She noticed her suddenly getting busy that one afternoon while she was lazying herself toying with her point-and-shoot in the small hammock. It was rather unusual for her seeing her busy like that. Whenever she visits them, which is rarely, she normally sees her lying on the rickety wooden bed just by the door of their crumbling wooden house. She doesn’t mind if she shares the bed with her two cats, both tied for her own reason, one just got birth to four kittens who would soon be disposed to different households. She sometimes hear her snore, which calms her because she knows she’s in a deep, sound sleep, undisturbed by the chaos she’s loathed all these years. She surmises that when she doesn’t make any sound, she’s just there lying, appearing peaceful, but all the worries and frustrations are filling her restless mind. A thirty-something woman’s mind is a bucket filled with those, who knows how much of them overflow from the mind of a soon-to-be centenarian?
She then heard her call her name and was obliged to get inside the house.
She did not change her house dress, a worn-out yellow sleeveless shirt and red-green floral shorts, but she saw her glimmer with these white, or silver, (not-so-authentic) jewelry pieces on her neck, ears, wrists, and fingers. After boasting about them being a gift from her youngest child, she asked her to take a photo of her in that set.
She jokingly asked her why she was not wearing her glittery blue semi-gown her sister gave her, the dress she said she would want to be buried in once the time comes, but she blamed herself for not initiating and letting the old woman have the guts to ask for the shoot.
But she has lots of it, guts. She is never shy. She sings in front of many people if she desires. She dances in front of many people even if she’s half-naked at times. She is never the one who holds her thoughts back from anyone even if she’s not right. Her children and grandchildren cringe when she fights with others and even if she does it for them. She also fights her offspring and grandkids themselves (who are all scared of her at one point in their lives) if she feels they are disobeying or disrespecting her in any way.
But who could question the old lady’s character? When one was raised by a strict mother, was educated only up to the second grade being told that like carabaos, one could survive without further education, married at puberty during the time of war, buried a supposed-to-be only son after days of giving birth to him, buried one husband after another, worked on her own to feed six daughters, one of which she also buried after years of being in an abusive marriage, and has battled almost one hundred years of the daily ins-and-outs of life coping, or failing to cope, with the weathers of times, who wouldn’t be that tough?
And now she wonders, tough as she believes herself to be, will she ever reach her time? Being educated as far as she had dreamed of and being able to cope with the changing times, will she be able to survive sixty more years of the ups and downs of the world’s turmoil-driven setting? Will she ever have that chance of having one love that would give her a family she could work her butt off for? Or will she be there, too, on a rickety bamboo bed, trying to sleep her troubles away? Or will she be in a corner of some confinement together with others like her, or with no one somewhere under the sun begging for anything that would keep her sane? But does she really want that? To reach her time?
Despite her age and being the oldest among her siblings, despite being almost blind, despite the regrets and the failed dreams, one can still see “life” in her. She doesn’t have any conditions that would force her to be bed-ridden. She can still walk around every morning and every late afternoon sometimes accompanying her ailing younger sister. She can still notice the little things annoying to her and nag or rant about such. She can still wish that one of her offspring would put her in a big house and make her be called “rich.” (Years ago, she exchanged her roadside lot, now costing a million, with 300 pesos and a radio, which was a symbol of status during that time.) She still wishes that one day, she and all her offspring would be in one place and live together again. Most of all, she can still seek simple joys from simple things like being photographed by her, presumably, favorite grandchild.
She counted 1-2-3, uttered “smile,” then clicked it.
Who said she could trick her with the count and impose a smile on her? She managed, though, to take another shot.
And there it was, the kind of smile she got from her.
She is certain that she will be happy when she sees these herself in printed copies.
How easy life is by the sea.
Wake up as soon as dawn does, and prepare for office.
Before the daily grind, be sure to attend the brief ceremony and take part in waving your national pride.
Then, you’re all set for work. Take out your tool.
Some projects, you do by team.
And some, you just have to do alone to be ahead in the competition.
Sometimes though, it just has to be a family affair.
So that at the end of day’s work, you sell some and be eager to come home knowing that you’re bringing something to the table.
Of course, you do not forget your faith. To thank the One Above for another day of a smooth-going life.
And don’t forget, too, to have some little R&R.
How easy it is to live by the sea.
You always see how your dreams and hopes are glistened by the Sun.
I didn’t know you then that much.
I was okay with waking up, heading to work, and going back home.
I was okay with routines. True, they weren’t very fun, but boredom wasn’t killing my sanity either.
I didn’t have to stress myself planning for anything, empty my pocket for something, and tire my feet for every distance I would have to take.
I was content with the little pleasures I got from television, songs, and hanging out with the usual people and things around me.
I was generally content with the life I knew.
In fact, I goaled to only finish school, get one job and stay in it till retirement age, maybe marry (or not) and have a daughter, and buy a house for my family and stay there until the day I- or we- die. For me, that was the ultimate dream.
But not anymore.
Because now you’re messing with my straight-ahead plan. After I tried you once, you’ve left me with this addiction. You’ve showed me that there’s more to sitting all day in front of a glaring monitor and aiming to own the recent gadgets being sold. Because you’ve awed me with the beauty of the different places you’ve taken me to and the identities they’re proud of. You’ve thrilled me with the means you took me to those destinations. And you’re teasing “More!”
You’re pushing me to leave my comfortable ways, the people I have to take care of, and the convenience of stable existence. You’re pushing me to go farther and explore further. You implant in me this desire, this rush for the risky uncertain. You’re making my brain and heart debate whether I should heed your tempting call, along with the contrasting anxiety and excitement you bring.
I know I couldn’t fully trust you. I know you could lead me to failures and worries and more fears. I know you have no promises of gold or diamonds. I know you only want me to test my courage, to furnish my faith, and to let go of what I am used to.
Honestly, I really don’t know what you’re up to.
But isn’t that what life is all about? Isn’t our being born to non-knowledge of what really life is the true mark of the fact that life should not be defined but should just be lived?
I don’t mean being reckless. Life should be a balance of experience and responsibility. Good values should never change despite a daring attitude toward life. And that is what I would want to engage myself into– to experience what living has to offer while being responsible and still value-full in doing so.
I don’t think I could still resist you for long. I am scared. But beyond that, I am hopeful. For life, for love, for finding my purpose, for my faith, and for living for the present.
I don’t intend to do you just for the heck of doing you. More than capturing our moments with a lens and having the “hey-i-was-here” shout-outs, I would want to learn more from you, the kind of lessons that would challenge the heart, my soul. I am readying myself now for you. Soon, I will totally embrace you. Because I would no longer suppress my capacity to fully live the life I’m blessed of.
Yes, fly me to the realms of your temptation.
I want to participate in this week’s “A Day In My Life” challenge; however, since a typical day for me is something that does not interest me so, i don’t have the energy yet to share about it. I hope though I could still share something about it that what is worth of words. I still have a week.
For now, I have a post about a break from my typical days, which gave a sort of life to my everyday living because this day gave me some joy being away from work, city life, and stress. I don’t hate my usual days; even stress drives me more, but that feeling of BEING away and not seeing the usual things gave me a sense of self-love. I so needed this break, too, after undergoing a minor surgery and surviving it, thank you Lord (I might also write about that ordeal as a follow-up to my ‘medical paranoia’ post).
So where did I spend that much-needed break?
Rizal province. A little more than two hours away from Manila, specifically from Shaw Starmall where my brother, our cousin, and I kick started our mini-day-tour with a commuter van costing us 70 pesos each to our first destination, Daranak Falls in Tanay. I just want to put the photos now before this post is again taken over by my usual wordiness.
I thought we were still early coming in at around 8 AM, but the place was already crowded. It was a holiday, so we expected this. I myself was making the most out of the holiday that was why I still decided to go. The noise was a bit frustrating because I didn’t feel that much the serenity I was craving for, but the feeling this natural beauty gave me overshadowed that minor setback.
I wasn’t able to go to main part of the falls though since I was afraid to make my way to it. I can’t swim. I wouldn’t trust my life on the “salbabida” I rented. Just the part of passing and walking through the slippery rocks almost made me give up to even touch the falls’ water. I overheard the policeman telling a guy asking that the water on the main part is 30 feet, or 13 feet maybe… either one of them, it is still way more than twice my height. I just contented myself feeling the moment of being close to that natural wonder, shooting anything that caught my eyes, and watching some people with their “tricks.”
I left the place with a satisfied feeling. I might visit Daranak again (or its sister falls, Batlag) on a less crowded day. So far, this is the most affordable and nearest tour I had.
I didn’t forget that this Friday was also the Lord’s Day. When I was a child, my folks told the children to just stay at home and sit on this day because Jesus died for our sins. I saw that that tradition was totally different now based on the people in Daranak maximizing the day taking their vacation and the busy streets and roads we passed through going home. I don’t know how to feel about that since I myself was not anymore just sitting on this day, but I would never fail to thank God for His love and sacrifices on any days. Before we left the province, we went to Antipolo Church and I thanked God for giving me this day to be closer to Him through His gift of nature, to feel His presence in His home, and to appreciate His gift of life more.
I hope everyone has a fruitful Holy Week. God Bless.
I finally faced one of my fears last week.
I had put off going to the dentist for two years because I believe my last visit had caused the once tiny sore in my inner right cheek to enlarge after being hit by the careless, I think neophyte, dentist I saw. In the past, I wrote about my hesitation to go to the doctor for either a consultation or medication. I’ve always thought either my mother or a traditional doctor could fix whatever bad I feel. But I know a dental appointment is necessary. I actually don’t fear the pain. What I don’t like is the expensive cost (especially that our company’s Health card only shoulders the basics) and the self-shame brought by the confirmation that I don’t have a very good set of teeth now. I sometimes blame myself for not taking care of my biters much when I was a child up to my teenage years when chocolates and junk snacks were the ultimate rewards for my achievements. Now, I have to face whatever dental nightmare I have.
And so I went to a clinic last week. I had the cleaning part, but I just wanted to know what the dentist would say about this pea-sized circle in the inner part of my right cheek. I had my guesses already since I had researched about it. I might already know what it is, but I need an expert’s words. He was not sure, he said. Great. I was tempted to relay to him all that I had read but I knew some medical people are annoyed with smart aleck patients. He said I have to undergo an x-ray, and then, maybe a surgical removal of the thing if the x-ray supports his guess. He also said I might already need dentures because he surmised the lack of bony support in some areas of my mouth could be causing the condition. Another great.
I was still hesitant to do his recommendations. First, I am skeptic about x-rays because of the effects of their radiation. Second, I am more skeptic about surgeries because they’re, well, surgeries. And so, my reading began. What I just wanted to get was something that would tell me that I should not worry about my worries. But of course, I would get both the “anti” and the “pro”, and what I got made me worry more. Great, again. I chose to trust one of the answers I got when I e-mailed a question about the effects of radiation from x-rays to a medical site especially that I also needed to get a chest x-ray the same week for work permit purposes. A doctor responded:
“I have received the question you sent to the American Association of Physicists in Medicine regarding your x-ray procedures. There are a couple of things to keep in mind. First, radiation from an x-ray source such as for your chest x-ray or the dental x-ray is localized just to the area that they are looking at. In this way, it works sort of like sunshine: you can only get a tan if the sun is shining on that part of the skin; the part that’s not exposed doesn’t get tanned. So there is no relationship between a chest x-ray and dental x-rays. Secondly, the dose from each one is actually so low that, if there is truly any risk at all, it is so small as to be completely dwarfed by any other daily risks or the natural occurrence of cancer. I hope this helps.”
With this disclaimer: “The opinions expressed in this message are the product of the gray and white matter loitering in my cranium. I speak for myself and no one else, unless I say otherwise.“
I went for the dental x-ray. I walked in without any thought or sign of nervousness or idea of how the test would be done. I thought it was just like the one that checks the state of your lungs wherein you’d be asked to take your top off and replace it with that ‘gown’, face a machine, breathe in for some seconds (which also makes me paranoid), breathe out, and wholla, done! But no. It was a moving x-ray machine! It was an x-ray robot! Not only that. I was like locked in the machine after I was asked to bite that rod-like thing, and then was told not to move while the machine does its thing seemingly extracting something from me or imprinting something in me, which made me think that if I did, either I or the machine would explode. I’m not exaggerating. Panic really crept into my brain when the machine started to warm up especially that the woman who prepared me for it left the small room I was in after she did her routinary tasks. What if something wrong happened, who would save me? What if I moved? What if that thing I saw in the movie Saw because of a similar machine happened to me (body shattered into pieces… and so, think hard whether you would let your child watch the movie)? To the machine’s dismay, my reflex moved me the moment the sound of the revolving thing entered my ears and started to deafen my system also causing my jaw to lock for some long seconds while my sane reasoning and utmost desire to be orally healthy tried to keep me from giving in to that black stillness that was starting to show not far from where I was standing at that point. I didn’t even have the chance to tell myself, “Think of happy thoughts. Think of happy thoughts.” I didn’t know FEAR could be that robotic monster with marking lights that would seep through the tiniest particles in one’s mind and eat the person’s sanity up if welcomed fully. With a little prayer, I was later successful to shut my door to it.
But you know what was even more “exciting”? I had to do the test again right after the first one. Agony, fear, panic, paranoia times two. The first one apparently didn’t show a clear result of the inside of my mouth. I mind-shouted at the woman. I don’t know why I was blaming here. But was the error caused by my accidental movement? I don’t remember if the woman responded to that query. The second time though I realized I just had to close my eyes. Soon (although it felt more like the opposite), the test was over, but still not in a smooth way. I had the confident thought the second time that I already knew the machine, and yeah, the fear it brings, but a part of the machine touched my shoulder when it was completing its 360-degree turn. I was scared that I had to do it again increasing my fear of dying from radiation. Thankfully, the radiologist said the film was already acceptably clear. A big sigh, not much of relief though because after the test, every sudden jerk with even only little pain my body created caused me to think, because of my radiation scare, that I was doomed.
This week, I went back to the dentist, who told me, based on the x-ray, that two teeth have to be extracted, that a surgery should be done for the lump (his hypothesis: a fibroma) that will then be sent for biopsy, and dentures should already be placed in the toothless areas of my mouth. Great, for the nth time. I am still young for this– dentures, that is. And can/do you kiss with them on? (Just asking.)
I did the first must-do. No fear and only little pain, and no thanks to the anesthesia since I felt the numbness after the extraction was over. I will never be in good terms with these technologies.
I know that I am somehow over reacting to this medical situation I am in right now. I have a 50+-year-old friend who underwent several operations already, and she seems perfectly fine. She was also one of my moral support in this. So I tell myself now that I really should worry less or not at all. Think of her. Think of Pi (even if he’s fictional). Think of the family in The Impossible (which I really want to write about but still haven’t). They all survived much more physical pain and scary predicaments; mine must be a needle prick compared to theirs even if I say it’s a prick from a huge needle because still, how dare me.
I will be back to the dentist for surgery next week. I am not afraid of the impending pain but of the thought of undergoing surgery. I’ll be doing it anyways because I do not want that thought to continue making me down and because I look forward to writing about how it’s successfully over.
the sea. you know that there’s more to the water, the blueness, the blue skies above the blue waters, the sound of the little waves, and the smell of salt. while the beauty is inviting, it is at the same time, frightening. especially when you are in the middle of it. if you think about it. you pray that you won’t be swallowed by it alive and that it sails you safely to your destination.
being thirty. being in the middle of one life span. you know that you can do anything now. for most, it spells fun- parties, drinks, sex, freedom. but you also know that there’s more to that. and that “more” spells work, uncertainties, and the ever threatening “future.” you have to start at this point, if you haven’t, to act and meet the expectations. a job, a family of your own, a smooth going-on. you know you can’t just pray that you’ll easily get to where you wanna be. and you know you have to sail your boat yourself because in the case of life, you would get swallowed to death if you did not do so. or worse, it would leave you alive and sink you into the depths of its emptiness. but sometimes, it is easier to resist all of that. why be pressured? why be concerned of what your life will turn out to be? why think?
as we’ve come to know, things have not much essence as they are. and we always seek for meaning, for something more beautiful our reality hides from us. sometimes, it’s scary to think. what if nothing’s really out there? but sometimes, it’s also our refuge. that beyond the boring or troubled existence lies a “heaven.”
sometimes though, it is easier to just close your eyes. sometimes, there is already too much to see that gives you too little to make you look beyond. and you just hope by the time you open your eyes, you would really see what your heart wishes to see.
lately, i’ve noticed myself getting emotional.
i began this post with that statement to also warn you (yes, you, who have intentionally or accidentally gotten to this page) that, yeah, this is no different from the usual personal ramblings of some other rambly bloggers out there. so, if you do not want to divert from your good vibes, do not, as in do not, proceed. but if you still want to, thank you. for choosing to join me as i wallow in those emotions.
don’t get me wrong though. i don’t hate the universe. i may be socially awkward at times but i don’t hate people. i don’t smile much, but i giggle and laugh a lot. i stopped indulging myself in high-schoolish diaries after my first real heartbreak as a promise to myself that i will never again rant or grieve that way, or never again rant or grieve, period. what i just always tell myself is that there are people who are in deeper sadness or deeper poverty than i am in. not that i don’t sympathize but it’s a reminder that i don’t have much right to feel bad about myself. but we all know that emotions are stubborn. we will feel for the simple fact that we feel. and even if my occasional sorrow is none compared to the other problems the world has, it’s still not non-existent. i’m just trying to justify my being emotional lately and actually giving in to that.
i know i have a choice not to. i can do any activity that will require me to think of other things, to move, and to have fun. but even having fun stirs emotions up. not really crying. but usually, ending in that. happy or sad things, every little thing seems to poke my lacrimal gland. a co-worker and her newborn son. a predictable movie scene. a game-show contestant winning. an old woman asking for alms. and even those pesky kids in the street who want to grab the cold drink in my hand. worse, the emotions don’t choose a place when they attack. at my work station while trying to understand the English a grade-one-or-so student attempts to write. on the bus when i am standing and people pushing me in, brushing off my boobs and butt, and stepping on my foot. and even inside the restroom while trying to endure the not-to-be-mentioned kind of smell because one irresponsible fellow did not flush. but the worst place is in my little space called home because here, when emotions knock, i do not only let them in. i also entertain them by playing the how-i-met-your-mother episode where depressed Robin came home and Ted surprised her with the singing and dancing Christmas light display he had set up. i wish i had that, too. not Ted. the singing and dancing Christmas lights.
i know this emotional state i am in lately is really bad. i am not self-pitying; i am world-pitying. i would want to say i’m trying to be funny with that line, but i am not for right at this moment, it is creeping in again.
sure, i can blame it on PMS.
or maybe on the fact that i turn a year older today.
i left the office past twelve the other night. i walked from the building’s exit debating with myself whether i would just take one of the cabs in front of my way or brave the secret fear in me, head to the main street and wait for a bus, so i wouldn’t spend much for the fare. it was a holiday so i would be taking chances for some bus that would pass the avenue. normally, even if it is past twelve, the city is still busy. that’s why there was a little fear, too, that there would be fewer people, or maybe none at that hour, that would still be roaming around. even if i am used to going home late, there was still that small fear for bad elements readying for their next target. but the miser in me won and walked with my head up (i believed doing so would fool the hold-upers and the like into thinking that i was a tough one to get) to the main avenue. true enough, there was only one bus i saw as i neared the bus stop. thankfully, there was no bad stuff that happened. unfortunately, i missed the bus. the taxis where still tempting me, but i opted to wait for another bus.
and there i stood, and took a good look of the city.
it was sad.
the buildings here used to intimidate me. they were like six-footer models telling me that i didn’t have what it took to belong. everything about this place screams affluence, which i was not and did not have, and still am not and do not have. but then, i insisted and pushed myself in. it was not because i wanted to belong with or fit in to that affluent atmosphere. it was just because of that “feel” of the city. people in my humble and quiet hometown, my family included, still do not understand why i prefer living by myself in a polluted and noisy place like this. the truth is i find solace in the city. its madness drowns my fears, my tears, all my uncertainties. the city and i, we actually belong.
that night, when i was standing there, i felt the city’s sadness. it seemed as if i saw her tearing up feeling deserted and useless after a day of being used up and dragged to the worldly causes of people who were not mindful of her presence. true, there were a few cars either passing her weary streets or parked, workers who were either eager to come home or hesitantly walking to their posts, and couples seizing what was left of that night. but these were not enough to ease the city’s loneliness. she was used to the daily rushers, the honks and screeches of tires on her roads, and the dust and smoke filling in her system. and that night, she was missing them. what was only there was her lone self and her sadness. or could it be that the city felt mine?
i saw a bit of twinkle in her eyes when i got a glimpse of some fellows putting up Christmas lights in the middle of the street. they were just starting, so i didn’t appreciate much the concept this year. maybe, the city’s having a “white Christmas” judging on the only white lights i saw. good for her. i’m having a blue one. again. it has been. it was not supposed to be this year. but with recent events, eight months of anticipating and preparing for that “happy day” has gone bye-bye in an instant. it is amazing how one can be that full of hope and love for months and then, turn into a vase of emptiness in just one day of tough realization and decision-making. yet again, as what is often said, things happen. it’s not meant to be. we are not meant to be. he’s not mine anymore.
i saw some twinkling lights from afar and i knew it was my bus already. :p