Wednesday, June 29, 2005

An Old Forgotten Post

Dex, Unplugged

It’s like old times. People have been trying to reach me, and as usual, I have been nigh-impossible to find. There isn’t too much backlash, because everyone knows by now that I’ve “donated” my cell phone, laptop and CD burner to “the needy.”

I kind of like being unplugged and hard to find.


It is good to have someone sweat a little while looking for me every now and then. It strokes the ego; makes me feel wanted. I tend to get lost in the estimation of my friends amidst the routines and concerns of their existences.

I know, it’s shallow, but allow a thirty-year-old his little foibles.

Too, people are usually not looking for the simple pleasure of my company. While I’m almost always available to lend a helping hand, the lending itself is almost always inconvenient. I get in trouble with my job, my family, my girlfriend— even as I race off on my invisible steed to right the very visible wrongs the world has –rightly or no— inflicted on my friends.

There are days when I almost no longer care that a friend’s love life is being flushed down the toilet, or that his parents are being anal and controlling. This kind of counseling I’ve been doing since college and I have long since recognized a need for a welcome respite. “Physician, heal thyself!” has often silently been thrown in my face. It’s about time I took that advice.

Disclaimer: I’ve been known to look people up to pester them for favors. But I’ve been trying my best to cut down on asking for them. Sometimes, I no longer bother. My friends are living their own lives, battling their own ogres and scaling their own prince/ss towers. The very act of taking up their time only adds unnecessary weight to their current burdens.

Being unconnected to the outside world allows me to focus on the stuff I’d normally be neglecting. When was the last time I’d been cozy with Honey? Yes, you get a gold star— just in the last couple of days when absolutely no one could reach me via cell phone, email or that dratted Yahoo Messenger.

Still, I don’t relish being unplugged for longer than a glorious month of peace, quiet and uninterrupted PC gaming. I will soon enough have to discharge my obligations to my colleagues and friends—who will no doubt continually wonder where I am or what I am about.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Issoku Kutsushita wa Issoku Ja Nai

This is Life as a Suit in a Third World Country.

I live in a place where my socks are almost always mismatched; where the stuff in your cabinet isn't yours because someone else higher up on the food chain has decided that you don't need the extra space; where two consenting adults can't live together without wearing the scarlet letter unless they grease enough palms-- money is apparently better than Tide at getting rid of dirt.

Down here-- the operative word is Purgatory-- equipment always breaks down because people think they can plug just one more appliance into a wall socket already groaning under the demands of an overloaded electrical system. They don't know the damage they're causing and they sure as hell don't give half a damn until said appliance breaks down or the fuses blow up. I'm the guy who has to fix the mess they made over my strenuous but stifled objections and they have the gall to ask me why I didn't give them a lesson in the care of electrical systems.

When anyone here shows a modicum of talent or initiative, he is run ragged by people who expect him to know everything and solve their problems NOW, never mind that he has his own problems to fix and his own life to lead. If he hasn't already lost half his native energy to entropy, he will the be forced to break the Third Law of Thermodynamics (a first in Physics!), as critics and vultures and social vampires will inevitably reduce him to a psychic state of Absolute Zero. After which he either expires or becomes another member of the soulless working dead who haunt the private workplace, the government office and pretty much every place where humanity gets a foothold.

In the place where I live, 1+1 is always 3 or any other number someone higher on the food chain wants it to be, damn the real number system, the laws of motion and damn the torpedoes... which, by the way, whoopsie, I will have to take for the team.

I don't want to live like this. I want a clean pair of matching socks.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Channeling Ashton Kutcher

If I told you I'm in love with a fifty year old woman, you'd probably think that I just about chase anything wearing a skirt. Well, you could say that with some accuracy about some of the famous roles Bill Shatner (King of Ham) and Eddie Garcia (King of Local Cinema Smarm) have portrayed over their long showbiz careers.

Attention Lawyers: I am not in love with my Japanese Japanese language teacher. Only with the way she writes. Hers is a special magic that makes itself known when she holds the brush. She takes a mental deep breath and plunges into the task of traditional Sino-Nipponese calligraphy, and those characters that thwart our inexperienced hands come to dynamic, sinuous, structured life. When she's done with a character, everyone wants to hang it on some wall somewhere, a testament to a teacher's skill-- and if you looked for the right clues, her inner life.

I'm the best Kanji guy my class has. I keep telling Arjayne-chan it's only because I've been around longer, and poked my nose into affairs she and our classmates haven't. Apparently, I haven't been poking hard enough. My writing struggles under the weight of my brush and my force of will. My own mental deep breath is often literal and quite ragged. My hands shake. I still have trouble taming those vertical strokes.

I'll get to where Katayama-Sensei is. I must.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Pink News (Friday)

Thom Filicia and Kyan Douglas, two fifths of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy's Fab Five, have landed on our shores. Each is due to speak at some Ayala land-sponsored engagement today. A good thing. I'm agreeing with PDI columnist Rina Jimenez David when she says that the efforts of the Fab Five have given gays a fighting chance in a less than friendly world. Gay guys get such a bad rap in this country.

I'm not going to join my countrymen in lumping gay guys exclusively in the category of "sexual predators given to pederasty." That category isn't exclusive: a number of straight guys also indulge in sexual predation and prefer hebephilial relationships. I can state categorically that none of my gay friends indulge in that kind of behavior. I can point to a good number of them who put straight guys to shame in matters like loyalty to their partners, devotion to their work and their usually anti-gay families, their incomes. If what defines a man are his word, his ability to protect and provide for himself and the people he loves, then I am a lot less of a man than they are.

More (Japanese) Words for the Week

Kanji n. Chinese characters adapted for use in Japanese writing

denwabangou n. phone number (et. from denwa, telephone + ban, number)

Asahiko n. "Child of the Morning Sun" (et. usually a given name; from asa, morning + hi, sun + ko child)

Some of you out there will already be aware that I am taking Japanese language classes. They've gotten a damn sight harder since I set foot in my Basic Two class. I used to be at the top of my Basic One class because I was the only guy in the room who had the time to really study, and even then I'd had prior exposure to the language thanks to nth generation pirated subtitled anime. I've fallen low since then, partly because I haven't had the time or the energy to study properly. And it's a damn shame; at least no one has really dethroned me as my class's resident Kanji scribe. It's to be expected too, I guess, because my Basic Two class is composed of the topnotchers from the other Basic One classes.

Arjayne-chan has consistently topped the exams. Running a close second is Lenin-san, a CaviteƱo with a Visayan accent who I've come to grudgingly respect: you can't question this guy's initiative and his drive. With resident topnotcher Arnold-san (also from Cavite) taken out of the running by family and work concerns, Lenin would top the class if he wasn't already saddled with his job and his accent. Me, I'm in a race to keep my head over perilous waters along with everyone else. These are times I wish I hadn't left my small pond for the minor lake. When I feel strung out, spread like too little butter on too much bread, I have to remind myself that I'm only in competition with me.

Asahiko-chan has by this time taken her flight to Japan with her dad and the Card Captor Sakura drawings she commissioned (for free), and maybe my Kanji workbook and a month's worth of my Kanji assignments for Jap class (she'll need it). I wish her all the best. Let me state that I am, yes, concerned about how she'll adjust to life in Japan. My teacher says kids are bullied there, especially if they can't speak the language.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Been busy. We just wrapped up the Cultural Activity ritual my Jap school puts together for the purposes of handing out certificates and faculty-student bonding. I am dog tired and my eyes hurt.

The shocker is that the performances I and my classmates gave were covered by one of the local channels. (They'd done that before at the last Cultural Activity but there seemed to be no reason for a repeat covereage. ) I basically sang, danced and embarrassed myself on national tv.

We were trying to get Asahiko-chan (the girl is 11, talented but shy) to dance a little for her song number. So we did all sorts of funny dances while she sang to take her mind off the pressure of an avidly expectant audience. The camera just had to swing my way just when a friend and I were channeling Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music. Asa-chan smiled and danced a bit. She didn't win the singing contest though (no good choreography). But, I 'm grateful for small victories.

I had found out a week ago that my teacher wasn't kidding when he said I should accompany Maria-san's singing with a Tai Chi interpretative dance. So I was more or less ready when I did. I didn't fudge the forms too much... I hope. I am almost afraid of watching the video.

Finally, I sang myself. Not too badly, given the praise I got from many in the audience. Normally reticent Japanese faculty and staff actually stopped to say something good about my performance. I'm either that good or they're THAT polite.

Maybe I shoulda been an entertainer.