Friday, September 27, 2013

5 Points!

Back in first year high school we had a pretty world-weary disillusioned guy for a history teacher. Our ideas, fresh from elementary graduation, bursting with idealism and the notion that every conflict can be resolved by flowery words, would always be shot down with a dose of realism like a pail of cold water at 6 in the morning. After taking one of his quarterly examinations he proceeded to discuss our answers to his essay question to be answered in 5 sentences (5 points): How would you resolve the conflicts in Mindanao?

He asked us to recite what we answered in the exam. All our eager hands shot up, some with wriggling action for more demonstration of eagerness. Most of the answers went like this, with more commas and semi-commas to stretch the 5-sentence limit:

We will sit the leaders down and discuss our differences in a peaceful and diplomatic approach. We will list down our differences point by point and try to discuss and resolve them one by one. We will tell them that religion should not divide us but rather keep us together, because our beliefs might be different but what matters is that we both have faith--faith that the people will survive these trials and tribulations and conflicts and afflictions and that we could rise post-obstacle more defined more grateful, we would heal be involved, and be unstoppable.... etc. 

I distinctly remember that whenever somebody (most of us, including myself), would give him that sort of answer he put on some sort of weird facial expression that we couldn't understand then. Now that I'm old, I now know that it is the face of someone trying hard to be diplomatic and nice to these young, innocent idealists/idiots, the face of someone who is one threat of unemployment short from screaming: YOU FUCKING LOSERS!

He had that face on, until one of us finally told him the answer he was looking for, the curt answer that put our flowery faux-discourse to shame, the answer which i now believe is the right one, the answer that gave this one classmate the perfect 5 out of 5 points. Her answer:

I will give them money. Lots of it. I will give them the land that they want. 

As the mighty Alanis said in her song 1998 song Thank U: Thank you, disillusionment!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Post-Boards Stages of Whining

Thymes has decided not to receive any calls and never replied to any text messages for weeks and weeks after topping her cardiology subspecialty board exams. It seemed like she wanted to disappear from the world. She was, apparently, depressed. For months and months she sat in their living room, whining about how nothing has come out of her academic achievements. At times she would just stay in bed, not taking a bath for days,standing only to pee. It was like a bipolar patient crashing after the euphoric state. Like a couple who have just completed their wedding vows and now realize that they are not special. Like a cat who couldn't get that plastic strip sticking out of his ass out of his ass without the help of a person pulling it out, because why the heck did he ever eat a piece of plastic.

So she went to a nearby city to finally start establishing a career. Much to her chagrin hospitals and clinics were not tripping over themselves to get this topnotcher. She decided to be aggressive and apply in a clinic. "ANO?!?!" she screamed as the secretary told her that her rate as an employee would be P150 pesos an hour. She looked for other jobs and found one that required her to read ECG's. That day she earned her first paycheck--P140 for reading two ECG's, and she went back to her P6,000/month apartment weeping like a diabetic foot.

Finally she looked at the skies, pumped her fists, and uttered the classic line that anyone who's ever been frustrated and fed-up cries in faux-optimism-- "FUCK EEEET!!!" She saw an ad in the internet for a consultant job in a far, far, far away province down south--let's call it Kahndaq--and immediately emailed the owner that she is interested. The next day she talked to the owner on the phone. The next day she took a plane, and became the queen of a tertiary hospital and 12 secondary hospitals in Kahndaq. She is now THE department of internal medicine and THE section of cardiology of the entire province of  Kahndaq.

"Baka pag-uwi mo naka-burqa ka na," I told her.
"AHIHIHIHI," she said.

I am relating this because currently I am in that stage of staying in bed for days on end without taking a bath. I'm not sure I could be as courageous as Thymes, but who knows what will happen when I reach the "fuck eeeeeeet!" stage.

Kaladkarin Files: Back in February

While we were having a round table discussion in NKTI on some kind of cancer I… wasn’t listening. My mind was a blur of so many things, such as: how I could make my way through those people cramped sitting together in front of the buffet table so I could get more fried chicken. Or what time the discussion would end. Or what comic book I would read upon getting home. Until I realized… it’s the last day of UP Fair and how convenient that I’m already in QC! I immediately texted my insta-kaladkarin friends Smoketh and Frichmond. Frichmond had to attend mass that day and wasn’t sure she could come, so I texted her: THIS COULD BE THE LAST TIME WE WOULD BE ATTENDING THE UP FAIR! AFTER THIS, WE WOULD BE SWAMPED BY REAL LIFE CONCERNS… SUCH AS EARNING MONEY!

In less than an hour Frichmond and Smoketh were driving around QC hunting for me as I decided to walk around QC in the middle of the night. Smoketh dragged us to a restaurant (Black Pea Soup? Black Pea? Black Soup? Black Pasta?) aka Kuya Bodjie’s restaurant. The first thing we asked the waitress: Asan po si Kuya Bodjie? We wanted a picture with a celebrity. The last time we had a brush in with celebrities was when some demented fan asked me to take her picture with Bamboo 10 years ago in Powerbooks ATC, and when Smoketh had a picture with Tiya Pusit in the isawan in UP Diliman. I still regret not telling that girl, “kami muna kunan mo ng picture”. Bitch.

The last time I’ve been to a UP Fair was in 2004, and before that was in 1998. So of course we decided to conduct ourselves with the “it wasn’t like this before it was so much better back then when things were crazier and people were fucking on the ground”-complex. The first thing we noticed of course was the ticket—it was nicely printed by Ticketworld. All together now: it wasn’t like this before, it was so much better back then when the ticket was just a pinunit-punit na bluebook!

I went to the back areas looking for those cheap, colorful alcoholic drinks that once opened our eyes to unexpected delights in the late 90’s. Those drinks which had once knocked Joni to stupor and caused Groin to put it upon herself to drag him all the way back to Molave Dormitory. Those drinks are no longer in existence. Instead there are support groups and free water, which I took and turned out to be… really water. We wanted to lurlurlur but there was no one lurring. “Pano kung mahuli tayo?” I asked Smoketh. “Ano gagawin nila, miminusan tayo sa Math 17?” We lurred. Everyone ignored us.

It wasn’t the hippie 60’s, but…. nung panahon namin… people were lying on the ground and talking crazy stuff, with the Eraserheads or the resident singer UP Diliman singer Jeffrey Hidalgo singing on stage, someone would scream somewhere and everyone would gather around for more screaming. Now the fare looked like a version of Bonifacio Global City. There were no alcoholic drinks or anything that would qualify as a vice, so for more mall-ness Smoketh bought a Red Velvet Cupcake.

After fifteen minutes we decided it’s time to retire. We went to a nearby Army Navy where Smoketh and Frichmond looked sleepy as hell. It was only 11:30. Sign of the times.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Life With Archie

As I’ve been ranting for almost two years now, DC Comics has decided to do a hard reset of its already multiply-reset multiverse, redesigning most of its characters and turning them into horrible clown whores, with the books written by horrible writers and illustrated by horrible artists stuck in the multiple-pocket-polyester-costumed 90’s. Even the once-reliable writers Geoff Johns and Scott Snyder have turned in really horrible work. And this is not me having poor vocabulary—there’s just no other way to describe all the aspects of this movement called The New 52 but bleeping horrible. Bwiset. Marvel, on the other hand, despite doing some annoying stuff like making Cyclops kill—KILL!!!—Professor X, is turning in a much better work. I have always been a DC kid, but sadly, not anymore. Not until they announce that The New 52 has only been a dream, a hoax, a hallucination—and yes, that’s a 60’s Silver Age DC comics reference there.

Which is why I’ve started looking for something else to read. My attention span has severely been damaged by fellowship, so I found it harder and harder to finish fiction novels. So instead of committing to Anna Karenina and other encyclopedic Russian novels, I opted to read something equally profound—Life With Archie. Yes, Archie Andrews. In 2010 a storyline featured Archie marrying Betty and marrying Veronica in two alternate stories. Life With Archie followed these two different stories of how his life would turn out if he married Betty or Veronica. Two parallel stories in one comic book, with Dilton Doiley as the only character who gets to witness these two parallel universes. It’s wonderful fun, with Mr. Lodge playing the role of the resident corporate kontrabida. The issues follow the pattern of the usual soap-operas, such as The Choklit Shop having financial troubles and on the brink of getting bought out, Moose running for mayor, Archie becoming a struggling musician in the universe where he married Betty, and so forth. In other words, pure comic book fun. So until DC goes back to its pre-New 52 Universe, and Marvel comes up with something that would explain away Professor X’s death (which would be hard considering that the Red Skull got Professor X’s brain and implanted it in his own head. I know.), make mine Archie. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Bursting With Posiness Part 2

Previously I’ve started a list of things that make me happy, as inspired by Smoketh’s sudden burst of posiness. As Green Day sang in their fantastic 2005 album American Idiot, “I’m the son of rage and love! The Jesus of suburbia!” Which leads me to number 6: I’m happy and thankful…

1.       That I think I have a good taste in music. I don’t sing or play any instrument, but I think I have a pretty good taste. It’s always difficult to defend one’s taste without sounding like a pretentious twit, so we’ll leave it at that.

2.       That I enjoyed residency training. Although strictly speaking this isn’t a source of happiness now, I’m including this because I’m missing my residency batchmates. Must be the recent storms, which have affected our batch more than anything.

3.       That my throat wasn’t slashed during the bare ass incident. I could have died right there and then and made a mess in the middle of Taft Avenue, but my exposed ass made me laugh off, if not altogether get kinkily titillated from, the potentially deadly incident.

4.       That my dorm/boarding house days are over and I can now enjoy once more the mundane creature comforts of home. That I can now take a bath in a clean bathroom. That if I accidentally drop the soap I wouldn’t be afraid to use it again. That upon waking up there’s coffee and pandesal and egg, which I can eat while watching tv and getting annoyed at but at the same time get morbidly fascinated by and at the same freaking time learn absolutely nothing substantial from that horrible show Anak Ko ‘Yan. And write run-on sentences on the side.

5.       That if I decide right now to, say, watch a movie, play chess, or read a book on ornithology, I can. Right now. RIGHT… NOW! AHAHAHAHAH AHAHAHA AHAHAHAHAHAH!!!

Of course for every item to be happy about, there are 8 or 9 to be sad about!

Bursting With Posiness Part 1

Smoketh has recently written a new entry in her blog detailing the various sources of happiness in her life. Since she left PGH she has become the poster child for everything positive and cheerio. She has read all the new age books in existence, walked along the beach wearing a white flowy dress while singing the entire The Beekeeper album by Tori Amos, and lit incense sticks all over her mansion. She now regularly uses terms like “Self-Releacceptance” which is loosely defined as the acceptance of the release of the self from within to without without releasing the acceptance itself but instead self-accepting its release. Not to be outdone, I have decided to perform a trial of cheeriness and list the ten things that make me happy and thankful right now. Cheerio! I’m Special Agent Fox Mulder, and I’m happy and thankful …

1. That my hairline is intact. I don’t have much by way of looks but I’m glad I’m not balding, at least not yet. I intend to keep my wild, bushy, unruly, itchy, dandruffy hair that ends up looking like an aardvark when I try to shape it with gel… for as long as I can! Which reminds me of a conversation with Burns in Gloria Jeans: “Bakit pag kumakamot ako ng buhok may nahuhulog na mga white-white?” I asked. Burns yelled: ANG TAWAG DYAN, BALAKUBAK!

2.    That I’ve been getting the right amount of sleep lately. Back in training there was always something that needed to be done very late, or something I had to wake up early for; and if there was enough time to sleep I wouldn’t want to waste it on sleep. Now, there is absolutely nothing to do—to the extent that I would pee as an activity—so now I can always sleep.

3.      That I have read as much comics as I have. I don’t know why, but I’m just glad that all those superheroic adventures are somewhere in my head. I haven’t learned any life lessons from them or whatever, but it’s just jolly-gee-whiz fun reading them. I have decades’ worth backlog of paperback fiction, but comics are a daily habit. There are as many if not more horrible comics out there, but chancing upon the truly good ones makes it all worth the trouble.

4.       That I’m not particular with clothes or general grooming. I hate buying clothes because I hate trying them on. In fact this laziness in changing into another set of clothes has greatly influenced my choice of internal medicine as a specialty, because I’ve decided early on that I don’t ever ever want to change into scrub suits ever again—so all the surgical specialties have been voted out!  Granted my over-all kadugyutan has negatively influenced my social growth, but so many other things have already stunted my social growth that there is really no growth or ungrowth to speak of.

5.       That I can write and I kind of like the way I write. So my writing career has gone nowhere--thank you real life-- while my friends have gone on to win Palancas and stuff, but I’m still content at the entertainment I get from my own writing. As the saying goes, if the macaroons you bake taste like poop, you have to enjoy the taste of poop to enjoy the taste of your own macaroons. I invented that saying, but you get the idea. Specifically I like that I have no compulsion to write ingratiating, self-congratulatory drivel. Ahoy! Clang clang clang!