Writer’s Block Hits

The most feared writer’s block hits me. I’m beating all the odds just to make time to write and it’s also as if I’ve got all the reasons not being able to come up with a regular post.

For one, there’s the baby who has gotten most of our attention, not to mention suck out our energies. There’s also the mysterious hectic schedule at work—despite the economic slowdown, decrease in demand, people separation, and the upcoming shutdown—that continues to take a large chunk of my time. Lastly, there are also several parties to attend to and the booze that goes with each of it dilutes every blogging ideas and replaces it with a bad hangover.

The irony is that while most of these reasons are sources of overwhelming ideas to write about, everything ends up with a mind full of bright light bulb moments yet none ever gets published. It’s like an intersection of late employees eagerly wanting to drive through it and in the process collide with each other thereby causing a more chaotic and hopeless traffic jam.

But tonight, our baby who has become more energetic and more entertaining with each passing day somehow runs out of steam. It must be the cold December breeze outside or it may be because of the hot bath I gave him. No matter what made him hit the sack early, this is opportunity to write. I’m so desperate to purge those ideas that have been raring to get out of my nutshell.

Writer’s block reminds me of two people. One is Jim Paredes who in his article in the Sunday (Dec. 7, 2008) edition of the Philippine Star wrote Why I Write (also appears on his blog). Another is Saedel Pensoy who I incidentally happen to know after reading his comment on one of Jim Paredes’ blog.

In his article Jim said, ”But sometimes, “constipation” traps the thoughts, feelings and words in the deep bowels of the mind. The more one tries to write, the harder it seems to produce output. And that can be worrisome when one has a weekly deadline…” Then he added, ”And yet, one must write, not because of a deadline or the pay, and not because, like the analogy of the toilet ritual, it can be toxic to keep it all inside. I write because I am one of those cursed people who have been awakened to writing and have been enlisted to do so…

These are my exact sentiments, Jim just had it in writing. Mine became a bad case of writer’s constipation—for the lack of a better word.

Unfortunately, Jim’s recovery didn’t infect Saedel. Just like me, I find Saedel a writer and blogger in progress. When I learned about his site, I kept on coming back to read his posts. And from it I saw how he has improved a lot in almost every aspect of writing. At some point he even decided to monetize his blog and everything went spontaneous from then on. Not until he wrote 10 Drafts and a Focus. When I read it I knew he’s having the most hated writer’s block.  And like helplessly watching a friend die, I soon witnessed its last entry. Currently, the site has become an attraction for spam commenters. I can’t help but hope that he has moved to another blog provider and continued what he does best.

***

Time really flies so fast when I’m in front of the PC. I checked and I’ve been here thinking and typing for a couple of hours already. HBO’s rerun of Mr. Bean’s Holiday has ended and another movie is almost halfway through. My second shot of my night cap has evaporated. Good thing that our baby boy is still sleeping. Tomorrow is the start of our two-week vacation and if time permits, I’d sure be glad to blog some more. Maybe.

Marcus peeks
I’ll be right here when you’re done…”

***

Mood: 5/10 Honks!

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A Week of Interviews (Part 1)

It is a fact and a cliché that time flies so fast. And so today I was surprised to see that the last time I did a blog was on August 31 and fifteen days after that, I’m still wondering what I’ve been thru since then. Now I’m in the middle of the much awaited months for us Pinoys–the BER months. And being the 15th which is the payday for most employees, I can just imagine the throng of people in the mall, in the clubs, and those in the beer bars—all likely enjoying at least a couple of Christmassy tunes in the process.

In spite of losing track of my activities, the freshest memory that still lingers in my mind are the things that we did last week. In work terms, work week 37. Last week, my wife and I underwent a couple of separate exciting interviews amid my untimely colds that was made worse by the enduring rainy week. But having prepared for these interviews for so long, not to mention that the stakes are high, we proceeded undeterred.

The first one was in the US embassy in Manila. It was actually my wife’s idea to try our luck in getting a US Visa (tourist). Although, I’ve been thru this before for my week-long Wisconsin training trip, I was a bit pessimistic in acquiring a new one as I’ve seen a couple of times the disappointment it gave my parents upon every denial in their quest to visit my sister abroad. Lately though, according to wifey, a lot of her peers got theirs without much ado. And true indeed, after a couple of anxiety-filled hours inside the embassy, our visa application got approved as well. My wife went out of the hallway skipping like a kid promised with a weekend beach picnic. “I feel like I’ve just won the American Idol audition”, she quipped. Well, that probably puts me in William Hung’s shoes when he got the record deal. (What made it greater was that our Visa expires in 2018 but the news today regarding the end of validity of the green passport by 2010 looks trouble to me.)

One thing that my wife and I are totally in synch with is that both of us agree with rewarding ourselves with every success that we had; more often than not, we love food treats. And this time we dropped by MOA (Mall of Asia) looking for something new. Then we saw Cheesecake Etc. Inc. It is a small (approx. seats 10-15 person) restaurant but with cozy feel to it. Obviously, we ordered a couple of cheesecakes and coffee to match it. What we got were lovely shaped treats plus great plate decoration. Price was also fair. I recommend this place as an alternative to Starbucks.

Walle

After satisfying our sweet tooth, we headed to the cinemas just in time to catch the movie Wall-E. It was time to feed our craving for comic relief.

Like any other Disney movie we’ve seen, this movie didn’t fail us. The scenes in the movie despite being subtle and comical packs a serious message of what our (humans) future awaits if we lose the awareness on our environmental obligations. It also sends a strong warning to everyone who tends to entrust our lives to technology with the belief that it is there to give us convenience. Convenience that if not controlled will eventually produce more bad than good effects in the end. Does garbage problem and obesity sound familiar? If there’s an animated counterpart to Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth movie, this is it. This is a must see movie for both young and old alike. (I love this one so much that I can’t wait to get its DVD.)

(to be contintued…)

 

At Work On Christmas

I’m now officially one of the Grinches. After 13 years of landing a job, last night was the first time I reported to work on a Christmas Eve. Normally during this time of the year, I’d either be in Bacolod or Batangas celebrating Christmas with my family. But change would happen and this year that big change came. My new job function left me no choice but to stand by it and be at work. Technically, to be a role model. Ahem.

So yesterday afternoon I had mixed emotions coming to work. I was excited for this first time event in my profession; and at the same time I was uneasy and sad that I’d be celebrating my Christmas eve without my wife or family with me but with my peers and people instead.

When I arrived at our plant I was surprised that it was relatively festive. The sight of employees with bags of gifts added to the holiday atmosphere. The smiles and greetings were unwavering and infectious. Whatever the reasons for the jolly characters were, I knew I’m surrounded by good aura for the rest of the graveyard shift.

Everything went the usual way just like any ordinary day when work kicked in. I was actually thinking I could be a nurse, a pilot, a fireman, a security guard or a doctor on call or any other personnel who is expected to work even during the holidays. I felt like I’m not missing a big event or a love one anymore. Well, not yet.

Break time came and a special dinner for all the manufacturing employees was served. The special meal was accented even more by a special dinner table setting. We’d be eating with candlelight. So by this time I was becoming even more convinced that working that night won’t be a big beal. I was even starting to enjoy it. The presence of the lechon worked like a charm.

Right after dinner, I was back on my desk doing routine tasks when I heard someone mentioned, ”Sir Christmas na po (Sir it’s Christmas already).” That’s when I glanced at the wall clock to see that it has just struck midnight. The greetings around the production line competed with the humming equipment and audible alarms. I returned the merry wishes but caught myself faking a smile. I suddenly felt sad. I felt a lump in my throat. I tried to contain myself. In a snap of a finger I missed everyone at home.

Probably this experience will stay with me until the next year. The feeling of having to choose between work and being with my loved ones would be a big dilemma. Something’s got to give. And whoever said before that “Work is just a slice of life, it’s not the whole pizza” is mostly someone who can afford to sacrifice that slice. Unfortunately I don’t have the pleasure of doing so. When that day comes I’d be the happiest.

 

Car-less Guy’s Random Thoughts

“An empty mind is a devil’s workshop” — Anonymous

Frankly, having without a car made me a bit uneasy especially now that the Christmas season is coming in fast. I miss going to the malls with my wife not worrying if we’re going to squeeze our butts in just to get seated in the jeepney for being the last two to get in. I miss the gift-buying activity not wondering how and where we’d place all the shopping bags. I miss going home late coming from a good movie. I miss getting stuck in traffic with me on the wheel and not having to think if my nose has clogged due to smog, smoke and dust whichever comes first or all of it combined. I miss waking up a bit late and not worrying that I’ll miss the bus to work. I miss the freedom a car gives me.

To shake off self pity I tried keeping my mind busy while being a passenger on a bus, in a jeepney or a friend’s car. With defensive driving out of my worries, my thoughts have wandered more. I became observant of other things I can’t see or think of while behind the wheel. I became more keen with what is outside the vehicle’s window. During these unproductive moments random thoughts settle in my head.

Why would charity parties intended to benefit the hungry street children are in lavish settings with overpriced food and normally attended by botoxed personalities. Can’t these people just give right away to charity? Or do they really need the TV and photo coverage to make it happen?

Why does a billboard going to Tagaytay show Inteligent Auto Paint Shop. Does its owner have good explanation behind the name? Is it humor, a play on words, an honest mistake, or an uninteligent slip?

Why would management of Coolmaster Airconditioing Expert allow its employees to be packed out in the open at the back of a wobbly pickup truck under a high noon heat. (We were on our way to a Christmas party and the sight of it drained away my holiday mood.)

Why would an official municipal vehicle with the words Responsableng Taong Bayan (responsible people of the community) illegally park along  Muntinlupa‘s road.

Why is it when majority is anticipating to travel by air during this Christmas season is also when Discovery Channel and National Geographic show programs such as Air Crash Investigation and Air Disasters. Either people from these shows hate Christmas travel or own a stock in the shipping industry. Out of curiosity searched Wikipedia and the result? December is not the highest among the statistics. At least not among the top three. (Data were extracted and tabulated using excel’s countif formula and sorted from lowest to highest.) Whew!

aircraft20incidents_zpsg6ujg5xr

Lastly, I don’t get it why the brandy I’ve been drinking since I bought it has kept me awake. I guess it’s about time I check the fine print on its label. I’d be damned if it contains caffeine. But then again my subconscious must be working on something else and wants me to stay up late. Something I should be thinking more with Christmas day only three days to go.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone especially to you wifey. I really miss you!!

‘Tis The Season To Be Jolly

 

“Don’t be afraid to be weak Don’t be too proud to be strong

Just look into your heart my friend

That will be the return to yourself” – Enigma. Return to Innocence

The ‘ber’ months begin once more and September sets the holiday mood. Different ages react differently to this transition however. For most adult this is the start of expenses pouring in as everything seems to get listed in the needs section of the budget list. The wants list becomes empty for the time being. For most children, however, this is just the season to be jolly. Period.

I could still remember my excitement as a kid when our calendar flips to September. It was as if the calendar would play the song Santa Claus is coming to town on cue. The Santa Claus I would soon discover as ordinary adults who get restless when the ‘ber’ months arrive. Twenty years later, I would become one of them.

It feels like it was only a couple days ago when someone reminded me to start buying gifts to avoid the rush. Just like any broken vinyl record the thought of Christmas shopping skips and repeats. Sadly, the rush doesn’t skip. It just repeats. It intensifies even. The farthest I can remember panicking at this level was since I started having my own pay check–now I wonder if paydays be celebrated or cursed. My wife and I normally kid each other usually around every January to start buying Christmas trees and gifts. But before I know it, the ‘ber’ months are here again.

Now we’re staring at November. The mall sales are getting more frequent. The bonuses are coming in (or shall I say passing through). The yuletide songs are as common as jeepney noise.  The dreaded traffic worsens.  The horrifying thought of the inaanaks knocking at the front door getting realized as December nears. It’s funny but now when someone says “Christmas is just around the corner” this to me is like a windtalker’s code that someone is out to get me.

So have I become the Grinch? During this season most adults are anyhow. Well it must be the cycle of life. Some call it karma. The act gets repeated but the recipients change. If before I was thankfully receiving crisp bills, now I’m…I’m not giving one. Beside, the crisp bills now are of less value. Hehe. Every time I’m in this situation I think of an old Filipino song (by Asin) with the following lyrics:

Itanong mo sa mga bata (Ask the children)

Ano ang kanilang nakikita (What they see)

Sa buhay na hawak nila (In the life they have)

Masdan mo ang mga bata (Observe the children)

Sila ang tunay na pinagpala (They are the lucky ones)

Kaya dapat nating pahalagahan (We should appreciate them)

Dapat din kayang kainggitan? (Shouldn’t we envy them)

Although this is not a Christmas song, this describes how having the innocence matters. It’s about taking the simple meaning of the season for what it is. Children love Christmas for Santa Claus. (If they love it for Christ’s birth, the better of course. But that’s where our adult explanation comes into play and that’s another topic worthy of a long discussion.) So if only us adults could see this significance even just during December, then I think this is only when we could wholeheartedly join the children in saying, “’tis the season to be jolly.”

Three Reasons Foreigners Hate Bacolod

After spending our Christmas eve in Batangas with my in-laws, wifey and I woke up by 4 a.m. and went straight to Park ‘N Fly to leave our car while in Bacolod. We reached the airport earlier than the 2-hour check-in time but the lines going to different counters were already packed. Some lines even crisscrossed each other to the frustration of most people including myself.

While fidgeting I noticed that a number of foreign visitors (British, Americans, and other Asians) are going to places such as Kalibo, Cebu and Palawan but not one in Bacolod’s line. It made me wonder why. Soon I will have the answers.

Our 8:45 a.m. flight was delayed. If not for Delifrance’s Christmas ham clubhouse sandwich—surprisingly, it’s one of the best sandwich I have tasted—that I ate for breakfast, I would have been grouchy as I always am given the situation.

Then boarding time came after an hour. We had to walk from the departure area to our designated plane. It used to be a short one but it’s now some hundred meters walk—longer exposure to the glaring morning sun, to everyone’s dismay.

It’s a good thing that, except for not being seated near the window, we had a smooth flight. The ‘bring me’ games, just like in any other Cebu Pacific flight, and the items for sale, which are nice last minute gifts, made the trip interesting. Of course, the beautiful flight stewardesses made it even better.

Landing wasn’t bad either. At this point I was thinking that we can leave the airport in a jiffy after getting off the plane. But it didn’t happen. The ‘new and improved’ arrival area and baggage claim answered the questions why we haven’t got any foreigners on board.

In these times of innovative technology, one would be shocked to see how the bags are handled. After manually unloading the bags from the cart, these were either dragged or tossed to a barricaded area where one can easily claim it if, and only if, he’s lucky to get the attention of porters handling it. (Damn, I should stop watching the Discovery channel.) Wifey and I didn’t get lucky fast, we had to wait.

As it has been our practice to avoid the taxis right outside the airport terminal as they would normally overcharge, we walked out of the airport are to flag down cabs just along the highway. Unfortunately, two consecutive ones were grinches—or they could have thought of me just the same. I find it so shameful that I am being swindled by my kababayan just because I got bags, obviously coming from the airport. I can just imagine if it were Caucasians. I suspect that this is reason number two why foreigners aren’t queuing for Bacolod.

Pissed, I gave up hailing a cab. We decided to board a jeepney instead that would take us downtown. Along the way though I couldn’t help but notice the scattered garbage, the uncut grasses in the city plaza, and the stagnant sidewalk canals. This is not the Bacolod I used to know for years. What an un-welcoming sight. Reason number three.

From downtown, we finally got a good taxi driver. Well, at least my resolution—for some years already—not to generalize anything or anyone still works. Just some of them are bad, not all.

Eventually, we arrived home by 11 p.m. Tatay and nanay and some of my siblings were already there. As expected, a good lunch of sea foods was served. Tatay cooked sweet and sour fish and tanigue kinilaw—both dishes are his specialty—and prepared some fruits for dessert. It was one hearty lunch. Home sweet home, and it’s still Christmas day.