Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Telemarked

I feel awful.

I've been ringing up a third of the European Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines--yes, we have an ECC here-- in the vain hope that tewnty of their number sign up for a workshop that's only about three weeks away.

The few calls that make it past the company's front desk are routed to and intercepted by secretaries who are paid to say "No, he isn't here." To be fair, most of them have (graciously or rudely) offered to take the faxed or emailed invitation to their bosses to look at. Nobody wants to set up a meeting with my supervisor, and nobody wants to go to a damn workshop-- even if the facilitators are Japan-based master trainer Elizabeth Matsui and Johnson & Johnson product development and management alumnus and corporate guru Beth MacDonald.

Never mind that those three days will involve exciting, fun-filled, intensely interactive training activities designed to further sharpen your already formidable motivational skills and increase your company's productivity by increasing your rapport with virtually anyone working under you.

Never mind that you will be rubbing shoulders with other leaders in business or the academe like yourself at the spacious, comfortable and well-stocked Asian Institute of Management Conference Center in the beating heart of Philippine commerce, Makati City.

Nooo. The latest applications of Neuro. Linguistic. Programming. in a motivational setting don't interest them at all. Mind control does not interest the disciples of big business!

Naaw. The money and time they're spending in Boracay or in Hong Kong are far too important to splurge on something as trivial as profitable and effective guided self-development that actually affects your students or your employees.

...........

But I'm griping. And it's not fair of me to pick on them so.

If I were in their shoes, I'd be hard pressed myself to respond to the obvious benefits of this workshop called Masterful Manipula-- er, Masterful Facilitation.(1) I'd want to go home to my wife or my mistress and bang her (pick your meaning) silly. I'd want to go on that well-deserved Christmas leave and not worry about conferences, seminars or what have you until after the new year is well underway.

............

I'm in need of a leave myself. I'm retooling my damn spiel and preparing to charge into making those phone calls tomorrow. Maybe then I won't be stuttering so much.

C'est la vie.

----------------------------
(1)Masterful Facilitation conducted by Elizabeth Matsui and Beth MacDonald. Workshop starts Jan 14th and ends on the 16th. In case none of the members of our local ECC express interest in ths thing, you can call these numbers or stop by the address for more details.

PSI-Asia (The Center for Leadership)
14th Floor 6780 Ayala Avenue, Makati City, Philippines
tel nos. 813-1188 813-1189 813-1173
http://www.psi-asia.org

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Somebody Spiked the Turkey

Mom had complained of flu-like symptoms, and when these persisted even after a couple of days, she agreed to be taken to the hospital. Not just any hospital. Just the one government hospital specializing in hearts-- black or red, broken or otherwise. When we were finally assured that she had a room and a bed and that she was unlikely to go the way of Da King, I promptly left for Sampaloc to pick up the barongs Mom was s'posed to pay for.

But that's got nothing to do with the turkey.

Ian had invited me to his Christmas soiree (happening on the same night my mother was inconvenienced with having to go to a hospital) some weeks before. And because I loved the man and the food he so generously served, (yes, the infamous turkey) I went. After the family had secured for Mom a place to lie down and be treated for the ravages of stress.

I slapped samples from various meat dishes, potatoes, rice and gravy on my plate, proceeding to pick at the stuff while talking to Nikka and Ian's friend S. I was noting to myself how great Nikka looked and that S. had lost weight and was looking splendid in her strangely zippered top when I felt a strange, lucid lassitude. Everyone blamed it on how full we all were, probably riding high on carbohydrates and light beer.

And we jokingly laid the most blame on the turkey and Ian's custom ice cream. The fact that there wasn't any left by the time I arrived is testament to how good the ice cream is.

I was wallowing in the strange sense of well-being, looking for D____ actually, in between looking at the women and looking for anyone from my old alma mater. All the while, Swamp and hubby Adam were regaling a small audience with tales of China, France, Italy, devolving English and computer-aided art. I was listening, of course, but I was too... high ...to chime in except for the nodding, the "yes"-ing and the lit eyes tracking the speaker (when they weren't trying to track the women).

Ian would tell me later that there really is some sort of natural chemical in turkey meat, something that made you want to sleep off the rest of Thanksgiving. Or Hannukah. Or whatever occasion demanded the consumption of turkey.

But we never could get why I was affected by it so much... my own body chemistry, perhaps?

Thursday, December 16, 2004

No sooner do I make my plans than these are broken, lost to the winds of unforseen circumstance, inaction and the consequent rationalizations that come with knowing you had a duty and you didn't follow through. Well, not entirely-- I was able to get myself that keyboard I so needed so I could interact with my laptop without fear of electrocution.

Meantime, I'm progressing in my Tai Chi lessons-- I finally know more about why I have to contort myself into all sorts of uncomfortable positions than I ever did three years ago. My teacher is pleased, I'm pleased myself, and I'm very eager to get my ass to Los Banos and compare notes with Homer. . .

The two halves of my collegiate life have now been officially recognized by the University. My transcript has finally been updated to the satisfaction of all who have a stake in the contents. After ten long freaking years in college and three years in limbo, I can finally, finally kiss the stigma of not finishing goodbye.

Yes, Mrs. R., despite all the protestations of your ilk (my mom included), your son's friend is NOT "sayang." Boy that felt good.

...

As with most Dex Lira victories, this one is partial. I am neither proud of my transcript nor am I completely out of the long dark tunnel yet. But I see the light at the end of such tunnels, and it is only a matter of time before I cross the threshold into the warm sunshine and the smell of fresh-cut grass.

Too, there is the matter of furthering my education and turning the morass into something profitable. I have a working transcript. Now I have to find a correspondence school to show it to.

My mother nagged me last year into taking that entrance examination (I passed) at the Philippine _______ University-- for an education course that would require little more than a semester's work. (The reward would have been an actual license, recognized by everyone who was under the power of the Philippine Government, to teach little kids.) I could not proceed with that option because records of my college life were fragmented. I might still face an impediment if the reevaluation of my records shows that they do not pass muster.

I have to plan my life again, make revisions: activities I wish I didn't have to do. Events are so fluid and seeking to control these to the smallest detail can literally get tiring. But having a plan is better than not having one, even if the main part of the plan involves playing a lot of things by ear.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Masta Plann

While lying on the bed of Procrustes, one remembers the many other things one has been putting off. Suddenly these take upon themselves a newfound urgency.

1. Upgrade the laptop.
I've been meaning to install Windows XP into this sucker since the day I installed the new Windows XPerience in the family PC. Evil Bill (Gates) has definitely topped himself since the introduction of Windows '95--everything else in between being treated as glorified patches leading to the near-seamless joy that is Windows XP.

Makes me all a-quiver with anticipation.

Here's the rub: Honey took the aged Compaq's DVD writer with her, and is halfway to grafting the thing to her new-purchased secondhand IBM. I will have to get very creative and very careful, if I am to install Windows XP into what may be a marginally compatible platform. I want to be able to undo all the changes I've got planned for my trusty blogging companion in case the planned XP installation doesn't take properly. After all, the heart of my laptop's central nervous system is a Pentium III that registers as a Pentium II.

While I'm at it, I should get one of those USB splitters-- I know, they're not called splitters, but their function is pretty much the same. I only have one USB port for three devices, two of which have to be connected to the laptop for all the time the thing is running.

I am assuming that the built-in LCD monitor cannot be repaired unless I shell out a heinous amount of money to pay for it, or buy a new laptop entirely (maybe a Powerbook).

In the unlikely event that money falls like manna from the sky into my waiting lap, there is the matter of paying Kervin what I owe him as well as buying a new battery. The laptop's utility is cut in half if it can't be used far, far away from an electrical outlet.

I'll also be needing some wire and alligator clips. A new keyboard too-- something small, portable, durable and shielded to allow me to keep my distance from the laptop's main body. I'm actually sensing a nasty buildup of static electricity from this thing. The only things keeping me from getting toasty-warm from this thing are the old battery and the ambient humidity of Philippine climes.

2. Finish my CD portfolio.
I need a working scanner and a viable plan for this one. I've been crippled since Happy Ron took his scanner back. I've got to collect my "floating" (read: scattered) artwork and sift through them all so I can pick what deserves to be in there.

Then I have to organize the artwork according to how I want to package myself and what I can do. To that end, I need other incidentals-- like new calling cards, shamelessly self-promotional flyers and identity cards I can leave with surly guards. I also need to polish my Photoshop and Freehand skills and learn the workings of more new software. Joy.

3. Compile my poems and put them in a codex.

4. Finish The Damned Comic Book.
And prove to certain people that I am worthy of their respect. How I'm going to put this on paper is still a mystery, being right up there with publishing my poetry compilation and inviting all my old flames to the launch (Angelica will, of course, never find the time to attend, as she never made it to any of my poetry readings-- when they were still permitted-- at Powerbooks Makati).

At any rate, I can still post the thing online, probably in one of my blogs or on that dratted DeviantArt account I signed up for but can't seem to contribute to.

5. Write new poems and stories and continue old ones; make new art.
Self-explanatory, this. I can't grow if I don't practice. To that end I have to buy more equipment--better equipment-- and reference materials. Lots of job-hungry young Turks out there to compete with. I cannot afford to be left behind, lest I become old and obsolete-- a nasty prospect any way one looks at it. So much the better to be the irreverent old bastard who can continually surprise his young apprentice.

6. Finally design me grand aunt's market stall signage.
She hasn't nagged me, which is all the more reason to finally put that concept I've been playing with on paper. If I can make one more person smile before meeting the grim reaper, I can consider my time on this planet well spent.

7. Pimp myself to art hounds more aggressively.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Again, The Stupid Procrustean Bed

Pussyfooting. The damned letter won't write itself while you're doing inconsequential stuff, Dex. Meanwhile you can't sleep and the other stuff you need to do just piles up in front of you. Damn.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Oh, Joy. La Dee Da.

From a friend's blog. Took it twice and varied results within a reasonable range. Turns out I'm still the George Clooney wannabe.

You Are the Peacemaker
9

You are emotionally stable and willing to find common ground with others.
Your friends and family often look to you to be the mediator when there is conflict.
You are easy going and accepting. You take things as they come.
Avoding conflict at all costs, you're content when things are calm.


Friday, November 19, 2004

Green

The Green Mile(s)

A few weeks ago, I swung by Los Banos with the double-goal of seeing my friends and fixing those dratted loose ends from my early collegiate life that still haunt to this day. Happily, I got to do both. I talked shop with some of my old friends-- too bad I couldn't round up all of them.

I don't go to Los Banos often anymore, as doing odd media-related jobs doesn't bring in the money it used to. I'm also paying for my Tai Chi training, so what used to go to my travel fund goes to Sifu Russel's gas, coffee and pie. It was a relief though, seeing miles of nearly unbroken green whizzing by at eighty kilometers an hour, from the inside of a Laguna-bound vehicle, and not have to pay for the voyage. (Thanks, Mom!)

I stopped by Nelrose Place, site of so much intrigue and one of my Los Banos retreats. Host Nel was considering enrolling in an aerobics course, or at least going swimming on a regular basis. Meantime, he'd be laying groundwork for let's just say... family-related economic affairs.

Nel fed me tofu for lunch-- great for the soul, lousy for the joints-- and let me proceed to the new registrar's office. Surprise, surprise-- they lost their much-villified inefficiency and produced for me a new copy of my old transcript on time! I fondled and caressed my reborn transcript like it was a beautiful woman I hadn't seen since our first date.

The Green Mind

Then I swung by the Anker's, where I met with Kervin and Gar-Gar. From there, we phoned Homer, and told him via text message to stop wanking off to his (currently downloading) porn.

Disclaimer: For the record, Homer does not delve in porn for a living. Otherwise we'd see him haunting the halls of the reconstructed Virra Mall. None of us knew what Homer might have been doing at the time we called him, but we like harping on Homer's somewhat undeserved rep as Hentai Lord, because we're such sick sons of our mothers. Happy birthday, Homer!

We played several mean rounds of Soul Calibur 2 at a nearby gaming place that reminded us eerily of --

Homer and Gar-Gar: "The set of Silent Hill 4. Creepy."
Kervin and Dex: "A tick-infested brothel in Cubao. Creepy."

Green Costume

Perhaps it's because we were all geeks marked by social troubles at one time or other in our brief lives that our Soul Calibur battle turned into a nearly all-female kumite. No shocker there. Even considering that Kervin is an imposing gay guy who likes beary men.

What surprised was the sheer proficiency and brilliance that Gar-Gar displayed while playing Soul Calibur newcomer Talim. He paced his games according to the skill levels of his opponents. The fights were interesting until Gar-Gar knocked us out of the ring or poked and stabbed us senseless. And we were such masochists...

I was no slouch with Seung Mi-Na, even after all the time I didn't play her (owing to the fact that I don't own a PS2) but I was always beaten soundly. It was a relief to hand the controller to the next waiting player, since I didn't have the stomach to see my favorite CG Korean lass get slammed into walls, raked by multi-barbed whips or pummeled by visiting Tekken characters. But it was joy when Mi-Na kicked ass (as she sometimes did it literally). Too bad she didn't have her green costume-- the one that showed off her legs and featured her short hair-- for this iteration of Soul Calibur.

I ended my brief preoccupation with "green" after practicing Tai Chi with Homer. Even now, he is still the better practitioner, having a better grasp of the forms-- but I may have the dubious distinction of being gradually versed in an older iteration of the style we were practicing. He is a joy to watch when he practices his Tai Chi sword forms and I never miss a chance to pester him for an exhibition. We had dinner (Homer's birthday gift, on me), talked more shop and decided to call it an evening. I hope to be able to practice with him again the next time I'm in Laguna, with more forms added to my repertiore.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Contrary to my smiling countenance and my easygoing banter, my life is not "okay." There is more that can be done to "improve" it, make it more "productive," more "profitable." Sadly, the solutions to my problems-- while within my power to carry out via the two C's, commitment and compliance-- are never within my power to forsee. Others are always more than qualified to diagnose what's wrong with my life and formulate solutions because they've lived longer and are earning more in a week than I ever will in two years of honest work in the fields I know.

That's the conventional thinking in the Quezon City farmhouse. That is also part of the thinking that informs Honey's life choices.

To be fair, I haven't been very open about where my life has been leading; what my plans are (if I have any). It still annoys me, the often abused question-- "Where do you see yourself in five years?"

* * *

It galls that my achievements are often overlooked in the mad, if belated, rush to develop a Dexter Lira who can take on the world and win. (My "achievements" are of the modest kind: there are literally kids out there running their own successful businesses, mounting their own assaults on high fashion and the status quo, et cetera, ad nauseam. ) It galls more that I never wanted to be rushed to begin with.

When I was young, I was creature of boundless impatience-- there were whole worlds to see and discover. (Shine, young man, shine!!!) After years of being slapped down, bullied and walked on, I ended up asking myself "What's the point?"

Artists become great only after they've died. Scientists are generally vindicated long after they've been crucified by people afraid of changing their worldview. Writers (here) are never really respected, only reduced to making speeches for people they don't respect. And intellectuals exist only to provide amusing brain teasers for the people who don't have time to think. This blogger can't even rant without attracting derision.

You can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

* * *

It galls that for very life well-lived there are thousands of others so senselessly wasted. Well, one is only a loser so long as one loses. And one winning or losing streak does not a life define.

I am, after all, not dead. Yet.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Family

Cousin Ami

She's baaaaack. And just what was she thinking trying to get herself enrolled at the University of the Philippines? She'd had it so good at the University of Minnesota! I guess my cousin got bitten by the same bug that seems to favor foreigners like Tadao Hayashi, David Pomeranz and Keith Martin. They stop by here and suddenly want to stay. While getting bitten is fatal mistake for some (Hayashi), Ami feels it is eminently right for her to be here.

And who am I to argue? There's a willowy blonde with striking blue eyes living at the International Center, a floor below Ami's would-be room. Hey, hey-- minds out of the gutter! I meant that if she and Ami ever get acquainted, I'm going to paint her.

Hmmm... time to engineer a friendship...

Cousin Ferdey

I'm at his place now, blogging on the fly while the computer installs crucial software and updates in the background. As I'm forced to stay in Quezon City for the nonce, I'm keen on getting away from the parents and get some work done without their noses and chins poking into my face. The Sta. Mesa hideaway being unavailable for the moment, my cousin's well-designed, well-maintained sanctuary is an ideal place.

Some people will never be content until they know everything about anything and anyone. Not that it's intrinsically bad, human curiosity being an impeller of human progress and endeavor-- besides, I'm like that. The point is, all that prying into one's life often impedes what little progress there is to be made in the refinement of that life. Though they may argue that all the prying is only part of the refining crucible and that one shouldn't complain.

Note to self: I'm not going to put my own kid through too much of this. All prying, if prying must be done at all, should be conducted with the discreetness of a smooth and capable private detective, else the kid gets paranoid and starts fearing-- not trusting-- you.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Happy birthday, Pop!

Coming Home and Having to Come Back Later

Coming home to Sta. Mesa was an odd experience. I was reminded that I had to pick up some laundry from the cleaners a month ago: I saw the laundry claim stub lying in apparent languor in one of my "survival money" bins. A colony of termites had decided to extend its residential tunnels into the apartment and onto the ceramic floor. The mice and lizards were scarce, though their leavings were plentiful near the hole in the kitchen counter.

I spent this afternoon breaking out- and bussing about with- the Blu Star (detergent), my custom-made Perla (myrmex-repellant) nebulizer and the hydrophilic mop. I was Domestic Dex again.

Honey's no slob. But her assertion that her sched leaves her little time for domestic cleanups is more believeable than Suede's. That band could at least afford to hire people to pick up after them. Until recently, Honey had me for the job.

There were other loose ends. My painting, Celphone Girl, still needed a smile and a long overdue adjustment of her eyes. I'd been working on it on-and-off since 2002.

I had to return to Tatalon, as I still had a cartload of personal and professional errands to finish off. It was comforting(!) to be able to eat in the same student-subsistence eatery. Ditto to take the train to the nearest SM mall on the way back.

As I write I'm prepping for another excursion out of here. More errands.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Fringe Living Alone?

It occurs to me that I may soon have no beautiful woman about whom to feel very blessed. I will either--

1. prematurely expire from a preventable disease or some act of human stupidity; or
2. she will "wise up" and leave me for someone better equipped to protect her future progeny.

Whatever happens, happens. Life is too short for me to cry over spilled milk-- now or in the forseeable future. One thing is certain: If she leaves, I'll never be able to call anyone else Honey again. Unless that's her given name.

Maybe I should start looking up Kristin-clone. Or maybe I oughta be a Man's Man instead? Scott Bakula is kinda cute...

Saturday, October 09, 2004

The Bed of Procrustes, Revisited

I've been pussyfooting around a task for a week now. This ain't good. My excuse is that the glare from the monitor is enervating, and when dealing in work I wish I didn't have to do, this enervation is simply too much to take. I know, of course, that I have to plow through it anyway. So I'm getting out my trusty wad of paper and doing it there.
...

Of course, Procrustes and his bed have little to do with procrastination. But for all the work I've not done, I might as well be tied to the cursed thing. If you were too tall, Procrustes gleefuly cut off your offending limbs. If you were too short to fit the bed, he stretched you mercilessly until you did.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Sundays in Lira-Land

Like College All Over Again
This morning I missed another Tai Chi class. The last time was on account of the minor mess that immediately followed my Granny's death. This morning I had to contend with yet another entrance/proficiency exam. Having taken them most of my life, I was mildly surprised-- and miffed-- that I couldn't completely answer the "math" parts of the test. I had to use up all the time required for the exam, much to my chagrin. Rightly or not, I'd feel very disappointed if I were to find out I didn't make the passing score.

Side Trip to Smallville
After I returned the chairs my co-examinees had liberated from the other classrooms, I made my way to the UP to catch the arnis class that followed my aborted Tai Chi session. I got lucky-- I actually found a girl at the UP Shopping Center who bore a resemblance to Kristin Kreuk. She handed me my mineral water and change with a smile that I readily returned. Never mind that we both liked what we saw: I had Honey, I had to get to the arnis class and Kristin-clone was probably still a minor. I had to scuttle nascent thoughts of shameless attention-seeking. But tarrying at the Shopping Center a few more minutes to appreciate her was well worth missing the arnis warmups.

I walked to the UP Lagoon literally thanking God for making my morning. It only occured to me to ask Him politely if I could run into Allison Mack much, much later.

Happy Hour
Jo-- our friendship goes back a ways-- had postponed her lunch birthday blowout last week. Which meant there would be no videoke, no beer, and no Slow Rock Extravaganza(R). Lucky for us, she finally decided that it would be cheaper to simply feed her friends at Mang Jimmy's in the Balara area. Had someone asked me if there were deeper motives for Jo's change of venue, I would have provided one: she wanted to spare herself the music of Queen, Nazareth, the Scorpions, Rod Stewart, the April Boys and Aegis...-- part of the Slow Rock Extravaganza I promised her.

I promise everyone who can't stand the slow rock music blaring incessantly from our jeepneys-- yes, they got featured in the last Amazing Race-- that I will render unto him the Slow Rock Performance of a Lifetime on his birthday. Complete with my frighteningly convincing drunken slurring and lewd multiple personality/bipolar behavior.

It's all in good fun: Everyone gets a laugh, I get to de-stress and lampoon our people's drinking habits. I swear, few things are as frightening as burly unwashed drunken tattooed Filipino males jockeying for the videoke microphone.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

A Word of Thanks

Those of you who wrote to comfort me; those of you who came to the wake and the burial; those of you who prayed for my Granny or my family; those of you who simply wished me well-- you guys are wonderful people. I cannot thank you enough for the comfort you have made me feel.

When the tears had finally come, moments before the coffin was laid into the earth at the well-manicured grass of the Heritage Park in Taguig, I was not crushed by grief. I'd always known that the feisty old woman, who had made it a habit to round us up at six p.m. so we could sullenly pray the Angelus, had lived a full life, and by some standards was guaranteed a decent place in the Great Hereafter. I remember telling my friend Eline that these tears were not an evil thing. When the tears came, I welcomed them as a sign that I was "normal" enough to feel what others were feeling about Lola's passing; I had marvelled that there were no tears when I first touched her corpse to look for signs of life.

Pamilya ng mga Tsismoso

I'm a little peeved at my family, though how their minds worked was understandable. They'd actually thought Eline was my girlfriend. What happened to Anna? they wondered. I didn't bother to point out that Granny's funeral was hardly the time to be speculating about my love life. I dispelled notions of anything romantic between me and my good friend, but someone is bound to be unable to let the matter drop...

My love life is sacrosanct while we are unmarried, Family. Especially during funerals and other occasions where we gather.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

The Wake

Her full name is Germana Araneta Sebastian. She's Dex Lira's grandma on his Mom's side. She's dead.

Her corpus is lying in La Funeraria Paz, along G. Araneta Avenue in Quezon City. It's one jeepride away (going towards E. Rodriguez) from the intersection of G. Araneta- and Quezon Avenues.

The Funeral Mass will be held at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, 28 September. Interment will be at the Heritage Park, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig, immediately following the Funeral Mass in La Funeraria Paz’s North Wing Chapel.

Dex will-- because he's comitted to rushing a project for Gawad Kalinga through all of Sunday-- be at the Funeraria for most of Monday, and Tuesday morning. Yes, he'll most likely be around for the burial.

Catholics, other People of the Book and members of other strains of Christianity who believe in the efficacy of prayers for the dead are warmly enjoined to pray for the deceased. Christians of the Protestant/Evangelical persuasions, as well as members of the Ecclesia of Christ, are as warmly enjoined to pray for the living.

Please be assured that your simple presence and your prayers afford us much needed comfort and solace. We will not forget you in our hearts and in our own prayers.

Thank you.

Granny's Dead

I think she died in the night. My sister pulled me out of the room a few minutes ago to tell me that Granny may not be breathing. I tried to move her arm but it was stiff. While Mom tried to rouse my doctor brother, I put a saucer to granny's nose: no moisture. I couldn't be sure, though, as her breathing had been weak lately, and there were tubes providing her with oxygen and

Shit.

My brother's awake now. I think he's looked Granny over. She's gone.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Q-&-A

Q. How is Granny?
A. She's almost always, to my eyes, in some sort of pain. Human contact, particularly from warm hands, is a comfort. She's stronger now, so maybe the damned disease read my letter and decided to ease the pressure on my Granny. Not to read like a vulture, but methinks everyone is just waiting for her to die.

Sidebar: All of us are waiting to die. It just doesn't hit home until-- we're 80; under siege from a deadly, incurable disease; or attacked by a bunch of curable ones latching onto you one after another like unwanted relatives. Hmmm... kinda brings new meaning to Roberta Flack's Killing me Softly.

Q. How are you?
A. Sick. Something respiratory. Am harboring suspicions that it might be that bacterial infection with the flu-like symptoms featured last night on local tv. I am infirm, but saddled by the need to meet a deadline, so I cannot really rest.

Deadline? Job? you ask. Nahh, it's not "really" work: because it pays in prestige and goodwill but not money. Tell you all about it when I'm done. Do or die time. As I told my client's rep: "Don't thank me yet."

I got myself some new rubber shoes, recently, for P250. Buys like this satisfy Macho Dex and Domestic Dex: I have been rarely as happy with my purchases. Guess the folks at Gawad Kalinga are right: give a man a little dignity (in my case, new shoes) and he can be motivated to do all sorts of things. Why not stop by http://www.gawadkalinga.org/ by the by, and have yerselves a look-see?

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Old McDaddy

They say you're getting old when you begin to enjoy the company of children, or such chores as feeding chickens, more than you do making money. I see my Dad feeding chickens and I can feel his smile from where I'm lying down-- in the living area, a good ten paces from our backyard-- and I know this piece of urbanite folk wisdom is true.

I'm not that old, --I'm still young enough to be ambitious-- but I'm happy that Dad gets his kicks from simple things. They don't cost him much and they serve to keep him young. Of course, this means I get to wake up to the odd goings-on in the family abode. Like livestock running loose in the dining room, a dog and cat sharing the master's bed, a myna that must have worked in a call center in its previous human incranation.

At least, his simple pleasures don't involve unhealthy doses of women, wine or (thank God!) videoke.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Granny is Dying

Her cervical cancer, previously in remission, has come back with a vengeance. As usual, the timing stinks.

"Dear Disease, The next time you decide to flare up, please show my family the courtesy of appearing during times of plenty; not when everyone on these islands is existing hand-to-mouth. Thank you. Love, Dex."

I'd feel like flaying key people in government for flushing the country down the toilet if I didn't have a hand in it myself: everyone who walked into a Starbucks or who carelessly left the tap open, did, even if to a miniscule degree.

The point is moot, of course. There is little else I can do but stay by Granny every chance I get until she passes or death is staved off for another short, if indefinite, period. Which means I must weather Mother's constant admonitions to "fix your life," "help yourself" and "find a stable job." I almost find the sights and smells of Granny's makeshift sickroom a visual and olfactory feast in comparison.

I never liked sickrooms. I never liked being in them, seeing them nor smelling them-- especially smelling them. There is something unsettling, if morbidly honest, about being around a person who is literally being eaten away by disease. I love a good campy horror movie as much as anyone, but real sickrooms hit too close to home.

This is how it ends, young man. You grow old, your organs begin to fail or maybe the cancer begins to develop. Or maybe you trip over something and you break yourself on the staircase or get hit by a crazed biker. It's always something like that.

I know, you're afraid. That's what you get for laughing in my face all the time. You think your preoccupation with cataloguing all the names of my instruments was going to save you or your Granny from me? I'm Death. I've got all the pathology degrees.

Look: even after your Granny goes, "Necrosis" will still be your favorite word; It'll be right up there with "sepsis" and "gangrene." And "necrotising arachnidism." When I take you, you'll still be laughing in my face so you can show your audience a brave front. You can take a little comfort in that. But for your sake, I'd rather you take comfort (and maybe some responsibility) in this--

I'm a mirror and a reminder. Every time I take somebody, you will look at me, and see yourself. All life is precious-- but what have you done with yours to prove it?

I'll be back soon enough. Expect a pop quiz.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Grounded

I'm at the Quezon City family residence right now, nursing an off-and-on respiratory sickness. By all rights I should be at the house of a friend, writing my prose novel, or making that graphic novel about a guy named Kirk and his complicated love life. As things stand, I'm helping Mom with another speech and doing odd jobs round the house for a little money... in between curling up in bed feeling awful, watching tv and fine-tuning the (finally!) new PC.

Side note: I'm sure my respiratory funk will be banished once I start getting new (even if short-term) purpose back into my life. Despite the unsavory feelings stirred by working for my mother, she at least pays. Not well, but she pays, and that's good enough for me for now.

What I really miss about my home in Sta. Mesa is Honey. Honey and wonderful running water. Baths here are hard to time, what with eight people vieing for precious bathroom resources every morning. I should learn to tailor my behavior here accordingly-- bathe and brush my teeth in the afternoons.

I'll be joining Honey soon enough... I've managed to outlast her girlfriends staying at the Sta. Mesa hideaway, so it's reasonable to assume I can outlast her Australian relatives, newly arrived for some Family fun.

C'est la vie.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Eddie Manoy/Vic Vargas Moment

Honey’s having a number of her girl friends stay over from Sunday through Wednesday of next week. That means I’ll be a hobo until Thursday.

P’wes, sa susunod na Linggo, mag-uuwi rin ako ng babae!

Nyahahaha! Heeheeheehee! Hwek hwek hwek hwek!

Okay, enough inanity...

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Woman Channel

Honey is coming back from her training trip in a few days. I cannot believe she's only been gone two weeks. A lot's happened, a mix of great and rotten and I intend to tell her about it in an environment conducive to restful conversation.

I've thrown out a ton of trash and moved some of the furniture around again. I've renewed my war with the ants, defoliating the floor with soap solution, strong detergents and alcohol. I'm shining the kitchen counter, the bathroom tiles and the all-important toilet bowl... There's so much to do that I'm afraid there won't be time to finish it all. But I'm working hard to make sure she comes home to a pristine house.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

A Plague on All Your Houses! And Your Little Doggie Too!

You.
Bloody.
Bastards.

So this was what you were planning. You never really considered me for this project at all. You had me jumping hoops for you and all this time, you had your own people already hand-picked and waiting in the bloody wings. Sure: patronize out the has-been-- we don't need him --that's the way the cookie crumbles.

How could I have been so blind? Please, God let me be wrong.

If I'm not wrong, you do know I won't take this lying down...

Personal Log Update

Masaya si Dayunyor

My "Hero-Meter" made the Junior Inquirer today, along with two pictures I shot for my editor. I'm happy about this-- finally some good financial news. Sadly, I can expect to collect the money, oh, sometime in December. A sad fact of life in the world of the commercially utilized written word and drawn image: accounting/money disbursement departments are wont to wait until all checks made out to people like me accumulate. This process literally takes months.

I'm broke, I'm waiting on different firms to even acknowledge the résumés I've sent. What else is new?

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Letter to Honey

Rain

It's been raining a lot here of late, so I haven't had the opportunity to properly aerate the bed. As soon as the sky clears, though, I'm taking it to the roof, to watch it while I paint.

I've also found another reason why our place smells so musty: all this time, I'd previously thought it was me, or the clothes we hang on the aluminum bars. We've got a leak in the ceiling in your room and where our wall (with the ceramic butterflies) connects to the ceiling. I'm unsure as to the severity of the leak. Most times we get a trickle, though we did get a lot last night. When you decide to modify this place, it's best to take these into account.

Red

My cash is low. I've never missed the money taken from me by those damned robbers more than now. The good news is that a substantial part of the money I've had to burn up went to attempts at networking and the incidentals involved in my finding a job. As usual, the silent killers great at whittling away reserves are taxi fare and food when you're on the road. I've already consumed all the vittles in the house. I'd planned for you to arrive to a full ref but that's not going to happen unless I raid the pantry in QC.

I've had an interview with ***-*** (not for the comics, for promotions). It went well but it could be weeks, if not a month before somebody calls me up. I'm also chasing two other call center leads. I'm anticipating headaches when they all try to contact me: they're bound to do it at the same time. I'm going to hate regretting the choices I'm bound to make.

Spiders!

I've been chucking out my unwanted clothes but this hasn't done much to pare down my wardrobe into somthing less costly laundry-wise. Ive seen fewer ants on the prowl: the cold season must be forcing them to come out only when they need to. In the meantime, I've seen a rise in the population of spiders-- the thin-legged harmless variety: these may also explain why the ant trails have been so rare.

Funny tradeoff-- more spiders, fewer ants but more webbing contributing to the gunk in this house. One thing the spiders and the ants have in common: they're always so damned opportunistic. I can't leave anything standing on the kitchen counter for five minutes without ants foraging or spiders trying to build a home among the bottles and dishes.

I'm still leery of using bug spray, because of the size of this place. I do not relish the idea of poisoning our food. I do not relish the idea of having "mutant kids" either.

Slowly but surely the loose books are getting covered in plastic. I'm trying to find space for all of them. Methinks we should intsall shelves? There is a lot of leak-free space that can be harnessed for shelves and we do have a Getta drill 'round here after all...

I've got to go. I've still to finish an article (It's already late!) and the graphics on the laptop are acting funny again.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Firing Line and Blindfold

I must be nuts.

The Aquino Timeline I did for the Junior Inquirer magazine-- not really a magazine since its reduction into a weekly insert that goes national every month, thanks to lousy funding-- should be out right now. And it should be pissing off the Marcoses and their constituents in what was once the Solid North big time.

In case this thing turms into a libel suit-- and I wouldn't put it past somebody in these parts-- I got most of my facts from William C. Rempel's Delusions of a Dictator: The Mind of Marcos as Revealed in His Secret Diaries. [(c)1993 William Rempel; Published by Little, Brown And Co., based in Boston (USA), Toronto(Canada), and London(England).] The rest of the data I got from the Inquirer research people. For the record, it was not Malice that motivated me to put this together. I was afraid that fewer and fewer people would remember, and give a hoot.

People died because someone wanted to secure his legacy as "Some Kind of Hero." His hubris blinded him to the fact that he should have performed well or stepped down when he was asked to. He's not the devil; he's us. And "us" is where we should start if we want to fix the country's woes.

If we forget, we condemn more heroes and martyrs to be sacrificed on the altar of free speech, free elections and good government.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Mixed Nuts

People are looking for me at a time when I'm not keen about being found; not in my impotent state.

Granny's illness has apparently worsened; I am debating the merits of visiting her when the only thing I can do is pray for her. Mayhaps I can pray with her. We'll see.

Prospective employers are keen on passing me off to be hired by someone else; a mixed blessing, if there ever was any, a case of the half-empty/half-full dichotomy.

I've got a mother who cannot be anything more than what she is when matters concern her eldest son-- something eldest sons find most inconvenient when they're chomping at the bit to actualize their independence.

Big word, independence. I won't bore you with my complaints about my apparently neverending quest for it.

* * *

In the meantime, I've been staying put at a friend's. My last Tai Chi session on UP grounds weakened me-- I know, it's not supposed to happen-- so that I was easy prey to Sunday's cold, falling water.

Mixed blessing: I get to save on electricity consumed at home while I catch up with my good pal, Dex B. He was also kind enough to provide me with software and intel I can use later... when I'm well enough to really travel.


* * *

Smallville has entrered an interesting phase, as has Angel. Young Lex Luthor and Clark Kent are now officially not friends; Angel's Cordelia Chase has just given birth to a mega-demon bent on ruling the planet through acts of insidious do-goodery.

Mobile Suit Gundam has been showing for quite a while these late weeknights on Animax; Gundam Seed is crawling towards climax and its inevitable conclusion. I am appalled at the cruelty of Gundam's Char Aznable and sad because Flay Ollster won't end up with Gundam Seed's lead, Kira Yamato.

I've bought a copy of SIGLO: Freedom (pat yourselves on the back, Alamat)--set me back 200 bucks-- and am very happy that I've been assigned to review it (or the next issue of SIGLO) for a modest branch of a National Publication.

I've witnessed an improvement in my skill and talents despite my being out of the comics loop for so very, very long.

Everything is good except I'm forced to spend someone else's money for my basic needs.

Answered prayers... one day I'll understand why these answers come to me in bits and pieces, as if through a damned sieve. Meantime I'm going to grin, breathe in the good and exhale the bad, even as I offer my poor thanks to God for what I've already got.
Dear _____________


I'm writing to ask:

1) if you received the colored page sample I sent weeks ago; and
2) if the quality of my work is enough to earn me a spot as colorist, layout artist, et cetera.


I take it from the deafening silence that has been characteristic of our communication that conditions required to hire me have not yet been met. Mayhaps the stars have not properly aligned themselves. Mayhaps the overseer assigned to handle this project has not recovered from his coma-- be assured that I pray constantly for his speedy return to health.

Nevertheless, I remain hopeful that you will recognize my dignity as a human being and provide me an answer that will satisfy. A "yes" or "no" will do very, very well.

Thank you for your time.


Yours,

Dexter Lira
ex editor
ex editorial assistant
ex writer
ex colorist

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Survey

"Welcome to the 2004 edition of getting to know your friends and family. What you are supposed to do is copy (not forward) this entire e-mail and paste it onto a new e-mail that you'll send. Change all the answers so they apply to you, then send this to a whole bunch of people including the person who sent it to you. You already know some items about your freinds and family - this might add just a bit more..."

Your name: Dexter Lira

1. What time do you get up?
Anywhere from 0530 to 1200

2. What/Who(?) do you consider your worst enemy?
"The Man"; myself.

3. Gold or silver?
Gold, silver-- does it matter? I'd appreciate a hoard of either.

4. What was the last film you saw at the cinema?
Spiderman 2

5. What do you usually spend most of your free time on?
Sleeping, reading, computer games, writing, watching TV

6. What do you have for breakfast?
Recently been craving salads. I eat whatever is on hand, which isn't much.

7. Who would you hate to be stuck in a room with? Generally speaking?
People who remind me by their very existence of how far I have to go professionally, financially or otherwise. It's not personal. The people in question have just been assigned as symbols, extensions of "The Man." I only hate the pain of being compared to them though.

8. What or who inspires?
Nietzsche; Rand; Jesus; Buddha; Anna; Gel; Bonsai; Uma Thurman

9. What is your middle name?
Sebastian

10. Beach, City or Country?
All of the above.

11. Favorite ice cream?
Am partial to strawberry and mango.

12. What do you do to de-stress? Or what do you give yourself as a treat?
Eat; blog; play computer games; write; I still ogle girls when last I checked

13. Favorite color?
Blues and neutrals, specifically blond wood.

14. What kind of car do you drive?
Used to drive a Kia Pride. Someday, I'll drive a RAV 4

15. Favorite sandwich?
SUBWAY BMT! I defy anyone to buy me a more massive, more delicious sandwich.

16. What characteristic do you despise?
In myself? Impotence-- not the sexual kind.

17. Favorite flower?
None, really. Am partial to roses and chrysanthemums as symbols though.

18. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go?
Museums around the world. The Paramount Lot. Would like to visit Smithsonian Institute, Hong Kong Science Museum, etc...

19. Scent or smell most pleasant to you?
Food. Glorious, beautiful food.

20. Favorite type of clothing?
Cotton shirts, special fabrics (most look good when draped over me) slacks, sandals, laceless formal shoes.

22. Favorite Day:
Any day in February

23. Red or white wine?
Officially, it's red. But it "turns your teeth purple." I'll go with white.

24. What did you do for your last birthday?
SMSed friends about it. Had various meals with different sets of friends throughout the birthday week.

25. Where were you born?
Children's Medical Center, Q.C.

26. Favorite sport?
Swimming; Soccer; did I mention ogling?

29. Do you speak any other language/dialect besides Pilipino and/or English?
Smatterings. And just smatterings. I treat Japanese and Chinese as if they were dead languages. Why don't I just get lessons and save myself some grief?

30. Coke or Pepsi?
"Tea. Earl gray. Hot."

31. Are you a morning person or a night owl?
Morning person... I stay awake til 3 in the morning too.

32. What is you're shoe size?
(local measuring conventions) 7&1/2 to 8

33. Do you have any pets?
We have a farm at the QC residence: 1 dog, five cats, chickens, 1 myna, and big-ass rats. I'm sure someone is working on getting us a donkey.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Zombie, 2

Run myself ragged again. I hope editor lady appreciates the color sample.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Tonight I found out why some men choose to be gay. It's almost too easy to cop out of a relationship with a woman-- by nature, beguiling but utterly alien-- and find comfort in someone who is utterly familiar: another man.

Hijo de p_+@ .

We Don't Have a Word for "Setting Jaw and Stoically Prepping to Pretend I Didn't Make the Application"

Firstly, let me thank McVie for taking the time to look out for me. I really appreciate it. I swear, my friends are living proof that the Universe isn't actively trying to burn me out and piss on the ashes.

I've made my own inquiries regarding my application. The people I'm talking to say they still have their hands tied. As I've been fed all sorts of lines before by cheats and con men, I have to fight myself to keep from reading "bad" in their motives. Besides, I've been an editor myself and I know what it's like when projects are stalled by lousy funding and politics. 

At any rate, I've taken McVie's advice. Two applications elsewhere have already been sent. This marks a new period of near-fruitless barren waiting and seeding the workplace with résumés-- 90% of which will be put in the shredder. Par for the course, but it hurts when you reach out and get jack. You put so much into this search for employment even if you know you'll almost always be underemployed, overworked and underpaid.  

That was why I decided to live on the fringe in the first place. It was because

1. I 'm living with someone and
2. I recognized what a frickin' lousy businessman I am

that I even considered going mainstream. 

Yeah, Dex, cry me a river, you big sissy.

I reeeeeeeeally hate having to make declarative statements, especially about my immediate future, just to have to eat them later.

Hmmm...

No calls.
Ever.
From last week.
My life. is like my calls--
On hold.

Come on people. Why does this have to be like pulling teeth? I can take rejection. I've had to endure twenty five of them trying to get someone to be my girlfriend. What's keeping you from telling me the simple truth?

I'm preparing to send applications to two more places just in case all those calls I've made following up my application turn out to be fruitless.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Hypotheses

I've three guesses as to why the graphics on my laptop have conked out on me, especially when I'm using said laptop for heavy resource draining applications.

To test them, I need to be able to open this thing up for scrutiny; something I'm afraid to do just now. More importantly, I'll need a brush. And maybe RAM chips for Compaq laptop motherboards-- things I haven't even seen, let alone tinkered with. If I'm wrong on all guesses, I'll need a (sob) new video card. Might as well pray I can get myself a new laptop.

Joy.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Makes You Go Hmmm...

It's been weeks and absolutely no one from my prospective place of work has bothered to contact me, not even to tell me stuff like:

"Hey, things are still messy here, so our hands are tied and we can't hire you yet. Check back with us in six months."  or "Hey, your work sucks so we can't hire you."

I'm beginning to feel stupid having to place a discreet call or send an email once a week to ask about my state of employment. I'm loath to do this, since I know how irritating people can be when they get pushy. But I want this job. Which means I'll haveta place one more call come Monday. To Be a Pest and Ask about My Job.

...
 
I hate it when my life is put on hold like this and I hate being forced to be a pain. I've spent too much money (mine, my girlfriend's) on this project. I've bought sample magazines, new software; run off to LB to spend more money --added to my friend's electric bill and the wear on his PC; bothered people to lend me a working phone to make contacting me easy. I've shaved weeks off my life in the four days I slaved like a demon to come up with sample works.

Why haven't they contacted me? They know how to reach me. I thought their need was urgent. 

There are better things I can do with my time than wait. I think I deserve to be told exactly what is going on. 

Friday, July 16, 2004

Fringe Movie: Conan the Destroyer (1984)

I'm currently watching another iteration of Conan the Barbarian (actually, Conan the Destroyer) and I'm loving it. The producers never intended it, but it's so chock full of campy goodness.

Governor Arnie Schwarzenegger's sincere though hammy acting and dialogue still bring a nostalgic smile to my weathered face. Mako, late of Seven Years in Tibet and playing Akijo --Conan's wizard sidekick-- in this movie, is always a welcome sight in any role. Two pillars of heartfelt hammy acting with memorable accents: go figure.  God knows I haven't seen Grace Jones scare the bejeezus outta me since the eighties. She's also a welcome sight here, as dear as any old friend, in my book. As Zula the bandit, she's the quintessential African Goddess: big, scary, yet attractive in her feline grace and ferocity.

The lay of the land: Conan is apparently like me, mourning mising or dead loves. He misses his warrior-lover Valeria, introduced and killed off in Conan the Barbarian. The Evil Queen (Sarah Douglas, Superman II)  cuts a deal with him: Bring her neice (d'Abo) on a quest to retrieve a powerful artifact and Evil Queen brings Valeria back to life. Conan makes a quick stop to pick up some questing companions and the adventure begins...  

The little gay guy in me loves the muscles and the revealing costumes. Meanwhile the big lummox macho guy in me loves the women in them: especially the young princess Jehnna (Olivia d'Abo). He also salivates at the opportunity to judge the swordwork, as this is a film of the swashbuckling variety.
 
As this is a De Laurentis film, the special effects and set design, though dated, do not disappoint. The musical scoring, with its dependence on chimes and traditional wind intruments is refreshing after having viewed films with today's in-your-face electronica.
 
Lines from a scene I've gotta love-- 

d'Abo: "How do you attract a man?"
Jones: "You grrrab him!"

Oh yeah!

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Dex is Now Connected

I stopped by my old homestead. Mom handed me my brother's old and decrepit Nokia. Well, at least the design is obsolete so it isn't dyolog anymore.

Much thanks to the Power That Is.

An Open Prayer

Dear God,

I realize the number of hours lost in every wasted day. Let me spend those hours in prayer and self-enrichment, if not in anything else.

Amen.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Fringe Lifer's Word for This Week

zombie - n.

1. A dead body that has been brought back to life by a supernatural force
2. (in voodooism) a spirit or supernatural force that reanimates a dead body
3. A god of voodoo cults of African origin worshipped especially in West Indies
4. Someone who acts or responds in a mechanical or apathetic way
5. Several kinds of rum with fruit juice and usually apricot liqueur

After more than 18 hours in front of a PC giving my old comic book sample pages Photoshop-assisted plastic surgery, zombie is exactly how I feel. I'm still in Los Banos, at a friend's. I'm frying his PC's RAM chips trying to make six-year-old artwork look less dated. I'm here because my Trusty(TM) laptop's graphics have decided to conk out on me at the last minute.

Progress? I've already emailed two finished pages (old artwork, made like new), but I've yet to finish current comic book artwork and a couple of sample layout pages. I want the job that the approval of these things reprersents. But mind and body rebel.

Here's to finishing by tomorrow afternoon.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Seeing Through the Eyeballs of Love

I was late to meet my pals at what used to be Iceberg's at the Glorietta 4. Then I found my friend, Rez. I followed Rez from Glorietta 4 through 2, where he stopped to grab a bite at Komoro Soba. I stopped there too, and got pretty much blew a hundred bucks on food. All that time I'd been shadowing him, he never noticed me-- which I found weird, because he's usually a lot sharper than this. To be fair, I it wasn't my stalking and shadowing proficiency that kept me from registering on his peripheral vision. Rez had his girlfriend with him, and all his attention was on her.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Ah Nuts!

Attacking a magazine layout these days is harder than I expected. It's supposed to be right up my alley. It still is. It's just so different now, content-wise, seeing as the mag is not my usual fare. Have to adjust color and layout accordingly. Coping. Have to.

The next time I drop out of sight, please remind me not to take myself completely out of circulation.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

In Lieu of Coins, Sticks or Tea Leaves...

Your Name: Omar Dexter Sebastian Lira
Your Date of Birth: 01/02/1974
Your Question or Information:

Past

Thurisaz - Beginning new projects, luck-the hand of fate helping you, protection, the hammer of Thor, opening gateways.

Present

Ehwaz - Abrupt changes, moving into new home and environment, travel, swift change in situation.

Future

Lagaz - Intuition, imagination, success in studies, creativity, vitality and passion (especially for women).

Cast the runes here:
Rune Caster
by [info]brindy

Sunday, June 20, 2004

That Look

If there is anything I fear more than an end to my immediate existence, it is the way you look at me right now. It's as if I was candy yesterday and now I'm the baby lizard that fell into the fruit juice somebody nearly drank.

I'm reduced to asking the eternal question-- "Now what'd I do?" And I know it's not what I did: just what I think, how I think and maybe who I am. And as usual, I am neither quick nor wise enough to do or say the things that will make it alright.

Please forgive me for being dumb and male.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

That's a Possibility

With at least one friend wringing everyone he knows for Filipino words and a crash course in Filipino syntax, I'm half tempted to do an article on Filipino itself. Only, I'm not the best person to do that and I'm still in the middle of my final English article for the Big Bodega.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Thank You, Yahoo!

Those of you who've had active Yahoo email accounts since... well, since ten or so years ago will be pleasantly surprised when you check for messages.

Yep. Updated interface that's easy on the eye, plus a hundred beautiful megabytes of storage space!

Now that's what I call a loyalty program.

Thank you Yahoo!

Fiscal Recovery

It's easy to run around sinning; atonement, however, is a bitch.
-Evil Dex

What's true for the realms of the spiritual and moral is apparently also true for money. The night those dyologs robbed me of my phone was the same night I lost my wallet and cards. And yeah, P2000. Yes, to the same hooligans. I was to use that money as down payment for a Trusty(TM) Printer, and begin Project Fringe Business.
Serves me right for carrying so much money on me while I was traveling on foot.

Digression: But how could I be robbed in Tatalon when I live there fergodssakes? Well, I was robbed at the border of Tatalon and Talayan and those creeps probably weren't Tatalon natives... End Digression.

At any rate, I'm slowly rebuilding my war chest. I've been to the bank, made my deposits and I've been reissued an ATM card. In a few months, I'll probably have that printer to complement my Trusty(TM) digicam, my Real Man's(TM) Lamp, my Battered(TM) Laptop, my Battered(TM) Notebook and my HomeMade Large Reflective Surfaces.

Can you guess what I'll be doing? I'll give you a gold star.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Lost & Listless in the World of Words

Apparently, the only time my work merits notice is if it wins contests and makes the news somehow, somewhere. Then it's back into the bowels of obscurity until I can win another one: par for the course. But knowing this, I still can't help but feel a little... bitter.

Nobody really spends his writing time by primarily fine-tuning poetry for contests-- at least nobody should be. But you know exactly how much of yourself was immolated to satisfy the inner muse: every rejection, every sleepless hour, every misallocated second. It's only natural that you'd want an acknowledgment of that sacrifice; only natural that what little acknowledgment there is feels woefully inadequate.

Yes, I've been lucky. I have the freedom to rant and make an ass of myself on the world wide web. I've won a few local contests and made girls swoon (except the one I wanted!) and mothers weep. I've been noticed by a few literary giants-- there's what amounts to a footnote in an online catalogue of Philippine Contemporary Poetry-- and published in at least one book that is treated lightly in the 'States and read by absolutely nobody in the Philippines, barring relatives and friends. People who exploit me for my writing skills admit to my being "good" --which is why I keep getting exploited (I'm a sucker for real praise). I'd have to admit, there are few in this country who can say even that much of themselves, and they're heavily concentrated in even fewer places-- Manila, Makati, Bacolod, Cebu.

And yet.

Where is my big payoff? When do I luck out? When do I stop being the artist surfing on a vector asymptotic to the axis of "success?"

...

One day, the inner sage tells me. I just hope I'm still around to properly enjoy it when it actually happens. In the meantime, you'll all forgive me if I don't hold my breath.

C'est la vie.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Some Poems

Every poet experiences this.

Some poems a poet isn't prepared to write. It's not because these poems are hard to engineer. He knows that on other days he can pull line after rhythmic line to make the ladies swoon, or the mothers weep. The skill is there; just not the heart to put the themes to his usual mercenarial use.

A poet's angels don't make inroads into that dread territory, not when the poems speak of loss, however evitable, from unexpected quarters.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

The Ineradicable Artist

Last night as I toured the renovated Virra Mall--I swear part of it looked like it belonged in Podium-- with Honey, I noticed a simple and profound event unfolding in a drugstore. Standing out in that morass of prefab creativity was a salesclerk, furtively drawing, ah, "Flowers of Love" on a cheap ledger. At least that was what the bold text, done in black ink, said the drawing was.

She noticed me noticing her, and then she tried to hide the work in progress with her back. Too bad for her, I had stalker training to fall back on. I had already taken a good look at the red ink flowers coming into bloom under her struggling, rather kitsch pen. I felt like materializing in my usual creepy way within her personal space and giving her a few drawing pointers, but I thought the better of it.

She's under enough pressure already, engaging in non-work on the sly. Nice to know that dreams still grow in barren soil.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Putting Wayward Photos Through My Number Cruncher

This... happened at Ian's Sizzling Sisig Summer Soiree. Like a grinning fool, I went around snapping pictures with what my friend Paul referred to as my handy little spycam. As the thing could take in 1.3 megapixels, I was confident that with adequate lighting, I could come away with memories I can show off to the common friends who didn't make Ian's party. While I pride myself at being able to shoot decent pics under low lighting conditions with a single lens reflex camera carrying ASA 400 film, I quite forgot that there are limits to ultra-small digital cameras without a flash.

I am sad to say I lost most of my photos to the darkness, despite my hours of CSI-work on them. I even those with Myles and his kid in 'em. Ah nuts. On the upside, Nikka will find the absence of her pictures a good thing. Why, I'll never know.

But it galls me that I could not have saved certain other photos-- the ones that steal the breath and stop the heart, in a good way. C'est la vie.







I have little idea as to who this is.
My punishment for
not shooting with enough light.

A friend having fun. Privacy concerns
keep me from divulging
too many names.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Aliens Have Abducted My Parents

The first time I, yes, went to a shrink was early 2003. No, the shrink wasn't Paul and neither was it my girlfriend-- both psych grads, one of them saddled with a headcase.

Mom was worried--she's always worried-- about my mental health. Why don't I want the things normal folk want, like a degree or nine-to-five employment? Why haven't I married Honey? Why am I so contrary? Why won't I accept the jobs she finds for me?

So, without my consent and prior knowledge, she books me an appointment with a shrink. I am incensed at the patent disrespect and condescension but I go anyway: I've long known I was a head case, and as such, needed the help.

I pretty much rambled for an hour, talked about how imprisoning life at home stuck with mom and pop had felt. I was twenty nine fergodsakes I was still subject to the tyranny of motherhood: all those helpful little recommendations that were really ironclad orders, the nagging, the dismissive behavior (because only mommy knows best)...

I said I'd had dreams of independence and fears that it was never going to happen, as long as I was living in a place where I was going to be constantly judged and found wanting.

I had issues, Ms. Shrink said. I agreed. Then she said she needed my mom to attend our next scheduled one-hour session. Because obviously mom and pop had a hand in this, and had to be part of the solution. I relayed it to mom with that feeling of deja vu...

The funding abruptly stopped and so did the sessions. I was stymied. Again. Just like old times with mom and pop.

...

Imagine my surprise when my brother tried to broach the idea of head therapy co-starring mom and pop with me as the main attraction. Long term funding, long term attendance, whatever it takes. Mom and pop had been talking about this for some time, and they figure it's a good idea.

Still lamely trying to help, mom? Just figured out that therapy is a family affair? Guess what?

That. Gesture's. A little. Too Late.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Doing a Thom Filicia for Casa la Fringe

I've almost single-handedly rearranged the furniture here three or four times since I moved in here with Honey, some few months ago. My inner gay guy is so happy that the other, more male, sides of my persona are raising a howl. This is the price I pay for being a house hubby who loves hanging with his friends-- some of whom are very, very gay. But then where would my class be without them?

Hang around a snazzily dressed gay guy long enough and the stylishness you envy will rub off on you. Just pray that's the only thing that rubs off of him and descends on your shoulders like a comforting feather boa... yesss... so soft, so downy... I positively must get the matching sequined dress, high heels and ABBA soundtrack...

You know I'm kidding, right? Right...?

I'm a little miffed because I'm putting aside valuable work time to please the missus. She's got a friend coming over. Tonight. So they can have that high school sleepover they'd always talked about but never got around to doing some ten years ago. Ergo, the domicile must look less like a Real Man's™ pigsty and more like my new phone: Sleek, Chic and Metro™. My e-portfolio may be far from leaving the conceptual stage, but the rewards of making your woman happy usually outweigh the lost time and revenue.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Notes from the Fringe: Laughing All the Way to the Bank

The Price of Freedom

I invested the last of the money that I earned from my last writing and teaching gigs by putting it in the bank.

Hardly blogworthy, since there is nothing unique about the practice of saving money for a rainy day. No biggie-- Especially if what you're worth right now comes down to P2333.33. Sheez Louise, today's upper middle class kids get to put in six times that amount.

It still galls me that my pals are used to dealing with money in excess of fifty thousand pesos per earning period and I'm sniffing 'round the economic refuse bin. But that, sadly, is part of the price I pay for choosing to live my life unfettered by corporate restraints.

But for all that crap, I finally have a bank account where clients can electronically direct their well-spent, hard-earned money for my services rendered. At least I feel like a man again. It's a new start.

What price, freedom, indeed? Not all of us who live on the fringe (hence my blog) are as dogged, as determined, as talented, as endowed with the necessary chutzpah or are even as healthy as those of us who've made it big (try last entry's Buddy Zabala). Few of us even have the luxury of a love, who despite the incurred derision, takes you in her arms at night and puts up with your fringe behavior. This is not a life for the timid and the pretentious, and at times I am both.

For all that, I am for the most part happier, if nuttier, and more prone to "the thousand ills and mishaps the human body is heir to."

The Long Mea Culpa

Make your judgements--

A) I am a loser because I chose to make all those little bad calls that will grow by accretion into the Mark of Cain. There were lots of things I could've done to wind up in a different place, but I either wimped out or took for granted all that precious wasted time and opportunity. I didn't make due with my social security payments; ergo I don't deserve a pension check at the end of every month. I didn't have the discipline it takes to truly be grown-up in a world that relies on you to function as grown-ups.

B) I walked into this life eyes wide open.

C) I did a little of both.

You can hold me up as an example to your children of what choices not to make if you want to get ahead in the world. You'd probably be right to do so. I just wonder, though, if that's going to be enough to keep them in the neat, safe little cubicles you build for them. There's a reason why people are giving up desk jobs, and it has little to do with The Recession.

It hurts, when you snicker behind my back, when your eyes cut away from mein just that way. But I've come to the point where I almost no longer give a damn-- I'll be too busy trying to live up to the choices I've made.

Here's to hoping we all live our lives well, regardless of where in life we are.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Blogging at Ian's Birthday Bash

Ian's Sizzling Pusit and SisigHaus

I am upset. Upset because that damn videoke machine won't respect me. It gave me a low score. (85!) Sacrilege! Blasphemy! Desecration! Profanation! (There goes my Words for the Week column!)

Yes, Ian's having us compete for a bottle of liquor by making us sing until we're hoarse. No, I don't want the liquor. No, I don't even want to see Maui Taylor and Gwen Garci prancing around without their tops-- yes, the Viva Hot Babes Videoke Release for drunken slavering men and lesbians in need of fan service to keep 'em awake and ordering more booze.

None of that!

Must. Get. Higher. Score.

Not that the damn score should really matter-- the evil machines usually hand out the "you're great!" scores to the lousiest singers, while arbitrarily passing out the "okay" and "you stink on ice" ratings. But I was a frontman once, long ago. And some indignities exist that you just don't accept.

Even if you wind up looking like an idiot.

Those Dratted Six Degrees

Anyway, it's nice seeing old friends and acquaintances again, and finding out that I'm not a passing acquaintance to some folks-- Adam and Charmaine, erstwhile members of Where's Joe. And wood-working Joe himself. Myles was there too, with his wife and kid: beautiful, both of them. There's great cholesterol-loaded, artery-ossifying, aneurism-inducing food. This, courtesy of HOTSTIX, Ian's little restaurant nestled along Quezon Avenue.

Some of Ian's friends are familiar-- one of them is Buddy Zabala of Eraserheads fame. Reminds of that saying about six degrees of separation: Ian is the fourth friend I know who can regularly engage in chitchat with Buddy Zabala. The others are Evil Jerry (based in the US), Dacs (based along Katipunan) and Antoinne (based near Dacs). My hunch about the rest of Ian's present friends was well founded. Apparently they're all rock stars who I've seen playing or just chilling in one gig or another back when my life was more closely woven with music.

Missing Those Two

Powerpoets Paul and Nikka were present and accounted for, as was expected. I had begun to envy Ian his closeness to the quirky couple. But circumstances-- an auburn-haired Parañaque resident-- had kept me from confiding in Paul, and by extension, Nikka. Hence the distance. I swear, that man lives to gently, well-meaningly berate me about my weakness for women-- especially auburn-haired Parañaque muses.

I told Paul that the reason he didn't see me for a year was that "I needed to disappear." Which was true. Prior to my seeing Paul last, I was in the middle of deciding which woman I could truly, viably spend most of forver with. Paul's well-meaning remonstrations were only adding to the clamoring, dissenting voices in my head. As much as I valued his counsel, I had to trust myself to silence the internal cacophony and make a proper choice.

I was genuinely afraid that they'd think less of me because I'd needed to get away from everybody, from them, to think.

It felt good to be hugged by Nikka, to get a warm and solid handshake from Paul.

FATAL Weakness

Whenever I walk into a place, the first people I look for are the women. (Creepy that I've been noticing the men too, but every straight guy has a little gay guy who is responsible for keeping him stylishly chic and presentable to the ladies.) Paul knows this. So when Ian's friend S. showed up, Paul was telling me to keep my eyes in my head. Trust Paul to be consistent. (That's why I love you, Pal!)

But Paul got it wrong that night. I was not looking at S. No offense to her (she reminded me of Jen Rosendahl-- must be her mestiza nose and all that Viva Hot Babe exposure), but someone else caught my eye and stopped my breath. In that aggregate of people was someone I'd had a very bad crush on since that day in '94 when I [OPEN MOUTH, INSERT FOOT. --ed.]

Dex had a band
Once, long ago.
Now, he has
No one to string-sling with
Acoustically

This was a good idea, my deciding to come here. I'd not had as much fun in a long time. Thanks for the party, Ian. May you have better birthdays after this one. And in the words of Shrek's Donkey--"Let's do that again!"

Postscript: Why were Karl and Diwa sick? Where was the rest of the Fine Arts contingent? They coulda joined the chorus line in our rousing rendition of We are the World!
Also, for this entry, I'm the Sphynx: four points to people good at playing Oedipus

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Sleepless in Santa Mesa

Honey's flown to Hong Kong for much-needed R&R. Me, I'm stuck here, ostensibly compiling my e-portfolio. Ha! All I've managed to do since midnight today was to download soft porn (wake up, readers, post NAOMI engine driven Dead or Alive in-game movies are soft porn). Okay, I was able to tweak my blogs. At least.

Good God, I just realized I had four of these things floating about.

At least I have time to try this again--not the porn, but the simple business of getting myself employed. Writing for money ain't paying the bills at this stage, especially if you're writing for one client.

C'est la vie.

Friday, May 28, 2004


I'm the guy on the left. With the glasses.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Dex El and Fringe Living

Welcome to My Big Fat Geek Life

I know, I know. You're asking, "What happened to the Big Bodega?" It's just that I've been needing a change. The Bodega was, and still is, a great mouthpiece website. But like most bodegas, it tended to get crammed with all sorts of stupid junk. Necessary, entertaining but nevertheless stupid junk that I will not show my college communications teachers, lest they die of shame for having asociated with me.

Not that I have a monopoly on inane blogger content.

I'm trying to do a Marco: how he can maintain three blogs with respective relevant content is a perennial source of envy.

Suffice it to say that from here on in, you will find the stupid and mundane stuff here. If you want to read up on my fiction, you'll find it in Dexterian Lit.

I will pontificate from The Big Bodega from now on.