AM worthless

The mornings, they evade, as if to remind that you do not deserve the aroma of coffee, that morning stretch in fresh sunlight, those moments of listening to the world rouse from restfulness into industry. That you deserve, instead, to wake up to regrets and the particular panic one gets from oddly lucid dreams of people who died in their sleep, or are you sweating just because the windows always opened to the east anyway. There are no breezes these days, after all, as progress is necessarily monolithic, pedantic, stoic.

It’s not as if the nights were worth it, though, tossing and turning and stewing twisted ideas in the unhygienic flashing of a light not meant for the dark, always having, in the end, to come to that, to force a false tranquility and melt the world away, alone, instead of the shared split-second glimpse of nirvana it was meant to be.

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like a tight hug, like trying to squeeze it all out

Three days overdue at this point, but writing comes harder these days.

Thank you, first of all.

It takes me a while to reply to all the birthday greetings because I like to make a ritual of it: trying to make every ‘thank you’ a little different than the others, just to show that I really, really appreciate the effort, Facebook-prompted or not (the Internet can be such an unfeeling place, after all). It also gives me a chance to–forgive my little ego trip here–just take time to breathe it all in, to bask in the warmth of it all, the general outpouring of love for someone who never feels he deserves any of it, yet needs it like any normal human would, and probably needs it more than ever these days.

It’s also taken me longer to reply than usual because these past few days have been a beautiful whirligig: a trip to the mountains, walking until legs and feet turn sore, drinking excessive amounts of coffee in between; meeting up with good friends over fruity beers, conversations about life and work and adulting and television circa 1990s to early 2000s, and even more coffee; and reading everything from untouched textbooks to board game reviews in between. Tiring yourself to sleep is different when it’s because you sincerely want to make the most of the dark and the quiet, trying to squeeze every second for what it’s worth, searching for color.

Somewhere in the middle of that hot mess, I turned a year older. But turning thirty only sounds significant because we’ve long since clung to to a decimal system of counting and conceptualizing anyway. The number of years starts to not matter when things just, despite appearances, contributed to a long, slow spiral downward.

At this point, I can’t even pinpoint when everything started becoming so… drab. When color only comes in short bursts, spontaneous as the unplanned moments, set up only at the last second just to trigger them. When stories and emotions do not come as freely as before, which may be the biggest of the tragedies thus far. I miss the old me.

Disjointed, I know. Like I said, writing comes harder these days. Losing vibrance tends to do that.

Like I have also said, countless times before–but with an even greater need and urgency than ever: I have to start making this–all of this: the writing, the stories, the colors–a habit again.

plop

And just like that, it’s over. No get-together, no celebratory jig. Just staring into space: dark, dark space, punctuated every now and then by passing headlights.

They say the reason why some people are scared of death is that they’re scared it’s going to hurt a fucking lot when it happens. But I figure that’s because most of them envision it to be, as the phrase goes, going out with a bang, or even with the slow, pained sputter of expiry on a hospital bed, faint imaginary strings singing in the background. But things don’t always go that way, and sometimes, things are over even before anyone’s had a chance to process the fact.

That’s what this past few months, and this night, have felt to me: a little death, less like a splash, more like the little plop you make by dropping a rock into water. Stand up, walk out, sit down, and then, nothing. Mentally beating yourself up, after all, doesn’t make a sound.

I want to say that I did my best, let God do the rest, yadda-yadda. But the thing is, I can’t. Faith is for people who’ve worked in tandem with their Creator, not for those whose pathetic hubris is backed by some dumb, misanthropic assumptions regarding human nature and morality.

But I tried. I split myself into two people. Or, perhaps more appropriately, 1/3 and 2/3. Or maybe more like 3/5 and 2/5. But who cares about the numbers, when all you need is the fact of inequality? Two people with different weights. The one with the heavier weight buckled, and he blamed the other one. The image might look like it would make a good cautionary tale, only there’s no lesson to be learned.

There is no sense of achievement when nothing makes sense in the first place. None of that lauded impetus that has time and again spiraled people into piercing the heavens. Just a brief, brief respite between drudgeries.

Splitting yourself is tiring. And I am tired. So, so damn tired.

Everything feels… heavy. The weight of the wrong memories coming at the right time and vice versa, of disappointments, of unmet expectations (hubris, I tell you), of believing yourself perhaps not blessed, but in some sense fated to be where you are right now (such hubris, I tell you). On top of all this, the burden of knowing that in the end, you have only yourself to blame: empowering at times, suffocating the rest of the damned way.

I hate competition. Wait, let me rephrase: I hate competing with anyone other than myself. High School Musical, surprisingly, said it best: We’re all in this together. Who cares for the numbers, as long as we make it through, inequality be damned? Being the best would be nice, but anyone who constantly needs to be the best is probably sick in the head. Not that being sick in the head would matter if you’re the best, anyway.

Congratulations, all of us, for making it this far. Now, excuse me while I crawl into a corner and cry myself to sleep.

believe me, this is not what you think it is

Little has changed from a few years back, but what has had rippled outward, slowly, eating at the color of this place.

I remember then, not too long ago: when someone called us out, we called them out too. We knew that no one was perfect, that we were all flawed pieces walking on the same floor. And we embraced this: our flaws, the flaws of others, the way we embraced their talents, because there was, to our minds, no way to do one without the other.

And so our flawed thoughts were spewed forth in flawed words, to which were added even more flawed words, until, little by little, all the color that was in between the flaws could do nothing more than burst through, and fill the rooms with life, an iridescent electricity that passed through the flaws and made things appear perfect, even if only for moments at a time.

Nowadays, though, one cannot spit out a flawed word without anyone retorting with something no less flawed, but black and colorless this time. One color against a torrent of black, swallowing life and leaving nothing but ennui. Said in jest, but in truth spewed to protect flaws that, through years, perhaps an entire life of concealment, have become stigmata, never to be seen through leather gloves, long sleeves, and half-true-mockeries at the entitlement to be offended.

memories of shaded circles telling me that I should be a college professor

Psychological tests–those ones that have you shading circles and stuff regarding how you think and feel in certain situations–should, in theory, be open to straight-faced lying and whatnot to make them downright inaccurate.

They work, though, because deep down, everybody’s just screaming for help, and all that is left for the testers is to determine what sort of help one needs.

dumb, or, thoughts while inhaling hypetrains

Having no school the next day is always a perfect excuse to get those extra hours of sleep, slack off a little bit, regain some imaginary momentum in the real world. Been trying to catch up on things as well, both academically and geekily: things need watching, reading, listening. An anime episode here, a series there, a game quest over yonder. Working the brain in more ways than your everyday semi-memorization exercises.

Nobody wants something that insults the intellect, after all. People are getting smarter every day, everyone who creates has to understand that. And when people get smarter, the world unfurls before them: little things come into focus, subtle things suddenly jump out, thoughts and things start to interconnect in the uniquely beautiful way creativity and imagination are produced.

There’s something to be said, then, about those who adamantly defend the dumbing-down of the mainstream. Using master plot as an excuse for coming up with content that doesn’t serve to stimulate the senses and the mind is nothing but degrading to all, whether learned in literature or not. And you wonder why people start hating local mainstream fare when it comes to television and movies (for the record, I haven’t watched TV at home for more than three years now, and I’m not really regretting it). To underestimate the audience simply makes things worse for everyone: them, you, everyone you work with, the entire industry. And the effects are long felt after a season ends, whether prematurely or not (*sobs for Firefly*).

It doesn’t help that the good stuff is so hard to find, either. Because it really is a social class thing: the richer you are, the more stuff you’re exposed to, the bigger the influence on your tastes (cue-Marxist-rant-about-modes-of-production-here-I-guess), and I don’t think it should be, marketing be damned.

talas, men

(original note circa Jun 2014)

I was taking a jeepney ride home, staring at nothing and everything at the same time: car bumper barely hitting car bumper, smoke-belching buses pretending to be F1 racecars, the grimy underside of an overpass, fences with “Bawal Tumawid Dito”, people selling cigarettes, candy, and softdrinks by the roadside, when I happened to see something peculiarly thought-provoking written at the backside of a taxi cab:

Jumar, Jerome, Jeremie, Jeremiah

At any other moment, it would have been banal, like every other random sight one sees while on a ride home, the-journey-is-more-important-than-the-destination quotes be damned. At that time, though, it sounded like a spell, some sacred mantra not unlike those inscribed on anting-antings, incantations to keep evil or mischievous spirits away. Having them, apparently, be the names of the driver’s four children was icing on top of this delicious cake of alliteration.

Then it hit me: maybe the Filipino is not so much forced to be creative as he is inspired to be. His is an environment where every day is an exercise in puns, visual design, and so on, stretching the imagination.

In such an environment, can one honestly do any less than create?