The Sunbaked King

Sun Setting, King Leaving

Just for a month. But in the blogosphere, a month is a pretty long time. You’ll get pushed back down in those auto-updating blog rolls, and before you know it, your last post was “1 month ago“, and people will have forgotten about you. No matter. You have to make certain sacrifices in order to succeed. This is one of them.

Before I leave, however, a few words:

1. I am going on a study break. Serious this time. Jel has imposed a ban on the Internet for me, thinking it might be for the good. I concurred. Although my interest in games such as Restaurant City has waned somewhat, the allure of Facebook is still too strong, and I can spend hours browsing forums and TV show recaps and blogs.

2. My next two weekends are “booked,” and as much as I want to study full-time, I would have to make a special excuse for these two. This Saturday, I will be going to the Archuleta/Cook concert. The price of cancellation is not even worth discussing, so that’s that. The weekend after this, I will be attending the AJSS reunion. It’s just the best summer of my life, and I haven’t seen these people in years… it’s a no-brainer.

3. This is actually the only ban that’s been approved by myself and my roommate. He’s conceded to the idea of Twittering, so I still have some connection to the online world, but I wouldn’t be able to access it through the Internet. Which means that I have to do it by phone, which costs some sum. In other words, if I want to have an online presence, I have to pay for it. There is no free lunch. (Shameless plugging: I want to thank Gravity for their wonderful Symbian program. Nothing else compares.)

4. Partay-ing, as far as I know, is still within the allowable terms of the deal. It’s weird how this one got through, but I guess the old college adage still holds: you can only do two out of these three things effectively at any time– study hard, party hard, sleep hard. Guess which one’s getting thrown out the window.

5. Don’t be shocked if posts appear out of nowhere in spite of the ban. I may not be able to use the Internet, but I can still blog. That’s highly unlikely, though, so in retrospect, scratch that: be shocked when posts appear. Also, be mad at me. It may not be cheating, but it kinda defeats the purpose of avoiding distractions, don’t you think?

6. Speaking of distractions… let’s leave it at that.

I guess that’s it for now. I’ll still be following the American Idol finale, but I’m not sure if I’m going to post my thoughts on it anymore; after all, it’s pretty obvious who I want to win. (Year-to-date [?] rankings as of last night: Adam Lambert – 2; Kris Allen – 2.4; Danny Gokey – 2.8. I can’t resist, sorry!) 

When I come back, I will deal with issues I’ve been avoiding for quite some time now. It’s time to make a stand.

Exam’s on the 11th. See you then.

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Filed under: Helios, Ra, Rat Race

Study Blues

I think I need a wake-up call.

This isn’t funny anymore. The way I wake up late in the afternoon, play a game of Restaurant City until my eyes pop out from my skull, and then go out and spend a hundred bucks to study. Which I do, but might as well didn’t. I can’t seem to read fast enough; I can’t seem to recall far enough.

The long weekend was an opportunity for me to regain my stride in studying, but I failed to use it. I would like to think I’m better than this. I failed my two exams last year, and you would think a rational person would study like his ass was on fire. I was that sort of person, once upon a time, but somehow… I can’t channel him back.

I need to be that person once again. All these talks and acts of renewing, of overachieving, will be for naught if I don’t pass this exam. For my sanity’s sake, I need to pass this.

Filed under: Bibliomania, Rat Race

100 Words

heaven + ground + storm + archuleta + happening + rejection + pasok + flapjacks + forgotten + incredible + california + hermit + games + good + journey + taipan + cows + single + knight + kaban + sunday + boob + four + wall + aisle + august + tomb + chris + iphone + entry + history + sassy + wall-e + birthday + way + breakfast + clone + sumosam + study + darkness + competition + poem + jacques + death + coffee + eavesdropping + contented + corollary + catch + atenista + eagle + embers + other + recovery + melancholia + retreat + one + sidebar + thunder + q + hush + coat + waltz + letters + exam + know + family + musical + incomprehensible + leche + minutes + comeback + comeback + universe + blast + joke + brothers + yearend + series + 2008 + 2009 + goodbye + forgotten + sing + united + nations + avenue + honeymoon + american + hopeless + rest + idol + night + honors + honesty + hot + half-empty + hee + hope + 100 =

100 posts in 100 words.

I’ve gone a long way, and there’s no sign of stopping.

I will never tire of writing.

Filed under: ...And Others, Being Blue, Bibliomania, Cinema, Domesticated, Eros, Fiction, Yes?, Gadgetry, Gastronomy, Geekery, Helios, Mindlifting, Ra, Rat Race, Sunshine, Testimonial, The Couch Potato, Them, TV, Untamed, Utter Joy, Utter Sadness, Vanity, Yearend

Honors’ Class

When I was in 4th grade, I got accepted into the Honors’ Class. Did I feel honored? Not on your life. It was one of the most traumatic years of my childhood, and perhaps my entire life. I got asked to strip in front of the class by a teacher (jokingly, but it was a menacing threat nonetheless), was accused of theft, and received my first D (which was my fault, but still). You know something’s wrong with your 4th grade experience when your initial reaction upon seeing your name as one of the qualified students for 5th grade Honors’ Class is to cry in sadness and regret.

During the summer of 3rd year high school, I got accepted into the Ateneo’s summer program, the AJSS. Students from all over the Philippines get together for six weeks and act like they’re college Ateneans. It was a fantastic way to meet people, and was perhaps one of the richest and most rewarding summers I’ve ever had. Brilliant people are always fun to be with. However, the day before I was due to return back to Davao, I got the most disturbing news: a storm was brewing back home. My best friend on the other line reassured me by saying that everything was going to be fine, I just needed to explain my point-of-view. Everything did turn out fine, but not before the misery of being painted as a snobbish asshole. Which I was. Which I probably am.

A few weeks ago, I got hired by one of my most “coveted” companies. I was no stranger to the fact that the people I’ll be working with were going to be brilliant; some of them I’ve worked with in my previous company. I just didn’t know how brilliant exactly. And then I learned this funny little factoid: all of them were summa cum laudes of one Math course or some other. Four from the UP system and one from La Salle. Wow. I was the only non-Latin-honor-bearing person there. I’m secure enough about my own intelligence not to be affected, but what really got me thinking was this: what is the sacrifice this time around?

It just wouldn’t be complete without it.

Filed under: Rat Race

Honeymoon

There’s something wonderful about walking across Ayala Avenue from the RCBC Plaza with a Grande Caffe Mocha in one hand and a tie firmly, crisply, set in place.

I know it’s my honeymoon period, but damn if I ain’t gonna use it.

Filed under: Rat Race, Sunshine

0990 United Nations Avenue (III)

Supposedly emailed last February 27, 2009. Never got to it because of these guys’ thoughtfulness. One surprise after the other, and when it was over, it was time for me to go.

Today is my last working day in Philamlife.

I started working for the Actuarial Department on June 5, 2006. I had my picture taken with Joanne, got introduced to the world of BorgChat, and discovered the joys of Mr. Choi’s cuisine. On Friday that same week, I wore a long-sleeved barong, while everyone else was in jeans or short-sleeved polo shirts. Joanne urged me to take off the barong and just wear the white undershirt, instead. I did not succumb to the urging. The day after, I was on my way with my new colleagues to Batangas, where Paul drove us, Adam and I exchanged a few words about work (“Maganda magsimula sa Studies”), and MK complained that she can’t enjoy the scenery when her bladder was “ABOUT TO BURST.” Midway through, the guys from Charline’s car texted, informing us that there was something wrong with our vehicle (trunk open? door open? flat tire?). We fixed it and went on our merry way. That night, I got drunk on that wonderful chocolatey Bailey’s drink and gin tonic, and tumbled my way to sleep. Not before getting to answer the question: “What do I think about Joanne?” To which I replied: “Siya ang tipo ng friend na babatukan ka pag may ginawa kang kalokohan.

Not a bad way to start a lifetime career. Not a bad way to gain lifetime friends.

And I was right about my response, Joanne was indeed the sort of friend who’ll reprimand/mock/tease/scold you when you’ve done something amoral/nasty/disgusting/wrong. Quite the disciplinarian, isn’t she? But she’s also the type of friend who’ll buy you breakfast in the morning; the type who will write cute little notes on Post-its when she feels like you deserve it; the type who’ll take you home from work in her super-savvy car; and the type of friend who’ll accompany you in making coffee even when she herself has already had a go (edited to add: and the type of friend who’ll make a Gossip Girl intro for you because she knows you’ll love it). I’m never shy when I’m with her because she accepts me for who I am. Jebs or no jebs, cleavage or no cleavage, whatever the iota of difference from hairstyle to hairstyle may be, she will forever be a seatmate in my heart. She’ll occupy the space next to the aorta, inside the right ventricle….

….because space has to be given to my other seatmate, the one that came before her, the one and only Adam. I don’t know how else to put it, but this not-weird-but-gifted geek-in-the-pink saved me. During the times that I struggled in Studies, back in the days when all I could write was a single bullet point in a single day, he guided me. During those times that I was depressed because I doubted myself that I could never live up to his, or Paul’s, or Jose’s shining precedents, he reassured me. And even when he was no longer by my side and I was alone (and that was a sad, sad day), he still reached out two floors down to assist me. Never have I known a person with such desire to help others. And he does it… because he can.

Together, we were a formidable team. Something definitely clicked when the Younglings came together. We used to joke around about the department having Eons or Ages (the Age of Silence, the Age of Romance, the Exodus, etc.). I definitely think that that was a Golden Age, a wonderful time when there were rainbows and puppies and red bikes and cute little pony princesses. And that Age continues to resonate until the present, because the bond we formed is definitely strong. Nothing can tear us apart.

Friends, thanks for making my last day special.

In the words of Adam, it’s not goodbye, it’s just goodbye for now.

Bansy/Boks/Chava Nation card-carrying member,
Kerwin

Filed under: Rat Race, Sunshine, Testimonial, Utter Joy, Utter Sadness

0990 United Nations Avenue (II)

Emailed last February 27, 2009.

Today is my last day in this Company.

The first time I stepped into this building, I was met with both suspicious and sympathetic looks from people from the 3rd floor. I called some random Company office number that morning, having no idea whatsoever about the more minute details of the Management Associateship Program. Imagine my surprise (and horror) to be told that the Mappers [that’s how we were called] were already in the Training Pavilion, getting briefed about the program. Needless to say, I took a quick bath, hailed a cab, and rushed into the office. And when I arrived at the 3rd floor, I got the S&S looks I mentioned earlier.

It was April 2005, 2 months before the program even started. There were a bunch of new faces in the Training Pavilion, all right, but they were Student Trainees, not Mappers. I had stumbled into the Student Training Program. I called the head of recruitment, told her about my predicament, and was told to do the medical since I was already there. I did as I was told. Hours later (I had a hard time peeing– I drank Coke and orange juice to get it flowing), I went back up to the 3rd floor, met my mentor, and signed the contract. My deal with the devil was formalized that sunny morning of April 2005. I was now officially a Mapper.

A few weeks later, I met the most amazing, most empowered, most brilliant women I’ve met in my entire life.

They are unique friends for two important reasons: 1) I would never have thought of being so close with them, given how much scared I was of “powerful” women back in the days when I studied in school; and 2) They’re wonderful people. Pure and simple. I never felt unease whenever I was with them, making me wonder what it was that I was so scared of back in the day. Sure, they talked about brassieres and cup sizes and camel toes and waxing and getting wasted on a weekday and Pap smears at the back of vans and networking and wrote alternately on laptops and yellow pad papers, but they also gave out Willy Wonka Nerds when they liked you. And I think they liked me. For which I am glad.

Times have moved on, the world has moved on, and we are now on different courses in our lives. As we travel each separate path, we look back and see, that in a distance not so far away, our paths converged once upon a time. I look back at that point with happiness mixed with a tinge of sadness. Those were simpler times. Those were simpler joys. Those were simpler circumstances.

This isn’t a goodbye, just a goodbye for now.

Kerwin

Filed under: Rat Race, Sunshine, Testimonial, Utter Joy, Utter Sadness

0990 United Nations Avenue (I)

It was raining that day. I stepped out of the train and onto the platform with no umbrella in tow. I had little time to digest that I was actually here, in UN Avenue, in this little corner of Metro Manila called Manila. The other passengers rushed past me, confident in their step. It was their turf after all. I, on the other hand, watched these people pass by with a little bit of envy and panic. I had no way of crossing, not without an umbrella, and the place… the place looked new. I have never been here before. A stranger in an even stranger land, I stood at one corner of the station steps and waited.

A few tense minutes later, one of my colleagues tapped me by the shoulder. My relief was unmistakable. She had an umbrella.

That was the beginning of almost four years of travelling to and fro that magical avenue. The routes and vehicles have changed over the years. From jeep-MRT-LRT, I decided to go jeep-jeep when I was running out of cash. When I had a bump in position and a consequent bump in salary, I went for FX-LRT, and finally, I contented myself with taxi rides. But whatever the route, it was the same destination: a big, imposing building on UN Avenue, right beside NBI, and right in front of the casino. That has remained quite untouched for over 60 years now. Even before I thought of being there, the building had held millions of memories.

And since Friday, the 27th of February, 0990 United Nations Avenue held one more.

Despite the stressful commuting during the morning, the lack of travel options that would take me from Guadalupe to United Nations in a single ride, the sights and smells of Manila streets, and any other little thing that I could nitpick in order to convince myself that I did the right thing by leaving, I found a home and a cozy little corner in that imposing building on 0990 United Nations Avenue.

I will miss the way Manila Pavilion’s bright colored lights filled up its facade during the evenings; I will miss the trips down to Manila Doctors’ Hospital’s convenience store; I will miss the take-outs at McDonald’s, the lunches at Delifrance, the dinners at the now-defunct Chiggy’s. I will even miss Mokenzo, that mini-mart beside Max’s that one day in 2005 displayed a sign that it would be closed for inventory for 2 weeks but until now, never opened again. I will miss the chicken balls vendor. I will miss the coffee vending machine that I never really used. I will miss the sprawling lawn. I will miss the banks. I will miss the spacious lobby. I will miss the world’s slowest elevators. I will miss the theater and its wonderful acoustics. I will miss that place. I will miss that home.

Leaving home is never the easiest thing to do.

Filed under: Rat Race, Utter Sadness

Comeback (II)

I was led into the dark, and the dark became my friend. For weeks I swam in flashes of color and outbursts of sound. Each flash told me I was special; each outburst told me I looked good. But soon I realized that the friendship it offered was one that took as much as it gave. It gave me an easy way out, but it took away direction. It gave me cause to forget, but it took away any reason to remember. The dark still has its hold on me– no matter what I say, its magic is irresistible– but I have learned to accept the fact that it would take guts and and a certain type of mind-frame to survive the dark. I am merely a spectator of the spectacle it holds; I am at its mercy.

Even so with my blog, which transformed gradually– sneakily— over this time. Midway through the King’s current lifetime, a friend noted that I haven’t really written anything personal lately. I didn’t notice it until I was told about it, but when I did, I thought it was perfectly natural. It is only during times of melancholia or sadness (or fear) that one feels compelled to write whatever is hidden in the recesses of the heart. This method of purging through writing, it’s an act of self-preservation. When you’re happy or blissfully ignorant or triumphantly forgetting, you want to keep the feeling in. You want to be stuck with it. The only problem is, if you’re not genuinely happy, the cracks in the facade would eventually begin to show.

I managed to tame the cracks through will and circumstance. A vivid image from the dark, a list of books to read and restaurants to eat in, a change in routine, a month-long visit from parents, and an impending important exam: all these served to hold up the illusion. But the one image from the dark that made sense turned out to be a mirage; the lists fell by the wayside; the routine didn’t last for very long; the visit from parents almost ended with heartbreak and regret; and the exam is now over. People have commented that I should be happy now that the exam’s over, but what they don’t realize is that studying for my exam was the final piece that kept my mind preoccupied. And now that I’m no longer poring over pages and pages of readings… I’m back at Square One. Alone, and lonely, and cracking all over.

I started this blog for love, and ending the year without it. Maybe trying to feel how it feels like to love again is the wrong decision, after all.

Filed under: Domesticated, Eros, Helios, Ra, Rat Race, Untamed, Utter Sadness

5 Minutes

To type these words:

I will be on a break. See you later, alligator.

After a while, crocodile.

 

Seriously though. Exam’s on the 12th. The daddy of all exams. Pray for me. Light a candle. Summon the elementals.

 

I will be needing it.

Filed under: Rat Race