This post was supposed to be about James Dean

When I was younger, I thought that being 20-something was a ‘big’ thing.  Like a notable era in a vast alley of history such that being in your 20-something is like being in Martial Law in the 1970s or being in the Renaissance in the 15th century.

Years passed and here I am in my matchbox apartment, downing a pack of instant noodles, and experiencing being 20-something at its best.

Or at its worst.

Or maybe both.

You see, being 20-something is a double-edged sword. Everyone thinks you are too young to do this, but too old not to do that. The 20-something stage puts pressure on your shoulder to accomplish great things worthy of telling when your aged and hoary; but it also gives you the best (and maybe lamest) excuse when you fail to make one—that you are too young.

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June

And half of the year whizzed by just. like. that.

It’s funny how I stopped writing here because I got a job as a ‘writer’. 

Last weekend was one of the lamest weekends (save for meeting up with Leyn) I’ve had in years. I spent two days tucked inside the blanket, delaying laundry tasks, and figuring out the best hot spot for wi-fi in my tiny apartment. There were so many things to do–I could finish Palahniuk, write my exclusives, sort out work emails, respond to people, etcetera–but I did what I do best: slack the fuck up.

An idea also struck me last weekend. It’s still a fetus idea–fatal and fragile in all aspects–but I plan to make something out of it. Scanning through old folders in my computer, I realized I spent most of the ‘writing’ hours on fragments, introduction, and unfinished letters. Here are some excerpts from letters that were never sent:

Excerpt One:

To D:

While I saw it coming, I’d have to say that everything went quite abrupt. Not that it surprised me; but I just think something was off with the way DMG let me go.

But first let me explain my side on that “last straw.” 

Excerpt Two: 

Dear M:

When I said I had feelings I meant I was in love with you; when I said I wanted to you to let me go, it meant I wanted you to give me a reason to stay. When I said I wanted to burn bridges, it meant getting over you will take a really long time and there’ll be nights I’d spend crying.

Three Months

Three months. Probably the longest time this blog has been put on hold.

What could ever happen in three months?

Probably enough time to learn the basics of playing a guitar. Or brushing up your Spanish you first learned in college. Or mastering the art of breaking an egg in between your middle finger and thumb. Or knowing that breaking one is art in the first place.

Or piling up requirements for grad school, scrambling for recommendations, submitting late because you were never on time. Never.

Three months is enough to quit a job, sulk in a corner, and stalk people you knew and how life seemed pretty good at them. Or how ‘pretty’ and ‘you’ can never be in one sentence.

Or maybe three months will do for a much-deserved, your words, sleep. It’s like trying to get even with those days you spent without a hint of sleep. In college, when you were cramming your thesis. In life, when the guy you thought you loved broke your heart. As if you can take the train back to the past, blot a white ink on your mistakes, and do the same mistakes when you’re sane and okay again. As if you can do that.

Three months. Enough to discover a quaint coffee shop three corners from where you work, never missing an afternoon spent with the bitter aroma of espresso, loving it so much that you get used to it all to soon, realizing that after all, maybe, you don’t like it that much.

Some sappy movie told you that there are people who are only better at first-time encounters.

You are good at staying–for three months.

Three months. Quite adequate to know someone; but maybe not long enough to hang in there for a little more time.

still 22 on the 24th

I am a very sad girl writing on Christmas eve. Sadness becomes even sadder when everybody else is happy. This is my second breakdown for the year. Everything feels heavy. It had been about bad decisions invested on the wrong people and wrong timing and overthinking. Believe me, I want to be happy–and am trying to be one. The routines, the cycles, they are haunting me. I want to disappear. I want to die. I want to dissipate into tiny bits of moist like what happens with the rain hammering on the road outside this house tonight.

Like the past years, this will be a cold Christmas.

Gold Fish Memory Wiper

“Blessed are the forgetful, for they get the better even of their blunders.”–Friedrich Nietzsche

 

A goldfish has  a memory span that lasts up to three months. Despite its shallow intellect, a goldfish is a favorite domesticated sea creature. They demand less, require small space, need little maintenance, and leave you with no poop to clean afterwards. When they die, they just die. If you want a pet for convenience with little attachment, a gold fish is the way to go.

A gold fish can remember through consistency. Their memory requires practice. Thus, the tendency to fall for the first bait. But a gold fish recognizes signs and signal. They respond to differences in shapes, colors, and sounds; they distinguish.

In three months, a gold fish learns to select which one to remember, which one to forget. The things it remembers make survival possible. Whether by knowing when to be fed or when an attack is lurking around. The things it forgets rest in oblivion forever. A gold fish unknowingly knows how to detach.

It anticipates only when bounded by consistency. It does not require too much of its owner, if ever it is owned at all.

Of course, things are much more complicated with humans. Humans are stupid. They remember things. They cling to memories. They do this despite knowing that in ignorance, we find bliss.

Decisions, decisions

Now or later. Say or fuck up. Shut up or still fuck up. To go or not to go. This way or that. Make a call or not. Patron or Upper B. Roam around the bush or prolong the agony. Confess or get caught. Flats or heels. Write or sleep. Disappoint or be disappointed. Love or eat. Play around or be boring. Quit or perish.

Decisions, decisions.

Tiendesitas with Jay and Jane

Greenhills meets Mercato meets a 2000’s beer bar. This is Tiendesitas–a laidback food, handicrafts, and entertainment bazaar lurking at the bustling corners of Pasig!

One week before her tax-paying world starts to unfold, Jane dragged me Tiende along with Jay, also his first time. I like the place! It has the “we’ve got it all for you” vibe minus too much crowd. We went on a mid-afternoon Saturday perfect for one late lunch (probably explains the little crowd). Jane was about to start on her first job the next week; Jay was getting the hang of his new work; and I–well I was (am) still hanging on. Haha. Sisig and pork barbecue were always best served with sarcasm and humor!

Anyway hemingway, we strolled around the place after lunch. Pet shops. Antique stores. Stalls that would sell tops with triple the price in the mall. A couple of foot spas. And food bazaars. We went too early for the live concert which usually starts at 7 onwards. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed the “exclusivity” vibe of the place.

Sorry for these blurry pictures. Still toying with the new cam. 🙂

the obligatory group shot

the obligatory blur shot

Pork Barbecue – P40

Fried Tofu – P90-P120

Rice – P15-P20

Pansit Malabon – P140 (not sure)

Red Iced Tea – P40

Pork Sisig – P140

Jay – P100 (Kidding!)

before Jane sets foot in the world of the employed! XD

the obligatory mirror shot

PS:

Click this link on how to get to Tiendesitas ( helped me found my way!) XD

 

On Dagupan and How to Forget

I was never good at packing stuff. Regardless of my itinerary, I’m always bound to forget something. One of the worse disasters was forgetting my toothbrush for a 3-day immersion at a lonesome community somewhere in the forested middle of my hometown. I ended up quaffing my roommate’s mouthwash and experimenting with toothpicks and papers (yuck). In short, I was very bad at packing my stuff.

The Load

Speaking of ‘baggage’, these past few days have been somewhat baggage-ful. To some emotional extent, I guess. I have been dealing with emotions that are stranger to me.  I have been feeling things for the first time and lo and behold, I do not have the balls (yet) to deal with it. The city brings too many memories that I need to be oblivious about it to feel ‘me’ again. Or, in the words of some writer, I need to leave in order to find myself again. But apparently, no one has told me that this leaving-and-finding-one’sself fuckery comes with sun, sand, and seafood! Ooohlalalala…

Getting There

Dagupan is a 5-hour bus ride from Manila. Traveling at night allows you to witness that fine line separating those city lights from the suburban vibe. Traveling in the morning, on the other hand,  allows you to feast on everything that has rested in the darkness: cows on grasslands, cloud patterns, inuman sessions by the road at the height of noon. Yessir, it was a road trip.

“i had to leave in order to find myself again” –awwwyeeeaahhh!

The Halt

We stayed at Jane’s (the heiress XD) hotel the entire weekend-long trip. I found the gayest roommate in Jay–I would sleep over a green joke while Jay would spend the entire night watching a flopped horror flick from the cable TV.  Those were one and a half nights  of good laughs and green jokes.

Anyway hemingway, we woke up to the sight of finely fried bangus, scrambled eggs, and appetizing sugpo the morning after we arrived.  Little did I know that the next meals would be some sumptuous bangus overload. Yaaaay. After all, we were there for the tarpaulin-rich BANGUS FESTIVAL!

Bangus Festival 2012

First stop (after our big breakfast–gosh I still can’t forget the bangus and mayo combo!) was the beach.

We were supposed to go to Bolinao, a 2-hour ride from Dagupan, but thinking that too much time on the road was not within our time’s means, we opted for a nearer place instead. Except for the wandering kids who would hastily ask for our spare baon amidst Jay’s punchlines, the beach was gorgeous. Powdered sand in pale-honey. Generous sunshine. Calm waves. Pretty locals that do not give a damn if you are in bikini or what. I stayed in shade the entire time while Jay and Jane enjoyed a pretty nice dip under the 9-am sun.  I swear I felt like I was in a scene from a movie while seated on the stool with the oversized umbrella from manang. I was watching life before my eyes. Or rather, life was watching me in 3D.  Anyway, that was a good 25 minutes of pseudo-existentialist contemplation (which can be inevitable once faced with nature) and I came back to life and so were my tanned friends.

Jay and Jane

***

Next stop was the parade. We jumped from one spot to another catching shade and performances. The entire thing radiated festivity in all aspects: rhythmic drums and bugle renditions, witty depictions of bangus in costumes, and smiling locals. There was sweat all over the place, too.  🙂

The Coffehouse

Jane’s uncle happened to own a small coffee shop alongside the hotel. Named as Sugarloop, the cozy cafe opens at 4pm until after midnight. It doesn’t have the indie vibe like some of the cafes you’ll see in Manila, but it sure stands out amidst the other establishments in the area.

Sugarloop served as our “hideaway” while waiting for the parade to pass by where we were. And amidst waiting and indulging on blueberry cheesecake and iced coffee, Jay and I planned of putting up our own cafe bistro with a bookshop extension. It will be named: The Waiting Spot.

The Plaza

After our HUGE dinner at the hotel, all three of us went off to the plaza. There was an on-going activity–a culmination of the parade–at the center while strips of food kiosks and souvenir booths lined up by the road.  This part of Dagupan somehow resembled my hometown in Bicol, too. Laidback. Trees. People in flip-tops. Litters. Happy vibe.

There was also a display of artworks on the street– mostly depictions of bangus and some street graffiti-inspired paintings on canvass. Pictures there and pictures here and we capped off the stroll and headed home.

I would’ve ended the day drunk and wasted, but since we were off to an early mass the next day (naks), we just availed ourselves of the night’s inevitable pseudo-confessions. Also, Jay kept on pointing out how I take 10 years in the bathroom. Bummer. We slept with a promise to wake up at 4am sharp. It was 1 in the morning.

The Last Day

The last day started with a text from B. According to the Ten Rules of Moving On,  I should keep my fingertips off the keypad, resist the urge to reply, and shut the fuck up. But I replied anyway. He didn’t (I subconsciously waited for a reply for practically the entire day but there was N-O-N-E). It was a heartbreak.  But the day started too early to wallow on such petty and self-absorbed disputes so I got up and moved on.

Jay and I stood by the pavement just outside the coffee shop’s facade and waited for sunrise. What was once a crowded street now transformed to a barren and quiet canvass.  Few tricycles roaming around, waiting for passengers. It took 15 minutes and five refusals for a ride before Jane arrived. Off to Manaoag we went.

The Our Lady of Manaoag Church was less than an hour ride from Dagupan proper. It was a quiet ride on our way there–the kind you’d appreciate when all you wanted was to watch the lush details you pass by. Jane’s lolo kept us company by sharing small anecdotes (how the Bangus Festival has changed over the years, etc) while an old Jazz song from the local FM radio played in the background. He drove for us. In the middle of telling a story, he’d ask if we slept well, if we ate well, or if Jane was being the good host she was supposed to be. Jay and I would catch his stare at the rear view mirror and nod followed by a chuckle and Jane’s sneer. I never had a lolo but I felt like how it was to have one in him.

The Church Encounter

Finally, the church.

The Our Lady of Manaoag Church is Pangasinan’s iconic destination that perfectly combines faith, culture, and tourism. By faith I mean devotees flocking into the Shrine in droves while religiously enduring the pretty tight line at the entrance.  By culture I mean the old conventions that locals still uphold up to now such as the tiny rituals we do before lighting a candle. By tourism I mean the strip of booths selling tupig, puto, mangoes, walis tambo, and what-have-yous. And of course the prerequisite photo op with the image of the Manaoag.

It’s been months since the last time I stepped into the Church and attended a Sunday mass.  The last time was at Papa’s funeral. Back in Manila, my officemates have resorted to the idea that one day, i will burn in hell because of my stubbornness in not obliging to the 3rd commandment.  Anyhoo, I still would like to think that this Church encounter was not a pretext to make up for something I did.  I bought two candles and lit up one. I prayed for guidance for my family. I prayed for enlightenment in my career path (or the lack of it). I prayed that Pa, wherever he is, rests in peace and contentment with the occasional sneer while peeking through from above.