Wednesday, October 20, 2004

When the Night Has Come

I like this: sitting at the back of the room, watching people listen as someone talks in front of them, and I'm not expected to do anything, except observe.

Like an angel. Or a ghost.

How would it really feel like, to go through all these days without being seen or noticed, without going hungry or sleepy, without feeling anything, not even loneliness. Only a bemused detachment.

How would it feel to hear secrets all the time? To see people in unguarded moments, doing what they do when no one is looking. To be with a group but not be part of it. To be able to go anywhere, anytime. To lose the thrill of tresspass and the chance of being found out.

To be there, but not really.

It will be like a permanent Zen meditation, the longest prayer in the world. Watching people talk without listening. Watching a piece of paper as it lifts slowly from the corkboard, because of the airconditioning. Hearing the most distant sound of the world, as well as the unusual music of a dozen keyboards tapping. The rustle, the scratch, the moan, the ever-silent sigh.

I will be able to close my eyes for an entire day, feeling the wind on my skin, the sunlight on my eyelids, the tiny little creatures on my skin and hair, my clothes, my age-old pains hiding in my bones. The shifting earth, the long distant tremors from earthquakes on the other side of the world. The pea at the bottom of a pile of mattresses.

And the world will open up, with all its sights, sounds, and sensations. And it will be a million languages and experiences. And I will cry and begin talking to the world, instead of talking to myself.

Time will disappear and the world will become small like before. Life would become one big, endless journey: a pilgrimage, a long hike. And I will carry everything in my heart.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Get Go, Weirdo, Hairdo, Your Body

I am distracted, and I can't hide it. I'm bored out of my mind and I really hate it.

The never-ending bullshit that swirls around me, like an ipo-ipo, a tiny twister, irritating me, trying to suck me into its skinny ass. My frustration and anger level is very high. I want to lash out and hit something, some living thing, a tree, a dog, some pork meat.

Buildings, light, walls, shadows, broken glass, asphalt road, pebbles, rubber shoes, rats, texture of the city. I am running like hell, away from myself.

I want it all to stop and leave me alone. I want to change my brain and mind and insides and be someone else. I want to be wherever I am not. Where I can see the horizon all around, the clear sky, and hear nothing but the breaking surf or a falling tree.

I really, really, really want something else for myself. Maybe a bookstore in Canada. Will I like it in Canada?

I made her cry the other day. I want to throw out so many things from my condo. I want to strangle my neighbor. I am holding on to and cursing a rope, slipping off my hand. I should let go and let the chip fall where it may.

A thud. I want a thud.

Kiss me. Kick me. Do something. I want to run around the city like a plane looking for parking. I want to ride the MRT at twice its speed. I want to swing from all the tall buildings. I want to step on all the heads of everone in the massive crowd. I want shotguns and pellets and high heels.

I want to throw a cat outside the window.

I want to break out, don't stop to ask. Try to make it last. I want to find a way down the alleys and byways and highways and the fields and cats and the antelopes. Where everything is made of leather and bones and decaying leaves.

I want to squish the fat, green caterpillar with my aching, bare foot.

Who should I blame? Who can I slap in the face? Kick in the groin? Whose head deserves a baseball bat? This damn country is falling apart and we are all frogs slowly boiling in this fucking cauldron.

You, you, you. I hate all your indifference. Let's all die, except for me. I am so damned angry. I don't care to make sense or make excuses. I am about to explode.

Hey, you, guy looking at me with your fucking eye. Don't wink, don't offer me a drink. I will connect my elbow to your chest, and slam it with all my might. Don't touch my breast. See this ring? With this ring I will scratch thine lovely, boy-toy face.

Do me, do me a big favor, and get out of my way. Get out of my hair. Let me enjoy my margarita in peace.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

On Their Way Back From

I have a headache. I am bothered. Wild boys. You never close your eyes.

The days are passing by so quickly, like letters and newspaper slipping under the door. Like cold cuts being sliced, accurately, consistently. Swish, swish, slash.

I was at Powerbooks the other night and I found myself watching people. Cute guys, cute girls, weaving through the fiction shelves. When I am stressed, I think of sex.

I haven't read any novels for quite some time. Back in college, I decided to spend a lot of time understanding the short story form. Mainly a practical decision: it was easier to read and store than novels. So I collected the annual Best American Short Stories. I wanted to collect the Philippine version, but the closest thing was the Palanca compilations--which was published erratically.

Now, there is a deluge of novels.

For a time, there was a lot of memoirs and confession novel. About rape, child abuse, violence, trauma, psychological problems. As a reaction, one guy came out with a novel about his tediously normal childhood.

If I had confidence (or talent) as writer back then, it would have been fashionable to write about my unhappy/happy childhood, the roots of my current distemper, distraction, distaste.

Luckily, with my limited budget (because of an overblown credit card debt), I enjoy reading the blurbs of novels. Pictures of the author is an extra thrill. If the book is interesting enough, I even try to read a few pages, always starting with the last page. And sometimes, while I kneel for the lower shelves, my eye goes of the page and catches a patch of skin, nape, elbow, thigh, of the girl across me.

I love browsing through books.

I've always complained to myself that I don't have anything to write about. Write what you know, they admonish, all these published authors teaching in the Ateneo. But I hate what I know, what I've been through. All I ever had was anger and confusion and denial. How can I write and go around the very core of what I'm looking for.

Myself, my heart, my next step.

I miss all the friends I've made, especially the ones I pushed away. In my mind, I decided that they all want to leave me alone, let me be. In my mind, at the very back, I wanted them to save me, pull me out. Time gave out, years ago. I am now on my own, avoiding self-destruction at every turn. I have friends, some good ones, but I am supremely afraid of hoping anymore. God will save me, if I am lucky.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Legs, Legs, Legs Mo Ay Nakakasilaw

Zhang Ziyi's defiant lips, they burn a hole in the movie screen, in my mind. Those glassy eyes. I love her when she's angry. I love her, up there, on the screen.

After her fame from Crouching Tiger, she went on a rampage with those credit card commercials and that Jackie Chan movie. She is a tea cup, taking in whatever role she plays. She has no value for me outside those beautiful kung-fu movies.

In House of Flying Daggers (Shi mian mai fu), she finally completes the romantic destiny she started in Crouching Tiger. The romance there was just an anecdote, a piece of trivia, that we all wished could have been the central story. Everyone loves a love story.

As Mei, she had two men fighting for her. I would have fought for her too. Zhang Ziyi is so beautiful.

But I don't like her toothy smile.

Long ago, when I started working, I had this cute Chinese officemate. She wasn't a headturner but she was so nice, and she was beautiful when she smiled. We went shopping together a lot and became fast friends. We both loved movies.

One Saturday afternoon, after a coffee date, I invited her up to my condo. It was a great, cloudy, cool afternoon. It was unusually bright in my room that time. We sat in my queen-sized bed and I shared my drawings with her. We ended up lying beside each other. In the distance, from somewhere, the sound of a bird.

It was a romantic moment. She was my friend, perhaps even my best friend then, and I haven't told her that I was bi.

I was so scared to look at her eyes. Her chinky, honest eyes.

But I did and I didn't do anything. What happened next was totally unexpected--I suddenly felt extremely protected and comfortable. I held her hand and put my head on her arm. I closed my eyes.

I miss her so much: have a happy birthday, you.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Hopelessly Devoted To

Displaced, lost, homeless, surviving. This is my latest realization about myself.

It all seems to be coming together. I have admitted on and off to feeling lost, and to having no home, and--more recently--to feeling like I'm just surviving. But tonight, I forced myself to admit that I am lost.

Lost is my theme, my pattern, my central metaphor. Lost is who I am. I am lost. I have no reference. I am here but I don't know where here is. It made sense, makes sense. But not just lost.

My eldest sister, my most favorite sister, left home when I was young. She moved to Manila for college, then worked as a programmer, and managed to get transferred to Singapore. She is now in the States, working for a pharmaceutical company.

Then in third year high school, my father sent me to Manila to live with my aunt. I finished my high school away from my parents.

A month before I graduated from college, my mother died.

Holding that fake diploma in my hand, standing before my batchmates, I squinted and looked into the crowd. My mother should have been here. Instead, I see my two sisters with their husbands. I didn't invite my father. I realized at that moment that I didn't have a home to go back to.

My eldest sister went back to the States and my other sister went back to their house in Laguna. I moved out of our house and stayed in a ladies dorm.

Nearly a decade later, I'm here in this Makati condo, with a view of the urban wasteland. A distant water tower is my constant moon.

All these years, I've dreamed of doing something else, of being something, of finding myself, my true calling. I've been looking for the secret of my life. Was I an artist? A painter? A scuptor? A writer? A filmmaker? Or am I nothing but another credit card holder, paying the monthly minimums?

I am a copywriter! A trying hard graphic designer!

When I was young, I read a lot: Nancy Drew, Alfred Hitchcock, Enid Blyton, 1970s issues of Seventeen, Collier's Encyclopedia, Liwayway, Hiwaga. Just like my mother. I also drew and painted. I played the electric organ (Yamaha) and the guitar--but sucked at both. I wrote for the school paper. I did a couple of school plays and one for the church. I wanted to be an architect.

Somewhere along the way, I lost it. I lost the drive, the sense, the purpose. And I got lost.

This is my truth.

I am here, lost here. I have no home to go back to, no home to hope for, wish for or remember. I have no family to care for me. I am never where I should be. And I am fighting for my life.

Lost. This is neither good nor bad. It's just how it is now. I can't change it or change how things have been. All I can do is accept it and embrace it. This is my mark, my difference, my uniqueness. This is my damn fucking world, how I see things--my vision.

The road, the dirt road. The shade. The rain. The strangers that pass me by. The unreliable memories. These are all I have. And my wits and guts and my instinct for survival. How will it turn out? What will I do?