Sunday, July 27, 2008

Raindrops From The Sun


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.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Walking Around Nowhere

walk nowhere 
I needed to clear my head—for the past weeks, it had been capable of nothing but nurse confusion and all sorts of negativity—so after I dropped my brother off at school, I decided I'd take a walk. I did not know where I was headed. I just knew I had to feel my feet again. I had been mentally and emotionally impotent, and so the need to feel human was top priority. I had been down that road before, but somehow, even with familiarity, I felt terribly miserable.

The sun had risen, but it was still hiding behind the purple clouds—something I thought of using to my advantage, the last thing I needed was to whine about the heat of the sun. I plugged earphones into my ears and started listening to the 'Jagged Little Pill' folder which I had on repeat. I started walking down the busy streets, paying little attention to the tricycles and cars that had started to claim their territory. If there was something I'm pretty much adept at, it was crossing the streets without so much as looking both sides, and avoid being hit by speeding vehicles—something I've mastered over years of my walking sessions. I had walked two blocks when I thought of going to the boulevard and seeking refuge in watching the sea as it reflects the morning star.

The boulevard was empty, except for some people jogging, and a few walking their dogs. The sun had come out of hiding, but fog was still hanging in the air, giving the sea somewhat a cinematic appeal. A number of bangkas looked stunning from a distance, and for a moment I thought I was not in Tagbilaran. As I approached the pavement which serves as a long stretch of bench to people at night, I noticed a guy smoking cigarette while using his phone. My lips started to itch for a taste of nicotine but my mind was able to dismiss it. True to expectation, the water reflected the sun, and the clouds, too. A smile escaped from my mouth, and I felt like a thirteen-year old for a brief moment. I walked on the side, welcoming the fresh breeze, absorbing the panoramic view that lay in front of me.

I looked down to my feet, and at the risk of sounding loony, they smiled at me. If it weren't for the litter that seemed to adorn the area, I would have felt completely relaxed. My concern for the environment filled up my mental cavity. Scattered all over the place were a bottle of Jack Daniels, three bottles of gin and lime, countless empty packs of chips, balut shells, shards of glass, and hundreds, if not thousands, of cigarette butts. People's disregard for the environment has always been a huge button for me that every time I miss to comply in throwing garbage properly out of overwhelming drunkenness, I feel like I deserve to be shot dead in the park. I cringed.

Coincidentally, after the song Head Over Feet ended, I overheard the PA system from the nearby port terminal. I thought of going away, riding a ship without knowing where it was bound for. How would it feel to disappear? I asked myself. How would it be to start from scratch, leaving everything behind? One day I'd like to know. And who knows, one day, when I'm done rearranging my current circuitry, I'd embark on a journey to cease all the questions. All I know now is I can't just leave things behind. To me, that would be a form of escape, and I know for certain that escape is never the answer. I have always lived by the precept that I should face problems head-on, that if I ever try to escape a situation it would be like abandoning myself. Certain people have this idea that leaving means taking risks, and that people who choose not to leave are guilty of not going out of their comfort zone. I believe otherwise. There is as much risk in staying as there is in leaving. For me, taking risk is not solely a matter of braving the world outside your so-called comfort zone, it's also about keeping yourself rooted to your morals even if it meant opposing the flow of society.

After I'd taken enough time to clear my head, I started to head home. On the way, I passed by the mall, the market, and a guy riding a motorbike in his boxers. I smiled as the sun began to strike pins on my skin. I did not mind, though. The sweat running down my body was comforting in an odd yet familiar way. I didn't realize how much I missed doing my walking sessions until I reached home and felt every nerve in my body.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

A Dose of Ennui


My head wants to explode with words but my fingers can't seem to catch up to the fleeting thoughts that disappear in a snap. Focus is a mile away from the shore, especially when your being called-every-two-minutes-to-shut-your-dog's-pie-hole paddles the boat to the deeper parts of the sea of disturbance.

One paragraph is enough to conclude that today it would take a tall glass of iced coffee, a slice of blueberry cheesecake, and perhaps one whole pan of pizza to gather my thoughts and let out the things that's been clogging up my system. I believe the things I need to reclaim focus is far beyond my budget, so I'm making do with apple juice and Pringles. One paragraph is also enough to say that I am stricken to the bones with ennui. And while I think killing my dog would best benefit me and my concentration—not having to give him a bath every other day would give me so much happiness,too—I also think it would be better to scribble into incoherence. Truth is, I can't afford to lose the dog. Not only because we've spent thousands from the day he was brought home but also because I just can't do it. Murderous tendencies do not run in my system. In the meantime, I will try to drown the relentless barking with an electronic track from Moby, and maybe this afternoon I might bring myself into strolling at the mall and entertaining myself with strangers.

I find driving strangers nuts more entertaining than sitting in the living room and staring at the TV, imagining Coco crawling out of the screen (think of 'The Ring' except instead of a terrifying young ugly girl, it's a jaw-dropping guy) and sitting on the couch next to me—naked! Sometimes I do that to entertain myself, and I end up looking like an idiot with my mouth open.

I remember one time when I was bullied with boredom and my appetite was the only thing that kept me sane. I went to McDonald's and treated myself to a meal and a little entertainment of some sort. While the gorgeous, late-teen something crew with a scar on his chin was placing my order on the tray, I asked if their stuffed toy comes in black. "No, sir. Only green, pink, blue, and brown," he said, pointing to the display on the shelf above the burgers. "Sayang," I said. "I like black, you know. It should come in black," I added, intently staring at him as if doing so would magically change the colour of the toys. "I like black. My phone is black. My underwear is black. And—can I ask for three packets of salt?" I can still remember the look he gave me—puzzled and somewhat terrified. He must think my screws have had too much lubrication.

I also find staring strangers down fun. You know, it's like undressing them with your mind. At first, they would act normal, but after noticing your eyes fixed on them, they begin to show signs of either uneasiness or overconfidence. What thrills me the most is when a guy I'm staring down stares back at me, and we begin to play 'whoever looks away first is the looser' kind of game. Most of the time I manage to stifle a giggle when that happens.

The mall, for me, is like a convention centre for the bored. I get to laugh at myself and at other people. There are occasional times though when I feel like I am the object of 'operation kill boredom'. But of course, every time that happens I manage turn the tables to my own amusement. I guess it's just a matter of practice. Or in other words, it's a matter of frequency of boredom visits.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Riding In Cars With Boys


There was an immense female energy in my relations when I was younger, and also a huge indifference towards the male specie. Most of my friends were girls, and if there were any boys, their sexual preference was fairly questionable. I hung around girls a lot that it reached a point when I had unreasonable anxiety in dealing with boys—especially the straight ones. There was a degree of fear that would surface when I was around them.

I dreaded attending parties and being seated at a table with boys. I would feel out of place so I would just sit silent and dodge any chance that one of them might notice me and ask questions like, "Kinsa may gipanguyaban nato ron?", "Kaila ka anang gwapa sa pikas balay?" At family gatherings, I would avoid my male cousins as if they had some incurable disease. I would seat myself in front of the TV and pretend to not hear when one of them would invite me to play basketball or video games. I hated it when my mom or my aunts would relentlessly tell me to “stay with boys not girls.” I liked sitting next to my female cousins. Listening to them talk incessantly about their hair, lingerie, skin, and boyfriends was somehow bearable compared to mingling with boys.

I simply hated being around a group of testosterone-fuelled beings. It reached a point when I considered it a taboo for me to be around boys. For me, it was some sort of suicide; the mental torture of having to pretend to relate to them was purely insane. I thought being around them would deprive me of being myself. There was an element of shame that I brought along whenever I was with them. I kept my head down, watching my back when unfortunate times arise and I was thrown into a pool of balls. I had always been different around the same gender, I thought my sexuality was one thing they could not fully accept.

The fear diminished as I got older and I started hanging out with boys. At first it was hard relating to their sentiments; I was used to hearing female concerns so in the beginning it was alienating to hear so much about boxers, rubber shoes, and girls—boys can talk about girls in such graphic ways that used to offend me. It took me quite a while to be at ease around boys in general. The hardest part was being open to them about my sexual preference. But I realized in time that for them to be comfortable around me—and the fact that I was queer—I first had to be comfortable in my own skin. I also came to understand that I had been blinded by my stereotyping the male figure; not all men are homophobic, and that men who are certain of their sexuality do not really discriminate about sexual orientation. Hanging around men helped me see myself in a different light. And the more time I spent relating with the same gender, the more I became sure of who I am.

I no longer agonize over being in a room filled with boys, in fact I look forward to it as much as I look forward to having sleep-over with girls. I can listen to as much talk about boy stuff without feeling like I was from a different planet.There is a balance in the energy around me now. There is an ample male potency in my life, as opposed to what was the case some 10 years ago. Needless to say, I hang around with more (full-pledged) boys now, not to offset what extreme female aura I have in me since childhood but because I understand, more than ever, my virility.