Last night, after a tiring strings of travels using a combination all imaginable modes of land transportation in a modern metropolis — tricycle, MRT, LRT, jeepney, bus, and several hundred meters by foot from Shaw in Mandaluyong to Katipunan in Quezon City for my class in Ateneo to my part time teaching job in Makati — I arrived home nearly exhausting all my reserved energy, using up all my arsenal of reserved hope that I thought to be inexhaustible.
After an endless litany that went to nowhere, a monologue that lacked clarity and coherence, whose absence of a thesis statement boggled even me, and which despite it being endless, it ended because I got no energy to continue. And I was at a lost for the right words to describe what I felt. My brain came to a sudden halt, ceased to work, and surrendered everything to the comforts of a deep sleep.
This morning while attempting to put my thoughts to writing, I was surprised to learn that this one I am writing now is my 500th post. I’ve posted in this blog 500 articles! Some articles that made sense, some that didn’t, some that reflected nothing but my narcissistic tendencies as a writer and a person, some that shamelessly exposed my darkest insecurities, and some that defy rational categorization.
Nineties rock is a good complement for a rainy Monday morning. Eraserheads final concert recording was blaring inside the bus but I got nothing to complain about. So did other passengers, I believe. Everyone was going with the beat. For any Filipino who spent his teenage years in the 90s, nothing is more 90s than the rock songs of Eraserheads.
The bus conductor, who must have spent his growing up years in the 70s or 80s turned off the overhead television.
“Kuya naman! Nanood pa kami,” shouted the lady three seats in front of me.
“Kanina pa kasi nakasalang ‘yan miss. Baka magasgas na ang plaka.”
“Eh kakasakay ko lang ah, ngayon ko lang nakita ‘to. Kasalanan ko ba na ngayon lang ako nakasakay,” she seemed irritated by the logic of the old man.
“Pasensya na miss. Ito Child’s Play, horror to, alam ko kilala mo si Chuckie.”
“Ibalik niyo sa Eraserheads!”
“Oo na.” And the old man could do nothing but to play the recording.
And the atmosphere inside the bus felt like it was the 90s all over again.
You’re sick again? Why have you been taking your health for granted these days? Remember you’re alone in this foreign country and in the event that you become seriously ill, nobody will take care of you. It’s not as if you’re living with your mom and that there’ll be somebody who will replace the wet towel to quell your fever.
You do not eat well. You do not anymore enjoy eating the food that you used to like. I remember you told me that you could eat nem in every meal for the rest of your life, but now you eat for the sake of completing a boring task.
I see you walking everyday going to the bus stop, what’s the reason for that blank stare? I’m not so used seeing you looking expressionless. Sadness is better than not feeling anything. And I noticed that you also put aside writing these days. Why? You told me last time you’ll go crazy if you stop writing. Have you gone crazy?
I attended one of your classes. You seemed to be doing well, in fact very well, but why is it that you seemed too distant from your students. Why do you appear too mechanical, obligated? Has passion escaped you?
These thoughts may rather be random, but I know they reflect the kind of randomness that describes your mind this time. You’ve never had a decent sleep for several nights. You eat nothing but a choice between cheese burger or bolgogi burger in the nearest fast food chain store. You used to detest fast food, but why all of a sudden you eat nothing but these greasy junk.
We may never have had a chance to converse these past few days because of your self-inflicted preoccupation with so many unnecessary things. I do not understand why you have to do part-time when the grant you received from your scholarship is more than enough to pay all your expenses? I know you want nothing but to kill off boredom, but by doing so you also put in peril your health and one of the few non-negotiables in your life-writing. The first few chapters in your novels are waiting for you. The rest remain unwritten. Too sad, when will your characters develop into something mature?
You’ve changed a lot, John, in fact, I cannot anymore recognize. You’ve become a totally different person that when you happen see face to face your old self, it’ll never know you. It’ll never understand why this sudden change made you something different yet unchanged. I apologize for the cryptic language. But I know you understand this.
p.s. Please take your medicine every four hours. Get well soon. Have enough rest.
Two nights ago, I came home at around 10:30 in the evening hungry and tired after being lost in Hanoi.
It was my first time to try riding a bus after my three months of stay here in Vietnam. What was supposed to be a desperate attempt on my part to save money turned out to be more expensive, stressful, if not demoralizing.
I took bus number 26 from Cau Giay, where I have my part time job, to Kim Lien but ended up in Bach Mai, a couple of kilometers away from where I should have alighted. Because of that, I had to take a xe om, a motorbike taxi popular in any Vietnamese city. The driver who originally agreed to be paid 20,000 dongs raised his voice and gave me a threatening look right after I gave him the money when I reached my house in Xa Dan street, and asked for more because according to him ‘he never thought that my house is that far’.
Tired and hungry, I was not in the mood to argue and put my language skills to practice; I succumbed and gave him another 10,000 dong. He smiled at me after, a smile one can only associate to that of a dog.
I’ve always hated Monday. Not because that incident happened on a Monday, but because it is the only day of the week that “forces” itself on me. Its arrogance appears overbearing that it overshadows my dislike for Sunday or Wednesday.
For Monday, hate is too tame a word to describe how I feel towards it, in fact, hatred is better. Monday doesn’t fail to remind me that I have to start the week, but hey, I do not need something to remind me this fact for the tasks ahead are already daunting. Monday is the mother of redundancies and hyperbole. It constantly repeats itself, emphasizes itself, and calls attention for itself.
Monday and I never had a good relationship even before. I am a Thursday child, and according to that book I read when I was twelve, a child rearing book published in the US during the 50s, children born in Thursday are always at odds with those born in Monday. A flimsy, unscientific book, I must say, but it justified my hatred for that day of the week.
I dreaded the start of classes on a Monday. It was our Physical Education day, and how I dislike P.E., from my first grade until my sixth up until my fourth year in high school. And I remember we always had to be weighed on a Monday, and it caused me so much anxiety to see my classmate peering on the weighing scale and seeing that I was too light for my height. During those times conformity is the name of the game, even when it comes to weight. I must weigh as much as my friends for us to be team mates in our after-class baseball games.
I broke up with my first three relationships on a Monday.
I give lousy arguments in any of my classes during college on a Monday.
And I get lost whenever it’s Monday.
I shall never get over this feeling of detestation toward Monday. Not now when it’s good at nothing but be the only day when so many unfortunate events happened in my life.