Monday, December 24, 2007

My Old Resignation Letter

I can't believe it's been a year. Beyond admonitions to "be prepared for life at a contact center if you choose it," I don't really know what sharing this is going to be worth to my gentle readers (and the people I wish were reading me). Still, for lack of anything to post quickly on a Christmas Eve, this will have to do.

For those of you who believe in it, please have a wonderful Christmas. Many of the walking working will only have two days to rest before they slug it out with demons in the work place. This is an opportunity to reconnect, to catch up on sleep: please take it.

To my friends: I am praying for you. It feels like the most useless thing to do, but you know if I had a magic wand I'd wave away all the things that grieve you. As I don't really have one (elm, phoenix feather, 11 and a half inches) I have surrendered what hounds us all to a higher power. Of late I've been angry with that Power. But if one believes what the priests and the ministers say, we are, ultimately, allies. Just because I was ticked off with Him lately doesn't mean I'll be ticked off with Him for the rest of my life.


2 January 2007

It is with great difficulty that I write this today. I think of turning my back on the friends I’ve made, my own progress in my quest for financial and personal growth, I almost want to turn from my decided course. But I applied for the job for more than the usual monetary reasons—I had personal money goals and I was reeling from personal loss. **** has helped me to recover from all of these, most especially the last item. I’ve made friends, I’ve recovered for myself the self-esteem I lost and I’d like to think I’ve helped make our customers’ lives a little easier.

I’ve considered leaving for about a month. I’ve told myself during that month that I had much to look forward to here. That all I needed to do was hang on long enough. My reasons for leaving, however, outweighed the incentives to stay.

This job for me was originally a chance to get paid for therapy. I would not have taken it were it not for the circumstances I’d found myself in: bereft of [wife], in need of business capital. But if therapy was the only real reason I had this job, I didn't’t deserve to keep it beyond the point of minimal recovery.

I had considered making a home here, keeping the job after I crossed that threshold. I liked that I was paid good money. I was ridiculously happy with my team and half in love with members of another. But I had run into other points that I simply could not dismiss.

For one, the scorecard is harder to satisfy, and its requirements will only increase as more and more cross-departmental functions are surrendered to the voices on the phone. Even as we train to meet increasing customer demands with the requisite equanimity, competence and empathy, I retain the feeling that it is only a matter of time before my scorecard failures outweigh the successes. "Super-skilled " can also be read as "Supers killed." (I haven’t spoken of this at length to anyone because I didn't want to affect morale. When speaking with the members of the later [batches], I was nothing but encouraging. Besides, they were trained well.)

Too, I feel that the hours have taken their toll on my well-being. I’ve been falling ill of late, and more frequently—this in spite of my moving to a place closer to the office, in spite of the megavitamin/Extra Joss cocktails I’ve been regularly taking. I know: everyone is responsible for how he manages his time and his health. I have an obligation to manage it so I am well enough to service our clients. It is with this in mind that I have considered leaving for a job closer to home. No, not another contact center. I just want to edit home movies and teach again at a pace that won’t leave me in catatonic slumber 18 hours every first day off.

I don’t want to leave. This has been one of the best places I’ve worked in. However, I feel I must before my performance declines. I am turning in my ID card, the headset and lock assigned to me. I am shredding my handouts and notes. I am saying goodbye, effective immediately. I am also praying for this institution’s understanding.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

9 Mornings

They should have made this a lenten movie

I remember watching a Christmas movie in '02 starring Piolo Pascual and Donita Rose. It was a Dante's climb to salvation wrapped up in a story where love does what it's supposed to-- interest, create conflict, liberate, exalt and ... well, "make happy ever after" a viable possibility. All this happens in the space of nine days. Each beneficent stage of Piolo's transformation from a baggage-laden corporate a$$ to a genuine, loving, and ultimately whole person is marked by a mass anticipating Christmas (our local simbang gabi).

One of the high points of the movie for me was when Piolo bumps into his ex-bed mate in the same church: now she is apparently on her own climb to redemption. Donita Rose must weave some powerful form of magic if it rubs of on Piolo's floozy.

I'm notoriously slanted against big local productions-- and mind you, Star Cinema was big then, and it still is now-- but I genuinely liked this movie. In hindsight, I'm glad my friend Eline marched me into the cinema that day.

(They really shoulda made it a Lenten movie: Piolo Pascual, his name itself comes from Paschal, which pretty much refers to Easter and the Passover. Another piece of grand irony-- Pascual and Donita Rose aren't Catholic.)

When you're a writer and a youngish theatrical ham, you can't help but make correlations, form analogies, draw parallelisms. I'm no broken Piolo Pascual, and it's far too late to run into broken pure-hearted school teachers who just happen to look like Donita Rose on a dawn mass. Far too late to even try to complete the whole set of nine. But every Dante has to crawl out of the pit sooner or later, hurt but on the road to being whole.


Say what you want about people who model their lives somewhat on the movies, but humankind defines the meanings in its lives through the stories it tells itself and the protagonists it sets up. Mayhap modeling your life to the script of Doom is a bad idea, but I'm sure, at one time or another, we all wanted to be Superman for all the right reasons.

Say what you want about relationships being "hard work" or about how "whole" you already have to be to engage in the act of genuinely loving-- my stand has always been that
  • we are all broken toys, perfect in concept but a hell of a work in progress
  • we love because we must, even if we love so brokenly:even in our broken-ness we instinctively seek to emulate our Creator;
  • love heals broken people-- I've seen this happen (and I've seen the process aborted); and sometimes, if you're lucky or blessed, love's enough.



A bug is keeping me from posting photos this morning. I figure it may have sommat to do with the Christmas rush. I'm trying hard not to form another cosmic conspiracy theory off this little inconvenience. I guess I'll just have to wait to try uploading again.

'Nuff said.

They're playing my song

Nothing helps beat your broken heart than a good immersion in the music of Queen, ABBA, Gloria Gaynor or your uncle's chest of 1980's vintage music. You know I'm right-- just because you think I'm nuts, it doesn't mean I'm wrong. Ha!

Anyway they're playing my song-- they've been at it since 8pm of last night. Apparently Christmas is still the season for people on a budget to put up a wicker fence 'round a portion of the street so they can dance in it. They're doing that here, now, a block or maybe three away from where I'm sitting.

There would be a device that spewed light into the dance area and into the sky. The lights would turn and shift and tumble in time to the beat of the music. Young people in rubber slippers and clothes that sometimes didn't match or fit well would be gyrating to the music too.

For the space of a couple of weeks there would be no news of assaults, stabbings, robbery. Because everyone was too busy dancing to Queen or ABBA, Gloria Gaynor, the Pointer Sisters, the younger Madonna, and yes, the rest of the hidden junk in your uncle's 80's collection.

My 80's music collection too, it seems.

I'm making such a big deal out of this because I didn't get to see or hear this at all last year. I was (take your pick)
  • engaged with an enraged American inquiring about the whereabouts of his money;
  • vainly trying to sleep and insulate my back from the artificially generated cold in a contact center's sleeping area, while lurid sense-impressions of people trying to make out assailed my mind;
  • near-comatose somewhere else, sleeping nearly half the day away
It's refreshing to see and hear something like this-- the experience reminds you that the world continues turning in the face of all things absurd and unfair.

Friday, December 21, 2007


We got Shat-nerrrrrrrr! 'Nuff said.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Fringer's Work Report

Project Yearbook--

I feel like I'm chasing a ghost. Can't meet my clients properly and today was supposed to be a sort of final meeting before Christmas took us all away. The necessary evils of the Christmas rush. Still, I'm writing this while the 5 megabyte attachments (pages, pages and more pages) are loading up in preparation for sending. That's new ads, updated biography pages, et cetera.

When I get back to HQ later tonight I'll still be making pages...

Recital AVP--

William Shatner will be gracing the next Clavier recital-- or at least he'll sound like he's there hamming it up on our AVP if I can only get his voice down pat. Other aspects of production are moving faster now, since I'm done with part one of Project Wedding.

Project Wedding--

That was done last Sat. Phase two to commence after the Recital on the 22nd. You're all invited by the way. I'll post the location of the venue when I can later tonight, assuming I stay awake when I get home. Light's Camera Christmas!

Ploject Paintingu--

Basically done. The real trouble is checking the painting itself for gaps, still-wet spots and finally getting it to the people who commissioned it. Tomorrow. Have to get it there by tomorrow.

My Status

Fraying and Praying. I am not taking the car while the risk of micro-sleeping at the wheel is large. Lemme just get past this blasted week...

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Let’s Talk About Ants

(From my old multiply account)

They were high on my list of annoying vermin, right up there with mice and rats. In my old apartment back in the day, you couldn’t leave food on any flat surface for five minutes without a swarm of red ants descending on- and systematically dismantling- your snacks for transport to the nearest colony.

It drove me nuts.

You couldn’t bug bomb the place because the apartment was so small. Sooner or later enough droplets of leaded poison would find their way into the fridge, or your cabinets, or settle on your plates and utensils, upping the risk of pesticide-induced grief for the people living in it. Besides, bug spray was freakishly expensive for a couple on a budget fighting a protracted war with ants.

You also couldn’t seal every tiny entry point the little critters trafficked in and out of, because they’d always find new entry points into your home.

Barring calling the good people at Mapecon (Manila Pest Control) and shelling out a small fortune, the only viable alternative for me was to find a human-safe alternative to bug spray. My alternative was Perla.

Yes, the soap.

I’d have chunks of it floating in my atomizer—one shake and you were ready to combat the Red Menace.

The best I could do was of course, fight the commie ants to a standstill. At least I got better results in that war than the US did in Vietraq. The soap solution was so foully basic that ants died in uncounted numbers and it took them hours to reestablish the chemical trails that led to their food supply. By that time, the food was gone—secure in our bellies, safely in the fridge or on its way to Manila Bay via the sewer.

Fun Ant Facts: Society

As in the act of loving, you can’t wage war on someone and not pick up some of that someone’s traits. Having set aside a good portion of my time fighting ants, I’ve learned a thing or two about them that have made me replace irritation and hatred with bouts of wonder and, of all things, humor.

Ants are the perfect communists. Their whole lives, however brief, are devoted to a single role assigned to them by a controlled throwing of genetic dice. There are no dissident-artist-conscientious-objector ants: each ant “knows” its function and will perform it to the best of her ability.

Sure, no ant will walk through fire by default. But given a big enough incentive—say, a truckload of exposed milk chocolate— ants will go over danger, under it, around it and sometimes through it to get to that sweet reward, almost regardless of how many of their number die in the attempt.

They’re like the mainland Chinese— there’s always more where they come from (my apologies for the racial slur, but the comparison is apt).

Amazingly, most every ant—worker, soldier, HiveQueenis female. The only male ants on the roster are drones: expendable Toms, Dexes and Harrys whose sole purpose is to provide the Queen the necessary genetic material from which to form the multitude of eggs she regularly lays. Do they provide her with entertainment as well? Perhaps— the drones are after all, the only ants with wings. I’m almost sure there’s an ant Queen somewhere chuckling at the thought of the poor drones flying around and banging their heads like impassioned moths on a fluorescent coil, or drowning in a basin of water laid under a similar light source.

Fun Ant Facts: Language

Despite what my readers will think, I don’t have the monopoly of being able to speak to ants. You can speak to ants too: bug-bombing them is as good as saying “I hate you all! Don’t bother me again!” Not that they really care what you feel about them. Except maybe the Queen, who gets a kick out of the idea of you fighting a losing battle against her numberless troops.

Of course my conversations with most ants are like really thick chocolate being slowly pushed through a sieve. Meaning is …felt, tasted and smelled, rather than deciphered from sound and writing.

You can tell how far food is by smell—either by the scent if the food itself or by the scent of the chemicals the other ants in front of you deposit to mark the supply trail.

“Hello, Friend.”
--“Hello, Friend.”
“How far to the sugar pile?”
--“Close. Just keep to the trail.”

The language is rather crude by human standards— you can’t debate the nature of Platonic Love versus Eros in it— but the combination of smell, taste and touch gets the basics across.

I need you.
“Need help?”
“I’m here. Always.”

Thursday, December 13, 2007


If you've been trying to reach me on my cel over the last couple of days, then you undoubtedly will have gotten frustrated trying to do so. My cel battery has been dying over those past few days. It died completely yesterday. I don't have my charger, and my directory of important numbers has always been in my phone. It's easy to find others who can assist-- theoretically.

My apologies to you all.


Made another mistake in a long line of these. Still shocked, still processing the night's events. Bottom line: I was lucky, probably we all were. I can't make this right directly but I will when the time for it comes.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


I can attribute some of the work-related weirdness that's been happening to me to the godawful Christmas rush. I've been trying to keep away from it, trying to work in sealed bunkers where I won't have to move out until absolutely necessary. Getting out of these bunkers depletes resources that I'll need to continue all my work. But I still have to go out, to rush to meet people though, and lately things have been getting lost, shuffled around, because it's harder and harder to travel the streets. I'm losing gas and sleep and I'm often stuck in between places where you can't make output or send it. My phone battery is on the blink. And yes, I'm not eager to make or return phone calls.

So here I am preparing to rush out again. I am hoping I won't be as unprotective unproductive.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


There is a piece of polished masonry I've been carrying since late August. It was part of an office building that had likely been demolished a month before that time in the Ortigas Center area-- the facade, perhaps, or the floor. I'd seen pieces of this dark, marbly substance. I remember telling myself what a shame it was to waste these pieces. They would have made a good trophy base, name plate, sign or paperweight. I picked a good-sized bit of dark building-facade rock (wikipedia calls it a conglomerate) and took it home with me.

This was sometime after August. I don't remember the exact date. (I admit I have that problem with death anniversaries and birthdays too.) I do remember that there were strange colors in the clouds at five in the p.m., traffic was decent and that later on in the evening the moon was a sickly, lurid red.

The point is I kept it because I wanted to remember: my little conglomerate held its own against the wind (a good paperweight), and I liked looking at it, gently touching it with the tips of my fingers. Its dark hue, its pockmarks, the small embedded imperfections, its points and varied textures--sharp, rough, smooth-- these things comforted.

It's just sad that, as events force me to accumulate new junk, this rock (and my memories) finds itself unused, corwded out, hiding in more and more obscure locations. I reached for it, in a dark bag full of wires and cheap electronics, and it nearly cut me.

It's sad because I don't want to simply throw it away.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Nobody really reads this crap. Why does my hit counter register increasing hits? It can't be all me. Sheez.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Why I can't live and work in Eastwood City

It's a nice place to visit but it has its own snags.

You can't really walk out of the condo unit wearing rubber slippers (flip-flops to my American readers) or an ugly shirt. Everything is ridiculously expensive, from food to internet time.

But this is a great place to hide out when you want to work without external interruptions. There's ample power, ample water --and a heater to boot! After the guards get used to your face they tend to leave you alone. When you need eye candy you can take a stroll and look into any of the posh and semi-posh temples of commerce.

I tend to keep to myself and the condo though. I'm in no mingling mood. Even if I'm often faced with the threat of cafard.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Fringe Workflow Reports—

Dexes and Exes

When I started Fringe Living it was meant to be a blog about living and working on the fringe, that is to say, life and work outside the comforting miasma of a desk job and life with the parents. Lord knows it was long overdue (the blog and life and work sans mom, dad and desk job).

It was supposed to be devoid of the heavy political, philosophical and personal baggage that permeated The Big Bodega. Then I lost my—okayokayokay, I’ll get off that topic since I’ve talked it over to death.

Fact is I’ve talked of nothing else but my troubles with my whole peer group and my exes.

Today I’ll be doing something different. Talking about something I should have been discussing in this venue. It’s something called work.

Project Yearbook.

I’ve been doing nothing but the Saint Columban’s Diamond Jubilee souvenir program over the last two months. I can’t market my others services while I’m doing this thing. That’s because there’s only one of me and I can’t promote myself, do videos and the yearbook at the same time. The yearbook’s long overdue and God knows I really won’t be getting money for it.

In between bouts of non-stop work and non-stop stupor in places where I can’t easily be reached for comment (or for nagging) it’s almost a gift to be able to marathon episodes of Smallville and Supernatural.

Anyway here’s my progress report—

I’m still indexing adverts that I’m working on. Should be done by tonight.

  1. I have to re-import some jpegs (I’m using Freehand) because they’re coming out pixilated on the printouts. Should take an hour, should also be done by tonight.
  2. I gotta get started formatting the ads. I’ll do this last. Hopefully I’ll be done with what I have by Tuesday.

Saturday, December 01, 2007


Every second an opportunity to turn it around.

It sounds easy. It is easy. In principle. All it takes is a little courage. A little understanding.

My courage and understanding failed me last night (actually two nights ago). I could have changed tacks. Stayed on the line, been my charming self. I did love this woman—I do love this woman. I knew it was her the moment she picked up the phone and spoke.

All I could remember when I heard her voice last night was just how bad the situation between us was: this woman hated me so badly she wanted to forget me. I didn’t, until that second, realize just how angry and afraid I was. Angry at our choices, terribly afraid of the day—this day— that we would speak again.

I wanted the conversation over and done with quickly before I said anything stupid. By default, she wouldn’t believe me anyway. And what new thing was I supposed to say, to add to this stilted conversation? She’s already heard everything—

“I’m sorry I hurt you. I’m sorry we turned out badly. Life just isn’t the same without you in some way shape or form. I miss you, your mannerisms, your jokes.”

That night there was something I wanted to add: I am so afraid of displeasing you any more than I already have, that I have exhausted your capacity to even listen to me. I wish I could get past this. Despite what you feel about the actions I took and the choices I made, everything I did, since you decided we were over, I did because I value you.

The moment passed—

In the real world she asked for the caller’s name. My name. The name that finally came out in a rueful breath. There was no way to give it without her finding out that this voice belonged to the man she hated, the man who "used her," the man who "frightened her." Never mind that this voice belonged to the man she once loved.

In the end I can only pray for similar moments, for the strength to cut through the bullshit and reach that dear friend I once had.

Every second an opportunity to turn it around. Every day a litmus test to see if this is true.