It’s a struggle to wake up every single day and try not to cry myself to sleep at night.
1 It was 1 AM and I was on my way home from work. There was a bit of fuss as passengers boarded the jeepney. I wondered what that was about and as I sat in my seat, I locked eyes with a bespectacled stranger sitting across from me. He was wearing the same confusion I had on my face and for some reason I found it funny. The guy was wearing rectangular wire-rimmed glasses, which looked too good on him, and he reminded me of a certain JC I met at work in 2012. You see, I had a little crush on that JC and at some point I believe he found out about it. Obviously, it didn’t go anywhere and it didn’t bother me anyway. I forgot where I was going with this… I guess I was trying to get to the point that some boys, even if they know that a girl likes them and even if they like the attention that girl willingly gives, will not use that knowledge to their advantage. But some boys can do that. Some boys have done that.
2 I was texting a friend and his name appeared on the predictive text options below the message field. I touched and held the part of the screen that had his name. A dialog box popped up and it read “Do not predict ‘Zero’ again.” I tapped OK. “‘Zero’ successfully removed from learned words.” Had it been that easy to remove him from my memory, I wouldn’t have had this misery.
3 They say actions speak louder than words but that isn’t always the case. I was feeling particularly awful one afternoon so I decided to have some tea nearby after work. He showed up in the tea shop a bit later, saying that he came because he did not want me to feel alone. He said he did not want me to feel alone because he knew how it felt. Also, while actions cannot be trusted, the same can be said about words.
4 “Zero mentioned you in a comment.” I clicked on the notification and saw that he tagged my name under the picture that said “Mention a person who made your 2016 better” or something like that. I laughed at that time because it was posted on a Facebook page called Sarcasm. Thinking about it now, I suppose it was true. I guess I did make his 2016 better. I’m glad to be of use.
5 The first trailer for the latest Star Wars film has just been released and it makes me believe that there are things to look forward to. Better things. I only have to forget the fact that I saw Rogue One with him and he is one of the reasons I started watching Star Wars again.
6 I decided to return his glass jar while he was not at work. I put it on his desk and made sure all of the paper cranes he made, which used to occupy a space in my desk, were inside. I could not recall how I ended up with all of them but I could remember a time I asked him how the cranes got to my desk from his. He said he had no idea. Maybe they finally learned how to fly. Whatever the case, I liked seeing them and kept them before as a sign of friendship. One night I told him he should teach me how to make one of those before he leaves the company but, now, I guess I just have to look it up on WikiHow.
The highly anticipated fifth month review took place yesterday with G, the team leader, and Johnny, the deputy team leader (should’ve been Depp but, yeah, it’s lame either way so… there).
The review went well, I think, and they didn’t really talk about anything I had no knowledge of beforehand in relation to my performance at work. During the assessment, G kept on saying that quality is my strongest suit and I found it a bit funny because that’s the same observation my immediate superior had of me when I was an agent. My timeliness is a mess so I shouldn’t be discussing it but I can’t help but think it’s almost similar to the average handle time KPI I used to struggle with when I was still answering calls from seniors who didn’t know where the menu button was, TV junkies who didn’t understand why their satellite connection would lose reception whenever it rained, and millennials who didn’t care how much a truck roll would cost them as they could not be bothered to spare a few minutes on the phone and follow instructions from a third-worlder so they’d go—just send me a bloody technician. I don’t know why I didn’t develop that sense of focus and urgency in the three or so years I spent in the industry.
All things considered, I can say that I am in a much better state now than last year… and the year before that, and the year before the past year. Not only because I’m no longer obliged to deal with debilitating stress on a daily basis and I am, in a way, writing for a living, but also because I am starting to feel like I know my place in the world again. I don’t exactly love the job, partly because of its repetitive nature, but I don’t hate it either, not yet, at least (and now Larsson’s statement back in March echoes in my head: You’ll hate that job soon enough). There are times I’d rather sleep in than get up from bed, but when I do report for work, I feel like I am on the right track. I feel that even if I’m not sure of where I’m headed, I am sure that I am on my way.
During my early days in the university I remember trying so hard to write anything—anything that my broken English could muster. There were a lot of drafts and fragments from stories I never had the chance to finish; verses and rhymes from poems I never had the guts to publish. My head was brimming with ideas I didn’t quite know how to put into words, in writing or otherwise. I kept a blog that was composed mostly of small talk and phony paragraphs that would probably make me cringe for the rest of my uneventful life.
Then, by some excellent plot twist, it became easier (no, not the writing because it’s never going to be easy, trust me) to jot down thoughts as years went by. The goal was to write relentlessly (uh and brilliantly* if I’d be so #blessed), to make writing feel as natural as breathing to me. I knew it’s a long shot. I didn’t really meet the target but I believe I reached the part where writing no longer felt like a chore.
There were bad days, of course, when life went off course and I was stuck thinking I wouldn’t be able to write anything in the way I’d had before. The block wasn’t up for very long as I figured out a solution soon enough: the trick was to read/backread entries of bloggers I look up to, draw inspiration from my favorite writers and remind myself of the reason I got into the craft in the first place.
Things went from bad to worse when the trick lost its magic. These days when I feel the slightest urge to write—yes, I do write when I can—my thoughts usually get condensed into 140 characters or less. Anything longer than that would require a year-long summoning of the proverbial muse
yada yada bullshit which is, as we all know, just a myth. These days when the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak, I just shrug it off and get my phone because, man, I intend to watch all nine seasons (200 episodes!) of The X-Files this month to make the most out of my iflix subscription.
This day is an exception, though. It’s the start of an attempt to preempt the superlative. But we’ll never know, I guess, as the cliché goes
prepare for the worst, hope for the best and… God will do the rest?
*I once heard of a Kule writer who “writes brilliantly when he’s drunk” and whoa, hot damn, I want to have what he’s having.
I’m not liking this person I’m becoming. While I’ve grown to accept some things I cannot change and learned not to expect anything from anybody, I’ve become more intolerant of injustices and vindictive to those who have done irreparable damage to me in the past. I still believe I’m hardwired to do the right and the good, though.
The rain has brought an unexpected calm in me that is just as frightening as the storm signal warning in the city. I’m almost always anxious, no, restless, and this calmness seems so foreign yet so comfortable. It almost feels like surrender. Surrender is bad because that means I’m about to settle for something less than I have bargained for.
I go to work an hour and a half early in the midst of a torrential downpour and the only thing that bothers me is the fact that my feet may still get wet even though I’m wearing high-cut boots. I’m usually more uneasy when it rains–this dates back to my infant years. I go to work and relapse into my unhealthy habit of consuming a 60-gram pack of chips in one-sitting on my 15-minute break. I’ve gone months without eating chips and knowing that this craving is creeping back into my system tells me that there is a problem. I go home and the darkness of the evening keeps the calm intact. I go to sleep expecting nothing but the numbing calmness that tomorrow would bring. Not sure if not dreading it sounds like a good thing.
It’s a vicious cycle… but there are things to look forward to. I’ve just celebrated 23 years of living in this spinning rock and I’m holding on to the belief that better days are coming.
What kept me going then was a simple statement, a self-pep talk—The trick is to find something to look forward to every single day. I try to use the same mantra nowadays and it keeps me up, makes me think: What if I run out of things to look forward to? What if there isn’t any to begin with? Does it necessarily mean that my days have to end, too (in this place, at least)?
Perhaps I have always been looking for that certain something in all the wrong places.
Some things take a lot of getting used to.
There are some that I can manage—restoring my body clock, learning new stuff and unlearning the old. There are also some that I have no control over—shifting schedules, split RDs, stifling environment. Sure, the workload is light and I’m dealing with purely technical aspects of the pay TV service, considerably easy compared to Dish, but there’s something about the workplace that doesn’t sit well with me. The feeling of emptiness, that I am more than used to, seems to have doubled in the past two months and I’m certain it doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that I spend most of my time alone. Hey, I’ve spent most of my life alone and I enjoy my lunch in solitude, thank you very much. I seek the company of my wavemates now and then, though, to be honest.
During brunch with former teammates recently, I found out that most of them got promoted and my former team leader added that if I hadn’t left, I would’ve been in the same standing. I did feel a pang of regret, but not so much especially when I was told that I am allowed to go back. Even before that, I knew that if I could, I would. But now I’m not sure if I should. I’d probably regret my decision either way, all things considered.
I guess people never really settle for anything, in general. When we get what we think we want, we still yearn for that certain something… that’s something else. Something else entirely.
It was like love in that way: Look at this! What’s going to happen here? “Unless the volcano erupts,” became a joke, like “See you Friday, unless the volcano erupts,” or “I’ll love you forever, unless the volcano erupts.”
At that point, bothered by something blurring my vision, I stopped reading. I inspected the smudge on my glasses and tried to wipe it off with my shirt but that only resulted to a bigger mess. It shouldn’t mean anything significant (except perhaps it’s about time for me to go get the piece of cloth specifically designed to clean lenses?) but, you know, unemployment does things to us humans, like give us all the time in the world to exercise our right to treat every non-event as a metaphor. Case in point:
Mudra: Ano ba ‘yang buhok mo walang direksyon.
MG: Parang buhay ko.
I recall what one of my favorite writers once said, Pag pilit mong nilalapatan ng metaphor ang mga bagay, ang tawag dyan sa fiction, heavy-handed. But that is beside the point. What I’m trying to say here is that the message is clear: Nobody’s to blame for the mess I’m in but myself and the more I try to fix it, the more I put myself in deep shit. In the end, I give up.
I gave up. I stopped reading the book altogether. I guess I enjoyed Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette so much that I’ve had trouble with Daniel Handler’s Adverbs. I got too comfortable with Semple’s writing style that the attempt to digest Handler’s lengthy sentences, which I’m no stranger to, has become quite a chore. It’s like being stuck in the comfort zone, trying to get out and failing miserably.
I’ve groomed myself to pursue a career in writing but with years of working in the hellhole of customer service, I feel like I cannot do anything except give instructions to troubled customers and pacify irate foreigners over the phone. Sure, I send applications to writing-oriented job posts online and I receive invitations for interview in return but, more often than not, I second-guess myself. In the end, I give up.
I’ve always believed that people get what they want if they try hard enough and this is the problem: I don’t know what I want anymore.
It sucks that we won’t get to know what the future holds until it becomes the present and the fact that this starts to seem like a particularly pretentious introductory line sucks even more.
I think I might have reached that point in adulthood wherein one has to choose between living the dream and letting it die down and then going back to sleep. In my case, though, I know I haven’t made a conscious decision yet but I get a feeling of where life’s headed. It amazes me because it doesn’t even frighten me—the overthinking stage has not taken over yet, perhaps, but I know it soon will, given there’s only a month and a half before we usher in another year with resolutions one’s sure to forget a week later. I may be just running away from things, like I always do, because I’ve already lost the will to work for what I love. At this point, I’m thinking I would, in the future, regret the chances I didn’t take (like what those ubiquitous internet quotes say in a thousand different ways) and what probably scares me is I feel like I’m going to be OK with that.
And what sucks the most is this piece of crap you’ve just read. By the way, this has been MG, thank you for calling and have a good day.
The occasional journal entries almost always begin with a “Hi.” which starts to sound like a forced greeting from someone who just happened to meet an old acquaintance by accident.
I guess I have a thing for lockers.
I fantasized about having one of them in high school and college, and was genuinely thrilled when I finally had one at the first company I worked for away from home. That’s probably why when I got back to surrender my headset and make sure I had not left anything inside the locker I used to leave my things on for more than a year and a half, I was close to tears again. I sighed and looked at JK (not Rowling), who was standing behind me, to divert my attention from the emotions brewing up and to get some reassurance that it’d be OK, that it’s OK. Maybe I also did it because I’ve always seen her as the more rational version of myself—two years older and a couple of years wiser. I turn to her for advice most of the time because I know she’s been through the same road before. She’s like the older sister I never had.
I looked at her, helpless, because I knew it’s my fault and it’s irrevocable. I was helpless because I knew that I’ll be leaving for good, and I’m not good at goodbyes. We had thought of resigning from the company now and then. We were restless because we both knew that we have a choice, that we were not cut out for this, that we were not made for customer service. But we cannot pick the right choice, not yet, not until we graduate.
I had planned to stay until mid-May, in time for enrollment. I wasn’t really certain of that but the company had it all figured out for me. My supervisor accompanied me to the Human Resources office back in December to explain the tardiness points I had incurred (because of internship duties) and since I didn’t hear from them after a month, I thought the case was closed. Based on the information I gathered from reliable sources, nobody got kicked out due to attendance issues on the first endorsement anyway.
I was summoned to the HR after shift on the 28th of January, so that was technically the 29th, and there’s this lady who read the verdict to me. When she reached the end of the document, she asked
“Naintindihan mo ba?”
I didn’t have time to take that as an insult, so I just nodded and smiled a bit. Perhaps she was expecting some sort of reaction from me, given her experience with employees who got terminated.
I am certain now about why I could not just leave no matter how much I hated the job—it was safe and familiar territory. Termination made it even worse because unlike resignation, it didn’t give me a 30-day period to condition myself that everything (post-shift donuts with JK, toothbrush sessions with SM, pre-shift huddle and coffee breaks with the team, etc. etc.) was about to end. It was so sudden it felt like getting kicked in the gut.
I went to the locker area after that and as I was getting my stuff my boss asked if I was OK. I only gave him a thumbs up and a wave goodbye even though I actually thought of giving him a hug and a speech on how grateful I am for having a superior who put up with my stubborn self. Thinking about those things alone made my eyes glassy so I just turned to my locker and sighed.
I guess I would try not to get too attached to the locker I’d be assigned to in the next company I’d work for.
- 24 days into 2014 and it’s been good, for the most part. The only trouble I seem to be having is forgetting that there should be a 4 instead of a 3 in the last Y of DD/MM/YYYY.
- Started the year right by going to an impromptu overnight trip to Tagaytay with friends instead of reporting for work. And what does one do at Tagaytay at night (except try to make out the figure of the Taal in the dark), you ask. Have coffee, that’s what, and it seemed like most of the people in the city thought of doing the same thing at the same place because the coffee shop we had been to was so packed the lines actually reached the parking lot.
- Finally finished reading The Fault in Our Stars. If you did not feel water welling up on your eyes reading that last page containing Gus’s words about his choices, then you must be heartless, man.
- Got my new glasses after making a scene at an optical which destroyed my original frames back in December. Glad I didn’t have to do that in a bank when I asked the person in charge about getting my card back; it was captured by one of their automated teller machines, and stayed there for what, two days. Yes, I am an impatient customer but I don’t usually take it out on the people in charge. There’s just something about working in customer service that makes you feel that, well, the customer is always right.
- Filed a week-long leave from work to complete the last 20 hours of my internship. I have corresponded with my immediate superior through email but I haven’t mustered the courage to go to the newsroom.
- Do people die of anxiety attack?
If I were born a boy, none of this would have happened. But the heavens intended for me to become a girl so how the hell am I going to deal with that without having to worry about the syntax of that conditional in the first statement?
All grammatical uncertainties aside, I believe the primary reason my folks don’t trust me is tied with the fact that I have ovaries, or to put it bluntly, a vagina. They must have grown up in a neighborhood where a lot of girls have been impregnated out-of-wedlock or disowned for engaging in premarital sex. They must have witnessed the plight of those girls and therefore resolved not to let one of their daughters go through the same torture and ruin a bright future. The same daughter can list down a hundred possible excuses for them on a spreadsheet but still, the parents wouldn’t think of associating her with any of those if they’ve already known her to be worthy of that big word which is also the name of a famous contraceptive brand.
You got the reference for sure.
There was a time my parents told me they trust me so much I almost replied: That’s bullshit. But I had heard the slap before it landed on my face so I just shut up.
I guess having a female reproductive organ isn’t my fault. And do they think I’m that stupid (or sex-crazed) to get it on with one of my male friends
when I have already learned my lesson and promised not to fall for a friend ever again? How insulting.
That night, I talked to my mother just because I thought she’d understand me, being more level-headed than my father. She asked me
“Wala kang kasamang babae dun? Bakit mga lalaki kasama mo?”
Anger was building up by that time and I simply replied
“Friends kami eh.”
I tried to keep my cool and offered the explanation that I’m more comfortable having guys as friends and would have probably added that even my closest girl friends aren’t what you’d consider girly had she not worsened the situation by saying “Naku, huwag mo ‘yang isasagot sa Papa mo” and implying that having male friends is all sorts of wrong.
You have no idea how I wanted to break down and break things that night. None of that would have happened if I were born a boy. Or whatever.
I am bound to go back to regular programming in two weeks.
Come November 16 I’d be taking calls again and, truth be told, I don’t know how to feel about this. Yes, I loathe the industry, I can’t stand the thought of having to deal with some colleagues I’d ignore under different circumstances and I could go on and on about that BUT I do miss talking to foreigners over the phone in a way
that only someone who had a month-long leave does. Going back would also help me save up for that one thing I intend to buy for my future writing pursuits, make myself useful to my family, add books to my growing backlog and spend time with friends over coffee once every two weeks. Volunteering wouldn’t let me achieve any of that, unless the company decides to hire me and we all know that’s not going to happen anytime soon. Three bylines, two of which shared with a co-intern and one with my supervisor, for articles I’m not that proud to share on Facebook, are all I can get so far. And that’s fine with someone who’s not even expecting a byline having been assigned to the research unit.
For now I think it’s best to live in the moment and quit looking too far ahead. I’d focus on completing the 200-hour internship requirement, go back to work when the time comes, and then cross the proverbial bridge when I get there. Or most probably when I get the bonus.
We had been so engrossed talking of the people who needed a wake-up call by the end of September that we almost didn’t notice October fly by in a whiff. It’s almost like the cigarette I set on the ashtray after the first puff, much to the disdain of my chain-smoking friends, burned to ashes after several minutes of catching up and chilling out.
Here comes November.