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.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008


I realize that the time will come when I will grow incredibly weary of this interminable hoping. I have been trying with the requisite gentility to stave this off. But the heart cannot feed on itself forever, even now when it cannot find the strength to face up to one more act of dismissal.

I have only to breathe and I know where she is. I will feel a tug, and sure enough she'll be where I am. But it is seemingly never enough, when all one seemingly elicits is fear. I can't bridge those final few meters that keep me from her doorstep, from that space I used to occupy in the hollow of her arms.

I cannot proceed, I don't know how to, not without a sign. And one day soon I'll do it anyway because I cannot keep this vigil. Not like this.

And then I'll fall and break and burn the way I always have, the way I always will.

And then I won't stop myself, I'll damn all of you. Because when you look at me you see only a cage.


I've forgotten how much I love pop-jazz. And Cake. And Everything But the Girl.

I've forgotten that I have clothes that aren't ratty, black or handed up from my younger siblings.

I love the scent of brand spanking new electronics, new clothes, new art supplies: I especially love the earthy sweet smell of linseed oil. I love the feel of paint, especially when they build up, like plaque, on your work clothes, and under your nails.

I love churches and their history. The way your footfalls echo in their wide halls; the candles; the smells of wax and ardent prayer. The wood-varnish smells of absolution.

I love the sight of the sky-- I hardly look at it these days. I love the feel of grass underneath my feet. I love rainy days: I've forgotten how much I love getting rained on in a new place.

I love strawberries: the sight of them, the idea of them, the taste of them. I love strawberry ice cream.

I love humanity-- stupid, corrupt, mistrustful, greedy, vexing, disappointing humanity. And the women too--in spite of their judgments, their presumptions, their power.

I love the smell of books.

And though the heart yearns for the familiar smells of her perfume and her shampoo, the sound of her laughter, these other things rush to fill this void. And for today they're enough.

My heart swells with something it hasn't truly felt in months-- a sublime gratitude for little graces.