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It's a dark street. She's looking for her friend's house in a dark street. "There are blue Christmas lights strewn about outside, you'll find them easy" was the instruction. It's a long street. Feels like she'd been walking for half an hour when it's only been a few seconds of calmfrantic searching in the cold. Why are they even called Christmas lights. Why not just little lights. Fairy lights. She's a bit confused yet focused. Maybe it's just the cold. She finds the lights. Knocks. Her friend peeks through a window. She smiles, thanks herself for getting off the train.
I'm taking advantage of this rare pocket in time wherein I am getting things done and not procrastinating so much. Right now there is a desire to get out of this rut. 2014 was a year of procrastinating for me. Big time. It was a lot of waiting around, sleeping in, mindless Internet and so much time convincing myself that I deserve to be useless and that all the sleep I missed in the past should be made up for. 2014 was all sleep and waiting and wanting to sleep again, mostly because of all those strange wonderful pretty dreams.
Note to future self: Remember this day. It's your mother's 59th birthday. She's far, toiling day and night to provide for you. You are somewhere cold. January and February are your favorite months, Manila becomes bearable, lovely even, during these months. In a few days you would buy pancit and chicken to celebrate Ma's birthday. She's far, you miss her, and is it too much to ask for you to be attentive every time you talk on the phone? Or for you to sound less sleepy? Dear future self, I hope Ma's home by now. Hug her every day please.
My earliest memories of Baguio consist of fairy lights on the mountainside along Marcos Hi-way, arriving at the terminal at 2 am, Tita Lis calling Tita Ebong to come pick us up, a faded number 4 on the phone's dial pad, cold, cold, strawberries and cream welcoming us at that small cozy house in Kitma Road. Looking back, I have decided that the fairy lights are torches carried by people traversing the mountainside, in my heart though I still believe they were fairies and that excellent night vision is not among their myriad supernatural abilities, so they used torches.
Today I remember Lola Liling. She lives in Alameda and she's been very kind to me. I like to think she's fond of me. She doesn't mince her words so sometimes I dread talking to her because I'm too sensitive for direct talk. She listens intently to what I say, and that's what draws me to her I guess. We can talk and listen to each other for hours. I miss sleeping on the couch beside her bed. I miss her cackle, her steady hands on the wheel. She brought me to Ballena Bay one time, I liked that day.
Dear 40-year-old self. Today, seven years ago, you have nearly zero percent inkling of what you want to do with your life. You have stopped trying for so long that you are more lost now than you have ever been. Right this moment while your 33-year-old self is typing this she's hoping that future her would be in a better place. I hope it works out, whatever results from the skeleton of a plan that she's cooking up. If it doesn't, I hope you've at least bungee-jumped by now. And loved yourself a bit more.
Change your Ticket, Illusion, Once in a Lifetime, Act my Age. These songs alternate playing in my head over and over. I like Change your Ticket the most. Have you listened to One Direction's album FOUR? No? Why not? Give it a try and if you don't find at least one song to your liking, then okay, give it a second listen! One of the things I am grateful for in 2014 is that I started listening to this charming boyband. I'm a 30-something girl gushing over a boyband. Try Fireproof, or Clouds, or No Control. Or Stockholm Syndrome.
This is a comfortable hole I made for myself. Years from now I will remember this time of my life and cringe on account of how numbingly comfortable this place is. There will also be longing. But mostly I hope it would be an anger, an almost-swearing off of a time in my life wherein I made myself believe that this is all I could be, that there is nothing more to do to feel and be better. There are years that ask, there are years that answer, I want all my years to answer from now on please.
I wooed her with sweet words, longing looks and secretive smiles. Sometimes she would look at me the way a child looks at a toy for the first time, with such focus and intensity, interest lost after a few seconds, ready to move on to the next thing. It would either be pleasant or hurtful, because how could there be only one, constant, uniform reaction to an action? It would always depend on what I was feeling that day. And therein lay my mistake: I depended on her for how I would feel. When she hurt me, I let her.
In other multiverses she is an acrobat, a farmer, someone who studies people's reactions to music, someone who writes love letters for a living, someone whose job it is to comfort jilted men and women, someone who continuously invents new jobs for people who get bored easily. There are countless other lives aside from this, here, now, and she wakes up every day holding on to hope that she would eventually find herself in one of these multiverses. She hasn't picked a favorite illusion yet as that would only result in disappointment if it doesn't come true. She waits, waits.
I forget how old I am sometimes. There'd be days I'm off by a year or two and I'd have to recall my birthyear. Sometimes I forget to brush my teeth or wash my hair. Okay, I intentionally forget the brushing and washing. It's so cold nowadays. That's not an excuse, I could always heat the water, but I've found out that it's not the cold that's keeping me from even looking at the bathroom, it's the act itself, the redundancy. Like, can't we just do these things a set number of times a year and be done with it.
I spent the latter part of 2014 feverishly refreshing Twitter and Tumblr, it's this One Direction addiction. The early part of 2015, thankfully, has been less feverish. Attachment to or disgust of something is a warning sign that it's going to be a problem if it's not nipped in the bud. I let this addiction eat at me the same way that I still let my potato-chip addiction eat at me. The other day I was imagining a world without the Internet and what a chill, beautiful, quiet world it would be. Depends on how you look at it.
It's also addicting, going to bed with the knowledge that you don't have to set the alarm. It's something I'm reluctant to let go of. I hate alarms with a passion. Who doesn't? Why? How did you do it? Is there some sort of conditioning exercise wherein you learn to /love/ the sound of your alarm? What kind of world is that and would you like to live in that world? Maybe it's possible to train yourself to wake up at a set time every day without the aid of an alarm? Maybe that will eliminate the hate of alarms?
I have come to memorize her the way one memorizes the nuances of a song. It will play on the radio, you will sing or hum along and sometimes surprise yourself at how well you know the song, the pauses, the high notes, the lilt in a certain word, the emotion in a verse. I have come to know her so well that it's become easy to anticipate when she will do something that can hurt me, this way I can also protect myself from being hurt. I can also prevent her from making me happy. I got this covered.
He'd recite the Waterfalls rap to me whenever he couldn't answer one of my questions. He's an odd boy. He would buy decadent cakes on random days, but buy me a cookie on my birthday, and on Christmas he would get me an apple. This has been going on for five years. I like observing him and taking notes of his behavior, especially when he's watching TV. If it's a funny show he would just sit there and furrow his brows at the funny bits. If it's a sad show he would chuckle every now and again, this odd boy.
What made you fall for him/her? -- is the first question in the "Application for Forgetting the Person You Love." It's a complicated form, it doesn't help that it begins with a complicated question. Because how can you answer that? How can you put into words the way you felt when the person you love looked at you in the morning? How can you possibly express the way your heart skipped whenever your phone rang, whenever you heard the door? Whenever you were overcome with anticipation and despair at the same time? And if I can answer that, then what?
Petition for this weather to stay the same all-year round. Prayer circle for cold afternoons and colder nights. Special request for nippy, dark 6 AMs. Petition for gentle winds, dewy windows, and late-risers all of 2015 and all of forever. Prayer circle for comfortable, warm beds and blankets, extra fifteen minutes, soft, cuddly pillows to be permanently attached to our physical bodies so that we could always act like giant burritos who always have extra fifteen minutes to roll around in bed, warm, warm, soft bed. Special request for giant burritos to be a reality please pretty please.
It's the tedium of every day. What if we wake up a different person each day? Would you like that? What if you had no memory of a regular life, one where you did the same thing every day, one in which you were the same person day in day out? No memory of that, so you won't miss it, right? But you would still maybe long for something like that, once you get tired of being a different person every day. Imagine if we longed instead for an ordinary, redundant life? Imagine a world wherein there was nothing constant.
My cousins used to tease me for being a know-it-all. When I was a teenager I'd spout "wise" stuff and take their sarcastic "admiration" as veiled envy, at best a harmless attempt at humoring a young girl who was a tad cocky. They would ask me to write a poem on the spot, and I would do it, not caring if what I was writing made any sense. I just did it and believed it to be satisfactory. They would read them and go "ooooh." I wonder where that brave girl went, I kind of want her back.
I dreamt of my college instructor. We were talking through a webcam attached to a T-shirt and I kept flipping the shirt over looking for his signature that I wanted to show him has faded. I was moving the shirt for longer than necessary and all that time I kept expecting him to complain because, webcam, on the shirt, moving about, dizziness. He never complained. He said I have the most readable eyes he'd ever seen, and asked me to describe my family members. I also dreamt of food, an abandoned apartment, Nueva Ecija, you, and traces of happiness.
Metric has a song with the lyrics "Ass, ass, ass." When I'm lost for words I sing that part to myself, it's how my brain fidgets, and then more often than not I can come up with something sensible. On Facebook there are photos of me in Bangkok, among the temples, with a Good Morning towel draped on my shoulder. It's been almost two years and I still find it funny. The problem with binge-watching Friends episodes is I find myself craving for coffee every 40 minutes or so. That Metric song also asks "Where does the time go?"
The neighbor is debating with someone on the phone over which mode of updating is more reliable. Neighbor votes Facebook and isn't making such a strong case as I write this. "You're already in Davao and you didn't post it on FB. I was waiting for your post on FB!" she shouts. "We're on the phone. This is me, talking to you, updating you directly, in real time, what the hell is up with the goddamn post-everything-on-FB logic?" Is the answer, I suppose. Oh wait, that's me, that's what I'd say to someone with such poor logic.
Growing up, our parents gave us what we need plus a little extra. They taught us contentment and gratitude for what is there. We could ask for more, sure, but we grew up learning to live within our means, that we didn't have to get everything we wanted. I don't have any recollection of scarcity, we always got by. As a grown up, I appreciate my parents more, because they instilled in me this firm belief that a simple life is enough, I don't need new expensive flashy things every now and again, I just need functional dependable everyday stuff.
I sent a jeepney out into the sea. I dreamt this. I was on a dock minding floating jeepneys precariously anchored and lined up in a makeshift terminal. My job was to keep them from getting carried away by the strong winds. Every time there was a huge gust I had to hold on to the jeepney in front so as to keep it from bursting through the gate. During a particular gust, however, I failed to contain said jeepney so it floated out into the vast sea and all I could do was look. I couldn't swim. Come back.
(Cont...) I was able to herd a stray jeepney towards an underground carpark, in the dream I seemed to have done it using my mind. I had an eye on the jeepney that got away, I was frustrated that I could still see it but couldn't retrieve it. As for the carpark, I also don't know how it was possible to build a carpark in the sea. But dreams. Anyway, the winds calmed and I remember waking up from this dream a little bit confused and a little bit enlightened. I particularly liked not feeling fear despite of the winds.
My lunchbox used to always smell of Zest-O mango flavor. I might have spilt my juice once and never got around to cleaning it, or maybe the smell just stuck. I liked that smell, even now as I recall it, it gives me a feeling of peace, home, familiarity. It was an oval brown sturdy lunchkit. I also used to have those Jollibee lunch sets. I remember feeling so happy when I got a red Coleman water jug. It was second-hand. I remember Schüblig lunches, caramelized onions, white rice, youth, Chinese garter, hopscotch, gashes, sticky afternoons, laughter.
My room smells of lavender. It's been years since I've had a long duration of good sleep days. I want to be able to wake up refreshed and hopeful, as opposed to how I've been waking up these past years. Diet, habits, amount of stress I let in my life, thinking pattern, I need to fix these to be better. It feels like I'm just waiting out a storm all the time. Right now, I feel like hiding again, away from all the technology. I want to wake up at a time when smartphones hadn't existed yet. Maybe during 1928.
I think I found the perfect garlic and shrimp pizza somewhere in Makati. There was a time in 2010 when the highlight of my year so far had been when I found an apartment along a street called San Francisco, that was March. It feels like 2015 is going by so slowly, which is good. I finally got up at 5 a.m. today, after /months/ of trying to rectify my sleeping pattern. I got up without the usual feeling of persecution I give myself all those other mornings. It's 12:30 p.m. and I'm hungry, I want cake.
Somewhere is another version of me, not weighed down by her past mistakes. She is content and loving and rides a bike everyday to work. She sits in a park bench every weekday to watch the sunset and then comes home to the smell of stew, potatoes, coffee, hazelnut. It is always cold where she is and she has come up with nifty ways to keep herself and her loved ones comfortably warm all the time. She delights in the little things. A scarf draped on the kitchen chair. A coffee cup stain on the newspaper. Her children's morning voices.
Somewhere in our photo albums is a picture of me and my brothers, dressed in same-design pairs of jogging clothes, but in different colors. If I remember right, that was on a Sunday, because on Sundays we went to Luneta Park. We would rent bikes and eat hotdogs, or was it burgers? Parked near the bike rentals was this red double-deck bus selling hotdogs or maybe burgers. When I was younger I looked forward to Sundays and Tuesdays because those were Pa's and Ma's days off, respectively. I don't really remember specific details, just that we were happy.
In my wallet is a photograph of us. You are sat on a wicker chair, there are flowers in your hair and you are looking up at me, smiling that mischievous smile of yours. My hand is on your shoulder and I seem about to whisper in your ear. We looked okay, then. What the photo doesn't show is that we were arguing. And that a few weeks after it was taken, you left me. You see how one single snap can nearly alter someone's memories? I like looking at that photograph, because in that moment you still loved me.
The Tip Jar