing. Each pluck produced a springy, throbbing sound. ♪♫ boing boing boing boing boing… ♫♪ If I inhaled while I plucked, it produced a dull, throbbing sound. ♪♫ BOING BOING BOING BOING BOING… ♫♪

So what, pray tell is the universe trying to tell me? It’s very simple. To the naked mind, the first two messages convey a huge stop sign. I shouldn’t leave my secure job. I shouldn’t venture into the unknown. The new company has nothing good to give me. I should stay loyal to the company that gave me my break. But then I got my third sign and it put everything in perspective.

It’s time to leave everything behind and focus on my music. What do you think?

Photo Credit:

Nick Dreamer
Bad Romance

Monday, January 18, 2010

of flying and falling

There was a woman. There was a lake. She was floating. No, she was swimming. Day in, day out, she did nothing but swim. Her hands had become shriveled like flesh-colored raisins.

She was happy in the water. She felt at home in the water. As she swam, she stared at the mountain. She marveled at its majesty. She listened as the trees spoke to her in monotone. Will you swim away the rest of your life? Will you swim away the rest of your life? Will you swim away the rest of your life?

There were birds at the tops of the trees. She wondered what it felt like to be so free. She gathered her strength and her belongings. I shall climb the mountain. I shall jump into the lake.

She awkwardly took her first steps. Her feet had become muddied but she didn’t really care. She reached a clearing a few meters off the ground. This is a good spot. Jump now, the lake ordered. She stared at the water from where she stood. This is too safe. I want to go higher. And so she did.

She continued to walk up the mountain until she reached the halfway mark. There was another clearing. Don’t go any higher, said the lake. I won’t be able to catch you if you go any higher. Looking at the water, she could still see with vivid clarity the rocks and the trees below. I want to go higher! she exclaimed and so she did.

She climbed and climbed and when she felt she couldn’t take another step, she pushed herself a little more. Night had fallen by the time she got to the top of the mountain. Off the distance, she could see lights from a nearby town. It’s probably dinner time. She squinted and tried to look for her house. It’s been ages since I last went home. I wonder if anyone’s looking for me.

She looked around her. The mountaintop was inviting but also very lonely. It seemed like no man had set foot there in ages. Slowly, she walked to the edge of the mountain. She closed her eyes and felt the cool breeze dancing on her cheeks. Jump. Jump. Jump, it began.

The lake had lost its color. There was nothing but the dark now. She spread her arms as though they were wings. Jump! Jump! Jump! the wind roared and so she did. Without any hesitation, she kicked off the ground and attempted to fly.

The mountain was called Expectations and she was never seen again.


All at once, I am the woman. I am the lake. I am the mountain. I am the trees. I am morning. I am evening. I am everything. I am nothing. There’s a ringing in my ear as though a bomb had just gone off. There are a million voices in my head. This is a good spot. Will you swim away the rest of your life? Jump. Don’t go any higher. Jump. I wanna go higher. Jump! Jump! JUMP!

Quiet! I screamed. All the voices went away except for one- yours. You were chanting. Expectations will be the death of you. Expectations will be the death of you. Expectations will be the death of you.

I’m sorry I wanted too much. My cigarette burns to the tip as I weep hot tears for you to return.

Photo Credit: Cliff Jump

Alanis Morissette
Simple Together
Feast on Scraps

Friday, January 15, 2010

interlude: flight

the difference between flying and falling
lies in one’s awareness of his capabilities and limitations.

so the next time i love, i will no longer fall.
i shall fly.

that way, if i should hit the ground,
it would be because
my feet missed the stability of the earth.

Photo Credit: Dream Currents

Fiona Apple
Parting Gift
Extraordinary Machine

Monday, January 11, 2010

the weaner takes it all

“Saan ba kasi napupunta pera mo?” asked my mother. I was trying to loan some money from her to get me through the week.

“Sa food. Transpo. The usual stuff. Bakit? Saan ba dapat?” I must admit I was a little offended when she asked me that question but then I realized she had a point. I’ve been borrowing money from her for months. You would think that I wasn’t earning enough.

I went to my room feeling dejected. To take my mind off things, I decided to clean up a little. I folded my clothes and changed the beddings. After that, I opened the drawer beside my bed. That’s where I usually dump my things when I get home. Inside, I saw misplaced CDs, empty lighters and tons of Starbucks receipts. I guess that answers my mom’s question.

I sat down with all of them and realized I spend waaaay to much money on coffee. Just like in those old Safeguard commercials*, a paler version of me suddenly appeared.

“Kailangan mo na tigilan ‘yang adiksyon mo sa kape!” he said. I figured my conscience would not tell me to do anything that would harm me so I decided I would have one final cup of coffee and call it quits.

“An iced…”

“Grande Caramel Americano,” the barista continued. “You order the same thing everyday.” She smiled at me like we knew each other from kindergarten or something.

I was tearing up a bit. This was it- my last trip to Starbucks. As she handed me my order, I bade her farewell. I’m not sure if she knew I meant it.

I sat down with my coffee, cleared my throat and began my farewell speech. “You’ve made me very happy. I want you to know that. It’s just…”

“Hold on just one second,” it interrupted. “I don’t understand why you’re doing this. Didn’t I make you happy? Didn’t I keep you awake for months? I don’t get why you have to do this.”

“I just can’t do this anymore. I have to think about my future and stuff. I’ll always love you. Please know that. Just not in the weird ‘I-wanna-raise-little-human-espresso-hybrids’ sense.”

“You need me. You know that.”

“I know.” I said. I thought about it a little. The adjustment’s probably going to be a real bitch. “Maybe we should do it gradually. I’ll start drinking less and less of you until I’ve completely weaned myself.”

“If that’s the case, let’s just end this now. It’ll be easy for me, you’ll see. I’ll have someone in your usual table in under a minute.”

“Don’t do that,” I begged. “Don’t you think I know it’ll be easy for you? I’ve seen how the others look at you. It’s just…” I struggled to continue but by then it stopped listening to me. I finished the rest of my coffee wondering if I understood my actions and its coming repercussions.

For days, I got by pretty well. To avoid the need for coffee, I started sleeping early and eating right. “Kaya ko naman pala eh!” I remarked. I was proud of myself. There I was, stronger and better in every way. I suppose there’s always a moment of victory when you successfully complete a goal.

I only stumbled once. Well, not exactly. I had a really big night and I ended up getting less than three hours of sleep. I felt like a zombie on my way to work. After deliberating for close to forty-one days, I fished my wallet out of my back pocket and went to Starbucks.

“An iced Venti Caramel Americano please,” I said to the barista. She looked at me but she no longer recognized me. I guess baristas are only friendly to über loyal customers.

“I’m sorry, sir but that’s no longer available. We only have warm milk, fruit juice and cold water.” I looked around. Everyone around me had their own cups of coffee. Why couldn’t I buy mine? I looked at her in disbelief but when the awaited punch line never arrived, I left the store feeling sad and a little confused.

I went up to the infamous siren and looked her in the eye. “Akala ko matitiis kita. ‘Di pala,” I began. I was starting to tear up.

“Akala ko ‘di mo ‘ko matitiis. Kaya mo pala.” I walked to the office with my head bent to the ground. Suddenly, the January morning felt so cold.

Michelle Featherstone
Coffee and Cigarettes
One Tree Hill: Friends With Benefit

Saturday, January 9, 2010

interlude: ambivalence

Susanna: I'm ambivalent. In fact, that's my new favorite word.
Dr. Wick: Do you know what that means, ambivalence?
Susanna: I don't care.
Dr. Wick: If it's your favourite word, I would've...
Susanna: It means "I don't care." That's what it means.
Dr. Wick: On the contrary, Susanna. Ambivalence suggests strong feelings in opposition. The prefix, as in ambidextrous... means 'both.' The rest of it, in Latin, means vigor. The word suggests that you are torn... between two opposing courses of action.
Susanna: Will I stay or will I go?
Dr. Wick: Am I sane or am I crazy?
Susanna: Those aren't courses of action.
Dr. Wick: They can be, dear, for some.
Susanna: Well, then, it's the wrong word.
Dr. Wick: No. I think it's perfect.

[Susanna Kaysen & Dr. Sonia Wick, Girl, Interrupted]

Gnarls Barkley
St. Elsewhere

Friday, January 1, 2010

do people ever change?

They say despite our best efforts, we are doomed to repeat the same mistakes our fathers did. It’s crazy how I shudder at this thought. It’s New Year’s Day, a holiday most people spend with their families and yet here I am, alone in a café with my laptop and a Caramel Americano for company.

It started simply enough. My sister is home from Japan for the holidays and for weeks, we’ve been playing house ala Hallmark channel. There are several big elephants in the room, each one brighter and bigger than the last but no one wants to talk about them. No one ever wants to talk about them.

“Paalis na rin naman ate mo. Hayaan mo na,” my mom said just as I was about to leave. You see my sister and I don’t really get along that well but while I am a master of hiding this fact, my father is a completely different story. He’s been quiet since the day he picked her up at the airport.

My parents don’t really approve of my sister’s boyfriend. You could say it’s because he’s not very well educated. You could say it’s because he isn’t very well off and has a dead end job. You could blame it on five million different reasons but the truth is, my parents do not approve of him because of one simple reason- my father thinks my sister’s boyfriend is a pervert.

For the longest time, my sister kept him from my parents. I suppose at the back of her head, she knew what they would say. She knew that that man could never support her but what could she do? Love is anything but rational. For many months, she lied repetitively to my parents- a project here, a late night dinner there. Anything to spend a little time with him. She did it really well until she let her conscience get in the way. While I have no problems about lying to my parents, my sister does. She felt guilty that she was deceiving them and figured it had to end soon.

She arranged to meet with her boyfriend with the intention of breaking up with him. From Las Piñas, he commuted all the way to Mandaluyong not knowing that he was about to get his heart broken. My sister had been crying in her room all day. She did not want to say goodbye but the Christian in her told her that she had to. When her boyfriend arrived, the maid escorted him to my sister’s room. He was dizzy from the long commute and decided to sit on the bed for a little bit. That was their first mistake. My father was clear that visitors could only stay in the living room. I suppose because of the circumstances, my sister wasn’t really thinking straight.

“I can’t do this anymore. I can’t keep lying to my parents,” she began. “You know I love you but if that means I have to break a commandment, I just can’t do it anymore.” She was crying at this point and her boyfriend, realizing he went all that way to get his heart broken, began crying too.

When you’re young, you don’t realize how your actions affect other people. My sister soon realized this. I suppose she expected he would take it maturely but her boyfriend was practically inconsolable. Just as things went from bad to worse, my sister had a bright idea.

“Let’s pray,” she offered. “Let’s offer our relationship to God. He’ll tell us what to do.” Despite their differences in religion, her boyfriend agreed. Isn’t it funny how many things we agree to when love is challenged? With eyes closed, they began to pray- my sister, knees bent beside the bed and her boyfriend lying face up. It was very sweet and heartbreaking. How unfortunate that my father just happened to arrive.

He saw red. It didn’t matter that my sister’s boyfriend was on the bed because he was tired or that my sister was on her knees because they were praying. It didn’t matter that they were breaking up anyway. My father saw what he saw- a strange man on my sister’s bed and my sister on her knees with tears in her eyes. He nearly exploded with the millions of sexual positions he imagined to explain their circumstances. He nearly killed my sister’s boyfriend that day and within weeks, passport in hand, my sister was sent to a different country.

That’s how we deal with things in our house. If you can’t deal with it, send it away. As for my sister and her boyfriend, the shared trauma and the miles apart only strengthened their relationship. And though they were about to break up that fateful day, they are still together as I write this. With my sister coming home for the holidays, I actually thought my father had forgiven her and her imagined transgressions. I actually thought he could change.

As Shirley Templo* once said, you can’t teach an old dog some tricks. Apparently, my father is a better actor than I gave him credit for. He is a dormant volcano disguised as a mountain. This morning, my sister asked permission to leave the house. I don’t know why she did that. Most of us just leave but she wanted to do it properly. A firm believer in the concept of desensitization, she wanted him to know that she was going to spend the day with her boyfriend. At first, my father was quiet but just as my sister was about to leave, he released a litany of words that would put most rappers to shame. My father did not talk about the big elephant in the room. He just took a shotgun and blew it to pieces.

Elephant debris lay splattered in the house. It painted the curtains red and left the newly reupholstered sofa bloody. I got my things and was out the door posthaste. I figured I didn’t really want to pick up the pieces of their emotional a-bomb. I have my own shit to deal with and all this drama just wasn’t for me. Now that I have time to think though, I just can’t help but wonder- are we really capable of change? I really thought my father had forgiven my sister. I thought that in a few years’ time, we would all be one big happy family. I was wrong. Will my father ever forgive my sister’s boyfriend? Probably not. Will he ever forgive my sister? I really don’t know. It’s just ironic that on the day that the whole world is filled to the brim with the exciting prospect of change, my father showed me that no one ever changes. Most of us just pretend.

On the day that my father will learn of my transgressions, I wonder what fate awaits me. Right now, he sees me as the quiet, obedient son. When he learns I am anything but his idea of me, I don’t really know what will happen. I suppose I should take a hint from my sister and begin praying now. Lord, help my father understand what took me years to accept. Lord, help my father change.

Family Portrait