Thursday, April 30, 2009

When She Met Meant-to-Be: An Excerpt from an Unpublished Novel


This is an excerpt from a taglish novel that I passed to a certain publishing house during my times of unemployment--- which, obviously as the title implies, got rejected.


Particularly, the editor didn't like how the heroine got acquainted with her love interest.


She said, it was way too crazy and unreal. Hahaha.


But I wouldn't mind having a meeting-up scene like this with my lover. Hahaha.



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MAG-ISANG KUMAKAIN si Michelle sa isang cafeteria na malapit sa eskuwelahan isang linggo na ang nakalipas. Gabi na noon at kakalabas lang niya galing sa eskuwelahan. Kakakuha lang kasi niya ng suweldo noon, kaya naisip niya na i-treat ang sarili niya. Medyo nagsasawa na rin kasi siya sa sardinas.

Ang tanging kasama lang niya noon ay ang bag na puno ng mga test papers na nakapatong sa upuan sa tabi niya. Sinisipsip niya ang iced mocca at kinain ang fetuccini at egg pie na order niya.

Medyo nakakalungkot ang puwesto niya roon. Paano ba naman kasi, pinalibutan siya ng mga couples na magkasamang kumakain. Sa harapan niya ay isang magnobyong mga gurong katrabaho niya. Nag-uusap ang dalawa, magkalapit at magkahawak kamay.

Sa gilid naman niya ay dalawang estudyante na magkasintahan. Kahit mga bata pa ay masaya ang dalawa na tila ba parang sigurado na ang mga ito sa isa’t-isa. Nagpupunasan pa nga ang mga ito ng tissue sa labi at nagsusubuan ng spaghetti.

Hiniling tuloy niya na sana ay mayroon siyang kasamang lalaki noong mga panahong iyon. Kung sa bagay, hindi pa naman siya nagkakaroon ng kasintahan sa buong buhay.

Umiling-iling siya. Ano ba naman ‘tong naiisip ko, protesta ng utak niya, sa ngayon hindi ko pa kailangan ng lalaki.

Naalala niya kasi ang kanyang ama. Ayaw niyang matulad sa kanyang ina na nasira ang buhay dahil sa isang lalaki. Kaya rin tila takot na takot sa mga lalaki si Michelle, at hindi tumanggap ng mga manliligaw noong nag-aaral pa siya. Ayaw niyang magawa ang kaparehong pagkakamaling nakamit ng kanyang ina.

Kaya imbis na mainggit ay binilisan na lang niya ang pagkain upang makaalis na siya sa tila nilalanggam na lugar iyon.

Pagkalabas ng kainan ay tumungo na siya sa sakayan ng jeep. Habang naglalakad siya ay nakatungo siya, iniisip pa rin kung kailan at papaano siya magkakaroon ng love life.

Nang bigla siyang nakabangga ng isang tao. Napatigil siya at napatingala sa nabangga niya.

Buti na lamang ay napigilan niya ang paghinga nang pigil at mabilis sa lalaking nakita niya.

Ang lalaking iyon na yata ang pinakaguwapong lalaki na nakita niya; matang nangungusap, mahahabang pilikmata, matangos na ilong, mamulamulang labi at maputing kutis na lumiliwanag sa ilaw ng mga poste. Nagpadagdag pa sa kakisigan nito ang semi-kalbong buhok, matikas na tindig, malinis na asul na polo shirt at cream pants.

Wow. To think she was just thinking about her lovelife.

Mga ilang segundo rin niya itong tahimik na tinitigan. At base sa pagkakakita niya rito, ay tila ba para bang nakatitig din ito sa kanya. Nakapagtataka nga lang ang tingin ng lalaki dahil tila ba nakakita ito ng tao na matagal na nitong hinahanap.

“S-Sorry…” sabay pa nilang sambit. At pareho pa silang nautal. Pakiramdam ni Michelle na namumula na siya.

Nagngitian muna silang dalawa ng panandalian bago nila tuluyang iniwasan ang isa’t isa at nagpatuloy na sa nilalakaran nila at naghiwalay.

Napabuntong-hininga si Michelle. Akala pa naman niya magpapakilala ang lalaki o magsasabi ng pick-up line na maganda, tulad ng mga magagandang love story na nababasa sa libro at napapanood niya sa pelikula.

Ngunit pagkalipas ng ilang sandali ay nakarinig siya ng mga yabag na tumatakbong papalapit mula sa likuran niya. Laking gulat niya nang biglang nakitang tumatakbo ang lalaki nakabangga sa gilid niya. Naunahan siya nito at tumigil sa harapan niya.

Tuwa naman siya. Napatigil rin siya. “B-bakit?”

Ngumiti nang nakakaloko ang lalaki. Inilahad nito ang kanang kamay na tila ba gustong makipagkamay. “Siyanga pala, miss… Ako nga pala si Meant-to-Be…”

Nagulat naman siya sa bati nito, “huh? Ano kamo?”

“Sabi ko, ako si Meant-to-Be,” ulit ng lalaki.

Nagsalubong ang mga kilay niya, “paano’ng meant-to-be?”

“Ako si meant-to-be mo, at ikaw si meant-to-be ko,” nakangising paliwanag nito sa kanya.

Okey, kung pick-up line ‘yon, grabe, ang lame, naisip ni Michelle. Sobra tuloy na turn-off siya sa lalaki.

“Sorry, wala akong time makipagbiruan,” medyo pikon niyang sabi rito habang naglalakad paiwas rito.

Ngunit muli siyang hinarangan nito, “hindi ako nagbibiro. Seryoso ako, nakatadhana tayo para sa isa’t-isa.” Ngunit hindi naman ito mukhang seryoso, nakakaloko pa nga itong tingnan.

Pinanlisikan niya ito ng tingin, “alam mo ba ‘yang mga sinasabi mo? Nasisiraan ka ba ng ulo?”

“Hindi ako sira-ulo,” natatwang giit ng lalaki.

“Wow mali ba ‘to?” paghihinala ni Michelle.

“Hindi. Masmali kung palalampasin lang kita,” sagot nito.

Hindi alam ni Michelle kung matatawa siya o mabubuwisit sa tila nababaliw na lalaking nasa harapan niya. Tama ba namang bigla na lang itong sumulpot at sinabing ito ang nakalaan para sa kanya gayong ilang segundo pa lang naman silang nagsasama?

“Alam mo mister, mabuti pa maghanap ka ng ibang taong mapagti-tripan mo, wala akong panahon para sa’yo,” inis na sambit niya rito habang tuluyan nang lumalakad nang paiwas rito. Mabilis na siyang naglakad papalayo upang hindi na siya mahabol ng lalaki

“Huwag kang mag-alala,” pahabol na sigaw nito nang makalayo na siya, “hindi ito ang huli nating pagkikita, Meant-to-Be.”

Sira-ulo, galit na bulyaw ni Michelle sa kanyang isipan.

Simula noon ay halos araw-araw nang sumusulpot kung saan-saan ang lalaking iyon, nangungulit at sinusundan siya, habang siya naman ay patuloy lang sa pag-iwas sa loob ng isang linggo.
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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Stretch Marks of a Duck


“Our friendship is like this scar. Ugly, but permanent…” –Grace Adler.

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I enjoy looking at profiles of various people in an online social networking site that I belong to. I am fond of how people try to spill out their self-image just by posting pictures, filling out stats and writing few words to describe themselves. I don’t engage with people, nor communicate with them at some sort. I just join sites for the fun of knowing how people make use of their internet powers.

At times, I’d yawn at the plain, boring ones, saying that they’re simple, humble, kind, friendly and other adjectives that elementary students use to describe themselves in the first day of classes.

Then I’d laugh at the faulty descriptions, pretending that English is their native language yet grammatical errors like, “I like to experiencing a romantic someone… serious,” flourish in their every statement

At times, I’d smirk at the blatant ones, saying things like, “Just message me if you’re interested,” or, “No fakers, posers.”

Then I read stuff like this: “No ugly allowed, no body odor, no chubby and no stretchmarks.”

Okay, I’d understand why anyone won’t prefer someone with a body odor. Buy hey, even if you’re the most good-looking person in the planet, you don’t have the inherent right to forbid poorly-endowed people from interacting with you. I guess I’m not the first one to say that.

And what’s up with the dislike for stretchmarks? Even the best skinned models have them (a few camera tricks can mend them). Although they may be dermatological concerns, they aren’t infectious.

Actually, I really don’t understand why people give a big fuss about their stretchmarks. First and foremost, people won’t really get to see them often, unless you walk the streets without clothes. If you think they’re ugly, then hide them.

Second, they’re not going to disappear--- ever. Creams and mechanical skin treatments for striae (stretchmarks) are available but they would still leave a trace. And they’re not going to revert even if you tell them how much you hate their existence on your supposed-to-be perfect skin.

Third, they are marks of things--- great things that happen in your life, like getting pregnant for women, or gaining muscle built body for men. These experiences are painstaking and long, but one can never deny the beauty of child-bearing or a hunk-worthy physique.

Probably, almost fifty percent of my body skin surface is lined with stretchmarks--- around my arms, shoulders, chest, upper and lower back, waist, hips and legs. If they were tattoo, then I would least likely be found in this profession of teaching. The school director won’t think I’m clean enough for the job.

Do I irk them? At times.

But instead of these stretchmarks, I’d rather hate the kids who bullied me for being disgustingly fat when I was still a 220 pound crybaby who unintentionally narrows the school corridors when I strut the hallway.

Or maybe hate the times when the driver of the jeepney I ride in would demand that I pay the price of two passengers.

Or the times when I hated shopping because the clothes on sale did not fit me at all--- the times when I hated taking group pictures with batchmates because I’d look like their plump father.

Or the times when I lie in bed and think of erratic ways to get rid of all these adipose tissues inside me, just to get the ideal body--- the form that I have now.

Or the times that I’d starve myself--- do countless of jumping jacks and sit-ups not knowing the ill-effects they would do to my joints and posture later on.

Or the times I’d look silly in the gym while clumsily lifting weights just to get the muscle mass I wasted when my own body weight dropped and got sickly thin.

Or the times I once befriended the Nervosa sisters of death: Anorexia and Bulimia.

Now, I go to the beach without a top on, and not feel a bit embarrassed of the crooked lines that run around my torso. Sometimes, I would even like it if people would notice the striae--- and ask questions of how I got them, so I could narrate the story of how I, the ugly duckling, turned into, well not yet a swan. Maybe a duck. Hahaha.





Saturday, April 4, 2009

Ten Awkward Questions from Students

1. Sir, do you have a girlfriend? How many?

Why should I tell you? And what’s up asking how many?

2. Sir, how old are you? Let me guess, 28!

Haha, great! You managed to add 6 points to my original age! That’ll be the same amount of deduction you’ll get in your recitation.

3. Sir, you want to come to my debut? Libre food do’n.

Man does not live by bread alone. Hmmm. May Rellenong Bangus ba do’n?

4. Sir, tuloy ba ‘yung quiz today? Hindi na ‘di ba?

Sure thing, you all get zero.

5. Sir, nakita mo na ‘yung video mo sa youtube? In-upload ko na!

Huh? Bakit? Alin? (Later on I found out that nothing was actually uploaded).

6. Sir, my parents are here at school… Pakilala kita?

Nope. They usually don’t believe that I’m a teacher.

7. Sir, isn’t that the shirt you wore last Thursday? Tucked-in pa rin?

Nope. This one is ironed. Last week wasn’t. And what’s your issue with me tucking my shirt? I love showing my long lanky legs!

8. Sir, ganda ng braso mo. Pa-flex naman?

Dunggulin kita d’yan, eh.

9. Sir, sabi po daw ni (-name of the female pupil who allegedly has a crush on me-) mami-miss niya daw kayo this vacation. Kayo din daw po ba?

Ahaha, mami-miss ko naman kayo lahat! Enjoy your vacation!

10. Sir, do you watch porn?

Yes. That is all what my sexlife can offer. Want to see my list of titles?






Thursday, April 2, 2009

Age-Related Ethnocentrism

At times, I find it psychosocially challenging to be in an academic environment, where the under-aged instructors--- me included--- are under direct observation of the “wiser” people around us. It’s funny how our older colleagues mistake our innocent intentions of bringing new flavor to the usual classroom pedagogy. It took a while before they tried inculcating my colorful, animated powerpoint slides and my sly impromptu punchlines that I use to spice up my lectures.

It’s a wonder how the products of the earlier generation despise technological advances, yet they want to halt the advancement of their ages. They hate the thought that they have to shift their paradigms just to understand the youth who came after them.

Well, I would accept the fact that I will always be in the preying eyes of, what wind_psycho would call, “Whispering People” (inspired by the movie, Knowing, which wasn’t so good by the way); those who would try to give me inputs on how their great style of teaching has been tried-and-tested through the years, and how mine suck. Yeah fine, I could take that. I’m a novice.

However, most of the time, their judgments are quite off key--- to the point they attack your personality and socializing skills. Try that.

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During our deliberation at the end of semester, my boss would call out the name of each student and we interrupt with comments if we feel the need for it.

“Any comments for Ms. Cook?” he asked about a student.

“Oh, that girl’s good. She’s hard working,” Mrs. Que, a lab instructor, replied firmly.

“Yeah, she’s good.” I echoed, nodding. Then added, “medyo isip-bata nga lang.”

Then the three older members of the deliberation panel, including the boss, who were in the panel, looked at me sternly; but no one gave a comment on what I said.

My eyebrows met, “what?”

Nagrereklamo ka na isip-bata,” Ms. Que responded sternly, “Eh, ikaw, ano ka ba?”

Silence continued as they all stared at me weirdly.

Isip-bata?” I replied, believing that was the right answer for the question--- or probably the answer they wanted to hear.

Eh, ayun naman pala eh,” Ms. Que dismissed, “hindi naman siya childish sa’kin. Baka nasa ‘yo ang problema.”

What a jerk, goddamit.

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Look, I really love Ms. Que. It’s good to hang out with her, because you can swear all the bad words you know and no one will care even if you have Catholic-Educator-Ethical-Responsibilities in school. And you’ll enjoy her company if you’re a smoker. She’s a chimney.

But her throwing of comments, even with clueless audiences around is really uncalled for--- and hurting at times. And the other unfair thing is, she calls me taklesa (tactless). I could only whisper, “Right back at you, Big Mama. TEN EXPONENTIAL TIMES!”

Here’s another strange thing she proudly speaks to people, “you know what? Alam kong maldita ako, pero wala pa akong nakaaway sa office kahit kalian.

Ah, yeah. Maybe not in front of you, Big Mama.

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[150]

The fact that no one has ever picked a fight on you doesn’t automatically account that you have a kind personality that everybody loves.

It may either probably mean that you’re a senselessly, difficult person to deal with already in your non-fight state that they don’t want to how much worse you can get;

Or maybe because you’re just plain barbaric that no one wants to swoop down at your level.

-wind_psycho

…you guessed it right. Big Mama, is both!

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And I tell you, there are more Mrs. Que’s that I deal with in my workplace every single damn day. Yes, most of the time I do get hurt when I am criticized for having fresh (their adjective is inappropriate) ideas. But just like any problem in the world, this bout of “Seniority Complex” and “Age-Related Ethnocentrism” is just something I have learned to pass out each day.

It’s like me saying, “hey, if you guys don’t want to look old, then so do I.”

But after a semester full of bickering, I deserve a break from all these academic hurdles.


Thank God for Holy Week vacation!








Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Big Bang with the Nerds



While waiting for my Gerber to text me of getting home after a very late night work, I decided to kill time. (Gerber texted at 12 midnight and arrived home at 1:40 am. Yes, I waited. Come on, spare me. This is after all my very first shot at a committed relationship. Chuckle.)

It was finally a time for me to fulfill a lifelong dream. Do a TV series marathon without work interruptions. The semester has just ended and aside from the lack of academic load that I will be receiving this May (Good Lord give me a job), no other school stuff was troubling me.

I scanned the whole space surrounding the DVD player in our receiving area and through random reasoning, got the first thing that my hands caught.

BIG BANG THEORY.
A CBS TV Series

And I seriously felt belongingness with what I watched.

It was a story of four nerds (three doctorate degree holders in quantum physics and one having a masters degree), who often had their gathering over an apartment, either talking about achieving a Nobel Prize or just blowing each other’s ego off. And a hot blonde woman who never even got to a community college degree, serves as their next door neighbor, who interacts with them on a regular basis. She had no choice, didn’t she?

The great thing here is that it doesn’t use much of the pop culture that usual comic series use (not that I don’t like them, it just leaves me confused when I hear people laughing in the background when the actors say a pop-culture-based punch line and I’m left clueless in my seat). What it does however, is use scientific jargons and theories gained from higher education and use them as the comic throws.

And I’m seriously laughing. Oh, no. You don’t want to hear me laugh seriously.

No, this isn’t a TV series critic.

But what really got me hooked to the show was that I am a geek myself. I swear, if the fashion police have warrants, I’m either already in prison or a fugitive. I wear overly baggy clothes. I want my hair very distortedly bushy. I walk like I have kiphosis (kuba). And I used to love video games.

I use interdisciplinary, highly scientific words when I crack up. Colleagues hate it when I start talking about various research methodologies over lunch. I’m banking on a trip to higher learning. In less than a year’s time, I’ll be having a Master’s degree. Then I’d get a Ph. D. on Clinical Psychology. Oh by the way, I’m planning to make a grounded theory on a psychiatric nursing concept.

Even people around me mistake me to be weirdly intellectual when I share stock knowledge. I lack etiquette and courtesy that usual humanoids have. Again, I don’t know much about pop-culture, nor would I want to know the latest who’s-who in whatsoever magazine. I’m not even personally motivated watch a movie, unless it’s with Gerber.

As portrayed by Sheldon, the most annoying but amusing character in the story, geeks are usually obsessive compulsive; especially if you’re knowledgeable on how communicable diseases can be unconsciously transmitted. Did I say we both don’t know how to drive--- even an arcade machine?

And I’m constantly looking for an eyeglass would fit me. I think they're cool.

I’m a brainiac, and I’m proud of it. Because I’m sure there is a nerd in all of us.

Nerdiness, if there is such a term, is not only based on IQ points.

I’d like to propose that in our system nerd genes lie--- the gene which pushes us to be weird at some sort or point, to act out of social norms once in a while, to try to read and learn something farfetched and out of this colossal universe--- and not give a damn about how other people would think of it, because we just plainly enjoy practicing our smarts.

Oh, I’m so full of those genes.