Social Media is a Sketch Pad

Witty. Funny. Common words I’ve heard and read so many times from different people who would describe my ideas and how I write. I’m not good at accepting compliments, nor giving one, but it always gives me the needed kick to keep writing whenever I receive such.

Countless times I have encountered writer’s block and I know it will happen again–and make it as an excuse again. Even the most prolific writers dread it. Managing writer’s block is key to overcoming it. Like how you manage your boss–related but it’s another story.

Churning out ideas forming inside our head requires turning individual words into one that makes sense. One that is fluid, harmonized, or at least structured. (While I type at this moment I struggle already so bear with me.)

Sometimes the intent to impress by being verbose is the culprit, a trap leading to a draft that won’t be published ever. So writing something brief but catchy does the trick in keeping that writing brain running. Let loose and type away.

Many people online appreciate news digests. It’s become the trend since information technology overloaded the world wide web of anything under the sun. I don’t have the exact stats but I am quite sure I’m not the only one who would do a quick glance and scroll to the next that interests me. Nobody nowadays likes spending too much time on one article. Agree?

This is why I now treat social media as a sketch pad or a writing testing ground. I love the challenge of writing something short but interesting that I was among those who hated the day when Twitter decided to go let go of its 180 characters limit. Twitter was more fun back then.

Then there’s Facebook. Its “What’s on your mind?” is always a come-on to express something in the form of words or images or a combo of both regardless of quality of context. Done properly, however, posts could solicit the desired impact, reactions, or interactions. The challenge lies in knowing who your readers or friends are, how they would respond. So far my recent activities prove that being creative, clean, and having rant-free posts mean more likes, love, and laughter.

Sometimes one like is more than enough.

I also realized that posting beyond my circle of friends is also a good test of how my ideas and insights would be received. I once shunned commenting on news on Facebook as it exposes me open to the public, specifically to the trolls and grammar Nazis–karma sucks, I know. But I discovered that posting comments or opinions is one way of getting timely feedback about my writing style. So what works based on recent personal experience? Staying relevant to the topic, respecting the opinion of others, and infusing some wit (or sarcasm) do get good reception.

Practice, practice, practice they say. So whether perfection comes–if and when–or not I will try to write, write, write, and write more. It’s not going to be always easy but it would be a shame if I don’t even try to let my ideas see the light of day at least for fun or for a paid job. Which reminds me to check if there are job orders already…

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (All boys day today! Wifey’s day out.)

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Should We Take Our Playlist When We Run?

To plug in or not to plug in, that is the question. Everyone would agree that music does affect the way we do things. While we have individual genres, whatever that is in our playlist influences our behavior whether we’re up for a long night of school work, crunch numbers at the office, finish a writing deadline, or when we want to get in the zone during a workout.

I have this wired Phillips earphones for about 10 years already.

Whenever we want extra focus we shut the rest of world out and enter our invisible cocoon, we play our favorite song. Others seal themselves completely, almost air tight, thanks to headphones. Introverts know this better.

Back in my younger days I was a fan of earphones or headsets. Yes, those Walkman days and then MP3 players. I don’t know when I stopped but I believe it was when I realized I need to talk to people. When I became mature–let’s say that’s true.

Safety was also an issue which is why I use less of the earphones especially when I’m mobile. When I started running more and read more about this sport, it seems that the number of cons against running while plugged in outnumbers the pros. There are so much road hazards that runners need to be aware of so being able hear a wayward driver coming from behind, for one, is a big advantage.

My opinion against wearing another set of technology in the form of the earphones remained until the day I sought that extra push to hit the steep Baguio terrain. That cold early morning I took my phone, plugged my very old but trusty wired Phillips earphones and ran. That was my first time running with Arnel Pineda, Big Fat Joe, Depeche Mode, and the rest of my Napster tracks (oopps) playing along. It made the trip on the undulating road to Burnham Park and back less tiring and stressful. Music saved the day.

For days since then I was back to wondering if these bone conduction earphones I’ve heard of months ago are worth buying. But this morning I got my answer from an unlikely source. A Facebook friend not so known for being minimalist posted a YouTube video about using technology instead of it using us. For me, the video’s message was clear and it takes me away once more from the urge to run with earphones plugged. For how long though, I don’t know.

***

As a frustrated writer, I also appreciate having music in the background. In my freelance days, I’ve finished countless articles, met writing deadlines with the help of the right music. And alcohol. I have likewise composed better blog post when music sets the mood and motivation.

My bluetooth headset we got in the US.

Few days ago I was contacted for a part-time writing job and so it seems that I would need to once again isolate myself for hours (if) when the job orders start coming in. Maybe that bone conduction earphone I see online is worth having after all.

***

How soon before someone becomes a freelancer? I’d say ten. Last week Marcus got his first feel of his mother’s home-based job when she asked him to encode few numbers from PDF to Excel while she took her break and surprisingly, wifey said he got the numbers right. Maybe, he’ll earn his first dollars soon. Haha.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (900-calorie breakfast after a 5K.)

I Miss Baguio Weather

Contrary to what I believe that Baguio is no longer cold as before, no thanks to climate change, I was in for a surprise when we stepped out of our rented Foton View Traveller van after a 5-hour trip.

The place still chills almost like California. “It’s like US,” Marcus exclaimed when the early morning air of Camp John Hay hit him. Our initial plan was to travel light and ditch thick clothing but good thing I got the Accuweather app so I packed hoodies and jackets for us before we left Batangas. Brewed coffee from 7-11 wouldn’t have been enough if I didn’t check the forecast.

First morning straight from a long trip.

Temperature was about 16 degrees Celsius and peaked at 26 around noon. Obviously far better than the scorching 32 degrees back home. Home where it’s hot and humid that running has become more challenging. Waking up from a sweaty sleep wasn’t a problem though.

Like this morning I had to make an effort to put on my running gear to do a 5K. I wouldn’t have done it if not for the servings of strawberry–fresh from Baguio–that I turned to milkshake yesterday. I downed 600 plus calories out of that sweet guilty pleasure. (My curiosity of how much calories the shake would make had me use MyFitnessPal’s recipe entry for the first time.)

Tough run.

Baguio weather is perfect for runners although its hilly terrain is a different story. We stayed in a transient house located somewhere in Wakat which has roads so steep that I almost let go of the idea of running the moment I saw the inclined first hundred meters right out of gate. I summoned enough motivation to continue nevertheless.

Aided by Waze I completed a 10K run to Burnham Park and back that Saturday morning. It was a cold run. I had two layers of clothing and bonnet for my shiny bald head. Every now and then I would see breath vapor or steam forming as I run. I now miss that day.

***

Do I want to return to Baguio. Yes and no.

Yes because it’s cold and good for running. That’s it. Why I might not return has more reasons mostly centered on Marcus’ perspective.

While he enjoyed the sights and adventure during the three days and two nights vacation, wheelchair access was a big issue. Sadly, there are just limitations despite our best in trying to help him out.

At the PMA camp. Stuff out of his COD game.
His first henna tattoo from the Wright Park.

Sanitation was also an issue for Marcus. He’s very picky especially when it comes to toilet cleanliness so his portable urinal was our best friend.

I on the other hand despise litter. More so now that I have to push Marcus’ wheelchair around. Burnham Park was a disappointing sight for one. Trash can be found scattered, people ignored the no spitting signs, and vermin fed on residual food dumped carelessly around the park. On the bright side. Marcus was fascinated that the rats seem unafraid of him staring at them. Well, Baguio’s next tourist attraction? Hope not.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Avocado shake next.)

Not So Eager Participant

Day 2 in Baguio and so far so good than expected. Marcus is able to hold himself from manifesting his bratty side but every now and then it would rear its ugly head. His patience has random limits.

Still he, or we, is getting along well with the rest of the group. Must be his age or must be the new adventure away from his Xbox games or must be my constant reminder for him to behave especially when in front of other people.

I just hope that this isn’t the last time that we get to mingle with our relatives and I really hope Marcus continues to have a positive outlook in life whether he can walk or not.

Here are shots I took at the house of the late John Hay

Fooling around at Camp John Hay.

***

Mood: 5/10 Honks (Sleepy and tired is an understatement.)

Avengers: Infinity War 2X

Skip the Avengers: Infinity movie and save money. Besides that the sentence rhymes, it was my plan this weekend after our company treated us employees to a blocked screening at the nearby Vista Mall coming from a Friday night shift.

Other than having a bag of bland popcorn–I passed on the salt and flavoring–and a warm bottle of orange soda for breakfast, the movie treat was a deviation to my normal weekend diet, it also wasn’t Marcus’ idea of how his Sunday would be like.

I thought he and his mom already worked out an alternative when he said before going to bed Saturday night that he discovered he could pre-order Avengers: Infinity War on Xbox Live. Sounds like a plan, a cheaper plan of just $15. All he needs to do was wait until the movie becomes available online.

But I should’ve have known better that waiting doesn’t work for him. I learned sooner that Marcus is still looking forward to watching it in the cinema. Wifey relayed the message minutes before I hit the sack that night. “Your son asked if I could carry him to the seats if it’s just the two of us and I answered yes, of course. That’s his concern,” she said but left her statement hanging.

“So what’s your concern?” I asked, fishing for unstated needs–force work of habit kicking in. “That if I could actually carry him,” she replied half firm, half joking. We had a good laugh out of it. I know my wife’s humor as much as I know her hidden strength. I know she can carry Marcus no doubt.

So I went to bed that night still with the same initial plan–drive them to the mall, wait for them outside until the movie ends. I was ready to kill time with my Netflix downloads and spare purchasing another Avengers: Infinity War movie ticket in the process.

That last conversation stuck though. Our routine in the cinemas we’ve been following for the past years since the wheelchair kept playing inside my head until the next morning while I eat my oatmeal-raisin-peanut butter-banana combo to compensate for the other day’s toxic choice.

He came prepared for the cold.

Buy popcorn for Marcus, get snacks for us, transfer him to his movie theater seat, carry him to his wheelchair if he asked to go the toilet, then settle back again to enjoy the film. It’s been like that most times. And lately he’s gained more weight.

I need to be in the cinema. Period.

So that’s how I ended up watching the same movie twice in a row. Good thing the comfy Solenad Cinema 3 allowed me to snooze every now and then and to see Marcus enjoying everything–the Avengers and Guardians characters, Stan Lee’s cameo, Blazing Cheddar popcorn, and his favorite reclining seat–was worth spending an extra 400 pesos.

Weekend mission accomplished.

***

The Avengers: Infinity War is a dark movie and it could disappointment people especially those who expect a triumphant hero at the end. This movie is a game changer. Thanos has to die.

***

Mood: 1/10 Honks! (Busy week ahead.)

Ten and Counting

There’s no stopping time as Marcus turns ten. He’s become smarter and continue to be more expressive. He now knows what he wants and if he had his way, he wants things to happen.

Color of the day.

Even before 2018 started he was already specific with his plans for his birthday this year. He asked if he could celebrate it in Acacia Hotel Manila with just the three of us–introvert parents breed introvert kids, don’t we? Wifey tried to offer other choices but Marcus has made up his mind. Must be the pool or the rooms or maybe it’s the hotel’s proximity to Festival Mall or ATC, his comfort zones since then. Or maybe it made a mark on him when we almost lost his favorite plush Frankenbob toy the last time we were here but staff found and returned it. Whatever, he just loves the place no doubt.

Acacia pool, Frankenbob, Elmo

His affinity for this place in Filinvest Alabang over the others seemed to prove worthy once again. A grand welcome greeted him when we stepped in our room which would be our home in the next three days and two nights. Staff prepared the room for Marcus with balloons and a whole chocolate birthday cake. It was the most number of balloons he ever had. Staff spoiled him more with complimentary desserts they delivered to our room in the evening.

This birthday would have been a whole lot better if only we could promise to give him his special wish he made the morning before we set off on our staycation.

“What’s your wish?” we asked him before blowing his Homer cake–a pink sprinkled Krispy Kreme donut wifey designed as a cake with one birthday candle in the middle. Still in his pajamas with his ruffled newly dyed golden hair, he said, “That I could walk and a PS4.” I smiled and cheered but I know that wifey too silently wished and felt the same thing I did as I finish the video recording. It was something we both expected our son would say but one of it just won’t happen in this lifetime however hard we’d want to. A miracle is all we could wish for.

Happy birthday son, we still love you, we are here for you.

***

Marcus skipped his therapy this week but he left his physical therapists some pizza the other Friday to celebrate this birthday.

Marcus and wifey with staff and interns of St. Frances Cabrini PT center.

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Hope Marcus doesn’t catch the bug. Wifey and I got the sniffles.)

Run Solo

I run solo.

I sign up to nothing but waking up early.

I commit to no one but two people I leave behind sleeping.

I listen to no rhythm but my heart’s.

I earn no no medal but my Garmin e-badge.

I run solo, and today I did 21K.

Yes, I’m not kidding. Cloud 9 Overload bar-powered run.

***

This week’s exciting. I would be Alabang-bound most weekdays. Barely recovering from my first half marathon this morning, I decided to walk to my training’s venue without realizing it’d be quite a distance. Not that I can’t but clueless where and who to look far with 30 minutes to go wasn’t a smart idea. I made it anyway and I’m now killing time at a Starbucks on my lunch time.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Hope this Venti Americano does its job.)