up close, the view from the distance

DSC_0836

It’s our third anniversary today, but the first one where we aren’t together. Plane tickets become absurdly expensive the closer they are to their flight dates, and we didn’t plan this out enough.

True, you made the decision to return to Cebu to be with your family in your new home, but remember that we made the decision to make this work. Long-distance relationships, they say, have a knack for screwing up, with only the question being the when of it; people already get themselves into so much shit even when they see each other everyday, what more for people who don’t, relying on nothing more than a few chat messages and Skype calls for assurance?

If anything, though, this relationship has taught me one important thing: how to appreciate time, to focus on the short presence rather than on the long absence, to take it all in while it’s there.

They say that the best way to truly understand something is to look at it from another angle; seeing the things that lurk on the dark side of the moon, and if they’re friendly enough to hold a conversation with. I think this is what this distance has done: given us another dimension with which to frame things through. I notice that when I am with you, I am fully alive, fully present–body, mind, soul–as opposed to those times when people reach the point where they simply force themselves to be together, squeezing themselves into mental and emotional spaces that are only good for one. This space also gives us both time to wander, to learn more about ourselves and re-frame everything every now and then, and I think it’s doing us both good. I am reminded of a new-age philosophy I once read, which described human interaction as a form of sharing energy–I am tempted to call it The Force because of the appropriateness of it all–and this system falling prey to two people’s addiction to each other’s energy, which runs to both their detriment after some time. I think that our relationship, because of the space we have, has culminated in a sort of steady comfort, a feeling that you’re all the better for the simple fact that there’s someone to “come home” to, in a manner of speaking; that you’re not THAT worthless a person, no matter how big a depressed misanthrope you’ve become.

They also say that the awareness of death is what teaches us to come to an appreciation of life, that those at the pinnacle of this awareness regress to the ancient religious concept of sleep as a little death, and waking up again as a little resurrection, akin to the cycle of day and night: Ra vanquishing the crocodile, Amaterasu coming up when Tsukiyomi isn’t around, Shamash doing his regular patrols as guardian of both east and west. Thankfully, this awareness of ours comes at a cost that isn’t as permanent, though there are times when all I can do is count down the days to the next flight out, or your next flight in, whichever comes first.

This distance sucks, and I see it in how you bawl your eyes out right before we part in the departure area, which I think sees more than its fair share of tears on any given day. But, in a way, I think this is one of the healthier things we’ve done so far, until the time we’re sure we can settle down in a more comfortable galaxy, whether here or far, far away. I’ve told you what I plan to do with my life, and I assure you that we’re getting there.

The Fourth is with Us, as it has always been.

Happy Anniversary, dear. I love you.

this is what you get for sleeping at 7pm

Dreamed that I became really good friends with Anne Curtis, but messed it all up when I accused her of secretly switching herself with a gay impersonator on one occasion, finding my mistake out only when it was too late and she wouldn’t talk to me anymore.

Even in my dreams, I am a misanthrope.

do ut des

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“Equivalent exchange. I’ll give you half my life, so give me half of yours!”

“Argh, why are alchemists like this? What kind of idiot are you, going on about the law of equivalent exchange? You want half? I’ll give you all of it!”

valar dohaeris, or, little things that matter to geeks

Those around me long enough know my annoyance at the work ethic (or lack thereof) of the service industry around here. You know the drill: fast-food employees chatting up their co-workers while people whittle away the lunch hour in two out of a possible five lines, waiters and waitresses who’d rather hang around behind the counter than patrol the premises, bus conductors who scold you for not packing your ass tightly enough into the standing room aisle, and so on. Heck, don’t get me started on phone customer service and taxi drivers.

Does it come to a surprise, then, that when someone puts in that little bit of extra effort to make a paying person’s life just a wee bit more convenient, that sometimes spells the difference between being just another apathetic asshole of an establishment and enduring customer loyalty?

Yes, I am getting at a story here.

I used to spend my Saturdays hanging out with toy collector friends in Greenhills, and after looking around at the shops, we spend the rest of the afternoon at the Tropical Hut beneath Shoppesville, grabbing a burger or two and then playing around until whenever.

People used to wonder, why Tropical Hut, of all places? The food was cheap, fine, but it was a hangout for people who a) remembered the days when Tropical Hut was at its prime, b) the grandchildren they brought along, and c) the sando-and-shorts crowd who are probably just in there for the aircon and the seats.

One time, when we were hanging out, one of the waiters just came up to them and handed them a small plastic bag containing two small plastic hands, the ones used for Gundam model kits. The waiter said that they were left behind the last time, and that they remembered our faces, and the toys that we always brought out when we were there.

Understand that these pieces of plastic were probably a centimeter or two long, and could have just as easily been swept off the table. But the waiter decided to keep them, and hand them over two weeks later.

Since that incident, practically all our Saturdays afternoons at Greenhills have been spent on that little corner, with the waiters sometimes handing us more bizarre things–a Hot Wheels car, a toy locomotive that was obviously something a kid dropped while eating there, etc.–but we never forgot the consideration shown to us for those two little plastic hands.

I guess that’s the thing with geeks and hobbies: we’re so used to having the things we’re so passionate about being pushed aside as insignificant, that we appreciate it more when these are given at least a modicum of appreciation. Watch for that moment when you mention something–a movie, a game, anything really–where we find a connection, and we’ll be all over you, discussing variants, editions, and whatnot.

The world needs more people around here who aren’t just in it for the daily wage. We need more people who understand that every little extra bit can go a long way, sometimes much longer than what we fathom, geek or not. We’ve seen how Filipinos, given a richer, more service-conducive environments (mostly abroad, unfortunately), actually blossom into manifestations of that famous Filipino hospitality.

The world needs more Tropical Hut waiters.

apologia-apology

Sadness is a wave and a particle
And a ripple and a tide
May we never run out
Of things to talk about

Small talk becomes mosquitoes
I want to crush your wings under my fingers
May we never run out
Of things to talk about

Asking what happened today is a curse
Today blended into yesterday last week
May we never run out
Of things to talk about

Night is an unrelenting sun
Blessing the world with insomnia and hallucinations
May we never run out
Of things to talk about

The sheer incomprehensibility
Of the dread of tomorrow
May we never run out
Of things to talk about

Words are an obligation
To keep a hundred trains running
May we never run out
Of things to talk about

I wrote a poem
Because my insides are screaming
May we never run out
Of things to talk about

i hope i am getting there

I dreamed of you again. No, not you. You. Two nights ago, I think. It’s hard to keep track, when days and nights all blur together, becoming different shades of the same monochromatic routine.

It looked like we were in a music festival in some open field. You were sitting up, and I was lying on my side, enjoying my weird, almost worm’s eye view of you. Couldn’t remember what was playing, though it was definitely a good beat, judging by the way you nodded along with it, staring up at the afternoon clouds, which turned that particularly ominous shade of light grey.

Yet the sparkle in your eyes told me you weren’t worried at all. Yes, that sparkle, which shone even through all the grey. I guess it was what got me attracted–nay, addicted–to you in the first place. For me that sparkle stood for why I did everything I did: staying up nights, wrestling with madness and sleep while craving both. That sparkle, whenever I saw it–your eyes, or anyone else’s–told me that, no matter how vaguely, there was a point to existence, a reason for getting up in the morning and not giving up on everything. A weapon against that sick, rusty wave of darkness that sneaks up and washes over a person who is getting tired of giving it his all.

Even now, as that wave begins to come to shore, as it is wont to do at these seasons, I wonder if I would see such a sparkle again. Just one moment of pure joy, to compensate for all the sadness, to hold back the tide.

congratulations, MRT-Quezon Avenue, and other laments

Title because of some random funny article about “congratulations” posts getting more Facebook feed space than others. So, there.

Anyway…

This morning was quite a surprise for me and fellow commuters who took the train at the Quezon Avenue Station. At first, I thought I was in luck, as the line, which usually snaked down to Mo. Ignacia Ave, was very short this morning. Little did I–and judging by the looks on their faces, the rest of the area’s commuting populace–know that the “new” route would wind upward, past the station, up the stairs to the overpass, BEFORE GOING DOWN AGAIN INTO THE STATION. And at some point of the line, there was some douchebag of a guard ordering people to rearrange the usually three-line arrangement (something I honestly do not understand, given that all the signs order people to arrange themselves into TWO lines) into TWO lines: one male, one female.

It was probably one of those “experiments” that the staff in the station and the people in the barangay were coming up with to try to assuage the discomfort that comes with anything involving public transport in the Philippines. One of those sudden rule changes that tend to make people go WTF as they get rerouted and shouted into complying with policies which didn’t even exist last weekend.

The sad part is, the guards and the staff at the station, douchebags as they are, are hardly to blame. No amount of gimmickry will compensate for the sheer quantity of passengers for the sheer scarcity of trains running the circuit, no amount of screaming over a megaphone will allow you to stuff more people per train to compensate for said scarcity. Meanwhile, those running the trains blame the government, the government blames everything from its political enemies to the previous administration, and the guards and the staff will either stare blankly at you and feign stupidity, or simply claim that they’re just doing their jobs, as other commuters resort to less legal means, such as colorum vehicles or unregistered buses, just to get to work.

So congratulations, MRT-Quezon Avenue, and congratulations, government, for making something as supposedly simple as a morning commute even more fucked-up than it already is.