Month: September 2008

The Warrior Marco Antonius Johanus

The arena was already cleared of the blood and gristle of the last fight between gladiators; dust settled on the empty booths. The spectators have gone home, satiated by yet another deathmatch between those who were condemned to fight — where only one emerged with his life spared and the other unfortunate, at day’s end, was carrion for the waiting vultures.

 

In the coliseum’s dungeons, a silent celebration took place. The moss-covered walls served as witness as each gladiator partook of a goblet of wine raised in honor of the one who lived. There was no fanfare, as gaiety and mirth were unknown in the dimness of the dungeons, where fighters — strong men and women though they are — were still subject to the whims and evil designs of the Usurper Princess Catatonia.

The one who lived, Marco Antonius Johanus, sat in the shadows. He has not changed out of his bloody rusty mail shirt, and the stench of blood from himself and from his fellow gladiator, who was now at peace with the gods, rose from his body like acrid perfume.  Continue reading

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Hypergraffiti

My apologies to those who might have dropped by over the past few days and discovered that the Broken Coffee Cafe was closed.

I had been tidying up a bit, as you may have noticed over the course of several days when this site’s themes changed almost every minute. I have not yet decided on the final “feel” of the Cafe and will still surely change the one that you see here (currently where the header is a forest with a lone butterfly). I hope you will bear with the dust and the thumps and the bumps until such time that the site will be presentable enough.

As our good government says,

This is where your taxes go.

Or at least, a percentage of your taxes.

I just have a confession to make.  It’s been a while since I did something drastic [the last time was some months ago when I got a haircut that made me look like a younger version of Fanny Serrano]. Over the last few days, I had considered closing down the Cafe and creating another blog centered on attrition rates, the joys of trail biking on weekends, hard-to-pronounce gourmet dishes, and the benefits of having an insurance premium while one is still 14 years old.

But insanity prevailed and I decided to chuck the project plans for a blog that I had planned to call “Tales of the Insurance-Toting Biker Chick Gourmand (we rock HR!)”. It was meant to be hosted by another blogging platform with monetizing features.

Moreover, last weekend, I updated my psychological know-how and had come across the term “hypergraphia.”

Old friend Wiki defines hypergraphia simply as “an overwhelming urge to write.” From the looks of it, that is not so bad. However — yes, there is always a catch –it can be caused by epilepsy and/or the manic stage of bipolar disorder.

Honestly, I got scared. What if all the writing I’ve done, especially in the Broken Coffee Cafe, is just a manifestation of my mania? I know (and I rap on wood as I say this) that I do not have epilepsy, but the urge to write comes to me even in the middle of the night, at times when I am at work, or at some other time that I am doing something else pleasurable and otherwise. And this is my secret that I didn’t have time to create a postcard for and send to Postsecret: Since I was fourteen, I got to toting a notebook with me and a trusty pen wherever I roam, just in case the Muse came calling. The notebook-and-pen tactic safeguards me from writing stuff on leaves or on dirt or carving prose (no matter how bad) in stone just to satiate the urge to write write write.

I got scared because I have a suspicion that my neurosis is not way below the statistical baseline. If you, dear reader, have read through the roller coaster emotions of my past posts from October 2006, you’ll get the idea that I am not one stable blogger. This here Broken Coffee Cafe is the product of one authentically bordeline deranged Feyoh.

And so I closed down the Cafe to see if the urge to write will abate.

Well, it didn’t. My hand itched to scrabble out words to tell the world of plans to alleviate the human condition, to finally answer what life means, to write write write.

So I got scaredier. And the Cafe remained closed, far from my grasp (and far from the prying eyes of those Unimaginative Shoemakers).

So I got scarediest.

Well, at first, that is.

Coz, you see, I’m writing again.

Come by anytime soon for updates. I still owe Nilroz a treatise on the comparative study of the thrivability rate of tarsiers and those human subspecies called copyeditors when removed from their natural habitat.

Mania be damned. I live for this s#%t, so says one Xander Cage, and I quote him here.

As for those Unimaginative Shoemakers, why! Welcome to the Broken Coffee Cafe. Feel free to look around.

I Have Dis.ease

This post may sound as if I am proselytizing.

Dis-ease is the soul’s way of telling us that up ahead, the road forks and it is again time to choose which path to take.

At crucial times in our lives, be it in relationships that we have forged, current jobs, economic and social standing,  we are stricken with dis-ease. It is our internal altimeter that tells us that it is time to mature, to grow up to another level, or to reach out to the blessings that would be had if we tread the path closest to our hearts.

Symptoms that occur when an individual is stricken with dis-ease are as follows:

  • General feeling of dissatisfaction
  • An “If I were in charge/If it were up to me I could…” mentality
  • Depression
  • Feeling of frustration over a situation
  • Disdain for the people/situation in your surroundings
  • Daydreams of living a “different” life from the one you are living now
  • Gravitating toward a certain lifestyle/outlook/principle.

These symptoms provide the key to the path we must take at this junction.

The symptoms of dis-ease disappear when the individual makes a decision — overcoming fears and a false sense of comfort that everything will be permanent — and actually acting on that decision. It usually means that the individual has acted on the decision by departing from what has been familiar, what was comforting.

Still, with the Creator’s greatest gift of free will, an individual could decide to wallow in the dis-ease. We could actually choose to walk back from where we came from — the other way — and continue being who we are and what we are, surrounded by what is comforting, familiar, and limiting. Thunder bolts would not fall down from the sky anyway.

In time, the dis-ease symptoms will fade and the dreams that call from our hearts will be hazy. In time, we forget, and we look with annoyance at those who seem impulsive and assertive because they are fools who follow the messages given to them in their sleep. Life is duty, after all, where the goal is to find stability and social recognition.  And why should others waste it by going after dreams?

However, as early as now, this should be taken to heart: in order for one to mature, s/he must be stripped raw and be exposed to the ravaging elements of life. Then, weatherbeaten, her/his hide would be stronger, a shield against the lances of the impending war s/he has to face up ahead.

I write this down because a year ago, I had chosen to wallow in dis-ease. Is it already too late to choose another path?

 

 

[image courtesy of http://rottenfruit.madisondevelopment.nl]

Update #2: Wimpykitty’s Last Day

Life was all quiet, but the ripples of dissatisfaction are ever present. Three years and three weeks later, the Wimpy Kitty threw down her tasseled elf’s hat and, in a burst of courage, went to the lair of one of the Unimaginative Shoemakers, where, in a low voice so that others would not overhear, she asked for her freedom.

The Unimaginative Shoemaker pulled out a tattered dusty ledger from a termite-eaten shelf. She blew off the three-year old layer of dust on the cover, opened it and thumbed through the entries listing all of Wimpy Kitty’s contribution to the Shoe Factory.

“Ah, Wimp,” she began in her creaky squeaky voice. She never called Wimpy Kitty by her complete name as a way of reminding my friend that she was just an elf tasked to make shoes in the factory. “It shows here that you have produced 9,000,001 pairs of shoes over the three years that you have been an elf. That is equivalent to seven chests of doubloons.”

Still, thought the Wimpy Kitty. After those years, my earnings could fit into one small coin purse. Wherever does the Shoe Factory use all those gold coins for? She surveyed the surroundings of the Shoe Factory that she could glimpse from the mouth of the Unimaginative Shoemaker’s lair. The area where the Wimpy Kitty had worked for the last three years was visible from where she sat; it was a raised platform of shored up scraps of wood. Pieces of leather, gold tassels, purple sequins, glops of glue and heaps of glitter lay on a bare wooden table. Rusty scissors, small wooden mallets, and spools of recycled thread sat inside a wicker basket. Wimpy Kitty looked up and saw the tin roof that leaked torrents when the rains came. Wherever does the Shoe Factory use all those gold coins for? She  thought once more.

“Where would you want to go, Wimp?” the Unimaginative Shoemaker asked. “Could there be a better life waiting for you outside the gates of this exalted Shoe Factory? You know that the Factory is the lifeblood of this island.” Her oddly opaque red eyes bore through Wimpy Kitty, almost melting her resolve.

“I shall be -” Wimpy Kitty began but stopped short, her thoughts threatening to shut down. After all, three years ago, the people of Black Island never really had any source of livelihood. When they wanted jobs to support their families, the citizens of Black Island usually had to cross the turbid sea to get to the Island of Grease or to the Big City of the Lost, where they spend months and years of loneliness so they could send a pittance to their families to buy rice and fish for their tables back home. Then, the Shoe Factory came, offering the people of Black Island the opportunity to become elves and to stay with their families. The people were overjoyed and thankful that here was, finally, a source of livelihood. The young and the old alike pinned their hopes on the jobs that the Shoe Factory offered. They realized almost too late that people lose their souls and their innate ability to dream dreams for themselves once they become elves. They are lulled by a false sense of comfort — that in the Shoe Factory, even with the direst conditions, at least, they have their jobs.

But Wimpy Kitty’s courage returned when she remembered all those who sickened and died. She remembered those who made escape plans and succeeded, only to return, broken, beaten by a bigger world in the City of the Lost, knocking on the doors of the factory begging to be let in again but have instanly gone insane the moment the tassled hats were placed on their heads once more.

She said in a firm voice, “I have found my pasture.” She already perfected her escape plan. She has sent a message in a bottle, asking for help, and it has finally reached the hands of someone who could. By October of this year, Wimpy Kitty will be teaching kids in a school set on a cliff overlooking a river and a valley verdant with giant ferns and big boles of anahaw. Yes, it is in the mountains. The mountains with wide open spaces, flowing river, and green meadows. No shifting schedules. No work on Saturdays and Sundays. No enforced overtimes. Best of all, she will be helping kids learn their ABCs.

And there was nothing that the Unimaginative Shoemaker can do. She closed the dusty ledger, and with her red eyes still boring through Wimpy Kitty’s soul, she said, “I shall tell the guards to lower the drawbridge on the date of your departure.”

 

 

 

[images courtesy of www.crobike.de (for the hat) and of www.slantmouth.com (for the dead elf). The castle shown is Conwy castle in North Wales constructed by Edward I ca. 1283; image courtesy of www.conwy.com]

Tomes of My Fathers

Let’s see… It’s already been two months and three days since I’ve become a roomer in a boxlike 6 meter square cave near the Shoe Factory. And I am still unhappy as a bee taken off her Prozac prescription.

And this unhappiness is brought to you by the constant yo-yoing of oil prices and the all-time-high inflation in the market. I’m not blaming the president though. She has so much on her plate already. If I were running a nation where the average woman’s head scrapes the 5-foot measure, I would surely have serious self-esteem issues. But that’s my personal politics, and I beg you to ignore that. 

There is no relief from this escalating madness, and we might as well chomp on the bit for a little longer. I have a new mantra now: “For all things, give thanks.” Hmmm. It keeps me sane with all that’s been happening. But I’m willing to bet that my blood pressure’s escalated again, keeping up with the trend.

Still we say, as cliche as it may sound, that life goes on.

Well, I was home in the Tropical Jungle over the weekend and whiled the 36-hour reprieve from the boiler-room heat of the cave in the lowlands by coercing my old buddy, the washing machine, to spin and soak/soak and spin my laundry while I watched a pirated copy of Journey to the Center of the Earth 3-D and, at the same time, tied old books in bundles.

About those books… my family had those old and musty tomes as far as I could remember. Most bear the mark of the passing years: yellowed pages, insect-nibbled edges, termite-gutted bibliography and index sections (my mother would raise hell when she finds out), waterstains, coffee stains, ketchup stains, scribbles on the margins, highlighted sections, squashed bugs between pages… They’ve encroached all available space in my cottage. Some are languishing in our makeshift library where they get to be the accommodating beds to several generations of woodland mice. I’ve stacked paperbacks and hardbound first editions in every possible nook and cranny; some have begun falling on unsuspecting souls’ heads when things get dull in the house.

But I just can’t throw them away. Would you do that to your 70-year-old grand aunt who taught you to read, to bake cookies and to douche? Okay, I don’t douche. But the point is, would you throw things out if they helped shape how you look at the world? So I endure and put up with the mustiness; every once in a while, I get a fit of the cleaning bug, and I spend a day bundling stacks of these well-loved warped bound sheaves for a reshuffle of their storage places. An aside: I learned the Greek alphabet through my great grandfather’s lexicon, and I could read some words in the language if you’re willing to bet. Sometimes, for nostalgia, I pull out our tattered copy of The Church of Our Fathers, a really ancient book that may already be out of print — one of my mother and father’s textbooks in the seminary — and look at the the woodcut illustrations of how the Christian church was founded. Those pictures scare me. Image montage: blood, gristle, violence, the burning times, the Inquisition, pregnant popes, homicidal landgrabbing bishops… but it’s just my paranoia so I ask you to ignore that. Just please don’t conclude that my childhood was one unhappy mess. It wasn’t… partly.

This weekend, I stashed some editions under the stairs, away from the leaking roof. Some found a new home beside the clothes shelf. At least, there are no termites this time of the year to get at them.

When my 36 hours in the mountains were up, I rode down to the cave with my clean clothes crammed into a bag, far far lonelier but not yet beaten.

I have a backup plan:

You know, when I win the Aegean Lottery, part of my winnings will be used to rehabilitate all those books in a humidity-controlled chamber, complete with a restoration area and carbon-dioxide-minimizing technology. And it shall be housed in a chrome and steel edifice that I shall call bibliotek.

Here’s to making our dreams into realities.

 

[image courtesy of www.bbc.co.uk]

The Lady of Samarkand

This is my friend the Wimpy Kitty

on a regular workaday crunch.

Well, take a professional makeup artist in the person of Mark Duran, Wimpy Kitty as a model, and myself as the photographer, then maybe, something will come out of it.

This is my friend Wimpy Kitty last Friday after Mark got his hands on her last Saturday (September 6):

For the curious, head on over to my Multiply site for the photos of that Saturday.

Or, for those who cannot access Multiply, head on over to the Earth Cauldron for a preview.

Doing a photo shoot was a first time for both Wimpy Kitty and myself. One thing was certain: it was a lot of hard work — contortions and all. But in the process, we had fun.

Meantime, enjoy the pics.

Ciao. 🙂