Nice Guys Finish Last

I waved down a taxi and got in. We made an abrupt U-turn and almost hit the curb but we just drove on as if it didn’t happen. I told the driver the destination. I was surprised that he didn’t ask for extra as most drivers do. I thought I was lucky.

The backseat smelt of LPG. I can barely breathe. It’s the same kind of gas you’d find in a typical household kitchen, except we weren’t frying bacon and eggs that morning — it made my head hurt.

I was running late. I was attending a friend’s wedding. It seemed obvious enough to the driver since I was wearing my oversized white barong with a boutonniere flower pinned on.

He asked me if I was one of the groom’s men. I said no. Then he asked me if I was already married. I told him that I was somewhere in between. He asked me what that means. I told him I’d tell him when I found out for myself. He stopped asking.

“You seem like a nice guy,” The driver started. “But you know what they say about nice guys.”  He needed not to finish the line. I don’t know about me being a nice guy, but I know I’ve always finished last.  I had no response. We beat a red light.

The sky was overcast and a little later there were some light rains that sprayed.

I wasn’t able to make it to the exchange of vows, I wasn’t able to make it to the church at all. But I was just in time for the opening of the bar. I liked my scotch dry. I liked it with water too.  I ordered a round, and another, and another — it was like a well in a desolate desert more than a wedding reception.

There was a lady sitting next to me, I thought I knew her, but she reassured me that it wasn’t the case. We started talking, first about Bernie Sanders, and a lot of random things that I have already forgotten about.

She was alright. We slow danced to Death in Vegas’ Girls while expertly holding our cocktails. I thought it was perfect when they decided to tone down the lights. The indigo matched the mood.

“Do you believe in marriages?”  She pulled her head back and waited for my answer as if it was a test of character.

“You’re the second stranger who asked me about marriage today. Well, I think of it as a retirement package.”

“Wait, what? Like living off on a pension and taking vacation trips on cruise ships?”

“Yes, all of that. But don’t forget about prostate cancer too.”

There was some laughter.

“But seriously, I think it’s a lot of work. And you reap the rewards long after —

I think I believe in the integrity of its commitment.”  I retracted for a simpler answer.

“What do you do anyway?”  She asked.

“I’m a writer.”

“They say writers are difficult to live with.”

“Oh yeah?”

“I guess, maybe you’re overly committed to what you do.”

“No. I think it’s because we’re poor.”

I went home alone as usual. I went out for a nightcap at a local nightclub. As I sat at the bar I thought about Santiago in Hemingway’s book. I thought about his fish and the lions walking on the beaches of Africa in his dreams. I thought about the great Joe DiMaggio and the great games he played. On how good he must have felt winning. And the prisms, in the day, and the reflection of the countless stars on the surface of the sea at night. I thought about a lot of things in between those thoughts. And when I snapped back, I wasn’t anymore in the mood for watching the girls on stage. But there I was, still inside the bar, still draining the well.

I checked my wallet and there was almost nothing there.

But I drank like how rich men do. I felt like Bukowski. I felt like an entire world inside of me existed.

I drank like a millionaire.

A Life with Joan Didion

She wanted to be exactly like Joan Didion. She basically patterned her life on her. She would even mimic JD’s writing style, except that she wasn’t as good. She would try, and a lot of her readers like what she writes, but for her, it wasn’t good enough. She would go at lengths, she would even refer to her boyfriend as ‘John’, and named her cat after Quintana — Didion’s late husband and daughter. She would dress up like her, and would always wear dark sunglasses, and would always prefer drinking straight from a large bottle of Coke first thing in the morning. Her favorite imitation of her, was a picture taken dressed up like the renowned writer — In a long-sleeved dress, with a cigarette pointing to the ground, leaning against a Corvette Stingray. She was particularly keen about matching every detail, except for the car, which was tough to find, so she settled with an old white Toyota Crown.

Her boyfriend didn’t mind. He even finds it amusing sometimes. He would even help her, giving her all the time she needed in writing, encouraging her to the aspiration. What he did mind, however, was when it got eerily weird when she wanted to talk about his apparent death, and as to the manner of which it would occur.

One time, after writing for nearly seven hours — locked up in her room — she woke him up at around three.  She asked him to comment about what she had written about, with an intense glare of excitement in her eyes. At first, he didn’t see anything wrong with it, in fact, he likes how driven she could get, but then, there was something in her look that night that wasn’t there before.

He sat up, opened the bedside lamp, and put on his glasses. She was holding what appeared to be a printed manuscript against her chest.  “Do you want me to heat your dinner, honey?” Asked John.

“No, just need to hear what you think, that’s all.” John read it, while she sat anxiously at the edge of the bed, waiting.

“I like it.”

“You do? That’s great!” She looked genuinely relieved. “What else, John?”

“Uhm, I think it’s perfect. I would read this over and over and never get tired.”

“And? How about the technical composition, the arrangements?”

“I think it’s great, honey. I really think it’s good.”

She smiled dimly and fell silent for a while and said:

“The real John would have been a good critique. Obviously, you’re not him. You could have at least pretended to be smart by going against it. How typical.”

“Because I’m not John, honey.”  Stunned, he almost yelled at her.

She collected the printed papers and went back to the study. The next morning when John woke up, she was lying next to him, still asleep. During breakfast, he asked her about the night before but she didn’t have a memory of it at all. He asked her about what she wrote, which she was able to recall, but the episode in the bedroom apparently didn’t happen as far as she was concerned.

In the weeks that followed, she’s been gradually moving out of their place, discreetly, until she was able to empty the apartment of all of her belongings. Of course, John noticed this but opted not to say anything.  She took some of John’s stuff — probably by accident — in exchange, she left Quintana. Besides, one couldn’t hang around with the dead that was just absurd.

At the bar, everyone is calling him by his real name, of course. Nobody knew that the name ‘John’ was just a pet name she once gave him. He spent most of the time in the university where he teaches in the mornings until late afternoons and took his night classes at the bar. The apartment was just a place where he sleeps. “It’s Quintana’s home now, I’m just a boarder.” He told the old man and the armadillo.

Weeks turned to months, thirty-two to be exact. He saw her doing an interview in some late-night show. She’s been doing great. Published four novels, and a book of essays, and a weekly feature column. Of course, she had to use her real name now. She goes by Mia S. Torres. But hearing this sounded distant to him. She will always be Joan to him. It was rather strange. But all in all, he was genuinely happy for her.

He heard so much about her. Especially from common friends. They say, that she was seen sometimes just driving around in a vintage car, a Corvette, sometimes in their hometown. That she’s been around artists, and other writers, and celebrities of her kind in loud music bars, smoking and drinking behind a cordoned-off area. His friends say that she is a lot nicer, despite of everything, and that she appears to be grounded still, a better person.  Of course, he knew, that this is just a dense assessment of her character confined in the limited quarters of their brief encounters on some random street somewhere.

But he knew that she has become all of the things she once wanted, and more. Again, he felt genuinely happy for her.

While he lived his life as is, just the same, he always remained consistent. He always preferred to be still and constant. To be reliable. To his students and on keeping the barkeep employed — Despite all that had happened.

After sometime Quintana, the cat died. “She just got old, I’m sorry.” He phoned to tell her about it.

“Was she in pain?”

“I think she passed on quietly. The vet was really delicate about it.”

“Thank you for letting me know. I appreciate it a lot.”

“That’s not a problem at all. I’m happy to have called you.”

“Thanks again, Elliot.”

“No, I mean, you’re welcome…

But please, call me John.”

The Invisible Man

Jupiter was no bigger than a five-centavo coin when it shined that night. Thrilled, he placed it inside the hole he made with his fingers and peeped through it into the sky with one eye. He took a photograph of the sighting but his phone camera failed to deliver justice and so he decided to just discard it.

Overhead, its glow was diluted by the increased display lightings of the bookstore. As he stood outside, he then watched the storekeepers and the customers raced — like lab mice — the mazes of the bookcases inside. Uninvited, he crushed his half-done cigarette and went in and did the same. He started with the selected features and trod along the modern classics section until he slowed down when he reached the aisle between the Russian giants and H.G. Wells. He decided to procrastinate venturing and opted for the latter instead this time. Besides, he figured that reading Tolstoy or Dostoevsky would not sit very well with commuting on public transportation and discerned that he doesn’t want another unfinished book.

He had plenty of time, he tried to convince himself. But by the year he reached thirty-four true friends had enormously reduced to mostly dead writers and fictional protagonists. It was as if living people were only worth trying out if their thoughts and general interests were first proofread and edited like any publication houses would do.

This he thought about and the million things that could potentially take place in his short lifespan. But who would dare care? After a while, people would eventually move on with their lives. He confronted himself with the thoughts of unreciprocated love affairs and unfulfilled passions. What if they discovered that the only thing, he could ever love unconditionally was the rain? The time of the monsoon was coming, and it would be cooler soon. The thought began to console him. It was not necessarily of importance but for him, they were like the soundtrack of a very good film and the foams in his drink.

They say that life flashes on by without you realizing it. And oftentimes we miss it, especially when it counted the most. But in his case, there were no flashes, no theatrics — Just a series of random movements and intermittent pauses.

On the escalator going down, he bumped into an old colleague from the University. They exchanged numbers after going over a crash course of where their lives had led them since they last saw each other.

During the dialogue, all he was thinking about was the Irish coffee he was dying to have.

He never thought that the idea would ever touch his ugly mouth, but it did, he blurted it out, he felt ashamed.

At that moment everything else sounded broken to him.

It was a beautiful reclusion of the heart.

The Visit (homage)

It echoed to her, ringing into her ears.  Circling, hovering in the air suspended.  A thought that lingered, a shadow cast, a return mail, or perhaps in this case of her’s, a puzzle piece that she’d rather not complete. On the side table sat a half-filled glass of water and a mat of aspirins accented by the crumpling of drugstore receipts.  She got up but not quite making it and leaned against the two giant pillows propped on the wall. The day was not over yet, the soft glow of twilight brimmed across the wide horizon making the sky flushed up in that gentle orangery burst.

Her body was warm, a leg was bent, and both arms sagged across the bed. The wrinkles of the undone fitted sheets gave out, it was almost dark, and she was turning into a bat.  A familiar musk of which only a man could produce made her senses and her entire anatomy felt defensive.  She dabbed on her side hesitantly, lips were half open, curious words stifled by this uninvited ambiguity. She can hear innocence and lightness in the breathing that accompanied her. It was dry and rhythmic, almost melodious in tone.  It got louder as she leaned forward, causing her head braced.

She then dragged her fingertips quietly forward until finally, they had contacted a crooked body.

“It is not a dream” She thought. “But I do not know this man”.  She pricked herself again and again – for sometimes she would wake in a dream and would wander off in another.

“I slept the day away. But why aren’t you scared silly? Alas! At the very least weirded out by all this, stupid…” She gasped and slowly moved back to her side and tapped her left sole first onto the floor to get into her bedroom slippers.

Half an hour past she walked toward the table that stood by the open window, dragging a trail of blanket behind her, covering herself to the chest.  She waited there staring at the burrowed face on her bed, behind the mosquito net beneath the moonglow that showered through the faint curtains. This woke the crooked body and arose almost in stealth, propped on its arms on the sides.

This time she can see him, but not entirely.  Half of his chest and most of his being were concealed, unshared. But there was nothing to show, it spoke finally. “It is I, Juliana” his tone low and suited the sultry tropical weather.  He was just a faceless man, not of the flesh but made of stencils, and paints, and narratives – a figment of her imagination, an absolute manifestation of her mind.

Surely, she was not running a high fever to cast this delirious persona she checked.

The dream if it were, was surprisingly placid, she rationalized.

Behind the scaffolding, a grimy mirror on the mahogany closet held her reflection.  And she traced the light of the night outlined her shape, the slope of her forehead, the swell on her chest, and the rugged top knot of a painter’s panache she was sporting.

She was humbled by what she knew – She saw the sketching of the skies, the molding from clay, a creation of someone else’s dream.

She reopened a note she retrieved from the drawer and read:

“Let us linger in time before things disintegrate completely before us like paper in the rain.  Perhaps it will help you remember.   With complete vigor and youthful view round the backseats, as we drove up north, and decided on how you and I should face each other, now, then, in front of, or miles apart, we will always be the same people who we chose to be.  Like our favorite characters in those films.  So, I’ll see you there, amour.” 


The Visit

Photo By: Bianca Osorio

Bastet

Gregor and Emma are examining book spines of classic Filipiṅana collections hoping they will stumble across something interesting although they already knew that this is highly unlikely.  If only great authors from the past could just magically write something new to send across to the present time, or maybe publishing houses would brilliantly come up with ideas like releasing special commemorative book editions or better yet, finding lost unpublished manuscripts from some hidden vault or a locked study.  Emma is on her knees, as if praying in front of a shrine – her collar bones perspire – while Gregor is skimming the pages of a Nick Joaquin shorts.  The old bookstore is so cramped, that religion and adult romance sections were placed next to each other.

Either it is a force of habit to induce intelligent conversations or just part of this unnecessary need for a routine that they occasionally come over to the same bookstore to have a proper venue to kick off their colorful speculations and exchanges that they agreed to term “The Crayola Sessions”.  Today is about the eventful ending of life as we all know it. The end of the world.

Gregor is wearing a samurai blue coat, with a white shirt beneath it. The necktie knot is loose, and he wears sports sneakers for comfort, while Emma is wearing a gray cardigan over a sleeveless casual shirt and a pair of denim shorts.

A whiff of old papers and the cold rain from the open windows marinate in the air, there is nothing like it.  Emma hailed the passing attendant of the store and ordered coffee and a pack of Marlboro reds, handing over the payment and a few change as tip. There are just about three round tables in the bookstore to occupy guests. They sat by the Capiz sliding windows.

“Say, do you think some divine being will truly show itself when the time comes? I really hope they’re cats. I think they must be, right? They are the sanest, most beautiful answer to save us from this godforsaken place. Ancient Egyptians believed it. I think it’s real.  You should see that episode about it.” Emma continued.

“You’re annoying.  But should it be true, at least it should be something original”

“I mean,” closing the book in his hands, placing the index finger between the pages “I hope it’s not going to be some cheesy judgment day where the sky opens up and angels appearing with trumpets start playing heavenly tunes, like what you see from those mediocre films.”

“Okay mister, supposing you are given a chance to participate to come up with a grand design on how things should end, how will you write it? What will be your ingenious version then? “

Emma scowling with a heft of sarcasm, crossing her legs together and leaning back against the My Home magazine back issues.

“I don’t know, probably angels and evil minions in Uber sedans, or perhaps a Ferris Wheel ride to enter heaven, only those permitted will be given a free pass.”

Emma gave out a genuine laugh.

When the attendant came back with their coffee the breeze picked up stronger.  There is no rain, but the air is definitely damp. “Stay in for as long as you want, we’re supposed to close in about an hour, but you are welcome here anytime.”

“Thank you for the hospitality sir, but we have to be somewhere as well,”  Gregor replied.

“Do we really have to go to that party? I mean, we’re already settled in here. “

“But you promised me, Emma, don’t be such a prick.”

“No, I did not! I said I will consider it.”

There was silence between them.

Gregor patiently studied the ceiling fan and making sipping noises from the cup that eventually graduated to slurping.

“But okay, to merit your infallible persistence, I will go.  But only until midnight and you need to promise me that.  Emma asserted.

“Okay, I promise then.”

“Just need to go back to my place and change.”

The attendant stepped back and nodded to the patrons before turning away.

“There’s no time, besides I have come prepared.  I asked my sister to lend you her dress.  You’re a size 6, right?”

Emma’s eyes rolled back, confused whether she would be impressed or annoyed.

When they arrived, the hall was already teaming up with people and loud danceable music.  Looking around, people of different age brackets are there. They are drinking and dancing, but they don’t look like they are enjoying at all. They are like hermits in uncomfortable shells. It felt odd to Emma.

When Gregor came back from the refreshments table his face was beaming with excitement.  He handed over a glass of punch to Emma.

“What’s this party about again?”  Emma asked in a loud voice next to his ear.

“It’s a masquerade party!”  Gregor shouted.

“A what party?!”

“A masquerade party!” Gregor repeated, and Emma finally caught up.

“I don’t think I follow you, I mean people are not wearing any masks here!”

Emma keeping up with the noise.

“Well, I don’t blame you!  It’s a different kind of masquerade.  People here are wearing a different kind of masks.  That includes you, Emma.”

“Uh, I don’t understand” Emma now more perplexed.

“People came here wearing clothes of other people.  Preferably people who are linked to them.  And they pretend as if they are them as well”.  Gregor explains.

Emma stepped back and surveyed the friend from head to toe.

“But you’re wearing your own clothes!”

Photo by: LJ Jumig

Crossings and Intersections

I was waiting by the tracks on a platform sitting on an empty steel bench where a beam from the weekend ether is cascaded down through an opening of the plastic transparent sunroof. The rustic smell from the old neighboring provinces flooded the air. There were not many people there yet, it was still early and so the sight is pretty much the usual vacated scene at this time of the day.

I had my left arm folded resting atop a luggage bag beside me, while the knuckles were pressed against the temple of my head. I just finished drinking coffee from a local inn, and I did not mind waiting. In fact, I was lingering at the moment while it was still mine to savor.

Not borrowers, but I guess we are the temporary owners of these fragments we call moments. Or at least we attempt to steal these from the overly stretched time we have left.

A dog-eared paperback book was occupying the other hand, laying it flat open across my right arm. I was caught between the lines that stuck with me for quite some time. Somehow, I couldn’t get past the words. I was rereading the same chapter over and over, and it was an indication that I was not getting anywhere obviously, and should give it a rest for the meantime.

Or was I becoming too engrossed?

Quite not sure.

Faceless people began to appear. I heard them coming from the steps but not rushing. From the sound of their voices, I was assuming that they were college students talking about school stuff and a professor that I thought they hated.

I turned to their direction to see, a mere mechanical reaction I guess, or maybe I was looking for a momentary amusement. I was in a way channel surfing for real-life episodes, not really knowing what I wanted my eyes to sit on.

An old lady carrying an eco-bag and a folding umbrella was also there, walking after the students. She had a sullen and weary look in her eyes, the kind that had seen many cold Decembers I suppose.

I watched her pacing herself to reach the bench where I was. She placed her things down carefully and made sure that these were secured and will not fall over. She then slowly chose a spot, sitting next to me.

I was trying not to be obvious. I was looking straight down on to the book I was holding, and just observing her through my peripheral. I didn’t want to offend her, but I couldn’t stop noticing as well since we were the only ones there.

She looked at the direction from where the train was going to appear, but she only found the image of me sitting there across her.

“Hijo, what time is the next train?” the old lady asked, her gaze shifted towards me.

“Um, I guess in a few minutes, they operate less on weekends” Stammering, I responded.

“And why do you suppose they’d do that? People still have to be somewhere even on weekends, right?” then a faint chuckle followed.

Clearly, time complimented her with wisdom.

“I guess, you’re right” taken by surprise on her response, I returned with a polite nod and a smile.

“If I may ask, are you in a hurry, Ma’am?”

She reached for her bag and went through what was inside and held out a standard-sized marble that kids play with especially during far back in the day.

“I plan to visit my son and surprise him with this. He is much older than you are, probably a decade older.

I found this thing from a box filled with worn-out clothes and old books, and I thought this will make him remember.”

“Remember what?” I quickly followed.

“Well, when he was still a little boy, he never left this behind, everywhere he went he carried this in his pocket, believing it held some sort of magic. I guess he got that idea from reading too much Mark Twain novels.”

“To tell you honestly, this is not the actual marble that he believed had magical powers. Many years ago, I accidentally dropped the real one when I was checking his trousers for anything before washing them. I lost the damn thing when it went straight through a hole.”

“That must have felt very frustrating” I sincerely injected.

“Then what happened next?”

“I went to the house of my son’s best friend, whose mom I was very close with, and explained what happened with the marble.

As a mother, she understood why it was so important for me to find another similar.

We snuck inside her son’s room and went through a drawer where he kept his collection of marbles. But we were dumbfounded when we discovered that there was a lot to choose from.”

I gave out a huge laugh after hearing this and felt very much intrigued on how the story was turning out.

“How were you able to find an exact match?” Curiously asking.

“Well, we didn’t.”

“I don’t understand, what did you do after?” Now really intrigued.

“I got back to our house with three marbles I thought similar with the real one. It was getting late, so I just bought us dinner on the way home from a cheap Chinese restaurant near our place.

And when I arrived, he was sleeping, apparently tired from looking for his treasure.

I woke him up and took the time explaining to him what happened.

“And then? Did he get mad about it?”

“Yes, he hated me for it. And it took a few days to get him talking to me again.”

“But it surprised me when he finally did, he told me, that he had a dream about his magic marble”.

I leaned closer to hear her clearly. Her tone and the volume of her voice dropped a couple of notches it was almost a whimper.

“He said that in his dream, I came out of an Ice cave and gave him a marble.

And according to the dream, I placed the marble inside his invisible pocket, and told him that it will never, ever be lost again.”

“That turned out well?” with a gesture of relief I gave a deep exhale.

“Well it sort of did, but years went by, and he seemed to have also forgotten where that secret pocket was. That’s why I am visiting him to show him this old marble. It’s been years since the last time we saw each other. Call me overly dramatic, but I am running out of time.” Holding the round toy up next to her hopeful smile.

All of a sudden, the train loomed out of the huge body of a hazy fog across the green field, approaching the station.

We hurriedly bid our short but sincere farewells, never knowing if we will cross paths ever again for another storytelling.

Apparently, that was the last time I saw the old lady.

She got on the train as I stayed behind watching her go.

The heavy weight on my chest was starting to fade as the rubber soles of my shoes seemed to have grown wings on them suddenly.

Flying off to somewhere instead.

Intersections

Omelet Tidings

The two waited on the bleachers with their eyes wandering through the damp. They were exchanging a half-done flask as they were also whistling cigarette smoke across the soccer field.  They have found themselves in a vacuum within this seemingly infinite void before the dawn.

She reveals her face to the voyaging clouds across the sparkling seas of the night, giving up a smile as she pulls back the hood of her jacket. The paradox of the universe unfolds. She gently kisses the stale tasting lips of nicotine, freeing its very soul one drag at a time.  It had no complaints, nor did the silence of the surroundings, as it implied in affirmation. Neither even the imposing claws of the tree branches nor the entire army of crickets under that sweet vanilla moon had any quarrels with her at that moment.

Her make up smears, she hasn’t painted her nails for a while, but she doesn’t really mind at all.

Deep breaths, as she administers imagination, what needs to be done?  She had begun in the shallow waters of her mind.

And little by little, she submerges down into the depths of her profound contemplations. And in every burning sip from the bitter openings of the flask, it was as if a passionate lover making love to her, she finally reconsiders.

She was taken gradually, within the raptures of the abyss and the parallel dimensions of her make-believe world. What is this unalienable truth that haunts her now? She then wishes for an antidote, like morphine, dismissing the pain in ten folds.

Then she ponders on the reassuring respite of bacon and omelet. How this dynamic duo may soon have to save her and the world when they both cry out for help. Be great presidents someday perhaps, or a pop song playing in loop, or be an empathizing friend for just a little while.

She then retracted these notions out of her head almost immediately. She must be drowsed, she thought.  Over romanticism might have murdered her skeptical heart she feared.

But these apprehensions were real. Confronted by their undeniable strength, she was tied to the mast.  As she turns to him reluctantly, almost uttering the words, falling like the rain in September.

She gave the boy a smile instead.

Omelet Tidings

Photo by T. Angara-Aragon

Just in Case (Don’t Wait Up)

You found a piece of something not too big to keep, nor too small to be easily lost. A treasure not for the pockets, well, we wished you love under the falling skies that night hoping to safely say it could last a lifetime.

Probably this is it, yours for the present and future tense.

Dance to the beat, throw your arms around the carbonated spaces and sing melodies for the centuries to come.  Get lost through the pages and faces of time, mind the pain from your heels later, we have dreamt for this moment to come, don’t think twice now to take that leap. You are a migratory bird after all.

I found your smile inside the television box, and you looked so beautiful and grand, how the whole world should be.  Do you remember? After the rain, when we stayed up late leaning against the couch, sitting on the floor rug by the warm lights, you drew a picture of this moment.  You did believe in fairies after all.

Weekends and too much sugar kept us alive, and we slept to die on weekdays.  You took the batteries off the clock and lobbed them into the trash bin.  You held a cigarette between your painted lips and a glass with your hand. You slid a cassette tape to play — the neighbors woke and sang along.

You drove a thousand miles, the freeway lights of yellow, red and green were on your face.  You rolled your windows down, and the wind smothered you with love.  You did visit us a few times when you were somewhere near and sent postcards every once in a while. It almost felt like we were there as well.

I tried to move to another place, but I just couldn’t do it.  I can’t stay away for too long.  I guess someone must stay behind.  Do not worry, everyone is doing just fine. You wore a white shirt the last time I saw you. You have surrendered, and yet you are free.

The lemonade glass sweats, I wore my sunglasses talking to the hot summer sun.  We were having the longest farewell conversation, or were we arguing?   I will write him letters and proses in the coming months, folded and turned into a kite, the days and the weather will be better when it reaches him I pray.

And for my dear friend the wind, I will strum my way into its chest. To quote from the same book over and over, “everything essential is invisible to the eyes”.

In a couple of hours, at exactly 2:45 am, I will draw the curtains and sit by the windows, next to the biggest moon this year.  In case you decide to drop by, you might not catch me, for I will take a short trip on a rocket ship and will be right back before breakfast.

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Photo by: JJG

Pinwheel Mile

The night clouds form an obscured figure of an Old Persian king in his sleeping clothes, lying on his side in some remote oasis. The wind was faint, but the low temperature of the final season was definitely there.  The colorful flicking lights were replaced by the blankets of the drowsy lights from an antique bedroom lampshade and the sidewalk lamp posts outside.

With this discerning conclusion that the night has already passed me by, what remains faithful was the stench of sweat and cigarette smoke on my shirt.

It was getting late so I figured that I retire and went back to the apartment. I double locked the door, rushed into my room, then climbed up on a wooden chair and drew the curtains open to let some of the moonlight in.

My fingers ran through the stacked records in the wooden shelf, breezing through the oxymoron album titles, taking the time to reach for a decision. One of the hardest I should say, to pick the most definitive one.

After giving it some thought, I picked Kath bloom and very carefully I took the vinyl record out of its delicate paper coverings.  I bent and ducked plugged the power on, and placed the needle down against its most fragile body on the now rotating turntable.

And there they were; the notes that started to fill every empty, uninhabited space of the room.

And In those moments, I was flying, so it seemed.

As the needle sailed through the waves and the surface of the record, a whispering imposition dawned onto me as if it was a matter of great importance.

“How I wish I’ve got cigarettes right now, or at least one more drink to cap the night.”

But I couldn’t move, maybe I was too lazy to go outside or maybe I was subdued by this undeniable influence of the soundtrack that accompanied me while leaning against the window sill.  I was pretty sure, that in those moments, my existence there was legitimized as a lifetime altogether.  I lingered, my outlining thoughts stayed on remembering, and then I wondered and dreamt with eyes wide open.

“No need to hurry, everything’s going to be alright…” She then goes singing, never failing to deliver a soothing embrace to my chest every time.

Some thoughts continue to brew, about me mostly, and I felt selfish almost immediately when they insisted to stay.  I could not stand this narcissistic reflection on the window pane, and so to my shame, I backpedaled.

And there was no one there really aside from this voice singing to me. I was a serpent lured out of its box, as solitude became a familiar face which encouraged for a renewal, I decided to carry on.

I saw my shadow traveling on the lunar draped concrete pavement, walking away with a small pocket flask, my blue warrens, and an extra pair of suede shoes in my luggage.

The Old Persian king slowly moves across the twilight, his reach expanding, pointing me to the pale half-moon in the sky.

My lips began to pretend blowing cigarette smoke between me and the vast openness.

The smoke traveled in the air after each vertical release, then disintegrates in the light of the lampposts as it lands.

Now in the ambiguous state, away from any lucid reality, I carry on strolling by the placid waters of my inner conversations amidst all the noise and the chaos.

A satellite gracefully placed its uncloaked body in the moonlight.  A constellation in the sky forms a broken pinwheel around the glittering islands of the late-night icebergs.

My musings took me sitting on a gutter in front of a convenience store, relishing a hot cup of seafood noodles.

I was a middle-aged ship-builder, resting under a tree after the day’s work.  I was a poet, staring at the streams of the waters and the moon that gleams over me.  I was a child longing for an adventure with Huck Finn through the endless Mississippi river.

And in the sheets of my brokenness, I wrote the words lent by time.  That we are merely the threads of the circumstances weaved. We are entwined by the strings of our allaying fears, shame, and disappointments, which made us the quilt that blankets us against the cold.

While I choose to be the piles of inked 8’11 bond papers placed inside a plastic envelope, the hot soup warms my throat and fills my empty stomach, but my mind yearns for more.

I am famished.

Letters from a Passerby

“I am going to save the world someday!” He exclaimed to himself, giving the invisible foe a determined nod as if this was a known certainty. “Maybe not soon, but someday you’ll see.” He was threading on the railway line all the way from the previous town on the other side of the mountain, following a gravel pathway staying away from the rain-soaked grass on both sides. Every step makes a crunching sound as the soles of his boat shoes land on the uneven surface of the boulder fragments.

“But for now, I will have to find a dry place to take a rest.” As he stretches on both arms up in the air with a quick release of a yawn. He wears a collared striped shirt, buttoned all the way up, hand-me-down khaki shorts from his older brother and a fisherman’s hat to complete his wardrobe.

The boy readjusts his shoulder bag which contains clamped sheets of bond paper, a sketch pad, colored pencils bound with rubber band, a Tupperware of mixed cheap local chocolate candies, and a peanut butter sandwich.

“You’re not from around, here are you?” The mailman on a bicycle appears out of nowhere, as he then held the tip of his cap with his index finger and his thumb, pacing himself with the boy. Not a lint on his navy-blue coat uniform and he wears a white undershirt with a bowtie.

“You are a stowaway, aren’t you?”

“No sir, I am not!” Retorted the boy, almost angrily. The mailman then examined the boy with a lingering look from head to toe.

“I’m on my way home after fetching some of the dried fruits my grandmother is selling and took them to the market on the other side of the mountain.” The boy further explains.

“Good then, I trust you if you say so, besides, I always wander around these parts myself when I was a lot younger too. On the other thought, I heard you shouting something from back there. Forgive me, I’m not eavesdropping or anything like that, around here you can hear even the softest whisper, or a stumble of a small rock from a definitive distance.”

The boy was a bit embarrassed but hides this to the stranger. His face turned red though. He then pays him a soft affirmation with a short answer “it must have echoed.” And the mailman agrees.

“Um yes, I was just talking to myself out loud, it’s sort of a habit. Why? Do you think that’s weird?”

“Well, the world is filled with much weirder things.” The mailman replied.

“Weirder things?” the boy repeated. The boy stops walking for a while, turning his head following the man with his now narrowing eyes.

“Please allow me to explain. I mean for one, folks nowadays don’t’ read anymore. They spend most of the time watching TV than enjoying this, right here. They do less and complain much more each day.”

“That’s what I like about my job you know? I get to enjoy riding and passing by these parts every day, and I never get tired of it. I am the link between two distant lovers through their letters, the bearer of enveloped truth, may it be good or bad, all the correspondences that people value. I would like to think of myself as the caretaker of hope in a way.”

“You do the same things every day? I don’t know kids in my neighborhood that can stand that. We’re always up to something different each day” – the boy wondered.

“Well you’re still young of course, and you want to do many exciting things I’m sure. Your case is different. You’ll realize what I mean when the time comes.”

“But that doesn’t make my case any less exciting. I’ve been doing this for a while now, and I guess the secret is learning to enjoy the little things. And I see that now, every day I take joy in having the opportunity to fall in love over and over with every unfolding flower and appreciating their varying colors, being able to hum along with the rustling of the leaves as I cruise these parts. When it becomes lonely, the buzzing bees are my companion, they are far hardworking than I am, so I guess, they make me want to better myself.”

“And when the circumstance won’t allow me to visit the hillside or the lake, like when it rains hard like moments ago, I go to my books while sipping a good cup of hot chocolate, teach my sister’s kids a thing or two, helping them with their studies, or I go visit the city library two blocks away from where I live. “

“I still don’t get it, how is it weird?” Asks the boy, now walking after the stranger interested. The boy does not understand what the mailman was saying. After all, he’s just a kid. The words are too big for him

“How do I put this?” The mailman then maneuvers over in front of the boy and squeezed on the brakes.

“You know how everybody feels and thinks that they need to do something very significant with their lives, say something bigger than them, to be someone perhaps, or to be known, leaving behind lasting marks on the face of the earth? Say like superheroes?

“Yes.” The boy finally understands.

“Well, I think it is just plain silly that most people are convinced that by complaining while holding the remote control watching the news will do the trick for them.”

“Change and Apathy are not good bedfellows you see?”

“I get it.” Says the boy.

“By the way, what do you mean by saving the world?” returned the mailman breaking a smile on his face, “You don’t mean aliens do you? You don’t strike me as a member of a secret government organization.” He follows this with an uncontrollable laugh. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m not mocking you or anything, it’s just that, you reminded me of a character in a book that I once read.”

“No, it’s okay, I was rehearsing. That was a line from a school play I am in. I should be able to memorize the lines by the end of the week or else I am screwed.”

“I also wrote the play by the way.”

The mailman was impressed, nods while scratching the temple of his face.

“But now that you mentioned it, I kind of like the idea of me really saving the world one day, or at least contributing something very significant.” the boy continued.

“And how are you supposed to do that? I hope you don’t mind me asking.”

The boy gave it a quick thought and gets back to the cyclist. “No I don’t mind it at all, in fact, that’s a good point. I never thought about it until now, but I’m guessing that there are a lot of things that you could do.”

“Like how, what’s in your mind, my young friend?”

“Well for one, and I may be oversimplifying things here, but if only I could find the right story to write about to show everyone. Stories that really matter, like yours Mr. Mailman, I’m sure that many people would be very interested in your story.”

“But it needs to be well played. As you said, we all play an important role.”

“I don’t know about my story, but yeah, I second what you are trying to say” – the mailman feeling a bit embarrassed himself.

Then the sun behind the thick monochrome clouds appeared, revealing the rest of the steel railway line ahead, and the mist is slowly but definitely starting to vanish. The distance appears to be long, but he realizes that it is the pathway to his destination, nonetheless, leading him to the clearing.

The kid knew that he’ll never be the same. The words that he needs to memorize now fluttered inside him. His inked fingers can’t wait to reconcile with the pen, and he felt freed by the encounter he just had.

And he reckoned that he is on a mission after all.

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In The Fullness of Empty

I am a bent study lamp on the floor with legs folded and crossed in the presence of the terraces of keys before me, while my arms are behind my back serving as main poles of my aching body, leaning for support against them.

And from a lingering transcendence within my shell, I marveled staring blankly through the stained metal grills between me and the sky that blended with the bright hues and the nicest alibi I tucked behind the sunglasses.

From afar I see a color arc over the leveling concrete columns but there was no one there to wave at.  I took a long drag, it was almost a summer kiss, from the cigarette that was dying so quickly from an ashtray beside me, and as the smoke passes through my throat and down to my lungs, so as the words that fill my mind.  I then closed my eyes, surrendering to the chemical reaction funneling through the compartments of my musings, I then pulled the knob of my wristwatch to make time stand still for a while. It was only during these silent moments that I was reminded that for one to actually dream, one has to rest.

I was bribing each ticking hand to take no pace, and hope that with this morning prose it would accept my invitation to take a short nap.

As it heeds my request with enthusiasm, also comes a lesson of reality.  That it can only make it appear slower, through the glances from one’s memories, but nothing more than that. I then responded with courtesy and tact, as a grateful response I said, that I will take whatever it would lend me. Like the silence that peace gave me when I was asking for answers, or like when the pages were found empty only to mean patience until the words dawned when they are already ripe for the picking.

And so I went to the bed and laid down for a while, facing the open windows to my left.

I curled my legs up placing both of them closer to my chest while the morning warmth cloaked the rest of my body with beautiful promises of respite.

I watched the different shapes of ether line up for the parade, and the drift of specs passing through my fingers, from the feeble cloth that swayed in portrayal of the curtains. In a way it is like a musical fountain show with colored lights in slow motion, they complimented the existence of each other and the bright blue skies where they whirled.

It then took me to a not so distant memory, when we were on our way to the high terrains when the altitude starts messing with our ears as we take on each ascend. It was a reminder that we are in a different place now, as it also allowed our imposition, to relish the grandeur of life.

Then her face was magnified and made clearer by the distance. It made no sense, I couldn’t see her but I do in a way.  A warm unreciprocated embrace to my pillow until it hurt so badly, with the wind chimes played like a pop song in a loop.

I guess, missing someone is like looking at the stars.  They are all there, but they are also light years away.  You then wonder, and you check your pockets hoping that you’d have enough change to spare, for all the wishes that you would be making, whispering to the empty spaces between the earth from where you stand on, and the layers and layers of widened openness made of dust and faith above your head, wishing that it is more than just a bedtime story with a happy ending.

You would then yearn for reality and your dreams to be one and the same, as you have found a place within you, a cabin where you can rest easy with your thoughts and all your worries and high hopes, that the margin of probability is not that thin after all.  That it is okay to hope and long and ask, putting your consciousness at bay, placing your palms upward facing the sky.

While lying there, I borrowed some of the sun’s attention, and I was resting finally.  At first, I had a little trouble in convincing the words to do its part, thinking to myself that I got nothing if they won’t participate.

But the wise sun understood what I was trying to enunciate. Even without words, just sheer nothingness it heard me, the voice from my lungs that was struggling to come out. And I was put in awe when it finally did, asking myself how can that be? And the answer to that, until now I do not know.

I woke up a few hours after and my mind held nothing. It was then I knew that it is in our empty state that we can really dispense. We are the vessel, not the water that fills it. And like a fern growing out of a typewriter shell, I was enriched.

And I never felt more fluid.

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The Fall of the Dandelion Seed

She is a dandelion seed drifting across the midsummer sky. During the days of when each tree branch sways easy.  One of whose time finally ripens from the subtle release influenced by the permission of the morning warmth and a little convincing push of the wind.

She then paddles against the invisible waves through the horizons.  She travels the world for the first time. And she is perfectly happy.  The breeze then picks up the pace, teaching her to dance without using any legs.  The castaway leaves from the neighboring trees waltz with her, they take turns doing patterned and synchronized motions as if they have done dancing together before.  They are her Romeo, wooing her to glide with them throughout the ball.

The little dandelion seed was putting on a show, impressing the entire vegetation from below, across the rice fields they were her audience. They waved in approval or was it an attempt to emulate the motions, if only they could also fly, they thought to themselves, but in a way, they actually did somehow.

And from the open household windows, send a soothing familiar invitation to stay for a while. To spend a little more time at home, on a Saturday morning, to have an early lunch perhaps, with iced lemonade and daisies as center-piece in the family table.

The weather was on her side, she was grateful for her captain. The breeze has taken her far already, and through this ascend, she was introduced to the varying views and feelings, letting her see the world from another perspective. And from each climb and height, the world boasted its grandeur and its seemingly unending beauty. The horizons claimed eternity, imploring her to dream some more.

But she was just a mere seed she thought, how could the world care so much she asked? But there were no words found between the question and the utter silence, only episodes of continuity and the line in the horizon that separated the wanderer from the dreamer. She started to funnel the grace that went through her. And she hoped not to disappoint.

She soon realized that life is not stagnant, but it is change. It is the unfolding of a flower after the long cold night. Life is carefree and whimsical, yet it is forgiving and patient, daring yet respectful, adamant and stern but at the same time gentle.

The day was on her side, it did not rush her. And when the sun was too hot, the clouds connived to carefully place shade over her fragile body.

Then something changed.  The once strong wind is now feeble as it tires.  She slowly descends, as if the cold earth expects her arrival.  She prays for mercy to let this invisible force beneath her linger.  But she will not be answered.

The dandelion seed as she was known to be is no more.  But instead, she is life realized.  She learns as soon as she had hit the ground, that the very fall was not her demise, but rather the start of her real life.  That she had to take the journey, to let the circumstances dictate her place in the world.

After all, we are the jigsaw that fall into place, to complete the puzzle of our existence.  On our own, we are nothing but little pieces that make no sense.

And as the day was coming to a close, she dwelled very still, lying on the ground beneath the stars. She had promised herself to be fair to the moon that rested in the cradle of the evening breath that lingered as clouds. That she would throw the same kind of smile she gave the caring sun.

And she is perfect.

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Renditions: Year End Thoughts

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The lights from the lamp posts were painting the late night pavement with dreamy colors from a childhood memory.  I was standing in the middle of the road, between the past and what seems to be a snapshot of a not so distant future, not realizing that I was in the crossroads of my grown-up life.

I sat down in the nearby shed, waiting for the first trip of the bus, as I held in my hands a map that I got from one of the standees at the airport lobby. Somebody was supposed to pick me up, but nobody came. I’ve waited for one and a half hours until the jewelry stores of the night sky were all finally opened. Their display windows of billions of diamonds made the elegant black of the night even darker, raining down on everyone with the feeling of hope, magic, and romance as if everyone was ready to spend the rest of their lives in spontaneity.

As I was waiting in the cold alone, the time had lent an opportunity for me to spare.  And after a few, I decided to walk and amuse myself with whatever I could see and what was there to dispense. I was wandering around, past the park and the trees with the stray cats looting the trash bins, camouflaging the noise with the music the crickets were making, as both species connive in their ninja-like stealth.

After the short stroll, I went back to the same shed placing the backpack by my tired feet and the typewriter case on my lap.  I then rested both of my elbows against the wooden bench, tilting my head back looking at the pellets across the night sky.

Time treats my solitude with the imagination I never thought I would regain after that. I thought of windmills by the rivers, and parading gazelles running in the wild during spring. I was pretty sure that I have used up all my childlike musings during those moments. The world I painted in my mind sculpted a lingering smile on my once weary face.  I was in a way making up for those years I spent as a grown up.  Suddenly I wanted to go back and be Marty McFly on his hoverboard even for a little while. I would go gliding towards the unknown and reliving the best days there were.  And I was excited more and more, on rediscovering what else was out there in my mind waiting for me. As I now punch each key while setting the sails of my mind afloat in the drift of the oceans that I have to travel.

Time couldn’t be more perfect, I know that the winds had brought me here for a purpose and I believe that I am on a mission to rewrite the history of the skies in the pages with my own storylines.  I guess I owe the night and its stars that I borrowed for a friend.

I woke up the next morning sitting on the very bench where I had my last musings. It was only then that I realized when the daylight had soft-landed on the ground, that there was a nearby fishing dock that would remedy my ever restless mind.  I sat on one of the benches putting on my sunglasses while chewing nicotine gum.   I handed over my unfinished notes, all the rough drafts to the winds as each page found its way gliding through its invisibility, then waltzing into the open arms of the ocean. As I relish each goodbye, I wait for the gentle breeze to portray the words through the flip and the somersaults of each parchment paper, then diving and plunging their entirety into this deed of complete surrender. The view warmed and raptured the cold breath I exhaled from these mortal lungs while my gaze takes me to the lemon smiles of summer.

And there were no words in between, I mean there was nothing left, for it was all emptied by the silence and those textured moments of that midsummer feeling.

I wanted to stay; I guess I need the feeling from this scenic view to linger on.  For my sake, I thought that this medical help was the cure. I wanted to remember and memorize each heartbeat.  I tried to bribe the sun and its skies to stay, but they would always go each day.

I was made to realize that everything is borrowed, that there are repetitive moments but one can never own. I guess we can only live to create a rendition of these things to ink the paper.

Through the words and awes, through the rivers of our souls, and into the ocean of our dreams, we attempt to stretch these hopes up to the skies so we could be reminded that we travel these paths not to get away but to be found.  Not a right to claim, but just a humble gesture for another chance to relive a moment, if not a plea to always remember.

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Space Travel Contemporaries: Asteroids, Comets, and Satellites

Toes are curled, I was biting on my lower lip, I know that the first ascent is the most crucial part. I was holding on to the control wheel when I realized that my palms begin to excrete sweat.  I am on my way to chase a runaway star that stole one of the space probes earth sent, on a mission to take photographs of an alien civilization. I guess mankind has not enough problems to solve.

Just about to reach the midpoint of the stratosphere, the weight of my entire upper torso is dependently leaning against the backrest of the rubber and the polyester seat. Surprisingly I am still conscious at this height, thanks to my life support pack; one of my many worries was crossed out of my list.

On a vertical leap, I was pulling back the throttle lever more and more in a gradual fashion.  I was taking my time as if I was having second thoughts.  I already miss the chirping noises my winged neighbors make when they wake and the smell of sautéed garlic in the morning,  I was telling myself, the sooner this thing ends the faster I can get back to my couch and reruns.

Something that I never quite understood, something I have not seen in books and what they have taught us in our spaceflight training.  The second I flew through the marshmallow-like skies, I was caught off guard by this immense ocean of clouds. Who would have thought that Atlantis did exist? Below me I saw the dreamer in a boy with his World War II leather headgear and a pair of pilot goggles; he was on a wooden kayak paddling against the waves trying to keep up with me.  The pigments of ether land gently against the window pane like soft voices from the conversing angels playing in the sun. I closed my eyes for a little while, hiding them behind their coverings, as I enjoy the drowsing winds passing through the blades and the fins of the vessel.  The bright blues and the stripes of white from the cirrus clouds from all around were like a warm homey blanket in the cold.

As I keep the pace of an easy stride, I went through the small notebook that I had from my jacket reading the inscription from a lunar kiss.  I was reminded of the courage I represent, and the emblem of a happy ending this deed for many.  I was humbled clasping my hands together, it was almost like a prayer.

I took the time in a vacuum, shutting down my senses for a while. And deep down under the layers of slumber, I hear the soundtrack from Space Invasion is at play. I then found myself speeding through the laser beams, on a counterflow against the showering meteorites coming my way.  I was trying to reconcile what was going on with the fragments of what I could get from the last memory that I had.  I was searching for anything familiar around me, any clue that would help me connect the dots to make sense of this picture but I just couldn’t.

I was with the celebrities of the universe, Saturn and its 62 lovely mistresses, the gentle giant in Jupiter and the controversial Pluto. They are both my space travel contemporaries and TV programming.

It was during those moments of awe and transcendence that it dawned to me that it is okay to wander and to be lost, to ask a question and never get the answer, that there are things within our existence that are too grand to decipher.

I was lost in thought, realizing that I am but of a mere speck, just a grain in the sand.  But my sheer microscopic existence has also made me feel grateful by this overwhelming grandeur that surrounds me.  I was drenched by a thousand kisses of comets, asteroids, and satellites.  The space was deep; its breath swallows the moons and the entirety of the constellations and the Milky Way.

The faraway stars are like powdered diamonds from the rough that were scattered across the night sky.  This must be what Captain Ahab must have felt like when he was chasing the great sperm whale in the polar caps.

I guess humanity had always found its relief in deep explorations and space missions, searching for another frontier.  The human spirit and its curiosity are designed to go on and prevail. And I would say that it is alright to search and ask why, how and what, but It is in the acceptance and believing that there are profound anomalies not meant to be understood.

And what makes a perfect ending to these wanderings is a short humble conclusion of what makes humanity great.  –  The ability to understand that it is alright not to know.

An acceptance that there is a definitive yet obscured border between the imaginative and the conscious, in the hopes that these lucid thoughts beneath the waves of the words are enough to finish this never-ending prose.

Sunlight Supernova

It was like a black and white photograph that you see along the staircases of your home, a happy memory captured in time slicing through the open spaces of the realities and the nine-millimeter frames.  I woke up realizing that I have dreamt something beautiful this morning, something that took me to the bluest skies that one would see in a canvass of sunflowers and daffodils, tangerine fields and golden mango summer days. I wandered off, over and across the horizons with the feathered pilots in flight, doing their routine of salutations, passing through and by the cloud formations that were tasked to do a portrayal of the world they see below, a beautiful imitation, a sculpting rendition from the shape-shifters of the light. The white paint of the ceiling, the walls of the bedroom, the slow dancing of the curtains highlight the sun showers that invited themselves just to help out, lending a hand to magnify the unfolding of the hopeful summer feeling stemming from within.

Lying next to me is a warm, beautifully placed tanned body with all the white sheets and the cushions that cradled us into slumber the night before. And for someone like me, it is only fitting to throw the most fundamental questions of how and why it got there in the first place. As I found myself dumbfounded, she slowly opened her brown almond-shaped eyes, then a long lingering look directly aiming into my prying eyes. She then surveyed the rest of my face, from the forehead down to my buttoned nose, on the sides, chin and the cheeks while taking her time and breaking this gentle smile as she then rested her gaze right back to where it all started.  She then whispered something in my ear, some thoughts about cotton candies and marshmallows and vanilla ice cream and brewed coffee while tucking her face between my shoulder and my jawline, as I now feel the warmth of her breath on the left side of my neck.

As I give in, I suddenly felt the need to dispense this undeniable sensation, sneaking my right arm around my universe, wrapping my present and my tomorrows within the reach of my arms and my left and right hands’ fingertips, holding onto my supernova.

I suddenly got the feeling of when you are on the beach, raptured by this unsolicited fulfillment, sitting and listening to the crashing of the waves against your feet. The warm welcome of the inviting ocean, plunging in while rediscovering and relishing the sunlight on your imperfect skin and stained shirt, as the saltiness of the waters and the powdery promises of the sands of time are all you ever needed for the remainders of your days.

I took a few drags after lighting a cigarette and opened a book reading a couple of chapters from where I left off.  It took me a while to realize that it was the world I am living in that the words were describing. I held her hand next to my chest. We were slouching and care freed by the open windows with our sunglasses on, with crossed legs and our weekend smiles.  Coffee and Vanilla ice cream, Root beers and Jack Johnson, conversations after conversations, we talked about finding answers and an aimless attempt to look for an escape and what solitude really means, on how to outlast father time and getting the most out of each conscious moment and decisions.  And from the openings of her brilliance, she made something out of the blowing winds and the subtleness of the ether as she paints the canvass through her imagination of life brushes and watercolors.

Some would prefer to throw a peace sign and be on TV all greased and combed up, neatly dressed and all buttoned up, calling out everyone to put out a flag but for me, I prefer her way.  Just an honest display of what was and what we aspire to be at.  I guess all we ever needed was our sun, and a few bucks to get us by with our words and cigarettes.

But life most of the times is not as colorful as the stories we read from all the pages we encounter.  In a way, what we get from these dog-eared pages is just the fuel that help gets us going from one town to the next rest stop for another gas pump.  And after paying for what’s due, there’s always this invitation to make a phone call with a few spare change that we have got, to give thanks to the ones that made the journey possible and true.

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Chapter 2: A Conversation with a Peculiar Friend

It was 09:30 pm.  I was watching all of the outlining lights of the city from my apartment terrace view while finishing a good bowl of freshly heated ramen from the microwave. Something caught my attention. As I moved my head upwards to my right, just across from where I sat, I saw what appeared to be an audience.  There sat a frog, smoking its long and lean wooden pipe. Apparently, it was not just any ordinary frog.  I could tell from the prints and the design of his robe.  He was sporting a well-maintained facial hair growing from his small chin, the strands were grayish white, telling me that he’s been around for quite some time.  He had his legs crossed together, while awkwardly dabbling his webbed toes in the air.  He was sitting on the edge portion of the neighboring roof and he’s always been doing the same routine for years.

Of course, I never knew this since my family just moved into a new home.  We had financial difficulties since my father died and wanted to start over.

As a matter of etiquette and good manners, I signaled to him if he wanted some of what I was having — raising the bowl chin high and directing the chopsticks towards it.

“I had flies. Thank you.” With a mischievous smile on his face, the frog politely declined.  He then followed it with what you can say an offensive remark.

“You’re not the neighbor I was expecting to have.”

I had to ask why of course, almost choking on a string of noodle.

“My dreams told me that the next neighbor is the one who’s going to help me with my mathematics. I was observing you these past days, and I can’t see any signs at all that you have what it takes.  I think you’re a slacker, you just stare at photographs in your phone and you have a nasty habit of picking your nose.”

For a while there I felt very insulted. This is not the type of conversation you have at first meetings.  But I know his kind. Old folks tend to speak this way. They would go about it as if it is their inherent and social right or something.  My old professor spoke like this frog and it kind of reminded me of him. We were good friends until he went abroad for his treatments.

As the hundreds of matchbox lights from the façade of the buildings paint a mosaic landscape, the frog and I had started conversing.  We talked about a lot of interesting things.  My favorite was about the undiscovered colors that he dreamt about. These were colors that this world hasn’t seen yet. And it had something to do with our eyes he said, preventing us from really seeing.

The cold September breeze on that silent Tuesday evening called for it, I guess. While the hot broth slowly loses its warmth, replacing it with the oddity of that night, I was taken to places in my mind that I thought never existed.

The stranger then opened about his long-lost love. He began by telling the story on how they first met.

He was in his younger self squatting on a pond leaf under the biggest moon of that year. The fireflies that lingered about, just far enough for him to reach were the brightest stars that night.

He was instructed by his mother to hunt for pond flies that nested on the very surface of the still waters.  “Be one with the leaf” she said, “and hold very still to have a successful hunt. Have the required patience.”  He was waiting for hours for the right timing when a more experienced frog easily snatches his prey away.  She was hunting from a tip of the tree branch just over the pond. And from the moment he laid his eyes on her long, lightning-speed whipping tongue, he knew that she was the one.

As he was going over the story, I went inside and poured us some ginger juice and got something to smoke. And when I came back, I pinched a fingertip of tobacco from my cigarette into his empty wooden pipe and offered him a light.

“Have you met yours?” he wondered staring blankly to the sky.

I said I was not sure. And even if have, it wouldn’t matter. She was gone already and there was no point of remembering a tragic story. It would only bring you regrets and keep you awake most nights.

He smoked his long wooden pipe, blowing feebly into the air and nods.

I scratched my bearded jaw and rested my numbing head placing the whole weight in the open palm. And from time to time I was unconsciously nail-biting and dozing while the neighbors were watching their endless drama anthology on TV.

“Are they always like this every night?” The old frog just smiled away. I knew that he had learned to accept it, the same way that he had accepted the loss of his greatest love.

I felt sad for him. As if I was in the singularity of the black hole of his loneliness. It felt like I was never going anywhere, at the same time drifting away.

“A once healthy body is now starting to deteriorate as the numbers of time are catching up. You’d realize just about before it ends that your life as you know it had already passed you by along with all the unspoken questions in your lifetime. The answers had sailed far away into the oceans of the wandering and the forgotten.”

It was almost a mumble, but I heard the old frog’s every word.

Then I responded by saying that it was not my intention to make him feel sad, but I was so glad all the same for the chance. For these are the exact words I thought had slipped away from my writing hands fifty ink cartridges ago.  And I never had the opportunity to hear the reading of these lines out loud.

“And all the anecdotes and old love letters may seem nostalgic now, but I hope you’d agree with me when your time to scribble has finally come.” It was almost an attempt to cheer him up. But I couldn’t tell if it was working or not.  He just repositioned his right leg placing his knee right next to his shoulder and puffed on his wooden pipe, displaying his mischievous smile while the subtle whistling of the eastern winds and the throbbing percussion of the monsoon rains started to come and drenched us hopeful and drunk.

The Great Battle against the Giants of Lightning and Thunder

Lightning and thunder had always carried a pull of interest to my imagination, of the tales that they would always bring, on how lightning can magically take its physical form out of sheer nothingness to these flashes of a great declaration of its very discerning presence.

Even as a grown-up it would always take me wondering, what if it is more than just an atmospheric disturbance, more than just a by-product of the mixture of the warm and cold air. What if?

Often times it is perceived as this very frightening notion that still hunts the living daylights out of our grown-up selves.

I remember as a child, me and my best friends would always think of lightning as the clashing of the broadswords of the Giants that fought over the terrains of the clouds.  Our nanny would also say that it can also be seen as a crooked hand of the grim reaper reaching for the souls of the dying.  Or sometimes, it is being used as a bridge by the “Engkantos” when they travel to reach the other realms to harness mystical powers.

When these bedtime stories got the very best of us, we would always hide under the force field of the sheets and our blankets; each of us curled up like an Armadillo in the presence of its slayer.  As this was the first of our many tactical maneuvers.

You’ve always got to have a defensive strategy.   And this was ours.

We would then hold on to our flashlights to counter the striking and blinding power of our unpredictable foes, the Lightning.

To time when would be their next attack, we would always try to catch patterns by counting the seconds from the last lightning strike to the next.  By doing this, we would know when to uncover and open fire.

But, we found ourselves stuck in a predicament. Although we are protected by our force field, we are as blind as a bat. The blankets are too thick for us to be able to see when the last lightning strike was.  We’d be fried if we ever took a chance.  And we figured we were outnumbered, we can’t afford to have any casualties.

“We have got to work with what we have”.  A very compelling voice from our esteemed captain, He was also our neighbor.

And my brother and I looked at each other and came up with this brilliant strategy.

Since we cannot uncover, we will have to rely on the roaring sounds of the thunder.  But the giants, despite their looks, are highly intelligent to have come up to delay the sound of thunder after each terrible lightning strike.  And it took us quite some time to have figured out the patterns to solve this puzzle.

We counted 1, 2, then the thunder would come, and 1,2,3,4, then another, 1, and another roar, it was so random and almost impossible to decipher.  We wrote all of the patterns on the back pages of my P.E. notebook, the one I never got to use a lot anyway, and discovered that despite the chaos, and its unpredictability, there’s this unique pattern that came out.

All we’ve got to do now is to make sure that we’ve got enough ammunition.

So my brother, our weapons specialist, made sure that a good supply of 9-voltage batteries was available, that we hid under the blue pillow we call our armory. These were recharged batteries. We believed that we can still use drained disposable batteries when you recycled and recharged it all day under the heat of the sun.

As I was waiting for the Captain’s signal, I wiped the sweat off of my palms against my battle uniform, which I also wear when I sleep, my pajamas.  I was ordered to strike when it is time. And we believed that the light coming from our flashlights, our weapon of choice, can make holes through the clouds where the giants take their cover.  And if we made just enough holes, they would fall from the skies, and the impact of the fall would kill them.

I held 2 flashlights, in case one would fail. Our first offensive strike was very crucial as this may be, the only chance we have.  The giants are not expecting that we have figured out their secret, and if this was deemed to be a failure, they’d definitely change the thunder patterns and we will be defeated.

Time was not on our side as well.

Children get easily bored and unable to stay up that late. This was our weakness.  If we fell asleep, they could easily snatch the win and we won’t be able to wake up again.

The Captain mumbles… with his eyes closed, calibrating and reading the flashes from the lightning and the roars of thunder.  And almost in slow motion, gave the wave, gesturing the signal to attack.

“This is it, brother!  You can do this! We’re all counting on…”

The last of the encouraging words from my twin was unheard, for it was abruptly interrupted by the blinding lightning strikes that were immediately followed by the deafening drum rolls of thunder. This was the last wave of their attack! A showdown between the soldiers of the light and the towering guardians of death itself!

The Captain reveals our frail bodies from all the sheets and pillows that helped camouflage us.

And he yelled, “Go, and Do it!”  And I knew we were done the moment I saw the two of them, fading away, falling on the bedroom floor.

But I was able to stretch both of my arms high, and towards the window, I went, as each step was proven a struggle by our enemies’ blunt remorseless gestures. I was able to reach the wall, then showing myself, aiming to the great marsh of the night clouds, holding both weapons as long as I could until I was taken out by the giants’ hard hitting blows.

Then I was out.  The 3 of us died in this great battle.

The next morning, the sunlight reveals the ruins of last night’s battle.  Pillows and blankets were on the floor, the debris of toys fallen from the shelves, and our fallen bodies on the ground.

And when we woke up, we realized that we were crushed, and have died tragically from last night’s war.

Then we smiled and agreed that we’ll be astronauts the next night.

 

Yelling — “Let’s prepare for a mission!”

Last Day – Northern Star

We strolled up the empty sidewalks of what could have thought to be an abandoned zombie land in its much later days when the once flesh munching dead are now hunted in extinction, leaving the vastness of the highways and the city to ourselves.  It was around half past the hour of 1, and our consciousness now forgetting about abstinence and sobriety as everything around us swirled over and swaying sideways, we couldn’t tell what was what and from a calm steady pace we picked up speed, in her heels and in my trusty walkers. We were runaways in the night.

We glanced from time to time over our shoulders, always on the lookout for what else was out there. From a stick that snaps, or from a sudden movement of the shadows, to a howling watchdog, for us, each was a potential threat. Luckily the pavement we were running on was a good friend to us, leaving no tracks but our lungs, on the other hand, were not able to deliver. We ran, only as fast as we could. And we panted hard, we thought we were about to die yet we smile as we catch every breath grateful, scared and feeling free.  The police in their size forty twos are too lazy to go this far of the stretch this time of the night we thought.  But we knew it was a different story altogether in the morning.

We were outside of a convenience store, sat down on the gutter, and administered caffeine, nicotine and what was a beautiful blunder between us. I took out a flask and dashed a little into each cup.  The space in the middle of our casting stares was just an imaginary line, our equator.  There were no stars on sight, a proxy, however, was gracious enough to share its blessings, coming from the lights of the commercial spaces, glowing out of the towering boastful skyscrapers and from the budget conscious government installed highway lamp posts which accidentally imposing a mood-setting feel for the tranquil and the peaceful.  And from this, we borrowed a warm and sublime feeling and placed it through our rib-cages inside our chests, our lives on a silver platter.

She began to open her lips, as she also started to utter the words that are now passing through the upper and lower openings of her mouth.  I couldn’t remember what exactly they were about, but I knew it was something relatable to a timeless anthem or an unwilted flower in the summer. After throwing a few, she tires and fell very silent but amazingly the conversation never stopped.  The peaceful night and the surreal drowsing wind that brushes our hair and what else there did the talking for us.  And we listened and translated each unspoken moment in silence to ourselves, and by and by we break a smile and inhaled. Her camera was confiscated earlier and it was smashed into a million pieces against a concrete wall. We tried to salvage the film but it was no good as well, and so we took mental pictures instead of what was there to take. And there were no thoughts to be withdrawn we figured. Just forward gestures of positivity, testimonials and wishful thinking.  We heard of this place somewhere north, where all great poets and the dreamers go; we talked about it for a while, escaping for good and living there and all.  But she only wanted to take pictures for now, and write.  She’s not done yet, she says.

We fill the ashtray nearly full at this point.

A condensed thought and asked for another. It was almost morning lying on a field of grass under the trees. I was trying to understand what she meant as I try to get a chance to recover and to steal a final glance to help me remember. Turning to her side, elevating myself on an elbow hoping for the night to linger on, to hold still. This was ours, the night we stole from the world but one can only throw a prayer. So in the final seconds we decided to put on our sunglasses as the deafening sound from the blades of the helicopters and the wailing sirens are now coming to a close, we thought of St. Peter and the rest of the saints waiting at the pearly gates. We smoked the remainders of our cigarettes while eating apples, tucking away our northern star, our way of surrender in the early morning sun.

From a Time Travel that Rescues

His fingers travel, hitting a slide note across the fret board of the maple wood. And with all of his heartfelt might, it implores a gentle bend towards the end of what appears to be a decent soundtrack for a short film. The notes from the verses were taking their time drifting past the universe of my ever wandering mind. As I was sitting there slouching on the kitchen chair with so much ink in my head, I was chasing off the day when I first met her on Mars through the lenses of a telescope. When we held hands on its dotted surface, the day when we made Saturn the most envious across and all, and the lingering memory of how my eyes tried to hold on to a rocket ship flight, memorizing all its reds and its silvers, the comet painted across its wings and the flaps, a single journey with the knob of the volume turning notches higher, amplifying this sunburst feeling from within.

Got me a clean white page to begin with, then a cup of coffee to limber up these senses to wake. Scribbling across with a free hand with whatever thought that comes in mind to finish the blueprint for the machine I was building.  I had my body bent going over page by page, prepping up a map for the series of time and rest stop destinations I was planning to visit. As the first of the many sun shining graces came in, sharing a little act of compromise, it took me back to when the younger days seemed to be a little bit longer, when learning about the final frontier and day dreaming about fighting in an alien invasion were still a bit romantic and all you ever needed for energy was to look up to the space and the constellations and your endless imagination will never fail you to nourish.

It was hard to play pretend so I decided to go down into the basement and put on my time traveller’s suit.  I was back peddling in time, checking the gauges making sure that there will be just enough fuel for the return trip. But unlike Doctor Emmett’s flux capacitor, mine was powered by bourbon.  A glass, submerging myself as it found me peace amidst the clutter. It was surprisingly quiet.

A whisper to oneself, landing a long summer thought in slow motion as I sat there dumbfounded in the cockpit of this time-craft staring at the most colourful lights that flicker. I was trying so hard to remember what each switch was for. There were blue lights and orange, red and some yellow ones. An ejection metal lever, a navigational stick in front of me and the driving wheel with easy to push ignition accelerators for both thumbs. It was a crazy science fiction I would say. There were also the high-tech monitors that surround me, dashboard after dashboard, and of course, a big round red button that I dared not to push, but really tempting to.  The only thing I got right so far was putting the seat-belt on. I was about to hit on the state of panic, when my peripheral vision made a sudden breakthrough.  There laid beside the pilot’s seat a sealed envelope that was addressed to whoever was going to encode the starter pin for this vessel with a writing that says:  “No rush, it will come to you”.  With the entire child’s curiosity in me that was screaming to do what was obvious, I hurriedly opened the envelope, tearing through what was inside and what awaited me.  It was a mixed tape, reminding me to relish the inevitable and the course I was about to take.

The song plays, I was ripped, an eject and rewind to repeat routine.  I turned my head on the ceiling light beams from the digital stars that rest over my head. The ignition starts, I was leaning my head against the headrest of the well cushioned seat, covering my eyes just enough to have a glimpse of the sun shining that breaks through the time machine’s wind shield and side windows as the time machine started to ascend. I was hoping that somewhere between the memorized lines of this two-minute soundtrack, that the notes from the chords initiate an easy-going para-sailing through the vortex of the past.

A lingering mental picture of her face in the sun, I remember the smell of daisies in her cheeks, throwing the words and punching the keys, uncompromising this time, as the first lines were dispensed, they  talked about lemonades and the skylines, taking me back somewhere beneath the shade of the coconut trees, road trips and the speeding cars that raced against fate.  All the slurring drunk romantic thoughts, all the fondness inside that grew, as they leave a familiar line across the chest.

I tried to take it all in, as I was in search for the excitement that once kept me going, of whatever was there to take, of what I was allowed to, as I opened the time traveller’s starter kit user manual to get me going. The subtleness of the lights from around me were painting hues of the different impressions of the world outside, they were like stage actors, with their theatrical portrayal of the sunlight in the early morning.

I was going back in time, the world around me started to stretch, I was on hyper drive. I was traveling in the speed of light with a subliminal velocity. Funny that I can go back but never can touch to alter what was there in front of me. I was like a ghost that nobody sees. But It was a good thing though.  One should have the humility to take the binoculars when the world hands over the opportunity to take a sneak peak to the grand miracles laid outside our door steps, emulating these lessons well taught, taking the time learning to breeze through the dog eared parchment pages of each turning moment, a chance not to change, but offering a new start to just rescue the words for another rendition.

As it dawns nearer, approaching the prelude of the second verse of the inspired song that plays, the cigarette now rests on the mouth of the ash tray while I race my fingertips to descend upon kissing the keys.

The symphony from each touch on a collaborative motion of what seemed to be random, was a gathering of these far-fetched thoughts somewhere deep down, going back to the romantic biases I keep.

Coming around from the corner of my thoughts and towards the end of the last chorus that plays, I remember on how everyone would always sing along to this song in those days, while clutching on to our chests with eyes closed and an open lung, taking in a well dispensed advice from an inanimate friend, the shadow of the day, to always brave the distance of these unfolded tomorrows, embracing the truth of the co- existence of our yesterdays and today, that no matter what , we will always have one another, a beautiful tradition of how everyone was.

Crumpled Origami Crane

I have been back and forth in my mind, going through trying to remember the countless dreams that I had this morning. The harder I try the lost I more become.  A sore loser, I am now pressing the palms of my hands against my eyelids, as I blame my aching back for giving up on me- being too tired to go back to my lost euphoria. The heat from the daylight tells me that I should be up even though my will tells me otherwise. Slowly, I opened my eyes just in time to find myself realizing that I am too early to be awake for this Saturday morning. It was as if my restless mind has a life of its own. All I could do now is spoil and just give in as it glides over and through the bluest horizons, leaving behind the rest of my no-good-for- any-outdoor-activity-body motionless, awkwardly positioned and thrown like a crumpled origami crane lying in an ocean of the whitest cloud-like sheets and the most reassuring cushions. My make-believe strong limbs are now deemed useless. The imagination that was once dependable felt like it was all forced. Slumber is too far away yet my consciousness is deep under. I am on a desert looking for the oasis of hope, ever desperate to be quenched by sleep, to be overwhelmed and to be wooed by its promises. A real romance I would say. Easy and true, like reading the words from a bedtime story, singing midnight lullabies. No more pretensions, now believing in fiction and magic, to every nostalgic meaning and for these softest pillows, I clutch.

I am polygamous for loving one and all.

The warmth lingers as it gently moistens my ashen skin and cracked lips. The rays from the sunlight indulgently playful passing through the window. Microscopic and magnified, they appear to be dancing having the time of their lives in a parade, as they waltz their way through the thin glass. And as they enter we can see that they have willingly committed their entire existence just to shatter into splinters of gem-like formations.  A color mixture of intangible ruby, diamonds, and emeralds with golden sunflower hues. They collaborate with the traffic of specs that gently sailing through the air, gliding and floating adrift, drawn to the sunbeams like a moth to a lamp – the only light in the room. They had brought life along with them, greeting the frailty in me with this renewed day.

I found a thought suspended in the air, and then grabbing a hold of it as I try to be more comfortable by placing one heel on top of the other foot against the window sill. The porcelain ashtray lying next to me, parallel to my cigarette hand while my left hand is tucked-pressed between my head and my trusty pillow.

I did not want to get up. I felt the guilt whispering in my ears. Finally, sleep has decided to make up for lost time. She is the jealous type-  the more you ignore the closer she gets. She’s like Morrissey in the song.  No will can turn its invitation away even if one comes to be real focused on the thoughts of greater consequence. The fractions and the equations will make no sense. Every known law in physics will remain written in textbooks, but not all will apply.

“Just for ten minutes then I will have to wake up” I told myself, but I knew I was over committing.

I could see every thought twirling over and under, from my mind to the chest they were overflowing, a hodgepodge of familiar and the strange. Each episode was like a paper note tied to a string – a kite taking its flight sending messages up to the sky. A strong pull to let it go that is the trick. And through the clouds each went, higher and higher until they can never be seen. I knew I still had them, it felt I still did. But suddenly without warning the reel full of strings went berserk, rolling loose, rushing, so I tied the end of the strings I had to the wooden posts of the bed. For a second there, I thought I had all the kites anchored, but I was proven wrong when I felt the bed started moving.

We went crashing through the wall.  Attempting to find cover behind the headboard, we went through the concrete and all the debris, shooting up to the morning sky and out we went to the blackened space of comets, supernovas, and what seemed to be a body of an outer space aurora. Everything was going fast as it happened. The pace of this dream was off the charts. I could see the landscapes of greens, the polar caps and the watery blues of the world below. Morning never looked so alive as the current and the waves run the whitest of white. While the other side of Earth glitters with city lights, humbled in the blanket of the beautiful night. As the man in the printed pajamas was sitting on the edge of the crescent moon dabbling his feet in the dreams of those who rest below. He turns and waves hello. Careful not to fall, with one hand holding the wooden headboard, I tried to balance my body to repay the courtesy. I then realized that it was not I that was looking down on everything, but it was the stars that did. They are the audience, not me. I felt stripped of my clothes, naked in front of heaven’s prying eyes.

I am in between the skies and the earth, now fearing that my flying vessel may snatch a sudden jerk waking me up from the dream that was ending way too soon. Now keeping both eyes open, consciously trying not to make any unforgivable mistakes yet relishing, I looked over my head as I decided to finally close my eyes for a moment to feel the air brushing through my hair. I was letting go, accepting the fact that I might not even remember any of these things when I wake up. But no worries, for the mind may forget but the soul never will.  And for as long as we dream, even though our minds are not conditioned for these sorts and our expectations are not cut out for anything as spontaneous as she is, I’d say, ride out anyways.  For dreams are like faith, it is for the believers, for those who have nothing to possess, for those whose hands are bare, for the astronauts and the cloud watchers in us, for the ever hopefuls.

Old Typewriters and Flying Pages

INT – Room, Morning.

Pushing the words in an ever-open-envelope, influenced and kissed by this sudden need to dispense.  As I was looking outside, the morning was about to break. With my arms hanging loose while the window was carrying the weight of my body, my senses were ready like a child from a storybook waiting for that summer inspiration to pass by hitching.  I guess on this height I could say that I was so sure that I was about to take a leap. I was holding my breath in turns while skimming the pages looking at the illustrations from the elegance of this morning view that melted all the ice particles it could find in my once anxious mind.

I decided to detach myself from all the things they taught you in history books and from the cosmos.  I was gradually letting go.  I started punching the keys, I was as fluid as the running water in the river you could say. I was bedazzled and I was subdued.

Sometimes chaos works and the randomness and the chopsuey of events will just do.

I got a cigarette from my secret stash, my right-hand pocket to be exact. And while lighting it, I am seeing all of space through my smoky morning lenses.  I then readjusted the frames for comfort and a better view as I was holding a book that supposedly teaches you on how to be a master of your own consciousness. But one could only hope.

Beats, I then tossed the book out of the window watching its pages flap, taking its first-ever flight in the open.

The warmth it brought me was incomparable, far better than reading the damn thing.

I was pretty sure and could have sworn that it had taken its time, gliding on its way down.  I think it enjoyed the fall and smiles as it hits the ground.  It was golden I told myself. A scene to be filmed; I regretted not catching the flight on my camcorder.  I guess most treasured moments are.

I then vacuumed my thoughts with nothingness found and then suddenly out of nowhere the light refracts. It bent landing a sudden turn on the watery pavement as it hits. It was changing its direction in a way. And as I found myself lingering in this moment, I relished this peaceful state of time.  As I elbowed the base of this old wooden window frame with my left palm now finding its way resting against my cheek (an opportune place to take its camp, carrying my head’s weight) I was also careful not to be burned by the nicotine stick it held.

As a kid, I believed in happy endings. I guess nowadays we call that Algebra.  Does it always have to be that? Can it be just air guitars and water guns?  When imagination still allows you to live for years in the icy polar caps with only Eskimo kisses to keep you warm. I miss the days when you could still play in the rain without catching flu. When everything was still analog, and saying hello to a friend was still flesh and bones.

“Clickety-clack” my old typewriter used to say.  With my blistered fingertips and the bickering words, they were from the unedited, unbarred thoughts I call home. Mistakes were snow painted, it was very human-like. Messy and yet it was okay. Everybody was fond of cassette tapes and real literature.

I miss those days. I guess time is the greatest thief there is.

The wind blew and my cigarette was almost done.  At last something real had said hello.  I turned to where it came from as I plan to repay this much-appreciated gesture; I thought I heard it whispered something very familiar,

I thought it asked me to come out and play.

“Sure” I said. It needed not to ask.

The Boy from School

How can such beauty exist? As he softly pressed each key trying, just trying to paint a small picture of. Trouble was, she can no longer hear it anymore. For she had sailed on a ship light years ago. For the notes were kept hidden and were never put into record. It was of a twisted fate that had dictated it to be so, not to meet those longing eyes anymore. As the boy had looked back and all of these wanderings were done within a thought, counting the stars on the ceiling, on the upper deck, as the curtains swayed, dancing as if it had empathetic feelings for a friend.

I took a hold of his curiosity, of how such a grand and limitless wonder in such a place like this could ever have lingered.  Many pages before a boy in school was looking forward to the summer. Rushing towards the streams of his unrushed dreams, bearing this brand-new feeling of awe as he held for her, daffodils with sunlight he hoped.  The park of his destination was silenced when the church bells struck six. All his chances were hanging loose, but it was a time for a beginning to blossom.

Has he ever played real music before? Has he given it a thought to sit down on the other side of the piano bench just once? Has he ever learned that it is not for the heart of a fool that he must play? Has he learned in time that it is for and only for the cradles of her memory to be laid it all down? Stubborn was he I know, but I confess that I too have not seen it for a very long time. That such a reminder should keep me in. I hope the skies would still endure me anyhow, like the days when the caring rain would still let me brush their words. Long time coming, I am yet to write the saddest tales I know.

His fingers numbed, they were still not of age. He was no more than four and a half feet tall, yet his heart was as immense as the bluest ocean that no bucket can fill. The innocence surreal, only butterflies can peel. As he had found the strength just in time before the sun sets, storytellers they keep on striking the keys for as long as she is around the least. He could never ask for more, she came in her velvet ribbons with buttons, yet he has but an ounce of courage left in him. Draining as she approaches, yet he felt he had so much to give.

I found a small wooden box underneath the case cabinet, it was old.  I found stained pictures but happy ones.  I saw the tire swing that was once tied to a sturdy branch, and I heard the voice of the old ocean calling to me.  It seemed like a postcard you’d get during the holidays. I have seen these before from another lifetime I knew, as I tried to entwine those days with all the colors in me.

All things must end but surely it was not for that boy. He had lived long enough before turning into the man he is right now. And when time had convinced him to finally let go, the milk has gone bad, left on the side table for the wind to waste.

And one couldn’t help but ask, has he written enough love letters to make her stay? Has he remembered to take his old man’s advice to take her climbing trees?  Or bought her ice cream and asked her to take a swim into the ocean perhaps? Has he told her about all the adventures of the imaginative Tom Sawyer and the biting wits of Huck Finn?  Or was he too young to have done it so? Take us back oh father time for one has so much to do, so much to say.

The Fool on the Yellow Balloon

credits to getrealphilippines.com

Strike a pose, go ahead and wear your pearly whites clean as I would try to open my mouth and sing.  But why is it that I do not see you singing along? Have you gone tired of me? Instead of hums what creeps in is the frown under the golden crown you call your real man’s hat.

We were sitting on the sidelines once, watching what seemed to be an old marching band approaching towards us as they were playing the tunes of those whom you may call once free.  The funny thing was, their old red parade uniforms did not fit them anymore. Tailored no pockets for possessions and it was not washed either. Yet they brave the stares cast upon them as they make their way towards this dead-end street.  They were the poets of their time.

I turned to you like a child and asked what it was they were singing about. But you said it was nothing of great importance, that I should not pay any attention to.  I guess it pained your feeble heart that you had to throw them the first rock you saw.  I tried to stop you, but you became something else, a giant eggplant. Your head almost exploded.

I go back to the days when we used to write our stories together. Had we told about the meowing dogs, the barking cats and the other animals that learned to talk and rose to save their forest?  About the struggles they had fought for? For the never-ending sunrise that came anyways in the morning. The uncharted deepest sea, to Atlantis, that no man had ever gone to before and the immeasurable ether we used to call faith. I relish the episodes when you used to love your drunken train of thought. I respected you for that.  And when carefree was not yet careless, you always had me each time you slurred. Those reckless words were beautiful in their own light and it was really messy, and it was true, it was our saving grace, we were indestructible we always thought.

“My ghastly September” the red moon has yearned. The barrel of the rifle was left unclean, the blade was stuck stiff to its sheath and sometime during one’s surrender when I had fallen to rest my shield, you snuck out of your shell and had taken off on that magic yellow balloon.  And from up there as you looked down on everyone making your smooth escape, you yelled and called my name to say goodbye.  As I woke and see you through the midnight window pane, I rubbed my eyes in disbelief as you took away my words thinking to yourself that I could never remember to rewrite them on paper. As you leafed through it all, crossing out the lines and then crumpled all the pages, turning them into fuel for your floating vessel for fools.

We are endless you see.

Ramblings on a Moonless Sunday

Once in a while, we are all able to wear that strong feeling that everything is alright that nothing in this world could ever take that glorious, invulnerable feeling away from us. A very good friend has once told me that we all have this capacity to turn even the loneliest moment into the most memorable and happiest one. It is sort of turning a piece of paper into linen or silk. A person who is able to do this could live his borrowed life, turning it into his own.  It is as if an opportunity or some kind of invitation that was long forgotten by man. Well, most of us sort of did. Our existence is like the pages we read, a story waiting to be told. The question I guess is how you would want it to be written. I’ve read somewhere in a film script, setting it up as a punch line in a joke that was being thrown to another character, that good writers are those who lie the best.  Maybe, but I guess for those who live in real life, as we all attempt to make our own stories to be soon told by another in our eulogy perhaps, if we are that lucky, that our journey can be defined by those who had the opportunity to walk with us in this very short and humbling existence that was lent by the one hand who created everything.

All of these ramblings perhaps came from oversleeping and too much sugar from cupcakes and chocolates that I had eaten this afternoon I don’t know. But to be able to realize such, may it be scientific or cosmic in nature had made me nonetheless learn that every step that a mere mortal would take has a corresponding end result that would affect another human being. If we are to use and insert the subject of physics in the matter and relate the aforementioned to what one is about to say, that the concept of Newton’s third law of motion is that,  as the textbooks had ever so defined it  – for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

This was the guiding principle my high school teacher had once insisted us her students to memorize sometime in the 3rdquarter of the senior school year.  I never thought it could be of use outside our classroom and it took me many years to even pay little attention to it. In college, I would then hear it in a group discussion, of drunks, trying so hard to be philosophers in their own bold ways. One quoting a famous figure, a cynic one, who said that dreams are for those who choose to live their lives with eyes closed.  Another would then concur, just to please, but twists the premise and sort of explaining to disagree, “yes, and when us fools dream with our eyes closed, that is because we have got faith”.  Funny, that in the morning, these poor slobs won’t even realize what they have spoken about. They are what I would like to call, the world’s most “humble philosophers”.

And that had struck me thinking to myself that we can pick up these fragments of wisdom in almost everywhere, during whatever circumstance we are into. Most of us would work all our lives to just grasp that higher learning and to just live a better life – based on how we would define it, and we would travel great distances just to discover that what we are looking for is already within us. We would literally kill ourselves by slowly out work our bodies just to taste that free air. A dream to achieve most of us would enjoy in our graves, as soon as we are all forgotten in time.

What is it really we are in search for? Have you ever stopped in the middle of your busy life and asked yourself just that?

Maybe you would probably say that you have got everything figured out, maybe you do, but an invitation still awaits us all to reevaluate.

On this moonless evening, it is like walking with eyes closed. But it does not matter, I have got more than one sense to help me out. I guess the things that refuse to be seen are those that matter the most. Like the air that we breathe, or the softest whisper from a loved one before we rest to sleep, the warmth of a friend’s companionship that can be felt in a degree further within during the cold.  The funny thing is that all of these can also be seen if transformed. In fact, it can be written on a piece of paper or in the sand if one wishes so. So that it can be read and shared in different ways without having to lose its real form. It is like the water bedded in the strongest river, the same as the still when poured in a glass.

I guess we are but each chapter attempting to finish this book we call life.

An Epilogue for a Memory

They say I spend too much time loafing around taking my time in almost every opportunity, sleeping and dreaming my life away. I guess I’m just fond of spending my day typing around a thought. From an inspiring photograph or from a line that I came across from a film or from a split second memory that lasted longer than it should, always trying to make a rendition that would fit into the frames of these realizations, taking my time finishing the first draft just before anyone could ever have the chance to say anything about it, owning those short-lived moments.

I got out of bed, sleepy still but feeling too tired to rest. Hopeful to find warmth outside so I tried to walk off the boredom that stemmed out of nowhere. Perhaps I was a lyric or just an octave short. Something inside was telling me that I was almost there, as I wandered around asking myself what would happen if inertia lost its momentum and soon, I would eventually be out of my pacing especially when procrastination makes it really easy to stop. Ever since way back, I came to live a life having no grand plans, no blueprints, I was never really picky about what went on in both my short and long-term activities. I was never good in any of those. It was never because I chose it to be so, nor going against the current kept me afloat, no, nothing like that at all. The thing was, I did not know what I wanted to do until every time I got to where each was. That is why when the world spins twice as fast, I would always sit in one spot and just take a time out. Probably not a very good option to pattern your life with, but this was where I came to see the things that worked for me.

I remember just before the dawn in the passenger seat while watching the world fly by — as the crescent moon was just about to say goodbye — my head was slumped against the half-opened window as I stared at everything between the light and the dark. I’m not sure if I was really awake or if I was dreaming — I could not tell the difference. The headlights and those red tails in front of us contributed to the abundance of a feeling as they draped the road photo ready. While the wind was messing with my sixty-peso haircut, I simply enjoyed each feeble breath, spending the time being lost in those thoughts in tranquility, frozen in time, while the world was still asleep.

To help relieve my bad leg, sometimes I would tie my shoelaces loose.  I like that light feeling and I complain much less.  It is as if I am being taken back, looking right at her face in a glance of memory, in those few seconds every time the passing headlights from the other side shine right at her.

Those days are like a pop song in my head.

It was like doing a flip-flop. Somewhere within the mid-flip, we realized that the real paycheck was what we had there on our laps. She was right, nothing is ever good enough if you are still alone though. And how we knew it mattered did not pose any significance. We never got that far anyway. Not being ready did not mean I was never up for it. I guess I was just slow, like dripping honey on a jar. Waiting for something is already hard enough, much harder if you had forgotten what it is for.

After the rain, when the wind called out and sent its invitation, we would always stay up late, after hours of cassettes and cigarettes hanging by the open living room door, staring at the seemingly fallen stars on the gutter as they glittered around while the ground was still soaked, thinking to ourselves that the world was clean once more.

I remember the night when she tore a page from her pocket journal that she always hid and carried in her pack, writing a two-liner lyrical dream that she could have sworn to have caught everything that I wanted to say in my lifetime. Then she threw the note in the bathroom sink turning the water blue with a haze of black. “Colors at last” She said.  Well, I didn’t know about that, but the words are flowing now that those days are gone. But we never really cared if it really did, or why the coffee stains on the sheet was there in the first place. She said it was for good luck and so I kept the memory tucked in my chest.

Not the sentimental type but in that silent moment I thought to myself that for as long as we kept our headlights on, we would always smile and drive our way into those tunnels in an exit song just before the credits. As the stories and the metaphors go on, I would sip my way through this aimless journey attempting and taking my time not owing anyone an explanation. Maybe it is just me, but I think, a slow fade is the way to go.

Arguably, the Best Mom in the World

You would probably say and argue that your Mom is the best one in the whole wide world, now if you’d do that, you can bet your armpits I would disagree and brag all the nicest things my mother had done for me, and probably you would do the same and we would be at it the whole day and nobody would ever win. Imagine that.  Not to mention the rest of the world that would want to join us, in this endless contest of whose Mom is the best.  So let us not go there Okay?

Today is Mother’s day, and we would all want to stop and remember that person who carried us in her belly like a kangaroo for 9 months. And I know that you too, do not say as much.  This is an attempt to do just that, an attempt to be able to send the message across, I hope it works.

My Dad passed on when I was 11.

It was right after the summer when he left me and my siblings in the capable hands of my Mom.  She is tough as nails, I remember the day after my Dad left, she spent the entire day crying, but in the next morning, she stopped worrying and started finding ways on how to earn money just like that.

She was never been employed all her life before that dreaded day came. My Dad wanted my Mom to be the traditional housewife, keeping an eye on the kids, making sure that all 5 of us were being watched and taken care of.

We never saw that day coming.

If I were to choose between my Dad and Mom, I would, without hesitation would pick Mom. Please do not get me wrong, I loved my Dad and miss him as much. But I have this personal belief that all children should never be left alone without their mothers and that is non-negotiable.  A mother would always know what to say when her son came back from school crying from a fight, she would even call up the boy’s teacher and raise that concern during the PTA meeting.

A mother would never leave her child, under whatever circumstances through the cold dark night when he is sick, she would, without thinking twice take a leave of absence from work since she would be ridiculously worried all day if she won’t be able to.   I love that about them.

During our ordeal, without any experience or the background, just to make ends meet, my Mom ventured into the “Party Needs” business. She started really small. And what was funny about it was, she never had a business partner or the people to help her.  If there was an event, she would always call me and twin brother out, most of the times when we were busy trying to be romantic teenagers and would ask us to carry 50 to 60 monoblock chairs and 8 to 10 party tables, four to sometimes six blocks away from ours.  To share the humiliation we would always drag our reluctant friends over to help us. I lost count on how many times, but it was quite an experience nonetheless and we would always laugh about it.

What I really liked about it though is the part when my Mom would single-handedly makes the balloons herself. She would be up the whole night just doing that. I remember when the first time it happened when I woke up with all of those colors in the room – it felt like I was in Balloon wonderland or something. She would always make hundreds or sometimes do over a thousand when she got big projects.  Just imagine the kitchen, the stairs, and even our rooms were filled with them, with Mickey Mouse prints on each, some of them helium balloons, some requested on sticks.

Those times were really tough, and good money was very hard to earn, but I must say, waking up in those days, for me it was like living in a playhouse.

My Mom believes in culture, more so in Music. That’s our family mark. In 1996, my Mom bought us our heritage guitar which we shared since we smashed the first two when we were still little. It was a junior sized acoustic from Lilang’s. It was made in Cebu. She knows a good one when she sees it. After that, came the legendary 1984 artist series Ibanez, and the Yamaha electronic keyboard.  She plays both the guitars and the keys and encouraged us to learn. She thought, to keep our sanity together, we needed spirit.

I really admire how she sees life in her perspective. When I rant or complain about something, she always has this way of making me see the good in everything. She’s like a descendant of Mother Teresa, and she never gets tired. She works 6 days a week and every Sunday, as her routine, she would always do the laundry and cook lunch for us. And she only sleeps 5 to 6 hours a day. And it sort of freaks me out at times when I see her do that.

I could only hope to be as wise as she is. I wish I could be as good of a parent as she is to us.  Every day is like a step forward, an attempt. And I have a hundred miles to take. She is as untainted as one could ever aspire to be, the most wonderful person I know. My personal hero.

Shoe-Stringing at 28

Another year has passed by, and it’s my birthday once again! boy how time flies, and now, I’m really getting there, getting older.  Looking at some fifteen, twenty years back, I would have been really excited I mean, celebrating your day as a child was just priceless. for those who do not know me, I was born in April, on this date, at exactly 7:48 am. Maybe that’s the reason why I am so fond of mornings. I remember, during our early years, me and my twin brother had always been celebrating our birthdays outside of our home, in our compound, always basking in the summer sun. We would always start the day by waking up really early, racing and hustling down the stairs in our PJs, always expecting for those color-assorted-balloons, party hats, and the noises our childhood friends make, while they play and wait for the party outside.  As the Pabitin (filipino pinata) is being set up, we would always find ourselves on the sidelines, already eyeing for the prizes that were being tied and hung on a grid made of kawayan or bamboo, 2 to 3 hours before the party.  the stuff being tied there were nothing expensive actually, they were just cheap toys, like a couple of 20 buck water guns, a pair of plastic tennis rackets, some plastic toy soldier figures, and repacked sweets like Serg’s bars and Goya gold coins, some several bags of the famous candies back then like the Haw-haw, Tarzan, Bigboy, and the legendary Mik-mik the powdered milk in a sachet that kids really loved.

The Pabitin had always been the highlight of the party. And as each year went by, and when the budget for our kiddie parties had to be cut short, we always made sure that the bamboo wonder stayed, until the day that we were all forced to grow up.

I miss that 30-second bliss. In those moments, when the grid is finally being lowered, we stretch our arms up and reaching, bending our knees for that big attempt, jumping as high as we could. Our hearts stopped every time.

Snaps, and back to the now, no longer a child anymore, I soon realized that this is the first time that I am spending my day slouching in front of my computer, staring on a blank page, counting the number of blinks the cursor is making, waiting for my fingertips to finally decide and spell their first words.

This day really sucks.

While working on this literary project, something nice and familiar suddenly caught my attention. By the way, I am at home inside my room, making the most out of this early morning, while this, very stimulating cooking aroma, from the kitchen downstairs, is inviting me and sort of taking me back to those nostalgic days that I was telling you about. Honestly, I was kind of excited.  I can only imagine what’s in store for me, I do not have any idea what my mom is making, but the smell of the sautéed onions and garlic somehow gives me an idea.

So I hustled downstairs, as I used to do when I was still a kid, now, no longer in my PJs, but in my boxers instead. Of course, not expecting balloons and party hats anymore, my attention now draws from a mindset of a 28-year-old, with an empty and very discerning stomach. My mind shoots in food suggestions basing it on the smell that woke my senses up and shook the boring mood out of me. I was thinking, Roasted chicken, or maybe pasta, My mom’s world-famous Nilagang baka (beef) or her chicken and pork adobo perhaps. The suspense made me more and more excited, I’m young again I said to myself.

But like in the movies, a sudden twist in the story.  To my surprise, when I finally took out the food cover, instead of delight, I saw 3 pieces of hotdogs and some heated sotanghon from last night. the surprise quickly turned into a very funny epic fail situation. haha.

While enjoying the last remaining bites of these tasty treats from my new age Pabitin, and puffing the life out of my cigarette serving as my birthday candle, as every year nourishes me in this solemn seconds of prayer, I am counting the blessings realizing that every day should be a celebration.

And with all the unnecessary ramblings made, from the child in me, I guess all I’m saying is, thanks for shoe-stringing with me.

Talahib – A Review

What makes up a good record? Should it have a good melody? Probably a very good body and lyrical content, should it be timeless? How about the riffs and the arrangement, have we considered the packaging? How should it be marketed? Should it follow the favorable branding colors, maybe strategically pleasing and easy on the eyes? Or during your gigs, should you see the crowd wave matching glow sticks while doing a synchronized rehearsed movements they call dancing?. I guess all of these things are very essential; of course the artists behind these pieces should be able to capture their desired audience. Who does not want that?

Well, if you’d ask me, I prefer a more subtle answer, but before we get to that, let us look at the last decade, hmm, not much to offer, in my taste, probably most of you would disagree, but there were only few who offered quite a good lasting kicks if you may, and on the top of my list are – Beck for sea change 2001, Bright Eyes with his I’m awake, it’s morning in 2005, of course Radiohead having 2 entries, Kid A 2000 and In Rainbows 2007. And most of the songs in these compilations have that very rich blatant honesty right through the bones. There I said it. I guess the real answer is, having that one most important key ingredient, – that it should be effortlessly true. in the old days, before you could say that you have actually written a good one, you have to actually experience what you are singing about if not, you must at least be genuinely inspired. Only a few have successfully able to do this nowadays, and you can actually tell by simply listening. And to know that you have, there is this thing that you call epiphany or that eureka moment that most artists call that can support and help you on realizing. But now, oh boy, it’s all about what pays the bills. Don’t get me wrong, I get that, really. Everyone has to eat right? But to do it for the sole reason of vanity? My premise stems from the fact that, these artists kuno have chosen a career path, a career path? really? It is blasphemous to even mistakenly consider it as one. Please indulge me as I wear the hat of a critic.

So what’s the ranting all about? Well, if you really must know, I am writing this piece as my way of saying sorry to my twin brother who is in a band named Talahib. The band has been around for 10 years. And in those years, I have been always searching for new very good materials to listen to, and without me realizing it then, that one of the members of the future, probably one of the most well-formed Filipino bands is living under the same roof as I am and has the same frigging face.

Me and my twin brother, we have our differences, as kids, he always liked Red one, and I’d be Green two from Bioman, get the idea?. Even back then, he always sported that long hair of his that he still wears now, only way longer. Back then we called it Keempee. I tried to relish the idea of it but I did not get why he wanted it, until now. It came to me that when a person really loves doing something, it will come out of him no matter what. My brother is a Natural I guess.

We have our differences, but we never had that in music. Sure there are some minor preferences here and there, e.g. Content arrangement and his super extended guitar adlibs, but nothing massive.

Now his band, Talahib came out with their debut album – “Mga Awit ng Pag-Ibig at Digmaan” on December 09 2011. And It took them 10 long years to release it. You may think that their time has already passed them by, and was too late for this thing to actually happen, but in my book, judging it from their patience alone will give you this notion on how scary careful and detailed these people are. From every lyrical verse to the right notes and the insertion of each riff, to that inviting groovy, spicy, powerful yet collaborative symphony of beats coming from the drums, and other indigenous percussions, the very compelling voices behind each song. they are, without a doubt, a musical force to be reckoned with.

Talahib – or a tall wild grass that can withstand and adapt to almost any conditions, anywhere for as long as all grass stand together. Their roots are entwined, making all of them, in a sense, one. So as their music, as their listeners embraced it, they define it as a breath of fresh air in the Philippine music industry. As they represent not only the generation’s artists, musicians, and poets, but so as the past and current social cry of the public. They take upon themselves to act, through the most effective medium, through the songs of love and war, aiming straight through our hearts.

But I think, all of these will not be achieved without the listeners, if we decide to just relish and sit around, the equation would be incomplete. Apathy is not it. Reading the leaflets and singing along I guess is not enough. Not to take arms nor to go rally the streets, but to simply believe. Hope if acquired is a very powerful thing. more so if it is amplified through the numbers of its believers. We are amidst changing times, and this revolutionary band is obviously, directly singing this to us. I may be over thinking it, but I think they are throwing the right question back at us, – what should we do then?

The band is composed of 10 members. The Album has 11 tracks. Nearly 20 musical Instruments and it took them 10 years to release it.

All we have to do is 1 thing. Believe.

Hand Pocket Sunshine

As I was entering through the revolving door of my wandering mind while watching one of the best shows in the sky with rum-shake, of a grand spectacle free of admission capturing whatever inspiration I may find, attempting to have these sachets of collected interpretations stemming from my very poor and receding memory be translated through a meaning, aiming to say that it is not always about the symmetry in plain view all the time.

Borrowing some rest, away from my lucid habitat made of stacked concrete and plastic decors.  One invites hope for a few offshoot-random encounters which I think are sources of this sudden and periodic influx of Hand Pocket Sunshine.

To get a hold of some I thought to myself, a little wait wouldn’t hurt. So I decided to sit there on the edge of a wooden plank, by the peace of the wind, pondering on my newly found packets of wonders and making friends with time.

Never underestimate the power of eccentricity.

With the right amount of insertion of this odd and unusual behavior, you may find that it is not that bad after all.  It may not always be peaches and lemonades, but to see things from a different view, of life as you know it, well one could say that it is one way to live.  A friend once told me that it is a skill of some sort that does not depend on the conditions of being normal. What is normal anyway?

Every little experience is perspective based.

In the pursuit of clarity amidst the rubble, I remember that it is about finding the good. It is about when to pause and the positioning. It may be difficult to commit to the entire concept of it and it is foolish to rush either, that is why it needs a little reason and isolation on the side.  Recognize that it takes time, the farthest distance one could ever travel I suppose. Respect and let the ingredients simmer and understand that the responses vary.

Mornings will always be there to renew.

Like the lines, we borrow from the parchment pages and poetry, with humility singing for hope, so as sunsets giving way to the next morning. A constant reminder that there is this undying belief that there is always warmth after the long cold night and that everyone should share the same.

I would like to define this argument as – relishing the inevitable. That there will always be this unconditional fondness. That even most of the times it is unspoken, it is what it is. Every day when we connect linking the dots in this unfolded space, whenever we find that perfect color to brush, it is there somewhere between the fine lines and the strokes never fading, always being whispered in its vague and powerful shapeless form.

As I find shelter from phrases and rhymes.

Sleeping for days, the words swirled over, running in circles. Catching my breath then I was caught in that moment and stored the thoughts away. Stolen from a very pleasant forgotten dream, one of the very few things I can say that I can paint a picture of, each time I think of that one early morning in front of my reflection, of a person that once spent his days bending sunlight.

I will miss listening to my nightly anecdotes.

As we attempt to weather blue skies and golden beams, I will always be out strolling with the cool northern breeze enjoying that crystal-like ether from the morning rays on my tanned skin. My chest sways, taking in this easy feeling from a long throw as I go back to that once nightly habit, listening on to the rhymes and storytelling.

I guess we all have our sunsets. Of what could be seemingly an end, may also turn out to be just the dark before the dawn. Do not worry, everything we do it is all half chance.  And as it sets you will see that the shadows and the silhouettes will always be there to cast its play of scenes from real life, portraying how it supposed to be lived.  As we rest our heads in faith, we find surrender in our dreams under the sheets. As we learn to let go, sleeping our lives away, singing that our pockets are not that empty anymore.

Entry # 12: Defeating Rocket Science

Somebody told me that life is an accumulation of experiences. That no matter how short or how long each interaction may last,  may it be with a stranger or with someone you know, no matter how random the encounter is, the sum of it all plus the value of connectivity, these are the fragments that make up the definition.

As this was laid down to me, I realized that it all makes sense come to think of it.  I then conceptualized and applied the very basic method of asking questions and noted down questions like the whys and the hows that make up the experience, etc. Then the study began.

At first, your body may start coughing enzymes of happiness from within. These are complex proteins that produce specific chemical changes in your body. Also, you may not notice it, but your molecules may also start to shake before each encounter. You would then telescope your view and measure the optics. Your vision perceives the stimulus and sends light like signals to your brain, processing it before you can actually see. Please note, However, that what you see and what you perceive stand apart. There is always a distinction. Sight is an acknowledgment of the raw materials that your eyes capture, while perception is about not only how an object looks like or how your mind physically sees it, but how it seems to you, overruling the literal meaning. This is where the different sensations come into the picture.

Towards approaching connectivity, there is also the factor of speech that you must consider.

There are a lot of very intelligent people that do not know how to express themselves even though they have a lot of things to share.  And most of the times during their encounters, there are wasted, lost opportunities for both sides, for the speaker and the listener. The potential of very fruitful exchanges was hindered by unable to say what you really want to express. There should be an abundance intake of oxygen in the body for brain activity and blood flow and it is also imperative to do the necessary preparation and planning. Profiling is another accepted technique that one can consider. The characteristics, the demographics, and the statistics can provide a forecast that one can use during an attempt to land rapport.

With the smart combination of what you have seen and perceived; injecting it in your exchanges finding common ground and the right formula to your conversations may help produce a more favorable response from your subject.

Also, consider gravity. Acknowledge its presence. As it sets a reminder, that your toes must stay where they are supposed to be, as where they are meant to be, on the ground, and as it pulls you down, let your sense of sight soar with the solar beams and sunrays while turning air into poetry and delight.

Then you improvise. Do not be too impulsive though. This may be the very key ingredient of it all, with love songs from shoegazing and a little dash of Britpop, singing sequels and good reviews, from nothingness you would then create a film scene of moving pictures of vivid colors and amusement. Then perhaps you could say that everything is alright. With no grand plans just hope for saving grace and surrender.

With support thoughts of daily dose of afternoon cartoons and letters, you would then cling on to these exchanges for dear life. As our days have always been there to bless us with coffee, sugar and Saturday mornings, we try to earn each fragile moment to take home.

And as we find each morning as an opportunity to turn each cycle and repetitive encounters into a definition, in time, as we get used to the experience, as we wake each morning, we would realize that we never have to mind the cigarette burns and the ash stains, that all the theories and the blah blahs are just there to give frame but not really a component to our interactions. That the real and tangible property is about what lies beneath our skins, the desire that cannot be calculated nor weighed, the acceptance that we are the sum of the life we are all in.

And in the end, we would realize that we never had to complain, but instead, to move forward, all we ever needed was just humor and to display our chubby smiles. Filling ourselves with wisdom not from TV but from real human interactions, taking on the journey as we stride and ocular the skies, relishing the search for that morning slumber. No matter how random, as each interaction translates into happiness connecting the dots, finding out that it is not rocket science after all.

Believing in New Year’s eve

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“Believe, that you are about to steal this moment with her. Running away with the little things, just the little things, with the belief that there are still cheap movies to watch at least. Never getting tired, the excitement ridiculously there all the time, and I bet that even without these words spoken, you’d do it anyways. “

I found myself sitting on an old wooden bench, waiting, a commuter, alone in a shed which stood on a fork in the road, on my way home, one sunny afternoon.

Seeking shelter from a dire shed with its chipped off paint and tilt posture, its once reluctant concrete pillars now wrinkled by the cracks. As its wounded soldier stance tells a story, of its scarred but proud appearance that was brought about the changing weathers, I spared time and listened by leaning against one of her seemingly tired pillars. This old beauty still remained to be the centerpiece of that place though. She was surrounded by an overwhelming knee high mantis fields, with each green grass bowing down to its queen, each time the wind passed by.

On my right sat a dust-covered backpack, resting next to my feet — my only companion in this worn down shelter. I almost forgot this feeling, the abundance of the season’s grace, of the little things around me had taken my eyes away from me, of all of the nicest things and more, that almost simultaneously, I hasten to rest my biases onto these wonders that soon to be morphed into just a mere memory that I alone had witnessed. As I closed my eyes taking deep breaths, of swollen-inflamed entwined feelings of guilt and desire, digesting the stimulus, feasting on the most colorful view, taking mental pictures to make sure that the feeling stayed on, at least for just a little while. Something has to give you away I guess, the addiction translated into something profound, from worse to better, just like that, for your very own sake, just to keep you alive, you know that you need to go back to this place eventually soon.

And soon, youth will be replaced by memories of spilled drinks from plastic transparent cups, of the million conversations you had on those sleepless nights and the laughs and the promises during your days with her. As you clench, as you take and entertain, the feeling inside just burns you alive. But no matter what, no matter how many lines may appear on your fragile skin, for as long as you are in that universe, as you fly that kite of the memory, you can say that you’d feel like you are still in your twenties still willing to run away even with heartburns and that irremovable stench of nicotine in your lips.

As each passing day comes by, as you look at your reflection in the window pane, you’d say that true romance can still be felt these days. Nobody could tell you on how really, but you know it is out there.

As I inhale the last remaining souls of these wonders, I try to capture the feeling within. Having the hammer of my memory to be cocked back, without hesitation, one tries to be awake for the next episodes. Finally ready to take that ride back, hoping that you’d still believe, and holding hands by New Year’s Eve.

Summer draft

No more airplanes just speedways, outdated maps, and crumpled flown itineraries. Panoramic views, paper cup thoughts, and backpacks; it was a romance with turquoise blue and cocaine white, as we follow the sand-tracks of the giant rolling maleta, singing along to the endless strums of our summer acoustic guitars. While most of us were trying to remember the words, some were doing their best just to be in tune. Imagine us in falsettos in the morning sun. As we find sobriety, there were no more zeros and binaries during those days. Just tropical igloos, nicotine lips, and sunglasses, along the shoreline, we were weekend bums on foot.

So this is how it feels like, I told myself. As I strike every key, writing a promissory note of scribbles and shorts, to always surrender to the integers of life. The idea is to take the ripples far, refilling my usual morning routine, putting the words together while tuning in to my old radio.

It is an idle Thursday morning, the weather is fair. It is an easy going day so far. You can actually see the clouds blocking the sun; news report from the radio says it is a windy 24 degrees Celsius. The monsoon is at its peak but there were days during the season when the mercury hits 33. I dream of Laing, our first meal on the island, the brilliant mix of Taro leaves and coconut cream with pork, fish, minced garlic, onion, chili peppers, and ginger. It was the first taste, a preview of what was in store.

A fine lesson, to always remember to throw a smile back to what visits us, a yawn then out of nowhere, seeking for a companion, the playful breeze invites itself into the window screen. Quite an entrance for my intruding guest, as it knocks over the stacked books as it enters. Maybe it was too quiet outside for my bored friend. Whiskey was out of the question, it was too early so I went for orange juice while hitting a couple of my trusty reds. My thoughts were cluttered by rhymes and illustrations from what I have just read. Skipping breakfast, I was caught trapped, trying to shape this overdue draft.  Tried to overrule the idea of writing about last summer, but the delight of the perfect blend of all the good things, the taste that lasted longer than it should, the goodness of it all were too overwhelming for my paper to ignore.

I am yet to make back up copies of the photographs taken of that summer. Memories stored for safe keeping.  As we keep up with the seasons, we cannot just bank on our neuro-capacity to remember.  Youth captured in every snapshot, stolen from time, I remember, during the Sunset, we were our silhouettes doing artsy photograph poses. Making the most of everything on what we had there as the sun held itself proud; it had a different strength compared to the wariness it displays this cloudy morning. And when darkness fell, the universe conquered the night, our planetarium in thousand folds.

We were captives of our own freedom, with carry on lights on our foreheads, our bodies lay, resting, throwing wishes over comets and shooting stars crossing the sea of twilight and glitters. We were fanboys of happy endings and of spaceships and submarines; we were time traveling through our storytelling of hopes and what-ifs with our burnt skin and sandy pockets.

Always out to look for answers, learning, and understanding to see.  I took an early dive, head first into the ocean. I could not find anything; the water was still murky and unsure. As if the ocean was waiting for something. It will not wake without its father, its bright skies. Its humility was based on something beyond compare, it was a wonder.

Trying to figure out, the immeasurable distance above; I am discovering what is in between the empty spaces. The gaps are the bridge we build every day, a connection to the person next to us.  Realizing finally, that it is alright to say that we are all but small ripples in the water, taking on to make a difference, a humble attempt to change the course.

Hits and Misses

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It has been so long since the last time I stepped outside just to feel the sun on my face. This was never part of the itinerary of the day.  The plan was, just to be as lazy as usual, glue the control in my left hand and watch the world in a tube on my wall.  Thinking of it now, catching myself a realization, I used to love being out here, to be in the same neighborhood, living as a kid, without any pretensions, to just wander aimlessly without any plans and direction, to just contribute to the traffic of random movements.

Lately I have never been good in doing things continuously. And in the way things are going, I think I need to put up with that fact. Reassessing, my principle now is of a grown up’s.  Now, I would always say that, the end of something is also a start of a beginning. And over the years I have conditioned myself to believe that my life is a series of changing cycles that one has to catch up with, every time it restarts. I guess that’s how things really are, but then, at times I still ask myself otherwise.

I remember as a child, I was fond of merry go rounds, and what I would always do was lean back, sticking my tongue out of my mouth and taste the sweetness of the wind. Silly may it sound, but there was something about the air when you go fast that I really liked.

We were in 1st grade when my Dad taught me and my twin brother how to ride a bike.

We would go biking around the neighborhood, buying pandesal every Saturday and Sunday mornings, passing by the same houses and never got tired of it. We used to race with the bees at the park. Sundays were even better with our Mom’s turbo-roasted chicken and for me; it just got sweeter and sweeter every week. Our family turbo roaster retired last year.

During afternoons, when the Duhats and the Alatiris are ripe enough, we would climb the trees to feast. And as far as we were concerned, the Duhats and the Alatiris were all we ever needed to survive. We steal Kamias from our neighbor’s for spice, and most of the times caught but it did not matter, we were just kids anyway.

Even in our early years, we had our way to out play the grown up romantics. Instead of buying a dozen of roses, what we would do was make bubbles out of Gumamela.  Pounding the slimy juices out of the leaves and petals, plus ground detergent, we pretend to be the pilots of zeppelin bubbles with rainbow striped glare that would wow every girl in our street. And when it rains, instead of staying indoors, with our air cool sandos, we would peel off blank pages from the back of our school notebooks, and instantly, we become captains of our own paper boats; our fleet sailed in the rain swollen gutters.

One morning, my son and I took a walk out of our front gate and saw the same gutter where I used to play growing up. But now everything looked different. We then paid a visit to where the Alatiris tree and the Gumamela plant used to stand, but they were both gone.  I told him of our stories and adventures with those trees, of how we caught the biggest spiders on the branches and lizard eggs laid in between the hollowed blocks of the wall behind them.  Dylan was all ears.

Luckily the Duhat tree was still there but it no longer bear fruits. Maybe someday it will again, maybe when kids start to play and climb trees again. It saddened me for a while but felt thankful right after.  I realized that they will always be a part of what was, a story of the past and of the kids who played and out grown the life.

And I guess this was what listening to all of those plastic records was all about. It was never just to read the leaflets or just to sing along. It was about something else. As I write these words before hitting lazy mode again, before resting my aging legs to rest, I would try again to relish these collisions with the kid in me, may it be solicited or not, to just crash and see what is carefree.  Hits and misses.

Caffeine, Love, and Sleep

I remember having the conversation of our lives as if it was happening before me. Her pale body now colored by the dim light from the lamp across the room, the shade was just perfect from where she was. Her painted eyes gazing with grace, she had her left arm supporting her head elbowing the cushions. I was sitting on the edge of the bed with leaflets of old cassettes, burning cigarettes and magazines, I had everything there I needed. We were scientists with our bubblegum theories and shooting stars perceptions, the wall clock made no sense- as if the night will never end.

I was aiming my attention looking past the side table through the open window. I was staring outside, but my mind was way off somewhere beneath the experience of lullabies and hums. Not my intention to, but my tired back gave in, the comforts of the sheets and my trusty blanket were overpowering. And as she brushed my hair to sleep, I was sold to the treats of slumber. I was out with the stars over our heads.

Somewhere beneath my dreams, I was being carried. With helium balloons and flying watermelons, I was afloat with the clouds – up into space I glided. I knew that it could only last for so long, but it was cosmic, nonetheless. It felt right, with nothing beneath me, only stardust, tiny heavenly specs of wonders they were. The beams of oranges and samurai blues hazed mixed streaming by the rings and the moons. Funny, that even in my sleep I could still hear her breathing. I knew that she too had fallen to sleep, subdued tenderly by the whispers of the lateness of the night.

Rewinding the episodes, it was summer when it started. The warmth of the season had just begun to settle in. With our drunken smiles, we found ourselves playing through the honey coated fields – it was endless. She had her ways, I had mine, we were incoherent she and I. Learning how to forget about our tomorrows, we wandered aimlessly through our days. It was like we knew where we were heading, without roadmaps nor directions, we braved the crossroads and the highways. We were renegades, with our bandanas and leather jackets, having no expectations in our pockets.

In those days I was looking for the answers but what I end up finding was the soundtrack of my life. A little dose of her in paper kept on striking the keys before the cold with caffeine on my side. I was on my way to my thoughts, to a place where I always go to find her. I went rushing to her doorsteps then a sigh. As I held the words within, about to slide in a letter under her door, having second thoughts, but it was Inevitable. It was bound to happen anyway I figured.

A couple of hours before dawn I turned to my left now facing her, “My love defined” I whispered in her sleep. Our night light flickers, we shared one bed, travelers in different worlds. My love was both inches and miles away from me. Half asleep, somehow, I see her smiling, thinking to myself, what magical dreams she was on. Moments, subconsciously we both hear the speeding cars outside, sleepless in their roars, from yellow over the white lane, recklessly they follow the tail lights before them, the architected paved routes they are on. And as I held her close only to lose her, Jealousy kicked in, as the sandman’s charm creeps in, it was more compared to mine.

Sunrise

Waking up from a dream I can only wish that the clouds were clearing up outside. I tried to get out of the bed, but as always it took me quite some time to even make it sitting down. Still in bed against the wall, I was still zonked but I could tell that it was still early — feeling the cold concrete on my back. As I rubbed my eyes to open with an aching head — had too much of everything last night — I realized that I have not had a cigarette for hours, so I lighted one in celebration.

I closed my eyes several times wandering off in my thoughts walking here and there, in the shapeless dimensions of my own universe. I did not realize that I had fallen back to sleep. Lately, I have the habit to narcotize myself by sleeping when things are not that amusing. After a while, finally getting up, way too early for breakfast and still in last night’s clothes, I took a look through the misty glass of the window checking on the weather. I stepped outside then sat on the sand, too lazy to do anything, just chewing gum while the others were still sleeping, as I waited for the sun to bleed beams on me.

Early mornings are still the best. As I watched the waves kissing the shoreline again and again, it was through waiting that I completely understood that the then and now are not that different from each other after all. Waiting to be there and to do what is now. While the wind did the same with me, as it graced onto these passages, as we decided to take a stroll through the corridors of our deepest thoughts during so, we found black and white Polaroid’s moving in slow motion and at times in overly animated shorts of how things were and are.

We learned to let things be. So, we sat and waited for our sunshine. The virtue gave us more time to ourselves. It somehow expanded the short time we had, supported precision on analogy, while process carefully observed.

Guarantee was not an ally though, but hope is.

Drizzles dropped, ironically, I still had my sunglasses on. Ever hopeful for my sunshine to come, I had no choice but to move by the tree towards the shade. The fruity taste of the gum started to fade. Thoughts of what ifs and could have been came in. Sometimes even if we are exactly at the precise position, things still fall short. But those days were all about second chances, so one chose to wait still.

I found and opened up a note from my left pocket reading it to myself. I could not recognize the handwriting at first, but it was mine. I must have written it the night before — I could not remember. Writing to imitate, I tried to make it my own. Wanting to be original, a conventional fool, the words we found beneath the hums and the pages were the ones we sang to the people we woke up with. We watched the sky unfold from monochrome until it slowly turned into butterscotch gold. Blissfully sedating with hangover, we took a dip down under into the ocean’s arms. Washing away our blue Octobers while ceiling us were the vastest horizons lined by white rabbit clouds and giant seahorses. We watched the sunrise to always remember that there are always good days to look back to. Binding and overwhelming us were the waters and the skies.

We were in between with sands on our feet.

The sensations of turning the tides, the now and then to be one and the same, bending space and time, I had my legs folded against my chest. As the sun finally showed its magnificence, its rays revealed the stains on my plain white. On the sand, never minding, as another day brakes — I was still there waiting, in celebration.

Post-Note Confession

I have my body stretched between the spaces and the cushions, facing up, staring blankly at the ceiling, with my thoughts pushed backward; the room seems a little different this time, maybe I was away for too long that things are seemingly new to me. As I get reacquainted, my mind is somehow stuck somewhere elsewhere. Funny that this thing in me lingers, the microbes are getting way too closer each time. An exhale and a puff more, as the ether running through my fingers, feeling the warmth, trying to stay conscious, between asleep and awake, I realized that I have yet to unpack some of my things from the trip. A second and back to thinking, convincing oneself that things are the same, still waiting anxiously for the rain, trying to put sense out of everything, a poor attempt to squeeze in algebra back to the things that once were.

It was still dark when we left; the calmness of the night subdued everyone, an invitation to sleep. The glittering pellets shed light over our heads as they also reveal our tired bodies resting, the wind offering its share, as it whispers its lullabies from afar, cradling us, off to slumber most of us went, the silence with happiness hitting cold down to the waters, a cigarette and a match, standing to stretch my legs, being cat-quiet about it, careful not to wake the others, I placed my back leaning against the bamboo brace of the boat. I was caught up by the silence realizing that the chugging from the motor had stopped. Looking around, then accidentally, bumped into a thought as I glance upwards, I was taken held by the overwhelming vastness of the night sky.

It was around 3 in the morning, the mountainsides walled our route to the port, and apparently, the boatmen had a little trouble with their little ship, stuck in the middle of nowhere, somewhere, having the habit of taking the good out of everything, now I have my attention fixed to what I think I have fallen in love with.

And as one clutch on the moment, when everyone was in their sleep, I snuck out my feelings, a travel between my mind and my chest. Probably the farthest I have ever taken so far, dazzled by the innocence, never uttering what was meaning to, one can neither let it go nor hold it too tight, frosting glass it was. One has been caught in a trance at the moment, then a revelation. The wooden raft and the waters offer an analogy – why is it that most of the time we need to know where to stand and feel something constant under our feet? When all we need is buoyancy to stay afloat. Having my own conversations, but not losing it (see Microbes). then a counter:  We need to have something firm to stand on, to reassure ourselves if we rely on buoyancy alone, eventually our legs will tire and drown (quantifiable factors – see The Simple Things).  Being stuck out of nowhere in the middle of the night, with no life vests and a failing motor, out with the stars brings me back to the story of the people of the desert, who relied on the skies for answers when lost. Doing the same, reluctant at first getting any, I began stopping analyzing too much. My eyes went off way up and just appreciated what I have there at the moment. One cannot remember how long my senses were out, and then suddenly I am beginning to finally see the answer. And there it was. Staring in front of me, – What we feel needs not to be reciprocated, the romance we feel is the love we want to share with the people we care for, and when we share, it is giving. So In conclusion, one realized that what we hope to inspire is not a reaction. We don’t want that, but instead needing another is like turning your love note into a one way- paper airplane, throwing the words and letting it all go.

Back to the apartment, I am now sitting by the window, realizing, what was seemingly a long wait has already come to a halt. And as each raindrop hits the pavement, it was like watching the rain dance.  A sip and a puff, with happiness, felt, now I can probably say that I have seen the goodness once again.

A Perspective

Rolling down the window, now, I have my head out to feel the sun. A passenger with my sunglasses on, filtering the noon rays, I relish the eastern breeze that bids farewell. Looking up, I see fluffy cotton candies, infinite blue skies swirling over and over, mirroring the sea, the tree-branches reaching on to each other, casting shadows, as they offer shade for those who may want to rest.

As one tries to capture every detail in prints, memorizing each honest breath, and transcribing the feeling on a canvass for words, my notes are filled by crossed-out lines and incoherent phrases. As one stumbles, not really caring of what color-paste to use, I am now overwhelmed by these scenes rolling before me.

Funny how we get from one place to the next, with ease, my once tired mind is now ready to have this skipping pen moving along, to have it scratching on my scalp before throwing a few wrong and a couple of right ones, I think I may have found a new perspective to finally begin with.

One of the best things while being away is the thought of you having something to go back to. While most of us are more than willing to drop everything, taking on that great escape, a vacation perhaps, being so darn spontaneous because we are young, or at least feeling like one, without really thinking about it, we are yet to realize that, what we are out looking for is already within our reach, inside the confines of our walls. Sometimes, all we need to have is another angle to see each day a new.

Drive down the interstate or have the curve taken, when you are tired of the usual things, try another route on your way home, or walk in the rain sharing an umbrella, seeing the city in full length in different hues.

As your body tires, you miss the scent of spilled milk on your pillow during sleep. Having those conversations in bed, heart-stoppers cheese eggs for breakfasts, and as the morning beams intrude, shining through the window pane, reading, and storytelling, with too much caffeine, you lie wide awake listening to cassette tape records. – that for you is one of the most profound things in life.

Daydreaming, I have my attention stuck on the ceiling cracks in the backseat. Halfway to the city, one can’t wait to have my first cigarette for hours, I turned my head back looking outside, ever longing to see her again, to hear her read the words out loud, promises, throwing those arms around me, now conscious, with my backpack stuffed with used clothes and a few bucks to get back, wishing to be in her sugar rush embraces soon, listening to her love stories, to be home.

The Simple Things

Sitting outside my door, on the steps reading the sky as it writes, its narratives across and over the day line, sharing the sunshine on everyone down here.  Pretending to be up there, I have my mind set imagining that I am taken adrift by the winds over the plains and the greens.  As I have my Journal with me, I am lost yet surprisingly felt found in the experience.  You can probably see me closing my eyes as I do this, opening at times to have that pen moving, writing down a list of what good things I may find inside my wandering mind.

So I take the time, then pouring coffee in a stryro cup. As I carefully do so, I hear my neighbor singing; probably making breakfast, the smell of garlic takes me back to Mom’s home cook meals and Sunday childhood laughs. – Then I go thinking, on why most of us at a certain phase of our lives tend to fall far apart from our child selves. I mean, we tend to focus too much on our careers, on how lavish we can provide, focused too much at work, so in preparation, we weigh things too much in almost everything that we do, that we over calculate things. In doing so, we tend to rule out the most important variables because we think that these things are not quantifiable factors, therefore, cannot be part of the equation. What I am referring to are the simple things in life. Think about it.

I am too, is guilty of this, I forget. That’s the problem, I miss watching cartoons with cigarettes, and have that pillow on your back, placing the ashtray on your chest while you enjoy the comforts of the cushions of the couch, brushing her hair, while she has her head over your lap, capturing each moment, striking the keys, writing, overflowing and hoping the words are enough, a humble attempt to paint the feelings, not stopping, reenacting the moments in magnification and detail. To have those moving Polaroid pictures taken, while still in bed, under the heavenly sheets and cloud-like pillows, white over the wooden base of the four-poster bed.

Remember those yesteryears of kite flying in the park, Jazz records-vinyl playing and reading old newspapers as the music echoes across the yard, spider hunting with lollypops, afternoon street games and puppy love.  We drift back to our past, but only during the split seconds of our hectic lives, not the way we used to, not the same way anymore, not like when we were still fond of colored-gummy bears, summer golden haze with iced candies. We only remember the simple things in life on the train ride from work, or during our coffee breaks. Seconds, we spare for these variables not part of the formula to success. For what matters now are the paper works and beating of deadlines. We drown ourselves with the things we thought important. We are bound within the shackles of this reality.

So I say, that instead of thinking so much of those sepia days you once knew, why not start trying to do something about it now. We have got plenty of time to ring a friend, and hang out all day, go out to try the best ramen house in town, have that wacky picture taken, watch ballgames, sword fighting with your son, afternoon naps and travel. The simple things in life are the best ones you see. And just in case you have troubles on getting started, you can start by counting your blessings. It will work, definitely.

Travel by definition

May it be flying or just a bus ride, just plain walking, or climbing mountains, it is in our nature to travel.  I have friends saying that at times when they feel bored or just think that they should do something different, will jump on a train, and go around the metro in circles, doing their reading for hours (their version, instead of going to a coffee shop), some enjoy the ride with their music on and have the tunes encrypted in their chests, some will fly to Cebu just to have Brian ribs to go or have lunch in Dumaguete, just for the heck of it.

Come to think of it, we travel all the time. From home to our schools, to our offices, some of us travel for fun or for work. Every time we get that phone call, receiving an invite to go to a friend’s place for an inuman, every time we carry our lazy butts to the store to buy cigarettes and pancit canton, we travel all the time.   Even an amputee can do his share of traveling, through his thoughts and words; he can break barriers, stacked walls, and opinions. When we read and explore words, when music writers make music and when we sing along.  Now, this kind is more profound, for it transposes to journey already, a greater degree of travel.

For me, it is best when we travel in the simplest fashion and doing it with romance. You know what I’m talking about. You’ve seen this already in movies. On a train or a bus ride perhaps, you see a couple sitting next to each other. You can’t really tell if they are interested in or in love with one another, maybe they are, or maybe the screenwriter just wants us to believe so when actually they are not. Nobody knows. The scene puzzles you. Let us asses further.  The actor has his hands holding the steel bar of the seat in front of them. The girl, on his right, holds her hair, not wanting the wind to ruin it, slides it tucked beneath her shirt. While the boy is trying to stay conscious, she kept on holding her hands together. And with reluctance, eventually, allows the boy to hold it anyway. She has sweaty palms whenever she is happy, she explains. The boy loves her happy hands. The boy then placed his head on her left shoulder, onto her arms, like a child he clenched. He relishes her perfectly matched scent on her sleeve. The girl looking at him, inside her she feels a silent kind of happiness.

We continue the romance.

 

INT Bus – Night.

She wears her Brit inspired sneakers, white trimmed with red and blue.  He wears his wristwatch on his right. Then the girl shoots in her analogies on why he likes it that way.

The camera zooms in focused on their entwined arms.  With their bags on their laps, they hide the sweetness, camouflaging it.  They were neither going fast nor slow.  They did not care anyway. Traffic is the last thing in their minds now.

Traveling goes beyond physical, it transcends.  Out of words, I turn to my sister in law, as she utters these words – “Traveling elevates you to higher plane of existence, that you are able to see things in top view”.

Many write about the coherence of Love and Travel. Maybe because of the celestial bliss it brings. May it be for answers, for wisdom or for love, may it be for stories or laughs or out of sheer boredom, we travel because we have to move along, and above all, to share. To borrow Ol’ blue eyes’ words, – Fly me to the moon!

Microbes

Every day you always hope for that perfect day going for you that everything goes your way whenever you are near her.  I mean, we try so hard to be cool and steady in her presence that more often than not, we end up smacking our heads with our palms, behind her back because of some silly things that you’ve said that may accidentally have taken her off, or at least you thought it did, especially with friends, that cross the line, but you know you can’t be angry at them on the same way. The point being is, even if you have that much of experience you always end up taking pauses and take time just to clear your throat whenever she walks by. You are powerless. Legs not working, you can’t get them to move. Microbes had eaten your chest. You are infected.

I don’t mean to pry, but it is an outbreak and there is no cure. Most of us are in the same pair of shoes, just a matter of preference of what size and brand of shoes we’d be wearing. I don’t have the answers on how you can sweep her off her feet, nor the ‘one-liners’ and ‘come on moves’, none of those. But I know songs.  And I know that songs have the same effect as that microbe we were referring about. Not to help pursue her, not to help you understand what you are going through, none of those. Again you are infected.

It’s like an incurable disease. You’d start noticing every detail about her, what color she usually wears, is she a lefty? those Mickey mouse ears, childlike ways, her stilettos, her hormonal mood swings that you are unusually obsessed about, then there’s the teasing but for you, it is normal, for now. Then you’ll feel that things are getting pretty scary, and at times you may think that you are losing it, but you’re not. Believe me, you are just fine. Those are just the microbes working. Most of the times, just to hide your addiction, by this thing called pretension, you feel like an actor in a play, convincing your audience, her, that you don’t care. Won’t work, it will boomerang. It is math. Expect that it is accurate.

Now, there is nothing left to do but to just tell her how you feel, but you just can’t. As a remedy, you’d then turn to heart amplifiers. Every day you’d put on those headphones, hoping to find your saving grace, you’d correlate every line in every song with those entwined days that you’d wish to spend with her – sitting on a bench, tangerine fields, rabbit clouds, and coffee stains shared morning views, breakfast. And as you listen, as you take on that curve, and the stretch of an avenue from your office, to the bus stop, everything around you are like moving pictures, a film and your playlist is the score.  And as the scenes in your head roll, you turn your head from left to right, looking at the city lights and the highway hues. And the immovable feeling will kill you at every end of each song. Darn microbes.

And before you know it, you’d be listening to way too much of Thom Yorke and his bizarre ballads, finding yourself in strawberry fields, looking at Lucy’s eyes, ever longing for those Fender imposed C minors and B flats, waltzing away, with her thoughts, trying to find the words between the lines on how you can finally ask her to have that first cigarette with you. Darn microbes.

The Fine Art of Sulking

Spending Saturdays in bed online, finding one’s frontier, reading romantic screenplays with cigarettes and junk food has become a weekend routine that starts in the first light, and stretches on till dusk, midnight until slumber hits you and takes over. In between the activity, are the daydreaming and the short naps, it is best with ice creams with cigarettes, an odd combination, but for a romantic, I’d say the stale taste and the sweetness of the experience will surely take you back…  Now focus you.

The mixture of all the sour things that happened and the few good stuff that filled your days with her will definitely hook you up with this kind of a weekend ‘hobby’, so to speak. As if you have any choice.  The sheets and the bread crumbs, the long hours of browsing online for that perfect Sunday afternoon song, reading lyrics and screenplays, certify you to be at it the entire summer.  You won’t survive without TV, – your HBOs and Nat Geos, and most of the hours awake, you are watching at the same time you are surfing the net, and listening to overly saddened British pop music, writing some of your thoughts, doodles, crumpled papers everywhere. And yes these are definitely possible. You’d be surprised how easy it is. Most of the people I know will drown themselves in the bathtub with alcohol, for some, antibiotics. But actually the art of sulking is a complex mixture of everything, except of course drugs, this option is way too extreme even for my taste. Overdrinking will not do it. Alcohol will overpower the romance in you. With bathroom medications, well, you don’t want to go that far of the line my friend.

Mind you, I am with you with alcohol, drinking is one of the few things in life (alongside with cigarettes) that are honest and will stick with you even if the night is over – I’m referring to hangover. It is just that, over drinking takes the sense out of you and makes you say and do things that you will definitely regret in the morning.  So I say do it right. With cigarettes, the pack brutally and honestly tells you that it causes cancer and ‘dangerous to your health’ – isn’t that something?

If you have to be alone, by all means, do it, I recommend before doing it, go to the grocery, get yourself a bottle Jack Daniel’s, (please drink within your tolerance), of course, cigarettes and a gallon of ice cream.  – You might also want to grab yourself 2 cartons of OJ, just for the kid in you.

Read.  Brain activity will surely help. Logic can provide you with a clearer picture of what you are into at the moment.  Music also does the same effect, only it is too emotional. But one can’t help but listen anyway because we long for it. We need it.  That is why it is imperative to balance it with logic. So read.

This kind of a weekend routine will last for about 3-4 months or so, depending on the severity of the case.  But it is normal.  All I am saying if you are to do it, do it right. You’ll know that this phase is over when you find yourself somewhere elsewhere doing a different thing, and doing it regularly. We’ll save that one for next. For now, enjoy sulking!