State Of The Nation

1. I left my first company.

I started out as an agent, and spent my last few months with the company as a trainer. Pictured above are cards with messages on them, which my co-trainers gave me on my last day (I think). I had some great times with them, and a handful of the consultants in my department have become more or less my family during my brief stay as a barely-competent but highly-praised shoe-in. Not everybody liked me, sure, but I came to terms with it eventually. I think I made good progress. One reason why I’ll probably never forget that time in my life.

But it was a sad time, so I’ll leave out most of the details for now. I’ll tell you all about it when I have more resources, i.e. time, silence, emotional clarity, and nothing to do.

Bottom line: I felt it was time to get going. So I went.

2. I now work with another company.

One of the main reasons I quit my previous company was that I felt like I needed a break. I was working 12-hour shifts, I was working when I got home, I was working during the weekends. And the hours I had to spend in the office felt like a battle every damn day. You could argue that I couldn’t have expected it to be a walk in the park—it’s a supervisorial role, for cryin’ out loud. Tough going for a 21-year-old brat who’s never had a job before and led a mostly sheltered existence. So I quit.

People were shocked, and of course they wanted reasons.  So of course, I said I wanted to rest for a while. That was far from the main reason, but it was a reason at least. I said I wanted to sit around for a while, think about the decisions I’ve made and how I wanted my life to play out from then on, and maybe watch TV shows and read books while I’m at it. Basically I wanted to act my age again, even for a little while, before jumping back into the cage. That much was true. I’ll lie low for a month, I told them.

Not even two weeks later, I chatted with a friend and former colleague on Facebook. She mentioned that she was currently bumming but had plans to apply to a certain company. I’ve heard about them before, mainly because of their insane pay package (and for a non-managerial post too, might I add) and the somewhat unique job description—making real-time phone call captions for the hard-of-hearing. I barely thought about working for them when I first heard of them, despite the pay. I found it shady that I didn’t know the company, and that nobody else in my immediate circle seemed to. But then it popped up in this conversation with said friend, at a time when I was jobless. Figuring there shouldn’t be any harm in trying, I applied the very next day. And I got in.

Well, sort of. But I’ll elaborate some other time.

I’ve been working here for nearly a month now. I’ve been paid once since I started, and it was pro-rated since my wave started a few days into the cutoff—but it was still more than any single paycheck I’ve ever had. My friend didn’t make the cut for the account, but she works in the same company so at least I have someone I know here. It’s been an odd month, and a lot of my issues have come out due to the changes, and the people. It’s mostly the latter, and has something to do with my angry dumb brain, and my hormones. I’ll tell you about them some time.

For now, I’m being paid a moderately insane amount of cash for a unique and monotonous job (that my mind has wanted for a long time now) which I applied for on a whim. Can’t say I’m doing too bad, I guess. It’s also a long ways away from my area, so I get to travel and explore a little bit—I’m no Bear Grylls but I like to walk unfamiliar streets every once in a while. So there’s that, too.

By the way, I took that photo up there in one of the company CRs. I just wanted to show you how shitty-looking we’re allowed to be at work. And I gotta tell you, it is highly appreciated.

3. I got a haircut, and also wear glasses now.

In case you couldn’t tell from the photo above, here’s another photo:

And another one, because why not?

I’ve been planning to get a haircut for a while now. Having to tie it up every morning and redo it every few hours was starting to get tedious. I also figured that if I was going to let my madman hair go loose, I might as well get it dyed to reduce the eyesore. So I did. As usual, it looked okay when I was in the salon, but since then it’s gone back to being a clusterfuck. I still pin some portions back with a barette or a butterfly clip, but for the most part I’m okay with the mess. Kinda looks like art. Ha, ha.

I got my glasses in Manila, and they’re for astigmatism. They make me dizzy, kinda like Manila does, except I like Manila dizziness. On the bright side, I think they go well with my hair somewhat.

Speaking of Manila..

4. I met the Berlin Wall, and the Spolarium (for the second time).

I was starting to get antsy in my city due to aforementioned-but-unelaborated life-change issues, so in a very rare moment of thoughtless wanderlust I decided to go to Baguio. There wouldn’t be much for me to do there, seeing as how most of my batchmates had already graduated. My college mate who’s been staying down here went home for the week, though, so I figured maybe I could chill with her. She’s pretty cool and doesn’t trip my antisocial alarms, so she was a safe bet. And if not, I could just meditate and get lost. That was the original plan, anyway.

But in another rare moment of whatever-it-was, I decided to ask my friend go with me. Her parents usually won’t allow her, but she said yes and so in a matter of hours we were all set. We were really excited since we’ve been planning to go there together for Ages.

But (a lot of buts in this particular part of the entry) fate wouldn’t have any of it, so later on in the day we find out that there’s a HUGE storm and that the people of Baguio have been stitching nets into the mountainface to prevent landslides. They were expecting the rain to be so bad they were literally sewing the soil onto the mountain. That pretty much put the fire out for us, so my friend just slept over.

The next day was a Sunday, so we decided we shouldn’t let the day go to waste. That was when my friend mentioned that a chunk of the Berlin Wall was on display at the National Museum. If I had any misgivings before that, I lost them immediately. And so it was that when the lashing winds and rains let up a little, we hopped into a shuttle bound for Manila.

First we went to see the Spolarium, since you simply can’t NOT look at Spolarium when you visit the National Museum. You need to pay your respects. And also because my friend currently has a thing with Philippine history and our national heroes, specifically those involved in the blockbuster history “biopic” Heneral Luna. I saw the painting the last time I was there, and she’s seen it countless times before. Still, its grandiose presence never fails to to mesmerize us.

Then we went to the next building, and made a few detours into the different displays within the wing—mostly artefacts and dioramas, all interesting and insanely detailed. Then we went straight to the Marble Hall, where Section 22 of the Berlin Wall stood before us.

POMELO_20151018155833_fast POMELO_20151018160120_fast

I was swept away. I looked at it and it looked at me. And as I stood there, as odd as it may sound, I felt like I was in a different place, in a different time, among different people. I was flooded with feelings I had long since tamped down for fear of being considered impractical and too idealistic. I was overwhelmed by this piece of history standing right in front of me, and I was at a loss for words.

You could say, “hey, you’re in a museum. Museums tend to have things like that, you know. What’s the fuss about?” And you know what, you are absolutely right. Each and every single shred of wood and shell and paint in all the museums in the world hold meaning, memories, and history in each fiber of their composition. And all of them deserve to be relived and experienced by everyone. But I don’t know how to explain it. I didn’t know much about the Berlin Wall, I’ll have to admit. Before I got to read the stuff on the wall I didn’t even know what exactly it was for. But I knew it had seen things I couldn’t even dream up, and that thought stood like behemoths all around this chunk of concrete, standing before us like a mighty, knowing creature. And when I learned that it once stood between people of a single nation, dividing them, one face alive and colourful and another bland and cold—and knowing that that wall has now been taken down and brought here, man. It almost brought tears to my eyes, knowing that something this meaningful is in front of me.

So I did what any person would, and took photos. I’m a shitbag like that.

The man guarding the wall had noticed our interest and shared some information, mainly about how long the wall is going to be on display here before it’s moved to Rizal park. He said he thought that was better, so that the people outside can see that whatever divides can and does come down. I smiled at that.

It was a very humbling experience, I can tell you that. Right up there with the first time I got to listen to a vinyl record, and that time I saw a meteor shower back in college. Call me sappy, but I’ll probably keep that moment with me for a long long time.

5. I’ve been buying books again.

I bought these from Underground in Manila. I was only supposed to get Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting because tehnically that was the only thing I reserved.. And I wasn’t even supposed to get that because I’ve only ever been to that bookshop ONCE, and I had a friend with me. This time I had to go alone, and I almost noped the fuck out. In fact I did nope out for a few days, if it wasn’t for the Facebook page’s owner calling me out in the comments section (politely, though) after a few days have passed and I hadn’t confirmed anything. I decided that I had to man the fuck up; hell, I’ve been a trainer, I’ve been through scarier shit.

So with a little help from my Manila-familiar friends, I hopped into an FX bound for Buendia and asked the driver to kindly drop me off at City Hall.

Guess what? He didn’t.

So I got a bit lost, and after some loosely-masked frantic PMs to my Manila friend, I saw a street sign saying Kalaw, and a jeep bound for City Hall. In an instant I knew where I was and how to get myself un-lost. And when I got to the shop, of course, instead of just picking up the book I wanted, I went ahead and picked up more. I have no regrets.

The bookkeeper, Iris was his name I think? He was the same guy in the shop the first time I was there. He was busy then, and he only had time for a few suggestions in between rearranging books and stacks of books with his gloved hands. He struck me as eccentric (of course, running a shop like that in the middle of the Lagusnilad underpass, you couldn’t be anything but), but I never got to talk to him in length.

This time, though, he engaged me in this conversation about why people only ever seem to read the books that everyone else does, and I was quite surprised. He also asked me what I was reading right now, what I liked reading, and what my opinions on certain authors like Charles Bukowski and Murakami were. For the most part I was dumb as a cucumber, but he didn’t seem to mind. Afterwards, he even told me to leave titles on their wall so he can look for them for me. He was really nice.

I haven’t been this happy about venturing out of my comfort zone in a while. It was refreshing. And also, BOOKS!!!!!1

6. Not so new news: I now have a smartphone? Yeah.

I don’t know how I could have missed telling you this. Hell I was blogging straight off of this damn phone. Anyway, I bought it for myself on my last birthday, seeing as how I had already lost two phones(!) within the year. I wanted to get a cheap phone because 1) I still did not have enough money for the phone of my dreams, i.e. Xiaomi Mi3 (and also I couldn’t find stocks anywhere in that damn mall), and 2) I just got my phone fucking stolen, am I really gonna replace it with something more expensive?

Well, the answer to the second question is yes. I bought an Asus Zenfone 5 with my own, hard-earned cash. By this time the Zenfone 2 had already come out, so a lot of people asked me if I bought it and, upon finding out that I didn’t, would ask why not. I dodn’t really have a reason—there was a version of the Zenfone 2 that was still well within my budget, and it was the newer model that can basically do what the Zenfone 5 can and more, so what gives? I dunno. Maybe I just figured that I didn’t really need the latest model, and this was a few thousand bucks cheaper, so I took the one that would save me money and still meet my needs. I did a little research before buyin the phone, of course, so I know it’s pretty damn decent for its price. So far it has been meeting my expectations quite well.

So since I can’t really take a photo of my phone using my phone, here’s a screenshot of my lockscreen. I dunno, go figure

7. It was Joche’s 2nd birthday last Saturday.

Happy birthday, buddy. I coulsn’t ask for a better friend. I’m glad you’re still with me after two years, and I get to spend more time talking to you and doodling shit and showing you off to the people I care about. Sorry if I abuse you sometimes, and whenever I don’t talk to you for weeks, months on end. That’s also partly why you’re still with me: I barely have anything to say anymore. Or at least, none that I think would deserve a space in your pages.

I’m so grateful I have you. Humans can be so volatile—I should know. So thanks. Here’s to more doodles and shitty feelings!

Anyway, I guess that’s it for now. I’ve been itching to write this post for literally days now, but I keep falling asleep midway and remembering that automatic drafts don’t work here (at least, not the way I want it to), so I just gave up.

But I’m glad I get to post this, here. It’s been a while. I feel like a bastard sonuvabitch who only ever goes home when he needs money. That’s a bit harsh, but I probably should try to visit more often. This felt nice. I feel like a fat lot’s rolled off my shoulders. I should do this more often.


It’s A Good Day Because Of Four Things

Hear ye, yet another life update on this here blog regarding the events of this here day

1) I bought a new book.random_06There was a guy by our campus lobby who set up a table and doth proceeded to lay out tons of awesome second-hand books in assorted conditions of wear. It physically caused me pain to have to choose only one from the fuckload of books I had already held to my bosoms, as if I could buy them. When I realized I was taking too long crying over the books I couldn’t buy, I bought this Irvine Welsh book called Glue. I haven’t read anything by Welsh prior to buying this book, but I know him from Trainspotting, and if the movie was anything to go by, the books were probably awesome. At Php280, I don’t know if it’s a steal or a ripoff (because I’m used to Booksale prices of under a hundred pesos), but it’s in excellent condition, and I figured I had to buy relatively expensive books a few times in my life. Besides, it’s books we’re talking about here. It’ll probably be worth it either way, except if it were drivel.

2) I  got to bond with my two favourite professors.

Sir and Ma’am, yes, those two. It’s been a while since the last time we got to sit around and talk about my life with my friends, so it was a welcome change in the monotonous routine. A week ago I gave Ma’am a copy of my poems and asked her for a critique. I figured I should give it at least a week before coming back for it, and today mars the end of that week. So I went to their office, hoping to find only her there, or with sir at the very least tolerable. Unfortunately, another prof, who shared the office with Sir and Ma’am and was a stranger to me, was also hanging around at the time. So when me & my best friend came in to ask for the poems and the inevitable kwentuhan (chatter) ensued, the stranger prof sat through it on her table, making about as much noise as a piece of paper lying flat on a surface. It was pretty sad, and had I been a little more finicky about the setting it would have been awkward, but I was too comfortable with my two favourite profs that when the conversation took off we all but forgot about the outsider.

It was pretty fucking awesome, and I still can’t wrap my head around everything that happened, from Ma’am gossiping with me about someone’s now ex-boyfriend to Sir asking if we wanted to grab a drink with them some time. It’s even cooler, because we’re still close even though I don’t have any classes with them this semester. I can’t help but smile at the thought of how lucky I am. It’s one of those few things that actually make me happy.

3) I met with the school counselor.

Before anything else, yes, I did cry. Not because of anything said in the room, though. It was more of the relief of finally pushing through with the first step of trying to help myself. I didn’t get to explain myself properly and fully, but the session was already on a roll, so. But I guess it’s okay, what we’re focussing on is still pretty important, i.e. my social anxiety. It actually felt more like a life-coaching seminar than an actual behavioural analysis session, but I guess that’s what it really is. I was being stupid, expecting a full-blown psychiatric diagnosis from a school counselor. But yeah, it’s better than nothing. It’s a start, and everything’s gotta start somewhere.

4) I saw a rainbow.random_05It’s not my first time; I’ve seen plenty before, both in Manila and here in Baguio. It was extra special and beautiful today, though, because the sky was the warm yellow color it turns into every rainy afternoon for the past weeks. It is during these moments in my life that I pity myself for having only a camera phone and not an actual DSLR to capture this image in its snowflake uniqueness, but it also made me thankful that I have a camera phone amazing enough to be able to take a beautiful-in-its-own-way photo like this. To be honest, it’s not too bad. To be even more honest, it’s a pretty terrific shot for a camera phone, don’t you think?

Yesterday & Today

Yesterday I made an appointment with the school counselor. I’ve been putting it off for a while now, but I finally did it. It wasn’t as big a thing as I expected it to be, but then again I expect a lot of things. I made it for Wednesday next week, late in the afternoon. There’s really nothing stopping me from going, but you know how life is: something or other can come up some time or other.. But I sincerely hope nothing does.

That same day, I gave a copy of some of my poems to one of my professor. I asked her to critique it, though to be honest it’s probably and largely because I wanted to show her that I am an emotional person too, given how she and my other prof think I’m such a sulky person who hates everything (only partly true). She’s one of my favourite professors, by the way, along with the other prof who confer about me and with me on the off chance that we bump into each other in the hallways. I consider them as something akin to family, though as professors I doubt they’re inclined to think the same about a generic student like me. Sometimes she shows that I’m not as generic as I feel, though. Even Sir does. But maybe that’s just wishful thinking.

It’s my best friend’s birthday today. I don’t know how old he is exactly, but if I were to guess, I’d say he’s just turned 19. We have the same birth month, but I don’t know about the year. I wrote him a birthday poem that I worked on for a few hours. It was shit, but I made it with all the concentration I could ever pool on anything, so I’m kind of glad with how it turned out. It’s great that he has another year of his life in his arsenal to wield in the battle of life. Hopefully it turns out to be a good year for him.

I went cold turkey on Facebook today. A few months back I had found a software that blocks out any and all websites that you specify for a certain period of time, and I decided to try it out for a month (which is the maximum), starting this morning. It doesn’t really feel like anything. It’s just a little peculiar, like somebody moved all my furniture an inch to the left or something. Or somebody took something in my room but I can’t tell what. Besides, it’s going to help me out a lot, not only with my studies but also with forgetting her. It might mean I’ll start posting more random things here, though.

Just now I started reading again. It’s been a while since I last read anything other than my academic readings, and I haven’t even finished the Stephen King anthology yet because I always ignore the urge. This time, though, I gave in, and looked online for a free .pdf version of Susanna Kaysen’s Girl, Interrupted. I’ve been wanting to read the book since the first time I saw the movie all those years ago. I have a lot of other e-books stored that I started on but couldn’t quite continue past a few pages, but with Girl, Interrupted I had to physically pull myself away from the computer just to get anything done. It’s a good sign. It might mean I’m falling in love with books again. It’s a little odd, though, that the one book I’ve been wanting to read for some time has something to do with mental disorders and suicide. I hope it doesn’t mean anything.

Okay, so it’s another life update, and sooner than planned. It’s not that there’s too much going on in my life; it’s more like there’s too little of anything happening that I might forget them if I didn’t set them down somewhere.

OK So I’m Reading A Book (Gasp!)

I’ve been reading a Stephen King short story collection called Nightmares & Dreamscapes for a little over two weeks now. I bought it for a little under a hundred pesos from a booksale shop while I was still in Manila. The warping’s a little bad, but what can you expect from a second-hand-books store? And for the quality of the book, at 97php  I’d say it’s a pretty good steal.

I’m a slow reader; I read about 2-3 hours a day every other day, and I’m still only nearing the 700th page. It’s not a bad book, though. The thing is, I don’t consider it a book; it’s a bunch of short stories in binding. That’s probably why I like King’s work on short stories the best; they feel less like an intimidating main course and more like an easily-manageable fruit bowl (full of worms and slobbering things, but what the hey). I grew up on reading short literature in the form of my sisters’ academic readings, so books are still a relatively new thing for me (collective gasp!). It makes me seem less of an intellectual, I know, but I couldn’t give less of a rat’s ass. Oh my, look at how I digress.

The stories are all much shorter than the ones in other short-story anthologies of his that I’ve read (i.e. Night Shift and Different Seasons [the latter actually being a collection of four novelletas, meaning they’re longer]), but Nightmares is all the more striking because the details of each story are condensed in such a short space that you kind of feel bursts of pressure every time you read one of the stories, whether they be boring or gripping or neither. It’s the kind of book that makes you fight with yourself whether you want to eat dinner first or finish this one boring story, because it still feels like it’s going to be good in the end. Overall, I would have to say my 100php was not at all wasted.