Reader #4

A lady wears a black top, maong. Looks like everyday clothing. Reading the last few chapters of a stiff paperback of Fifty Shades of Grey, without any earmark, looks good as new. Wristwatch is plain black. Pedicure just two days ago, but without the shine of nail polish. Her hair tied all the way back, but mundane. No earrings, not that I recall some twenty minutes later, on my bed, tired from work. She concentrates as the jeep waited for ten more passengers, and the prospect of waiting for fifteen more minutes is about to get on my nerves.

The woman who sat beside her has these unnecessary wrinkles on her face, like it was some kid's scribble on a magazine cover. I have this hunch she did some kind of meth at one point in her life. Almost a hundred percent positive, she did meth.

The jeep sped, the woman reads in a bumpy ride. What shocked me was her seatmate's wrinkles as undoubtedly recent, as she winced at the broad ten o-clock sunlight with the barker calling in some more. The wrinkles looked like graves on her face. We who noticed her must have felt sorry. I spent more minutes staring past the grandmother across me ((floral dress and weak-kneed) when the woman with the wrinkled face warned her grandmother--maybe her mother--to keep away from someone else's fish from the market, on a plastic smeared with blood, lying on the jeepney floor, gills moving) at this couple loitering near a buko juice stand, watching the vendor scraping the white flesh from the shell. Two policemen sitting nearby on monobloc chairs, smoking. More people filled the jeepney. The entire time I was holding nothing but my baptismal certificate printed in onion skin from a church for fifty pesos.

I wrote this 65 days ago, September 26. I'm having a hard time to write things, especially when my workmates are taking so much time deciphering instructions from my boss, reiterating each sentence, reading it slower than usual. "This week's ads..." one said. "Is there a meeting today?" "Are there ads next week?" We were very scared to miss out something from the instructions, as if a garrote was waiting for us on the storage room next door.

'Tis the season

The lay minister was trying to find the baskets he distributed in the two quadrants he was assigned to: for some reason, while waiting for the last rows of church pews, the baskets were lost. The offertory has already started when he suffered a mild stroke, leaving the entire mass postponed.

*

There was this family who used up all their twenty years worth of savings to hire an interior designer and an electrician in wiring up their house with Christmas lights. These two drilled a hole in their roof for a chimney.

Upon the request of their children, they installed foam machines in the living room which ran all day.

A toy train bisected the house and its perimeters with matching landscape of rolling hills topped with styrofoam snow and pine trees bent by blizzards and little people camping and little skyscrapers which light up at night. The entire railroad had 24 stations.

They carved roast chicken every dinner until one of the sons complained about eating foil from one of the drumsticks. They resorted to roast beef for three more nights.

During evenings the father and his two sons threw logs on their fireplace, while the mother and her two daughters nibbled at their candy canes. This was the case for seventeen nights, and it was a ceremony in their household of six maids and two drivers.

The parents drank softdrinks on ice-cold mugs.

Three weeks before Christmas, major news channels were all deploying their OB vans to get a good shot of their house. The parents felt ecstatic with the results. We will be famous, the father said.

When they were interviewed they sensed it's the best time to display their wealth by wearing their finest liveries, and they did, and then they posed in front of their Christmas tree shipped from Baguio. It had all the right bells and balls and a parol on top of it, one of the daughters exclaimed before the short circuit occurred. In the footage was the mother's twang: "Sometimes we're convince [sic] that it's winter in our house already." This was her last sentence.

*

It would be wonderful to think of the entire earth's crust as a pizza crust, I said. It would cater to everyone's favorite pizza crust, and we would be kneeling to eat it.

Divisoria

Red Stripe Kitchen - Martha Rosler
Crash 2 - Daniel Evans
Kacper and Anna - William Sasner
The Ninth Hour - Maurizio Cattelan
The Virgin - Gustav Klimt
  1. Divisoria was in its full-steam November glory, as it was packed yesterday and for the first time I felt sick in the middle of a crowd. This was my first time to go to the place, and it wasn't the Divisoria I was expecting yesterday: the Lucky Chinatown mall feels like Singapore in the middle of Manila. The prices weren't that cheap (though their curtains only cost 150 pesos, but I'm shamelessly thrifty to say I didn't buy it): the only thing I bought--after eight hours of haggling stalls to find my girlfriend a really nice pair of formal shoes--is a t-shirt with a younger Keith Richards sitting clumsily, posing with his amplifier. 
  2. I ate breakfast and lunch at the food court in 168 Mall, and there's this really good stall with an entire array of good Chinese cuisine: salted spareribs, noodles, and their good old milk tea. I almost forgot my disdain with MSG especially with their stir-fried Chinese sausage with celery! Two viands with rice for 70 pesos is unforgettable. I swear to go back before the year ends. 
  3. I've been very understanding with my girlfriend when it comes to ukay-ukay. Suffice to say that I help her all the time in separating the wheat from the chaff, and I feel congratulated whenever she thinks that what I picked for her looks nice and expensive. But my ukay history is just down to two articles of clothing: the Keith Richards shirt and a gray Gap sweater I bought in Los Banos earlier this year for 70 pesos, and after washing it with a pack of detergent it looked really expensive. Isn't that the only thing people want from ukay: to look expensive without paying the price?
  4. Many, many thanks to my girlfriend who identified the decor inside a Divisoria stall as a Klimt painting entitled The Virgin. She didn't know the title at first, and it took me ten minutes to search for the titles since Klimt's paintings have this motif of swirls and colors and mosaic-like patterns, it's almost Google-proof.

Work and play

When I accepted the job in June I was trying things out, so when I signed the contract it must have felt like a breeze. I've been doing a lot of tests these days about myself, one of which is whether I could last not using Facebook for a day. It was a success for two weeks until I had to sign in to contact someone, and then there were periods of these, from activating to deactivating, it feels just like wearing new clothes or smarting a grin at times like these.

Then I started losing my temper over things. I lost my phone for three days and found it in my bag, and many times I just couldn't locate where things where, when they usually are bundled together out of habit: my wallet, my cellphone, a thick bracelet made of hemp. These were symptoms.

Night shift is wearing me out. I've probably gained twenty pounds from my former self in college. I've been peeling the skin off my lips lately. There is no way I could finish a book in three months (!!!) and I feel like I could use a cry or take a day off today, but I can't. Good news seemed scarce these days. I've tried doing carrot smoothies in the morning, sleeping in the dark attic, biking, reading RSS feeds via Reeder during commutes (which almost always leaves me nauseous), but it's just not working. The acupuncture helped, but it's the night shift lifestyle: disrupted circadian rhythms, memory loss, feelings of disconnectedness. I used to juggle films, books and music, but all three have come tumbling down, and I feel empty-handed.

Just two days ago I knew I wasn't contented. No epiphanies. Maybe there is, but I couldn't remember. Well, I've always joked about the work environment to my colleagues, but the joke becomes true after a while: it's becoming competitive, and I can feel the strain of it. Some of us liked what we are doing, but some of us don't. During my first few months they asked me what made me think of getting the job. I said I don't know: it's a stepping stone, perhaps, and the salary's too good for a first job. They knew I graduated from a good university, and they knew I wasn't the right fit for the job.

I feel like this blog is becoming a distant friend, too, for there were tons of other things I haven't disclosed in this blog. Maybe some other time, with the right beer, or the right book.

Fixations


Images from here. Text from 1, 2, 3.

"whale skeleton excavated"
"His effortlessness had such"
"An array of detritus"
"Are they art?"
"was just arrogant, frivolous, silly."
"Scant other exceptions"
"poetry in puddles and dignity in debris, dung and dryer lint"
"a space between escalators"
"They are Dannon yogurt lids."
"shocked everybody"
"and slyly rethinks Surrealism"
"cactuses, most recently"
"from slight, ready-made items"
"more individual, quotidian, 'human-scale' exploration of"
"I want to disappoint."

Press repeat

Image from here.

  1. Films are a thing of my college years. I couldn't stand them these days. It makes me wonder how I've manage to spend an hour in staring at a screen. Maybe this is work and career altogether. I am easily bored with films these days--the last film I've watched was The Life Aquatic and it just bored me.
  2. I have tons of drafts I haven't posted. There's a book review for Night Train by Martin Amis. I also have important life-changing stuff to disclose here, though I'm waiting for the right timing. Aside from that I've been cooking every Sunday with my girlfriend some lovely dishes like roasted honey mustard chicken and spinach salad and Indian meatballs. More of these later on.
  3. My Macbook Pro is having its own problems. It won't boot even after two hours of waiting, and I'm still waiting for the right time (again, timing is everything) to ask Dad to sponsor its trip to Applecare, though my friends at Facebook have told me to try other alternative (read: not that authorized) repair stores in QC, Greenhills, Pasig.
  4. Oh, and I'm reading self-help entrepreneurial books! All the success stories in the world in one sweep of an eye.