Faces

I remember the face of a Chinese man from Beijing who happened to be stuck in the Newark Liberty International Airport, that day when I was all set for a connecting flight to Manila, via San Francisco. It was around 4AM, and the airport is empty, save for Dunkin Donuts personnel walking to and fro for metal crates. Clad in suit and tie and a light luggage standing nearby, the man's face was scrunched, and he looked like was holding back his tears while having this futile dialogue with an airport employee in pidgin English.

"We were trying to call this guy he said was his friend," the woman said, "and he said the guy would pay his plane ticket." Last-minute tickets cost around $800. They have been trying to contact a translator.

Web history

I found this gem of a website while doing a Google image search on leprosy, which came from a quick reading of a Wikipedia article on armadillos > sloths > anteaters > this picture of Dali and his anteater in Paris > my curiosity of Dali, surrealism. This all started with my wanting to change the desktop background of my computer in the office, but I couldn't, because I wasn't an administrator.

The photo series I linked from above is about his visit with a sanitarium for people with leprosy. The website is a photoblog of Quinn Mattingly who currently lives in Vietnam. Aside from that, I have no idea about him, but his pictures are totally different from Tumblr-inspired (read: hipster) stuff. It makes me daydream and think of what's happening outside my cubicle.

June 27 Report

An empty basement with this humming of fluorescent lights. No cars. Outside, the rain subsides. It left a kind of glistening finish, so when a cab passes by the tires make the ticklish sound of tires passing by. There are security guards and the distant radio dispatches saying something in police code. In the elevator there are mirrors duplicating my image inside an elevator. I reach the twentieth floor, and in the bathroom are mirrors, too, duplicating my image inside a bathroom.

Unexpected friend request

In my first two years in High School I knew I wanted to enter those inter-class poster-making contests. I am groomed to become an artist, I thought. Those were the days when my mother was sending me art materials (the most memorable I've got was a wooden suitcase with everything in it) in every Balikbayan box: from palettes to tubes of acrylic and oil to stencils and blow pens. I had previously been enrolled in painting classes which, come to think of it, didn't have anything to do with paint at all.

Nowadays I have no idea if kids still use oil pastels, but back then, we did, and with the fervor of contestants with heads bowed on the drafting table, brushing our fingers, blowing excess colors away from our art piece. At the end of the day, all the posters would turn out in a certain fashion: a carabao, a nipa hut, a field, and two mountains with the sun peeking at the middle, the sun rays illuminating the background. Then, men in traditional Filipino costume, hands held together, forming a semi-circle. Regardless of the theme, it turns out that way. Well, the theme was all over textbook covers and school murals and television poster-making contests, and within our ranks there was no such thing as avant-garde, ever.

Someone added me on Facebook. See, the bulk of those pending friend requests were people I'm perfectly aware that I have never met, ever. But there are those who couldn't easily fit in the category, and this one just made me think of that day spent in the drafting room during poster-making contests. She was the toughest competitor I've ever had, and during those two years she won first-place. I used to attribute it to her handkerchief technique, where she would use her own handkerchief (!!!) to blend the colors until they become striking, or to reach an aesthetic the judges liked best.

I confirmed her invitation and, thank goodness, she looked like she had given up poster-making.

This is news

  1. My father and I are trying so hard to get a WiFi subscription. It might take two weeks max, but to my readers out there, this would mean more updates (and distractions from making those updates) in this blog. After six years! An Internet subscription is almost unthinkable in our house.
  2. Work is lenient. The setting: four of us in our own cubicles. Then we hunt employees with lucrative job offers. There's a 10-11PM online meeting, and that's it. The boss doesn't care that much. There's a camera looming overhead, though, and the green light blinks every now and then when we're being checked. I'll probably stay in this job for a year or something, provided that my health and well-being is still attuned to the world. (I mean, I sleep at 7AM!)
  3. On a lighter note: a poem and a short story I've written will be published this year in the UP Writers' Apprentice Folio. 
  4. It's funny how I've been rummaging over this suitcase of family-related files for my birth certificate, as required by my job, and I couldn't find it. Here's the catch: my last memory of it was in third grade, and I kept it in this blue pencil case I use at school, so it's probably... somewhere.
  5. I'm working on a book review of Frederick Barthelme's Law of Averages. Not really looking forward for a smart essay, but hopefully I'll be knocking down key points. Here's to hoping I can publish it here within the week!

Grenades

I was drafted in this war on Ethiopia, but I insisted to stay. There were hundreds of thousands of casualties on both sides, and all of them were on TV, together with the usual dialogues about the ethics of war, or the politics behind it. I happened to be on the backstage of a talk show which, that morning, was featuring African dancers with gold overalls. The manager said they come from Ethiopia. I held one of his hands between my palms and said I was sorry, and cried.

Shifts

I finally have a job. My seatmate from my San Francisco-Manila flight happened to be a CEO (sans suit-and-tie combo) of this certain recruiting company, and he hired me a week after, upon submitting my resume. The jet-lag made me think of the calling card in my hands as serendipitous, to the point of being ridiculous. Well, it's a night-shift thing I never would have imagined to be my first job. Today is my second day, and I'm learning a lot.

Twenties

"In college, the writers I was most interested in were the great Modernists. Joyce, Proust, Faulkner. From these I wet on to discover Musil, Woolf, and others, and soon my friends and I were reading Pynchon and John Barth. My generation grew up backward. We were weaned on experimental writing before ever reading much of the nineteenth-century literature the modernists and postmodernists were reacting against. It was like studying art history by starting with Cubism before going to look at the Italian Renaissance. In my early twenties, I read Tolstoy for the first time and discovered what I'd been missing."

- Jeffrey Eugenides, The Art of Fiction No. 215 from The Paris Review

An epiphany from long ago

Almost all the kids I've played with when I was young had living rooms worth remembering. There was almost always a television, but there were various objects which seized my attention: the peculiarity of a roll-on deodorant stick, for example, or a set of oil pastels from someone's artsy brother. There are glass figurines, an entire wall of family pictures, a game of tetris spent the entire afternoon, or in the case of these two brothers with tocino-making as family business, a scene where they were stomping their feet on tubs of marinated pork. (They almost soaked their feet on ethyl alcohol prior to this. Although I see the fun in the job, I don't think I've ever considered telling my mother about their business.)

The other night, I suddenly had a jolt regarding a memory of this life-size painting from the living room of one of my closest friends' house with the capiz windows and yams at their backyard. Well, the painting featured a fisherman wearing traditional clothes of salakot and loose overalls, and a backpack of some sort for the bait, perhaps, and other equipment. All this with the sunset as backdrop, and the entire painting played on the silhouettes it casted.

At the end of the fishing rod, that which bears weight and which made an arc out of the rod, was a frog suspended in mid-air. I have never seen that friend again, or that painting, ever, but it occurred to me that night that, looking from a distance, the frog looked so human.