Month: June 2008

A Whole New Quilt of Ideas

I never got around to doing this earlier, but let’s give it for Lurchie, the quilt-weaver who also knows a thousand and one ways to generate cash in a pinch, who finally got the (dot)com that she wished for.

See her new quilt of ideas at http://pencilpushin.com to read about her life as a wage-earner, as a copyeditor, as a mother to two wonderful kids, as a wife to her husband Dhirrac, as a friend, and as a credible resource for anything about telecommuting.
Congratulations, Monkey Keeper.

Under the Knife

This is the hypochondriac in me posting this, so pardon the accompanying imagery.

Tomorrow, I’m scheduled to go under the knife. Try as I might not to overthink it, images of me being cut up, sliced and diced still lurk and spring up suddenly, courtesy of the ever-present overactive imagination.

surgical blade

It’s just a minor surgery that would not even qualify me to get disability benefits from social security (heaven forbid!).

It happened this way. Perhaps I received some sort of trauma on my right knee sometime last year. I could not remember how, but I noticed that there was a dot-sized mass almost in the middle of my knee. I didn’t mind it then, thinking that it’s just a pimple or something. But what a place for a pimple to grow on. Anyway, for a year, I ran, skipped, jumped, walked, strode, jogged, pedaled, squatted (although not necessarily as often as I would have wanted) like I usually did. Little by little, my attention was drawn to the dot-sized something on my knee because this time, it has grown to a proportion that could not make me still ignore it. And the pain! Gracious sweet mother! Each time I accidentally bump my knee against something, the pain makes me see celestial bodies float past.

Last Saturday, I had an entirely different business that brought me to one of the hospitals in the city. I decided that, since I’m already there, might as well let a doctor look on the matter regarding my knee. The doc examined the lump and then and there proclaimed that a surgery was in order. He said that it might just be some growth that is benign but a biopsy would still be in order.

medical surgery

Yikes! But he was kind enough to allow me to think it over. So, I decided that he’d remove it Tuesday.

I just came from the medicare office after processing the necessary documents. May things turn out well. I may not be able to ride a bike for a couple of weeks. But it’s okay, considering.

And here’s a picture of my knee with the thing growing there. The growth is right in the middle of the inner circle, drawn on for purposes of relieving boredom.

(Pardon the absurdity, but it’s actually a picture of my knee. )

[surgery images courtesy of dailymail.co.uk and ghia-blades.com]

Summer Equinox

Today is the longest day of the year, this being the Summer Solstice.

Actually, this Celestial celebration, marked by the ancients as the wedding of the Earth and Heaven, officially begins at a minute before the clock strikes midnight on June 20th, Greenwich Mean Time (around 7:59 AM of 21st June for the Philippines).

The ancients have honored this time with bonfires, feasts, and dancing, grateful for the long day, the shortest night, and the chance to be with those they love.

If it weren’t stormy outside (and if I weren’t in the office), be assured that I’d have a huge bonfire blazing out on a field, with music from the guitar and a makeshift drum. I’d be with friends, and we would wait for the coming of the hour of the equinox, whiling it away with stories and songs.

A happy day to one and all!

Be on the lookout for Fairies!

 

The Act of Writing, as Told by Paulo Coelho

Doing my regular round of blog hopping, I stopped by one of the waystations of my wanderings — Paulo Coelho’s Warrior of the Light. There, in one of his previous entries, I found a gem, a fount of inspiration for the weaver of words.

This is what Paulo has to say about

The act of writing – the reader (Issue No. 170)

“There are two types of writers: those who make you think and those who make you dream” says Brian Aldiss, who made me dream for such a long time with his science-fiction books. Thinking about his sentence and my work, I decided to write some columns on the subject. In principle I believe that every human being on this planet has at least one good story to tell his neighbor. What follows are my reflections on some important items in the process of creating a text.

The reader

Above all else, the writer has to be a good reader. The kind that sticks to academic texts and does not read what others write (and here I’m not just talking about books but also blogs, newspaper columns and so on) will never know his own qualities and defects.

So, before starting anything, look for people who are interested in sharing their experience through words. I’m not saying: “look for other writers”. What I say is: find people with different skills, because writing is no different from any other activity that is done with enthusiasm.

Your allies will not necessarily be those that everyone looks on with admiration and says: “there’s nobody better”. It’s very much the opposite: it’s people who are not afraid of making mistakes, and yet they do make mistakes. That is why their work is not always recognized. But that’s the type of people who change the world, and after many a mistake they manage to get something right that will make all the difference in their community.

These are people who cannot sit around waiting for things to happen before they decide on the best way to narrate them: they decide as they act, even knowing that this can be very risky.

Living close to these people is important for writers, because they need to understand that before putting anything down on paper, they should be free enough to change direction as their imagination wanders. When a sentence comes to an end, the writer should tell himself: “while I was writing I traveled a long road. Now I can finish this paragraph in the full awareness that I have risked enough and given the best of myself.”

The best allies are those who don’t think like the others. That’s why, while you are looking for your companions (not always visible, because meetings between the reader and the writer are rare), trust your intuition and don’t pay any attention to others’ remarks. People always judge others using the model of their own limitations – and at times the opinion of the community is full of prejudices and fears.

Join those who have never said: “it’s finished, I have to stop here”. Because just as winter is followed by spring, nothing comes to an end: after reaching your objective, you have to start again, always using all that you have learnt on the way.

Join those who sing, tell stories, enjoy life and have happiness in their eyes. Because happiness is contagious and always manages to keep people from being paralyzed by depression, loneliness and troubles.

And tell your story, even if it’s only for your family to read.

The pen

All the energy of thinking is eventually shown in the nib of a pen. Of course, here we can substitute nib by ballpoint, computer keyboard, or pencil, but the nib of a pen is more romantic, don’t you think?

To get back to the theme: words eventually condense an idea. Paper is just a support for this idea. But the pen will always remain with you, and you must know how to use it.

Periods of inactivity are necessary – a pen that is always writing ends up losing the awareness of what it is doing. So let it rest whenever possible, and concern yourself with living and meeting your friends. When you return to the business of writing, you will find a happy pen with all its strength intact.

Pens have no conscience: they are an extension of the writer’s hand and desire. They serve to destroy reputations, make us dream, send news, trace pretty words of love. So always be clear about your intentions.

The hand is where all the muscles of the body, all the intentions of the person writing, all the effort to share what he feels, are concentrated. It is not just a part of his arm but an extension of his thought. Hold your pen with the same respect that a violinist has for his instrument.

The word

The word is the final intention of someone who wishes to share something with his neighbor.

William Blake said: all that we write is the fruit of memory or the unknown. If I can make a suggestion, respect the unknown and look there for your source of inspiration. The stories and facts remain the same, but when you open a door in your unconscious and let yourself be led by inspiration you will see that the way to describe what you have lived or dreamt is always far richer when your unconscious is guiding the pen.

Every word leaves a memory in your heart – and it the sum of these memories that form sentences, paragraphs, books.

Words are as flexible as the tip of your pen, and they understand the signs on the road. Sentences do not hesitate in changing course when they make a discovery, when they spot a better opportunity.

Words have the same quality as water: they go around rocks and adapt to the river bed, sometimes turning into a lake until the depression has filled up and they can continue their journey.

Because when words are written with feelings and the soul, they do not forget that their destination is the ocean of a text, and that sooner or later they have to arrive there.

Source of Paolo Coelho’s text posted here: Warrior of the Light, a www.paulocoelho.com.br publication

[image of pen courtesy of snappywriting.com; the reader by allposters.com; and the text by creator of circumstance ]

Unicorn!

For those of you who have always believed in magic, fairies, and mythical creatures, I’ve got news.

A “unicorn” is alive and well and grazes in a 2.5-acre park in the Tuscan town of Prato.

Unicorns are known, in the mythical realm, for the single horn that protrudes from their foreheads. These creatures are endowed with magical powers. And throughout the collection of literature from ancient and medieval times, the Unicorn has, in one way or another, been mentioned.

The creature pictured here is actually a roe deer that scientists think has a genetic flaw that made it grow only one horn. But the peculiar thing about it is that the horn actually grew in the middle of its forehead. For the rest of the story, click here.

 

 

[photo courtesy of http://dsc.discovery.com]

sketching escape plans

why?

i tell people to follow the call of the wind. i tell them what messages can be gleaned from the stars about their fates. i point them to the path as shown by the lines of their palms. i show them what happiness and bliss there are to be had if, for once, they listen to their hearts.

and yet….

here i am, fully aware that this is not what i want, to one day realized that all that is left of my optimism is a dessicated core. that my soul has languished and died a silent death, leaving my body with an empty shell. that my dreams have flown to visit somebody else’s thoughts. that i am part of the body count of people who, after a couple of years or three, wander around the metropolis with a glazed stare and shallow desires born out of a materialistic unaffirming profit-oriented culture.

inside of me, i cry and scream and rankle about the unfairness of all of this. still, it was my choice to be here. and it is still my choice whether i want to stay longer or not.

just wait. my paper boat’s not ready yet.

[image courtesy of jupiterimages.com]

Waxing Self-Righteousness

This morning, I invoked the good girl residing buried under the mounds of mildewed rubbish, dust bunnies, old molted skins, and the general debris of my own self’s basement and helter-skelter ran down from my tropical jungle hideway to pay some outstanding electricity bills.

The bills have been tacked to my bedroom dresser for eons already, as my schedule did not make it easy for me to just go waltzing out at any hour to go to the electric cooperative payment outpost, falling in a three-mile-long line, waiting until, millimeter by millimeter, it would be my turn to hand my statement of account (SOA) to the octogenarian sitting behind a glass cage for him to smack his thumb on wrinkled lips and use the said thumb to leaf through the sheafs of tissue paper that are my SOAs, wrinkling his eyebrows every now and then as he strains, with fading eyesight, at the minuscule numbers representing the amount I owe each month for the service that allowed me to be anesthetized by shampoo commercials shown during prime time on the local tv station. I simply did not have the luxury to regularly experience such indescribable experience.

But today, despite the light drizzle and the fact that I ran out of the house without any breakfast, I resolved to treat myself to the experience of paying my bills, just like in the old days.

However, it turned out, to my slight disappointment, that the octogenarian I’ve mentioned earlier has already been called by his maker, perhaps making him the keeper of books up there (I imagine him, methodically smacking his lips and using his good old thumb to search for the names of people who are allowed entrance into the Pearly Gates. He’d be looking for my name under the letter “F”…”Let’s see now… Felipe, Felix, Feliz, Fem…” It will be ages before the lines moved).

The present teller’s hair has been slathered with the latest snake oil pomade, he had the lightest pink polish on his David’s Salon-manicured digits, he has a rock the size of a baby’s fist on his left earlobe, and I think I detected a hint of gloss on his lips. The top three buttons of his polo shirt were undone, revealing a chestful of hairs.

He leafed through my sheafs of SOAs with flexible fingers, looked at the computer monitor for verification of my account, then puckered his lips. Looked at the sheafs of SOAs and puckered his lips again. I sensed something was amiss with the three SOAs that I’ve brought.

He looked at me with a raised eyebrow (countoured, mind!) “There are five unpaid bills here.”

What?!

“Five unpaid bills. This wasn’t disconnected yet?” His contoured eyebrow made a perfect parabolic arc.

I told him that it’s only three that I have at hand. But it was like arguing with the Matterhorn. He would not budge. There were five bills there. Pay all of them or face disconnection in the coming days (the horror of not seeing Wowowee!). I didn’t have a choice. I paid the almost-three-zero-zero-zero outstanding balance.

(Lucky I was dripping with cash as of the moment — not! I was actually paid only 51 hours for the 104 hours that I reported for work. Something about an accounting personnel endorsing the wrong hours for my shift. So, actually, I was nearly broke.)

Then on to the good part. For those of you who are not aware of this, the town where I live is host to the power plant that generates electricity for most of the region and the surrounding provinces. It is ~aherm~ only natural that simple folks such as me could get an electric bill refund each time I pay my bill.

But still, in order to get the refund, it requires me to undergo a bit of a complicated process. But the process is actually a catch basin to keep the citizens of my beloved town in check, and it ensures that there are no deliquencies in our payment of taxes and other services, e.g., safe drinking water and property taxes. In toto, I shelled out an additional Php300 to pay for property taxes and water bills that I happened to forget about the previous two months *blush*.

After all the hullabaloo, I am pleased to inform the interested reader that I got my money back — that amount I paid for my electricity bill. All in all, it boils down to me spending Php300 to get back my almost-three-zero-zero-zero pesos. And I have paid all my taxes for this year. See you around, Internal Revenue!

I feel such a sense of accomplishment.

Somebody get me a halo and a pair of wings. I feel a beatific glow around me.

 

Day-dreaming Wednesday

I feel anesthetized.

 Slept soundly enough last night just before the clock struck nine and yet i woke up with heavy eyelids and with tendrils of laziness hovering all over me. For sure, I would be late for work again. However, I didn’t rush. I padded downstairs, fed an Alicia’s Attic CD in the player, and stretched a bit before going to the bathroom. Took my time while taking a bath then after, wished for coffee. Nobody else was up and about to light the woodfire so I had to do without. (note to self: buy a big thermos flask for hot water on cold mornings) Came down from the mountainous location of my tropical jungle home feeling the warmth of the emerging Sun.

Stopped for gas before the Sun got so high in the heavens. With the time-space-warping prices, I had begun following some tips on economizing. One of these is getting fuel for my motorcycle at times of the day when it is not so hot yet, such as in early mornings and at night. That source says that the temperature at these times helps in maintaining the density of gasoline, hence giving me a bit more value for my money (a few centavos saved is a few centavos earned… or something to that effect). Still, I can’t shake the uncomfortable feeling that if this economic crisis doesn’t let up, I would seriously consider looking for a job overseas. It will be another loss for my country. They’ll be minus one jinius genius without me around.

Plus, I feel sleepy at work. Unmotivated, even.

As to why, I want you to listen to this:

If sigma-sub-en is a variant of Pie-sub-en-minus-eight to the seventeenth power, then the vector aich is a trilobite-eating sauropod in the Paleozoic-Mesozoic continuum of the ex to the wai fourth redundant matrix of the equation.

A truly romantic piece of reading — not!

All the information that I ingest six days of the week at the Shoe Factory never ceases to amaze me. I sometimes wish that I am happily chatting with ducks in a hideaway pond rather than frying my brain with all this.

But that’s the sleepy part of me talking.

The wide-awake part feverishly pounds on the computer keys, chanting the mantra: “A job a day keeps poverty at bay” fourteen times every five minutes.

~Sigh~

All this paradox.

I wonder how much Sherpas earn in the Himalayas.

 

[image courtesy of www.brianmeloche.com.]

An Open Letter for the Nocturnal Macaque

Dear Nocturnal Macaque,

Soon, you will be a free elf. Scarred, maybe, but hopefully not broken by all that you had been through.

With your departure from all the drudgery of the Shoe Factory, I pray for you all good fortune to gravitate toward you, for peace of heart and peace of mind, always.

Fly free. Soar as high as you can go, with the Sun guiding you onward, forward, and the wind helping to lift you to the heights that you are meant to reach.

Vai con Dio e con gli Angeli.

 

Best wishes,

Feyoh

Adverts

This is a plea to the public.

Please visit my photoblog Crooked Stars. I’ve finally managed to upload some photos. It’s still in the works, but I hope you enjoy the stuff already in there. Leave comments if something moved you (or for some other reasons).

Also, I’ve managed to get past my confused state and update my deviant art site as well. The addy, for those interested, is http://feyoh.deviantart.com.

Ciao.

Happy Monday, everyone.

Amico dell ‘Anima

Once upon a time, I forged a friendship with someone. Oh, we cried rivers, laughed barrels, drank tankards, violated our high school curfews, and jammed the night away, howling out our tone-deaf versions of our favorite songs, with music from a beat-up guitar and his mother’s Tupperwares for a makeshift drum kit.

Then we lost touch. I was part of the luggage when my family had to move to a different city, in a different region.

So, we grew up separately, in places far from each other. We wrote letters. But as college days came and engulfed both our senses, these petered out, making way for a wide gulf of silence.

We’ve both had different people who came and went in our lives. We had both found and lost, won and got beaten, making us both feel that this is how it is to be human, to be alive. Occasionally, my thoughts wandered to him, wondering where he was and what he was doing.

I kept his letters, he kept mine, too (the friendship was forged before the WWW wave).

Then, as if it was conspired by someone above, I received an SMS from him. We saw each other once, in a reunion. Oh, we cried rivers, laughed barrels, drank tankards, violated promises to quit smoking, and jammed the night away, howling out our tone-deaf versions of our favorite songs, with music from a beat-up guitar and his frat brother’s second-hand drum kit.

We discovered that we have different dreams now, and we are with people to love. He is engaged to be married to the sweetest person I know. I have Tata and Faith in my life.

It’s been thirteen years already.

And the friendship is still going strong.

***

Here’s to you, Netskie. May the road grow ever long before you, the strings of your guitar be tuned, and music fill your soul.

As always,

Mikwa