Wednesday, December 28, 2011

I Wish I Had a River

            It's been that time of year again when I fight to keep from going under into the dark and swirling holiday murk that usually engulfs me in these months. And I'd managed to keep my head afloat pretty well, too - kept away from shopping malls with their never ending Christmas carols, away from their perky people bubbling over in shiny happiness, the holiday decorations that mean next to nothing to me save a distant reminder of my childhood. 

            After the Christmas day celebrations with my family I came home to smoke a cigarette on my little porch. I was scrolling through the new Facebook timeline feature on my profile and saw the first four people who had added me as friends in 2007. Among them was a boy that I had met through MySpace which was more popular at the time. He lived here, and I was still living in Cebu. He had sent me a message with his friend request, telling me he thought I was pretty and would I like to go to the beach sometime. You see, I had put down Jacksonville as my location. His profile picture was of himself in jeans, shirtless (looking good shirtless, I might add), standing on what I assumed to be a bar, wild hair, eyes shut, arms extended outward, his head tilted a bit toward his right shoulder, with a red plastic cup raised in his left hand. The lights and the background were blurred and there he was in the middle, vivid, swaying to music. He was  pretty good looking (That's an understatement. Hot is more like it.)  that is if you're partial to the epic hair, Harley-Davidson riding, sneaker-clad, Marlboro reds-smoking, chin-pierced, fun-loving, bad-boy type,  which I'll admit I am. We only exchanged a few messages, but I was flattered enough to look forward to them. He was a wild one, you could tell. I didn't know him, but I was intrigued by him. He just looked so alive. 

        Anyways, when Facebook became more popular, he added me there, too. We didn't exchange many more messages but I would sometimes see a 'poke' from him or something like that. When I arrived here nine months ago, I entertained the idea that I would look him up, try to strike up a friendship maybe, seeing as I didn't know anyone here outside of my family. Once I thought I had spotted him at a local mall. The idea would resurface sometimes, but I never acted on it. 

        So when I saw his little picture in that box on my Timeline, I clicked on it, curious to know what he was up to. I scrolled down the wall, reading the little messages from friends saying that they loved him, they missed him, etc. Now where could he have gone off to, I wondered. As I scrolled further down I realized he had died. 

        My mouth was agape in disbelief. What in the world?! How could someone so alive and so young be dead? This is a joke right? I scrolled down for a good 20 minutes, determined to discover how he had passed, reading more messages of love more 'RIPs'. And sure enough I found it. He had died in a motorcycle accident one month before I moved here. Jesus. I Googled the date and the words 'motorcycle accident' and found a video of the news that night, about a man who was in critical condition after an accident on a local road. There behind the reporter, in the middle of the road, the dark background slashed intermittently by red and blue police lights, was the outline of a motorbike on it's side. He had hit a car. No one else had been hurt. 

        I found my thoughts going back to him for the past couple of days. You might wonder why this would affect me considering I barely knew the person. But it does. I don't know exactly what, but it's something. This was a human being that I was connected to by a feeble string, despite that being composed entirely of half-forgotten e-mails, it was a connection, nonetheless; an awareness of another person's existence in this world.

       So what is it? A reminder that life is fleeting and tomorrow I could swerve and drive myslef off a bridge and it could all be over? A reminder maybe to act on those little things that you put off or push into the back of your mind? The things you want to do but are afraid to? I don't mean to say that he could have been the love of my life or anything like that, because he likely would not have been - I'm saying that I might have found a friend in this person. What kind of insight could this person have brought to my life? What kind of fun might I have had from knowing him just looking through his photos was such a riot? (The image of him at some party wearing nothing but a lime green Borat  man-kini with a drink in hand is still enough to make me smile. I kid you not. Rare is the man who can make that look good.)

       Maybe it's just to tell me to live my goddamned life because it's fucking passing me by. I don't know. But it means something.  

         Rest in peace my almost-friend. I wish I had known you.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Endless In-Between

Has it really been three months since last I wrote? Well, in that time a couple of things have happened. I got a job, for one thing. Is it a dream job? A paycheck is a paycheck. And with it I've been able to sign the lease on my very first (self-funded) apartment. Is this cause to be happy? Definitely. Living with my brother and sister-in-law was pleasant enough for a time until it became varying degrees of unpleasant. 

So now I have 800 sq. feet of prime 3rd floor rental space which feels like so much more considering the only pieces of furniture I  have at the moment are a twin bed (a hand-me-down from family), a tv stand (with a little tv courtesy of my brother) , and a little wooden stool that I bought at that wonder of stores where you can buy ammunition right across from the milk and eggs - Walmart.

On the one hand it feels like I've finally taken a step in the right direction, a step forward. But sometimes I can't help but feel like I've moved across the world to do the same things I've always done - read in silence and stare out of windows at the people below. Only the names of the streets have changed. 

By far my favorite part of the apartment is the screened in patio from which I have a great view of the swimming pool below and to the right. To the left is a sand volleyball pit. Just beyond these is a man-made lake of the sort you get in every Florida apartment complex - pretty nonetheless, with throngs of ducks swimming about. And beyond that still is the apartment building across from mine. All framed by two tall trees that I've discovered is inhabited by a number of playful squirrels. 

It should feel like a step forward. But all I feel is dizzy from swimming in circles. Stuck in this no man's land between someplace forgotten and somewhere imagined, I'm trying to get there but it feels so far away and the transition feels interminable. Am I making any sense to you?

What of the wretched hollow, the endless in-between. Are we just going to wait it out? - Imogen Heap 

From a Year Ago...

 * I found this post buried among the drafts of half-formed ideas. It was written over a year ago in a fleeting moment of maturity. Just wanted you to know I'm still alive (some form of alive anyway...) How have you been doing?

I've decided to forgo with a long part III to the story of le garcon. Why? Because - of the four people who will read this post, three and a half will be gay men, and I realize how difficult it must be for you to summon any sort of concern for a random (heterosexual) girl's romantic misfortunes. But please realize that the trials and travails of the twenty-something looking for love are not bigoted.  Loneliness is no straight supremacist and makes no distinction between the perfectly straight, the perfectly gay, or people of whatever integer on the Kinsey (Sexuality Continuum) Scale. So we should have something else in common besides our mutual affinity for men.

While blog hopping I came across some interesting posts by people younger than me who seem to have experienced so much more than I have in terms of relationships and heartbreak. I read their entries written in tones of wisdom and sometimes cynicism, but never without a little optimism, and I wonder how I have gotten to this age and still feel like a child play-acting at being an adult. Although I do my best by way of mimicry, I feel like sometimes my naivete sometimes shows above my collar. 

I  just have a slow life learning curve. I suspect my psych evaluation would read: I.Q? Normal. Emotionally? Retarded. So in attempt to show that I have indeed learned something in my 25 years of living, here are just a few lessons learned in the year 2010

1. Just because you think you are hot shit, worthy of unmitigated respect, doesn't mean that every person you meet will treat you accordingly. Some people just don't seem to recognize (your value) and your deserving respect, or recognize it but then ignore it. 

2. If a guy only ever wants to hang out with you in the dead of night that is not a date. That is a booty call.

3. Don't allow anyone to treat you in a way that doesn't live up to the standard you've set. If you let them do it once, they'll do it again.

4. When in doubt, act in congruity with logic and reason.

5. No matter how much you value a priori knowledge (that gained through experience), sometimes it really is good to listen to the voices of reason (the voices of people with experience). I used to never believe anything anyone would say to me, (especially if their advice was anecdotal) because I had to subject every theory to my own mind. I had to see for myself. Sometimes, (lo and behold) people actually know what they are talking about. Who'd have thought. 

Saturday, July 16, 2011


"Could it think, the heart would stop beating." 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

25 Years of Deception I

Painting by Alice Neel
              What is your stand on the truth? Do you think it is useless if all it can cause is pain? Or are you of the opinion that stark honesty is best - whatever the costs? After twenty-five years of digging around in the family closet, I’ve finally found the proverbial skeleton that I felt was there all along.

               I am adopted.

           When I was  a little girl I would sit in front of the mirror and try to discern whose features I had acquired. My (very) Filipino nose was certainly my mother’s, I thought. My cheekbones were hers as well. My eyes I could never place. They didn’t look like my mother’s eyes. They weren’t my father’s, either. I didn’t resemble him at all, really. But my suspicion that I was adopted didn’t stem from not looking like him. It didn’t  come from not looking like my siblings either because my brothers and I actually share some physical similarities. How is that possible, you wonder? It’s possible because we share 12.5% of our DNA.

            We are first cousins.

            As I was growing up my family would take trips to the Philippines – for vacation or if someone in the family died – and I would have these sporadic chances to spend time with my relatives. There were some people I wouldn’t readily admit a blood relation to, some cousins, some relatives by marriage… and then there were my mother’s two sisters. One of them looks like a chubby version of her. They look so alike, that when rifling through old photo albums, I would constantly get them confused with each other. Can you sense where this is going?

           Looking back on those trips now, I remember that everyone (family, neighbors, and village idiots alike) kind of looked at me oddly. My mother’s family is from a very small town where everyone knows each other’s business and the older you are and the longer you’ve lived there, the more of your neighbor’s business you know. I don’t know exactly what it was in there eyes that I detected, but I knew (even at eight years old) that it was something. Pity?

            ‘The poor dear, she has no idea.’

             I don’t know. But there was something in the way they looked at me that made me think they knew something I didn’t. Knew something about me that I didn’t. Can you imagine that?

            Years went by and the thought took a backseat to more pressing pubescent  concerns – boys, acne, Brad Renfro. But I would always be reminded of it when my mother would scold me for anything I had done wrong. She would say things that sounded so odd and non-sequitur to me that stand out in my mind to this day. If my father and I had a disagreement, she would say,

             “You should be thankful to your father for giving you your last name.”

            And I would think,

           'Well isn’t that generally what fathers do?' 

           Why did she have to point that out as if it were significant? Because it was.

            Aside from weird slips like that, hints were few and far between.

              Then my father died. 

          I was ripped from all that was familiar to me, disconnected from every tenuos connection I had managed to make, and transplanted to the Philippines with my mother. Her reason? She did not want to continue living in our house without my father. My brothers were all grown by this time and living away from us. (The youngest was in college in Hawaii at the time.) And so I went.

           We moved into my maternal grandparents' house, next door to the aunt who looks just like my mother. Right next door to the aunt whose sharp tongue all my relatives say I inherited.

             My doubts escalated. 

            (to be continued. I can’t write all of this in one go.)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Streaks in Skies & Sad Goodbyes

            It’s funny how blogs are left dormant in two situations – either nothing is going on in your life or too much  is going on. The latter is true in my case. What have I been preoccupied with for the past month or so? We-e-l-l, packing the last ten years of my life into two suitcases with a weight limit of 50 lbs each, for one thing. Your friendly neighborhood neurotic has left the city she has called home for over ten years to go live on the opposite hemisphere of the earth. If on a globe you stuck a (long) needle through Cebu  and pushed it all the way through to the other side, you’d be in the general longitude of where I am now. What am I doing here, you ask? I ask myself the same question.

            I’m at the cusp of a new period in my life and it’s terrifying. Change always terrifies me. And this is pretty big. I feel like this is the point where I should finally forgive myself for all the stupid mistakes I've made  in the past (by commission or ommission) and start anew. But there’s that nagging thought in the back of my head that tells me I can’t just wipe the slate clean. There are consequences and repercussions of past mistakes that affect me to this day. Consequences. Despite my age, I feel like I still need to fully understand the meaning of that word. There are a number of things I wish I could have done differently in the past. I was so immature, I didn’t think about the future and the simple idea that what you do (or don’t do) today will affect you tomorrow. But, you know… spilt milk. Now I can only hope to prove that the past doesn’t have to define my future. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Of Being Alone

There are some things happening in my life right now, big changes are about to take place... I'll write about them soon, but for now I just wanted to share this beautiful poem...

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Of the Ineffable & Incomprehensible

            There are moments between people that I’ll witness – a hand held, a furtive caress, a shared look– and I’ll wonder what that is. Sometimes I feel I’ll always be an outsider looking in, a voyeur to a closeness that I’ll never understand, a spectator to intimacy that is so genuine it is palpable, so real it is incapable of being trivialized. Any affection that I have ever felt for anyone so far in my life seems pallid and petty in comparison.

            Have you ever felt this way?   

Portishead - Glory box by Fixed46

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Le Garcon Sans Savoir Vivre I

One night while possessed of malevolent glee,
The Fates played a prank on unwitting S.P.
And brought my path to cross,
Through a series of circumstances,
With that of one of my many
One-sided diminutive romances.
Oh, how I loathe you, omniscient narrator
Of Le Livre de Ma Vie!
You are one without heart, 
Sans merci for poor me~
Poor little S.P.

And thus begins this little story, 
A short sort of allegory
Of le garcon sans savoir vivre..
-Sitting Pretty (Pathetic)

                It was Friday night on the weekend of the big Mardi Gras festival in this sometimes charming Queen City of the South. The excitement in the air was palpable, weighted by the collective anticipation of the thousands of people that had swollen the city's population. - the relative calm before the face-painting, street-writhing, drum-beating, trumpeting storm. I had decided to eschew the pre-Sinulog festivities as I had already gone out the night before and fulfilled my weekly quota for number of nights per week spent inebriated  (with interesting results, both inane and insane, one such episode I've dubbed The Curious Incident of the Mirror in the Nighttime). Plus, I was looking forward to staying in and reading my latest Fully Booked sale acquisitions (Nabokov, Camus, Eggers) and a couple of books, too, from a charming little used books place in Mandaue City called La Belle Aurore Bookshop where I had found, to my utter delight, a copy of early short stories by Simone de Beauvoir.

                 So there I was, comfortably ensconced in my queen bed, clad in oversized T-shirt and fuzzy striped socks with individual toes, pillows arranged strategically to best simulate a La-Z-Boy recliner (a couple propped up against the headboard, two more underneath my legs just beneath the backs of my knees), and my mug of coffee at a perfect distance on the nightstand (requiring only the minimal extension of an arm to reach). In short, I was planning on being a sloppy slobby bum, balancing a book in my lap, dribbling coffee down my chin, and being too lazy to find a tissue, wipe it away with the back of my hand. Just as I was smiling in a self satisfied way at my ergonomic improvisations, the message alert on my phone goes off and it's my fabulous fairy friend, A.D.

                "Hey! Where are you? Come have dinner with me and some of my college friends. Drinks after."

                "No, thanks. I've reverted to my introverted ways. Maybe next time?"

                "Okay, then. =)"

                A few hours go by. It is midnight. Nabokov's wordplay and literary allusions are starting to irk me a bit. I get antsy. I jump out of bed in my striped feet, almost slipping on the polished wood floor. I call A.D.

                "Is it too late to catch up?" I ask. 

                "No! Dinner is over but we're having drinks at The Tinder Box. Get over here! I won't take no for an answer. Andd," he adds, with a sly inflection, "There's someone I want you to meet."

            'Hmm,' I think, cocking an eyebrow. A boy perhaps? Since December A.D. has been saying half-jokingly that he's going to set me up with some boy or other and I wonder if this is one of the prospects he had in mind. I usually find such arrangements abhorrent, but given the lull in my dating life recently (and resultant lack of fodder for this blog), I feel compelled to take a tiny step down from my high horse. I am mildly curious and for some reason now itching to get out of the house. He might be cute. This might be good. 

            "Be there in a bit!" I exclaim, as I scrounge around in my closet for something to wear and curse myself for not being one of those girls who buys tons of clothes and shoes. I settle on my favorite pair of tight grey vintage wash Mango jeans, a loose (as to cover the paunch I've grown over the past months of neglecting the gym) silk blouse from bYSI with a hand-painted floral design on the front with a nacreous shimmer, and a simple little black blazer I had commissioned a few years ago by a Cebu designer named Joy Bernaldez with the sleeves pushed up toward my elbows. I'm not a fashion maven or anything , this is just an attempt to sound fancier than I actually am. I finished with grey-silver peep-toe pumps with a 3-inch heel and my mom's decades-old Christian Dior purse with a gold chain.  I slapped on some make-up and was out the door in seconds flat.

                 I get to the little wine shop slash delicatessen and deftly step around the little puddles left by the rain. The parking lot is illuminated by a rectangle of soft yellowish light from within.  There is a boy standing in the lot. It appears he is waiting for something or someone.

                 "Hey cutie, maybe it's me you've been waiting for all your life, hmm?"

                 I'm always coming on to guys in my imagination. I walk silently past the boy to the entrance. It's a squat sort of building with an entirely glass front where you can see through to the deli and shelves of Eurpoean treats. I notice there are no people sitting at the tables by the window when fabulous A.D. greets me at the door with the customary fairy beso.

                "Hey, you! Glad  you could make it. We're over in the back, come."

                We turn left to make our way to the back room  when I look up and straight into the face of the first customer to enter my field of vision, at the same moment he looks up to see me.

                 It is the Object of 2010's Preoccupation & Aggravation.

                 Oh, bugger. 


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Le Garcon Sans Savoir Vivre II

            Oh, Mother of Irony. I get out of the house to take my mind off every failed attempt at making  a meaningful connection - every almost, near miss, could-have-been, and never-to-be, and here run smack dab in to a prime example? The most recent one at that?  One for whom there may remain some infinitesimal remnant of the delusion of affection? Ye gahdda be kiddin' me. Universe, you're a punk. This warrants the overused word irony doesn't it? I say it does.

          Nevertheless I am collected, cool as a cucumber salad, operating on Nonchalant Autopilot my demeanor betraying none of my inner turbulence. I smooth my silk blouse down with a steady hand and run my slender fingers through my hair to give it that volumized sort of come hither side-part, you know? I extend my neck to its full length and raise myself to my full height and am pleased that I wore the three inch heels as to tower over him at 5'9''. I approach his table.  

        He is smiling stupidly up at me from where he stupidly sits, visibly embarrassed, knocking his stupid knees together and fidgeting with his stupid hair falling into his stupid adorable face. 

          (Bleccch, S.P. really, yucch.) 'Well at least he looks dumber than I do' I think to myself. That will cease to be true in a moment. I clear my throat  demurely to dislodge it of my stomach which seems to have telescoped upwards and into my neck...the neck he once bruised with his mouth.

         "Heyyy," I venture, voice well-modulated, even, melodic. Three ys. Hey-y-y. I extend the last sound long enough as to convey that this is a pleasant surprise, as opposed to what it really is - an ordeal. Not too long as to sound affected, not too short as to sound curt. I am warm but not gooey, friendly but not gratuitous, a light zephyr, not a brisk breeze. (People say I over think things, what do you think?) I am impressed by my composure, my thespian abilities, and make a mental note to pursue a career in acting. Maybe win an Oscar. Or at least a FAMAS for some compelling performance.

        "How are you?" is the next line in my script.

He stops knocking his knees together long enough to mumble something unintelligible in reply, and I wonder for the millionth time how I was ever so attracted to someone of such limited verbal ability.

          In retrospect, this is probably the point at which I should have just ceased with any further perfunctory pleasantries and walked on. A.D. is standing some yards ahead, waiting. It would have saved me some embarrassment. Hindsight is always 20/20. I suppose I thought he would eventually find his misplaced manners and stand-up or introduce me to his company whose faces are a blur. I look at him for nanoseconds that seem like whole minutes, he stares idiotically back up at me. Any millisecond now I expect a dazzling display of good manners, excellent etiquette - of savoir vivre. Any millisecond now...any milli...nothing. None came. And then - horror. Like a woman possessed the most improbable string of words float out of my mouth.

         "What, aren't you going to give me a hug?" 

               Geezus H. I say it with enough levity that it sounds like I'm not altogether serious, but still! And even as the words escape my lips, like so many traitorous flying dwarves,  to titter about in the air between us, I know he isn't going to stand up. I am not a friend. I am just 'some girl.' I am incredulous. I briefly consider saying,

       "So what did you end up doing last week when you totally booty called me at 2a.m.?" 

        But being possessed of savoir vivre, I refrain from trying to embarrass him. I smile  to convey affectionate exasperation and smooth over my gaffe, my faux pas, my vomi mot, and wrap things up with final pleasantries, still unruffled, but inwardly incensed. So this is how it's going to be hmm? We're close enough for you to proposition me but I don't warrant common courtesy? I walk away, and just before I disappear from sight, he calls after me

          "Are you on a date?"

          I smile. The question is absurd. As absurd as my running into him. As absurd as my affection for him. A.D. is obviously too impeccably dressed and too darn cute to be straight. And how smart is it to ask a girl who might be on a date, 'Are you on a date?' in front of her date? This kid has always been ridiculous and I consider the possibility he might be having a brain fart of his own (and maybe needs to reposition his gaydar satellite). Nevertheless, I dignify the question with an answer.

              "No, just hanging out with friends. See you later." Closed-mouth smile. Fluttering finger wave. Exhale of relief. Exit stage left.


*Oh, don't think this dissertation-length diatribe is over. There's a part III.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Of Childhood Dreams

Painting by Gerard Boersma

                                          Momel, the blogger I have christened The Bovine Scatologist, over at The Blahg of Bullshit suggested that I visit his Mistress of the Universe's blog if I wanted to learn how to write creatively. When I was a little girl I thought I wanted to be a writer - a novelist, among a long list of other things (veterinarian, interior decorator, fashion designer, teacher, I think firefighter was in there, too, at one point) and went so far as to plant a stack of paper next to our rickety old typewriter and sit myself down in front of it to write a book. Clickety-clickety-clackety...ding! Aw crap, where's the correction fluid? This was short-lived to say the least. 

             I was reminded of this ephemeral childhood fantasy when Momel made this suggestion, so I popped on over there to see what was up. Jessica Zafra's Lit Wit Challenge 4.3 theme is MetamorphosisIn 1,000 words write a story in which the protagonist wakes up and finds herself/himself transformed into an animal, plant, or object. 

                       I am currently tossing around the idea of a congenitally (and severely) disfigured child who may also be dying from some unrelated disease (must be some really bad fuku) who wakes up in her hospital room to discover she has morphed into a fly. As a literal fly on the wall, she is able to hear what her parents and other people say about her and her condition. I don't know. That's all I've thought up so far. Creative suggestions from you, dear reader, are welcome! =) Help a sister out. 

*My use of the word fuku is an allusion to the book The Brief Wondrous Life  of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz, which I have recently finished reading, and which I loved.  Read it if you haven't yet!

Leave a comment Mr. McLurkey!