Monthly Archives: April 2009

I Sound Like an Enlightened Person

Just a couple of hours ago, I think I may have found my calling.

I think I want to be in foreign affairs. It’s not an original calling but a genuine calling just the same.

For years, I’ve wondered blankly about what I really wanted to do in my life. I’ve wanted to be a writer, a comic book artist, a teacher, and of course, a rock star (like a sweet dream atop a heap of sour reality). But yeah, I’ve mostly wondered blankly at such desires. Something was always missing when I think of them, like not a single one of them was “it.” But this–this latest apple to fall on my black and blue head seems to be the real thing.

Curiously, there is this fresh, blossoming desire to learn and fiddle with things. I want to put the itchy tips of my fingers on whatever stuff that has to do with foreign affairs. I want to read and read and read and write and write and write. I want to drink this calling like a cold glass of bubbly cola.

Curiously, too, the point of it doesn’t even matter. But maybe that’s just me. I could definitely say I’m not doing it for some high ideal for the sake of something as large and pure as “humanity.” Call me cold-blooded but it doesn’t have to do with doing something significant for the world. The thing is, I just want to be in foreign affairs for the sake of experiencing it. I want a taste of it, like I want a taste of that Wendy’s Baconator that I still haven’t tried thanks to the f*cking price tag. Then I want my fill of it.

The feeling is awesome. It’s like finally seeing the long-pondered mystery over the hedge. My spirit is revived and I want to start on this journey right after I get up from my chair. I want the first person I meet on the street to ask me, “What are your plans?” And for the first time, I’d say without a doubt, “I’ll be in foreign affairs.”

Isn’t worrying about national histories, immigration, cultural differences, global issues and all that important stuff very interesting? I would say it’s definitely more interesting than drawing the front page of a comic book. Writing poems could beat my interest in it, but unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll get rich by weaving metaphors that only I could understand.

Of course, this calling may be the logical result of recent events. I lost my main job and was reduced to doing freelance writing where I don’t earn anything if I don’t work on anything (because that’s really the difference between salary and wage labor: the first one sometimes pays you to laze about). The tremendous amount of pressure of working for peanuts made me realize I needed something bigger than this — I wanted something bigger than this.

Then there’s the impending departure of Chemae to Canada. My powerlessness in stopping such an event from occurring made me realize how big and mighty the world is. I feel like a grain of sand in a beach that stretches from coast to coast. The world eats me alive and I want to bite back just to make it recognize that I was in it all the time.

Am I saying I want to be someone important?

Not really, but I do want to be more important. The most exciting part though is facing the challenges to achieve that goal. I’m after the thrill of the journey, not the destination, as they say.

The basic plan is to save, take an MA in International Studies, apply in the DFA, and then go from there to somewhere else. As I said, it’s not an original calling, but a genuine calling just the same.

Call my calling boring but I see myself pursuing it with drool all over my mouth. I think my directionless days are officially over.

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The Girl on the Broken Bench (Part 3)

 

The morning after Gutson’s, she sent me a text message saying that I should never reveal her secrets to anyone. My heart almost leapt out of my body and hopped to wherever she was. And from that day on, this journey to chase her across the office, under the rain — guitar-swinging, on MRT platforms, in my mind, and across the world started as I smiled at the miraculous text message on my cellphone screen.

Miraculous. Maybe I wished for a miracle every day, another chance to talk to her as freely as we did back at that dark and dirty room while everyone drank their beer. After all, I needed a ton of luck to push my dreams to reality. Her boyfriend wasn’t going anywhere. Their photos on Multiply and everywhere else exclaimed happiness.

The last thing I wanna be is be an obstacle to someone else’s joy. The girl on the broken bench was clearly contented with her life. She seemed popular, outgoing, and had no problems with the world. I had problems with how my collar looked, how people spend too much money on coffee, and how everyone seems to wear cool sunglasses like the sun shined every day. She and I are too different and it would be laughable for me to barge into her well-written story. Continue reading

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The Girl on the Broken Bench (Part 2)

 

The girl on the broken bench just didn’t like me. But at the time, who could blame her? I was virtually nonexistent in the Blue Waffle building. The Cool Team used to have this award for Cool Person of the Month. Members  of the team would vote by writing notes describing who the coolest person in the team was for that month. The person who gets the most notes wins the award. I got a note that said something like, “Marvin is Cool because he goes to work and gets off without anyone noticing.” And I retrieved this one from my wallet:

“Marvin is Cool because he may be quiet, but he tries to communicate despite having difficulties translating his martian language into english. hehe… Glad you’re coming to the outing.”

To say that I expected the girl to even pay attention to me was absurd. First, the Tagaytay Incident was only possible due to alcohol. Second, I was trained to go to work and come home on time five days a week. I had no time to do something “risky.” Third, I just didn’t have the guts to walk up to her and say that I liked her.

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The Girl on the Broken Bench (Part 1)


bench

Let me relive now how I came to know the girl who made me chase her, guitar-swinging, in the rain.

Love may come to us when we’re half asleep and about to hit the ground snoring. I know, because in my case, it lightly sat beside me on a broken bench one drunken night in Tagaytay.

April 5, 2008. I’ve been with the Blue Waffle Company for only about two months. I was my usual dark and shy self, still quite fresh from my recent stint as a broadcast transcriptionist in a cold, square building in Makati. I was so grateful for the friendliness of the people and the nature of my job as a writer however, that I agreed to go with the Cool Team to Tagaytay. I considered the trip as just part of my work (even though the purpose of the trip was precisely for everyone to forget about work for two days).

The reason I went was because I didn’t want my officemates to think that I was a loser. At the very least, I wanted them to know my name and remember my face ‘cause I think many of them still weren’t aware of my existence at the time. I think they knew someone named “Marvin” who sat in the office somewhere, who worked with them, helped them accomplish goals and stuff, but they really didn’t know his face – like what his nose looked like or if his voice was shrill or deep. But by going on this trip, I could establish a more solid professional connection with my colleagues. They won’t be surprised, for example, if I suddenly send a message to them over YM saying that I needed help for an article. I thought to myself, “I’m gonna go, talk a little, eat a little, sleep a little, and be back home then back to the office in a jiffy.”

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Commercial Break

We curse as the scene’s cut off,
The actors hands in the air,
Mouths gaping open.
Music, silence, a split second transition
To something alien.

We’re not ready for it,
Our hearts dangling from our throats,
About to fall due to gravity.
But there’s no time left
Before the stupid jingles fill every corner
Of the room. Patience bursts
At the intruder that mutilated the story.

We endure it,
The complete nonsense of this collage of images.
We’re neither here nor there.
Your eyes seek something else
While my fingers scramble for the remote control.
Anytime now you’re leaving.

We wait for the resumption, an assumption.
It’s always been like that ever since
On every channel of the TV screen.
So we hold our breaths, tighten our grips painfully
‘Til something familiar visits our vision, an assumption.

We mourn it silently,
Tire of it immediately,
Curse the linearity and the impending chaos.
But for one more time, the show shows itself,
And fidgeting for the next developments,
We dive headlong
Into the engulfing drama,
The simple comedy of it
Once more.

Shivering now, we turn our heads slowly
To face each other,
Denying our deadlines.

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Plan of the Apes

Plans that actually work feel like finished homework: they’re a relief and an accomplishment at the same time. What’s frustrating though is how little homework actually gets done — how few plans actually work.

If I were really organized, I’d have made a table of plans I devised all through my life. There would be columns to check: “success,” (green) “failed,” (red), “scrapped” (yellow), and “in progress” (blue). And while it’s easy to remember successes in life, I’d bet my stinky wallet that the red column of fail will be busiest of all.

Pick a random day during my third year at the university and I’d probably have a plan inside my head to become a teacher of Sociology. I was gonna become a teacher, whether in UP or in Miriam College where I can grade gorgeous girls while intellectually discussing Sociologists and philosophers. (Call it pervert but you gotta admit grading gorgeous girls beats writing Web content anytime). That plan however was scrapped (yellowed) because it takes too much time, effort, and money to survive as a teacher. I need my dough fast so I became a broadcast transcriptionist.

But that’s old news. One recent plan that also got shelved is to have some exercise with Chemae by playing badminton. We always had some plans to acquire rackets but those elusive sports implements seem to run away from us. Whenever we’d pass by flabby badminton players at parking lots in SM North, we’d say “Sarap mag-badminton no? Wala na. Wala na yung plano natin.” Then she’d say that she’s good at badminton, but really how can I ever know for sure if the plan is forever doomed to be placed in the red column?

Then there was that genius senior writer plan. That plan was supposed to make me so filthy rich I’d be a criminal in the eyes of everyone who felt the global recession. There was this source of income and that source of income, and then there was this strategy to save massive amounts of money while investing in education for a future high-profile career. One week as a senior writer though, and the genius plan proved so dumb that it disintegrated into a million pieces of dumb debris that fell on my head, and I was left staring out the window of the MRT, “What the f*ck happened?”

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Electric Fan

electric fan

Lol fan, electric fan, fanning flames, ambitious plans. Open your eyes, eat the fries, cry like nothing else is worthwhile. Oily nose, addictive prose, withered rose and wicked pose. Fill the page as you age, let time get away with the crime it made. Hop from word to word to word to fill the void and save the earth. This is nothing but you are something. I cringe, I scream, you bite, I dream.

Look back, drink frap, and find who’s quack. Blog, sag, snog, fog in the mountain city, shag. Tell your mother I’m no richer, holes in socks but I’ve got liver. The sheer sneer at beer, oh dear, watch her break then, oh, the jeers! Cutterpillow, zero hero, that’s a halo, mix a Milo. Listen to story of life unfold, break the ice, then break the mold. Old, sad, bold, bad. It’s a fad. Come, get mad!

Tiny issues. Filthy shoes. Monstrous monsters. Holy ghouls. Booze, booze, booze, booze. Booze, booze, booze, booze. Snooze. What, you’re rantin’? Hey, we’re fightin’. God, it’s amazin’. Watch, it’s breakin’. Is this a rap? Nah, just a wrap. Hear me sniff, now here me cough. Why do you follow my endless eyebrows soaked in sorrow while waiting for tomorrow that go beyond harrowed arrows? Meh, nevermind, nvm, LBM. Ahem, what’s that? Let’s start again.

Big mouth. Octopus rules. Strict diet. Cellphone fools. Stool, stool, stool, stool. Tools, tools, we’re merely tools. Tired? Fired? Wired? Yes, my Sire? Ire in the mire. This — this is dire. Gave ’em all. Drilled the hole. I can hear ya but you say “see ya.” Head spinning, gotta be dancing, stare at the ceiling ’cause there’s no meaning. Not a paragraph. Not a sentence. Not an argument. Just me feeling.

So lol fan, electric fan, growing fame, rabid fans. Close my eyes, ride the ride, fetch you again with a smile. Bacon briefs, done with beliefs, mystical clouds, the falling leaves. Love the girl, extract the gel, catch the whip and be kinda hip. Hop from word to word to word to fill the void and save the earth. I am nothing but this crap’s something. I cringe, I scream, you kiss, I dream.

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