Sundazed

Thank God for Sunday afternoons.

Really, I mean, these are the only time of the week when I can allow myself to feel unburdened by any of the concerns which, er, concern me during every other day of the week. Yes, including Saturday, which seems to have fixed unto itself the role of the “geek-out day”, manifesting itself in a trip to Greenhills or some other nearby mall to check the newest toy releases and/or hang out with fellow toy collectors, a Magic: the Gathering tournament, a casual gaming session over at either Marikina or Ortigas (I can hear Mik’s voice now: “Casual gaming is a lie!”), a few drinks somewhere, or all of the above.

I’ve also noticed that Sunday is the day of the week when I feel most receptive to watching and reading about anything and everything nonstop for hours. This is the time when I catch up on the insane amount of movies, books and comics that I download, as well as an episode of a series I’m following scattered here and there.

Also, Sunday is one of the few days when I don’t like taking coffee. I imagine that I take too much of it during the weekdays as is anyway.

***

One of the things I can’t stand about Sundays, though, is how the Mondays creep under them in so quiet and so subtle a manner that next thing you know, it’s four o’ clock in the Monday morning and you haven’t finished fixing your lessons for the week. Immersing yourself in so much media, not to mention multimedia at that, can do that to you, I guess.

*argh ADHD blues again*

I’m just thankful, though, that there are times when my work doesn’t feel too much like work: those moments when your students are nice and responsive, not to mention in the mood to give you nice and insightful written output, and you become one with the teaching universe.

***

Before, one of my biggest dilemmas with reading was that I’d get saturated with one sort of material. It was always either a “literature” phase where I would be reading novel after novel or anthology after anthology, or an “scholarly” one where I would be reading essay after essay or article after article or dissertation after dissertation (because I’m nerdy that way). Nowadays, I’ve more or less put a discipline to the material of the books I read: balance, in the form of simultaneously reading one book from at least two of the three formats I take my reading seriously with (novel, scholarly, anthology). Nowadays, it’s tossed up between C. S. Lewis’ “Mere Christianity” for the scholarly work, and Arundhati Roy’s “The God of Small Things” (yes, yes, I’ll get around to finishing it soon so that I can start on “A Song of Ice and Fire”) as the novel. Hopefully I get more stuff finished more quickly this way.

Neil Gaiman told us to never stop reading, to never stop taking knowledge in, after all. I, for one, don’t plan to.

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Anti-Suicidal

(for Year I – Agnes Bohaxhiu, and every person who ever considered suicide)

One of the things non-teachers will probably never understand (no matter how much they will claim to) is that sensation teachers repeatedly refer to as “satisfaction” (possibly due to lack of a better term). It is this inexplicable reason, after all, that makes teachers “love” (again, possibly due to lack of a better term) what they do, despite such reality checks as salary sizes, time-to-benefit ratio, stress-induced burnouts and breakdowns, and so on.

To quote a co-teacher: “Eh anong magagawa ko, mahal ko ang pagtuturo eh.”

Small wonder, then, that when one engaged in the profession is “down in the dumps”, so to speak, perhaps one of the best methods for self-motivation is via channeling one’s self through his/her students. This, it turned out, was the case with my usual bouts of depression, and a recent activity held in my high school class.

The activity came after a discussion on a Manuel Arguilla story: “The Long Vacation”, which, at its surface, seems to simply be a cordial, if not formal, conversation between a boss and an employee, but which hints at the employee’s suicidal tendencies, all in the true Arguilla fashion of subtle human tension. The task was simple enough: write yourself an “anti-suicide note” (an antithetical counterpart to the traditional suicide note, where people usually ranted their way through whatever lives they led, with all literary gusto) and convince yourself that life, even at its most stressful, is still worth living, and suicide should not even be considered as an option.

The following are quotes lifted from the students’ journals, one from each journal, and edited only with the basic grammatical conventions. It’s amazing, the things people write in order to cheer themselves up:

  • The sun’s still rising, the plants growing, flowers blooming, birds chirping, animals living, people living. How can you not be happy?
  • It is said in the 10 Commandments: Thou shall not kill… YOURSELF!
  • Your parents might even think of suicide too!
  • Remember: Losers LET things happen. Winners MAKE things happen.
  • WE LOVE EACH OTHER SO MUCH RIGHT?
  • So I think to myself: If I have a good life then I must solve or do something productive with myself for me to achieve my goals.
  • You have tons of things to accomplish, you have to finish them all and learn new things from this.
  • Know that sometimes, it’s just you blocking your own sunshine.
  • GO SOMEWHERE WHERE NOBODY KNOWS YOU ❤
  • You could be happy even when you are sad.
  • If you die, always have a happy death and not one full of regrets.
  • Suicide isn’t a solution. That’s all. Ü
  • So please don’t die now. You have a life to live for.
  • You just have to take a leap of faith and just trust that you’ll land on both feet.
  • On some occasions I even think of just ending it all. But a lot of memories are holding me from doing so.
  • Don’t kill me. I’m too awesome to die.
  • For stress, just do something fun or do things that make you happy.
  • You kill yourself, your loved ones’ lives will be destroyed and you will make them sad.
  • If you go, how empty the universe would be / How dark the sky would be, without you shining brightly / If you go, how cold the nights would be / Without your heart’s warmth around me
  • Suicide is not the solution to your problem; it is not the key to close the door full of problems.
  • Killing yourself will make you look like a coward.
  • Take a look at the world you’ll leave, and then, decide again…
  • It’s not really worth it; why will you kill yourself if you haven’t really lived?
What can I say, these guys know how to make my day.

Learning Learning and Teaching Learning, and a Wheekend to Balance it Out

I’ve finally been able to admit the source of my eternal dilly-dallying and procrastination, and it’s more of a rational, paradigmatic thing than anything psychological or psychotic: You see, I tend to see everything as a learning opportunity, if not as a brain exercise worthy of my time. And when I say EVERY THING, I mean it.

Examples, because things are always clearer with examples:

  • Playing Magic allows for strategic thinking and looking for creative solutions to problems, which helps when looking for creative ways to weave (or, as we refer to it in the faculty, “webbing”) topics together in order to make teaching and learning an overall more interesting thing.
  • Reading comics allows for access to alternative methods of bringing out popular themes in literature, albeit in a more colorful, faster-paced medium. It also helps when trying to develop a natural wittiness to your speech, as comics nowadays are written in so many different registers, from ye olde formalitie to the sailor-cussin’, which allows for differentiation between registers as well.
  • Watching random music videos on YouTube allows for immersion on alternative forms of poetry, which in themselves are an alternative form of being able to transmit all sorts of information (I think it was Eagleton who said that literature was “the best words, arranged in the best way” or something along that line of thought. correct me if I’m wrong). Plus, as our principal always said, its best characteristic is that it’s very immersive, as far as aesthetic experiences go, and that’s always a plus.
  • Reading up on so many other worlds besides this one allows for appreciation of one’s own cultures and value systems, in order to be able to be more effective in handling questions of that nature, the ones teenage students love asking the most.
  • Hanging out with students can be like a cultural immersion, if one is simply observant enough. This is a great help when helping the students along the path to seeking relevance in whatever topic is being discussed, hopefully giving them the idea that they can indeed find personal relevance in any topic, whether literature or not, in order to be able to turn anything into a learning experience.

… and so on, and so forth.

You will see the problem here when you take another look and see that there is nothing there connected to actually making lesson plans, class records, quizzes and all other forms of paperwork. Which is how I’d actually have the curriculum if I could have it done that way, but that’s something for another one of these still rainy days.

Been reading up on Adult ADHD, and the things that come up are seriously scaring me. Not to be a hypochondriac or anything, but I’ve been hit with too many of the things that articles refer to as the common symptoms. Thing is, though, that I kind of like being this psychologically damaged little person, and I wouldn’t want to change if it means that I am able to uniquely experience the world in the way I am doing now.

I just sincerely hope the kids don’t turn into something like me.

***

Last Saturday’s gig was fun: lots of batchmates and fellow writers relaxing with milk tea, artsy shoes and bling-y accessories, and chilled, not-so-loud indie music. It’s always nice to be around people as unabashedly evil as you are. Let’s just say that you have to believe me when I say lots of tongues were bitten on that night. Fail birthday surprise for Karize failed, though, due to an uncanny amount of spoilers from people who were told specifically not to spoil that they remember her birthday. Oh well, at least we chimichurri’d our way to a hearty dinner and an even heartier conversation, one punctuated with laughter that probably made people outside Cocina Juan wonder how drunk we were, even if we hadn’t ingested any alcohol at all that evening. Extreme stereotypes aside, maybe that’s where the romantic image of the drunken student from Los Banos came from: when we’re together, we’re loud and brash in ways others would scoff at.

I really should be seeking out more local stuff in the more shoegaze-like genres out there when I have time. So that I can listen to it while staring at the shoes I bought from the event.

***

Sunday was no slouch either, as far as weekends went. Got last-minute pulled by Lola all the way to the CCP to watch a stage adaptation of the Hinilawod, an epic from Iloilo and IIRC one of the longest surviving epic narratives in the world today (Take that, Lam-Ang!).  A bit too much on the special effects in my opinion, but it’s something I’d imagine most of today’s audiences would need (promises to self to write a full-er review of the whole thing sometime later). Bought an anthropology book on Filipino prehistory that they were selling outside the theater because I’m a nerd that way (arghreadinglist!). Talk on everything from anime to how I taught Philippine epics to my high school students, plus dinner at the oh-so-nostalgic Ma Mon Luk main branch, all the way home.

As for me, I’m just happy that at least some of my students enjoyed reading the stories I told them to research on. Pinoy pride is severely lacking in this country of ours, after all.

***

My brain is shutting down, even though my body isn’t. Have to stop writing before I degrade into ranting, depressive gobbledigook.

Heh, Sigur Ros pun there.