stepping on dog crap, that sucks. stepping on human feces, that's fallacious. welcome to my world. wipe your feet.

Friday, October 22, 2004

where this apple came from

(to those who don't know my mom, let's just say that she could be verbally challenged. she was the one who came up with such terms as "wash ashboards" (washboard abs) and "hamster, hamster jenny from the block" (won't even try to explain). and i don't write fiction, the decision to stick to nonfiction came after anonymous referred to my first short story (resurrected and given the title "running home" for my fiction class) as "kabaduyang my green sky." ah, to be young and in love... i digress, yet again. the following is just one of many accounts of her zany vocal misadventures.)

just a while ago, after watching oprah (she was watching oprah), mom looked at me and said, "pj, may sitio na si tita kaydee." (tita kaydee is her widowed cousin, known for throwing money, gas money usually, in my general direction. she funded the recent addition to my wardrobe - a Ninoy-note worth of jeans. thanks, tita, for keeping the tim yap in me alive.)

"ano?!" - the exclamation point is a necessity in this interrogative, this is how i usually react to my mother's statements - the annoyed deaf person's reaction.

"meron nga. seven thousand bili niya," she said.

"ha?!" - i really couldn't understand what she was saying. is my tita a haciendera all of a sudden? is she really a proud new owner of a municipality or a barangay?

"ang cute nga, e. mabuhok daw yung aso."

tapos ang usapan. nadali nanaman tayo ni alma (my mother's name: alma concepcion juan laqui. remember, i only write nonfiction.).

"ginagago mo nanaman ako, alma." she doesn't mind the expletive or two now and then, and that i call her by her first name. at this point, she is caught in a fit of aneurysm-developing laughter. how diffictult is it to pronounce two words made familiar by daily use (fecal material, yes. used as an invective. who uses "zoo" on a daily basis? my life is one, so i do.)? it is entirely in vain, we both know it, but she tries anyway -

"tama diba? shih tsio... shih stu..."

it never really falls far away from the tree, does it?

Monday, October 18, 2004

dance of the dunces

(from the title of De Quiros' compilation of essays. i have memorized the steps to his ballet of buffoons, his foxtrot of fools, and my favorite, tango of tangas.)

"fool me once, shame on you. but fool me twice, shame on me."

a couple of days ago, marvi, friend and fellow CW major, told me that she got her remuneration (you have to love that thesaurus) from the UP Press bookstore already and that i should get mine, too. we both worked as student assistants there and were promised compensation for service(s) rendered with books of our choice (they pay P25 worth of UP Press published books an hour). brimming (not a typo, the 'b' was placed there intentionally) with excitement, i gleefully texted our boss, ate shie (pronounced, shyeh) that i would be there the next day to collect. her reply came swiftly, an acknowledgement of my message and the appropriate "see you then" closing. her message ended with a strange request:

[favor naman, palodan (sic) mo naman me 100. bayaran kta tom] [parentheses mine]

to which i should've immediately replied with:

[gago ba u? la pera me.]

but i didn't. ate shie and i were okay, but not really close. she was fairly reasonable as a boss - she didn't go postal on me when i signed O.R.'s (i was practicing for my fans' day). so, i gave her the benefit of the doubt - it must be an emergency, she had her hands full, she couldn't get out of the press to buy load, aliens abducted her wallet. still, the expression on my face as i read this part of ate shie's message was the same look i had on while reading derrida ("the center is not the center"). i was baffled. flabbergasted, even. being the nice guy that i am (i think i'd make a cute doormat), i pasaload-ed her P50 worth of load (i had 60 at the time) and figured that was the end of it. a few hours later, just as i was about to pop an art film in our dvd player (two episodes of a hentai series entitled New Angel, if you must know), i received another text message from her. this time, things were fishier than usual:

[patrick, favor ulit. palod (sic) 300 naman me. kelangan q talagang tawagan si sir rhoneil] [parentheses still mine]

aside from the name "sir rhoneil," i didn't understand why i was being pestered with these requests. as if i had unlimited amount of load at my disposal. it hadn't occurred to me, at this point, to stop and ask myself, "what the hell is going on here?" i did find it strange that ate shie, knowing that we weren't close or anything, was suddenly asking for favors that would have me go out of my way (nothing should come between man and his porn. that just ain't right.) to purchase 300 pesos worth of load. but did that deter me from granting her request? nope. i put down the dvd player remote i had in my other hand, collected all the loose change littered around our house, and headed straight to the video shop beside mang bart's. the place was only a couple of blocks away, it takes one around 10 minutes to travel twice that distance. i had one foot out the gate when my phone let out a familiar krek-krek - 1 message received:

[nasan na? pasensya na, nagmamadali kasi me]

the nerves (plural. sobra na siya, pre. nagmamadali me? inamo ka u.). it's not my fault that time is linear, and my sexy gait generates a delayed ETA. got the card for P285, texted her the card and PIN, and headed for home. then all of a sudden, a pebble gets wedged between sole and slipper. i never knew that pebbles nowadays looked a lot like 10mm-long shards of broken glass that buries itself in one's flesh. i had blood spurting all over the place. querentino had something like this in mind when he filmed kill bill. this is what i get for helping someone out. talk about karma. i knew i shouldn't have made fun of that kid with polio back in my high school - mimicking his john wayne walk. now, it was my turn to saunter home like a jackass, a jackass with one good leg.

am i done? nope. the next day, i received the now all too familiar demand:

[pwde k p bng bumili ng 300 lod (sic) 4 me, mayng gabi me daan jan k?bale 650 ang utang q sau but 750 ang iba2yad q] [why bother?]

i've never been much of a super sleuth, but there are a couple of things in this text message that imply the actions of a fiend - 1) given that ate shie and i are not really close... simply put: who asks for load worth 100 and above for three straight days from a not-really-close friend? and 2) ate shie doesn't know where i live ("mayng gabi me daan jan k?"). something is clearly amuck here.

true enough, i went to kalinaw yesterday and asked ate shie what happened to her the past couple of days. her reply was, "pili ka na ng mga libro mo." heart skipped a beat. did she just dodge my query? after executing her command, i asked about sir rhoneil. she just gave me this are-you-even-from-this-planet look. heart skipped two beats. that was it, i thought. this was when i told her to pay up - i might have been a little bit vague and a tad bit indirect. i was thinking, "you fugly skank bitch, where's the money you owe me?" but instead, i said, "ate shie, ikaw ba 'to?" - showing her the text message i got the day before, "her" text message asking for more "lod." (sic of this)

"hindi ako ito. pareho yung number except dun sa una - 0920 ako. 0927 yung nandito. sino 'to? ay, baket mo siya binigyan ng load?" heart stopped altogether.

fool me THRICE, i'll be your bitch and call you, "daddy."

Thursday, October 07, 2004

kitty litter: just desserts for wanting to write

(inspired, no less, by the title of my thesis adviser's blog. i had two choices, really: the other one was pussy poo. i'm not sure.)

commercial: just two seconds ago, i was subjected to the vilest form of torture known to younger brothers who have older sisters - a used (operative word) bra was placed on top of my head. this needs no further explanation.

there have been countless of times when i've been faced with moments of uncertainty, especially when it comes to writing. i can't exactly recall who said it, must be Gay Talese or John McPhee, that writing, for him, is a painful process. it should hurt. imagine mutilating yourself, taking a big chunk out of your cerebrum, running it through a food processor, picking up the clumps of chunky-guisado brain tissue, and garnishing them on a blank sheet of bond paper.

am i exaggerating? yes. but, the transubstantiation of ideas to words on a page, though less graphic, is an experience that exemplifies that very violence i described in the previous paragraph. there's something masochistic about writing (especially memoirs), reliving experiences best kept in the cobwebbed corners of the forgotten. writing is an arduous task. even thinking up words like "arduous", and wondering if you spelled and used it right, is, in itself, arduous. This explains why most people, myself included, find writing difficult. nay. absolutely excruciating.

is it the anxiety we are subjected to when confronted with the whiteness of MS Word's blank document that prevents us from transcribing our thoughts? or is it the pressure we succumb to when threatened with the inevitability of our deadlines looming just beyond the horizon (read too many Choose Your Own Adventure books). in my case, i think it's much simpler - i've got nothing to write about.

you can say, "hey, beefcake, sure you do. everyone does." and this is proven by the proliferation of the ubiquitous carlo-sat-beside-me-today blogs, ceaseless musings on trivialities otherwise known as "my life." they usually begin with "you won't believe what happened to me today."

what? you got abducted by aliens in Von Dutch t-shirts? or did you meet your longtime idol, pinoy action star legend, Roi Vinzon?

"i sneezed..."

and your medulla oblongata came out your nose?

"...and i forgot to say 'excuse.'"

you mean, "excuse me."

"no, 'excuse' lang. i am pinoy after all."

let me quote anonymous - "what's the fuck?" unlike the blogs i read diligently (grossy's, orange's, matabangpusa's, faustus's - naks, faustus level), the ones that thrive in the internet's "midwest" often assume that the detailing of one's colorful burgis life deserves a Pulitzer. well, it's not the alleged colorful burgis life that annoys me, but the manner of telling. before i totally regress and sound like an anglo-am new critic, it's best that i move on to my point - although everyone is gifted with enough material (one's life) to draw from, i don't believe i am a skilled enough writer to make my dull and uneventful life appear mildly entertaining in print.

so, that brings me back to my initial problem - i have nothing to write about. but, as always, there is that silver lining that one eventually sees. the solution to my problem lies in Thoreau and every boy scout who found living in the great outdoors and being a human beef jerky to an angry grizzly a fascinating experience. i can write about the natural world. about butterflies and shit.

and that's what i did, i sought for inspiration in mother nature's bosom (not the only thing i sought, believe that). i went out our front door and allowed myself to experience nature, at its finest - even though we're only talking about my front yard. well, it's not as breathtaking as Thailand's jungle tour, but i did see (or suffer) a couple of interesting things in that tiny patch of Kakarong1 paradise. there were the two malunggay tree stumps and the little green branches sprouting from where i hacked off the tree's upper torso. it kind of reminded me of Trolls, those mad-looking dolls suffering from the ephemeral bad-hair day, we all had in the early 90's - the little green branches, with the tiny yellow-green malunggay leaves, looked like the stump's gravity defying hair. there were also the scattered leguminous herbs made famous by leprechauns and all things Irish, that disturbed the homogeneity of the carabao grass. i also noticed the beauty of our decaying house, hairline cracks that climb the length of our white stone walls. and lastly, the roof that covers the car port and its wooden beams hollowed by the insatiable appetite of termites.

nice, i thought. contrasting the serenity of our lawn and the dilapidated state of our fifty year-old house is enough for one good blog entry. but as i turned towards the front door, a familiar smell caught my attention.

the thing with cat turd is that it seldom manifests itself in our presence. it lurks in some ingenious hiding place - cats are known to be discreet and subtle, even in their fecal activities (those who don't cover their "mess" with litter box dirt is shunned in the cat community, like the way we hang those who fail to flush). unlike the smell of dog shit, which is often anticipated because we see the freshly digested sculpture sun-baked in the middle of the street, pussy poo (there, i used it. this is an NC-17 website.), mimicking the predatory instinct of the wildcat, sneaks up on its prey, and without warning, pounces on the unassuming victim. nothing prepares one for the reek of kitty litter.

at this point, the parallel can't be more obvious. writing can be quite the olfactory experience. sometimes, it really stinks.

1 - the name of our street. had a tough time telling my classmates back in third grade where i lived. they were all like, "Chicharong?"