Of Creepy Old Men

August 28, 2016

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

–Dylan Thomas

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As I was sitting in church today, a mentally challenged old man sat next to me. He was creepy and had that old people smell, but other than that, his outfit was not too shabby. His clothes were a little faded but it looked marginally clean. I was alarmed and immediately had my guard up. I could feel the fight-and-flight response acutely.

He would look at me all throughout the sermon. He smiled and laughed every time the pastor said something funny, just like everyone else did. Toward the end of the sermon, I had my eyes closed in prayer. When I opened them, I panicked because the old man was reaching for my hand. Just then, Pastor Jo asked if the people who needed surrender and raised their hands to head up front below the stage. I did not raise my hand, but the old man was creeping me out so I got up and walked to the stage.

After the pray over and closing song, I made my way back to my seat. The old man had disappeared. I felt like he wanted something from me and I failed him. I thought of taking him the church staff in case he needed help, but he seemed to have vanished into thin air. As I made my way out the door, I contemplated on looking for the old man or, at the very least, report him to the church staff or hotel security. I left church with a confused heart instead of it being at peace.

Who was he? Was it Jacer, my best friend who passed away some years ago, trying to communicate to me or was it God teaching me how to be compassionate. I headed home utterly in a daze. Was the old man ever real or was he just a figment of my imagination? More importantly, how the heck did Waterfront allow such a person to wander the second floor of the hotel unsupervised?

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Dream Journal #5

2-11-07

Why does the eye see a thing more clearly in dreams than the imagination when awake? 

—Leonardo da Vinci

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She had another dream about you last night. It’s been so long since the last time, but like the previous ones, they still sweep the rug from under and floored her. Every time.

She was at school and by the landing she saw L in a guard’s uniform. As she was making her way down the steps, she saw you wearing the same thing. You were climbing up the stairs toward her. We took a walk around the front gardens. They talked and laughed like they haven’t talked and laughed before. The boy said he and L were on guard duties as part of a community volunteer service. For the first time—and only in her dreams—he was so easy to talk to.

Suddenly, they were sitting down on a row of benches in an unusually deserted park, and he was wearing something more casual. She asked him about his girlfriend. He said that you had a girlfriend for a while but it ended not too l0ng ago. She argued that the status in his social media profile was still “in a relationship.” He explained that he kept it that way so no one would bother asking him why he was still single. Then they boy said something funny, and the girl slapped his leg affectionately. The next thing they knew, they were holding hands while making their way back to the building. They walked like it was the most natural thing to do in the world.

It was at this point that her imagination took over because the dream ended with an  anticipation of a kiss as the boy lowered his lips to meet hers.

***

She woke up shivering from cold. It seemed funny because the sun was shining quite brightly outside her window, and there was only a slight cool breeze coming in. Maybe the shirt she wore to sleep was just a little too thin and that the still cold draft of the early morn crept up her spine. Or maybe it was the lingering feeling of anticipating for that kiss, which almost always never happens in all her dreams of him. She may never know. But all she knew was this, she missed him. She feared that she will never see that boy again. All she had of him now was just a lifetime of memories and a series of frustrating dreams.

She  went downstairs to buy lunch when the answer to her dream came assailing through my ears. The girl remembered that old cheesy love song the boy used to sing to her when he called her one day. It may be the corniest love song ever but for a brief moment, it made her smile.

Way back then, she remembered cradling the phone close to her chest as she smiled. That smile was frozen on her face all day long because of that call. They were so young but even then, she knew it was love. It wasn’t just infatuation one bestows upon a cute boy and then just quickly take it right back and offer it to the next cute boy in sight.  No, what they had was real, and she will treasure it for a lifetime.

Life is too short to live in perpetual frustrations and undying guilt. But if it was all she have left of the boy, then the girl would gladly accept an eternity of anguish. That’s how much he meant and forever will be to her.

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Raw

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I want nothing more than to lock myself in my room and cry until all the pain has left my body and all that remains is numbness. Knowing that its familiar views are numbered, I take a few, long looks of myself, my room, and the house. I can feel fresh new cracks in my heart.  I can hear the distant bell chiming the beginning of the end. I can taste the bittersweet memories in my mouth.

Change is never easy. It is a terrible monster that lurks in the shadows, biding its time. Sometimes it comes swiftly like a thief in the night. Most creep ever so slowly until it’s practically right in front of your face, about to pounce. There’s nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. Change comes to us all, whether our arms are stretched wide open to welcome it or we are cowering in the darkness. Like death and taxes, it is an inevitable force.

If we don’t embrace it, what are we afraid of? If we don’t take a leap of faith, then what are we alive for?

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The Heroes in My Family

Where did I go wrong? I lost a friend
Somewhere along in the bitterness
And I would have stayed up with you all night
Had I known how to save a life

—The Fray, “How to Save a Life”

Not too long ago, my cousin, who is a nurse, decided to unwind after work. He and his friend went to an Internet cafe straight after their shift to play some games. Suddenly, a fellow gamer collapsed nearby. Without hesitation, my cousin and his friend jumped into action and performed CPR on the unconscious man. With their quick thinking and considerable medical skills, they were able to revive the him until help arrived.

This story was particularly dear to my heart, especially since acts of selfless heroism like this are far and few in between in today’s jaded society. Not only am I proud of my cousin’s intrinsic ability to help a perfect stranger, his modesty inspires me and makes me reevaluate my previous long-standing belief that millennials are nothing more than a bunch of selfish, privileged, and entitled generation. When he and his friend was saving the man’s life, he did so without even thinking about it. What is even more impressive  is that he said his instinct just kicked in and did what any person would do given the same situation. Outside of people whose jobs it is to save lives, not many of us regular folks can claim the same. Incidentally, my cousin’s younger brother is a Special Ed teacher, which is a different sort of hero, but a hero all the same.

Then I had some time to think about it, and I realized there are all sorts of heroes in my family. My number one hero would be my mother. She dropped out of college in order to run her father’s business to support her parents and her 10 siblings—9 of them were younger than her since she is the second of 11 children. She gave up most of her life to raise and support her family. Despite being a creative and talented woman, she gave up on her dream of becoming an artist to prioritize her family’s needs. And when they all grew up and had families of their own, only two ended up helping her. When no one else volunteered to take over the family business, she dedicated her life to keep providing for her mom, my grandmother (God rest her soul), and her youngest siblings. My grandfather was out of the picture long before I could remember him. Eventually, my mother got married and had children (all 5 of us), but she was still stuck managing the family business. Both my grandparents have long since passed away, but my mother is still running the store until now. My uncle, who comanaged the business with her as soon as he graduated from college, resigned some years ago after he got married to put up his own business. Only my mom and my aunt (her eldest sibling) are left tending the business after my cousin and uncle (another younger brother) almost bankrupted the company. The rest of my aunts and uncles got married, had their own family, and never looked back. Two of her youngest siblings, the youngest brother and sister, still rely on a “monthly allowance” from the company.

Then there’s my father. One time, our family went on an outing to a beach. During one of the small islands we visited, one little boy got swept up in a strong tide and almost drowned. My father sprang into action in a split second while the rest of us stood frozen in shock. He yanked the kid out of the water at the expense of the cellphone in his pocket. That day, I saw my dad as a hero. He become one again when the 7.2 magnitude earthquake rocked Bohol in 2013, which decimated his father’s newly renovated house. Upon hearing that Lolo Mando’s house—and his room, in particular—was totally destroyed, my father immediately flew back to his hometown to rescue my grandfather. We would have gotten my aunt too except she vehemently refused to leave Bohol. My grandfather stayed with my parents for over a year until he passed away on February 2015, exactly a week after his 91st birthday. Daddy’s tatay (father) never made it back home again. A week later, Dad and I went to Bohol to deliver my lolo‘s (grandfather) ashes to his final resting place. His house was still in ruins that a makeshift shed was put up on the lawn for my aunt and cousins to sleep in.

Not only are my own parents my personal heroes, they also play superhero to their grandchildren as well. When my brother and his wife had to leave their daughter with my parents while they work in Japan, my parents had to take care of my niece and my sister-in-law’s adopted son. At a time in their lives when they should be slowing down in retirement, they had to get up early, bathe the kids, prepare their meals, and drive them to  and from school. They are basically raising two 10-year-olds. Conversely, my brother and sister-in-law had to suffer being away from their daughter for long periods of time just to be able to support and provide for her and their adopted son.

It’s amazing the extent of the sacrifices parents make for their kids. I’ve  seen firsthand the unconditional love my parents had bestowed on me and my siblings growing up, and I have witnessed the great lengths my siblings go through for their own kids. While I have no children of my own, I can appreciate that parents are essentially their own brand of heroes. They work days and nights to provide for their family, stay up all night if their child is sick, and put their children’s needs before their own.

I do not use the term hero lightly. I think it is a disservice to brandish it around like insipid titles, not unlike how the word epic lost much of its meaning because of overuse. I do not necessarily think doctors, firefighters, and policemen are all heroes because I am not close enough to know one personally. But I stand by each and every hero in my life. They are what I aspire to be and hope the future generations would become. I am reminded every day that the world is not entirely a shitty place to live in and that people are not always self-serving. They restore my faith in humanity. I feel blessed that I don’t have to look beyond my own family to find the inspiration to live my life as conscientiously as I can. So this is how I pay tribute for being the heroes that they are. In my own little way, I want the world to know that there are still good people out there, and I am honored to have some of them in my family.

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Of What-ifs and Maybes

It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.

―Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

You thought you had it under control. You thought you had already healed. You thought you have shoved the pain so deep, nothing less than kingdom come could ever dredge up all those memories from the deepest recesses of your subconscious. You were wrong!

All it took was a word or two and someone somehow managed to drag all the pain back to light. Like a freshly opened wound, the throbbing starts, the emotion swells; before you know what hits you, you are on your knees again, writhing in agony and crying your heart out.

Will it take another ten years to numb the pain again? Will the memories ever fade? Will the tears eventually run dry? Will the scars remain? Will you keep perpetually reliving all the unspoken words and opportunities lost?

The pain will never end. The maybes and what ifs still linger just below the surface, lurking out of sight, biding its time, and waiting for another chance to inflict more damage and bring new cracks to your carefully veiled facade.

Until then, the heart still bleeds and the pain endures. Love abides!

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In Retrospect: Doormat

Bedroom, May 11, 2014

“If they don’t appreciate your presence, perhaps you should try giving them your absence.”

–Tinku Razoria

313721_155033961252771_161781144_n-11155842_stdI got home from work and was looking for a hot meal to cap off my day. But instead of an inviting smell of dinner wafting from the kitchen, I was greeted by a locked door. And upon opening said door, there he was in the doorway, gulping down a glass of water as if he didn’t have a care in the world. He could have just opened the door for me, so I wouldn’t have to fumble with my keys. But no, he stood there next to the refrigerator with a blank look on his face.

So instead of the promise of food to fill me up after a hard day’s work, I had to cook dinner for the both of us. It would’ve been fine since I’m used to cooking my own supper, except for the fact that he was home all day long while I was toiling away at work. But I digress!

After dinner though, I had to wash and put away the dishes, while he went straight to his room to rub gunk out of his irritated eyes and go back to his so-called work. What burns me even more is he had the gall to mock me while I was finishing with the dishes.

By the way, it’s Mother’s Day today and instead of celebrating the joys and extolling the virtues of being a woman, I felt so darn unappreciated. I feel like a a dirty rag that has outlived its usefulness and tossed unceremoniously aside without so much as a glance. I may not be a mother, but I’m still a woman who gets fed up with being treated like a housemaid.

So let’s review, shall we! 1. He didn’t open the door even though he was just a few steps away, 2. I had to cook dinner for the both of us when I just got home and tired from work, 3. didn’t offer to help with the dishes and mocked me while I was doing it, 4. treated me like a maid who caters to his every whim, 6. acted like he didn’t care, and 7. ignored my advice time and time again not to rub his eyes to keep from getting even more irritated.

Sometimes I wonder why I bothered having a boyfriend at all!

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Asthmatique 2.0

“The contraption was necessary because my lungs sucked at being lungs.”

John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

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How to lose 3-4 lbs instantly:

1. Get asthma or some other chronic diseases with a sporadic trigger.
2. Eat one of the random triggers, and do not anticipate the consequence.
3. Ignore the chest-tightening and labored breathing. Continue with your day as if you are not fighting for your life with every breath.
4. Cough involuntarily and liberally.
5. Prepare to empty your stomach with multiple fits of projectile vomiting (at least four or more times a day).
6. Do not eat anything at this point, as most of it would eventually be regurgitated on the floor or in the toilet.
7. Get off work early and go home as soon as you can. It’s not like you can function effectively and be productive anyway.
8. Stay in bed for the rest of the day, since lifting even a finger hurts too darn much. Each shallow breath feels like contractions of a woman close to giving birth.
9. If at all possible, get some sleep before the masseuse arrives.
10. During and after the two-hour-long and rather painful massage, which was punctuated by tug-of-wars and acid reflux every five or so minutes, try relax as much as possible.
11. Then take some antinausea, anti-asthma, antihistamine, and decongestants immediately. Throw in an Advil or two for good measure.
12. Try to sleep off the pain. From all the meds you’ve taken, hopefully it won’t be long before you get knocked out.
13. Wake up every two hours from either cough or heartburn.
14. As soon as the fever breaks, get to the weighing scale and prepare to be
astonished.
15. Finally, after little to no food within the last 12-24 hours, be amazed at seeing a drop of your weight to almost 5 pounds.

***

I woke up yesterday morning weighing 120.4 lbs, but by the time I went to bed, I only weighed 117.6 lbs. When I woke up this morning, I was lighter at 116.2 lbs. This is not good.

(Disclaimer: Asthma is not contagious, but it helps if you are born with the condition, especially if it was passed down two generations of your family tree.)