Thursday, January 26, 2012

Of Interruptions And Getting Back

My life got recently interrupted for a little over a year. I’m getting back on track, starting work again next week. It was a hard time though and the aftermath is a little daunting but nothing unmanageable. My life has been interrupted in so many ways before and this is just another one that goes into history, my history.

In a quiet moment during an afternoon walk yesterday, I pondered on this and thought, if not for the cancer, I probably would have just come off work and would either be catching up on sleep or stuffing whatever chores I could fit into the few hours before I crash. My life, as usual, right? Well not today. Because my life got interrupted, I am enjoying this walk with my sister, in this glorious day that God has made. And this walk was so nice we’ve made a pact to do it again, on weekends when I wasn’t working. In fact, we’ve got a date on the Sunday after this. From the trail is a little path that leads to the main street leading to the movie theater. We decided we’d walk it on Sunday, watch a movie and walk back. I’m really looking forward to that. And I have this to look forward to because my life got interrupted.

I guess it’s like when a branch of a tree breaks. Growth for that branch stops but where it broke, the tree will find new ways to grow, to be whole again.

And maybe that’s what it all boils down to, the lives we live. It’s all a struggle to be whole. And when life interrupts, it’s actually showing you the way.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Of Optimism

I've had my share of learning, maybe not of the Romeo and Juliet kind but yeah, I've shed my tears. I am not sure I'd care very much to put it all in words, not that anyone would really be interested to know if I did. This is what I know now though, only love lasts as a motive for any good we want to do. Love enables us to die for others, love spends itself for another. 

I cannot think of love with a shadow of the fear, the expectation, or even the slightest notion of getting hurt behind me. Much as I will admit to the highest probability in it, I will not let hurt set its foot at the door of love at the same time that I do. I have decided, years before, that when I love, I will love, period. I will embrace it like there is no time to wait and all I have left is now. There will be no conditions, there will be no restrictions. I only have myself to offer anyway, I've got nothing more. If I lose that, then God have mercy on the one who loses it for me. As for me, I have survived this way for the past years, not necessarily unscathed but still with my head on my shoulders and my heart in my hands. I still manage to wake up in the morning with the hint of a smile, as if that in itself is the best thing that could happen to me today.

Call it naive, and let it be my greatest fault.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Of Resolutions About Dating

... will not date another doctor or any medical practitioner anymore. 'Must be with their Hippocratic Oath that makes them, ironically, weird.

Next please.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Of Persistence and Indifference

I work out usually at The Fort in weekends and lately I've been seeing there a former date, too. I don't know how he got my number but he's been texting me lately and last night I wanted to be mean to him in text. He wanted to go out with me again. I said I was busy and he said his sister has some bazaar stall with knickknacks that I could be interested in and I said no thanks. And he replied, how about tonight? Jesus, dating again someone who you used to date but didn't work out is so not fashionable in my book. It makes me want to puke when I think about it. Bile accumulating in my stomach and trying to escape through my mouth.

People say I'm too nice for my own good sometimes. Or maybe too generous. But I have this defense mechanism going on, too. When I feel like I've been so nice to someone and that person bad-mouthed me or was just nasty and mean to me, I will just stop seeing that person/friend/date. I don't think I'm obliged to understand everyone's issues. It's easier for me to just stay out of that person's way forever.

The former date and I used to fight. Well he got mad a lot at me. I would pick him up from his house, drive him to wherever he wants to go and pay for everything along the way. That's fine with me but he would start fights because we would for example arrive at the gym of his choice 5 minutes late because of heavy traffic. I would pay phone credits, too, and he doesn't reply to any of my text messages. He would say, "What I do with those credits, whom I text, is none of your business." He didn't want to go to Greenbelt with me because his friends might see us together and he didn't want them to know we were going out. Later I found out he was dating someone else, too. This 40 something guy.

So after I stopped seeing him, I started dating someone. The former date kept on calling me and one time my current date answered the phone and they had a fight. They were both screaming and I thought they were being ridiculous. I mean, life's easy. Just--disappear. I mean come on, there's 7 billion people in this planet.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Of High Risk Behaviors

Having spent most of my adult life in the company of artists (my first job was in an orchestra) where high risk behavior is the norm, almost a membership badge, it is rather quite a feat that I myself have not acquired their habits and indulgences.

Smoking is a default past time for most music people. They look to it as a biological need as essential as eating or more precisely, breathing. Smoking has been used for as many purposes from laxative to a ritual to ward off bad luck and everything else in between. Good thing I outgrown the habit. Clean lungs for years now.

Being acknowledged with perfect notes, timely tempo, & the end of a good run, were all occasions to celebrate and celebration meant drinking. Being stuck in the corps, playing badly, and the end of a bad run were reasons to commiserate and commiseration demanded drinking. In the orchestra, complaints about hang over, splitting headaches, and the possibility of fainting before the end of rehearsals were daily conversational fare during breaks. As were sexual conquests of the previous night. A running tally of the most cavalier among the boys was regularly updated. The girls had their own more discreet tally sheet as well.

Those who tried drugs were lost in that quicksand in no time fast.

I have lost friends to alcoholism, drugs, pregnancy, and even AIDS. On hindsight, a young man just arriving from the province, I was a likely candidate for high risk behavior. I wanted to belong. I was interested in all things new. I was up for any dare. What steered me away from high risk behavior was my profile. I believe now it is a combination of so many things, from my upbringing, my early education, and what I wanted.

If you grew up climbing trees, swimming in rivers, running against the wind, jumping off cliffs, fishing in the sea, you know there are other ways to feel better. To celebrate life. To appreciate yourself more.

On days when the sun wasn’t out and the rain was too cold to bathe in, there were the countless worlds inside books. Being alone wasn’t a problem. It was a chance for some quiet. Quietude wasn’t bad. Quietude was a blank page I can create worlds in. Silence and solitude were friends that even now I still seek out with mindful purpose.

And lastly, I wanted a life in the arts. Most of all I wanted to sing. Having wanted that all my life, it was clear to me what smoking was going to do to me. It dries up the throat, and a dry throat loses the brilliance of its sound. Add to that the stink of smoker’s breath. Alcohol binds with the water in your body for it to be released and of course resulted to dehydration. It does accumulating damage to one’s brain. And of course, there’s the uncomfortable hangover to look forward to the next day. Who needs that? If you’re happy, why end it so soon? If you feel bad, why make it worse? It’s one day wasted when you could be practicing. When you could be working on getting better at your art. A life in the arts is already one big risk. Come to to think of it, all of life really is. Just crossing the street is risk enough. And the excitement of getting across safely and being able to live another day to fight for your dreams, who needs more excitement than that? Another reason was that I was aware how my family was susceptible to substance abuse. My father was an incorrigible alcoholic even after an aneurysm and a stroke. He finally had to give up his love for the bottle on his 2nd fatal stroke which ended everything else for him. I have cousins who have had to be rushed to hospitals on drug overdose. Knowing that somewhere in our genes lurks that one renegade gene making us especially vulnerable to the hold of addiction, I knew that if I even dared to start, I’d be down the drain with one sip. I was 24 when I had my first beer. Before that I have flatly refused, secretly drained, or just subtly avoided every offered alcoholic drink. More than a few times, I have been tied down by friends who thought it would be fun to force alcohol on me and were treated to my impersonation of a whale spouting a fountain. My first drink was when I turned 24 and I was fully convinced of my strength to avoid things I wanted to avoid. It was a planned affair. I asked all the friends I could round up to be witnesses. It was an act of trust. I was finally trusting myself that I was clear enough of who I was. I wasn’t a drinker. My next drink would be a year later.  I can handle my alcohol. I handle it gingerly and not very often.

Now sex, sex is a different matter altogether. A big city makes experimentation so much easier. So many anonymous chances to take. As disposable as candies in a wrapper. Something a small town cannot afford you. The fear of being seen with some stranger in a town where you know everybody and everybody knows not only you but even those whom you know. The shame of being seen going inside a seedy motel. These are, to my thinking, better deterrents to promiscuity than even the threat of STDs. I cannot claim to have been untainted by this particular high risk behavior. Details would be out of taste. I have always insisted on safety though. Or as some friends of mine call, the illusion of safety that a condom offers. At this age though, I’ve come to see the truth in what some smart-aleck said about sex, that without affection, it’s just friction. It gets old.

High risk behavior is dancing on one’s grave. It’s tempting fate to cut you down in the middle of a party. It’s a coward’s ticket out of the great race. One’s grave isn’t the best place for dancing. Dancing is wonderful on a stage, with people looking on, knowing they cannot do half of what you are doing. Dancing is lovely on a beach, under the moon, with some one you love. But dancing is best in your living room, just flapping your arms and being silly with friends, with chips strewn all over and soda spraying on everybody. Why choose the risk to lose when there’s the risk of winning?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Of Kermit And A Strange Lesson

Enjoying the cold weather with this little frog.
He must have found the light and swallowed it.

Thanks Kermit, I learned how to seize the day:
by not following the light and give everything up
 but to engulf it and shine for others.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Of Virgin Suicides

I’m reading Jeffrey Euginedes’ The Virgin Suicides four days ago. I’ve always wanted to read it and was finally able to get a copy, when my sister and I went to a nearby bookstore as we were waiting for my other brothers to show up for our weekly dinner (which I actually looked forward to and enjoyed. I guess I really am growing up, haha). I’ve seen the movie three times, and each time, I remember feeling deeply affected when I get to the scene where Cecilia explains why she tried to kill herself (the first time): “Obviously doctor, you’ve never been a 13 year old girl.”

I remember being 12 and wishing with all my heart that I would grow up quickly. My male cousins are five or six years older than me, and I remember feeling left out when they were starting to talk about girls and stuff and all those things in the world of high school. My brothers were of no help, of course, largely because of the obvious fact that they were still boys in grade school, and I was caught in the middle. Of course, growing up, my problems were not as scandalous, they don’t warrant a tragedy like The Virgin Suicides. After all, the story’s context is US suburban life, but I remember a friend’s observation while we were having a heart to heart over beer: middle-class families in the Philippines are incredibly dysfunctional, and what’s worse is that on the surface, we like pretending that things are okay. I think this is partly why I don’t see myself every coming out with an honest-to-god compilation of creative nonfiction, I’d be too scared to talk about my family life. I’m not saying that we have a lot of problems, but we have some, like everyone else, and I wouldn’t want to say anything unintentionally hurtful, especially now that I’m supposed to be all grown up.

At dinner, my sister tells me, with a hint of incredulity: “Twenty-six ka na pala” I don’t know what she meant by that, exactly, She sounded so like mom when she was still alive. Bleh.

But yeah, if I step back and look at myself, I’m equally incredulous that I’m actually 26, and I don’t feel like growing up anymore. I wonder if Cecilia’s statement can be transposed to my current state: “Obviously doctor, you’ve never been a 26 year old queer boy.” (This is spot-on, as I have to schedule some check-ups in a few days, what with all these growing pains and some cancer). At 26, this is a short version of my to-do list: Short-term plan- get rid of this fockin' C. Long-term plan: I have no idea. Very Winona Ryder-ish, ala Reality Bites, don’t you think?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Of First Love And Then Some

So I’m going to talk about something tawdry. Like love. I probably have never had more offers to be in a relationship in my life than in the past few weeks. I’m sure I have never had more offers etc. I’d get carried away and agree it’s a good idea and then about 30 minutes later have second thoughts. I really don’t feel like rationalizing. I’ll just tell you of my first love. The pseudo-love-affair. That one was a hoot.

It is the moon. No, my first love wasn’t the moon. It’s the moon that’s got me thinking about my first love. He was in med school. I was just starting at work. And because of his schedule, I would refrain from disturbing him even if I wanted so badly to be with him. Especially during full moons. It’s when I get loony. It’s when I want to sing about how much I like him. When I want to dance circles around him. When I want to shoot the ceiling from being so happy to have found him. I couldn’t. Med school can’t let you do that schedule to the moon’s waxing and waning. I would walk all the way from my building to his apartment. Walking through dark streets. All the while singing all the romantic songs I know. Along the way, I’d cross a bridge spanning a river. Not a very romantic bridge. It’s just ugly. And the river’s all littered with garbage. But in the moonlight, the garbage glimmered. Like the river was sprinkled with diamonds. I’d always bring a coin to throw into the water. Never wishing for anything. I wished for other people. That they would find as much happiness as I had. Then I’d go back to singing. I would only stop singing when I was nearing his place. I’d sit on a side street some ways away from his doorstep and watch his silhouette by the window. Hunched over a book. I’d stay there for a few minutes just being delirious to watch that shadow turning pages of a book and making writing gestures. Then I’d head back for home. Singing again. I remember there would be people looking out their windows, almost waiting for me every night. Nobody shushed me or made fun of me. Nobody shouted for me to shut up. Just a slow opening of the shutters and people sitting by the window. At first they would try to peek which made me try to sing softer. After a while, they just left the windows open. I would only see curtains moving quietly. By the time I got home, I only had enough energy to wash my feet and drop on my bed. The next day, I’d be too tired to wake up for work. We’ll stop now.

So there. I’ve done my time with crazy. With love. With creepy behavior because of being in love. Sadly, it was not reciprocated. But it's love, still. I guess.

I miss that. I miss that elation. I miss that craziness. I miss all that corn. I miss wishing other people the same happiness. I miss having something to sing for. Not just because I love singing.

There is someone I want to sing for. There. Isn’t that a surprise? With cancer and all, I can still manage to make landi. I met him last month at my weekly therapy. He's a doctor that oddly looks like McSteamy. (What's with the medical field that knocks me off? Jeez!) But I can’t drum up the courage to ask him. Me. I’m such a coward. And a hypocrite. Telling myself that I'm still busy getting well. I should probably ask him out to a movie or something. Or something sounds more… Fun.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Of A Much Needed Change

I’m thinking of overhauling this blog, or deleting it completely.

When I started blogging in college, I loved the anonymity and the odd pleasure of making online friends (and meeting them in real life!), reading journal entries written by strangers from all over the world, and leaving nice notes on their guestbooks.  I can still do those things now, heck I bet it’s even easier now that the internet has become more accessible (although it is of course not true that everyone has access and that one can change the world through the internet).  I started blogging again last year because I had the time, and maybe because I was a lonely kid. But most of all, I started blogging again because I wanted to write frequently, while knowing that some people out there actually read what I wrote.  I was writing for strangers, really, they were my target audience. Not family, friends, or acquaintances.

The problem is that I tend to blog, mostly, about personal issues. Blogs are (or used to be) online journals, after all. I’d like to think of myself as an introspective person, and I did share a shitload of juvenile rants before. The difference in what and how I blog now is a matter of restraint–because even though I don’t have illusions that a lot of people read this blog, there is always that nagging idea that a family member or a friend of a friend might stumble upon this archive. So I am consciously editing, consciously deleting specifics that might give away too much. In other words, I don’t think the nature of this blog as (primarily) an online journal is helping me become a better writer. I feel that my writing, here at least, has become vague and safe. A few years from today, if I try to go through what I’ve posted in the past year, I might not even understand my own writing.

There is always that option to create a screen name and a new personal blog that’s more “private.”  And I’m considering that option, too. But what’s funny is that while I am longing for that imagined anonymity, in a way, I also want to declare my identity. I also want to say Hey, if you like what you’re reading, this is me, Caloy, nice to meet you! The internet makes you want to do that, maybe because of the notion of online “publishing.”

Anyway, while I’m still undecided, I’ve decided to go back to old school journal writing. Last week, I bought myself a new leather notebook (not a moleskine because I think those are sinfully expensive). I have  other notebooks that are gathering dust in my drawers, but I purchased a new one as an incentive (for myself, who else hahaha). It’s covered with black leather and has reasonably lined off-white pages, and it’s got this nice page-marker–I don’t know the technical word for the marker, but it’s that thin strip of cloth often found in daily planners. I made the mistake of using a dull grayish pen for my first entry, but now I’m using a sign pen which makes writing clearer, literally, and in the sense that it’s easier to review what I’ve already written.

I wrote my first entry one night, when I was fuming mad at something that happened at home. I wrote because I was angry, and I couldn’t articulate my anger. And I felt better after doing that, a kind of satisfaction I no longer get from blogging. Since then, I’ve been filling it up constantly, although I don’t write on it everyday. It’s not the frequency that matters, after all, it’s the personal significance of what is documented.

So... There will be less personal shit on this blog, maybe more creative shit, haha. Or maybe I’ll come up with a theme, like a 365-days-challenge or some other focus, which will still allow me to share ideas online, just not too much.

Take care kids!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Of Motivations And Writing Needs

Long before any of my artistic pursuits, there was writing. Of course, reading came before writing, as arguably listening comes before singing, or looking before painting and sculpting but these earlier acts are acts of receiving and not of creating, hence, not generally considered artistic acts. And, if I ever was anything, I was a bibliovore. No, there is no such word but bibliophile seems too tame a name for the animal I was about books. I practically lived on them, foregoing all other natural acts like eating(until I’m faint), or defecating (until my head was full of ammonia), or sleeping (until my head ached like I had a day with a dentist who ran out anesthesia). It is only but natural that all that voracious reading should make me try my hand at writing. And tried I have. The results may have been less than spectacular but more than things to read, they were things I HAD to write. All that intake of words must naturally result to an outward release. The parallelism towards eating and the opposite action may be less palatable than it is proper.

I’ve said it before that I am more able to write in times of despair. Eloquence lends itself well to tortuous run-on sentences. I often feel relieved after writing about my personal little tragedies. Again, we can bring up the earlier cited natural act of bowel movement but lest this brings to mind steamy, foul-smelling, piles of feces, we shall instead attribute the relief to the order writing brings to the mess that all of life is. In a piece of writing, there is an imaginary beginning and an as-much-imagined ending. If only because there is the first word and the period at the end. When in truth, all of life is but one continuous tangle of choices and consequences.

And so I write. I write now not because it is a dark time. There have been darker times. Crows in the sky no more but a crossing of a meadow to listen to larks. No harbinger but a salve. Something to calm a throbbing portion of my soul.

The past year has been… What adjective can sum it all up? Which adjectives can be strung together to even approach how the past year felt?

This is why I feel the need to write more often. How to remember the feeling of each singular moment the past year has brought? How to remember the joys, the sadness, and more importantly, the lessons.

Yet, like an unused muscle, my writing voice is sluggish. Like a pen with dried up ink on its tip, I start and occasionally stop to shake my head to loosen the flow of my thoughts. It is still there, my writing voice. Slow to start, rusty, but serviceable.

Have an inspiring morning everyone!