An attempt to make sense of things in a random universe, one Friday at a time.

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Location: Philippines

Leaving my footsteps for you to find and follow, my love.

27 November 2015

The State of my Fortysomething-hood Address: The First 100 Days

It has been mostly quiet, which I believe is because I have just come from darkness and the brink of destruction. The first hundred days of my being forty has been spent quietly and slowly going through the remains of my old life and putting the most important and most essential things back into perspective. It's a very enlightening endeavor. I now have a slightly different view of the world and how it works, and of how I fit into that world. I'm still working through that, though.

When I turned thirty, I was excited. I was riding on the wings of a new life in Manila, and I had nothing and was no one but I was working on owning something and being someone. Turning forty, on the other hand, was full of trepidation, largely because I was sick, but also because I never really paid attention to the passing of the years, until I woke up one morning and realized that a decade has passed me by. My contemporaries were having grandchildren. Former classmates were celebrating two decades of married life. Twentysomethings were calling me "Tita." I, however, remained where I was in time, until time kicked me abruptly out of my thirties. I can't say it didn't try to warn me; of course it did, but I wasn't paying attention. I guess I was too busy living my life.

So here I am now, a hundred days into this fortysomething-hood. I haven't yet figured out how to proceed, but here are some things I have learned recently.

I don't really need as many material things as I thought I did. I could be totally happy and productive on just a five year-old MacBook Air.

I am not a shoe person. Neither am I a bag person. I have ended up using the same bag and the same two pairs of shoes for the past six months and I have never noticed until now.

My father is the most reliable and the most patient man I know, my mother the most caring, but in a slightly nervous fashion.

It is possible to have housemates and never know their names. It is also possible to have housemates you don't know the names of and still care whether they need pain killers for their menstrual cramps.

I still detest the idea of dying my naturally salt-and-pepper hair a different color.

I cannot live without a table and a traditional electric reading lamp.

My genes have asserted — and I have conceded — that my hips will always, always be at least 40 inches no matter what I do.

People totally take naps while riding public transportation, and they don't always get robbed.

It's possible to get to the University of the Philippines, Diliman campus, from where I live in the City of Manila, for less than 50 pesos.

There are over ten different kinds of folding umbrellas that Fibrella makes.

Metro Manila has the worst sidewalks. One can actually get injured — and infected — just walking on them.

It's important to get regular facials. Good lighting is equally important, both when studying and when getting my picture taken.

I don't need 1,000-count pure cotton bed linens to have a good night's sleep; all I need is peace of mind.

It takes me one hour to walk leisurely from the office to where I live, 45 minutes if I walk fast, and 30 minutes if I walk really, really fast.

I can read three Agatha Christie novels in one day if I wake up early, go to sleep late, and do nothing else on that day.

I will not die if my clothes hangers don't match.

When it rains in Metro Manila and I'm walking, the rain actually pours up from the pavement as well as down from the sky. Manila is creepy that way.

I have more than one kind of friend. I have the kind that actively checks on me and always insists on helping me out, everyday, and not without a little drama, and I also have the kind that quietly watches out for me from a distance and protects me in their own aloof way, without my knowing. I love both kinds of friends.

Writing things down and making lists is a crucial activity for survival.

Not all automatic transmission cars can be driven the exact same way, but all manual-transmission cars are the same.

You really, truly don't remember things from a fugue. Hollywood got this right.

Just as friends and family are important, so are fellow writers. They are the friends-and-family that always assure me I'm still making sense even when the rest of the world thinks I'm batcrap crazy.

Writing a book is a wonderful antidote to having accomplished nothing else.

There is a real and permanent cure for varicose veins.

Women wear short shorts everywhere now, which makes the aforementioned cure for varicose veins even more welcome. On the other hand, men's shorts these days are no longer shorts. They are vile, hideous half-pants.

Wide-range multi-coated progressive lenses are very expensive, but they are worth it.

There are times when a full jeepney becomes like a mini-barangay.

Three 27-inch LCD monitors placed side to side can really heat up an entire cubicle if the airconditioning is not turned on.

Not all projects that offer good pay should be taken. Sometimes the most fulfilling projects are the ones done pro bono for clients that actually care about other human beings.

If a man really loves you, he will come after you even if you leave him, storming your world with a passion so decisive that it changes him, turns him into the the man you want to be with.

It is possible for me to forgive the man I love and still keep my standards.

I am more aware now, not just of the minute, quotidian details of life, but also of the grand, overarching principles that surround living.

I have an idea of how small a dot I am in the universe, but I am also aware of the ripple that I can cause in this universe.

I have finally learned how to listen to time. It is telling me stories; it has been telling me stories all along.

[Image credits: 123456,]

20 November 2015

For you

I like brunches and midnight snacks and peanut butter sandwiches. I like museums and libraries and long walks at sunset. I like hugs and flowers and long talks and music from the seventies. I like sleeping in because I was up late reading. I like writing in longhand, and splurging my savings on really divine writing paper. I like sitting by windows and watching the rest of humanity pass by.

I like being quiet and still, so that you can have the chance to see me, clearly, de-blurred from motion, and thus figure out how to make me fall in love with you.

[Image credit]

13 November 2015

One step forward

I have always loved driving, and thought nothing of driving from Manila to Naga to Baguio during those years when I still worked for the Philippine National Police Special Action Force. I haven't driven as much since then, but I still drove a lot within the Greater Manila Area for several years, up until June, when I suffered from an anxiety disorder which rendered me unable to drive, among other things.

But since this November, I am driving again. The first two days of it was spent driving with a friend. We were both on vacation in Naga at the time; he came from Qatar and I came from Metro Manila. It was really a glorious day.

On the first day we went to a bar that belongs to a cousin of mine. On the second day we went around the city, and shared a meal at this really awesome Spanish restaurant.

Then we took pictures of this gorgeous black church, which used to be unpainted gray cement for the longest time. I think painting a church black is a really awesome idea.

Then we made a beeline for the the mountains. It was a beautiful day for a drive, and the roads were clear.

After that we headed the other direction, towards the coast. We even captured a rainbow on camera, a sign of good things to come.

At sundown we started heading home, but we dropped by Bigg's Pili for an early dinner. There was an accident along the way. Two trucks crashed into each other, and one of them caught fire. We were stopped at traffic for about 40 minutes, but that traffic did not make me panic. That was yet another sign that I was already okay.

I drove the entire way, from morning to evening, and I felt no fear. I drove just fine. All the old driving instincts and habits have been preserved in me. My driving instructors and my entire driving life has taught me well.

Driving has never felt so liberating. I have a heightened appreciation for it now. I still will not drive in the legendary traffic of Metro Manila, to where I have already returned, but now I know that it’s because I don’t want to, not because I can’t. I have the power of choice again, and I am grateful.

06 November 2015

You fly out tomorrow but before you go

I want you to know that while you were here, the winds have blown wild in my world, bringing with them such colour and sound as I have never seen before. In that brief tempest there formed a capsule that contains time, words, nights, music, sunlight, roads, breath.

But in time this capsule will shrink, ever so slowly, until it becomes small enough to become the atom that buries itself in the back of my mind. In a while, even that minuscule remainder of who we have been will be subsumed by the years that will come and propel you away from me.

Go now, my love. Fly out to a me-less sky. May all your dreams come true.

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