Month: August 2008

The Ghostbusters Missed This One

I’m banishing the past by shovelling down my gulllet half a dozen Takuyaki balls one after the other and following it up with lemon-flavored ice tea to wash off bits and pieces of Takuyakis too reluctant to leave my esophagus. I do this instead of drowning myself in megaliters of booze to drive off the ghosts that haunt me.

Backtrack to a few hours ago; be warned that rants are included in the next few paragraphs.

My brain has been anesthetized by yet another technical paper that spoke of recording the direction of wind-caused erosion in the Appalachian mountains for the good of humanity and for future reference just in case a subdivision will be built there and the developers would be interested to know how much to pay for real-estate insurance. Thought provoking to some degree, I guess. But the collaboration of non-English-speaking authors who did not bother to hire even a 6th grader to edit their work for coherence and sense left me wondering if all the world’s technology are thought up by people who can’t string together a set of sentences that would be readable. I admit; I have days of nasty subject-verb disagreements, and most of my sentences are pocked marked with dangling modifiers, misspellings, syntax errors, misplaced punctuations, etc. But hey, I have not yet submitted something for publication in any scientific magazine that would be thought of as the last word in references. I’d turn green if someone else caught my error if, let’s say, on discussing the rotation of the Earth around its orbit I state that:

Earth rotation be much significance to weather climate-change. Sun be reference to patterns to harvesting, to the climes peoples chart patterns in day to-day activities and seasonal varying to making their life adapts to changes in aspects to weather changing. The authors in past works discussed climate-change to vary with. In time, peoples making all forecast in conditions with processor processing Earth distance in orbit to sun.

I would faint if this is my work. That, ladies and gentler men, ought to give you an idea of the 60-page piece of literary contribution I had to tangle with this morning. But, demmit! I love my job!

So, there I was, already close to frustration. Sometimes, when I feel frustrated, my throat would act up. This morning, it did. I felt my windpipe itch as if I swallowed some sand. I started coughing and had to go to the bathroom to cough with no holds barred. I tried drinking warm water to soothe my throat but still, the coughing persisted. No choice. I had to go out from the cubicle farm to buy mints. Hopefully, my throat wouldn’t act up afterward.

I headed to the cafeteria, trying to calm my throat with deep breaths; I needed it because I was frustrated with the Sino-Franco collaboration of my manuscript that wasn’t making any sense. Mints, mints, I chanted to keep the coughing at bay.

Then, the unthinkable happened. Fates dusted off a ghost sitting in the darkest corner of my memory and threw it right at my path.

There were people in the cafeteria at the hour — job applicants waiting for interviews or exams. I was still counting my breaths when my gaze settled on one of the loiterers in the canteen. There, on one of the plastic seats, smiling with a perfect set of teeth was the last person I wanted to see if Armageddon was nigh. I choked.

Let’s just say that I spent over half a decade of my life with this person and in the end, things didn’t work out for us. There were areas where there weren’t any closures. Oh, that’s actually the truth.

Upon seeing him, friends and neighbors, scenes from our breakup were supplied by my agitated dura mater — must’ve thought that it would distract me from the manuscript I was struggling with.

Then, and then, the man came up to where I stood paying for my mints. “Hi, how are you doing? I never thought I’d see you here,” he said, still smiling.

I resisted the urge to pick up the cover of one of the metal catering trays containing the cafeteria’s specials for the day and whack it across his smiling face. I told myself to be civil… it has been over years and years ago, when I was still barely sane and sober.

It actually worked. My breathing returned to normal. I managed a smile and even offered him mints when I initially considered committing homicide with the metal tray cover. Without prompting, he informed me that he has applied, and was accepted, as an elf in The Shoe Factory. And he informed me that he was in Manila when I was also there months ago but too bad that I didn’t go to see him where he was (why would I care?). I bade him goodbye, telling him that I had work to do. On my way back to the cube farm, I cursed the high attrition rate in the company that cause the Unimaginative Shoemakers to continually hire new people. I cursed HR for making it easy for him to pass the exams (come to think of it, he’s brilliant in the brains department). I cursed the island for being so small that it was inevitable that I’d bump into someone I know or knew every after three passersby.

Hyacinth was in the bathroom and I had to share the news. She listened to me rave at the Fates, afraid that I was close to having a nervous breakdown.

After a few moments, I managed shut up but I was still roiling inside. I never realized that I had never let the anger dissipate over those years. It took an article from hell and a sore throat to uncork all those bottled anger over something that happened when I was feckless and reckless that resulted in so much guilt feelings for me. I attempted to work again but the words just float before me in a messier stew of incoherence to the ninth power.

The hours to off time seemed to take longer to be over. I was assaulted again by memories. I cringed at some of them. Tracer, sitting next to me, must have sensed my unease. “Difficult shoe?” he asked. I just nodded. He left it at that.

Off hour saw me dashing off to take shelter in the boarding house, to sleep off the nightmare.

Maybe, just maybe, the Fates knew I needed this challenge. To finally face my past and cull the truth from all the rancid lies. Then maybe, just maybe, I will be free to face tomorrow with the knowledge that another mask has been shed.

Playing Domesticated

My stomach acids have reacted to something I ate in the office today. I know it was a gesture of goodwill, but nevertheless, the overgreasy empanada seemed to have some disagreeable effects on my constitution.

Did my introduction grab you by the throat? It has nothing to do with the following paragraphs, by the way.

I’m here again, holed up in a favorite cafe, whiling away the time until my mother’s plane lands. She’ll be here for a couple or so days for a conference with some colleagues. The last time we saw each other was more than a month ago when she came when I had the knee operation.

It has got me to thinking. In class, I was taught that living under the same roof — be it thatch, tile, GI sheet or plastic tablecloth — there could be two types of family: the nuclear and the extended one. The former could be recognized by the members who compose the family unit, and it usually just involved the mater, pater, and the spawns. Sorry, the househelp does not qualify; that is how discriminatory those civics and culture subjects were. But as I have no energy for rants about equality rights as of the moment, let’s allow that topic simmer in the backburner for the meantime. Meanwhile, the latter family type, the extended one, is usually composed of the members of the nuclear familia PLUS the smatterings of the relatives – anyone associated with the core people in the house, either through blood (consanguine) or by marriage (affine).

But my ma and I don’t live under the same roof. Haven’t had for, um, since I was sixteen and I hied off to Dumaguete for my B.A. in Anthropology that made me wish I took up dentistry instead. Still, as we share the same blood, we are unquestionably a family.

But…

Mind that although Ta and I have been together for years longer than the years Willie Revillame had been the host of Wowowee, we still haven’t tied the knot — not with Willie but with Ta. And the reasons will take too long to explain in this brief stint in this cafe that, instead, I shall be saving the story for a full-length novel.

In my tropical jungle home, I live with Ta. Sometimes Faith is there with us and we could pretend that she’s our own, then we get to be a nuclear family. Sometimes, too, Ta’s older sister Chuy would be there and she contributes to the pool of funds for the household expenses. So we become an extended family. We have dogs. And cats, over a thousand tilapia fingerlings, and a tribe of chicken lorded over by a mestizo rooster. The odd number of frogs or turtles comes to live with us depending on the food supply that can be had in our yard.

And I consider all of the above my family.

And maybe I am just plain weird. Or immoral. But it depends on who’s reading.

The issue of what is the basis of invoking the bonds of family (ABS-CBN does it unapologetically) bothered me that I looked up the meaning of the word F-A-M-I-L-Y at home, in dictionaries as old as the first edition of the Bible and got the definition as was taught my Mrs. Alcala or Somebody in my civics and culture. But lookit, friends and neighbors, there are some who have noticed the trend of how things are in the new century. Online, The Free Dictionary has this definition of the word that made my heart sing and made me feel that I still belong to the human civilization after all. Quoting definition #1b, a family is

Two or more people who share goals and values, have long-term commitments to one another, and reside usually in the same dwelling place.

And hey, there is no mention of children of the said people and there is the term “usually.” How apt, how… us.

The commitment thing rings true. And it’s not an easy feat to master, knowing that we both have nothing holding us back, no contracts and no vows made before people, country, and God and we could easily walk away, brush off the memories and separately start new lives somewhere far; each day uncovers the layers of our hidden insecurities and our selfishness and quirks and imperfections but, by sundown, we still want to be together.

There, writing that down clarified things for me.

Let me remind the morality police who might feel like commenting on this topic just now that I am not advocating for people who love each other to just live together under the same roof when they feel like doing so. There are reasons why our situation is such, as of the moment. Read my upcoming novel to understand more. And since it is still in the works, a little openmindedness on your part would not hurt one bit.

The Confession of a Con Artist

Forgive me for I have sinned. It’s been years since my last confession, told to an envious man hiding behind a latticed wall.
bound

bound

Sometimes, I feel that I could have excelled best by being a con artist.

I shall exorcise myself of a memory that has been haunting me for years. Travel with me back into the past.

Once upon a time, I was a victim of ostracism. You see, I was a student transferee from a highschool in far-flung Mindanao where my mother, as a church minister, was assigned when I was fourteen years old. I’m cutting the story short to save on computer rental in the Internet cafe, but suffice to say that when I was nearly sixteen, my family moved back to Manila and life in my new school as a senior was the bottomest circle of Dante’s inferno.

My only friend was the battered and worn notebook on whose pages I wrote random poems and snippets of conversations I overheard from all around me… conversations I wasn’t part of. My classmates have indomitable bonds with each other, they being together since freshman year. And because, to them, I was a promdi*, it added to the ostracism. They kept a wide berth from me (I could sob here and soak the keyboards but choose not to), isolating me in my corner of the classroom. The kinder ones tried to make small talk, but in a teenage world where cliques run one’s life, those kinder ones risked being isolated and excommunicated from their groups as well; so, those kinder ones were never really my friends. Nonetheless, they made life bearable in that infernal high school.

Today, when I watch teen movies, the memories of those senior years come back. The stereotypes, although blown to gross proportions in the movies, were identifiable in my old high school. There’s the “everybody’s crush” school jock, his girlfriend airhead popular girl with her constant sidekicks (usually two or three in almost identical clothes), a nerdy guy, a nerdy girl, the goths and laid-back ones, the stoners, the teacher’s pets. Even the terror math teacher was portrayed in the movies. And the loner, loser, newcomer me.

Thinking about it, that experience could’ve been one of the catalysts of my tendency to stay on the sidelines and watch the show unfold in front of me, allowing me the luxury to take down notes. That experience surely was the reason I have nothing to share when others discuss their prom nights. I boycotted the said “momentous” occasion in favor of a movie marathon in HBO, rather than be around kids who, in my opinion, had the collective conscience of a lamppost on a coastal highway.

just your normal high school life experience

just your normal high school life experience

Still, before the school year ended, I got my revenge.

I’ve planned it to a tee, having already ordered a set of hand grenades, TNT, and dynamites over the Internet using a stolen credit card number and under a false name. But my revenge took a different, less violent way when I finally exacted it.

The “cool” kids wanted a Christmas party other than the usual fruit punch and spaghetti and fried chicken in a styrofoam variety. And I was guilty of putting the idea in their heads of having an out-of-town party in one of the private resorts in Laguna — to stay there overnight and hold the party without any adults present to keep a check on the pheromone meter. I blurted the idea out of my desire to be accepted by the group. The popular girl squealed in delight and cast a meaningful look her boyfriend’s way. Even before the others could vote nay or yea, I knew what the outcome would be.

It was 30 to 2 in favor of yea. The two dissidents were immediately coerced to recant their decision and half-heartedly gave their assent after a private conference with one of the popular girl’s sidekicks.

The condition of the planned party was that no teachers should know. And that the parents should think that the out-of-town party is a chaperoned one.

The solution, I gave to them. They lapped it up like a fish to bait. For a moment there, I savored the feeling of how it is to be worshipped in awe. (Pathetic, I know.)

Kids who read this, one advice: DON’T DO THIS IN SCHOOL!

I told them to attend the school-required party but not spend so much. Just a simple early gathering of classmates with no exchanging of gifts portion, which was usual in high school Christmas parties. Contribute something for a teacher’s token so the class adviser would not be so miffed that her students are leaving the party early. The teacher didn’t have an idea that the entire class would be on its way to Laguna before lunchtime.

Regarding the parents, I took care of writing and printing out copies of a letter of permission for each of my classmates. The letter had an attached detailed whole-day activity schedule for the pre-Christmas spiritual life workshop held in Laguna. It was even signed by the class president, who was one of those gung ho for the party (she was, after all, the girlfriend of the school jock).

That year, the class adviser of Fourth Year Lemon** experienced the blandest Christmas party held in her three decades of teaching in that high school. The compensation was the Burberry bag she got from her students as a present for the Yuletide season. It was an orginal, although bought on sale from one of the malls in the city.

Then, Laguna opened her doors to the thirty or so unchaperoned minors. We found a townshouse securely enclosed in a high fence and a strong gate. There was an olympic-sized pool in the yard. Three bedrooms plus nooks and crannies. A kitchen, a bar, a patio, a shower room, and a toilet. We rented it out for the entire night.

When the caretaker closed the gate after him, the party started. Someone brought wine and champagne. Beer bottles and various other liquor products materialized out of bags. Someone else had a boom box, and there was suddenly trance music pulsating and reverberating all over the place. There were couples entwined in the nooks and crannies. The three bedroom doors were locked; the occupants inside were oblivious to the knocks of those who were outside.

this was how the party looked like after a few hours

this was how the party looked like after a few hours

The pool was full of kids. Alcohol and pool water mingled in joyous abandon.

I looked at the happy drunken faces of my classmates. I brought them here. Bacchus would be proud of me.

I chain smoked through it all while seated on a lounge chair. My notebook took the brunt of my cigarettes’ ashes.

Midnight came, and the popular girl came up to me, her dazed boyfriend in tow. “This is the best party ever! You’re the greatest!” She hugged me and kissed me on the cheek. Her boyfriend tussled my hair as if I was his favorite cousin and we’ve known each other since kindergarten. I must have smiled. (Pathetic, I know.)

The noon of the next day found us packing up. We were homeward bound. Some kids came up to me and gave me high-fives. Others taught me their class handshake. Others tussled my hair or gave me a pat on the back. One of the laid back guys who belonged to a band sat beside me on the bus headed for Manila. He commented that we do something like that again for graduation and asked for my number. (Pathetic, I know.) In the bus, I distributed “lecture” handouts about the workshop for my classmates to show to their parents, just in case mom and dad inquired how it went.

When the school opened after our Christmas vacation, there were classmates who sat with me during lunch. And life was easier all the way to graduation day. We share a bond now, it seemed.

The first thing I did after I got home from Laguna was cancel my Internet orders for the TNTs.

My confession ends here.

*promdi = a denigrating slang term for people who come to the city from provincial orgins; “from the province”.

**name of class section was changed to protect privacy of those involved

[images courtesy of www.salem-news.com (pic of handcuffs), of www.independentcritics.com (a scene from Not Another Teen Movie), and of www.dailymail.co.uk (an outdoor rave)]

I Need Sleep!

by John McCrady (1911–1968) [oil glaze over tempera on canvass]

"I Cant Sleep" by John McCrady (1911–1968), oil glaze over tempera on canvas

There’s no sleep for the weary.

There are boogeymen under my bed.

And they scratch the baseboard beside the double decker bed and thump about, whisper gibberish in coarse voices, and poke and pull my hair just as I begin to fall asleep. Maybe it’s their intention that I should not get any sleep at all. I guess they’ve managed to sneak into Morpheus’ laboratory and gagged and bound the poor thing so that nobody would be getting any snooze at all. They’ve even conspired with my mutinous muses (perhaps bribing them with all the cakes and candies I’ve deprived them in an effort to cut down my calorie intake) to conjure images of storylines and plot twists for some of my attempts at writing stories. I tossed and turned and turned and tossed.

Dogs were growling and howling outside, and I deluded myself into thinking that it’s mating season for the canines.

I tried to entirely cover myself with a blanket. But I’m claustrophobic. Hyperventilating, I switched to having the blanket about my cold feet.

Experience taught me that when the room suddenly gets cold (I’ve turned off the fan), somebody is there in spirit. Okay, it was really, really cold last night and raining outside, too. And I’ve watched The Sixth Sense dozens of times.

But really, I couldn’t sleep at all. I got down from the top bunk, groped for the light switch, and hunkered over to the table where I left some draft for a story. Nope, I shall not tell what it is about just yet. I channeled the mutinous muses, and, pen in hand, allowed them free reign on blank paper. At about two in the morning, with a substantial amount of scribbles, my exhaustion just overcame every bit of my thinking process. I must get some sleep.

I swore at the boogeymen, the muses, the room-temperature-altering spirits, and the half-formed images of the characters in the draft. They all dissolved at the cussword, totally disgusted with my uncooperative nature and my vulgarity. The dogs I spared from my expletives.

Nevermind. At least, I was left with a degree of peace and quiet and the prospect of half a good night’s sleep. That I had, until at about six in the morning when the fishwives, in their morning bath, started gabbing by the water pump.

The morning found me here, in this Internet cafe, where I’ve taken refuge from the noises and creepies and crawlies that hounded me in the night.

I shall put a wooden cross by my bed tonight. For what it’s worth.

[image courtesy of the Morris Museum of Art]

Today’s Special: Broken Coffee Cafe Apartment Fried Chicken

Enough of the blind items for now.

I am feeling peckish today, so allow me to lead you as we traverse the more pleasurable alleys of gustatory delights. Today, just for today, I will share with you a recipe I came up with while still staying  alone with a pit bull and a mongrel dipped in the Japanese spitz genepool in an apartment right by the side of a highway where at nights, car drivers loved to drag race.

Actually, it’s my take on my favorite comfort food, the humble fried chicken.

It was still during my college days. I remember that it was during midterms week that company was coming one evening and I had nothing to serve for dinner. I think I promised them fried chicken or something, but with my “hectic” college schedule, I wasn’t able to marinate, in the night before, some chicken for frying. The boiling process recommended here is done to speed up the chicken’s absorbing capacity of the marinade, as the guests were scheduled to be calling in three hours’ time — which was also the time I was trying to clean up the living room to make it look presentable and banishing my dogs to the second-floor bedroom.

I leafed through my dusty memory for the recipe for chicken that’s tender and bursting with citrusy freshness on the inside while crispy crunchy on the outside.

Here’s how you go about it, in case you are in a bind with company coming over for dinner in, say, two hours’ time. Otherwise, you can marinate the chicken overnight, omitting the precooking process.

Take 12 slices of chicken thighs and/or drumsticks. Precook in a pot of water but don’t overdo the boiling; just be sure that the bloodiness is gone and the flesh is still intact and not falling off the bone and your chicken’s good to go. Drain and set aside while you prepare the marinade.

In a deep bowl, drop five finely chopped garlic cloves and one teaspoon of ground pepper in half a cup of Worcestershire sauce, two cups of soy sauce, one-fourth cup of calamansi juice, and two tablespoons of brown sugar. Mix under brown sugar is dissolved. Place chicken; make sure that each slice is well immersed in the marinade. Cover and place in the refrigerator for an hour or two, agitating or turning once in a while to get an even coating.

When the time’s up, drain the chicken and save the liquid. Ensure that the slices are dry enough for the coating. You don’t want to end up with a gooey mess that absorbs more oil that all those high-tech equipment corporations are using to clean up their oil spills in oceans all over the world.

For the coating, you need a cup of flour, no sifting necessary. Place in a plastic bag together with two teaspooons of ground pepper, two teaspoons of chili pepper (optional), a couple of teaspoons salt, and two tablespoons of powdered milk. No, breastmilk cannot be a substitute.

Drop the chicken pieces, one piece at a time, into the flour bag. Shake for an even coat.

Heat oil (deep-frying measure) in pan, and when the temperature is right, drop, again, one piece at a time, the chicken pieces into the pan. Make sure that the pan does not get crowded. Brown chicken on both sides, about three minutes each side. Take out from pan and lay on paper towels to drain off excess oil. Do likewise to remaining chicken pieces. (Take your time here, as the guests will still have to settle down after exploring items of interest all over your house. The smell of cooking food is an assurance that they will be fed in good time, so they would not worry that you are not there to entertain them as they try to figure out your toenail collection.)

Serve with hot rice or mashed potato and gravy.

Remember the marinade? You can boil a cup of it to serve as dipping sauce, replacing the ketchup or gravy.

Bon appetit.

The Tale of Queen Mongobonggo (all hail the bonggo!)

My landlady had her player blaring arias when I left the boarding house moments ago. The yowl of the tenor escorted me out of the gates, and I sort of regretted that I could not wait till the crescendo, but I bear distressing news about The Shoe Factory and how things have made an ugly turn to Battle Royale mode so I have to post this.

I shall share this little tale to describe things:

Long ago, Queen Mongobonggo (all hail the bongo) of the Dimdim Tribe managed to fool the Great Gods and convinced them to proclaim her queen over all Sageland. The Sages in Sageland are all-respectful and all God-fearing citizens, and therefore, they did not question the decision of the their Gods and accepted Queen Mongobonggo (all hail the bongo) their queen.

Now, Queen Mongobonggo (all hail the bongo) has an unripe sour pineapple for a heart and a Dimdim-witted mentality to boot. She wanted the Sages in Sageland to suffer because they have real hearts that bleed, while she has unsweetened pineapple juice flowing through her aorta. She conscripted all Sages to hard labor, making them work days and through nights, not allowing them to sleep. Sleeping is equal to days in isolation in the Thorny Desert, chained to a cactus plant that offers no shade. Those punished will have no water or food for the period of isolation.

Try as they might, the Sages could not go on for many days without sleep. Some sickened. Some sneaked out during labor hours in the dead of the night to catch a few precious winks. Some were already dying because of sleep deprivation. But those “violators” were caught and, hence, punished; those who sickened were not allowed reprieve and were still forced to work. Those dying ones were buried alive in unmarked graves at the edge of the village.

But the Sages, God-fearing and all-respectful citizens that they are, could not question nor could raise complaints about the decision of their Gods nor the impositions of Queen Mongobonggo (all hail the bongo).

Then a prophecy came. One of the Sages had a dream. In his dream, Queen Mongobonggo’s (all hail the bongo) cruelty has caught the attention of the Gods. It will only be a few days until she will be struck down with a thunderbolt. And all citizens of Sageland will celebrate her demise with goblets of piñacolada.

All hail the bongo!

An Update from the Cave

Just so the public may know, I am on the way to recovering my equilibrium. In my latest trip to and from my beloved tropical jungle home to visit my tribe and procure neccessities for my cave near the  Shoe Factory, I did manage to lug the following down from the mountains:

  • a bagful of books, mostly of the spy thriller variety cooked up by Mr. Ludlum
  • a guide to being a tightwad, The Tightwad Gazette II
  • an old issue of Vogue
  • four dictionaries: regular English, mispronounced and misused words, American slang, and Oxford’s dictionary on euphemisms. Why four? Honestly, I don’t know
  • a batik painting from my beloved uncle Zio
  • a table cloth
  • clothes hangers
  • masking tape
  • thumbtacks
  • scarves. For what is a world without scarves?
  • empty chocolate tin cans for my sugar and coffee.

The sight of familiar things really did wonders to my flagging sanity. I found out that I can again smile upon waking up.

Things are shaping up rather nicely.

I shall be using my spare time to blog and practice Haitian voodoo.

[Note to self: Bring sewing kit next time around.]

A Sore Monday

I am thinking of ways by which to dominate the world while a bag of newly purchased groceries is wedged between my feet, for fear that I’d forget and just leave my week’s ration of noodles and, hoohay something new!, instant curly spaghetti and no-cook just-add-boiling-water soup on the internet cafe floor when I get up and go home. Mmmmm! My jaded salivary glands just water at the thought of another MSG and sodium overload.

Apologies to all who drop by and see that I haven’t written anything insane for some time now. There’s the situation in The Shoe Factory, where everything passes through the newly installed pirated version firewall. The fear of being suspended from work for three to five days without pay grips my heart each time I key in www in the address bar of my browser. IT’S THAT BAD, boys and girls! Someday, furtive glances would not be allowed anymore, and we elves will be required to look each other squarely in the eye so that the Host of Unimaginative Shoemakers are assured that we are not cooking up ways of dominating the world while stuck for a quarter of the day in the dreariness of the factory and that our glances mean nothing else than attempts at flirting with the cute guy two rows away. Sorry. I must recant that. But then again, dang and tarnation! I do blog in the office… sometimes. And another thing is that I am still feeling wretched and lonely that I can’t bring my carcass out of coma to head off to an internet cafe with a bit of decent connection. I can’t, really can’t.

But something has got to give. Addictions are really hard to banish, so says a crack peddler to his new protege. I’m here now, clacking away like a deranged… clacker.

This is how it came to be:

I finally escaped the suffocating heat of my boarding room and rode the mini-jeep (I shall not call it easyride too often, as the word conjures images of highly impregnable females in my already malicious mind) to the city after rolling around in the upper deck that I’ve transformed into bed and getting nothing out of it except the feeling that I am a limpid lumpiang sariwa drenched in garlic sauce.

In the city, I marvelled at the pace of everything… fast, blurred, and confused. People wore confused expressions on their faces. Or is it just me? It’s been three solid weeks since I walked around the downtown area and mingled with my fellow mortals. To acclimatize myself, I ate in my favorite carinderia while on half a shoestring budget and then proceeded to the grocery to stock up on semi-eatables for my daily subsistence in the boarding house.

Some people might think that I suffer needlessly from my diet of noodles and other curlicued carbohydrates and that I have a choice between eating a freshly cooked meal or bomb my system with all that sodium and gunk. Yeah. Let’s just say that I am a masochist.

After getting my groceries, the afternoon sun’s still high overhead. I’m loath to go back to the boarding house this early and was wondering if it would do me good to hang out by the boulevard. The last time I did, I got propositioned by a desperate soul for a two-hour stint in a nearby hotel/motel. I told the poor guy my sores* were still raw and I was off duty that day. I opted to stroll and window shop this time.

So walk I did. Then I came by rows and rows of internet cafe offering promos for their per-hour computer rental. Alrightee. The addiction has to be fed.

Here’s where I am right now. This is NOT in the office, that’s for sure.

And about my plan for world domination? I’ll keep it to myself. But it does begin with cartons upon cartons of instant pancit canton being unloaded on the docks of major city ports all over the globe.

___

*Kidding about the sores. Ask my physician.