Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Ending the Year of the Klutz... being one. 

Slammed my head into a wall while running in the stairwell a week ago. It wasn't as painful as it was funny. I learned first-hand just what the boys at Fight Science talk about when they illustrate just how the energy of an impact to the skull travels through the brain and along the neck and spine and into the muscles in the shoulders and the back as they work to absorb and dissipate it. I was lucky that some of the impact was mitigated by my hands and arms (energy travels through them too, all the way to-- yes-- the shoulders and the back).

And just today, in my rush to get to work I forgot both of my cellphones when I would sorely need either one later... for when the fireworks would start. There won't be a way in hell barring telepathy that my parents would be able to know when to come for me later. They won't even know  where to go to pick me up.

Too, I could have sworn that my ATM card was in my wallet yesterday. It was  in my wallet yesterday. I've had no reason to take it out at any time except for when I really needed it, which is tonight.

I'll be en route to Cainta to pick up my phones, then to QC to track down my ATM card. (This is assuming of course that people in my QC house have been practicing their brand of silent interventions in my so-called wayward life.) Then I hie off to Alabang to join the folks. All of this to be done tonight.          

But my year--in fact the last two-- haven't been exclusively marked by physical klutziness. I was also inexcusably socially inept. 

C'est la vie.

I hope this is the last time that I'll be this klutzy-- you know, physically, mentally and what have you.         

Happy new year, folks.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Not Nihil, Nihil

There are two major Christian milestones worth noting, regardless of what denomination of the Christian faith you belong to. One is Christmas. The other is Easter.  We celebrate the beginning of Christ's Mission on the former; we celebrate its fulfilment on the latter holdiay.

The Christian is supposed to witness this truth: God bends over backward to reconcile Himself with His wayward Creation. I sometimes wish He'd do a better job of it-- what with all the broken people out there, breaking themselves against the intransigence of other people; those same people being broken in their turn. I wish the Christians would do a better job of witnessing too-- some of those broken people broke themselves on Christian intransigence.  

Jesus died so none of us would answer the question of meaning with "Nihil, Nihil." When we leave Christmas morning behind, we are supposed to carry the hope and the joy that knowing this gives us. And Love too, love most importantly: to share-- to witness-- these as far and wide as is humanly possible.    


T: To your "Nihil," I will answer always "Ti amo." 

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Happy New Year!

How do you know you're too old for derring-do? 

1. When you demand peak performance from your body and get it less and less;
2. When you find yourself risking life and limb for utterly stupid lost causes;
3. When #2 happens too frequently;
4. When the embarrassing and self-injurious consequences of #2 cease to be charming 

I didn't save a friend's possessions from the potential ravages of a fire. I didn't interpose myself between some hapless old lady and an out-of-control bus. I didn't recklessly spend all my money to make sure a loved one got medicine. I didn't fight off a bunch of goons intent on robbery. 

No. Nothing so heroic. I marked the end of this year by running down a stairwell, slipping, tripping and slamming my head on a wall half a floor below me in the name of workplace punctuality.

I'm okay, for now. I'm just waiting to see if the latest bump on my noggin has any neurological and psycho-motor side effects that I should be worried about. I think my personality's still intact-- not an occasion for cheering if some people are to be asked.  

Happy new year. At least for me, the fireworks came early.  

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Season of Lists

Stuff I'm keeping out

If only for one day, let me keep out some guests that have been residing in my mind throughout most of the year. Here's the list--

1. Anomie

The feeling of being disconnected from everything has been my default state since 2005. There have been a few occasions where I connected with people, thank God, but these have been few. I'm not looking a gift horse in the mouth, mind, but they have not been quite the connections I needed.

2. Korean ESL Students

I'm sorry. I like them, I do. The women, especially. But I've done nothing but teach them Engrish the past two years. I want to relex und tinks of nothings lelated to koreun schyoodunt. I'll make an exception for my favorite student from my Engrish 11 days, Jenny, but she's busy with her studies in Japan.

3. Women

I have found out that I am pathologically inclined to be generous toward them, and they have consistently given me reasons why indulging in my pathology has been a waste of my time. They make great friends, they do. But only to people who are not the least bit "threatening" to them, like my Tita Dex persona. They will never truly see me as They will always see either ex-Calauan Mayor Sanchez or Tita Dex.

4. Television Christmas Specials

Most especially the noontime variety show Christmas specials. I don't doubt the intent of the people who watch them, and the intent of some of the people who make them. But I cannot deny the BS and mediocrity that oozes from each of every one of them.

5. Friends

A good number of them anyway. The best time to see them and catch up is waaaay after Christmas. If I were a responsible friend, I would have caught up with them now and again way before Christmas. Saved myself and them the anxiety of rushing to catch up just because everyone else is expected to. Mea culpa, people. And I am sorry.

6. Computers

I have a choice between prayer and non-Engrish related work. But since I plan to greet and engage the Savior in an argument on his traditional birthday, then computers are out. After I argue with God, I will wish him a happy birthday-- moot, considering that he is already happy in himself, if the pastors, priests and shamans are to be believed.

7. Rants and the things that vex me.

If only for one day, I'll endeavor to still the mind, to keep it from overanalyzing everything. To STFU. I realize that I'm an angry man, picking at the scabs of the same old issues. Obviously they're important to me. But at least, just for a day, I have to let them go.


Stuff I'll be doing

From one grumpy old man to a whole slew of grumpy old men: wine, sandwiches, and a show.

If there's time, reestablishing family ties with Fr. Varela and the rest of my long lost Andalusian-Asian kin. It would be so cool to proudly wear that family's colors. Yeah Dex, feed your delusions of knighthood, why don'tcha?


Stuff I really want

Aside from a laptop, a car and 42 million bucks?

There must be better ideas than going into torpor after meeting familial obligations on Christmas. But I stopped believing in Christmas reconciliations three years ago. One almost happened, but it soured in February so it doesn't count. Someone please prove me wrong here.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

We finally had "The Talk"

The preamble was respectably short, but I, well versed in the language of rejection knew where this spiel was leading up to.  She sat me down and spoke matter of factly about why this just simply would not have worked. Even if we spaced her gifts over the course of the next two months. Let it last until valentine's my eyes pleaded. Her eyes didn't blink: she was being firm, but I could tell she wanted to be kind.  But the word was final: there would be no Christmas bonus.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Status Updates


Still sick, but I've been constantly drinking water and chugging on vitamins. I try not to miss a meal. The good news is that I am slowly recovering. The bad news is that the lack of sleep I am forced to experience means that recovery will be slow. 

I run/pedal two kilometers a day now, just to keep fit. I can't push myself to do the usual five because I'll need my energy to get well. 


Everybody keeps talking about the recession so much that I sometimes want to throttle the next guy who mentions the word. Answers are somewhat terse when we talk about the Christmas bonuses and sundry that we need so badly. What frightens me is that people around me are looking to me to break the ice, to wave my magic wand and somehow make it all better.

I'm flattered, but I can't even convince my ex to talk to me. It wouldn't hurt to broach the subject at least. I have no plans of being a damned union leader (damned being very operative here), but I can do that much.

...and I can decide, based on management's response, if it's still worth the trouble to stay.

Life Choices

My ex quit Engrish 11 in August of 08. I got this job, at IELTSherp, a nearby office, in part because I was hoping to see her again. With her gone, there's little to keep me here but the students and the pay. But each month I stay here takes away time I can spend on other things I'd rather be doing.  

The people who drink with me know that I have a "grandkid" working my ex's old job who I don't see often. They know I have other friends there who I didn't get to see as often because all this ex business has basically turned my dealings with my former office into an awkward game of "spot the elephant in the room." Someone there who I'd like to consider a friend is the unfortunate object of my totally undeserved ire. I am constantly torn between saying hello and ripping him in half. 

I'm sorry, dude, but I had to say it.

I have other friends in other venues who have been somewhat neglected (sins of omission) because of my preoccupation with filling the vacuum left in Tina's wake.

My parents are constantly puzzled by what I've been doing (nothing new there) but I'd appreciate it if they'd preoccupy themselves with something more constructive for once. Like focusing on their own lives.

I know, I know: they care. And if I were in their shoes I'd probably be nagging my kid too. But I'll wait my turn. There's got to be a better way to engage my kids besides.    

So now I'm wondering if everything I did was worth all of this. Friends I don't see, long long hours, inadequate pay, continued parental doubt, being constrained to act on the 16th and 30th of every month, love of my life running away from me like I was frigging satan. 


The good news is that I have actually gone out on several dates already, and I had a wonderful time  on my most recent outing with a colleague. I gave her a tour of my happy places-- Mongolian Grill and Subway-- on the same day. No, we're just friends and we're likely to stay that way. We're both too hung up-- Tina's words, not mine-- on our exes.   

The important thing is that I had an opportunity to be chivalrous, to lavish attention on someone without being treated like a leper or drawing the wrong kind of attention. It means a lot to finally be seen for the good in me.  

My friends from the 20th floor are moving to the tenth, it seems. I'm cautiously optimistic about this, because it means more shared elevator time. And maybe the rest of the staff at 'Epsis won't consider me an oddity anymore.

Because every time I share floor space with them someone invariably sings something from Arnel Pineda. And invariably they sing "I don't waaaaaaant to remee-mber/ the things we used to do/ all the things/ that remind me of youuu...."  Sigh. The exigencies of the long-locked.

Don't worry, I'm used to it.   

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Good Yarn

I was supposed to make my way to Deovir along Recto, the default art store for geezer-artists like myself since the Marcos era. I'd buy what I needed, hop into a cab and rush to the Ortigas area. At about this time, I would be in tmy building, at the elevator, waiting to share a ride with my friend, Kai. I'd get off at the 12th floor and casually walk down two flights of stairs (praying I wouldn't get clumsy, fall and break something) to my office on the 10th.

But that isn't happening today.

Because watching William Shatner on Boston Legal is such a compelling thing.  I'm a sucker for a good story, William Shatner and old movie footage near-seamlessly integrated into a show.  Get yourselves a copy of the Season 3 episode Son of the Defender. You'll see what I mean. 

I just wish coming to work a minute late didn't cost me a crapload of cash, though. But as I'm a teller of yarns, I'm always a sucker for a good one.     

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Seven. Finally

Melanie is a nurse who has had me as an Engrish teacha for a couple of months now. She broke the infamous IELTS glass ceiling recently and garnered for herself the magic score. 

This pretty much makes 
  1. my waking with a stiff neck and aching shoulder;
  2. my traveling in a semi-stupor today; 
  3. not seeing my friends from the 20th floor today
worth it.

Now if I can only stay coherent for the rest of the day, I should be fine. 

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Quo Vadis, Dex?


Finally finished that draft I’ve been slaving over on and off the last six or so months. I just hope I don’t wuss out and change it again before I finally have it sent.


If you cannot invest in a spiritual refuge, invest in a physical one. Security and complacency will not necessarily follow, but at least you’ll have one contingency covered. 

Zombie: Been There, Done That, Ate Brains

I'm way past that point when you wake up and realize that you've been one for the longest time. You realize that you've walked around with a gaping (figurative) chest cavity and infected everyone else with terminal ennui and existential angst. 

The question now is what you do about it, when traditionally, there's no real cure for zombie-ism.

[Insert how much you miss your ex here. No, still no reconciliation in sight, there will never probably be one.  One caveat though: it does get better, even if only in tiny little bits, over time.]

I Saw No Zombies

...but there's always next year. (I've always found them charming in a camp way, you see.) I did see my dead relatives (and those who survived them) when Mom decided to shanghai me on her road trip with Pop to Batangas. Saw granny on my mother's side on the trip back. I must have been on the road for a total of seven or eight hours.

I'll be making a few more road trips as Christmas approaches. Quo vadis, indeed, Dex? I don't know, I've only got the most vague plans. But that's what makes these lifelong road trips fun. 


Monday, October 27, 2008

Thank you

Even if what happened this morning was nothing more than a lying dream. Thank you.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Gift of Tongues

On days like this I wish I could drown myself in beer. It's another weekend and there is still far too much to do, three places too many in which to be. And like a dedicated soldier of the old Soviet Union, I'll throw myself at the tasks anyway.

I don't relish the idea of knocking back a few super drys with my old friends. Beer tends to loosen tongues. More often than not, loose tongues let slip sentiments buried in the name of keeping the peer group from splintering. Addled friends then use their unsheathed, sharpened tongues to skewer each other. 

It would be great though, if those loose tongues would stay soft and just lightly touch. The arms would follow, then the torsos. The night would pass and all those buried sentiments would rise up safely, usefully, out of our souls and into the great hereafter... where all the hangups, the recriminations, the fouled expectations go after we've come to terms with them.    
But we all know that's not gonna happen. 

I waste my gift on people who don't appreciate it. I think that's my superpower-- the ability to find and pledge myself to lost causes with pretty words.  

Anyway, tomorrow (meaning later today), I will use the old silver tongue again. To explain the intricacies of teaching TOEFL. To ultimately give another batch of dreaming Koreans another shot at a life unfettered by the limits of their native language. 

It's the job, I know, and I'm not really complaining much. It's just that there are far better uses for my gift, far better places for my lips, my breath, my tongue to be, now that I've put another work week behind me.

I hhhhhhhaaate weekends.   

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Travel Light

A man shouldn't have too many possessions. If he's going to be attached to his things--as men invariably are-- then they'd better be few. Enough, ideally, to fill a tote bag.

When I get back to Cainta I'm throwing out my old clothes-- I've actually begun that already, turning the old rags into, well, rags. But I'm a long way from finishing. I'm doing that with my Quezon City stuff too. When I'm done, everything I can conceivably wear--shoes, suits, ties, shirts, socks-- should fit in a container that I can carry and stuff in a bus at a moment's notice.

There is of course the problem of the rest of my stuff. I am a hopeless pack rat. Everything else I own will not fit in a gunny sack, will not be ...portable.

I'm not going anywhere, not yet anyway. I just want that option to be open to me quickly in case I have a need to exercise it. I honestly don't quite know why I'm obsessing about "traveling light"-- wait, I think I do: another irritatingly human urge.

It probably explains my attachment to the Hotel Sogo.

Part of me does not feel moored to anything, and considering that this condition is likely to persist, I'm subconsciously, metaphorically preparing for life on the road.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Well It's Finally Happened

I remember telling my Nagusame this once: "When a man leaves, he creates a vacuum and something else almost always rushes in to fill it."    

I've come to care about my colleagues at the workplace. Not that that was ever a bad thing. I only felt that it would be a betrayal of sorts to care for them this much so soon when I had other colleagues who I wanted to be there for. But circumstances have almost conspired to keep me away and all my attempts at reconnecting have been comparable to swimming in molasses against a powerful current. I miss them so.

But a man's place in any social group is defined exactly by how useful he can be.

Stray thoughts, but they walk with me every day.

Friday, October 03, 2008

October, November, December

‘Ber Months

My sister celebrates her birthday today. My father will celebrate his about 10 days later. I know exactly what to get them.

Meanwhile, my former student Jenny is now in Japan, furthering her studies. Contact has been intermittent, but welcome. I’m grateful for Skype—Jen’s is a voice that is welcome as a desert oasis.

My friend Grace is back from her dalliances in Germany and Chile. Her arrival will no doubt be cause for another set of reunions among my friends. I’d love to see them again.

Comic con is coming, and with any luck, I’ll have something to peddle, finally.

The Clavier Music School will soon host its December recital. I’m looking forward to hearing what Minette’s students will be playing. The December recitals don’t have as much pomp as the summer recitals, but this one will be special.

Brr Months

It’s getting cold. I’ve always disliked the cold. Before 2005 it always brought back memories of waking up feeling debilitated and being unable to move. Because someone in his or her most considerate had turned on the electric fan and pointed it at my back. It also brought back good memories: my father would often sleep on his side to shield me from the cold when I was six or seven.

Post-2005, the memories pretty much got worse. December of ‘05: shivering in bed because everything in me missed my Nagusame. February of ’07: shivering at a gas station coffee table as I assembled a special box for a rose I was to give my Shrinemaiden on the following day: the 14th. September through December of ’07: nights spent sleepless and shivering while my back burned, hating Christmas, shivering because I was envious of the happiness my friends were finding , constantly wondering just what the hell I did wrong, why nothing I did would ever be right in the eyes of the woman I loved and wanted to be with.

It’s getting cold again. People are walking the streets with an arm around another person’s waist. I’m sick of the sight. I’m not eager to have more of these memories.

I am sicker of having to repeat myself. Every year I harp on the same themes the way some women nag the universe in the mistaken notion that it will move for them. Only, in their case, it often isn't a mistaken notion. The universe does move for naggers of the female persuasion. I just wonder if my being male is what prevents the universe from moving in the direction I wish.


The brr months bring with them some opportunities for things like self-improvement, self-indulgence and some gratuitous charity-- which has the added blessing of going both ways: giver to receiver to giver. They are also the heralds of the new year, and all the potential it portends. Good stuff for Ewic, Minette, Dex B and Anne, and if I'm lucky, good stuff for Dex El and his complicated friends too.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Nothing wrong with my leg; just my heart, apparently.

Last night: unexpected bout with chest pain-- likely stress-related, psychosomatic but definitely debilitating. Not the first time this has happened. Considering that it happened to me again this morning, it won't be the last. I have a better idea of what my mom and my friend go through on a regular basis now. 

I'm more angry than scared, though I know that isn't helping me either.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Open Line; Chuseok

Father, today I had a new phone for all of thirty five minutes. In the space of two, it--and most everything significant it stood for-- was whisked away: another example, seemingly, of how circumstances dangle what you want in front of you and then snatch it away when you're at your weakest. I don't know what possible good can come of this. All I know is what everyone else will infer from the day's events. 

Yes, their opinions count insofar as I care about them.

When I look back on what happened, the loss isn't what disappoints me. It is in part the way that loss sneaks up on you like a demon who kills a husband before he can lie with his wife. 

Still the day wasn't a total loss. I am at east thankful for that much. I am hopeful that my assessment of humanity will be wrong. This is Chuseok after all-- Koreans take this time to reconnect with family, gaze at the moon and make a wish.     

I won't mind losing the phone so much--there's still a chance that I can get it back; I won't even mind losing the sim. In the end, they're just money. I can earn that back and more in fifteen days. I miss my friend-- that loss I'll probably be upset about 'til the day I die.

If there is anything I wish for most fervently, it'll be a reconcilliation. It doesn't have to be tearful-- just permanent.

Father, you know what I mean. This is me praying. I would appreciate it very much if I weren't gypped.  In any case, thank you for listening; thank you, most importantly, for what I still have. 

Monday, August 04, 2008


Dexter's thesis:

Without you there is no meaning, except that which I have to build for myself, one faulty messy crumbly stupid brick at a time.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

But there's nothing new to say

Another night where I get to exhibit my not-so-new superpower: the ability to stave off any real sleep when I need it most. Reasons have been recurring, rehashed to death. Anyone with a pair of good eyes and half a brain will pretty much know why.

Brain's on fire with ideas I'll be hard-pressed to implement, because I'm essentially living out of a suitcase. Still, one can try.

Like another friend, I am finding scant purpose in writing here. But I can't really stop. If I don't write, I'll pop a blood vessel. And then who will annoy the living snot out you with unwanted declarations of affection, tedious essays or useless poetry?

I kid.

I'm really trying to negate the notion that I don't finish what I start. And so here I am, trying to
  1. write two stories
  2. write a letter
  3. fix a couple of videos and video concepts
  4. edit yet another Korean-made essay
  5. plan my day so i get the most stuff really done
It's a weekend. It's a Sunday. I really should be asleep in the normal hours.

Swallowed Up By the Office

Got the chance to finally appreciate weekends.

When the high point of your month is spending a night in a clean room (where you don't have to deal with other people's needs), then actually
going out with the work mates becomes something special.

I guess I have been really, finally swallowed up by my office.

No, there was no eye candy at the comedy bar-- unless you count the gay guy with the uncanny resemblance to someone I courted when I was working for a bank. But there was open mike videoke. And a Visayan girl with a powerful voice, named Rose.

Casper, the Friendly Host

I kid you not, that's his stage name. He was plump, flaming gay and a laugh a minute. His partner (who looked like my bank-ex) wasn't a regular performer there, but he was good too. They poked fun at the audience-- yes, my hair and my clothes too-- but they weren't so shy about poking fun at themselves while they were at it. They had a good time too, even in spite of (a few) moments when drunk male audience members singing and gyrating onstage got a bit grabby. (They were pretty much lost in
the duo's illusion of womanity. I guess booze really does work a powerful glamor on those who partake of it.)

As we were the newbies at the comedy bar, they got us to tell them our names and what we do. And, yes, they got us to sing.

And this is what I came away with:

Teacha Angel and Teacha Andie are the office's fun-and-adventure front-liners. They're always the first to reach for the mike and sing the fun songs. [Gloria Gaynor. Avril Lavigne.] They make a good duo because they're a study in surface contrasts. Angel is dark and thin; Andie is a full-figured mestiza. But they're both crazy.

Teacha Dex is the prissy dandy sleeper. He'll be seated, arms resting on his cane, head nodding gravely and slowly to someone else's singing. He's got a stiff back and an attitude that says "Don't touch me; I am not fun." Then he'll drink a light beer. Then he'll sing some ode to an ex and, certes, people will have goosebumps. After that, he lets down his hair and has fun like other normal people.

Teacha Carol is the office innocent because she is the youngest among us, and she is carefully watched over by 'neesan Teacha April-Rolette. But she's got guile. She'll sing only when everyone's onstage dancing to an OPM disco song, and even then she'll be lip-synching.

Teacha April-Rolette is the den mom, so she gets away with sitting out the performances and recording us embarrassing ourselves with her phone-cam!

Friday, August 01, 2008

Salt in the Office Bathroom

Two bottles of shampoo and three sachets of hair conditioner. And counting. Try as I might I still cannot wash you out of my hair.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I've let so many things drop form my life because I got swallowed up by some preoccupation or other. That's bad. I feel like my whole life's pretty much been spent metaphorically picking up after myself.

Getting swallowed up in a project or cause may be a good or a bad thing. I could easily lose myself in a project. You'd never be able to speak to me properly for weeks. I've been lucky I haven't lost myself in Scientology or the Aum Shinri Kyo.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I'm Thooper, Thanks for Asth-king

I don't really sleep. Not anymore.

I'm irrationally, albeit mildly, ticked off at Wentworth Miller.

I've a backlog of stories and stalled projects --Mammon 10, Happy Pasay Feet (working title) among others.

I've a small backlog of post-class work too.

I'm somewhat touchy and irritable because people think that just because I don't sleep I'm fair game for errands and work that shouldn't be assigned to me.

Still I'm not angry. I've been so busy that my standard witch's brew of emotions is being drained away as I workworkworkworkworkworkworkwork. No, it's not good. Just because it looks normal to everyone else doesn't mean it's good. But at least I'm lucid, and at least I'm functioning.

Hey, that's what it's all about, right?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

I am Tony Snark... and a crapload of other people too

I should stop editing, even if only for a week, as I note with growing horror that I am becoming terse and acerbic in my comments and annotations. Yes, some students do deserve the barbs. But most of them shouldn't have to be waterboarded by my inner English Gestapo.

My Inner Grammar Nazi's zeal, I've noticed, waxes proportionate to the levels of frustration felt by the rest of me-- the Knight, the Fool, the Scholar, the Toolbox Poet, the Mad Evolutionary Bio-Psycho-Sociologist, the jilted Thanatologist, the Guy in the Yellow Shirt-- all the varied facets of myself that other people have already seen.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Gentle Surprises

At the end of the workday I'm often exhausted. You have a limited concept of hell until you have tried your earnest best to search for meaning in the quagmire of a beginning English student's essays. If you're anything like me or my lovely apo, you'll be wide awake and tying yourself in mental knots making sure your students can understand the nuances of the language long after you should have been asleep or tying up the loose ends of your personal life.

You reach a point where you're sick of having more classes, as each one can potentially turn into 30 minute therapy sessions with students who cannot help but bring their troubles with them to class.
I was looking forward to the lull in my calendar of activities for each weekday.

Lo and behold, management slaps a new class on my schedule. What surprises is that I must really have been doing something right-- this student was formerly enrolled in our "coupon class" program, for students whose schedules are as frayed as Britney's domestic life. She normally bounces from one teacher to another in the course of her training until she finishes a month's worth of classes. That she decided--even if tentatively-- to stay with me on a fixed schedule is ...flattering.

I'm not looking forward to the inconvenience of hand-holding another novice as she makes the pilgrimage from Engrish to English. But she already speaks well; has the markings of a sharp mind. It would be a shame if a damned band score slaps her in the face with the word "inadequate."

To be told by your exes, your bosses, to be told by a stupid test that you're just not good enough-- It's happened to me a lot over the last three years and I am far more tired of that.

Let this never have to happen to the people who matter.

Monday, July 07, 2008


Tell Us a Story

Those of us who still want to write about dismembered feet in Pasay City are still welcome to do so. Make note, this whole rigmarole is for fun-- a damned good way to prove to ourselves that were still human enough to tell stories. Though I might sweeten the deal by giving a prize beyond a promise to purchase your book and pimp it to anyone who'll listen.

My own story is still percolating in some stages so you don't have to worry about deadlines. But be assured it's being outlined and written. Looking forward to hearing about how your stories are coming along.

I am Engrish Teacha!

Writing classes are coming along nicely-- my student's improving. And that's always god news. My vet student had a great weekend, which boosted his capacity to make decent conversation. Would that the "great weekend" happen every day.

I'm still behind in my post class work. Fixing that now.

E.D. Phone Home

My job has swallowed me up. The logistics of being a damned good Engrish teacha, being a "good" kuya and ...son, as well as pushing my sisyphean boulder up the stupid hill are eating up my time. I haven't been to Cainta in a month. My "girlfriend" Maya and my PC Mylene have been needing my attention for some time now and I don't know when I can get to them.

I could drop the boulder. I'm often close to doing that these days. Just let it roll down the f_cken hill and let it flatten me one last time. I don't want to look at my desktop; I don't want to look at the pictures in my album and the ones in my phone. Every time I find myself patiently wrapping something in my trademark brown paper I ask myself "What's the point?"

But I can't quite bring myself to end this. I've lost too much; I don't sleep anymore; I hobble around like someone's grandpa when the doctors say that by all rights I should be high-kicking like a cheerleader on crack. I can't enjoy local music and I miss my friends, even the ones who think my other name is Joe Satan. And did I tell you I utterly hate weekends now?

At least I've been lucky I've gotten my older friends back.

Patient X doing well. Thank God. If there was anything else I've helped do right, let her road be one that leads to Bethlehem, and not to Calvary. Anak ng patola naman, inako ko na 'yan. Pag 'yang therapy ni X, naudlot pa, ibig sabihin tama si Nora: wala na ngang himala. Mantsu-tsugi na ako ng taoh! Pramis.


Wis n'yo lang alam na nababading na ang lolo n'yo dahil nangungulila na me sa grand mudra ni Tish.

I'm reactivating Project Transcendence 2.0. I can't live like this. Got to set those contingency plans
in motion. Tell you more about it soon.

Sunday, July 06, 2008


On the drive home that Saturday, the cabbie said he thought we were a couple. Close, I responded, but no cigar. We could have been, considering our shared history and how closely related our fields of expertise were: I wasn't always a teacher for the English-impaired. There's a reason after all why I put journeyman on my career profiles-- it's the only respectable word substitute for freelancer, bum and dilletante.

But she had been very vocal about what kind of man would share her bed and her life and I didn't fit the bill. Even if the past year had finally done its magic and put the months of that aborted courtship in the proper perspective, nothing would change between us until that checklist of what she wanted in a man did. Or if I suddenly stopped being me.

Then again that little revelation would not have stopped him from giving me advice cloaked in the metaphor of a mango tree.

Strange, strange day.

In all the months that I languished, missing her, her words of scorn burned in my memory, what I wanted so badly was to just be able to share jokes and an occasional cab ride with her. To hold a door open for her. And yesterday, on our mutual quest for a box of pasalubong, I got my wish.

Coelho is right when he said the universe conspires to give you what you want. The catch is the universe seemingly has a problem with the concept of when. That was a wasted year that could have been spent sharing food and DVDs, comparing projects.

Still, beggars and burned romantics can't be choosers. And I am ...happy.

Divesting Myself of Gabby

The problem with lazy weekend afternoons, when you are nursing what may be the ghost of a bum leg, is that the channel-changer on the teevee is almost always pointed at nothing good on the tube.

I'm as much concerned with the lives of Sharon Cuneta and Gabby Concepcion as anyone on these Islands. Gabby Concepcion especially, considering that his journey to a semblance of peace and a renewed career in the Philippines was marked by instances of very public and very sordid interpersonal screwups. In this, I feel a certain cringe-worthy kinship with the man.

But one gets sick of it, the constant peering into the minutiae of a celebrity's life. Especially when you're a man who wishes he could spend a Sunday like everyone else-- at a mall, watching a movie with someone he cares about.

Lucky for me, I have work left over from Friday. It's necessary drudgery that I'm eager to finish and loath to begin, but at least I get to divest myself of Gabby Concepcion and everyone else in local showbiz.

Saturday, July 05, 2008


There is absolutely nothing wrong with my leg. Yet I still walk with a limp; I wince when extra pressure is placed on the bum leg. My cane is still a comforting tool that taptaptaps and raprapraps on the pavement underneath me. And idiot artist that I am, I'm actually seeing an aptness to the image of this erstwhile minor rock god hobbling to work.

The Mighty Thor, after all, was hiding in the body of one Donald Blake, lame physician.

At a moment's notice I could probably stand on my bum leg, collapse my cane, use it as a rather clumsy blunt weapon. In recent days, I've kind of been spoiling internally for a confrontation that would require me to do just that, to force my leg to do what it's supposed to. But I know better than to truly ask for it. I was already robbed at knife-point once.

I am missing something, something important. I have been for the longest time. That I am hobbling with a cane is just another manifestation of that loss. There are some disadvantages to feeling things in stereo.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

The Giant Cockroach

Every time he walks into that place it makes itself felt. It's there in the room and everyone strives mightily not to call everyone else's attention to the fact that it exists, even if it's there staring us all in the face, waving its antennae in quick arrhythmic circles, gesticulating with its spiny legs, moving its greasy mandibles up and down and inward toward the mouth.

Aww, look, it's even wearing a pink I (heart) Bora t-shirt. Now that's my kind of ungeheueren Ungeziefer!

It's all too easy to blame uh, Gregor, for carrying this monstrosity. After all, it's only there when he's there: two separate events happen immediately, one after the other, and automatically a correlation is assumed. Causation is established. And, ah, Gregor, gets a world of bad press.

What people forget is that it always takes two. That giant cockroach is reborn when two people stay in close proximity. That vermin, meine guten Freunde, has parents.

No, most of you don't get it and I don't expect you to. But the point has always been that the giant cockroach-- let's call him Aidan-- isn't. And you'd see that if you bothered to really look him in the face.

Friday, June 27, 2008

"Theya ees gord in dem dar heels"

Education-- that long term investment into human potential-- is a big thing, if the number of names in the Nursing-, Computer- and English/Engrish (and otha Ranguage)- specialist schools and programs that have been showing up on the radar is anything to go by.

Even truants, and frauds like myself, can see it.

The question now becomes "Why aren't we getting rich off of it?"

It's keeping us fed, yes. But we need more than this...

Monday, June 23, 2008

Essay Question for my writing class

We spend a lot of money preparing for tests like IELTS, TOEFL, TOEIC. Considering that each test seems to be difficult and considering that we spend a lot of money for studying English, should we continue our study of that language?

I don't want you to quit. I don't want you to waste your money either. Think about it and write your essay. Email it to me. We'll discuss this tomorrow.

I think I may need a haircut because I'm vulnerable to tushie-grabbing

Before you ask, yes, I gave him a good front snap kick in his own ass. His reasons?
  1. I looked like a hot chick from behind;
  2. I apparently have great legs; and
  3. I was wearing shorts that showcased that part of my... pulchritude... well.
I bullsh!t you not. That's what was said.

I'm thanking God that my grabby friend --who I will not name to protect his privacy and his ego-- was ...drunk. I remember that there were only two people previous who've done that to me and both were
women, exes who are very welcome to try that with me again. That ass-grabber number three was a man and not an ex leave a slightly sour taste in the mouth.

Had we not been close friends, had I not known the effects of my own androgyny on service crew and men on trains, had I not known the drunken circumstances behind the deed, that kick would have been a solid heel landing on his knee coupled with a backhand to the mouth.

Still, no harm, no blood, no foul.

Hey, if I can make a friend happy by being grabbed, and make myself happy by kicking his bum, then great. But I'm inclined to let that happen only once. My next kick might not be a kind one.

Just another story to tell the grandkids when they ask me if I was a woman in my past life. More on similar topics later.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Getting Around... tough when you're carrying a lot of stuff and leaning on a cane. I've been using it on and off now, in part on account of what looks like a bad right leg. Of course I'm almost sure that if push ever came to shove I'd be able to stand on it enough for a two minute fight.

I think. Well, you could say I took this infirmity upon myself when I bought the cane. Some inner wisdom, some inner childlike desire perhaps?

I'm may have to get my leg looked at. I bought the cane on ToyCon Saturday, same day I got my new pair of glasses. Office colleagues are already calling me Lolo Dex. Lucky me.

Vedic Parable

There didn't use to be infirm people-- the halt, the blind, the deaf, the disfigured. But the gods decided to see how far they could push the envelope of human design. They fashioned people with polio; people with cataracts; people with short tongues; mismatched limbs.

Those selfsame gods would also (on a whim) descend to earth and clothe themselves in human guise complete with some form of infirmity. It was a role they loved playing; a mask they enjoyed wearing.

The gods still walk the earth clothed in familiar infirmity. They struggle (all in good fun) to look beneath the masks and recognize each other.


Would that we both didn't have to struggle so hard...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


"No pining for idealized women, no absurdist sisyphean striving against a God and Devil who love watching sitcoms starring you. No cosmic jokes or accidents involving Eros messing with your life and your friends, indirectly causing self-imposed exile and hours upon hours of crying prostrate on floors of holy places...."

Escape me there any day.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Math Metaphor


There is precious little in imagery that quite sums up the human condition than a point slaloming down a curve asymptotic to the zero line. No matter what value you plug into the stupid function, you always come up Okay, blank looks.

I'll save you the mental energy needed to make sense of the metaphor.

The distance between you and what you want keeps decreasing, but you never... quite.... get there. And I can't help but feel that in my universe, where the score is always for myself, all or nothing, asymptotic is not enough.

The pertinent question becomes how one deals with conceptually interesting exercises in sisyphean futility.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

"Be the Bigger Person, Dex"

I'm not sure if I can pull it off anymore.

I was at the chapel again, kneeling before the Host when it hit me like a punch in the face. The way things are going I'm going to be kneeling here, every goddamned night jumping through a novena writer's hoops for the next twenty years. Meanwhile the world would turn without me.

Through it all I'd have to smile and bear this crap like a good little boy. Watch the world dangle what I want in front of me and then take it away as soon as I reach for it. Then listen to it tell me over and over again in smug tones that (heeheehee) I'm not ready yet, or (hohoho) I don't have enough faith or that (guffaw guffaw) I must be deficient in some fundamental way because I'm not manifesting or channeling or visualizing or whatever recycled new age bullshit the pop psych gurus are spouting.

You can't ask me to "let it go, be the bigger person, because it won't matter in 20 years" after you've just robbed me, raped my wife and sold my children and beaten me to within an inch of my life while you were at it.

Okay, that's an extreme case, but it does illustrate my point. This is the kind of horse puckey that turns people into me.

Yes, the world is what you perceive it to be. Yes, you can only blame yourself for your woes. Yes you have to take responsibility for your life. That's all well, good and true a point.

Sometimes taking responsibility for the course of your life means looking what vexes you--yes, something outside yourself-- in the face and telling it to get bent. To shout. To break things, until someone listens and does something. Anything.

My problem is I've forgotten how. I can no longer take risks. I can no longer shout for fear of upsetting everyone else's peace. The best I can do in times like this is to turn the anger inward and vainly try to keep myself from imploding.

I can only write.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

toy-con, toy-con, TOY CON!

Looking forward to Saturday. I tell you, immediately after our monthly meeting I am bolting to the Megatrade Hall. This is when I can let out my inner child. With any luck he will not be carrying his chainsaw and his hockey mask.

Yes young man, I promise to discreetly ogle the very pretty cosplayers and pay some polite attention to those who aren't. Yes young man I will not think of Tina... Yes young man, I am lying the way grownups do to shut you up. What? Look, at least I'm being honest with you now. Um, no, we're probably not going to buy that model kit you've been pestering me to get. Er, you don't want to know where that money went.

But there will be comics. I can promise you comics. And little friends to play with.

It's all good for Eigokyoushi Dex El

The new teacher evaluations have come in and my students are "velly velly happy." I can only come to the conclusion that I'm doing something right. Now, if only the wrinkles in my personal life were as easy to deal with and write off.

Actually, being a teacher in any field isn't as easy as it looks. You need extraordinary levels of patience and often you have to take the work home with you. I dislike taking work home with me. I want to leave the work as far behind me as possible.

I'd like to think that beyond--
  • indulging in the puerile desire to prove that my computer-generated penis-car can move faster than someone else's computer-generated penis-car playing Need for Speed in Cainta;
  • proving that I can too have a team of battle-worthy Zoids who can kick major ass (also in Cainta);
  • being the Oscar the Underpaid Copywriting Blogging Paralegal Grouch (in Quezon City);
  • occasionally checking on my granddaughter, practicing psychiatry without a license with Patient X
  • and pining for Tina
--I have a life.
I do; I just don't know what to call it.

New Stuff in the Pipeline
for Dex El

We're making new modules for off-line students here at IELTSHerp. It promises to make rearning Engrishee less painful. Work will begin for the new DVD for the latest Clavier recital. I am itching to get reacquainted with my old girlfriend Maya, as well as to resume my truncated education in ...Education. I just need to get my hands on six thousand more bucks worth of disposable income.

Now to find the time...

And I can't wait to get into another Starbucks. (Tell you about that later).

Monday, June 09, 2008

Raye's Song

I'm doing a little housekeeping on my hard drive. I've accumulated years of junk and I've been feeling the need to purge. Besides, a new project's coming in so the computer will really need the space.

Then in between the music of Elton John and the Petshop Boys-- Raye's less-than-polished, hesitant recital piece, a rendition of Join the Club's Nobela. I drop what I'm doing and listen, replaying the song maybe three or four times. (A surprise, because I don't particularly like Join the Club.) I've been keeping the audio file in my player since '06. A keepsake of sorts from when I was first bitten by the Clavier bug.

I'm grinning like an idiot because I remember what she told me that afternoon at the recital.
She told me she felt hesitant about showing up at 2574 (Clavier HQ) because among the older piano students, she's the one who doesn't get to really improve. I told her the notion was nonsense; she was always welcome. 2574 is not a halfway house for nothing.

She doesn't know it, and neither do the rest of the Clavier kids, but their piano pieces, as flawed as they were, were instrumental in keeping me sane. '06 was not a kind year to me
and the kids' broken piano playing was probably what kept me from leaping off the side of a damned building. Not to say that Hyperdex and Minette didn't do their part.

But it was always the kids: Kristian, Gelo, Jerik, Karlo and Keisha. Denise, Maan, Joy and Raye and my quasi-son Josh.

The secret that the students do not know: the teaching and production staff need you as much as you need us. When we see you guys grow in skill, when we see you reaching past your social, academic, athletic or musical limits, we feel proud, blessed. We feel that we've done something good.

Raye says she doesn't improve and maybe she's right. But she's already kept me from popping a cyanide pill. And any music that does that, no matter how broken or hesitant or lame, is good music in my book.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Sunday Reflections on a Monday (Part 1, maybe)

The Fate of Snowy; the Mark of Cain

Considering just how I was received last week, I'm tempted to think of Snowy as, well, dead. I know, I'm shocked and I'm shaking my head over a stuffed toy. I normally think that gifts, once given, are generally no longer the giver's concern. But it does tell: the way gifts are treated are sometimes an indication of just what the giver means to the recipient.

I'm drawing sick parallels (I'm very good at that) between sacrificing an innocent to appease an angry or indifferent deity and what I did in the last two weeks of May. If Snowy is dead or has been given away what do I do?

Should I do a Cain and metaphorically murder another innocent?
I've a brother in the office where God works and I don't want to kill him just because She accepts his little sacrifices. I do not want to be a Lurker, waiting in the shadows; from Her silence I can only conclude that God still sees me this way.

Windows name names

It's a line from a Neruda love poem: I like it and it's apt for today's little entry. There was a time when I alluded to events and people out of some respect for things like privacy. Putting something in writing for everyone to look at is making a very public statement: people's reputations could be negatively affected if I wrote about them in a fit of pique.

After years of writing around a problem or person, after going through a crapload of contortions and inventing code words for all the people who significantly appear in the story of my life, I am two things. Tired and dissatisfied.

I cannot write around a person for fear of possible legal wrinkles forever. One cannot write something and not intend to have it read by an audience in any way. My writing already feels cumbersome at times, and the extra restrictions I place on myself when I write make my writing unintelligible to the audience I want to keep.

Windows name names the way I do these days. 'Cause I'm just too tired to write around people, that is, to not point directly to the people who vex, the people who give joy, the people who matter. I am still dedicated, in my way, to doing this with grace.

The people who vex vex only at the time of writing. The people who give joy , the people who matter, are assumed to do these things forever.

It's biased, but I think everyone will find it agreeable.


I used to hate Mondays so badly that I would try to set it up so I wouldn't have to work on them. The rationale was that you spent Saturday recovering from Friday (or you wound up spending Saturday at work) and you spent Sunday on the obligatory --and often dreaded-- chat or outing with the family. By the time Monday came rolling in you still weren't up to working.

These days I am uncomfortable with Fridays; Saturdays and Sundays have been unfairly maligned too. If they didn't take so much out of the soul-- teaching and prepping for your students' needs-- I'd probably be working at the office on weekends, even on Sundays

I don't want to have to leave the office at the end of my shift and walk that short stretch of road to the bus stop alone. I'm being woman-y, being sparse with context, expecting you all to read my mind and my raised eyebrow (got that from my granddaughter), and I'm sorry about that. But there are nights--too often-- after work when I feel terribly alone.

Clavieritis Summer 2008

Yesterday's recital (The Clavier Music School holds one twice a year) was, as all recitals are, a happy success. Yes, there were snafus-- I didn't like it when our nervous and eager first recitalist started playing before the announcement to turn off mobile phones and pagers was finished. We didn't have a five-minute intermission because most everyone was late.

But who am I to argue against the smile everyone was wearing after the recital was over? One cannot abandon duty, and when duty involves these kids--well, some of them ain't gonna be kids for much longer-- who am I to be disappointed?

In my lifetime I can only count maybe six things I've done right. Done right in the sense that good came out of doing them, and that the good persisted long after the deed was done. My involvement with Clavier is definitely on that list. Clavier teaches piano, we make it look good with slick recitals and other add-ons, and the kids and their parents take away from the Clavier experience something good, something memorable.

No matter what some people may feel about me, they're wrong: I'm not a monster who should be shunned.

And it was good to feel reminded of that when I ran into Raye, Jean, Joy, Maan and Tish (not my granddaughter, another post-Clavier student, one of the best: she pulled off Flight of the Bumblebee and that's saying a lot).

And the post-recital ribbing and the tequila (thanks, Eric, Minette) helped too. I don't smile in my photos because I look stupid in them most of the time. But I think I can forgive myself for the smiles in the few good photos people took for this latest Clavier event.

The joke for the day was that I was surrounded by women I cared for and I wasn't in any kind of pain.

Friday, June 06, 2008


It was easy when I was in high school-- throw everything out the window for the sake of repairing the broken interpersonal stuff between you and the people you care for. You had cliches like "hormonal imbalance" and "folly of youth" and "growing pains" on which to lay blame. You were young, and therefore still resilient. If life and your own bonehead decisions threw you a curve ball you could reasonably bounce back and people would still be lenient with you.

It's not so easy today. There are no more cliches. The stakes are higher. And you cannot abandon duty.

Tomorrow I'll be tending to the needs of the Clavier kids, who have not seen their Kuya Dex since he implemented his mad scheme to return to work teaching Koreans English, so that he could earn again, and maybe bring back a semblance of balance into his life. The balance and self assuredness he lost when he lost his ex.

I love Tina. Everyone looking in my general direction will see it. She sees it too, but she no doubt has pat answers to that. Amazingly those answers parallel those served up by my other exes. They question the authenticity of my feelings, the purity of my intentions, the worth of my affection and ultimately pass judgment on my character and my intrinsic worth.

I'm crazy. I'm delusional. I'm evil. What I'm experiencing is a male fever dream, not the real, valid commitment that comes with cliches like "mature, authentic love." I'm "too weak" for them.

I hear variations of them so many times, there are days I believe them. I question myself (no surprise there, I always question myself) yet again.

But really, reduce everything they say to their core statement and what's left is that I'm inconvenient.

I'm not important enough to plan anything with, for or around... except when the plan calls for a rapid evacuation from wherever I am.

I've questioned myself long enough to find out that regardless of what my exes may have said, thought or felt in the throes of their fear, their anger, their temporary irrationality, I am important.

And it saddens me that somewhere between, what mistakes I committed and what blunders they made, amidst the babel of voices from our greek choruses of well-meaning friends, who I am has been lost from view. And more than this, that which is most significant has been lost from sight.

I never lost sight of it: all my exes were important enough, beautiful enough, intelligent and creative enough, wise enough--worthy--of the affection I had to give them. Worthy of my gift of self, broken toy that it is.

If you've ever wondered why I find it so hard to let any of them go it is because of that singular fact.

I love Tina. Among them all it is her laughter and the hours of talk, bus rides, her kisses that I miss the most. And if I write shamelessly about her now or in my Mammon stories it is because I miss her terribly and I can only uselessly write and write and write until Godot comes to bring her back.

Tina, I don't want anyone else. And if I can't even see your face then I'm screwed. I really will have nothing left to live for but myself ...and Mammon.

Again, Hotels

abandon all propriety, all ye who sleep here

I am probably the only man I know who goes to these places without someone on his arm. (Don't worry I don't do this often).

Still, it could be worse: I could be going to these places arm in arm with a big burly bald man with more than a passing resemblance to Wentworth Miller. The staff at the SOGO would start to wonder which of us was supposed to be the, er, woman.

Now that would be a real tragedy.

What drove me to this place the other night were the twin exigencies of being
  1. spurned yet again (don't worry, she never stops by this space); and
  2. the need to be close enough to the malls when I woke up, so that I could get something done before I had to run to work.
temples of commerce

The majority of my daytime-nighttime activity revolves around these temples of commerce (Worship of Mammon, indeed). I'm cutting through a mall, running like the Flash, on the way to work, or walking around one on the way home from work, or wishing I'd stay awake after my work hours long enough to go to one and buy the things I need or maybe catch a movie alone.

I've been unable to really see and enjoy movies in general since Ratatouille (no, I didn't see that one either; I was supposed to, though, with my then-girlfriend) and Ataul for Rent and Iron Man. There's a whole slew of movies out that I won't be seeing for the same reason I didn't get to see Ratatouille and why I occasionally sleep alone in motels.

And it's not about watching Letterman in between surfing the Asian and European adult channels.

the wood of suicides

The staff at the two drive-in motels I visited prior to the SOGO didn't want to let me in unless I was with someone. "Well, tough." I'd wanted to say. "I wouldn't be here if I was with someone in the first place, moron. We'd be talking on a bench somewhere overlooking parked cars and trees."

I miss those trees.

But I kept my mouth shut and just directed the cab driver to take me somewhere else.

The staffs of the two motels were likely afraid that I was going to pay for space in which to die.