Saturday, December 28, 2013

And nothing heals like words words words

Fine stationery, coin envelopes, pen and marker,
and Lindt Lindor white chocolate balls
'My theme for this Christmas is Gift of words. I decided to donate all the funds for your Christmas presents to the typhoon victims, so as an alternative, I've written everyone a love note.' It was a tacky joke that I blurted out anyway after I gave the last 'gift' I prepared for my office mates. To make it clear, it was in reference to the marketing and PR people who took advantage of the past tragedies in order to sell and give their respective brands a glowing image.

So the truth is, and this will come at no surprise, I din't make any donations. But neither was I being lazy nor a cheapskate. There was something this season that compelled me to simply sit back, relax, and write everyone that matters to me a letter. 'It's the thought that counts, therefore I'm telling you what I think' was another wisecrack I almost uttered and thankfully did not.

I got the idea when I sneaked out and bought my friend a Christmas card while we were having dessert at Press Cafe. The reason I did so was that she gave me one. I felt guilty. Then the whole act made me realize the fun in exchanging Christmas cards.

At first I planned on buying dozens of Christmas cards, but then my practical side kicked in. I have a drawer-full of stationery, so I used what I already have instead (I'm a cheapskate after all?). And because I still want to give them some thing, I enclosed a Lindt Lindor white chocolate ball—there may be Kisses, but these Lindor balls better represent the quality of my kiss. Heh. So a heartfelt letter enclosed with a symbolic smooch, placed inside a coin envelope—my gift-giving idea for the year. Gosh I feel so brilliant.

But I skipped narrating the hard part: writing. The gift of words is the gift of honesty. And honesty means handing your heart out. Not really up my alley. Just as with any blank page—the college term paper, the 800-word article—the bright stationery is scary.

There is also a technical difficulty. I got so used to the word processor wherein you can easily type a comma, change it to an em dash, then change it back to a comma five hours later. The pen and paper doesn't afford this luxury.

Then again, just as with the finals essay and full-page feature story, it will happen when you settle on making it happen. Those who received my little token of regard were very appreciative. My release and their response brought a belated Christmas cheer.

*The title alludes to a previous blog about being badly hurt by a cutting remark.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Blink

I clearly remember that bit of conversation with a former office mate about dinosaurs and how pointless their existence seemed to be. She said, 'Imagine, for millions of years, that was all they ever did—walk around, eat, reproduce,' to which I replied, 'Yeah, kinda like us.'

The Haiyan tragedy (the natural calamity and the nation's response to it) is yet to be tucked conveniently in history. Admittedly, I am less impassioned about the subject than my friends and other people in my circle are. While it happened in my country, the region is far from me. If I saw the images and heard the stories, I would most likely be sympathetic; but that kind of pain doesn't interest me, so I didn't bother keeping up-to-date with the news.

On the relief and rehabilitation efforts, I have nothing intelligent to say and no compulsion to add to the noise, not once convinced that I can do the government's job better than them.

As for those who died, death is death, what else can you do about it? All I know is that there is the living and what little life we have left to celebrate, we ought to celebrate.

Before the typhoon, I invited one of my best friends to watch the holiday fireworks at ATC. I was very excited, since I love fireworks, and more so when it is done during my favorite season. But then ATC canceled it, deciding to instead set the money aside for the typhoon victims. I understand, but I also was disappointed.

More recently, last Monday to be precise, a passenger bus fell off the Skyway because of an irresponsible driver. I was shocked, enraged, and moved to tears. Since college, when my parents stopped driving me to and from the school, I always thought that I'd die on the road—get ran over by a speeding truck, accidentally shot by men running amok, and so on. What happened to the people on that bus, I imagine so many times happening to me whenever I take the Skyway.

I told the same friend that at least those in Visayas were killed by nature. It is easier to accept than being killed by that which has consciousness and, presumably, conscience. Still, Death, like God, works in mysterious and always disagreeable ways. We humans are beasts at our core, after all. Even the kindest among us is capable of evil, if not serve as an unwitting agent of it.

...What I've shared above is a wisp in a frenzy of thoughts. Along with it are the usual points of rumination— the sad work environment, failures and the fear of it, falling in love, the last movie that blew my mind, books I will read, and finding the time for a million desires.

There is so much human activity in this world, all may very well be refined variations of the dinosaurs' habits. And just like them we go on until it is our time to expire. You live on because you have responsibilities. You live on because you simply want to see what will happen next. You live on because you have dreams and believe you can make things happen, because you have plans.

Two events are already calendared for January 2014: a lunch date with a friend whom I haven't seen for almost a decade, and an intriguing play. Friendship and literature. Enough to keep me going.

When I was considering titles for this blog, the poem, 'Why do you stay up so late' by Don Paterson crossed my mind. In it the persona collects 'the dull things of the day' and hopes that by looking closely, some will show its hidden truth ('sometimes one would blink the secret color').

That's pretty much how I approach life in general. I try to see things for what they are, with no intention to change or corrupt, and I do it patiently.

Because of my connection to the poem and its association with looking and seeing, I re-viewed the word blink:
  • to shine with a light that goes on and off
  • to show that you are surprised or upset
  • to look glancingly : peep
  • to look with half-shut eyes
  • to close and open the eyes involuntarily
  • to shine dimly or intermittently
  • to look with too little concern
  • to look with surprise or dismay
  • yield, give in
  • to remove (as tears) from the eye by blinking
  • to deny recognition to
  • glimmer, sparkle
  • — in the blink of an eye
    • in an instant
  • — on the blink
    • in or into a disabled or useless condition
and was pleased at its richness. How the word echoes everything I feel throughout the entire time I'm sitting here and writing.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A very personal achievement

I've always been deprecating my fashion sense because fashion to me carries an undertone of visionariness. See, I want to be fashionable, but you can't claim to be such if you only know how not to look bad. Just like when you say you are a writer, you're not only someone who can string words together; you're also expected to be a person of integrity and wisdom (which is not the reality, of course, but that deserves another blog).

(L) Sprinto ad; (R) The sunglasses I bought
prior to seeing the billboard
So my confidence got a bit of a boost when I saw this billboard a while ago at the mall. Featured in it is the sunglasses I bought last September.

I remember taking almost half an hour in selecting the perfect shades and still feeling like it was an impulse purchase afterwards, since the frame is made of wood and doesn't have nose pads; therefore it won't fulfill its duties as an everyday eye gear, which is what I wanted in the first place. In addition, What a shame, I thought, that I was seduced by appearance.

Three months later, the sunglasses proved to be fun to wear, durable, and an attention-grabber. The ad a serendipitous affirmation of my impeccable, impeccable taste.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

To do / have done

Another early Christmas gift
You cannot argue with the cute. I have long given up on collecting stickers (meaning shelling out xxxx pesos and consuming xxxx calories) to redeem a Starbucks planner, but this one came with a squee-worthy bookmark and, more importantly, came for free. My sister asked if I wanted one.

There were four colors to choose from, all of which I liked except for black. Yellow was a strong contender but I ended up choosing red (though it's closer to magenta), for the kape vinta icon. The other icons were: coffee cup, coffee bean (ooh, inadvertent subtle advertisement for the competitor), and house blend (which was my second choice).

I'm a sucker for symbolisms, making meaning and connections out of everything. And it all fell into place. A few weeks ago I decided that 2014's theme is explore/open doors, thus my preference for the vinta. Quite a coincidence as well that I received this gift on the same day that I applied for a student permit.

To-do list circa 2007
While I was fixing my stuff, I browsed through my old planners and journals, and was delighted to find a barely used stationery pad that came with the 2007 Starbucks planner. Only two pages were written on. As expected, it's a list of things to do—or as my 2007 un-proofreading self put it: Thing to Do.

For a quick review of my progress (I had to leave out items that are too private to share):

1) SSS (ID) - Got it, lost it, have yet to get a new one.
2) Student permit - Got it a couple of years ago, didn't learn to drive. Just got a new one now and vow to learn to drive before the permit expires.
4) Alumni card - Nope.
5) Dental matters - Must save up and find a good dental surgeon to extract the damned impacted wisdom teeth.

*LASIK surgery - Big check. Woohoo!
*Piano lessons - Been taking piano lessons since. Learning never ends. If anything, I should work on developing my study methods.
*Driving lessons - Like what I said in number two.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Useful things unused

Now too common to desire
Perks aren't always perks, oftentimes they are additional things to worry about. Like the gadget freebies I recently got: one a cellphone, the other a tablet. You do not want to discard them, because they don't come cheaply in the first place. The next option is to sell, which is stressful, for it'll take a while for you to find a buyer and negotiating prices is a hassle (why I am not an account executive). Of course you can also recycle and give them away as gifts—but to whom? Knowing my friends, they don't fancy these as well.

I realize problematising this may make me appear ungrateful. I am grateful, only a tad critical. It is the thought that counts, and without a doubt the quality of thinking and sincerity involved in giving will manifest in the chosen token of regard. Sometimes a simple, personalized card will do.

On a related note, this is the reason why I still love flowers, the symbolic gesture of giving flowers. It is truthful: flowers fade, so do feelings; but you have to honor the emotion before it expires. Affections need to be sustained and must be constantly expressed.

Before I let go of the gadgets, I'm extracting a cute memory from one of them. The following screenshots were taken from the tab when I was still playing with its settings:

Funny how you put it
So yeah, how would I pick between the 01/01/2010 and the 01/01/2010 date format? And with my appreciation for honest criticism and distaste for the rude, I opted for a modest auto-correction.