Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Nostalgic Fantasy

It’s been more than a week since I arrived in my home country. The change of routine and environment seem to have affected my writing momentum. I missed last week’s Wednesday blog post, not for the lack of effort since I did write something, but it didn’t sound anywhere near sincere. 

As any vacation goes, the distraction can be more overwhelming than relaxing. The moment you step on that plane, your brain kicks into high gear and takes you on an overdrive. Would you believe me if I say I've been waking up at exactly 6:30 A.M. everyday? Me, Ms. I-need-more-sleep wakes up at 6:30 A.M.  

To be honest, I've been preoccupied by the silliest of thoughts. I had the thought that everything will be peculiar to me, when I come back: the sights and the sounds, the air and its lack of freshness. That people would be too busy with their lives, their work, and their family to spend an hour with me. I thought I wouldn’t be able to go around on my own, since I wouldn’t know where to get off and where to catch a ride. I thought the rains would keep me inside, considering it floods really easily where I'm staying. I thought I'd be able to write five hours a day, since I'll be seeing people more after they get off from work. I thought I would be able to exercise everyday, since I wouldn't be cramming for time. I thought...I thought wrong. 

True, there has been a lot of changes. But, I got the same home I left five years ago. The traffic is still as horrendous as it was before. I was expecting it to be worse than I remember, from all the complaining I've been hearing. But really, it's the same. In fact, in my opinion, it's a bit better, because now there's Uber. Back in 2010, waiting for cabs in the middle of rain was like a level of hell where sinners are tortured by poking their patience, sparking frustration, and keeping them soaking wet.

BGC really looks different: more high-rise buildings, less vacant lots. Megamall is hella bigger, but just as overcrowded. Mall of Asia didn't look different at all, although I didn't go too far from SMX where Asia Pacific Comic Con was being held. I still haven't gone to Makati, because I'm saving that for later, when I see some friends over there. Then on Thursday, I'll be at Cubao to see how it is now. Malls are big part of the Filipino life. Case in point, I work at a mall in California.

I still find it strange, after five years, it still feels the same life I left. Like my life was put on pause. Though the world did not freeze, the feelings were preserved in mint condition.  Strange, but not surreal. And it feels right. 

But it's not real. It really is much more of a fantasy. My fantasy. Because in a week, I'll have to go back to a place I refuse to call home. And go back to the grind, regulate my depression and wallow in self-pity. 

And wait for the next rail road the Fates have in store for me.

541 words. Not sure how long I did this one.
Forgot to do a countdown timer.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Boarding Time

Less than two hours to boarding, and here I am just about to write this week’s blog entry. So many things happened in less than one week. It almost felt like California was trying to hold me back. It’s probably thinking this daughter of mine has no intention of coming back. I think my mother was thinking the same thing.

But, I’ll have to come back. Just because I’m bound by duty to my parents and to my kind bosses who let me have a 20-day vacation despite only allowing 10 days at a time.

Last Saturday, my mother got a call from something-something-Pacific-hospital. A kidney had become available for her to pick-up, attach, and take home. But then she immediately deferred, because my trip was happening in less than a week. I was overcome by shock. I couldn’t even yell out my objection. 20-minutes later, she wanted to rescind her decision, but it was too late. The kidney was already given to someone else. As if that wasn’t enough, apparently her dialysis access was due for a maintenance three-weeks ago, but she thought she’d do it, God knows when, and it clogged up. She had to delay her dialysis one day, and go to an emergency surgery. TWO-DAYS-BEFORE-MY TRIP! Well, she said she learned her lesson and that when a kidney becomes available again, she’ll go for sure.

Although, it seems, I’ll have extra baggage in this trip. Forever asking if I wasn’t able to voice out my protest because I actually didn’t want to cancel my trip for her kidney.

I know this story should go to Ze Mudra Files. Or that, I should be writing about my progress in writing. But, really, there’s no way I could get some writing done while I’m almost always working 12-hour-shifts just wrapping things up at work, and packing things up and figuring out how not to go over the weight limit. I haven’t even been able to  exercise the last two days. My hips are severely misaligned and painful right now.

Just to let you know, I’ve got no shoes with me except the ones I’m wearing right now. I did pack a lot of socks. In retrospect, I have no other reason bringing those socks with me, except that they’re really cute.

Now, I’ll have 21 vacation days in total, including the 16+-hour-trip between cities. My plan is to write as much as I could in those days. I’d be able to dedicate more than an hour a day now. In fact, I plan on writing, at least, five hours a day! Hopefully, I’d be able to finish something. Even if it’s just the semi-final version of Takatak (because we all know that a screenplay only enters final draft after the movie’s screened in the theatre… or DVD … or Director’s Cut … or … you get what I mean).

I have to mention, though, how efficient SFO is. I was done checking in about 10 minutes. I did my make-up longer, which I had to do after checking in. I went through customs in 15-minutes. Found my gate in less than three. Waiting for the airline to get a gate took longer. Probably boarding will take a while. I don’t like my seat, though. I had asked for a window seat, but then suddenly I got an aisle seat. Bummer. Hopefully on my way to Manila from Narita, I’d get not the seat I deserve, but the seat I want. Story of my life.

I should save up and get me one (or two) of those luggage with four wheels.

603 words in 44minutes.
Now I’ll be writing my books.

Oh yeah, sorry about the delay.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

A Five-Year Mission At Its End

Commander’s log star date August 9th, 2016.

The five year mission I have set out for is almost at its end. A homecoming is all set in place, and after a three-week shore leave, my mission will be redefined and re-evaluated. I can’t say I’m not excited for this shore leave though. I do believe it’s a well deserved, if not much needed.

I could only describe the latter half of 2011 as a sensory overdose. Everything felt disparate for obvious reasons. The air smelled differently. The air felt differently. It was like I was looking through somebody else’s eyes, or I’m experiencing malformed out-of-body experience. I remember looking at trees lining up the street, and asking myself, “Am I really here?”

I’m very thankful that two of my friends lived nearby. I’m very thankful to Sheryl who drove an hour every day (1-way) just to keep me company from the day of my arrival until the day I was ready to walk on my own. At that time I didn’t really know how troublesome that was, considering a 1-hour-drive in the Philippines is starkly different from the 1-hour drive we experience on this side of the planet. In time, I learned to estimate the distance and translate it to Philippine-traffic-distance.

I’m thankful to Ate Jo, and her family, for taking me in so many times. They were a great source of strength. Life is very complicated here. Granted, I had really lovely cousins, aunts, and uncles. But, I could never seem to connect with them. My anxiety and awkwardness exponentially grew every time I crossed over their threshold (in fact, to be honest, it still does). One uncle actually called me a freak, and that sent me off to very dark place. Just remembering it, makes me irrationally emotional. I’m used to being called weird, eccentric, strange, and even abnormal—but it never felt like an insult like that one time I was called a “freak.” I’m thankful to my friends back home who answered my desperate pleas and watched me cry because at that moment. I just couldn’t bear it.

The alienation was terrible. I never knew one could live a Kafka-esque life. I was so close to turning into a cockroach. In fact, there were long moments, when I thought I was.

And because of that the short moments of fangirl/geek bliss I was blessed with, made it all the more worth it. Maybe it was the-powers-that-be’s way of pushing me up and keeping me from completely drowning. I met H. Naoto (though his shop didn’t work out in the Bay Area). I met Amy Acker. I met the Mythbusters Trio. I met Simon Pegg, John Cho, and Alice Eve in my command uniform. I got to see Shirley Manson’s Garbage (her band, of course). I got to see Bjork. I got to see Arashi! In a concert! Within spitting distance!

And it felt like life was telling me to hang on a bit longer.   

It took about two years to finally achieve the mission I was sent out for. After a numerous angry exchanges and an interstate-wide game of tug-o-war—I was able to move my mother from her deadly condition in Kentucky, to a meager-so-so condition in the Bay Area. I’m elated to see her healthy, at least as healthy as she could be. She complains about the fat, but that’s what makes her really beautiful now. Not wasting away, not looking like a 90-year-old when she’s only in her 60s.

Another two years was spent to settle down, and keep grounded. Now everything’s a routine: The work; The health-care; The writing.

In the five years, I’ve met friends who know my language and calls me freaky with complete endearment. I love them profoundly. I feel more confident. The trees don’t look too strange anymore. The air doesn’t smell too obscure. I’ve already learned to figure out when people are just being Americans, and when they’re really being rude.

One week to shore-leave … the question that has been occupying my mind— “What’s next?”