REPORT A PROBLEM
I have a new favorite: San Lorenzo Place Mall. It opens at 7 a.m.! It has maybe 20 people at a time (while I'm there anyway, which is 8-9 a.m. thereabouts)! It has a McDonald's! It has a massage chair corner! It has a National Bookstore! A Dunkin Donuts! An Ilocos empanada shop! A bills payment place! It's where I take the bus to work! I mean...talk about variety. Shangri-La Plaza still owns my heart but SLPM is a close second. Venice Grand Canal is nice, too! Any place that has a McDonald's, really. Easy.
I just saw this pretty bus along EDSA. It's wine red with purple curtains arranged like drapes in a rich woman's house. At a Jollibee earlier, a girl sat in front of this young couple who recently finished their meal. The girl called out to her mother, saying how she wanted to seat there (a booth) because "tapos na sila kumain o." The couple laughed fondly, while the mother admonished her daughter in the gentlest way: "Wag dyan, ikaw talaga." All the fondness, honesty, and innocence was too much for my black heart. I whispered a TY to the universe.
In another dimension, Popoy and Basha remained broken up. They found their respective partners, imperfect, but kind, understanding, brave. They still think of the other especially when it rains, during car troubles, and upon seeing spectacular architecture. In this dimension, they had an amicable breakup, admitting their own shortcomings and generously pointing out each other's good traits. They have different sets of friends, and they live miles apart. Popoy still greets Basha on her birthday, every year via email. Basha sees the emails but chooses not to open them -- she saves them in a folder labeled: "Read in the future."
Monday. There are Baguio mornings that smell like fresh-cut grass, some days assault you with longing—what they smell like exactly I still don't know how to describe now. In my old apartment there is a large window in the upstairs landing looking out to a mountain range. On some days there's nothing but fog, you could almost feel the water droplets on your cheek if you stand by the window long enough. To your left would be the guest bedroom, a tiny bed, and too cold and exposed inside. I remember Baguio on Mondays. Always, if I'm honest.
The train drivers are on strike. They're doing this on behalf of the passengers. In the tedium of our everydayness, we are sometimes led to believe that This is okay. This: Being squashed in a tin can. This: Sweat-stained and smelly pressed against the body of another sweaty human with bad breath. This: A requirement for two massage sessions in one weekend because our back is killing us. Literally killing us. How did the train drivers come to this decision? Their sons and daughters, their spouses, all of them are suffering. Meanwhile, TPTB are talking about robot-powered trains.
My fascination with skip trains continue. Add to this my curiosity about what it takes to luck upon right timing. It's possible, yes? To will the universe into giving you luck? Others would call it "doing one's best" or "hard work," but where's the whimsy in that. Just this "morning" when I had overslept again, I asked the universe to stretch the 45 minutes I had into 3 hours' worth of nonsense activity. Anything to psych me TF up. I arrived at the office with 20 minutes to spare. Score. I feel Groundhog Day-ish again. Alarm bells. Walk. Run.
I am happy to inform you that you did not get the job! This shall open up other possibilities for you. You may want to try for a new profession, widen your area of expertise, disregard your interest in our company altogether. Your skills are remarkable. Regrettably, you are not what we need. The company suggests that you celebrate this rejection. You have dodged a bullet! Impressive timing. You are requested to turn your back and move on, head held high. We thank you for your time and effort and wish you the best. You are meant for something else.
On one of his 3 a.m. McDonald's runs, an errant anomaly (yes, a redundancy. warranted). McDonald's crew are polite, precise. This has been a month of irresponsible cravings for chicken, and so far he's never had an experience like this -- an employee delaying his meal of chicken fillet and nuggets (and chicken sandwich?). He was starving (or just fidgety for his fix) and this guy accidentally dropped his order on the floor and attempted to serve it, thinking it went unnoticed. Something in him snapped. Unwarranted. In his head, he did unmentionable stuff to the poor Mcdonald's guy. Chaos.
Somewhen in the near future, an epidemic of wrists rendered useless. Humankind's usage of the cell phone has been eradicated. There are special task force policemen roaming, detecting cell phone usage with their metal instruments. There are a few who have devised a way to use their phones in spite of their broken wrists. It's unfortunate that they still can't figure out how to evade detection. If caught, violators are made to stay in a soundproof room alone for a month. Taste of their own medicine. Isolation. In the mountains, compliant communities continue to distance themselves from violators, avoiding temptation.
How does medicine find its way to its target? So the doctor says I have myofascial pain syndrome, prescribes this medicine she says causes grogginess. She asks if I drive to work. No. In my head I imagine the question: Will this tablet directly go to my upper back where all the pain is? But the right words don't come. All I manage to compose is: Will it go away? The pain? "Mababawasan," she says. I choose to trust her. The medicine really does make me drowsy. I have better sleep now. The medicine must have found its way alright.
When someone's nice, most people find it hard to be honest to that person, specifically regarding negative feedback. This becomes an issue when it's imperative that said person be given that feedback. Otherwise, they will repeat whatever it is until it reaches a point that it's too late to call their attention anymore. The moment has passed, so to say. This is how issues and hurts fester. Sometimes someone just avoids being the "bad guy" so they "let it pass." Until it's turned black there is no other choice but to throw it away. Chances to prevent this ignored, squandered.
I'm correcting this habit...this tendency to fold into myself when someone is beside me. On the bus, I choose the three-seater for more space. I'm a big girl, and very aware that I take up a lot of space. Even if I was first on the seat, soon as someone sits beside me I slouch and make room for them. I noticed that, more often than not, people assert their presence: "I am here, make room for me." I understand now that it's an unconscious trait, much like mine. I've been practicing now, asserting my presence, my space.
Praying for rain, for you, for grace. Praying for strength, for good sleep, for kind mornings. Praying for sustenance, for patience, for newness.
We don’t always understand the relevance of something we’re told at the time, not even something we’re experiencing at the time. Sometimes it takes years before we come to any kind of understanding. Sometimes it needs a nudge from another person. — Yiyun Li
The real place that laughter often comes from is when it’s all too much and there’s nothing else to do. — Natasha Lyonne
What's the threat level on Earth in general? It's about 71% water; around 97% of all water is in the oceans. At any given time, some force of nature can cause all this water to wash over all of Earth. Is that possible? I'm really not sure. Picture this, you're watching Earth from the moon, and then...it's slowly swallowing itself, the blue and green gradually becomes only-blue. How come we can live our lives nonchalantly even with the knowledge that all this water is just
. This large, immeasurable, frightening, uncontrollable, monster amount of fucking water.
Dear love. Yesterday you told me that you smell rain and asked if could I smell it, too. Yes, I said. It's come early, no? The earth is damp and ants are busy. We've spent, what, almost three months huddling together, keeping the cold at bay, wishing for summer. And yesterday you came home forlorn, not so much asking if I could smell rain as actually declaring that June must have come too soon. I love you in the rain and in the heat. But we know that this love is only for fair weather. We've missed our chance again.
At 2 a.m. to 4 a.m., some sort of phenomenon...this pocket of time lasts for an equivalent of 6 hours, sometimes more, never less. A man can catch a bus along Nellis Blvd, just after playing his last round of blackjack for the weekend, and have more than enough time to ruminate on how his losses could have funded his daughter's second semester at college. He can seesaw between indifference and guilt for a total of 28 times. When the clock strikes 4:01 a.m., the normal passage of time. He plans for blackjack next week.
She loved him in one fell swoop. She ran until she's out of breath, aghast at what she's done. She opened her heart and let someone tinker with and attempt to hurt it. This hasn't been the case for the longest minute and now she's begging the gods for time, more time, too much time...to sit down and assess the situation. How can this be? A stranger, a beautiful man, such a beautiful stranger has come and stole her senses. Is this the work of an evil magician? Is there an escape room? Will she be cut in half?
He keeps reminding her: The days are long, but the years are short. She responds: Time is relative. Imagine not being bound by what the clock says. 72-hour "days," 96-hour sleep. Imagine not agonizing over the nearness of 7 p.m. and having to sit through dinner with a person who doesn't give a damn. Imagine prolonging the year 2010 and not having to leave home. Imagine a day so short the only thing you were able to do is look out the window and see that the neighbor has finally come home from a 2-year dinner.
(Continued...) She adds: "But yes I know what you mean, the weight of it." In our hurriedness and repetitions, we inadvertently forget (or force ourselves to forget, as applicable) that the little things are the big things and vise versa. It's cliche blahblahblah, but it's true all the time. What are the objects we can trust? Clocks, calculators, maps, rulers. However, it's still not 100% what they're saying is accurate, right? So what do we trust? The sun, sky, clouds, smells. How do you know rain is coming, you smell it. No manmade instrument is ever perfect. She knows that.
(Continued...) She has digressed. Back on track: No one owes anyone anything (still debatable, yes). If only at least 70% of humanity finds the right balance of self-respect, self-awareness, and empathy, imagine what a better world it would be. It all boils down to: Not everything is about you and Be Kind God damn it. You don't have to be a dick. Another digression. Where was she? Time. Days are long, years are short. A woman might focus on this one problem, yes? And spend months fixating on it. And feel beaten and victimized. Hey universe Fix It!
(Continued...) What does the universe do? Nothing. It's all on her. She can spend the better part of the year mourning, kicking, screaming, hating and fail to notice that she has wasted days upon days, long days, important days to do something else instead. Like maybe start over. Easier said than done ok ok ok. But. People must understand, it all adds up. The wrong choices, the friendships taken for granted, the lone incident when someone says Fuck It and berates a friend who was just trying to help -- these things wait at an imaginary crossroad. They don't really disappear.
(Continued...) She is still all this 20% of the time: Black, bitter, vengeful. The trick is...alright TBH, there's no trick. One has to practice, get good at it: Forgiveness. Most of our conflicts are due to the resistance to forgive, ourselves especially. What does she know, really? She shouldn't judge. To each his own. We can only help each other to a certain extent. So here: Please be mindful of how you spend your days. They are long, yet transient; they take their time, yet they are decisive; most seem to not matter, yet they take away too much.
I'm a shit friend. I allow myself the occasional slagging of someone behind their back, it makes me feel, IDK, whatever's the opposite of "weak" in this context. I'm a shit sister and daughter. There's a real difficulty for me to go though a day without saying or thinking something bad about someone. Perhaps 90% of the time the word "selfish" is a perfect word to describe me. Not self-deprecating or anything like that, but stating facts, is all. I have another day later to try harder. To be a good person. Mainly to not be an ass. Okay.
The Aristocrat House of Lamps nearby has closed. It's at the 3rd floor of Paragon Plaza. I'd see it every weeknight the three years I worked at Pioneer Street, yellow-aglow along EDSA. All these lamps turned on, so pretty, and it would make me feel warm and comfortable. I always made a mental note to come visit, and I did -- last year, when I was looking for wall fixture. It was overwhelming, that. The shop occupies the whole floor, and you'll maybe need 3 hours (or more) to look at every single lamp. I was ecstatic. I'll miss it.
I've rediscovered Foster the People. Sit Next to Me. Doing it For the Money. Both from Sacred Hearts Club (2017). I remember not warming up to Supermodel (2014), and how that was quite sad considering I found Torches (2011) exceptional. There was a pocket of time I only listened to Robbers by The 1975 and waiting for when Matty Healy cries out "You look so cold" six times. Tame Impala and Glass Animals are also comfort playlists. Tennis, of course. First Day of My Life by Bright Eyes always makes me cry. Lucius' Two of Us on the Run, too.
Let me mention Joy of Wacoal in Venice Grand Canal Mall. She has been the most helpful and least judgmental underwear sales lady I've encountered. You can tell she enjoys her job. I say "least judgmental" because, yes, she made a comment about my weight, but it was in a non-offensive manner, and in the first place I was the one who brought it up. It still stung because haha, you know, it always does. But! I made it a point to tell her: "Ikaw and pinaka-nice na nagbenta sa akin ng bra." And her face lit up.
San Marcos by Brockhampton. This is my favorite song of 2018. Still is. The 2:28 mark is a punch to the heart. I've been wanting to write about Brockhampton since 2017. Thing is, there's so much to say I don't know where to start. Their songs discuss myriad (relevant) issues, and they are honest. The kind of honest that is heartbreaking yet hopeful, bright at the same time. All three Saturation albums has at least one song you will like. On Iridescence though, San Marcos for me is
. It's like a purple daydream. Hurts, but soft.
There was a weeklong breakup after that fateful Sunday. Not sure how you were, but in my head it was the whole 7 years, playing in slo-mo--and me trying to know at what point I can save us. From my end, a lot of holding on to you, hoping it was a dream. From your end, repeated glances at your watch. That one night you offered to stay until I fell asleep, you didn't take off your watch. A pointed gesture saying, "It's different now." First times in a while are like little earthquakes. They cause little deaths.
"Non-offensive" a few entries back should be "inoffensive." Now that's out of the way. How much of the people you know are punctual? Half of them? 90%? These are people I admire: hardworking people with repetitive, long-standing jobs -- something about their tenacity; people who are always on time -- on time is early!!!; people who never say anything bad about anyone -- imagine the restraint (or it could be they're genuinely good people, yes?). IDK what my point is. I used to look up to my father. An imagined greatness. Stories from other people. Knowing him myself now, IDK anymore.
(Continued...) It's hard to talk about my father without sounding whiny. I've agreed with my mother to honor my father, what he has done (and is doing) for the family, and to refrain from focusing on what's lacking. It took years of talk therapy for me to accept that it is what it is. The affection I need from Papa will never be a reality, and it's not because he's a bad person, he just doesn't have it in him. It's not like he never tries. Still, it's an everyday hurt. Everyday: Will my father notice and love me today?
(Continued...) When he does not, I reset to zero. In 5 years' time this won't matter. I've transcended the "hey universe, fix this" mind-set. There's also resignation, surrender, an insistent longing. Sure, five years ago, I was in this exact same place, hoping for my father to look for me when I haven't come home for days. There've been major progress, sure, coping-wise. It will always matter 5, 10, 50 years from now. The difference is that I can fool myself more easily now. It's OK, I say. You'll be OK. I believe it, hand to my chest.
The Tip Jar