Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Revenge of the Chillies

chilli
 
Spicy food whets my appetite. So preparing any spicy food in the kitchen definitely makes me high. I can’t remember when it started but I’ve been deeply in-love with anything spicy since I can remember. And with spicy comes the first thing that pops into everyone’s mind: chilli.
 
Sunday morning, I was hyped up to finally be able to prepare my version of Bicol Express. There has been left-overs from the lechon on Christmas, and it was planned weeks ago that I cook B-Ex, if only to satiate my unreasonable craving for spicy food even just for a few days or so.
 
So there I was, fantasizing on how blissful it would be when I’d finally be able to taste what I’ve been waiting for for weeks, months even. After all the spices had been prepared, I started slicing and dicing the chillies—the green ones called ’siling espada’ and the little ones that are just extremely hot, according to others.
 
Everyone had been complaining that I’ve prepared too much chillies already. But actually it’s not as much compared to what was really needed for the dish. I wanted to slice more chillies but they kept nagging me about it.

The dish was, of course, delish! It was hot but not as hot as I’d wanted. Can’t exactly say it was a sold-out dish, though. They’re not much on chillies. I wanted it to be hotter but I guess I could do it that way next time, when no one’s nagging at my back.
 
Some time after lunch, I started to feel a little heat on my left thumb. Thought that it was, of course, due to the chillies I handled—that it was normal. A familiar sensation I always felt after handling quite a lot of those little heat grenades. I could handle a little heat on the thumb, I thought. And I was right. Then about an hour later and I started to feel the rest of the digits on my left hand start to burn. It was bearable for a few minutes, then it started to burn like hell. I could not move my fingers. It was as if my hand was being suspended above burning charcoals, as if a barbecue. It felt like it was burning so bad that I Googled home remedies for hands burning from handling chillies.
 
Nigella was right. You can’t be too strong—or too much of a chilli maniac—to handle chillies with your bare hands. And apparently, a lot of people have made the same mistake. That was a relief. So I tried the remedies I found on the net. Remedies submitted by the poor souls who have suffered the same burning feeling on their hands.
 
So these are the remedies I tried:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly, scrubbing through every digit under running water.
    >It didn’t work for me. Hell, my hand was still burning like hell.

  • Soak your hands in milk.
    >I shouldn’t have drank the milk on the bottle. I regretted having gulped those last few glasses. I was left with no choice but to dissolve powdered milk in water and soak my hand in it. Still no use. The pain was alleviated but only while my hand was submerged in milk. Each time I remove my hand from the solution, it only burned worse.

  • Soak your hands in vinegar.
    >The same effect, err absence of effect. The pain continued. And I wished I wasn’t so stupid enough to slice those chillies with bare hands.

  • Apply baking soda paste on the affected area.
    >They have got to be kidding, I thought when it didn’t work—at all. It was as if I was being filmed for a prank show. And I had no idea why a lot of people claimed that it worked. For them, maybe. But apparently my hand was immune to any cure, it seemed.

  • Soak your hands in coconut milk.
    >At last, a remedy that actually worked. A little, that is. I had to keep my hand submerged in coconut milk for some 20 minutes.

Of course, the impatient bastard that I am, I wasn’t able to wait for the coconut milk to fully take the burning off my hand. I cursed, and removed my hand and had to blow it with my mouth. I had to bear the burning feeling. I found it useless to follow any more of those remedies that obviously worked only for other people.
 
I suffered for four hours, wishing there was some way I could trade my mouth’s ability to withstand ridiculously spicy food for relief from the pain in my hand. Now I know better, needless to say. The next time I decide to murder chillies, I’m going to use kitchen gloves. No matter how few the chillies are.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Party

party

Exactly thirty-one minutes before midnight on my computer clock. 19th December, 2008. It feels like my head is filled with salt water, like I've been swimming in the sea for the evening. But what happened was nothing close to an encounter with nature—the beach, I meant.

If you knew me, then you'd probably know that I am writing under the influence—again. If you feel it proper, blame a few bottles of the bland yet notorious (at least in my case) San Mig Light. And yes, I had to open another tab to be sure if it's spelled with three words or two. And if I may, I'd like to clear that I am, in no way, inebriated ; if your vocabulary serves, 'tipsy' is the word that fits my condition. And now, I'm not quite sure 'condition' is the word I was looking for.

I am amused at the fact that I am still able to check my grammar. At least to me. I will not make excuses for any error I may commit with this post. Hell, I don't owe anyone any explanation for this post.

So how exactly am I feeling at this very moment? Um, I don't know. I guess I feel a bit underwater. A bit, being the the operative phrase. My eyes rolled to the lower right corner of the screen and the clock reads 11.41. Sweet! Just sweet.

Tonight's the barkada Christmas party. You know, nothing fancy. Nothing out of the usual, actually. You know, we had dinner at KFC. Ordered a bucket. Ate. Talked. Laughed. Agreed that the gravy at KFC is the best around, and that no other fast food joint has come close to beating its taste. Of course, I was half listening to my friends talk about the city's business development as I was busy with my food. I was so full I thought I needed to unbutton my jeans.

So it was supposed to be a barkada Christmas party, right? Apparently it wasn't to some of us. I am not going to drop names because that would only be an insult to whoever that 'some' refers to. If you're reading this, which I doubt you are given your 'busy' schedule—what with all your responsibilities and all—and you don't feel in the mood to tolerate such expression of grievances from someone who's probably going to laugh it off the next day, just find your way out the page.

Where was I? Yeah. It was supposed to be a barkada party but some of us didn't actually find the will—and want—to attend it. Catching on up while we're already thinking of collapsing onto our beds so doesn't count. I don't think you can even call it 'catching up'. It's not like I am surprised though. I am used to the situation. But apparently, the disappoint is inevitable. You sit there, facing the bottles of beer, listening to your friends talk about this and that, thinking 'Hey, it's okay. This has happened before, and it's not like you're the only one being taken for granted, you know. Get over it.'. You sit there, and bam! It hits you like a blow on the side, and you start to think if you're actually okay with the constant flaking out of one of your friends. Thank you for showing your support the past week by showing up, although you still had to leave for something that I completely understand was important. But tonight, your presence would have so made things a whole lot different.

After I had confided on the same situation exactly six days ago, a friend outside the aforementioned barkada told me that I should be aware that at some point my friends would not be able to attend our gatherings. Of course, I totally get that. I am not a bloody eight-year old. But when it's (almost) always like this, can you blame me if I feel this way?

I don't mean to vilify or anything. It's just that I have a huge button for being taken for granted, just in case you failed to notice it from my previous posts. Or from my previous blogs. It's like, "Where the fuck were you? You have the nerve to show your face to us after having been late for, oh I don't know, four freaking hours? And you have the littlest nerve to attend to your phone when you knew you at least owed your friends a little act of consolation?" I mean, fuck!

So anyway, I had fun. A friend had me occupied with her little childlike trick of forming tissue strips into a circle, something like that. And as it turned out, I did one complete circle which, according to her, meant the person I was thinking while doing the circle was meant for me. I wondered if it was true. Wondered. Past tense. I wondered if it was true for the first few minutes after my friend gave me her giddy congratulations for making one full circle. After that, I was sane and not naive enough to realize it was a major pile of bullocks.

Bottom line is I had fun. I had fun. And I want to thank my friends for being present on our party.

I can be a bitch, I know that. I can be the grandest bitch one could ever have the chance of knowing. My words can cut like a knife. My eyes can roll like they regret ever having laid on you. Plainly put, I am a bitch. But here's the deal, I am the bitch who'll stick with you for as long as you show me you're worth sticking with.

Now, I think I've bitched enough. I deserve a good sleep.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Shade of Grey

grey

 

To paraphrase Miranda Bailey’s lines: if we lived in a black-and-white world, it would be easier to call a man a bad person or a good person. It would be as simple as identifying colours—even for a colour-blind like me. Needless to say, we are not in a black-and-white world. No one is entirely bad or good; we lie between the lines of good and evil.

 

I was staring blankly at the wall, disgruntled by my student’s inability to convey his thoughts into the simplest English sentence possible. I was beginning to regret having agreed to teach him, without foreknowing by that lousy smile on his face that it would be a very difficult task to edify his English skills. I flipped through the photocopied pages of a grammar book, willing myself to stay calm, when he said, in an almost indistinguishable utter, “I think teacher good person.”


“What?” I asked, and regretted doing so when he just looked at me with that same smile he’s been flashing since we met.

 

“What did you say?” I asked again anyway, although I have already understood what he meant.

 

“I think teacher good person.” He repeated, much to my surprise.

 

“You think I’m a good person?” I asked, rhetorical.

 

He nodded, smile stretching even wider.

 

I tried hard not to laugh. Out of desperation, I cleared my throat. Of course, I could have retorted at his simple-minded, immature opinion. But doing so would only be a waste of time, and would add a strain to my throat for he would not have understood what I’d have uttered.

 

It was funny, in a way. I so rarely receive that kind of opinion. And from strangers, too. Complete strangers who have clearly no idea of who I am. Who I really am.

 

Well, I guess each one of us has our fans from both sides. Those who see the good in us, and those who see the devil in us. And there will always be those rare few who see us for who we really are- an amalgam of all things good and evil. And it’s priceless, having those people who don’t see you through black-and-white lenses. Truth be told, though, I’d rather be labelled ‘evil’ than ‘good’. It’s easier to give justice then.

 

One thing’s for certain: we all have the seeds of good and evil in us. It’s up to us which seed we let grow. But in this world, it’s easier if we let them both bloom. There will be struggle. But that’s just the way it is. It’s better that way.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Worlds Apart

world

Three thirty-five a.m., I lay restless in bed. My hands under my head, and I tried to make sense of the interplay of the ceiling and the shadows that the light from the backyard illuminated through the window. I tried to make up shapes, figures—it was my own alternative for silently counting imaginary sheep jumping over an imaginary white fence. I wanted to believe counting sheep, in its illusory sense, worked.

My head was filled with everything that has happened hours before I gave in to my body’s exhaustion. I tried to shake things away; tried to tell myself it was just one of those hallucinations I brought myself without any help from alcohol. But I guess it’s true what they say: the more you try to forget something, the more you unconsciously think of it.

I should not have felt that way. I have been praying hell time would not come that I’d feel that way. But one can’t really force himself to feel things; more importantly, one cannot force himself to not feel things.

I twisted and turned, hoping my mind would just shut down or something. I wished there was a key I could press—one single key, like that on my keyboard, that when pressed would, in seconds, turn the system off. But my mind was restless. My mind has always been restless. Too restless, in fact, that it sometimes worries me. And hell, it was past midnight. My mind was, in some twisted reality of mine, entitled to work more intensely than usual. Even without my permission.

See, just when I thought the city that I lived in was somehow growing, I saw him sitting at my usual spot in the coffee shop. For a fraction of what seemed an eternity, my chest pounded like it was about to explode. Then, it stopped—I couldn’t feel my heart beat.

But like that kid in the Nido commercial, “See, I’ve learned.” I’ve learned to combat my tendency to panic when thrust into a moment where I was expected to shake, frown, and publicly humiliate myself. I’ve learned long ago how to appear collected even when my heart just wants to jump out of my chest.

I was hoping that time would come. Silently hoping. I hoped I’d be able to stare into those two dark eyes and not flinch. Well, I didn’t flinch. Not that I’m aware of. And well, I’d hoped it would be different. Needless to say, all hopes—along with their sons—crashed into a dead-end alley of my quiddity. But I guess things are better that way. For hope, they say, is the most evil of all human gifts.

It was hard enough that we were just inches from each other, yet there seemed a thick glass between us. I tried to strike a conversation. Asked a pretty stupid and ineffectual question only to be shot back at with a curt response. I have tried desperately to break the glass but it only seemed to grow thicker with every attempt. There was distance between us that no bridge could efface.

I wondered how things could have been had we not been around friends. Had we both been alone, would there have been any inch of possibility that we'd actually talk? Would there have been a chance that we'd laugh together while poking at the most trivial things other people seem to care so much about?

Once again, I asked myself if I haven’t been good enough for him to be able to claim me as his friend with people around. And once again, I told myself that some questions in this life are meant unanswered. I could be wrong. But then again, there’s a bigger chance that I’m right.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Cappuccino's Thriteen-year Old

cappu

It started to drizzle as I made my way to the coffee shop. I cursed beneath my breath. I hurried; started to run, almost knocking a girl down as I gained speed. It wasn’t my fault she was blocking my way. She sure didn’t seem to mind the drizzle. I thought she was one of those people who could stand under the rain and not get sick. I am not one of those people. I wanted to reach the shed of the coffee shop before the drizzle turned into rain.

By the time I got inside the shop, it stopped drizzling. I wanted to mutter another British-inspired curse but stopped myself. It was as if the clouds just wanted me to run so I would sweat, to piss me off. I frowned, pulling the earphone from my left ear and walked towards the counter. My frown turned into a goofy smile when I saw who was at the counter. It was Cappuccino, the single most cordial-looking barista in the shop who caught my eye some months ago.

I tried to peel the ear-to-ear smile off my face, but even if I wasn’t facing a mirror, I could see I was failing at the attempt. I felt like a thirteen-year old, albeit without the butterflies in the stomach. I felt relieved feeling that way; I thought, for the past months, I have stripped myself the gift of attraction.

“Hi!” I said, aware that it was in my signature oh-gawd-you’re-adorable tone.

“Good afternoon, sir.” He greeted with that certain degree of formality I knew he thought was suited for greeting a customer. I’d wished he knew he wasn’t allowed to be that formal. Where’s the manager?

I scanned the board behind him as if trying to decide what I wanted, when in fact I had already made a mental order for ‘Crumble’. As he punched my order into the machine, I asked for his name. It was the second time that I asked, and I felt like a complete idiot for it. He must think I was deaf or plain flirting. Which in either case, he was mistaken. Goofy smile doesn’t count for flirting in my book.

After he had given me his name—by this time the too formal appeal had faded—I explained that I got confused from the way he said it when we bumped into each other days ago. I knew it was unnecessary but I felt I had to say something just so his mind wouldn’t get clouded with assumptions. Most guys are good at that, and I should know.

Cappuccino  has a way of talking, you see. It was hard for me to roll my eyes from his face when he’d look me straight in the eyes when he spoke. He didn’t have painfully beautiful eyes which I am a sucker for, but I just found it winsome. I had to will myself to take a step from the counter and grab an ashtray behind me.

The sky had completely—and surprisingly—changed its shade when I got outside. I sat on my usual spot and stared into the sky, aimless—as if I was a zombie. Half-aware, I started to get impatient waiting for  my friend to arrive. She had agreed to meet me at the mall, and almost an hour had passed and she still was not in sight. I pulled myself from the trance-like activity and lit a cigarette. At the back of my mind, I knew I should not have bought a pack but I didn’t want to buy from the street vendors. Opting not to smoke in the first place was not an intention; the moment I felt the day drop its weight on me, I knew I had to puff some sticks.

In the middle of replaying my favourite scenes from Grey’s Anatomy, the glass door opened and came my coffee. Cappuccino placed the plastic cup beside the ashtray, with the cigarette resting on its grove. I looked up and saw his eyes fixed on me. Or maybe I was just hallucinating. To my surprise, he stayed to talk about stuff that concerned our random meeting. I was actually expecting him to bring my order and leave. By this time, I had the goofy smile under control. He motioned to go back to his post and I smiled, saying “Thanks” with as much composure as I could afford.

The thirteen-year old in me didn’t want him to leave, but the twenty-four-year-old-and-not-so-naive in me also knew I couldn’t—and shouldn’t—entertain such shallow attractions to someone who does not even know my name, and who’s just genuinely friendly and trying to do his job. I shook it off when he was gone and came back to staring at the sky.

Six sticks and half the coffee gulped later, my friend arrived. She went directly inside and so I picked up my coffee, and mobile, and followed her. When she ordered, Cappuccino was no longer attending the counter. It was the guy in eyeglasses with a shaved head. When my friend was given the promo card for a free mug, I complained that I was not given one. The bald guy in glasses looked surprised but handed me a card anyway. Then suddenly, from the corner of my eyes I saw him standing at the end of the counter, Cappuccino. I turned to him and complained in what I now gather a somewhat childlike manner. He smiled and explained that he forgot. His smile was nothing extraordinary, not your Close-up kind of smile. But it was unfeigned, I noticed—and I know one when I see one.

Back outside, any trace of the thirteen-year old was non-existent as the conversation stretched. When I think about it now, it was unlike me to be able to brush any interaction with a guy so easily. At least at that moment. But even now, I can’t reacquaint myself with the giddiness I’d felt. I guess one really learns from the past. Unaware maybe, but still. It feels good to know I have not grown insensible to things such as a little pash.

Friday, November 21, 2008

A Bird in the Sky

bird

 

The rain seemed to sympathize with my despondency. I sat almost weightless on a small green plastic chair yet I felt a heavy weight drag me from the inside. The sky was of smoke, sullied and blurry tone. I watched as the rain continued on, as a flock of birds flew across the sky. I wondered if they were immune to the cold—a silly thought, I later realized.

 

Those birds had to face the bitter cold, they had no other choice. They must go some place else. What for? I had no idea, and I had no intention of finding out.

 

So like birds, sometimes we must fly straight against a storm—okay, perhaps even rain—and eventually we’ll get somewhere safe, and warmer. We’ll get to that place that forced us to brave the cold in the first place. But it gets tricky—things get tricky, life works that way- knowing which storm we must face. Because even the bravest, strongest man cannot take on every storm that comes his way. There are storms that you just have to let pass before you fly.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Unbroken

unbroken

 

It’s like waking up one afternoon and realizing that the pieces don’t fit anymore. It’s hard realizing how much you wanted it to work—how hard you bled for it—but it had to end in such a bitter, cold way.

 

No matter what you do, that one person can never understand why you did the things you did. That one person can never fully accept that sometimes words must be said, pats must be given, coffee breaks must be shared. That one person can never understand even if he tried.

 

It’s like walking down the street with your head empty. The sky starts to mourn and it’s no big deal as you start to get wet. It’s like you wanted to get wet in the first place.

 

It can be painful yet surprisingly liberating all at the same time.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Floating

float
The wind blew hard. The curtains that draped over the windows fluttered as if they were sails of a huge wooden ship (the ones you see in old movies, dating back to 18th century history) braving a terrible weather en route to a new land. Think of John Smith on his ship, that should give you a clear picture. The lightning flashes could clearly be seen from the living room. I started to feel chills run down to my arms.

After I waved a stick of cigarette to my friend on my way out, she said, Naa pa ka? I smiled and went to my room to get the rest of the sticks that I’d bought before she arrived.

The wind was really cold outside. It felt like a storm was brewing. The sky looked terribly dark, and the lightning flashes made it look like a swirling vortex willing to suck everything. For a moment, I felt a chill run down my spine. I thought of being struck by lightning, or heaven forbid lightning should strike our house.

I stood cold on the porch, watching the sky. Before the cold -and the chill from paranoid-driven thoughts- could wrap me whole, I lighted a cigarette and breathed the nicotine into my system. It felt warm- relaxing. It had been weeks since I had my last nicotine trip.

“What if pabyahe-on ka un this kind of weather on a bangka?”
I asked my friend while she was busy texting and puffing her stick.

"Dili ko ui, risky kaayo!"

“What if kauban imong uyab?” I jokingly asked.

She said something like, Aw, kana! OK kaayo!” with a big smile on her face.

I had to stifle a laugh and shake my head. Adik! I said.

We all need a sort of survival jacket during harrowing times, so to speak. ‘Cause then things wouldn’t suck—or be as bad—as much. To others, they sort of turn to ‘romantic jackets’ to comfort them during these times, which I think is human. It’s always the thought of having a ‘lover’ that keeps them warm at night, so to speak, again.

As for me, I don’t really think of a romantic jacket when it comes to the subject. And that’s not just because I have never had any romantic relationship since birth (one that’s official, and, say, not just mutual) and have given up on the hope that I might one day find a pair of hands that fit my own hands. I’ll get to that point someday. Where I am right now, all I need is a bunch of crazy and loving people who know my worth—and who need me in their life. I have my family, I have real friends, and for now it’s more than enough to keep me floating amidst belligerent waters.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Encounter with the Worst Kind

trike

Some of the worst people in the planet are tricycle drivers here in Tagbilaran. Some being the operative word. I’ve had a lot—and too much—of unfriendly (unfriendly is such an understatement) interactions with these people that sometimes I think of bringing a knife when I go out and use public transportation so I can plunge it into a driver’s throat should the situation deem such criminal action morally acceptable.

Just this morning, after I dropped my brother off at school, I unfortunately boarded a red, close-to-extinction tricycle. I didn’t know if the driver was either sleep-driving or just plain dull because he took the longer route. I did not complain because after all he was the driver, so it was not my business if he wanted to waste his gas. About a block away from my house, he said Unahan man diay sa Peanut Kisses inyoha, nilibot pa jud ta! in a rather surly tone.

I felt blood shot to my ears. “It’s not my fault you’re such an idiot!” I shot back trying to sound as aggravated with his words as I was. He didn’t respond, and I almost scolded myself for not talking back in the vernacular. I didn’t know if he knew enough English words to understand what I said to him. But he understood the word idiot, I gathered, because after he got my fare he threw it into the coin counter as if he didn’t care that he could miss.

“Idiot!” I said to his face without a care that he might get off his motor and punch me in the face. “Kinsa may driver, ikaw o ako?” I added.

I swore he looked like he was about to explode. He sped off like a speed maniac without saying anything, which I was glad about. I was not exactly in the brawling mood that morning. Not that I’ve ever been in a brawl with a driver before; just something close to it.

And now that I’m at it, I just would like to say that some tricycle drivers stink like cat shit; they stink so bad that you’d wish you were dead if only to not be able to smell them.

I’ve also encountered drivers who talked a lot about the President. Some complain about the high price of gas. Some ask questions about my view on the ‘estado sa atong ekonomiya’, as one bearded driver put it. Excuse me, but I don’t talk to strangers, let alone have conversations with them.

As with the smell, I’ve learned to hold my breath for a few minutes while desperately gasping for air through my mouth every time I feel like I’m going purple; and it’s not really a problem ’cause most of the time I bring a hanky to cover my nose. You see, I have absolutely nothing against tricycle drivers. Unless they’re major assholes, of course.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Like Death Warmed Up

nose

I should be off to bed at this moment, but while I can still ignore the tired feeling in my eyes, I also feel it best that I continue to entertain my writing mood tonight. If I were to be asked, "How's the cold doing?", I might just respond in the same exact way Emily Charlton did to Andrea Sachs in the movie  The Devil Wears Prada, "Like death warmed up, actually." Of course, I wouldn’t dare miss saying it with the British accent because I am deeply infatuated with the accent.

A cold is something that just ruins everything for me. And this cold that I have right now is not really due to my allergy—yes, I do have an allergy, and it’s a clinical finding, mind you—but due to the erratic changes in the weather.

It’s clear to me that all this absurd changes in weather is a manifestation of global warming. And I mean, what the fucking hell, are we doing about it? What gets me about this whole global warming phenomenon is that people aren’t doing the necessary steps to at least attend to it, to hinder its effect on our planet—on us. A lot of people, I think, are still in the dark about it. But the worse part is that there are people who are fully aware of it -and are capable of doing something- who aren’t exactly what you call ‘concerned’ with what’s happening; they’re not doing anything.

So yeah, I mean it’s not like a simple act of being ‘green’ can ultimately and instantly alter what’s happening, but it’s those little acts that start the bigger things, right?

Right.

I have already consumed almost half of a loo roll, and I’ve taken about four litres of water. I am drowning from the inside. It feels like there’s a huge sponge in my nose. My head feels clogged up, too. And my hearing is slightly affected. My nose has already gone red and sore because of constant wiping and rubbing. So yeah, I guess I should really be hitting the sack.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Morning with Christian

christian

Max is barking like an idiot. That bloody dog needs to shut up. But of course, if it weren’t for that askal roaming around the neighbourhood at night, we can all have some peace and quiet. And I wouldn’t have to peer through the window and tell him Shut up, Max! Patyon ta ka ron!. Of course, like a clever pawed creature, he would pipe down—but only for a few minutes. As soon as he sees that bloody askal, he starts barking like a crazed hound. This happens almost every frigging night.

The last thing I need tonight is a distraction. Not when I’m all pumped up to write.

So this morning, while my mum tried to landscape the front lawn with the help of our trustee house help Bags, I did some cleaning around the house. I was not really up for the task since I was feeling rather ill due to my pesky nose—apparently, the slight itch in my nose had turned into a real cold—but hey, I couldn’t count on our invisible housemates to do the cleaning, so I, well, cleaned. And while I was cleaning, I plugged in my mp3 player (dear Snowflake) and for a change listened to Christian Bautista’s Live album—oh, you know, our local music industry’s take on Unplugged. And while I liked the way his voice sometimes teeter on high notes, I hated that it had to break on some parts.

I overheard my mum and our help talking about my odd unusual choice for music this morning. Unsa kahay nakaon sa usa ka taw, nay? I heard my mum say. See, my family is not really used to hearing me play (mainstream) love songs, especially from local artists. Don’t get me wrong, there are certain Pinoy artists that I like. It’s just that you’d rarely hear me play their songs.

I thought I’d like the whole album, given that I’m familiar with ninety-percent of the track list, but I skipped a few tracks. I’m not such a big fan of extra cheesy love songs. And yeah, I belted out some notes, daydreaming I were in a room surrounded by adoring fans who almost drooled while listening to me. I liked the sound of my voice this morning—kind of husky, thanks a lot to my cough.

After If Ever You’re in My Arms Again, I skipped to the original Unplugged style of MTV. And of course, the artist was no other than (drum rolls, please) Alanis Morissette. One certain thing one must know about me is that I never (and I mean n-e-v-e-r) fail to listen to Alanis every single day. Hey, what else can I say?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Lump In My Throat

lump

I feel a lump in my throat, and a congestion in my nose. I feel the terrible tandem coming—cough and colds. It must be ’cause of the horrible weather; one day it’s blazing hot, and the next thing you know, it’s raining cats and dogs. But whatever.

Just a thought that came to me while I sipped Irish cream-flavoured brewed coffee at a coffee shop—while I listened to a boy friend air out his girl problems, and while we waited for a girl friend to arrived (again, it took her forty-eight years to arrive, but no harm anyway): time really does move like a snail when you’re waiting for something. But I’ve waited too long to give up now. Two months more wouldn’t hurt.

It seems as if I’ve been waiting all my life. Waiting for someone to let me under his skin, waiting for friends to realize the gift of the couch, waiting for my rocket to come. Now, seriously, it’s a figurative thing.

Truth is, I’ve been tempted, countless times, to leave- to give in to the flow. Some people around my age are already making their mark in, as some people would call post-college life, the real world. I’ve always found it stupid why others refer to post-college life ‘the real world’. Like, was life before graduating college just a fantasy? Some pile of bullocks, I think. And when you’re living in a world of superficiality, where the only thing that people seem to care about is how much money you’re earning, it’s not easy to keep your ground. But of course I know better than to let it all rule me. I have been gifted with my own will and I intend to use it. Will, for the lack of better word.

Sometimes waiting takes a lot of courage, too, you know. It’s not always that waiting means you’re too afraid to move away from your platform. So what if I still don’t have a stable job? It’s not like I’ve been completely unemployed after college. And it’s not like I’ve been asking around for money. Hell no! I’ve worked my ass for whatever it is that I’m spending right now. It took gruelling—and jaw-breaking—hours of teaching English . So unless I’m asking you for money, keep your bloody nose out of my business.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Unfiltered, Intoxicated

intox
 
Think of Neil Gaiman and his skill for writing pie-eyed. That is what I am attempting to imitate right now.

For weeks, I have been struggling to keep my sanity intact, and I have been trying to resist hitting rock bottom. Of course, one who knows me should be able to come up with the conclusion that the two are completely difficult jobs that I am miserably failing at. And that the two are, of course, dependent on each other. I haven't been able to write a decent post. All I've been capable of was writing some poems that are evident of the mental and emotional turmoil that I've been going through. I missed writing. I miss writing—take note of the tense, for I am not entirely sure that I will be able to reach my goal of satisfying my need for catharsis.

Nothing has really happened during the past weeks. At least nothing pivotal. Like I've said, I haven't been able to write something that could pass as decent in my own judgment. I have just been scribbling down words, verses. I missed writing. And no matter what I did it seemed as if my muse still has not returned to its sanctuary. I've been reading a lot of blogs, articles, been listening to songs just to be able salvage a piece of inspiration to trigger my mind to write, but everything failed. So when all else fails, I can only hope that an experiment, one that I've read Neil Gaiman has done, will be fruitful enough to bring my writing consciousness back.

Don't get me wrong, I love to drink. But I am not a dipsomaniac. There's a huge difference, and I believe that so long as you're aware of the difference between the two, you're not really an alcoholic. And I also believe that people who drink when they have issues—okay, problems—are more than likely to become dipsomaniacs as opposed to those who drink out of merriment, and in my case: wanting to resurrect my writing senses.

So anyway, before I digress even further, I have finished one bottle of the venerated Red Horse. And I am on to my last bottle. Surely, you didn't think I'd be dense enough to indulge myself with more than two bottles of beer. If that was the case, then I would not even begin to write this.

I had a chat with a friend this afternoon and he sort of encouraged me to get back on the writing camp, to be random and even write in Tagalog. So here I am, just trying to be random—trying to embrace the juvenile tendency that I seem to have abandoned. Abandon. It's such a painful word. And for me, abandonment, like everything in this world, comes in different shades.

So far I don't think my drinking-to-write is doing me any good. My stomach feels a little hot, like steamy, and I'm constantly burping like a baby. I like babies. I think babies are adorable, like I-want-to-keep-my-nose-on-his-skin adorable. But I hate kids. I mean, as soon as babies stop being, well—babies, they become really annoying.

I like making babies cry. And now I'm reminded of someone who likes to make babies cry. But I shouldn't really think about that person. I should really just let it go. Shouldn't I, Flinch?

Anyway, I am aware that I am beginning to sound and look like an idiot because with every word I type I say it aloud, and with facial expressions. See? Am not really drunk at all. I am aware of what is happening. But I can't really tell if my grammar is still good or if my spellings are still correct. Ugh, who cares, right?

Oh, gawd, this is embarrassing. But I don't think I can call myself a writer unless I am able to write about the truth. And the truth is that I am fine. (Now that put a smile on my face)

The truth is that I am struggling. Struggling to keep my sanity and struggling not to abandon myself.

Did I just call myself a writer? Was it completely overconfident?

I haven't drank in a while. My friends and I have mutually gone on a drinking hiatus. It seems. I think we all want to keep the drinking down a little. Earlier this year, we've been drinking like whores in clubs, and so I think we all want to cleanse our system—at least for a while—so we just have coffee when we have a get-together.

Well, you know what, although my mom repudiates the fact that she has a quarter per cent of Chinese blood running through her veins, and thereby suggesting that her children have not an ounce of such blood in their bodies, I believe that I have at least some considerable Chinese blood in my system. At least from the way I see it through my glass. My mom has issues with her family, so I understand her wanting to disavow blood ties. But anyway, we have Chinese blood running through our veins whether we like it or not. So maybe that's why I am inclined to Chinese stuff. Like I so like listening to Chinese music, and I am entranced upon seeing Chinese sceneries, and I dream of one day touring China and spending a day or two in a Kutong village.

So have I written on to incoherence? If yes, then I guess it should make up for the times when I wanted to write but couldn't. I hope to be able to write again soon. And by write, I meant 'write'.

It's 11.01 and I still don't hear my eyes calling for the bed, which is normal. I don't know what else to write. I can hear the exhaust of the system unit hum. And I am listening to 'Incomplete' by Alanis Morissette.

Alanis Morissette. My friends are tired of listening to me talk about how Alanis has influenced my life. But Alanis is Alanis. And I wouldn't be who and what I am now if it weren't for her. One day I'd like to write something for her, a sort of panegyric piece.

Gawd, that sip of beer tasted awful.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Unclaimed

unclaimed

 

My feet had been itching for a reason to get out of the house, and my mind had been so eager to leave its current dull platform that when a friend SMS-ed me for a meet-up it didn’t take more than three seconds to say ‘yes’. I was surprised that I didn’t have to wait forty-eight years for my friend to arrive. She was already waiting outside the cafe, saying goodbye to her new boyfriend, when I arrived. And as soon as the he was out of earshot, I started teasing.

“Mind your own business!” a friend demanded.

Whatever. I cackled. She sat on an alfresco seat while I stood fidgeting for no particular reason.

"Sit down."

"I like standing," I snapped.

She was starting to spill the details of the date when another friend  arrived, complaining of an allergy due to an antibiotic he’d taken to relieve the pain caused by tonsillitis. He was itching all over his arms and legs.

As always, deciding what to have was a tough decision. In the end, I opted for brewed coffee. It was the better choice over iced coffee since the coldness of the night had started to seep through my skin.

Like in any other session, our conversation was random. And of course, each of us had something to put on the table for discussion. I am still amazed at how we are able to talk about things with unabashed openness. It keeps a smile on my face. It’s one of the reasons why I try not to miss out on barkada sessions. There’s always something interesting to talk about. There’s always a sense of comfort. And like in every session, there was laughter. Tons of laughter about seemingly childish things and anything else we could find a spot to poke at. I also like that we are able to laugh at each other and ourselves without reservations.

Now, I think I’ve written enough to conclude that my muse still has not returned to claim his territory.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Interview with the Vampire

interview

How would you describe your state of mind?
• An open state of mind tinged with ideals instilled by various seeds.
 
What colour best describes your life?
• Blue. It’s neutral—can describe both the light and dark shades of my life.

Why do roses have thorns?
• Because it can’t be any other way.

If you were a fictional character, who would you be? Why?
• Sydney Bristow. I like kicking ass. And I'd like to stretch my limits with all the action-packed lifestyle and emotional torture of having a double life. And of course, being able to speak 25 languages is just awesome. I also get to kill bad guys. Plus, I get full dental insurance.

If you were to confess only one sin to god, what would it be?
• You’re no god, so i guess I'll have to keep it to myself.

What is your greatest fear?
• I have three: fear of losing my sanity, fear of forgetting my value as a person, and fear of losing the ability to communicate with people.

What do you value most in friends?
• Untainted loyalty, the willingness to keep both feet in.

What supernatural ability would you like to have?
• orbing

What makes you angry?
• injustice, apathy, being taken for granted

When are you happiest?
• when I'm with the people I love

What is your philosophy in life?
• something by Robert von musil, “one does what one is; one becomes what one does.”

Write your epitaph.
• Here lies only what he cannot take—his body.

Would you rather be feared or loved?
• Without question, be loved without question.

What event most shaped your character?
• Everything that happened to me contributed, by default, to whoever I am today. And for me it’s not all just the events that shape one’s character, it’s also the people around him.

What is your earliest childhood memory?
• Playing pogs, warm evening baths infused with guava leaves, watching The Uncanny X-men, listening to my grands’ vinyl records, reading bible stories, dreaming i could fly.

Have you ever witness a miracle? or seen something that could not be explained? If so what was it?
• Yeah. Ordinary miracles. It’s a miracle I'm still sane.

Do you believe in the afterlife?
•I'm quite ambivalent about it. But we have to believe in something, don’t we?

What place would you most like to travel to?
• Morocco—to experience the midnight market; India—higher consciousness; California—to satiate debauchery; Greece—for hermoupolis; Paris—shopping; London—to take walks along its alleys; Italy—pasta at its best; China—visit Kutong village.

Do you support same sex marriage? Why or why not?
• No. Marriage is instituted for a man and a woman. And besides, marriage is just a documentation of a union. Gay couple—or not—should not try to justify their love through paper. Gay couple should not think that their getting married will engender society’s approval, because there will always be people who cannot—and will refuse to—draw the difference between gender and sexual preference, let alone accept pink affairs.

What changes would you like to see made in our government?
• I don’t want to see changes, I want to feel it.

Who or what is your biggest inspiration in life?
• This is going to sound like a broken record, but Alanis has always been a huge, huge inspiration to me. Also, my wanting to leave an imprint in people’s lives is another force that drives me, and my need to be the difference that I seek within.

Do you believe you can learn from elderly persons?
• Yes, of course. And they should also avow that they can learn from the younger people. Just because they’re older doesn’t mean they’re wiser all the time.

Do you think prisons reform people?

• No. Prisons only contain people. Reform doesn’t come from containment, it comes from the people themselves—their willingness.

Do you believe in global warming?
• Honey, I feel it so I believe it.

Do you think space exploration is necessary?
• Honestly, no. Space exploration, I think, is purely to quench human’s quest for information, to try to understand that which is out of our grasp. I think people should attend to what can really change lives. Like finding cure for certain illness, saving the environment, putting an end to famine, giving real education.

Do you think world peace is possible?
• In another planet, maybe. Unless people stop being chauvinists, world peace is just an illusion.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Whining Over Coffee

whining

 

mugs, cigarettes, paper and pen
frustrations over lack-ness
seemingly harmless offense,
pacts leaving promises
hovering over lattes

he’s too hard to be forgiving
my knees blistered
unaccepted apologies and
unrelenting silence

we share bubbles, sheets, taps on the shoulder
yet she’s so distant
while i talk she wanders

bitter, familiar unrest within
failures in reach

i am still breathing

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Last Dance

last dance

 

he walked around the body
very pleased with the destruction
he caused on her.
she lay naked on the floor
unable to move
her breasts smashed like pumpkins
no longer giving.
her legs, apart
blood running from her thighs
no longer flawless
with cigarette burns.
her soft hands last touched his face
without anger
without regret
her hands cut like meat for grilling.
he looked back
face bland with satisfaction
he looked her straight in the eyes,
she looked back and he could hear
the hazel buttons scream
if he was to speak, his mouth would refuse
words but laughter.
her vulva,
her once pinkish bud
now swells with blood.
the forehead spelled 'bitch'
he carved with his fountain pain.
the blood oozed from the cut
and soaked her hair as it spread.
from her lips, broken glasses
he forced her to chew.
he took a puff from his cigarette,
threw the butt to where she lay
she was still breathing
he could hear her gasping.
she still breathes, he thought.
it was good.
he needed her alive
to slowly die.
a quick blow is too sweet,
too forgiving.
he ran his eyes one last time
over her and turned away.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Kiss of Death

kiss of death

The look in his eyes was one I have not seen—or hoped to see—before. Anger. I have not seen this side of him even if we’ve had a more than fair share of arguments. I felt, for a brief yet seemingly the longest moment in my life, afraid that he might hit me. That could hurt, really, since he was brawny—his hands were solid, like that of any other guy who was intimidating just by looking at his hands. My jaw could break. I could lose a tooth. But more than the fear of physical pain, and that of public humiliation, I feared that our meeting might be the last. Everything could end. I tried to ignore the nagging feeling but each time my eyes met his, I miserably fail. My heart raced so fast it hurt. I wanted to make something up, to not go through the ordeal. But I could not bear to run away from it, it had to be over and done with—whatever it was.

He was silent. He has been silent since he walked in the room. He tried to avoid my eyes, as I did his. He would roll his eyes, and pretend to look at the painting on the wall, but the glint never escaped my noticing. His breaths were deep, like he was trying to draw air from inside him. Neither of us spoke. I felt a warning of the impending demise of our friendship. How long has it been, anyway? Three? Four years? It didn’t really matter. The silence was not as the cliché went, ‘deafening’; if it was anything, it was nerve-racking.

I couldn’t take any more. If another minute passed in silence, I might lose my mind. I cleared my throat, and he brought his eyes to look at me. “Your—” I started, almost stuttering. “Your glasses,” I smiled, although anyone who’d have seen it could clearly say it was forced. He nodded, without even trying to force a smile; his face remained calm, somewhat devoid of any emotion, yet his eyes still nursed the anger that I saw. I looked down and drew circles on the table with my finger. I wished he’d spoken up. I wished he’d said, ‘Yeah, your gift on my birthday. Looks good on me, doesn’t it?’, then everything would be OK, and we’d start talking and laughing. He looked out the street. And I tried to scan the array of pastries behind him.

I’d given him a pair of glasses for his birthday a month ago, and he has never worn it until now. Remembering the look on his face when he opened the box almost succeeded in making me smile—a real smile—but out of defence of some sort, my lips could not afford curving. I knew my smile would not be returned. I was not even sure he remembered his reaction when I’d given the glasses.

He wore glasses. He couldn’t live without them. He couldn’t read without them, anyway. His old glasses were beginning to grow on him with its thick frame, so when we visited an optical shop some months ago, I tried to hint on which glasses he liked. He preferred the D&G glasses on the top of the shelf. It was a rather simple pair of eyeglasses; it had a thin black frame which had an almost invisible D&G logo on either sides.

The barista smiled as he approached with our order. It was when the barista was putting our coffee and the cheesecake on the table when I caught him looking at me. He rolled his eyes right away. "Thanks,” we said. And after the barista had walked away, he took his iced coffee and started to sip. I looked at him intently, wondering if there was ever going to be a conversation or if he just wanted some company for coffee. Of course I knew the second one was out of the possibility. Even if he hated dining or having coffee by himself, he sure would not have called me after what had happened the night before if he didn’t plan on talking about it. He could have called his friends to join him. So why is there heavy silence between us? I didn’t look away. I kept me eyes fixed on him, as if studying a stranger I have never met.

He had brown eyes, almost greenish if you let your eyes fool you. His face was that of a poster boy. Patrician nose, button eyes, thick eyelashes, a cleft chin. His skin was of a light tone, and his cheeks sometimes looked pinkish under the sun. His lips were red, although I still couldn’t quite figure out how it stays red given that he was a heavy smoker. He was fairly tall at five feet-nine inches with a faultless posture. He even looked too stiff, if you asked me. His upper body, while appearing gym-toned under a shirt, was actually just average—not too muscled, not too loose when bare.

He was beautiful. He refused to own the fact, though. He always thought he was just ‘your average looking guy’. And I liked it that way. He was beautiful, and sometimes, as the cliché went, it hurts to look at him.
I began to salvage the whipped cream on my coffee with the black straw. He finds it amusing how I refused to stir the cream with the liquid, and would have it scooped out with the straw. I felt his eyes on me. And I could have been dreaming, or hallucinating, but I saw a fraction of smile escape his mouth. It was brief, but if it was in fact there, then maybe last night was not a complete screw-up.

I struggled to look him in the eyes, yet again. This time he didn’t look away. I was melting before him—slowly, painfully. I felt weak. Neither of us blinked. I looked away as my eyes began to hurt. “Listen,” I began, summoning all the strength I had left. I stopped. I didn’t know what to say. I felt him stare, and all focus to think of words to utter paled into a sigh. I let out a faint sigh. I didn’t realize the anger that had earlier consumed his eyes was gone. I felt a relief pat me on the shoulder.

“About last night,” I blurted out, watching the second hand on my watch turn. “I’m sorry.” I looked up and found a hint of claim on his face. I had to continue if I wanted to know what my weakness had cost me. I was sure then he wanted to talk about it.

“You’re sorry,” he repeated flatly. He reached for his cheesecake and lifted his fork. He began to take a portion of it as I fought for reasons. Why did I cross the line? I couldn’t find the appropriate words. Hell, I couldn’t make up an excuse.

“I really am. I don’t know what had gotten into me.” I was clinging to words suspended in my consciousness. Words I didn’t know whether to trust or not. And by the looks of it, the words were empty.

He remained silent, his elbows on the table, his hands clasped together. His eyes were distant. “You’re sorry.” he looked at me intently, and then looked away.

“Um,” I couldn’t think of anything else to say. My head spun around. I half-expected him to speak—to complain about my saying ‘um,’ which he always did—but instead he looked down and sighed.

We were silent for a few minutes. I saw him scratch the back of his ear—something he did when he was feeling impatient, irritated, or excited. But I didn’t know why he scratched then. I shook from within, feeling a cold war about to happen. A war I was not prepared to fight.

         I had taken too much tequila, and it shot straight from the throat to my head. It seemed as if my stomach could no longer admit any alcohol and was therefore forced to refuse the rest of the shots that came its way. The only route for the tequila to take was the one headed up my head. Five bottles of Jose Cuervo has obviously been too much for me and three friends. Finals night, we were too happy that the gruesome and sleepless nights of review was over, and that the exam we painstakingly took was no longer a thorn in our neck. We decided to celebrate at a local bar and before we knew it, the only girl in the group was flirting with the waiter who looked a bit like Paulo Avelino. And while the two boys argued about the current political condition of the country, who was prettier—Scarlett Johansson or Jessica Alba—and who was more likely to have invented post-it, I was desperately trying to make out the names of the bottles that lined on the bar. I wanted to check if I was still capable of reading, which would only prove one thing: if I was actually drunk or not. After I made out the names of all the bottles, and realized that I had practically no one left to talk to—our girl friend had managed to follow the waiter to the counter, and the two boys were still busy arguing—I decided it was time to call him.

        I could not remember, however, how the phone conversation went. How I even managed to convince him to meet me outside the bar because he hated it when I called him up under the influence in the middle of the night. But I remember the look on his face when got out of the car. He looked amused, and with a bit of scorn he motioned me to rise from sitting on the pavement and said, “Babysitter’s here, big boy. Let’s go.” I was not motor-challenged then, but my mind was beginning to go down the pit of drunkenness.


        “And what a cute babysitter I have.”


        He laughed, patted me twice on the back and opened door of his SUV, “You little slosh ball.” I raised a brow before he winked and slammed the door shut.


        “I didn’t think you’d push through with it. Thought some of your friends couldn’t make it.”


        “Yeah,” I surrendered my head to the leather seat with eyes half-closed. “But Jessie wanted to do it anyway. And Ralph didn’t want to go home. Were you taking a shower when I called? It sounded like you were in the bathroom or something.”


        “Yeah.”


        “At midnight?” I was shocked that I lifted my head to give him a look.


        “What? I couldn’t sleep,” he had earlier suggested grabbing coffee before he dropped me home, to ‘wear the alcohol off’, he had said. He insisted I stay in the car while he ordered. “I can’t have you making a scene in there,” he joked when I said I wanted to stay in the shop.

        From in the car, I looked out and watched as he walked to the shop. I couldn’t help myself from getting the jolts. I actually liked him, in a special way, and I'd been trying hard for ages to contain it. And I had a strong, persistent feeling I was going to tell him exactly how I felt. Never mind that it could blow everything away. I was going to come clean, and I've made up my mind.


        He was different. Unlike any other guys I’d met. He was stubborn, yes. He was temperamental—something we both shared. He hated how I talked about books as much as he liked my appetite. He was, in a way, childish—he liked watching cartoons so much we'd argue over his Tom and Jerry obsession—which I secretly found adorable, yet he was mature enough to talk about grown-up things, like the deeper aspects of existing.


        As I was waiting for him to come out of the coffee shop, I felt a stabbing feeling. I knew I wasn’t being true to myself by hiding what I felt. It was against who I was. It was retarded. It was a pile of crap. It was too melodramatic, in a weird way at that. I saw it coming. I felt it slowly possess me, and I didn’t do anything to rid myself of it.


        The sooner I tell him, the easier it is. It should end tonight, I thought as he approached the car carrying tall paper cups in both hands. I felt stupid, really, at the mere fact that I was actually deliberating about it. I could just live with it in silence. I could just fake it. And besides, he was not showing any signs that he knew what I was feeling. But he was not actually a moron to not notice, he must have noticed, of course. So what now?


        “Hundred and eighty bucks,” he handed me the coffee, and laughed.


        “Jesus,” my eyes widened although I knew it was a joke. “Charge it on my card.”


        “Listen,” I started as he took a sip. “Thanks for picking me up.”


        “It was not like I had a choice,” he joked. “Don’t want to wake up to the news that some drunken ass got hit by a truck.”


        “Why?”


        He looked at me quizzically.


        “Why do you not want to wake up hearing I had gotten hit by a truck?”


        “I don’t want to risk you haunting me at night when you’re dead. And besides, if you don’t die from being hit by a truck, you’re most probably going to stay in the hospital for too long. And I would have to visit you. You know I hate hospitals.”


        I laughed, almost hysterical. “Oh, shut up. You just don’t want to lose me. Plain and simple.”


        “Yeah! Whatever,” he placed his coffee on the cup holder, and yawned. “Hey,” his tone was ecstatic. “Guess who I saw at the mall this afternoon.”


        “Ely Buendia?” I said, feigning excitement in my voice.


        “Yeah,” he said sarcastically. “No. Matt.”


        “Eww,” I gave a disgusted face. He laughed so hard, I thought he was going to cry.


        “Why do despise him so much, anyway?”


        The alcohol had started to wear off. It helped that the AC blasted a fierce cold air to contrast the heat I felt in my body. We both rested our backs on the seats and gabbed about random things. He had a fondness for random talk, and he loved how I satisfied it. Our aimless talk reached silliness that we both gasped for air from laughing so hard. Then, after we exploded into a boisterous mirth after he burped, there was silence. I could hear only the sound of the AC humming. I glanced over to see him staring at me. I gave a sneering face, and he cackled. I stared at him for a few seconds and it was then that he looked at me, puzzled.


        “Shitface,” he said, somewhat expecting me to laugh. But I didn’t. I looked him in the eyes. His face turned blank. I felt my legs and hands shake as I moved closer to him. It was a slow, dragging movement. He blinked. I didn’t.


        There was practically a breath between our noses. His brows crossed for a few seconds, then relaxed. I held my breath. My chest pounded, I could hear it. And with a blink, I pressed my lips to his.


        The soft touch felt extremely delirious. It felt like my lips touched jelly. We were motionless for the shortest time, and I felt his breath on my face. Warm. It made the hair on my arms stand. I pressed my lips harder, our eyes locked into each other’s. Then I felt his lips move, slowly open. I closed my eyes and felt his mouth cover mine. It felt awkward, consuming—nothing like any kiss I’ve had.


        I cupped his jaws with my hands and felt his hands on my chest. I was sure he could feel my heart race. I ran my hands to his ears and to the back of his head. We kissed for what seemed the time it took a little bud to bloom into a rose. A soft, warm, seemingly endless kiss.


        Almost as if on cue, we opened our eyes at the same time. And in the dimness of space, with only the neon lights from the dashboard as illumination, I could clearly see his brown eyes. We continued to kiss briefly with our eyes open. Then his hands gently pushed me. He stared, and then sat straight on his seat. I wanted to say something, but clearly there were no words to speak. I felt a thick air of silence descend as he took in deep breaths and started to steer the wheel.

        All I could do was look straight at the road, the head lights that beamed. I took sideways glances and found his eyes set on the road. His lips looked wet, glossy—I could still feel it on my lips, something I was sure I could never feel again.


        I felt a sudden crash inside as he pulled in front my house. I did not want to get out; I found it hard to pull the door open. He looked my way, just as I stepped out. My throat seemed to have dried up. I couldn’t open my mouth. With one last look, he gave a slight nod. I nodded back and closed the door.


        I watched as he sped off. I could feel the sinking feeling get the better of me; I wanted to cry. But my eyes were deprived of tears. I felt a mix of happiness and regret. But the latter held a bigger part. Soon, I thought, I would have to face the consequence of what I’d done.



I could not bear to take another sip of my coffee. There so much I wanted to say yet my mind could not find anything logical to explain what had happened. Maybe there was no logic behind it. Maybe it was supposed to be left that way.

“I suppose that wasn't all you wanted to say,” he cut my thoughts from wandering.

“I guess.”

“You guess?” I could not place his tone.

“You hate me,” I stated, hoping to provoke what exactly it was that ran through his mind. I could no longer play around with possibilities. He kissed you back, you moron! I scolded myself. And it wasn’t a quick, vacant kiss.
It seemed he was trying to tiptoe around being elusive. God, say something! I sighed. Confusion swirled in my head. One moment I could feel his eyes sink into my eyes, and the next he looks as if nothing had happened. I wanted to choke him to spill his thoughts. But given what I’d done, given that I prompted it to happen, it seemed too much. It was the least I owed him.

“You hate me,” I repeated.

He shook his head. “You’ve never been this inarticulate.” I saw a smirk escape his mouth.

A load had been lifted off my chest. I knew too well what I heard. I knew too well what I saw. Of the years I’ve known him, he wasn’t the type who lets everything out in one snap. He chooses to wait until the loud beating has subsided into a steady hum.

I smiled coyly. And his eyes flashed with a playful spark.

"Slosh ball," he said before he took another sip of his coffee.

I let out a giggle. I didn't know what to make out of it but it seemed enough to see him smile at me after what happened. I didn’t know why I saw anger in his eyes, and what it meant. But I knew it was not what I’d perceived it to be. I had questions. And I hoped, as I watched him eat what’s left of his cake—as he swallowed a bite with his gaze on me. I would find out the answers.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Breaking Platform

platfrom
 
Sprawled in bed, I stared at the fluorescent light hoping its brightness would hurt my eyes and leave me devoid, even for a brief moment, of any sentiment I was feeling . My head was in total chaos. Confusion and emptiness had settled in my recesses. I lay silent for minutes, staring blankly at the light. I could not seem to figure out what was wrong. I rolled over and felt the usually comforting mattress envelop me in nothingness. I closed my eyes and tried to shake the feeling away. I tried hard. Harder. Even harder, but failed. Every second ticked with mental torture. It felt like my chest was filled with pillows. And, as if some unknown entity had claimed temporary residence in my body—and I was stripped of consciousness or will to protest—I found myself on the street hailing for a ride.
 
The night was young, but the air felt bitterly cold. The sky in its velvet shade seemed to sympathize with the emptiness I was feeling, for its vastness only had the moon shinning. It seemed tragic that I would have to spend the night underneath a starless sky, but I surrendered nevertheless and let the unknown force take me where it wanted.

My feet granted wandering at the mall. It was like walking drunk, as if I was literally walking on the clouds. I stopped at the atrium of the building, watched as people passed by. I hoped to see familiar faces that could help shake consciousness and control back to my head, but all I saw were empty faces. Strangers. They were all strangers. But for some reason it gave me comfort. I didn't have to talk to anyone; I didn't have to smile.

I stepped out into the street, feeling a bit aware of what was happening. The unknown entity seemed to have started to waive its control over me so I decided to visit a holy place—the adoration chapel—to let out a silent scream of resignation. For the first time in a long time, I felt helpless, like a child lost in a carnival. I prayed. I prayed that God would rid me of what I was feeling. I asked for guidance—something I rarely did. I was tired and I needed some help.

I headed for the coffee shop that was just a stone's throw from the cathedral. The security guard stood up from his chair as I approached. "Good evening, sir," he greeted as he pulled the door. I expected to see at least a table occupied, but the place was empty. I picked an alfresco spot facing the street, and took my first cigarette before my order arrived. I put on my earphones and set the volume high, hoping to drown out the Bosa music that came from the speaker above me. The sky had grown darker; the moon looked as if its sole purpose was not to illuminate but offset the blandness of the sky.

A girl in her white Isuzu cab arrived, followed by a guy who pulled a huge travel bag, and they both looked at me before entering the shop. They sure must have noticed my feet up on the chair. I didn't mind. I didn't mind the guy looking intently at me when I traced my lips with my fingers . I didn't mind him staring me down when I came out of the loo with jeans unbuttoned. I don't really mind people staring at me. What other people think of me has always been the least of my concerns.

I was oblivious of the jeepneys and the tricycles speeding by, of the people crossing the street. I caught myself staring aimlessly into space. It was not after my fifth cigar when I took a sip of my coffee. I was on my seventh cigarette , and Melissa Etheridge was confessing "I'm alright, I'm alright. It only hurts when I breathe,” when I felt my eyes fill with tears. My vision started to blur, but I was able to hold the tears from rolling down my face. I let my sentiments out on the table. I knew it was the only way to assuage my condition. I thought about the things that kept me paralyzed, and that I had to free myself from them even if it meant breaking the platform I stood on for years.

I decided to leave after making a rose out of table napkin, thirteen sticks, and a dead phone. There may have been things I was not able to wrestle with but I was sure there would some other time. What mattered was that I could feel my heart beat in my chest again. Though I was still a child in the carnival, I was no longer lost but was in fact enjoying the roller coaster. At least for the time being.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Raindrops From The Sun

rain

I stood on the street drenched from the heavy downpour. My jeans were starting to feel heavy and my Chuckies were already soaked. "Fuck,” I cursed with passion as drops of rain trickled down my face. I kept cursing that it would stop raining. I hated the fact that I had to squeeze myself into a crowd that sought shelter under a shed. I hated that my skin was rubbing against other people's skin; I have always been a little paranoid about getting skin diseases that every time a stranger's arms would accidentally rub against mine, I would wipe it against my jeans.

I had been hailing for a tricycle for twenty minutes, and with the continuing rain and gaggle of pedestrians, it didn't look like I was going to get a ride any time soon. Every time a tricycle would stop by the shed, there was always someone to jump in before I could even protest that it was I who stretched his arm to hail for it. Realizing that people lacked decency (even more so respect) for reaping the fruits of the trees I planted, so to speak, did not alleviate my irritation. I knew I was headed for yet another twenty or so minutes more of waiting so I plugged earphones into my ears. I worried that my earphones would somehow attract lighting (as reported on CNN) and shock me dead, but my impatience was starting to take over so I thought it was worth the risk.

I listened as Alanis Morissette's voice teetered on a note in her cover of Seal's Crazy while the rain continued to pour. Despite the loud music coursing through my ears, the sound of the rain was still audible. The selected folder on my mp3 player shuffled between tracks that ranged from electronic and bass-driven to a cross of jazz and blues tunes. It was easy to get lost in that rare moment of auditory bliss; hearing the music and the rain wrestle to take authority over my senses. For a moment, I did not mind that it was raining. I did not mind standing under the shed with strangers, two of which was a couple that could not seem to get their hands off each other—the guy surreptitiously pecked on the girls neck, pretending to look at her watch when in fact he had one on his wrist, and the girl stood somewhat frozen—not showing any signs of protest (if it was ever in her mind that time). That sort of sight usually made me cringe, but it did not. I looked up and saw that dirty clouds still loomed and it did not bother me.

I watched as a small group of students ran to cross the street with smiles on their faces, how they looked like little children who did not mind that they were wet and were instead rejoicing. Thunder roared, overpowering the sound that echoed in my ears. People looked up, as if it was the first time they heard such a sound. But the funny thing that caught me was realizing that every time there's thunder our first instinct is to look at the sky, as if anticipating a flock of angels to appear—or something. I looked up (too), you see, not hoping to see heavenly creatures descend from the clouds but hoping for a force to pull me from my feet and take me to New Orleans.

I have always had a penchant for things eerie, and somehow the thought of New Orleans, especially when it's night-time and raining, satisfies the child in me. I have always pictured New Orleans as a place where it never stopped raining. Where rain is an excuse to be a stranger to yourself and just wander without a care. I have always imagined walking down its streets and passing bars, and voodoo shops that catered to the curious and the believers. How I would love to see the colours before my very eyes and see for myself whether all the films and books that acquainted me with its splendour have actually given the place justice. I dreamed of experiencing Mardi Gras under the rain, and seeing the parades along Canal Street and St. Charles Avenue. The sky would look gloomy yet solicitous, and the wind would feel like soft hands pressing on my body.

The trance-like moment I was in started to wear out as the rain started to subside and I began to take hold of full consciousness. It appeared the couple had finally stopped their public display of lewdness and some people started vacating the shed. Out of dumb luck, a tricycle stopped in front of me, and before anyone else could beat me to it, I got in and let my body collapse on the seat as it drove me home.