Leave your desks

Does this mean that TMIs are raise, factitious or simulated illnesses? Here we arrive at the central question of Hacking’s book: ‘Is it real?’ Hacking asked himself the same question in his recent book about multiple personality, only to add immediately: ‘I am not going to answer that question. I hope that no one who reads this book will end up wanting to ask exactly that question.’ Great books of philosophy teach us to stop posing certain types of question, or to pose them differently, and it may be that Mad Travellers is one of these. Certainly Hacking provides us with all the elements we need to understand that the question ‘Is it real?’, applied to TMIs, is pointless. The real is in a constant state of change, and it does not follow from the fact that ‘mental’ illnesses are transient that they are any less real than, say, an infectious or neurological disease.
- From What made Albert run? published at the London Review of Books

Interesting stuff about dissociative fugue, one curious mental illness of the 19th century that I couldn't get out of my head in my Abnormal Psych class, since it's all about leaving your office desk without any itinerary and forget your passwords and personality. (I'd like to have one!) In the book review, "dissociative fugue" is categorized as a TMI, a transient mental illness - transient because the book maintains that mental illnesses "change from one place and time to another, undergo mutations, disappear and reappear."

Perhaps the best part of this article isn't about the verity of TMIs as it is about showing the dynamic between patients, psychiatrists, institutions, culture, etc. and how each and all "accommodate to create a TMI, just as the elements of an ecosystem accommodate each other to create a particular plant, animal or virus." Not everything fits within "fake" or "real".


So I dropped off a friend Z at her office (I borrowed her boyfriend's coat for an upcoming wedding) and talked to the Grab driver. He left his night-shift job four years ago to pursue what he loves the most: driving. He was so passionate about it (he used his word 'passion' to describe his love for driving, a rarity nowadays, save for that faccon) that he drives when he's stressed from work, or at every chance he gets, usually by tagging along his officemates. Driving calms him down, improves his mood, stabilizes his blood pressure, heightens his immune system... Although he didn't sell it this way, it's like he's found the elixir of life or something. I said I only know another man who has the same passion, a deputy court administrator (Mr. Y.) that I had to interview for my work: we're writing him a feature, and one of our questions was, What does he do during his downtime? Mr. Y. said the same thing; he gets excited with long drives to Quezon Province, for example, where he grew up. The Grab driver shares the sentiment: He particularly loves it when a customer books him to drive to far-flung places like Bulacan or Nasugbu with his Spotify playlists in tow. (A good tip: he even chooses playlists depending on his customer's mood: his previous customer was very sleepy, so he tuned in to a classical playlist. A TedX talk with piano at the background...

I asked: How was he able to stick to it for four years? With a very positive mindset. He said he starts his day (his daily schedule is 5PM to 3AM) with a positive mindset. He's also traded off his 'toxic' set of driver friends (those who rant about the traffic, I guess?) for friends with similar outlook and goals, friends who are supportive of each other's 'daily targets', etc. It also helped that ever since he was a kid, he already dreamed of having a car: he was a working student when he bought a scooter, then a second-hand car, and then a brand new car. He also collects toy cars and magazines about cars on the side. (He's a regular at Filbar's and Booksale.)

The conversation left me baffled as soon as I got to my destination. Just by the way he talked and shared his story, you can sense that he's contented already - he's very happy - and it's contagious. I couldn't put the feeling into words, but that brief, thirty-minute conversation from Madrigal to Tunasan just energized me. I never got to ask him his plans after, but I wouldn't be surprised if he's going to keep on driving, taking care of his family and collecting toy cars on the side.

What a breath of fresh air (and a great start to 2020) - I didn't know I was in for a brilliant TedX talk without all the buzzwords and the minimalist presentation. The message, however, is crystal clear and simple: Do what you love. I'm sure this driver went through a lot of pushbacks and detours along the way, but he persevered because he knows his goal. No wonder: He already was able to buy two cars and a house and lot after four years of driving! What a lucky guy.

What I couldn't forget was the story he shared: that awkward shared ride when a girl and her supposed boyfriend at the back was talking about the guy who just got down - apparently it was the girl's boyfriend... ("It felt like the longest ride of my life.") 


Overheard at UPLB carinderia:

G: Pre, gulay?
H: Ayoko, pre. Ayoko ng mahabang buhay.
H: Gusto ko ng maikli pero makabuluhan.

In defense of remixes

It was only very recently that I've learned that a Crystal Castles track entitled "Kept" was included in their fourth album "Amnesty (I)". The album was launched about four years ago, and Spotify didn't include the track in the track list. Is it because it's a remix, and the band didn't have the necessary permissions from "all concerned parties"? Shame, because it turned out to be my favorite Crystal Castles track. The song gently surfaces in the interstices of two Beach House songs: Other People and New Year. The tracks seemingly alternate, like a call-and-response. The resulting melody is bitter and downcast; even the lyrics (or what's left of it in the remixing process) is haunting and poetic:
I know where no one can reach you
No, I don't mind
We keep these promises, these promises
Write it in a letter
Very apt for the New Year, when everyone reflects on how their decade went.

Great holes of China

Last night I was walking home to celebrate the last two days of the year away from my wife and son, both of whom I left with my in-laws, and my chest suddenly felt very heavy. This was at the slight curve about a minute away from the subdivision guard house, with the huge acacia tree and the occasional smell of rat corpse. At times like these, although I feel very lucky to actually have my "me" time at home, for two whole days, it made me realize that I couldn't imagine life without a family. It's been my life for seven years already, and my mind is hardwired already to cook for two or three other people, to pay bills on time, to fold clothes I didn't wear, etc. The next morning there was this lethargy similar to the one I feel as a single guy in Bulacan, smoking cigarettes or weed and whiling away my time, aimless, without anything to do. I had to force myself to apply for a job at Greenpeace (even if I'm so sick of writing about Why I Should Get This Post), get a quick nap and convince myself to get a coffee and head to the gym. I also had a bad headache. Good thing the coffee was able to sort it out.

The same feeling persisted the day after I published this. Just now I finished watching an episode of Two and a Half Men and re-watched Friends with Money. Friends with Money is great - it has these sort of quiet scenes that make you think, and I'm a sucker for those, especially scenes where Olivia (Jennifer Aniston) cleans the houses. (Come to think of it: the title is coming from Olivia's perspective - it's obvious that everything is revolving around her.) Or the fact that the guy named Aaron meets another Aaron, and both share similar circumstances (years married, businesses, same tastes). Or the earnest but tone-deaf exchanges between the rich couple (Joan Cusack and Greg Germann), and how quick the humor unfolds when it's cut next to Olivia asking - begging! - for face cream samples from salespeople. It reminded me about why I loved the film when I watched it on HBO as a teen - I loved it so much I couldn't forget the film title: I like how rich its narrative is, how household scenes are accurately depicted, and how it uses the banter between couples in cars (all of which are wonderful scenes) to narrate the nuances of their relationships with the rest of the characters.

Anyway. Our house cat is horny these days, so she pees everywhere - on the counter, on our dining table, on doormats, so I had to clean those up with a rag and a dipper of water and bleach. I feel really lazy. I'm much more motivated when my wife and son are both here - living like a bachelor is just unthinkable, even feckless. You know another thing that crossed my mind? Two things, actually: I thought of going to 7-Eleven for cigarettes, and smoke those while drinking the leftover Chivas. What a waste of fucking time, I know: I'd never be idle with Netflix or smoke and drink when they're here. Why would I? It seems that when I'm given so much time, I actually do so little.

So, there. I'm just glad they're coming home tomorrow. The entire day American Analog Set's The Postman is in my head.