Marcus Can Blog

Parenting and writing are the same — both are works in progress.

The Starbucks Planner Dilemma

Posted on | November 20, 2016 | No Comments

Some people by now have already started coming in and out of Starbucks stores. Some in a rush to complete their sticker booklets while some to redeem their own Starbucks planner. Well, not me but however late it may be, this time I seem to reconsider the idea. The dilemma ‘to planner or not to planner’ strikes once more.

That’s because I just realized that after a long time, this year appears to be the year when I should’ve had a planner of some sort.  Stuck in my car last Friday and having finished a heavy rice meal right after I parked at work three hours earlier than usual, I found myself pondering on things that have happened this year. Everything was overwhelming since 2016 started.

Events came in faster than I would have imagined. Marcus got his US visa against all odds; we transferred house on a tight budget and in a short timeframe; I unexpectedly got a new role at work; and everything else—good or bad—in between. It was like a smorgasbord served in front of me all at the same time and the no leftover rule applies. (Ah yes, not close to any Japanese buffet but it’s like the pack of lauriat I found in the backseat that my sister was supposed to take with her when I dropped her back in Alabang. Everything in the paper bag was cold by then but good enough.)

That Chowking meal made me last until the end of the day’s training. A training that had me cancel a vacation I planned long before I got myself in this new account, in this new culture. Oh, and a plane ticket to be rebooked in the process. I now owe wifey Php 6000 more.

So maybe yes I need a planner this time. Maybe I should start using one again to take note of schedules, list of people I need to meet (and avoid), and maybe to doodle while stressed in the parking lot. Assuming I spend a venti everyday until the 30th I think could still get it. But then again that’s almost 2000 pesos for a planner so maybe not—not until I start to realize that I actually need to plan an itinerary in the weeks to come. A cheap notebook seems more appealing for now.

From the PAL office to Acacia. We dropped by to say hi and take a dip in hotel’s pool.

***

Mood: 6/10 Honks! (Rebooking sucks.)

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A Bit Scary Bits

Posted on | November 1, 2016 | No Comments

Don’t let your fear paralyze you. The scariest paths often lead you to the most exciting places. – Lori Deschene

Hello 2016, you’re almost over. As we flip our calendars to November we also celebrate wifey’s birthday. This year though is a lot more special for today she reaches that phase when life they say begins–she’s now 40! We find it always funny that it happens at the very same time when everyone flocks to the cemeteries to pay respect to their dear departed. Anyway, happy birthday to you milove and may God bless you with better health and longer life ahead. For one, Marcus and I need someone to cook for us.

***

This is usually the week when scary stories and TV shows come around. I recall those years when we would get glued in front of Magandang Gabi Bayan’s Halloween episode but the fact that we now know videos can get manipulated has made me a lesser fan of any similar shows. Some current events news are much scarier lately–EJK, anyone?

***

Our compound was empty as everyone paid a visit to my sister-in-law’s grave so it’s just Marcus and I for several hours. After dropping off wifey at the cemetery, I briefly left Marcus in the tub and suddenly a shriek echoed. I rushed back to see Marcus staring not at a zombie but at a harmless spider on the wall. It made me recall wifey’s story about the other DMD mom’s observation that their sons too freak out at the sight of insects and spiders. Maybe it’s that feeling of not being able to run or at least walk away that makes them feel scared of those crawly creepers. Makes sense to me now.

***

Wifey has this weird habit of staying until the midnight to welcome her birthday but last night she fell asleep early–didn’t text her as I was on training. Hehe. Soon she felt someone shaking her. It was from someone with a pair of tiny cold hands. It was Marcus. Being a late sleeper, he waited for the clock’s two fingers to strike 12 so that he can greet her happy birthday. See it’s not all about scary stuff for today’s blog post. Sweet.

***

That quote on top by the way is from Twitter. Yup, about a year or so of hiatus I’m starting to check it out again. I feel I’m being called to report for keyboard warrior duty. Be scared.

I’m scary even without a mask. (Taken in Bacolod two years ago.)

***
Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Two days off.)

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A Gathering of Kids in Wheelchairs

Posted on | October 9, 2016 | No Comments

First meeting with the DMD Moms. (Picture posted with permission.)

In a matter of one week after we joined the FB group DMD Moms the meeting happened. On Saturday, October 8, a couple of members made it to Waltermart Makiling and it probably was one of the few times, if not the only time, this Kuya J resto location witnessed a meeting of kids in wheelchairs with their moms and dads.

Since we learned about our kid’s condition more than a year ago, this our first time to come face to face with other parents who have chosen to meet the challenge head on. These are parents, moms especially, who stared at their young boys’ dystrophy straight in the eye and commit to make the lives of their kids better against all odds.

It was a surprise that Marcus was relatively behaved. Days prior to this meeting he was so anxious, he has lots of questions. He also expressed that he plans to just wave, say hi, and shut up. But he didn’t. He interacted with almost everyone, parents and kids alike. There were some awkward moments though like when he cried when he saw the cooked shrimps—he doesn’t like to learn about animals being killed and cooked but he eats fried chicken. SSShhh. He also refused to answer some questions referring to our constant reminder not to talk to strangers. After some explanations, he got along well with the others.

We hope that this isn’t the first and the last meeting. Like any other conditions, it pays to have a support group, a group who perfectly understand what the others are going through and could possibly help one way or another. At least Marcus now knows that after all he is not alone and that he could actually have friends aside from those in school and his cousins. Kudos by the way to the crew of Kuya J for being accommodating and understanding. They even honored the individual PWD cards that we presented. Facility of this branch is also great besides tables that could have been much more wheelchair-friendly.

***

Picture was taken exactly a year ago at the gym where I used to workout.

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Wifey solved my network problem. Two heads are better than one.)

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Understanding the President

Posted on | October 6, 2016 | No Comments

This blog rarely contains political posts as I would avoid doing it as much as possible. I see such as one that usually contains rants and more often than not it is similar to any drunken social media post that anyone would regret the following day besides nurturing a bad hangover. But sometimes it has to be done on a whim especially when there is a challenge to do so.

In the recent days since I started being confined in a cold room at work–so cold I swear it feels like below freezing–with nobody else but one person I realized I am not totally introvert after all. I need to talk to someone, anyone, and so Facebook became the perfect place. My then dying MyPhone Rio didn’t deter me from answering “What’s on your mind?”

Little did I know that I would do more than just catching up with friends. I discovered that news and posts on my timeline has become more political. (There’s still a fragment of adults who continue to believe in copy-pasting hoax and requesting to type amen on comments but it’s another story.) Soon I would find myself getting so involved in the discussions.

I do not consider myself yellow, neither I’m a big fan of the current President who has continued to take an aggressive stand against the drug trade. I like this guy’s vision for the country but I don’t like his methods. Recently he and his loyal fans cry foul over the media that they accuse as biased, as an organization who openly take the President’s words out of context. Yesterday his allies crafted another defense. They called for everyone to open their minds and have a creative imagination so that the nation would understand our main guy. I heed the call so I made a pop quiz for my Facebook friends.

***

Pop quiz! How well do you know the guy. No cheating. #digong101

1. When he says “Go to hell”, does he mean:
A. Go home
B. Go to hell
C. Go to hill
D. A and B
E. None of the above. It’s just his bipolar ego talking.

2. When he says “For the life of me, I’d rather kneel before the king of Brunei or Thailand but I will never before the Americans”, does it mean:
A. He loves the King of Brunei.
B. He loves kneeling in front of the King of Brunei.
C. He was once a Brunei beauty in his past life.
D. He plans to one day kiss the King of Brunei.
E. A and B
F. B and C
G. A and D
H. All of the above
I. None of the above. It’s just the media getting him out of context.
J. An American once broke his heart.

3. When he says “… there’s three million drug addicts. There are. I’d be happy to slaughter them.” Did he mean:
A. He owns a slaughter house.
B. He will personally slaughter all these addicts.
C. He needs help to slaughter all addicts.
D. Not really all, it’s just a figure of speech.
E. It depends if he finds friends wrongly included in the list.
F. All of the above
G. None of the above. Blame the biased media.
H. F and G, depending on which bipolar trait is currently in control.

4. When he said he will “ride a jet ski while bringing the Philippine flag”, is it because:
A. He plans to show defiance and aggression towards China.
B. He plans to surrender the island with a Philippine flag on it like an icing on a cake.
C. It’s pure propaganda composed by a paid troll who is now likely part of the cabinet.
D. Our country does not have any decent boat he can use.
E. All of the above
F. None of the above. Misquoted.

5. When he swears, does he really say “F*ck you!”?
A. Yes, but it’s just a harmless expression because he was once poor.
B. No, PI is the preferred word because he is Filipino.
C. Nope, he does not swear. The media is only using bleep in the news to make him appear as if he swore.
D. A and B
E. Next question please.

6. When he said he will get rid of the drug problem within 3 months, does it mean:
A. Yes, 3 months only.
B. 3 months x 2
C. 3 months x 4 x 6 years
D. It depends as there are 3 million addicts.
E. Did he say that?

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Some light bulb moments could get us in trouble.)

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DMD Moms

Posted on | October 5, 2016 | No Comments

It was another well-deserved Saturday morning when a notification icon on my new phone shows a red number beside it. Sooner I realized it is from the Messenger app and when I opened it there were like 5-8 messages waiting to be read. Some more than a year old already, some from people I know, others from people I choose to continue to ignore. But there’s one that caught my attention the most. It was from someone I had a chat with more than a month ago using our laptop, she invited me to join their Facebook group. I would normally shy away from such invites but this time I eagerly agreed.

It was DMD Moms. As the name implies, the group is mostly composed of moms of kids with DMD just like Marcus. This is our second online contact with others who have the same case as we do. The first one was Muscle Dystrophy Philippines but DMD Moms seems more personal and active–one you would expect when you gather a group of chatty moms. That same day, I informed wifey about it and in no time she joined the group as well.

While being the latest members of the group, it didn’t take long before we see familiar stories. Stories of despair, stories of strength, stories of hope, stories of love and commitment. According to the one who invited me, the group has currently less than 30 members, us included. We also learned that some are located close to where we live so a meeting could soon happen and when it does, it would be the first time Marcus would meet someone who also has DMD. We are looking forward to it.

***

For the second time, I got a new phone courtesy of wifey. While I’m waiting for the MyPhone store to replenish its Rio batteries, wifey had secretly ordered something from Lazada. So here’s me with a new Flash Plus 2 which is more than enough to run my Kindle. Well, it made me discover the benefits of the Facebook  and Messenger apps. Oh, I tried some selfie while alone at work but camera didn’t make me look good. I wonder if there’s like Photoshop or the popular beautify setting like what most of my Facebook friends use. You’ll know when I found it. Out of the box, it’s a good phone so far.

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Pain on my right back is almost gone.)

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The (tough) challenge to turn minimalist

Posted on | September 18, 2016 | No Comments

My current focus has been on the path of being a minimalist. It’s not that I live a complicated lifestyle, full of stuffs to flaunt or experiences worthy of a Facebook or Instagram post. I’m not one of those but I feel that there are still opportunities to declutter and make my life simpler yet fuller—the basic philosophy of minimalism. Thankfully, the transition is made easier as there seems to be a trend and resources to face this challenge as what I have found mostly on Becoming Minimalist.

Do not be fooled though, for decluttering is a big word. It does not only mean disposing physical objects like decades of magazines, baby toys, used clothes, gadgets, etcetera, but it also means dealing with emotional burdens like grudges, lost opportunities and anxieties, whether due to attachments to things we cherish the most or for some other reasons, that hold us back from moving forward and achieving a life that’s less stuffy.

The need to face this challenge head on started to become more serious when we decided to transfer to another house. I was hit with a realization that we have things at home that have either never used or that we will never ever need. This despite giving away clothes regularly when we hear on TV about people needing some due to typhoon or fire. We’ve also given away some of our son’s old toys on trick or treat days or on Christmas seasons. Still it seems that those weren’t enough.

Except for movable things like the stand fan and a turtle in the basin, this area remains clear like on our first days. I have also blocked my wife’s plan to buy a stationary bike.

So when we eventually got settled in our current house, I made sure that more unnecessary stuffs will have to go—having no shelf or extra cabinet helped in the decision making. So far I have given away paperbacks that I once find hard to dispose due to sentimental reasons. Marcus has also agreed to say goodbye to some of his old McDonald’s happy meal toys and Duplos. Wedding gifts like tea sets, plates, glass bowls and the likes were also given away with wifey’s permission. Every one of us did our part in clearing the tangibles and make the house clean and wheelchair-friendly.

Some of the books that have once made me occupied in the parking lot have been given away. I’m now using Kindle.

Clearing the mind of anxieties, however, is a tougher enemy and is an ongoing battle. To let go of what-would/could-have-beens is often hard to shake off. While I have started to get used to look at Marcus straight in the eye when I reassure him that not being able to walk shouldn’t be a big deal, I would sometimes catch myself seeing images of him once walking naturally and him running around and enjoying an active life as an adult.  But maybe it’s the life that isn’t meant to be and acceptance means changing sail and let fate take its course.

Yesterday, during the homily the priest made the perfect reminder. He said that human as we are, we tend to easily forget that what we currently have are all temporary; worse, we become so selfish that we refuse to share to those that need the most. That was spot on.

I know that what I try to achieve in a world of consumerism and self-centeredness is a feat full of obstacles. The temptation to give in is always present so focus to the goal is key. Honestly, I do not know when I would achieve minimalism or if there is even such point, but I am willing to take on the challenge and see how far I could let go of clutters so as to live life as it should be lived.

***

This was tough parenting week for us. Marcus has been playing this online Minecraft game called Skywars. He claims that there are banable offenses like hacking and teaming up that results to him getting killed unfairly. When it happens he get so frustrated yet the more he wants to get even. And one frustration leads to another—me included. To prevent this from happening again, I uninstalled his Minecraft PC application in front of him and eventually his user account just to realize soon that I shouldn’t have done it. Anyway, it surprises me that he recovered sooner that I thought and it’s as if nothing happened to the game he loves the most. Maybe he would be a better at letting go than I would ever be.

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Letting go of my comfort job.)

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There is a Turtle in Us

Posted on | August 28, 2016 | No Comments

 

There is a turtle in all of us. Well, at least that’s how it now appears to be in our case.  More than a week ago my wife and I watched on Umagang Kay Ganda a segment wherein they featured turtles for pets and when we told Marcus about it, the next days that followed was filled with questions “Where do I get a turtle?”, “When can I have a turtle?”, and similar other questions with the word turtle in it.  So yesterday was the day we found and bought one and achieved peace. How happy was Marcus? We got a couple of goodnight hugs from him which rarely happens.

Rafael meets Raphael.

Somewhere in Bacolod, however, one was obviously not a big fan of turtles. Over the phone this morning, I told my mother the good news that we finally got a pet for Marcus. A pet that doesn’t have a fur that could trigger allergic reactions. But to confirm the suspicion I had since I was in high school, she immediately advised that the turtle shouldn’t be kept inside the house as people say it makes the life of anyone who has it slow. That flashed me back in time when I found one crawling in our backyard that I kept in our toilet while I try to find the right box for it. That turtle which was about the size of a saucer disappeared without a trace when I returned to check it. My mother said it must have escaped but our toilet had walls of slippery white tiles and a small window above five feet plus I knew I closed the door just before I left. I wasn’t given the chance to name the turtle Houdini.

To entertain my mother’s opinion on this innocent reptile and just to make that mother-knows-best notion true, my career path has been indeed a drag. Could be the effect of keeping, while briefly, a turtle or could be due to me being contented of what I have or could be due to the workplace environment where I am currently at. The safest to blame would be the turtle. Anyway, after years of trying to move on and positioning myself on the next step of the career ladder, I landed the job I least expected to get. It was turtle-pace movement but I’d take it. I learned about the good news just a day before our account celebrated its fifth year this weekend.

Oh, yes, Marcus named the turtle of course. It’s now called Raphael. It costs us 450 pesos to get it so we need to save before we get another of his cowabunga friends.

***

Among yesterday’s mall itinerary was to watch a movie and the perfect film on the day we get a new pet is no other than Secret Life of Pets.  It is about the story of what pets do the moment their busy owners step out of the door to resume their busy life in New York. As an adult I would say that this is among those many films with its trailer far more entertaining that the full movie itself but looking at how Marcus decided to stay put in his wheelchair—he gets an unimpeded view of the screen from the isle—instead of on my lap during the entirety of the movie tells me that he enjoyed it. And as usually the case, an animated film for kids is meant to be just that. For kids.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Expecting a long day with the turtle.)

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A Broken Car, A Happy Kid, and A Patient Wife

Posted on | August 23, 2016 | No Comments

Behind every absent employee is a happy kid and a worried spouse. – Me.

 

As our young boy puts it, ”Daddy, you have an extra  Saturday!” This he said  after  learning  that  I won’t be  able to  report to work because my car’s  air conditioner conked out on a high noon yesterday. This is why children,  no  matter how  annoying  they could  get, are  little  angels—or  clowns—who possess the ability  to make  us  smile  whenever  we  need to  have some. It wasn’t the extra Saturday I wished I had but there was no choice.

The car’s Pandora’s box. (Image from Honda.)

After having  nightmares  about car  repairs  and empty  wallets,  start  of the  day  today I faced my  fear head on. I went back to the aircon repair shop anticipating a long day ahead, another day of waiting for a Pandora’s box from the car’s hood to be spread its ugly surprise. But God must have heard our bedtime prayers and must have checked my bank account balance. The mechanic made a quick bypass of the compressor’s wiring and voila, cold air from the vents.

Returning home  a  lot earlier than expected,  I  found myself seated  across  wifey who was then  busy  with  her  regular  task of  cleaning Marcus’ Legos and other building  blocks. Besides being impressed  by her patience to  place everything back  in  order  despite  knowing that  it  would  be  a  matter of time when our young boy disassembles everything according to his own liking—which did happen—I noticed something that captured my attention. A nice Lego hack. There’s no need to wait for the next Mothers’ Day or Valentines’ Day to give compliment for this one little trick…plus the fact she paid most of the car’s repair.

Lego Hack, Lego Sword Rack

A sword rack using an 8 X 2 Lego piece.

***

This is the first time the car’s air-conditioning got busted. It was due to a loose compressor bearing that eventually resulted to the wheel grinding on the magnetic coil set. Repair costs us Php 6,000 plus. I might need more carpool passengers or those who could pay more.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (I was expecting to take public transpo for a week but I’m not.)

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Helping Prevent Suicide

Posted on | August 21, 2016 | No Comments

Suicide sucks. One way or another we know someone who ended his own life. They may be a family member, a relative, a friend, a co-worker,  or even a celebrity. Suicide is far worse than someone dying from an accident because it takes the lives of people close to us when in fact there could have been someone who could have done something to delay if not totally prevent it. People who die of suicide are those who needed support of someone. Someone who could have talked them out of the situation, someone with a clear state of mind who could have made them realize that life if far more precious than they think. Back in the days, lack of access to suicide hotlines or a close friend who is willing to listen and give advice would often be one of the causes of people ending their own life in such tragic manner.

The good news is that nowadays we have something powerful on our side. The social media. With its broad reach, such network of like-minded people ready to support a particular cause could positively impact or even save someone’s life. So when I read on Facebook about #22pushups for #22kill, as US-based campaign, I just know that this is something I can contribute to. I shunned the ice bucket challenge that went viral years ago but I recently heard that it wasn’t just all about the hype as it actually resulted to more awareness on ALS and for its research and support to progress. This is the same hope that #22pushups for #22kill aims to achieve. Clearly it isn’t the solution but it is worth the shot. So on a Sunday afternoon while Marcus’ cousins invade the house, I retreated in his red room and made my own 22 push ups. I ended with a flared nose but I am just happy to be part of it. As of this writing, the site’s counter is at 8 million push ups over the 22 million goal so make yours count now.

 

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (First time to see the form, need to go deeper.)

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Not All Light Bulb Moments Come Out As Bright Ideas

Posted on | August 15, 2016 | No Comments

Ever had one of those days when that bulb inside your head lights up and you believe that you just struck the best idea? Then you smile and feel good about yourself, you feel smarter than the rest. But sometimes, things do not come out as planned. It is not because you happen to be one of the regular joes who lack the resources to get your light bulb idea materialize. Even corporations who probably have the right research and development budget are not spared from such failures. Countless of seemingly promising products have flopped just because it missed to deliver its intended purpose.

A smiling plunger, anyone? (Image from Mentalfloss.com)

In July, besides Pokemon Go, another company revealed to the world their design of a toilet plunger that they think would be effective and at the same time make the task fun than it is supposed to be. I was already skeptic at the latter despite the product’s integrated poop shape and emoji-inspired design but I smirked more about it being effective. Called the Poo-Plunger, it promises to solve the crappy job of sending that thing down the drain in no time. The article says that the product’s designer are into crowdfunding to support the project. I salute their effort to donate some of the proceeds to charity but my fascination of their idea stops there.

Why such hatred? Well, we had a similar product at home. One of the links I marked as favorite was an article 18 Everyday Products You’ve Been Using Wrong which I read three years ago and when we finally transferred house I made sure that I buy the right toilet plunger. Marcus wasn’t a fan of drinking water so every now and then we would encounter that problem in the toilet. We’ve tried fibrous diet but we keep on being face to face with that thing. So I thought that maybe there’s a solution and I seem to finally have found the right tool. I was wrong.

The design is deceiving.

Theoretically the plunger should work.  Create a good seal, pump the plunger and let the air in its bellow send the hideous stuff down the drain. Simple, right? Yes, if and only if you get the thing pushed down in the first try. Miss it and you will soon realize that when you retract the plunger, everything that’s left is sucked back in the empty space of the plunger—think of an empty medicine dropper that you dip in a bottle. The gurgling sound it makes is nightmare material. The description ‘as scary as  shit’ would be technical.  We’re now back to encouraging Marcus to eat oatmeal and vegetables.

So do not feel bad if ever you failed to make your bright ideas come to life. Do not rush. Be happy to push it back and go back once again to the drawing board unless you secretly plan to make someone other people’s lives more crappy as a result of your half-baked light bulb moment. Now I wonder if the makers of the Poo-Plunger have their own nine-digit number. I might check later.

***

Mood: 4/10 Honks! (Blame the article on the weather.)

 

 

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