On friendship

People leave our lives as quickly as they came. And there is nothing wrong about feeling sad seeing them go, regardless of how short the time spent together is. We know deep in our hearts that they’re only with us for as long as the Fates allow, and this time is not much given the very minuscule time lent us to taste life. Friendships that result from this chance meeting amaze me. They remind me of the simple fact that among the great things one experience while alive, friendship is one of the most difficult to exact from any practical reason for being. It’s just there unobtrusively making us feel that someone sees us and sees us with a degree of tenderness deep inside we know we may not even deserve.

 

On writing

I am writing this post on a train to Cubao from my work in Katipunan. In Cubao, I’m hopping on to another train to Mandaluyong where I currently live. I do this every day. I have been wanting to write down my thoughts like I used to do when I was younger. But thoughts go stale. They are bombarded every day by our hesitations, self-destructive thoughts emanating from the many selves contained within the Self. Thoughts are diluted and rendered cliche by the daily assaults of the everyday. And I’ve stopped writing for some time now. Writing required me to examine my thoughts, but this act of examination annihilated all thoughts, further examination made me realize that the experiences I have enrich not this collective experience. That the collective goes on despite my stopping. And raging against the dying light is just like that–raging. And angry.

And so the individual chooses silence. Perhaps in silence he may hear that Self and its stories drowned by the noise of the world and the painful rebuke of the many selves it encases. 

Why have we become like this?

A friend of mine, a young woman of 26, asked me if she could leave before three today to join a protest rally on Katipunan, which if a critical mass is reached, will head to EDSA this evening. I indifferently said yes and told her to just make up for the lost hours next week. I on the other hand had to stay until 6 at the school to work on the evaluation of the French class students. I have papers to check this weekend, a class to prepare for, and cats to take care of. I also have to catch up on my workout as I haven’t gone to the gym for a week now because of work.

The people I see on the street, those my age, show that similar look of resignation, save for some undergraduates in their PE shirts or long tees who seem poised to change history tonight.

For all the rest, this protest on EDSA against the clandestine burying of the remains of Marcos is an annoyance, a cause of this monster traffic. The reason they’re stuck on buses on their way home to Fairview or Bacoor.

This is what has become of us. Work has made us unresponsive to events and happenings that would otherwise scandalize us had we been not rendered docile and satisfied but unthinking by work. I hate this feeling. This is what it means to be an adult; I hate that I am one.

I told myself a long time ago when I was much, much younger, that I would be part of history unfolding. That I will not stay home and let pass that rare opportunity to make a difference in this country. But look at me now. I’m scurrying to go home, cursing the traffic on EDSA just to catch some sleep.

And the saddest thing is that, passing by EDSA shrine, I saw a small crowd, hardly a critical mass enough to send the message that the people are indignant. There were several groups taking selfies while a member is holding a placard.

Everyone is tired. Everyone has gone tired. What with the unfulfilled promises of the past two People Power? The world goes on turning, with Marcos’s body finally subject to the actions of worms and vermins, after years of keeping it almost lifelike inside a tomb his family built for him.

But even rats and roaches won’t touch him. Who would want to gnaw on a dessicated body preserved in formaldehyde for almost three decades?

Life goes on.

And that is the tragedy of the Filipino, myself included, this general quiet and seeming indifference, this lack of rage at the direction this country is heading.

And my train goes to the direction of home, and I’m dying for sleep.

At the gym 

I was doing chest this evening at Gold’s Twin Oaks, doing the usual flat and incline bench presses, flyes, triceps dips, and some other routines whose names escape me now, when a trainer approached me and asked why I haven’t joined a competition yet, perhaps referring to a bodybuilding competition. I replied that I got “no time.” Really I don’t have, but I am more daunted by the fact of appearing in front of a crowd in thongs or board shorts with a body that is less than perfect. 

Haha. I’m kidding about the last sentence, but seriously who wouldn’t be? I’m an aging man whose present concerns do not include joining a bodybuilding contest.

I’m lifting heavy these days. The heaviest I can lift lying down is 230lbs. I can deadlift 300 but can only squat 140. I’m currently weighing 200 with a BMI of 22. My weight hovers between 198 to 202lbs. The heaviest I’ve gotten is 208lbs. That’s during the summer of this year when I did not have to stay up late to prepare for my classes and other work.  I’m doing cardio only when I remember, which means I don’t. My abs appear in the morning, but retract after lunch then reappear before I sleep at night, but they are not as defined as when I was in my early 20s. I know they’re there, only that they’re surrounded by a rather thick layer of adipose tissues that some lovingly call love handles. But I am working on this part, too. 

I’ve reached a point when I workout out of routine and nothing more, not even to look good, because I’m way past the point when I’d still care about what people think of how I look. I’m out of the dating scene for more than six years now. I’ve stopped hooking up, going out on a Saturday night, and checking myself out in mirrors. 

I go to gym in the same way a bald man runs his fingers on that space that used to be occupied by his now gone hair. 

Working out is the closest I can get to that really physical activity that has shaped the male’s anatomy for millennia. I’m sedentary most of the day except at night when I sweat it out, doing routines that do not serve any practical significance except exhaust the body so it can be as exhausted as the mind. 

Breakfast before workout

psx_20161101_094455As soon as I finished mopping the kitchen floor and the inside of the cabinet which had gotten flooded by water coming from the main pipe, I went downstairs to ask the personnel at the lobby to call a plumber to fix the leaking pipe. I thought of complimenting her for the bangs she’s sporting, but decided against it because I was not in the mood for small talks at that point. It was 7 in the morning. When the plumbers were done, advising me to buy a longer pipe, which I reckoned isn’t necessary, I had to face the ordeal of ridding the cupboard with plastic bags I have accumulated for months thinking I will have use for them to contain the poops of my cats among other things, without realizing I was becoming a hoarder.

I made myself a really heavy breakfast before I hit the gym today. It did not take much time to prepare. I sunny-side-upped two eggs, boiled two pork sausages, toasted a frozen bagel, spread on it my one-year-old guava jam which even the ants dared not touch, and completed the plate with a slice of cheese I got from a Sunday market on Pines Street. Of course, I had to make coffee, the three-in-one kind because my coffee maker broke last week, and I couldn’t find time to buy a replacement.

I guess this is where things lead for some, in being caught in the everyday and the quotidian. While everyone seems to be heading somewhere more important, doing stuff that will change the world, some choose to mop the floor, throw trash away, make breakfast, workout and be comforted by the belief that this is all there is to life.

 

Retirement and living in the present

I’m spending my long weekend resting, playing with my cats, cleaning the condo, checking some papers of my students, and making a summary of my monthly expenses. I plan to purchase another retirement instrument, my third, in order to secure my old age. I got two earlier retirement plans under Philam and Insular Life and this third I am getting is under Sunlife. Given my very modest salary, and factoring in the two condominium units  I’m currently mortgaging for ten years and an HMO I have to complete paying in the next two years, by 45, I shall be ready to retire, go back to the province, and tend a small plot of land which I bought last year. Capital indeed perpetuates itself.

Security wasn’t my biggest value when I was in my early twenties. Back then, seizing life by the neck was my ultimate goal. I was willing to squander the future in the name of carpe-dieming, or YOLO-ing in the parlance of my students. I could risk it all for love and for that one moment. Now that I am a little older, I know better that this life and this city are only for the young and ambitious. I can toil here for another 10 years, build more capital, and when the time to say quits comes, I should be able to let go without much pain and love lost for this city where I have spent almost a third of my life.

I think I am writing this post because I want to put some order to my seemingly disorganized thoughts that are made more muddled by this suffocating November heat. No matter how many showers I take in a day, the stinging humidity reminds me endlessly of death and all the sad things that come with one’s last days. And I find comfort in the fact that my 60s will be spent comfortably with my family and the cats I will have by that time because Mimi and Tumi will not be with me anymore by then.

Funny how I had to look up for a nearby cremation service yesterday. And my cats are only eight months old. I shall be spending 10-15 more years with them. But they too will have to go, and the thought of their leaving me is more than enough to make me shed a tear.

If only entropy can be reversed and my two kitties be with me forever, and I don’t have to pay for all these retirement instruments and just enjoy the present.

 

 

Dear Cats,

There are days when I wish you both gone. You’ve given me endless sneezes since yesterday, you scratched me, Mimi, while I so gently clipped your hind claws, you, Tumi always occupy the whole bed and cover it with your fur, you both scream and attempt to manslaughter me every month whenever I give you warm bath. You, Mimi, has achieved that rare expertise of finding my jugular veins and clawing them, always unsuccessfully, but one of these days, once you’re bigger and more experienced, you’ll be successful in the attempt, I’m imagining myself rotting for weeks on the floor of the bathroom surrounded by dried-up blood while you and Tumi escape through the window and use the elevator from the 21st floor to the ground floor, getting your freedom at last. If that happens, Mimi, please take care of fat Tumi. He will not survive outside, unlike you who’s independent and strong.

In spite of all these, I know that what I have for you two boys is the closest I can go to what they call unconditional love.

Your human,

John

mimi-and-tumi

The two kitties trying to escape.