Saturday, May 31, 2008

Sleep as an Alien Concept

It's not so alien, really. I do sleep.

I just don't share the usual hours. And I don't spend as much time asleep as I need. A lot of my downtime is spent thinking and writing when other productive activities would have served me better.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Stupid Questions

I honestly thought this would never happen again considering the grief we've put each other through at one time or another over the last few years.

Context: a common friend died ten years ago on 26 May. The foggy pink lenses of nostalgia may have colored my assessment of him, but I'll go ahead and say he was the best of us. 25 May 2008 had me sharing a ride with two people who swore on separate occasions that they would never speak to me again.

Yet here we were on the occasion of a friend's tenth death anniversary, speaking.

I am humbled and thankful by the grace that brought us back together even as I am mightily pissed off that it had to take two deaths for this to come to pass. Rey's, ten years ago (the excuse that brought us all to the same place), and mine (a symbolic death), last year.

No one really wants to sacrifice friends on the altars of their own fear or their own self-righteousness. No one truly wants to be the lamb, or goat-- the sin eater who has to die (exile himself). But it happens. It happens all the time.

I'm just one of the losers who perpetually seeks to understand, and perhaps one day, coopt and subvert the dynamics of this. Someone who bothers to talk about it outside the permitted occasions (beer with friends, funerals and bedside death watches) and put the findings on paper. Because seriously, it doesn't have to happen.

[Digression: I should have studied to be a thanatologist.]

From where I sit and type, all of this pain was needless. None of us had to go through our separate calvaries, swearing that our paths would never again cross, just to find each other after a year or two.

No need for the self-righteous posturing. No need to make public declarations that the other person is dirt when you know he isn't. No need for the greek choruses repeating and reinforcing your own bullshit. No need to form your defensive barriers against friendships that need to be repaired. No need to take those courses of action to their logical conclusion-- another useless goodbye and good riddance.

People who love should not be made to eat of this pile of hot steaming horse puckey.

Look, guys, I know I should be happy, and I am.

But this theme is simply too important to me. Without the meaning I seek I simply can't let this go.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

It's that X-Men metaphor again

The ride with happy Ron and Mylene had this question popping out of Happy Ron's mouth-- Dex, do you hate yourself? And the only truthful answer I could come up with at the time was "Yes." When who you are is not what the world wants and you want so much to fit in, how can you not hate yourself?

Tatagalugin ko na ha?

'Pag nagmahal ka, nakakatakot ka. 'Pag nagiisip ka, nakakatakot ka. 'Pag nagsulat ka, ang nagbabasa ng sinulat mo ay--
  • natatakot sa 'yo
  • natatakot para sa 'yo
  • panandaliang nasisiraan ng bait
Ang skillset mo, hindi ginagalang. Sarili mong kasama sa industriya walang bilib sa 'yo.

Pero magaling ka daw. Mabait ka daw. Hindi lang ikaw 'yung kailangan nila.

I can't change who I am and damning the rest of the world because it doesn't like or understand me isn't the solution I need. Though it's tempting, sometimes.

Which brings me to my point: at the time, in the Ron-mobile, with Happy Ron and Mylene, I'd truthfully said the answer was "yes." Having had the time to think on this now, I realize that the true answer is "No."

I don't truly hate myself. I know enough about myself to know my worth, my place, in spite of the niche my friends want me to occupy (which is some place that won't inconvenience them). On my good days I don't hate myself. I'm just more disappointed in most everyone else.

Monday, May 26, 2008

I got my friend back

And I'm thankful to God and Rey for it. I'm not likely to be sharing a beer with her alone yet, but this is a start. There were unwelcome words between us: mostly hers. There are still some choice things to tell her, but it's enough for now to have this.

I do give a damn about her even now.

But my heart's firmly where it is: beating--perhaps uselessly-- in Tina's denim jacket.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Requiem for Rey Reyes

Attending a mass to celebrate the death of a friend ten years ago.

It'll be a cleansing experience. Another venue in which I can let go of more baggage. I've carried the "Kick Me, I was a Monster to My Ex" placard long enough, and God knows it's been a millstone 'round my neck.

I don't know what kind of miracle is supposed to happen, but I'm expecting one. Rey was a good friend to me. He was actually successful straddling the line between coolness and geekdom. He introduced us to the Sandman, the rest of the DC Comics Vertigo line, and Mobile Suit Gundam long before they became popular on the Islands. When he died he brought a bunch of us closer together.

Not holding my breath but I'm hoping for something similar this year.

I'll have to warn everyone, by the by, that my next few posts will be Dexterian in their emo content. I've a lot to say and precious little in the way of methods to say them in.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Yes, Mom, I'm really gay...

...and I'm living in sin with my married best friend. Oh yeah, I'm also his sister's boy toy. And while we're at it, I am also secretly snogging her yummy boyfriend. Yes, I engage in all sorts of sexual impropriety with all sorts of unsavory people every time I go out of town. I've got a long list of one night stands in my black book, which for some reason you haven't yet found despite your amazing ability to read off my blogs and my cel phone. I'm a closet satanist too. I stopped praying to Jesus a long time ago. That's why I've been out at all hours of the night. Why I don't sleep. Why I keep writing weird sh!t.

Smell the sarcasm?

I was really hoping that this was already behind me. In high school it was "Come out of the closet Dex so we can talk/beat the manhood back into you." In college it was "Stop doing your drugs Dex I know you're on something that's why you think weird."

Sigh. Makes me wish I did half of what they think I've done just so there'd be some justification for all the grief they're laying on me.

Another day in the interesting life of Ed Kafka. The Delicate Matter of the Truth About Dex: his life is as good as crazy fiction, and he just wants to be with his ex.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Celebrating Patient X

If you're seeing a shrink, chances are he's nuts. If you are seeing a shrink who is practcing psychiatry without a license (i.e. a friend) expect him to be nuts too.

Still, we work with the tools we have, no matter how poor. We can only pray for better ones we don't have to pay for.

So today I celebrate my friend and co-patient Patient X. Congratulations for staying on the wagon!


Sh!tsh!tsh!t Stupid full moon.

It's five in the bloody morning and I'm awake and feverish and my brain simply will not stop receiving messages from the Muse.

I just singlehandedly finished a slew of designs for some stickers commissioned by my sister. I flirted and networked with the crew at the bleeding McDonald's while I was at it. when I come back at the end of the week my office will have possible new recruits. My studio will likely have new clients.

Holycrap I just spent the goddamned night at McDonald's Philcoa because I don't want to work at home.

I just sang along to the whole Toto album, the assorted Jazz and soft rock stuff they were playing to keep myself awake and god knows the whole fast food joint was listening to the odd long haired guy who must have been high on something at least he had a decent voice and at least he looked like a forlorn rockstar god knows he swayed like Jack Sparrow.

stupid stupid full moon

stupid stupid missing my ex and my friends from the old goddamned workplace especiallyonfreakingfridasyswhenthey're out somewhere and I'm walkingwalking walkingwalkin g San Miguel avenue in the goddamned dead of the night alone

If I stop and I go home now I lose momentum and I'll never get this back goddamnit...

doing the draft of Mammon 7 then skipping to calling card designs and my curriculum for my police photography workshop tomorrow


revising my idiot love letters writing this multiply entry while chatting with a freind and talking about her love life and working on my student's new curriculum at this virus-ridden i-net cafe that doesn't serve coffee...

god this is worse than meth and I've never even tried it

stupid amorous full moon

Almost don't care if my ex spots me in her damned bailiwick god knows I got better things to do than stalk her regardless of what her friends and roommates think been spending thelast three weeks avoiding her and everyone associated with her so she doesn't freak out at the goddamned sight of me brithday excepted of course and even then I left strict instructions to her officemates to not mention my idiot name regarding the birthday card.

I'm high on coffee and her memory. light headed. lungs feeling like they've got hot knives dipped in acid and anaesthesia piercing them. hard to breathe

the girls at the counter were cute. really

I'm goddamned dangerous on a full moon

godpleasedon'tletmecrashcsrashcrashcrash godthere'sa sun up

okay i've put all the ideas in my head on this page one way or another gotta sign out go home rest

surprised i'm still lucid but this is manageable now, enougfh for me to poke fun at myself by posting these stupid pictures and finally revealing to my friends just who that Kafkaed dude is.

almost glad i didn't have a paint brush.

would painted mcdonald's pink

first yaaaaaaaaaaawn. need to get outta here now...

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Yesterday I...

  1. ...found out my colleagues are generally good people, if possessed of the Filipino, nay, Asian caution when taking a stand. I've found out that I can more or less trust my bosses.
  2. ...found out I was right about the interconnectedness of everything. The bosses of my company and the bosses of my grandkid's company have met, pledged cooperation.
  3. bosses just found out just what kind of knife my old workplace handed them when it would not take me back. They know enough to wield me wisely, I hope.
  4. the jury's still out on yesterday's item 4.
  5. ...found out I could still swim
  6. ...found out I have a real reason to be working were I am. I'm just looking for a better one.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Today is...

  1. ...when I find out what kind of stuff my colleagues are made of.
  2. ...when I find out if my hunches about where we're all going (in the broad philosophical and physical location senses) are true.
  3. ...when I find out what kind of stuff I'm made of.
  4. ...when I find out just what kind of person I've pledged myself to.
  5. ...when I find out if I can still swim
  6. ...when I find out if I still have a real reason to be working were I am.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Eline won!

Her story, Doll Eyes, was an entry for the 2008 Romeo Forbes Children's Storywriting Competition.

Let's grab a quote from these guys:

"We ended up with a very strong set of entries in the final round, but in the end the judges (singer/actress Lea Salonga, Tin-Aw Art Gallery owner Dawn Atienza, and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Head of the Graduate Studies Office of UP's College of Arts and Letters Wendell Capili) were unanimous.

Congratulations to Ms. Eline Santos and to all the other finalists!"

Read the story, check out the other entries.


I remember walking into a holy place carrying my usual burdens-- among them the rent in the core of me that is at once the source of my writing and the filter through which I see the world.

I remember the many times I played in this scene: once in 1989, many more times in 1990. A few times in 1991 and 1992. I seriously thought that I would stop-- and I did, for four years. I would sporadically return when problems with the wife would threaten to overwhelm me, or when I would wake up to find that I had been overtaken by my own stupidity.

When the wife walked away in '05 the Almighty had been generous enough to let this happen when I was trying to run--and later try to save-- a company. It kept me busy. Kept me focused on something other than myself. I thought I'd found some respite after I returned from my first and only trip to Japan. I would still visit those same holy places with the usual vain hope. By the time I returned from my first and only conscious trip to Cebu, I was back in those places, seasoning my jasmine petal offerings with bile and snivel.

Flash forward to '07 and I'm in Baclaran: the same baggage wearing a different face. Like the people I studied in my anthorpology and sociology classes, I too, knocked on the plexiglass case. I, too, appealed to the Nazarene and dared to hope that my pig would fly.

I was back in those holy places throughout September, October, November, December of that year. I wept without shame until one day the glands simply quit.

In the time I spent walking from shop to shrine, I had retooled and rewritten the Novena of Confidence to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I simplified it, struck out the statements that insulted the intelligence of the reader (the ones that said "This Novena has never been known to fail") and replaced the requirements (make 81 copies and leave 9 at the shrine for each day you pray this novena) with something less ritualistic, less taxing and more reasonable for someone who wanted to level with God, and who expected God to level with him.

It worked, amazingly. I got my friend back sometime late December or early January. And for a short while I was as close to happy as when--
  • I realized I could truly care about another person regardless of what she was or what she did;
  • I realized that I truly loved and needed my friend in spite of myself;
  • I won first prize in that Talecraft competition in November
These days I don't go to those holy places as frequently as I did last year. This is partly out of disappointment. And partly out of an acceptance that I don't need to be there all the time, that He can hear me well enough regardless of where I am. I still feel the tug, though. The need to go there when the sunlight is slightly off in the mornings; when you feel a change you don't like or can't understand--manifested in the weird weather, or in how your body parts give out when they're not supposed to-- is happening even as you're helpless to do something about it.

When I finally went to the confessional I was able to resolve a few outstanding issues I had with my Maker. I somehow know that this latest snag is being handled by a higher power that means all of us well. I'm only asking that this time, once and for all, I be told that I can reasonably expect to end this labor when I push this rock up that hill once again.

Happy birthday, Tin.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Fringe Lifer’s Report

In the eight or so months since August of '07 I've written a sh!tload of stuff. The items below were supposed to come out tail end of last year. REPEAT: TAIL END OF LAST YEAR. I'm putting up a watered down version of this entry today.


Lord, let me not begin my days with “If she is lost to me—“
My nights end that way, and I already spend my days with two dead men
Who whisper...

"All that goes around…"

I don’t really need the space I’m using if I can’t overtly work there. I lost signage, was harassed. I also feel that my control over the space has been compromised. Someone had to do something despicable, and I’ve had to eat crow about my situation every time that someone crows about the business. I do not like it and I do not like being nagged.

Granted, all of this grief was a product of my decision, which was sound— at least I felt that way at the time. I could have made a bundle if I didn’t channel more funds back into the business (But not to do that was idiocy).

Of course, I am bolstering my position with arguments that are founded on mostly BS. (I’ve learned to recognize it over the years. I’m mildly surprised to see it in myself). Fact is I can still work in that area; it’ll just be more difficult, slightly more inconvenient. And yes, I’ll still have to deal with the presence of pushy, if well-meaning, people.

(Rueful admission: Mom was right. Signage in an area like that is important. It can do more work than marketing with flyers will; cause less grief for me. Okay digression ends).

The issue I face becomes— Slow income due to hobbled marketing plus increased effort to offset this vs. Really slow income based on word of mouth plus increased effort to offset that vs. Income Uncertainty Elsewhere.

I am therefore copping out. And now I have to decide where and with whom I will throw my lot.

How About the Culture Club?

It’s still gossamer. Assuming they let me back in, I am not going to grasp that slender thread until I know there’s a chance of it even partially supporting my undead weight.

I left for reasons that likely still exist, as lost as they are to five years of limbo. The word is still Let’s Wait & See. (Meaning I can’t depend on this any time soon)

Eleptember Seleven?

When last I checked I still had co-workers and students who missed me. Though it’s very likely that they’ve outgrown me.

I have two main concerns.


I will be asked to take one for the team again. Many ones for the team, And I’ll do it with a smile on my face and a song in my heart—which means, gentle readers, that I will be doing these things with little or no complaint, even if the voice begins to crack or the eyes begin to water and go cross-eyed. What made it easy the last time I worked there are my natural desire to help, as well as the subject of...

Concern Item Two—

Corollarily, the most important reason for coming back— well, she doesn’t want to share the same space with me much less breathe the same air. I did half the taking for the team because it made her work easier, because it made her happy.

Assuming they let me back in on the wings of my old performance record, my students' loyalty and my aggregate friendships… do I really want to go back when it seems as if nothing I do except perhaps for a sudden and untimely demise will make her happy?

"If You Build It They Will Come?"

I left a job, and inevitably--because I can point to this event as the beginning of the end for us-- a girlfriend, on the strength of the faith a friend had in me. His dream seemed like a good dream to work with, something that promised a modest profit...

Mindanao, East Timor, Hell Bee?

I could of course set up shop somewhere else. It sounds ridiculous: I am running away from a challenge into a bigger challenge. Whatever happened to the Marcosian dictum of picking the fights you can win?

Monday, May 12, 2008

We should have more transport strikes

...if only because travel along Quezon Avenue, even for commuters like myself, was fast and relatively stress-free.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

More I Statements

I really need flash functionality. Screw that, I really need web space and more than my current working knowledge of flash, java and html. There's so much I want to do, and so little time to even begin.

I need my friends; I miss them so much. But to paraphrase a fat money god: "That's not forthcoming, M'boy. Everyone hates a beggar."

I need to find a way-- barring the use of a choker, stiletto heels, push-up bras and a low cut black dress-- to get those stiff British Council people to give my student AJ that elusive 7.0 IELTS test score. AJ has been consistently receiving a 6.5. The dress and the generous show of cleavage won't work because AJ is a man.

Friday, May 09, 2008

The "Quickening"

Run Lola, Run

Jessica Zafra didn't like this movie. Lola (Franka Potente) predictably does a lot of running here. She has to run to save her life, to meet her boyfriend Manni's deadlines when the whole world is seemingly stacked against her. I liked it when I watched it on cable but I totally hated the local live version.

In the local adaptation, Lola feels compelled to run seemingly to save her psyche from the man who wrecked it. It's an intricate choreographed ballet where she hides behind her friends, changes bus routes and pounds the pavement. The result is always a stalemate between Lola and Manni: she flees to the safety of her apartment and a contrite Manni lamely wishes her good night at the gate. He does not tell her he loves her because it is the last thing she wants to hear.

Run Lolo Run

I've noticed that my own endurance has increased of late. I can run faster and farther than I used to, even when I was in martial arts training. Granted that my training did not involve running faster, but I did build some endurance, flexibility and muscle mass back then. I've ruined several pairs of shoes running to work the way I have, from the MRT station at Shaw Boulevard, up eleven flights of stairs everyday.

I've had to run for reasons less urgent than Lola's. I simply don't want to be late. And running up the stairwell is a good way for me to build wind.

I'm not training to run people down with a spear in a fit of blind frustration. But it's good to know I can conceivably better chase if I truly wanted to.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

The Importance of Being Earnest...and Ready

Her Other Name is Earnest

I was at my friend Carlo's place when they showed her in. She was a coy one, fresh out of community college and a bus from Albay. She was carrying several months of assembly line work in factories under her belt. She wanted to earn more and I was already uncaring of the reason: I'd heard variations of this story so many times I could rattle it off myself in my sleep. The gist of it was that Frances (not her real name) wanted to gain entry into a call center. Any call center.

I was somewhat a call center vet, and Carlo was once a team leader-- couldn't we help?

Yes we could, and yes we did. I'm biased towards women, and I just happen to have a pathological need to be a good samaritan.

Her Other Name isn't Ready

We looked at her sparse resume, concurred that the best way to make it better was to push her education and her willingness and ability to learn on the job. When we finished with it, that pristine single page was full of marker tracks. Put this section up here. Omit this. No need to give them your eye color and the color of your hair.

And then I had to interview her in English, backtrack, and give the same interview in Filipino.

...No, she wasn't ready.

I wound up giving her tips about putting up a brave front, putting her best foot forward and rolling with the crazy questions.

It made me think about my students: university graduates who couldn't get what they needed because of a damned language requirement. I thought of myself, too, and the people I share this work with. Long hours, crazy scheds, neural system meltdowns. Hearts too: broken, bleeding, listing-- lost and chasing pavement in the seemingly eternal night. (okay, cheesy, but it happens).

There must be something more that can be done to improve our collective lot.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

And this is how I know there is a God

...and that he has a sense of humor.

I put this thought experiment to a friend:

I'm going to lop off your arms and legs. I'll stick hot pokers in both your eyes. I'll soak you in napalm and then I'll set you on fire. I'll bribe some neurosurgeon fiddle with your brain so that you cannot turn off your pain receptors and neither can you take refuge in blacking out.

Now, tell me honestly if you can still claim that the happiness in your life depends solely on how sunny you choose it to be.

Then my mom sends me this video:

And I am laughing and shaking my head.

Allahu Akbar.

Monday, May 05, 2008


1. Wishing the Clavier Music School a happy birthday. I was supposed to be on-hand last Saturday to celebrate with Minette and the Clavier Alums. (I'll be around this week though, and I'll be bringing mudshakes or sommat similar). But I had to play superhero again. The stupid reflexes kicked in and I helped someone stave off insanity at the cost of more abdominal cramps and a possible developing ulcer for me.

God should stop making conflicted people with built-in messiah complexes. They're great fun to watch, but it's not fun when you're the conflicted person with the built-in messiah complex.

2. Wishing Arjayne a happy birthday, and congratulations too. Arjayne's been a little-sister figure to me since our time at our Japanese classes. We haven't seen each other since '05, but we've kept in touch. She's also finished high school, so warm congratulations are in order too.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Writers Suck

Because that's all they do.

When warm bodies are needed to stop the tanks, don't count on writers to be there with you. They'll be in their hotel rooms with their laptops and their notepads, writing. When you're busy making money the tried and tested way, yon writer will be busy wasting his time writing stories and filling his blogs: you're still saddled with the rent.

When someone is patently stealing your woman, writer, don't count on yourself showing up at their door and cracking skulls. You'll be at home, writing, adding one more neurosis to the ones you already have.

Cue the sound clip from American Sweethearts. Hank Azaria's Spanish character turns to a really barely-holding-in-his-psychotic-temper John Cusack and refers to him, derisively, as--

"You puth-thy."

You'll also have the bonus of showing your unwary reader friend that the bedrock upon which he rests his sanity doesn't really exist. And then there'll be two of you f_cking up the world by making everyone uncomfortable with life as they know it. She was right who said it best:

Keep only cheerful friends; the grouches pull you down.

The world doesn't belong to contemplatives, besides. Writers in general never see the fruits of their labor. For every Stephen King and Neil Gaiman there are thousands of frustrated writers married to their own misery and (in my Mammon stories) at least one who is dating his misogyny.

You may be the next Nietzsche, the next Kafka, the next Rizal-- but look what happened to them.

Nietzsche: nuthouse, couple of strokes, death by tuberculosis.
Kafka: nuthouse, tuberculosis, death by starvation
Rizal: exile, death by firing squad

And if you luck out and do a Thoreau ... well, okay, he didn't suck. He lived a full life, though he was felled by tuberculosis at age 44.

The point is very few writers ever live to see their legacy; fewer writers ever get to have one.

What's greatness if you never get to see nor taste it? I'm altruistic enough to care about my fellow man, but I've read all the books and seen all the movies: writers end up with the girl and the happy ending only in the stories they write. And I'm sick of watching everyone else's happys ever after.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

They're Likely Giving Me a Raise. I celebrated it by sending some very special people something from Shakey's last night. Might as well, since it was labor day and all of us were working. I hope they enjoyed the meal.