Dry Season

In the country of the ochre afternoon
it is always still and hot, the dry leaves stirring
infrequently sometimes with the rattling pods
of what they call “women’s tongues,” in
the afternoon country the far hills are very quiet
and heat-hazed, but mostly in the middle
of the country of the afternoon I see the brown heat
of the skin of my first love, so still, so perfect,
so unaltered, and I see how she walked
with her sunburnt hands against the still sea almonds,
to a remembered cove, where she stood n a small dock–
that was when I thought we were immortal
and that love would be folded doves and folded ores
and water lapping against eroded stone
in the ochre country of the afternoon.

– Derek Walcott

It was friday night, and my officemates and I were sitting around a table in the McDonald’s on Paseo. We’re all dead tired, yet Jerry from C/S decides it’s a good time to talk about love like we’re on some inane late night radio show.
He asks our audio tech how he got past it. To which the tech replies, you just do. You find someone else, you forget, and voila, you heal. The whole idea of moving on is built around the notion that there is an actual cure for heartbreak, and that this cure occurs in the wake of forgetting. As if memory were an objective repository for misery (as well as other things of course).
Being the only girl at the table then, I had to answer the question as well: “What did I do to get past that last relationship that ended in heartbreak?”

I didn’t. That was my answer and that still is. Whatever pretenses I put on that I’m past anyone who broke my heart in the past, I’m not, and I don’t think I ever will be. It sounds pretty lame, but something chips away from inside you the minute you latch on to someone else. No matter how petty it was, with every part of you that is discovered in the context of a relationship, a part of you is taken away in its absence. In its place is a wound that is as much a part of your self as a mole on your chin or your lack of a vocabulary to describe the gravity of that kind of disappointment.


Dead Bodies Everywhere

We were on our way home last night when traffic slowed along Sumulong Highway and two police vans came into view. Further along the road, a man was sprawled on the shoulder, his leg broken and twisted at the knee. A hit and run victim: judging from the number of people surrounding him and the dust and debris that had settled on his corpse, he had probably been there for quite a while. I wondered how many people had already stopped to gawk before the cops arrived.

Just a little further along the stretch, a little boy was being pushed on a cart in the middle of the lane by an older child. In spite of the grief, the horror that took place just a little up the road, life still goes on within the same stretch of time and space.

I’ve never seen a dead body before, but I find myself insensate in the presence of one. I didn’t know the man, and people die every day in varying degrees of brutality or in the tender arms of sleep. It’s the only certainty we’re granted in this fickle lifetime. Me, I want two kids–both boys, an apartment in Malate, and a job in a museum. There are no guarantees to any of these but I do know that one day it will all end and the only thing that I won’t be able to change is the last thing I had on my mind the moment it happens.

I’d like to be on vacation when I die, I want the last thing on my mind to have nothing to do with work.

Production Duty–It Sure Beats Walking

3 weeks at the high life channel. I’m finally coming to terms with the fact that survival here means not allowing myself to deconstruct what I’m doing (at least not while I’m doing it), and not to question the ideas we present and represent. So Dylan and I got here just in time for the big trade launch, which for us meant a couple of weeks of playing minions; a couple of weeks of being subjected to the channel’s notion of the “hip modern day urbanites” whom we were supposed to bait in order for the channel to be a success.

Our target market is no younger than 21 and no older than 54, which pretty much implies a lack of growth in the 33 year period between those two ages. We are targeting the hip modern day urbanite. There’s something for everyone here, that is if everyone wants the same things.
The “hip, modern day (?!) urbanite” can easily navigate his or her way around a world with very little visible sky. The hip modern day urbanite bleeds overpriced coffee. The hip modern day urbanite does not climb, in spite of the fact that the whole foundation of a cityscape and its residents is built on climbing: the stairs, riding the elevator, and social and corporate ladders alike. We spend hours hiking, lifting, and we run marathons–that’s what gym memberships are for.
We thrive on the language of sale. Everybody’s out to sell us something, to which we willingly oblige. When no one’s trying to sell us anything it leaves a void, which soon fills with our own suspicions of what we could be lacking and how much of it we’re lacking. It’s always about wanting and when there’s nothing to want it becomes a problem. If you’re up at 4 am you might want to trawl eBay or better yet, flip over to our shopping network and maybe the lack of sleep will make you want to buy some stupid crap you don’t need.

I write scripts selling movies and shows about beautiful people whose problems we could just as easily be going through. These problems usually involve shoes, weight gain, small penises, other beautiful people etc. but what it all boils down to is wanting in an environment where there’s too much to want and not enough ways to actually have.Yet we’re trying to represent the audience for our channel as those who’ve reached a point that allows them to swear by brands, by products, places, and the language of the city. It is in our vocabulary to say we’re tired (easily curable with coffee) but not to say we’re jaded. We recognize centralization but not what we push to the fringes in the process. We see the progress but ignore the blight with eyes turned heavenward at all there is to want and buy.

Guilty Cubicles

When I was little I loved accompanying my dad to the office. He was a lawyer, and from this I gathered that lawyers were very privileged people, not because of the work they did, but because they were the kinds of people who got to have 6-foot-tall massage chairs in their parlor sized suites and refrigerators with relatively constant supplies of candy and beer. My dad saw it another way. I whiled the day away at his office pestering the secretaries, making tissue loogies in the bathroom, and depleting the candy supply in the office pantry. He always claimed to having spent the day staring out the window. At least his partners were generous enough to let him have a room with a window.

It’s only now that I realized how that is possible because I chose to spend this summer at work. In a setting that’s simultaneously alien and yet familiar, comfortable even. Next to department stores, offices are probably the most homogenized places in the modern world. Any representation of an office is instantly recognizable as such, with the endless cubicles and masses of nameless office drones. I have never had more trouble remembering people’s names. For the first couple of weeks, all I knew was the anonymous office mass.

I’ll be the first to admit to choosing an office setting to spend my last decent summer vacation in because it guaranteed money and a much needed ego boost for my resume. This is not another entry where I relentlessly bitch about office life. Yes, I’m bored out of my mind and it’s only been three weeks. I already couldn’t care less about what happens to me here because I already knows that in a few weeks it will all be over anyway. The thing is I already can’t wait for it to end so that I can swear it off. Forever. This will hopefully be the first and last time I spend my days as an office lackey. I know I’m lucky to have a paying job and even luckier to have gotten a paying job before even paying my dues as an intern, let alone a graduate. But the fact is (at the risk of sounding spoiled) I don’t have the patience or the resiliency to make it in this kind of setting. The fact is the only thing I learned from this experience is that I never want to repeat it.

Whatever you see has the potential to wound you…

to make you less than you are, as if by merely seeing a thing some part of yourself will be taken away from you. Often, you will feel it will be dangerous to look, and there is a tendency to avert your eyes, or even to shut them. Because of that, it is easy to get confused, to be unsure that you are really seeing that thing you think you are looking at.

You see how complicated it is. It is not enough simply to look and say to yourself, “I am looking at that thing.” For it is one thing to do this when the object before your eyes is a pencil, say, or a crust of bread. But what happens when you find yourself looking at a dead child, at a little girl lying in the street without any clothes on, her head crushed and covered in blood? What do you say to yourself then? It is not a simple matter, you see, to state flatly and without equivocation: “I am looking at a dead child.” Your mind seems to balk at forming the words, you simply cannot bring yourself to do it.

For the thing before your eyes is not something you can very easily separate from yourself. That is what I mean by being wounded: you cannot merely see, for each thing somehow belongs to you, is part of the story unfolding inside you.

– Paul Auster, In the Country of Last Things