It's Better than Eating Alone

Friday, February 15, 2008

Valentine's Day

Clearly, it was one of the strangest days I ever had.

About a week or so ago I sent out a text message and asked this somebody if she had plans for Valentine's Day. She texted back and said she had none. I proceeded to ask her if there was any place near her condo that would be a good place to have dinner. After a text message that was querying the invitation, I received none afterwards. I opted for plan B.

I contacted a former classmate from high school who I have not seen for a long time. I asked her if we could see each other and have dinner on the 14th. Apparently, she had no plans. The date was set.

Class was no longer going to meet for Thursday in my College in UP, but I needed to go the library for the last parts of my research proposal. While trying to finish some stuff, my brother in Thailand starts YMing me. It got a little distracting which made me late for my appointed time to leave the apartment for about 15 minutes. Panic, I did not, though I did try to hurry up, forgetting my water bottle in the process.

I had to pass by my office to print a 50-page draft, which was again distracted by a co-worker who needed to print her own work. Twenty minutes later, I was still at the office when I should have left for the shuttle shed. I tried to leave in hurry this time.

The shed was near empty, but the shuttles were not. People were just piled in them. The shed, in a while, started getting crowded as well. More people, less vehicles. I looked at my watch and thought to myself, "I can wait 10 minutes, probably." Ten. Twenty. Afterwards, it was becoming a bit hopeless and ridiculous that I was thinking about how I could possibly get to school on time before the library closes. Forty-five minutes and I was on my way to the bus terminal.

My friend and I scheduled to meet at 8pm, so I was thinking that I shouldn't worry about the library time anymore and focus how to get there to meet her. According to my watch, I had plenty.

Two hours later, I was looking out the bus's window. I was still in the highway, when I should have been close enough to school. The bus, and all other vehicles in the same direction, were moving by inches, and all of us were oblivious about why it was taking us too long. Last time I checked, it was already 6pm.

More than three hours in the bus. The library at school was obviously closed, but I never did get a chance to do an ocular because I was still on the platform waiting for the train. I decided that it was no use going to school, and that I had to go straight to the meeting place, which was fortunately at the exact end of the line for my last leg of travel. Again, the transit was crowded, but I felt pleased that in a while, I was going to beat my hunger and dine with my old friend. The intercom suddenly hollered, "We are sorry for the inconvenience, but we are waiting for the red light. The train will not proceed until the light turns green." It happened five times. And it delayed my travel some more.

In my bag was a shirt that I was saving for dinner. I was only wearing black denim pants and a white shirt. I cursed myself for forgetting to shave a little. I looked awful. She already texted though, and there was no more time. It was already 8:20pm.

I found her, finally. She was slimmer this time, but the same, taller-than-I stature and the cute dimpled smile. She wanted to go to the foodcourt because she was obviously hungry. I was hungry too, but I wanted to be served and sit comfortably. Again, I had to munch up my pride because most of the restaurants were full. We settled for the food court. I asked her what she wanted, and she answered, "chicken and pasta." I, on the other hand, was in a rut because I did not eat chicken, but found out that I could order pasta alone. I had our meal on a tray, and walked back to our table, trying ever to avoid the many people who were in my way. Later she would complain that her chicken was not at all that good. Apparently, I was wrong in thinking that she ate from that part of the mall before. She later retorted that she was just actually very hungry. I realized that she hasn't changed a bit in these years. She's still this funny girl that made me laugh even back in high school.

After dinner I asked her if we could go to the sofa area of the foodcourt, noticing that some of the shops were already closing. We then continued talking about how things have been, and how things are. Later I asked her if she was seeing someone, where she replied that she just recently got into a long distance relationship. She even told me about the time when her former boyfriend and her were almost going to tie the knot, but the relationship fizzled and the wedding day did not become a reality. How funny, I told her, because I had the same experience. She is currently working out her present relationship, albeit far away from each other. I told her to try, and ask her guy to be sure about things. In a while, she prompted if we could go home because were both tired. I agreed.

At the back of my mind I still had her in my thoughts. Even in the bus I was asking myself why I was going through this. When I was at the mall I was asking why, when we were so near, when were just a station away, we were not able to see each other that night. She disappeared, never answered my texts, and until now I still wonder about what I said or did to make her do that. And on that day, when there was nothing wrong, in all the reasons I could think of, for us not to have been together, I spent it with someone else. I'm still looking for answers, and it sucks.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Crying Again

As I am once again exposed to mainstream and free to air shows on television, I can't help but be mesmerized by a lot of those "corni" types that I end up watching anyway. Now that I go to Manila twice a week, I end getting more of those serial shows and getting to know characters. I am very sarcastic however.

When I was still abroad, I came back home getting a glimpse of the Koreanovela fever as it was taking the country in its truly cultural embrace. Although I was familiar with the Koreans (I had several students who were), I was thinking about what was different about the shows that they sent over. Little did I know that there was a reason for that.

I stayed with some friends in their apartment that summer and ended up watching some of the video CDs that they had on subtitled Korean serials. Imagine my surprise when I became glued to it suddenly, seeing how funny yet uncompromising some of their plots were. I was also treated with watching one the first Korean movies that I viewed - "The Classic" - and ended up admiring it since.

And now that I'm back home for good, I'm able to prove again that some things that I may think as horribly unsatisfying becomes one of my greatest addictions. Although I have become choosy over which of these Korean serials to watch, I was sure to see the plots as they were and how they unfolded. This year, I picked on Coffee Prince. Just try to Google it to see what I mean.

Being unable to see it on TV to simply follow, I tried to catch up on what I can watch. But that was not enough. Soon the teasers were just unbearable and I had to know what was going to happen next. That wish came true in the form of my host home's having a copy of the WHOLE series, subtitled (albeit poorly) to be comprehensible at least. I had the marathon last night.

The problem though is with the state I am right now, the story got to deep for me. Although it had homosexual undertones (true, which made it all the more interesting. It is not as one would expect, however), the plot itself was very well done and the characters, in a sense, were emotionally real. The sap that I am, honestly, cried over one scene where, after they had a very passionate night together, the two characters had breakfast at the apartment's rooftop. D*mn, I think we used to do that.

I think it's time for me to fall in love again. For real, this time.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Wanted: A Life

Things happened very fast during the New Year's first weeks:

1. I needed to accomplish preparing (and presenting) reports to three of my classes in the University, and I was in deep need of references. I'm just glad that there are heaven-sent people and means that seem to make the overwhelming task easier.

2. I needed to move from one apartment to another, which happened bit by bit, every waking hour. What was harder was the fact that my new room's space was very difficult to manage. I'm thankful that now I have it all figured out. Now if only I could do my laundry better...

3. Work! Work! Work! Everything has been about working out things that work needs me to accomplish. The worst thing is - I have not been able to finish even one.

This is the time when I am not able to sleep at night (not that I had any sleep to begin with), thinking what did I miss. Right now my social life is in a halt. I'm not able to get through realizing that I am just going to the motions right now. Add to that is the seeming lonesomeness that I now have in my tower - my fourth floor apartment room. Staying here has been safe enough, but I have become a prisoner to comfort. I don't like it. I don't think I want to like it. I need a partner. I hope soon. Otherwise, I will go insane.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Despondence and a Reason to Live

I have been wanting to write a post again but never had the time. Today work treated me with a lunch meeting and I am happy that at least I didn't have to think about what to cook or have for lunch. Hunger pangs refuse to stop though.

It was a great weekend being with friends and with Rose again. Passing by the food place that morning and seeing her eat again was such an experience I'd play back in my head over and over again. While some ladies may abhor feasting on danggit while wearing a nice dress, she showed me how wonderful life can become if one just splurged away. She'll kill me for saying that.

Later on I realized that friendships are just about that - splurging on whatever life will try to throw at you knowing that you can simply be the way you are just because somebody else is watching and thinks the same way.

It has been really tiring for me. Though food is abundant and people have been very kind, I find myself waking up as early as 2am thinking that my life has to start circling all over again. Somehow my body can't help it. And my mind won't let up either. I even have moments when I just want to fall onto the floor because I think I'm in an overload of sorts. Yet I don't want to give up trying to piece my life into purpose. Heck, I could die anytime and what else can I say about that? I just thank God that He has kept me safe and in more ways than one, He has fueled me to go extra miles for the people that I love.

I think coming home has been a reward in itself. I'm not looking for confirmation, or affirmation. I'm not even looking for cost estimates on how long it will take me to realize that its been a wrong choice. It was still a choice I made. I'm quite sure that at least Heaven agrees with me. Or is it the other way around?

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Never Home

So I am here. Back home. Working. Learning. Wishing.

I never thought that all the ghosts of my neglect will come back to me, and I've never felt so friendless. Yup, there is such a term. Friendless. After almost two months back home, I still don't feel that I'm in a welcomed state.

My old friends who also experienced this after a year of teaching in Palau will probably give me the "I told you so" nag right now. I never thought it was going to be this hard. What is so hard about it? For starters, conversations are still too vague for me to understand. I don't know who they are talking about or what happened last year. I don't know really. And it is quite difficult to try to measure up when all I have are stories of the unknown that they can only say, "really?" Yup, really.

I'm comforting myself with college students as friends. Not that they are not enough. Let me tell you, they are loads of fun. I'm just guessing that I have a lot in me that requires a different kind of company. Something a lot deeper than just socialization. Something more meaningful than just the term, "friends."

My soul cries out. I need something to happen to me, to jolt me out of this misery. I can't sleep at night realizing that I'm just going through the routines again. I didn't go home for this. I didn't yearn for this. This shouldn't be happening.

Thursday, March 29, 2007


Next week, my anime ends with its run, and I don't know what to look forward to after that.

Memories are meant to be remembered, I suppose. But what do you do if those memories entail regrets? What do you if at the end of it all, the temporary happiness, the bliss, the promises just end in a darkened tunnel of your head and all you can do is curse why you have not done otherwise?

I know I should be over this. I'm sure I was over it. How come time comes in to knock at my door and give me back what I've thrown?

My past relationship was, for all it is, wonderful. I would never doubt if even she said it. However wonderment does not seem to guarantee prosperity, only uncertainty. And in that uncertainty I've lost her. And for less than two years that I've forced myself to endure, I've found nothing to fulfill it. Neither was I able to remain true to myself, with the fact that I can probably be the best liar.

I came across a film that suddenly my mind remembered: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I remember how the movie had an impact in making me think about memories, and making decisions on what you keep and what you want to let go. As the film's protagonist showed, it is hard to divide the line and decide if you really do want to forget, or is it just being forced into your being? Should I justify my memories of you as just a yesterday, or should I not I cause it to affect me today?

And as I try deeper to remember the film, suddenly I remember something else. I watched it with you. And I saw how much pain the role must have felt, because I remembered feeling the same way. "Should I let go?"

Less than a month later, we broke up.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Thank You for Calling Tech Support

I read a comic about a doctor drawn to attend a social gathering while where he was still wearing his white coat and a clipboard. The last panel stated (assuming it was his wife): "He loves socializing, but he just hates the free advice."

I was wondering about that joke and what that meant for doctors. Lately I've been understanding it a bit more. It seems that it has become pervasive for a lot of people to see another person by his
career or title. In the case above (for which I am also guilty of at some point), doctors might want to be seen as human beings having the need for a casual social interaction too. However, they end up becoming center-pieces and they end up being "free advice" columns. "So, I've been having this headache for while... What do you think?" Of course, the poor kind-hearted soul just has to go ahead and tell the pseudo-patient, "Just drink lots of water."

I've noticed this happens to a lot of people. I probably was ignorant at first, but I experience this almost everyday now. I work as a computer teacher and have been decisive about making sure that everything I work with and work for are innovative and efficient. In this small community that I am currently working for, I've also become the resident tech support person.

Observe how my phone rings and as I pick it up hear the voice of the school's neighbor, also a member of the school board and is asking me how to copy his files from a USB thumbdrive. What a lot of people don't seem to understand is that technology is not magic, and that the phone alone does not make any of us psychic or telekinetic.

I keep telling people that I did not have a degree in computers, nor have I taken any formal courses, except for 4 years of basic computer knowledge from high school and one subject in college on Microsoft Office. Those 4 years don't even include Windows (except during my senior year where I got to play with Windows 3.1). One of my more aged colleagues said she wanted to buy a computer so she could learn it. She said this after I've recently designed a teacher's lounge equipped with computers and Internet and a printer. I blurted, "You don't have to own a computer. I never did."

That was true. My sister owned one, and it was a DOS-based 286. But that was a long time ago, back when I was 13. I didn't own the thing, though I did get to use it a lot. Even in college, I had to write my thesis on my friend's 486 PC. Now, I'm writing this with a refurbished PC that I thankfully got from my former pastor. Technically then, this is the first PC I have ever owned. So I could easily say that owning something does not make much of a difference. I believe its a choice of exposure.

And that's what a lot of people seem to refuse to do. With the doctor story, maybe it can be justified. But there is a way of thinking now that tells us that we can listen to our own bodies and it can tell us that there is definitely something wrong. And besides, it's our choice to be healthy too.

So what about my situation? Or other people out there whose expertise with computers are above-average than others. I've heard, "Hey, can you look at my computer..." or even, "Can you fix my computer?" I'm tempted to say, "Do you know what I am capable of doing?" Of course sometimes I do relent and end up telling the person, "Yeah, just take it to a computer shop." That is when I have no idea whatsoever to fix the broken PC, or that I don't even have the time because I do have real work to do.

People's expectations however, don't change. "I can't log in to my e-mail." And I just stare and say, "Uhm, I'm not your service provider." How the heck do I know about your e-mail account or even understand why they won't log you in? I do love technology, but that does not excuse anyone to even try to tell me that I am its servant. "Come now, you are a computer wizard!" Nope. I'm not. Even Merlin would resent it if King Arthur was to come to him everyday and tell him, "I broke the Excalibur again." I wouldn't be surprised if I found a croaking frog on Camelot's throne.

Apple Macintoshes and Microsoft Windows have revolutionized the home computer industry in making sure that using computers is "idiot-proof." But with the ease of use comes complacency, and idiot-proof it may seem, it also became "learning-proof." Most people have decided to learn only a few of this and that in their daily tasks, and once they go off that routine, they end up lost.

I tell my students some of the essentials in learning computers - observe, experiment, question, and then learn. My students pester me when dialog boxes pop up and end up raising their hand and asking me what to do. My answer - "Read." Computers are not as incomprehensible as other people think they are. I think that is why the tech support industry has grown. Inversely though, the learning curve has slowed down to a point where the technology itself is taken for granted. Being one of those who laugh at the tech support joke of the CD drive mistaken as a cupholder, I can't blame anyone who can find humor in the oblivious situation most computer users are in. But that is just what they are missing - the fact that computers today are supposed to be more intuitive and directed to them, the average user.

One thing that one must realize is that even with technology, much like in other careers, the learning must never stop. I regret that I have neglected programming, and am now supposed to learn new ones. I am proud that now I have an understanding of Linux, and will be able to give you a working file and print server in less than a day. I can tell you the difference between file systems and platforms, and will be able to tell you why you don't have Internet connection. But I can't tell you how to make actionscripts in Flash, or even which instant messenger is the best. I too, have my shortcomings. I too, am still learning.

So to those who's becoming walking tech support systems, we can only help our "damsels in
distress" by making sure they learn. Give the man (or woman) a fishing line so that they'll learn how to fish. And make sure that they see us not as walking computer manuals, but people who do love socializing, or even casual conversations. Our topics do not end with computers. Maybe we like music too, or even dancing. Or not. There's more to us than anyone would ever think.

So the next time the neighbor asks you to come over to fix his computer, tell him, "I'll just send you the bill." And then be serious about it. That's one less pseudo-costumer to worry about.