Monday, January 19, 2009

Winter colds, presidential inaugurals, and missing love so much

ALMOST 8AM, but it’s kinda dark. I’m finishing off on an article on dental care to wind off my week’s deadline. I will be heading to San Francisco for a company meeting. Good, I have reason/s to skip the new president Barack Obama’s historic inaugural address in DC. Don’t get me wrong though—I like our new President, he’s still the coolest Chief Executive to be occupying White House. He’s a breezy guy one can easily play basketball with or chat about household stuff and things, from old Allman Brothers band’s “Statesboro Blues” to the best beer there is in the world.
But I am always VERY lazy about listening to political speeches—state of the union, state of the world, victory address, and stuff. Years ago, I used to write speeches for prominent Filipino politicians but I never really listened to them when they got delivered.
I am still nursing a case of colds. Not sure if it’s the unpredictably eccentric California weather or it’s just the apt season to be indisposed. A week ago, it was freezing but yesterday, it was like 87 temp—like summer humid. Got that—87 in the South Bay, but 40 below zero somewhere in the Midwest.
Crazy, crazy days—these days. I wish I could just hop in a Greyhound (like years ago) and head somewhere, pitch a tent, build a bonfire, and keep on writing—until I finish my novel, or rehash all my poems and prose. Paint, paint like before. I feel so incomplete, so dislocated, broken into pieces of wayward energies.
There is a kind of emptiness, hallowness, uninspired void that nag like a cat’s blank stare.
Even the news that flash before me seemed excruciatingly surreal than pathetically comical. Did I lose the urge to laugh at life’s misgivings?
I couldn’t even finish twelve poems that I drafted in so many occasions… They never gone past third line or 3rd stanza, that’s it. My next show with the Nomads is on the 22nd (Café Muse in Hollywood) but am I going to read the same stuff? I am getting bored of my own poetry.

A DUDE who walked in a convenience store, pulled out a gun and emptied the cash register—but before he scooted out, he scooped up a bagful of cream-cheese popcorns. And then he nonchalantly back to his crib—all along popcorn morsels came a-dropping by his trail. So he was caught by way of the “popcorn trail”—for theft and possession of stolen merchandise.
Was the dude serious? Or he simply got so bored while watching “The Flight of the Conchords” and decided to go get some freebie popcorns, and hold up a store as a side gig? Was he one of the two million Americans who lost their jobs in 2008?
He seemed so disconnected. As in this other dude who goes by the name of Joe Francis (“Girls Gone Wild”). With Larry “Hustler” Flynt, this Francis personage wants $5 billion bailout money from the federal government because his porn business is not doing good. So out of there, right?

STRIDE IN A coffeeshop—what do you see? Human heads planted on laptops. Are they crafting some masterpiece—or they’re just surfing YouTube for some funny respites for the day? But they seem so serious… Have you heard of this teenage girl who ran up an almost $2000 month’s cellphone bill due to texting? The hook is insane. We are doing things not because we “doing it.” It’s because of the HOOK. We’re hooked into something that’s already deeply ingrained in our system.
How about this? Celebrity violinist Joshua Bell played incognito at a Washington DC metro station, just like any other starving busker… and earned $32 on tips. Two days before that “gig,” people paid seats at an average of $100 a pop on his Boston concert. His violin, by the way, is worth $3.5 million. Who stopped to listen to his beautiful music (mostly Bach)? Kids. Kids were seen pissing off their parents so they could listen more. Only six people stopped actually, and 20 tossed coins. That “gig” was an experiment by the Washington Post about perception, taste and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?
No, we don’t. We spend huge money on certain artists because they are promoted and publicized as such. But we don’t actually know what is good music—right there on the streets.
Disconnected humanity.

MANY TIMES, I miss the “poverty” of life and living.
I miss the endless monsoon rains. The kilometers and kilometers of walking from my house to the marketplace or the Sunday church. The toxic air that gets bottled up in beat-up commuter buses. The noise on the streets, the rooster’s crow at dawn, the giggling of kids while frolicking under summer storms, even the howling of drunken men by the neighborhood sidestreet.
There’s something in “affluence” that hits you like a lead arrow. It numbs, it stays in there embedded. America is so “comfortable” and accessible yet so rife in magnificent unease.
Even the sound of “love” seemed distant. We don’t know where and how to find it anymore—because the pragmatism and practicality of a physical/material life and living come first. It is NOT possible to fall in love if you lose your job or your car conked out or you don’t have email access or no cellphone. These are all prerequisites to human emotion. Nobody sympathizes anymore—like a flowing afternoon by a railway track, a saunter at a grass under starry skies at night, a Greyhound ride to nowhere.

ONE THING that I miss. I miss being in love. (Yup, I am not being shy about admitting it—at least, I am not announcing it at a Viento open mic.) I miss being corny, I miss waiting for a weekend so I could share dinner with a sweetheart. I miss taking on a short trip out of town with her, or watching a concert downtown. I miss when a day is over so I can share the news, good or bad, with her. I miss writing love poems. I miss saying, “I love you” and really feel it—like I am 17 years old again. I even miss hurting because of a silly fight, and I miss missing someone. I miss the pains and pleasures of being in love.
I miss my family. I miss my childhood friends. I miss Asheville, Manila, and Baguio City. I miss hanging out for no reason at all, just being lazy, and cracking jokes after jokes—laughing until our bellies ached. I miss the way it was when each day is another story—no matter how hard it was. A day over is a day won.
I miss wondering if the rains going to be hard and what to do to get all errands accomplished. These days, solutions seem to come with a Target box on rebate. I miss watching basketball games at a town plaza and heckling like crazy. I miss watching bashful girls lined up by the benches with their long legs and healthy hips. I miss the first hello and no goodbyes.
I just miss a lot… I miss what it was 20 years ago.
These days, all I do is complain of things that could have been more convenient if… nurture doubts that things handed out free are not real, or cuddle fears that the worst is yet to come.
Ah, isn’t because I am just under the weather? Depressed? I don’t know. I am being sappy. But whatever happens—always try to live good, love good, and eat only good food.
Toksa Ake!
7:52 AM. 19 January 2009.
Lakewood CA

Thursday, January 01, 2009

HAPPY NEW YEAR! The war is not over yet, and I am still poor and whining, loveless and musing

It’s 10:25 pm, PST, Wednesday, December 31, 2008—as I write this with a heavy heart.
Right at this moment, in between drafting a few news-feature stories, I am watching a TruTV show with B/C-celebrities like Gary Busey, Leif Garrett, Danny Bonaduce and Tonya Harding commenting to some stupid, dumbass shenanigans—in between shots of Smirnoff (to keep myself warm from Lakewood CA’s 48 temp), iced tea chasing it down.
And I am not even laughing… Um, these two drunken college buddies got ticketed for jaywalking at a secluded New Hampshire street, at 2am—seen on “Speeders.” The less-smashed one said, “I am the designated walker tonight!” What about these Thai dudes who’re playing around with Crocodiles—ushering their arms in those deadly mouths—at a community festival? What’s up with these guys? Not funny.
I don’t really feel like it’s a new year… You see, the war is not yet over—so, no exclamatory mark of elation. “Happy” (in Happy New Year) is wishful thinking. We do this each year at the end of the year. Hopes. Changes. Dreams. Plans. More often than not, we end up “surviving,” eking out a living, barely scraping through the day—and then, we do it again.
We are back in the streets, protesting the same protest, year after year.
Do you know that the top three Internet searches in 2008 are: Britney Spears, professional wrestling, and Barack Obama? Glitterdom idiocy and caricatured violence as the foremost, utmost concerns of people last year? And what made poor, pitiful Filipinos happy last year? Boxing. When the Pacman beat up the Golden Boy to a pulp, everybody applauded.
Obama is a good choice, that should make us happy. But then, we are still awaiting one sign of positive vibe from our incoming president. So far, none yet. When? The next three months, after the January proclamation maybe? The sunny state’s Terminator Gov Arnie isn’t talking about new jobs—instead, he’s still pretty much intent on making California a utopian environmental idyll for super-healthy people. Forget jobs, roofs over yer heads, or food on the table. Uh, probably, there’s a place for malnourished bodies cramped inside their beat-up sedans?
What I read, so far: More than 300 of the 1,125 billionaires tallied on Forbes’ annual list last March have since lost at least $1 billion; several dozen lost more than $5 billion. So what? CEOs are still begging for bailout billions; why can’t souls on foreclosures, slashed pay, and near-starvation all mass outside and scream, “We need bailout!”
The wealthy cries rescue, while the poor still cling to their earth-bound honesty. You read about a mother who found a box of cookies at a store, stacked with $10,000, and then returned it? The supposed owner of the stash took it back, but never rewarded the beautiful soul who found her “life’s savings” a cent. She’s no different from a greedy Chief Executive Officer of some gargantuan automaker, right?
The evil sting of the laid off, dumped man who took 13 lives (including his own) in Covina cut through the core like a lingering, nagging nightmare. But it’s real—not a bad dream. The Devil dressed in Santa Claus, with Death-Red all over.
New year’s resolutions? Wake up before 7am (how could that be, when I’m still awake at 7am, mostly), lose weight (there’s nothing to lose except my mind), eat healthy (like what Schwarzeg says? $26 for a hummus dinner?), balance checkbooks (balance what?), quit smoking (I don’t smoke), earn more money (what?!), be friendlier (with whom?), adapt a dog (I should be adapted instead).
Boring life.
Whatever it is—as usual, there’s still a lot of work to do. On my part, I haven’t really done things—this passing year—that I can be called, “accomplishment” or “progress.” Everything is relative in a society that is so reliant on mouse clicks, or in human responses that are drawn to fears/doubts and anxieties/paranoia.
I moved from Asheville NC to Las Vegas to the South Bay. But that doesn’t amount to a “change.” I’ve been moving all my life. I didn’t date, or gone out with, with anyone in the past year, maybe that’s a “change.” The Traveling Bonfires has been doing gigs at least 3 a month, but that isn’t “change,” either. I still don’t know how to figure out bank situations, bills payments or how to keep track of “hidden fees,” or whatever it is that comes with “living in the USA.” Nothing changed. I have been churning out an average of 5,000 words a week as a paid journalist—but that’s not “change.” I chucked my problematic two-door Buick (+ car payments etc) for a Montero SUV, provided by my generous boss. Is this change? Might be called “perks.”
My boss also bought me a new Toshiba laptop and a Canon digicam—and obliged to move our Eagle Rock office (3 freeways away) to Santa Fe Springs, a good 2 or 3 miles to my Lakewood residence. But why am I NOT happy still?
Or am I just getting bored of life?
I need more action., more skirmish, more laughters. I am also getting lonelier and lonelier each day, each night—I am about to post my “best” photo in the next ten personals sites that get in my spam box, seriously.
Now, I gotta watch “Hellboy II.” We seek peace in the unreal, we do… Despite all these, I give 2009 a low-five, just the same. Please watch my next poetry reading at Viento y Agua on 4th Street on Jan 10, Saturday. Meantime, see ya wherever, whenever—but, as ever, live good, love good, and eat only good food!

Lakewood, CA