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It's June 2018. You are turning 5 years old in less than 2 months. Devising this time capsule for you to read when you can. The future is blue and smells like powder, and I like that you are in it. I like it more that you are here, now. Well, in Guam and not Manila, but still I'm glad I got to meet you in this lifetime. Your Dad sends me photos and videos of you doing different sorts of things. My favorites are those of you sleeping.
You are my favorite boy.
This is the first June in 3 years that we're not in the same city. I sometimes see you via your Ate Hailey's Instagram. Usually she asks you random questions, and you often give funny answers. There was one IG story where you were throwing a fit while wearing gloves. Hailey said you were channeling Black Panther. You still like Spider-Man and the Power Rangers. You watch Power Rangers clips on YouTube every chance you get. You have this "concentration face" that breaks into a naughty smile when someone calls your attention and you pretend you cannot hear them.
I have a list of things to tell you. Random stuff, nothing heavy. Okay, maybe some are heavy. You are a smart boy. I may sound grave, but you know, these days (meaning: 2018), there's a conscious effort to chill. Reading past journals (from 15 years ago!), I discover that this has been my goal for
I'm tempted to say "to no avail" because I tend to bring myself down, but I think I've improved a bit over the years. Don't let this happen to you. Be decisive and unafraid. The secret is to know yourself.
I smell fried galunggong (GG) while writing this. For many people (I assume), Fridays are munggo and GG days. This is a nice memory. Even just the smell. I wonder what will make up your "comfort" memories when you are older. I imagine for you it would be the smell (and sound) of Chuck E. Cheese's, blue Christmas lights, evening drives to Pay-Less, indie songs (and acoustic guitars). You have such a warm set of people around you. I am happy you are growing up inside a loving home, filled with laughter and good food, songs and quiet nights.
I was talking to your Grandma and we were talking about the punctuality of rain. Is that the right word? Like clockwork. June 1 comes and along with it is rain. Manila is endearing this time of year. If in the future you decide to reside here, I'd like to know what your favorite month would be. Talk about it over coffee or chocolate milk? When your Dad and I were young (1980s?), Magnolia had this chocolate milk in a bottle. So good. There was also melon milk. Food today does not taste as good as in the 80s/90s.
Someday could you tell me your take on it? "It" being old people's tendency to moan about how the good old days are better than whatever is in the now. Is it a function of being old? I don't know what I meant by that, "a function of." Like, is it something that comes naturally? A necessity? It gets annoying, sure, how I complain about the deterioration of certain things...like the 90s is some Mecca, a paradise. If you think about it, while I was in the 90s I might have hated it, you get my drift? Funny, that.
If there are only 3 things I'm allowed to teach you, they would be: 1) Forgive yourself. 2) Focus on the now. 3) Feign happiness. Hear me out. 1) People waste so much time castigating themselves. This time could be better used looking ahead, which brings us to...2) The basic concept of the past being the past. Again, so much time wasted wishing the past was different and the future some other version of good. Plain and simple, now is all you have. 3) Life can get sad, it's a fact. Fake a smile. It goes a long way.
It's been raining nonstop. I've lost track how many days now. Everything's wet-feeling. The bed sheet feels moist even if it's dry. Don't worry, I checked, it's really dry. It's just it's so cold I awake mid-sleep because I'm cold. I used to need water sounds playing when I try to sleep. Early mornings are so lonely. Nobody's awake. Only 7-11 and other 24-hour shops. One can use them for company only for so long. Brysen, rainy days are blessings. I have learned, over the past 30 years or so, to see sadness as necessity, grace.
Be genuinely interested in people. If you find that you're not interested in someone, do yourself (and that person) a favor by walking away. Life is too short for fakery and unnecessary niceties. It will be exhilarating to want to know someone. You will find things in common, make discoveries together, want to see each other again the soonest time possible. I wish your friendships to sustain you on difficult days. Stick with people who lift you up. That sounds cheesy, but this is what you will learn anyway. Surround yourself with positive, brave, resourceful, honest, kind, and funny people.
Some Sundays feel like 40 hours, some feel like 10 hours. Maybe it depends on who you're spending them with. When you were much smaller, Sundays used to be Skype day. And then you got older and people got busy on Sundays, too, (or asleep) and eventually we just found time to "talk" whenever. I told your Dad about this tiff I have with video calls and phone calls in general. Distance, to be exact. A friend once told me I was too angry and that I let it consume me. I'm still learning to do the more difficult things.
A handful of people will tell you about "not failing at much as a result of not trying a lot," something like that. Being afraid of failure and success. Not doing what you want because you're scared of fucking up your dream. Weeks can become years in an instant, this is a fact. You'd probably heard by now about "not allowing yourself to reach a point of looking back and regretting what you didn't do." "Allow" is the operative word. You are in control. Do stupid things, but bounce back as soon as you discover they're stupid. That's the trick.
What if it rains nonstop and we dissolve? That would take a million years, you would tell me. You would maybe ask, was I serious in wondering that? I would not answer you. I like imagining you as a grown-up. What a beautiful and well-rounded person you will be. People often tell me I'm honest, but sometimes I think they say that because I often say something they don't expect. Who's to say what's honest? These days, people are taken aback by kindness. The norm has been dishonesty and rudeness. Wonder how it will be in 10 years.
Here's a game I like to play: Saying contradicting things to see if someone will call me out. If they do, that means they were listening. Or they care at least. You get the drift. Brysen, listening is important. Wait for someone to finish talking. Take your time before responding. "Thoughtful" is a nice word. Put it to good use. I still interrupt people sometimes, I'm working on that. When you were a baby, you'd look at the person in front of you and "process" what they're saying before you gurgle, coo, or laugh. You're off to a good start.
I got dressed up for a job interview today. I was booking a car for forever, and then I just decided to withdraw my application. It was about an hour's notice. I realized a lot of things while unsuccessfuly booking a car. Or...I just got too anxious about being late. Or not having enough time to commute (Plan B). Or just...deciding to only show up for things that I want. Stop half-assing, you know? I changed back into my house clothes and slept (I hadn't slept). Got tired of "fixing" my life for 20 or so years.
There is a moral there somewhere. Stop half-assing, is it? All in or no. Does that make sense? I will be that aunt who bombards you with cliches. I've lived quite long, and cliches are the truest things. This is why they are cliches, you would probably say. Banality, platitude. Trite! Unoriginal, insincere! What I'm hearing is that people now equate "overused" truth to untruths. IDK what I'm saying. I will also be that aunt who generalizes and air quotes words. I won't make sense most of the time, but I can assure you good coffee and satisfactory company.
I tend to downplay my ideas into jokes. So that if they bomb I won't be as embarrassed as when I was all serious and pushy. Don't be like me, Brysen. I'm at least 60% coward. I used to blame people for my misfortunes. I used to be so entitled (not so much now, thankGod) but I have good friends, they call me out. I hope you find friends who are real. People who won't take your bullshit, who say it as it is. You will find that you can be honest around them. It's quite freeing, a good feeling.
I'm approaching month #4 of joblessness. I'm confident that by now as you're reading this I'd have fulfilled my long-time dream of becoming a teacher. I made a decision a few days ago to follow through. Deliver. Stick to my decision no matter what. Work around difficulties and not sleep my frustrations and fears off. Direction, discipline, (firm) decision making are what I pray for (I've also requested some people to include me in their prayers). My Auntie and Mama say that prayers work. I tend to forget that sometimes. Silly, really. Kiddo, do not forget important things, okay?
I do have things to do. Freelance work. See, I just got a project to occupy me for a few weeks. Plus other things, you know. Do not let yourself drift. This is important. Rest is important, of course. Dedicate time for that. But then when you feel ready to jump back in, it's wise to set a structure to your day. It's hard to wake up and not know what to do. I find it easier to get up if I have a To-Do list that I lovingly, painstakingly, anxiously wrote the night before. Whatever floats your boat.
Your Dad recently sent me a photo of you sleeping with your arm inside the pillowcase. He wrote that you've recently started doing that. I wrote back that maybe you like the softness (or warmth) of the actual pillow. Last year you had this phase of carrying your Spider-Man pillow (flattened, drool-y, comfy) from bed to the couch. You'd watch TV with the pillow covering you like a blanket. You still also like holding your "punas." For comfort, yes? Softness. Familiar smell. I sometimes wish we can read each other's minds. Yours seem to be full of warmth.
It has been, what, 3 or 4 days of sun. Then it rained this afternoon. Briefly. There was a gale, then the sky darkened, then rain. All between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. I think. Brysen, a positive mind-set goes a long way. I will tell you this a million more times, most of the time as a reminder to myself, too, that a positive mind-set goes a long way. We need to remind ourselves of the most basic necessities for survival, most of them intangible. I hope you grow up to be strong and soft.
The other day I rewatched "Lost in Translation." Good movie. "Groundhog Day" is a good one, too. Almost anything with Bill Murray in it, TBH. Oooh, also, "Shaun of the Dead" (no Bill here though). What else, why don't I enumerate some of my favorites and let me know what you decide to see and liked: The Godfather II. Goodfellas. Boyhood. Before Sunset. Reality Bites. Good Will Hunting. Great Expectations. Never Let Me Go. Gladiator. Pretty in Pink. Spotlight. Boy A. Life is Beautiful. Rocky movies. Back to the Future movies. The Neverending Story movies. Million Dollar Baby. The Cure.
Hi, Brysen, today was a good day. Faced some of my fears and stuck to my appointments. Your aunt used to be a flaker. I hope in the future to continue doing what I started a couple of years back--saying the truth whenever I want out of a meeting (work or pleasure). It's so much easier to say: I don't want to, I'm not feeling 100%. It's always convenient when you really can't make it because of a prior commitment. Dear little boy, this is just to say, it takes too much effort to lie. Say the truth. Always.
Today your dad sent me videos of you talking about your new markers. You talked about the color blue and briefly about red. You also showed a drawing you made of yourself, Mommy, and Dad. I saw that I missed your call so I called back, but you were already taking a nap. Your Dad was trying (gently) to wake you up. Haha. Your Mom teased him about wanting you to take a rest when awake (because Kulit!) but then wanting you to be awake when asleep. ILY little one. Your Dad said you like to be called Little Flash.
June afternoon rains are here. It did not rain today, however. There were rumblings, but Sunday did good on the weather front. Not too humid and not wet at all. It might be raining somewhere else, and I hope people are warm and safe. Brysen, I still don't know how I survived my youth. You know, being that na´ve and self-centered. I sometimes wish to have had more honest people around me. At 37, I know there is so much to improve on in terms of relating to people and not being a dick. Help me out someday.
Today I got good news from a new friend. Let me tell you this: First impressions aren't always reliable. No one is too busy to not be able to take time and understand why something is annoying them. Well, okay! Some people are too busy. But why is it usually being used as a reason to say "I don't have time for your nonesense, I got better things to do." You can't dedicate juuuust a bit of time to see if maybe someone can turn out to be a friend? Grey areas are gold sometimes. You'll see. Be open. Often.
Dear Brysen, I've found that most good things happen on Tuesdays. How about you, what's your lucky day? Your Dad sent me your class photos and, as usual, it was easy to spot you among your fellow small humans. You have a distinct pose. I can recognize your funny face from the moon. I can tell it's you by the way your limbs are all over the place as you strike a Power Ranger or Spider-Man pose. I am a little in love with you each day, who knew that it was possible? Everyone, everyone did. I like it.
Five years old in exactly a month! I have these old videos of you in my phone and, wow, you are always doing something that involves too much energy, always saying something funny! It's my Aunt-tinted glasses, isn't it? Other people might not find anything of interest when I show them these videos, but still I will be there shoving my phone into their faces: "ISN'T HE THE CUTEST???" That's me, your Tita Ninang. And that's you, my little chocolate donut. You make things better. And I thank you for being our sunshine. Imagining your laugh now. Happy sigh.
Aunt-tinted glasses in the previous entry should have been Aunt Goggles. Dear Little Kid, fair warning: I have difficulty refraining from correcting people's grammar to their face. At present, I still point out typos in restaurant menus. What I'm saying is, I can be arrogant in so many ways. And I give you permission to call me out. My best friend once told me "Dami mong alam!" in that tone that friends use which means they want you to shut up. I appreciated that (because I love him). ILY! Your Dad said you add "100x" when you say ILY.
Last Monday your Tito Byron brough home stellar pancit. The kind of pancit that brings you back to your childhood and induces warm feelings the whole time you are eating it. As you grow older, you will form attachments to certain foods (hopefully the beneficial ones [attachment and food]). Garlic bread, menudo, cinnamon bread, a certain kind of laing, the perfect sinigang, picadillo. I'm excited to hear what your all-time favorite food would be. You will learn that the best food-related memories are often connected to who you were with and how you felt while eating with them.
There's a Friends scene that always makes me cry (S1E8). Ross's grandma is in critical condition, and he recalls how she liked collecting Sweet'n Low packets from wherever she went. Sadly, she passes. Ross then goes through Nana's stuff in her walk-in closet. An innocent tug at the ceiling and he is under a confetti of Sweet'n Lows. He looked heartbreakingly happysad and loved. Brysen, people you love will leave, and you'd want to meet them again someday. The thing you will learn though is that you should tell them you love them while they're still here. Everyday. 100x.
The Tip Jar