For 2012

I spent the better part of the morning trying to decide whether or not to use my free domestic roundtrip ticket or my frequent flyer miles in another airline when I go home for the holidays.  I ended up using neither and booked using my credit card and chose to add to my miles instead.

There’s something about having all those miles (for travel abroad) and that roundtrip ticket (domestic) available for use on a whimsy.  2012 suddenly seems so promising.

If there’s anything I’ve learned from the past year, it’s that travel is my lifeblood.  In a place that isn’t here, I find clarity and peace.  How absolutely wonderful then to have possession of this certainty that when the need to escape overwhelms, I am not helpless.  When the time comes, I will board a plane and be happy.

Life really can be quite simple sometimes.

An Aside

I have, as a rule, tried refrained from posting whenever I found myself in a place which we call The Doldrums.  However, there have been exceptions.  Few and far between, but yes, exceptions.  Sometimes, there is just absolutely nothing to be done but take to your trusty computing machine and pour your heart out to the Internet.  Because somebody, somewhere must care that you are not exactly okay.  Or at least, that is my hope.

This week, and if I am honest, the week past, I have been circling and circling the roads of Ye Doldrums, endeavoring to find a way out of town, but to no avail.  I am hopeful, naturally, and ever a shiny person bursting with exuberance, but inside, I grow dimmer.  Hopes have been dashed.  Done ever so slowly and unspectacularly, but dashed they were, nevertheless.  It is a sad, sad thing when you finally begin to see people as they are, and what you are to them.  Which only goes to show that my natural instincts are ever unreliable in certain respects and should not be trusted with something as fragile as hope.

Universe, you led me on.

And that is all I have to say on the matter.

“Tuli” Trials and More

I have a godson that I spoil to death.

He’s lived with us from birth and he’s the little man of the house. And if we’re honest, everyone one of us would say that he has us wrapped around his little finger.

But he learned early on that I’m the biggest pushover. When I still lived in Davao, we would go on regular "dates" consisting of me first choosing a book to read, then finding a restaurant and feeding him to his heart’s content, with a little more room in his cute toddler tummy for takeout. (It’s amazing how early men develop their appetites.)

"Ate Pipi, kelan tayo mag-date?" He’d ask me with his biggest smile, showing the adorably low count of his not-so-pearly-kiddie-whites. And my heart would just melt. I’d then dress him up, take him on a grand outing where I would officially not refuse him anything.

Once, while I was waiting for my ride outside, he sat by me, refusing to heed the calls of his mother to go inside. He then explained seriously to her, "Bantayan nako si Ate Pipi Ma, kay basig kawatun." (Translation: I’m watching over Ate Pipi because someone might steal her away.)

Can I hear a resounding "aaaaaawwww"? How’s that for pogi points?

He cons me into playing Snakes-and-Ladders with him and after the one time I forgot to buy him pasalubong after a harried sem in law school, guilt-tripped me into NEVER forgetting his present after I found out that he had quietly asked his mother, "Di na ako love ni Ate Pipi, di man niya ako bilhan regalo?"

Part of the delights of going home to Davao is having a kid follow me around everywhere and basically, just get under my feet. Annoying to some extent, but while I often affectionately call him "samukan", I secretly can’t get enough of him. I love it when he sits beside me while I read and he opens up an Archie digest (from the collection that I have since passed on to him) and pretends to read. He has since graduated to reading random words over my shoulder while I work on my laptop. Legalese, apparently, doesn’t deter him.

I love sharing his life and am just as proud as his Mom is of his excellent Report Card. But one morning, my Mom brought up something that had me, and everyone else in the house at a loss.

"Nerc, kelan mo ipapatuli yan?"

Everyone immediately burst into laughter and confused he started to cry.

We quieted down and since then have talked about it behind his back, calling it the "Big T" and generally just floundered around with no idea what to do.

I mean, hello? Everyone, and I mean, EVERYONE in the house, with the exception of our little devil, is female. This is something we never had to go through. Is younger better or should we wait until he’s a bit older and can understand that we’re not subjecting him to physical mutilation for the heck of it? (But why ARE we subjecting him to it?) Should we wait until his classmates start taunting him with "Pisot" (as one friend’s story goes), so he can’t wait to get it done? Will he hate us for life? Just how much pain is involved? How long does the healing period last? How do you talk to him about it? How do you talk to him about it without laughing? Especially when after it’s mentioned to him he then says, "Magpatuli rin si Ate Tiffy."

And how do I find the answers to these questions?

Imaginary Conversation with Male Friend #1:
Me: There’s something I want to ask you
MF: Sure, what’s up?
Me: Ehm…are you circumcised?

No good right? But I mean, come on, do I immediately assume that he’s circumcised just because most everyone is and come right out and ask for gory details? What if he’s not?!?

Imaginary Conversation with Male Friend #2:
After I ask about the "Big T"…
MF: Tiffy, I’m not circumcised.
Me: Oh. Ehm. Good for you.

And I could probably deal with the embarrassment. I’ll get over having to ask certain questions, but how, oh how, will I do it without getting extremely unwanted mental images into my head????

*shudder*

All I know is, they wear skirts after.

Right. Skirts I can deal with. I may not know much about the Big T but if my favorite kid has to go through it, then he’ll be at his fashionable best, damn it!

We Called It “Badminton”

I just received an email from R, a dear friend in L.A. that had me laughing my pants off.

Reminded me of when we still lived together in this huge apartment ages ago. We had another flatmate then, M, and we absolutely loved poking fun at her. One of our favorite sources of amusement was the steady parade of men she had in her life. Cute and petite, she had them coming in droves and the various devices she used to persuade us that they were just "friends" would have R and I laughing ourselves silly.

At one point she started going home late after outings with X, her "friend". She’d go off in sporty outfits and come back exhausted, claiming to have just ended a strenuous badminton workout with friends. This went on for days on end, with her going home later and later. R and I remained firmly stoic, keeping our wisecracks in check even though there were nights she’d forget her cover and leave her badminton gear behind (sometimes she’d even go off in high heels with nary a bag of gear in sight).

One Sunday morning though, after having gone home at 2am, she sidled close to me on the couch croaking something about the show I was watching. Concerned, I checked if she had a fever and asked her in alarm if she had a virus. She shook her head and replied in strangled voice, "Hindi. Sakit lang talaga ng lalamunan ko, salamat sa badminton."

R was off in the kitchen cooking but immediately, with deceptive casualness, moved closer. R’s eyebrows were wiggling at me suggestively when R said to M, "Grabe naman ang badminton na yan, umaabot talaga sa lalamunan." Hilarity threatened to overwhelm me and I said to the hapless M, "Well, what do you expect? What is badminton after all but ‘volleying a cock back and forth over an extended period of time’?"

When M finally got it, her mouth fell open in semi-shock and laughter. She was sputtering in mock indignation for a full 15 minutes before we all finally settled down.

I never could hear about people playing badminton without inappropriate mental images coming into my head.

So you can just imagine how I felt when once over lunch in Greenbelt, Marc Nelson started talking about how he enjoyed badminton and how he was sure that I’d love it.

Oh Marc, I’m SURE I’d enjoy it with you.

Now I can only pray that he doesn’t read this blog.

***

When I was in high school, we called it "ikot-ikot".

On Saturdays, we’d hang out at this village and when a couple would come back HHWW (Holding Hands While Walking) after having disappeared earlier, we’d ask them, "O, nawala kayo?"

They’d always reply casually, "Wala, ikot-ikot lang."

I’ll bet. Vertically or horizontally?

In law school now though, we call it "studying".

"Wanna study?" has become shorthand for "Let’s have long conversations over coffee and cigarettes, and talk about you and me and anything but law. And when we discover how the hours have gone by… let’s ‘study’ a little bit more."

Oh yeah, "studying". 😉

Hostage

You would think that with summer being here and with me having nothing to do I’d be blogging all the time.

Not exactly. My younger sister’s been hijacking the internet connection and my mom’s been drugging me.

I kid you not.

My mom’s been making me take these appetite boosters. Seriously. Her life’s mission is to fatten me up.

Net effect is I’ve either been sleeping nonstop or scrounging the ref in a drug-induced frantically ravenous haze. It’s terrible. I’m either infront of the TV trying desperately to keep myself awake or in the kitchen, stuffing myself before I go right back to bed again. I knew it had to stop when I found myself sleeping on the floor earlier. I had gotten up from the couch and sat myself down infront of the magazine stack in the living room with the intent of choosing one to browse through when the lethargy just threatened to overwhelm me. My limbs actually felt too heavy to lift and I barely managed to pull down some cushions from the couch before I drifted off again. When I woke up, my 6-year-old godson was telling everyone authoritatively that I had fallen off the couch and was asleep on the floor.

My mom’s in despair though, I still show no signs of added poundage. Haha. Hasn’t she learned anything after years of raising me? I NEVER go beyond 100 pounds. EVER.

Besides, up until a few years ago she could still fit into some of my clothes. It’s genetic!

Airports

I hate airports.

I especially hate airports during peak travel season. The lines are long, the porters are pesky and the bookstores almost always run out of the good stuff.

I hate airports.

***

I was on my way to Bangkok for the Asians (All-asian Universities Debating Championship) one summer when my hatred of airports was solidified. It was a last-minute trip, having decided to go only the day before and my teammates had already gone ahead to enjoy a few free shopping days before the tournament.

I was a DOST scholar, which basically meant that the government paid me to major in something Sci & Tech related (there are requirements to qualify for the exam, and then there’s the national exam, blah blah…). In any case, they turn it into some huge deal and we’re not allowed out of the country without the submission of requirements. We either post a bond or an entity assumes responsibility for our return. I had previously planned on going to the Asians, so I had already taken care of the requirements. So imagine my surprise when as I hand over my passport right before boarding I was stopped. MY NAME was FLASHING on the computer screen in big red letters. Under no circumstance was I to be allowed out of the country. Airport security was to hold my departure at all costs.

I was actually escorted away from the line of departing passengers by guards!!!! People around me were staring unabashedly, obviously thinking I was some sort criminal disguised as a college student. It was resolved eventually. But not before I was reduced to a blubbering state when I realized:

(a) I wasn’t going to make it in time to compete
AND
(b) My luggage was on board and I wasn’t.

A debater I was travelling with had already promised to take care of my bags when she got to Bangkok, but still, the thought of being separated from my outfits by international boundaries was just plain HORRIFYING.

***

I also have the distinction of having been lost in Singapore’s Changi airport. Although, it wasn’t altogether an unpleasant experience. My boyfriend waited for ages before I managed to weave my way out of the maze of shops. It really wasn’t my fault you know, the shops are altogether too distracting. I couldn’t help it! Fabulous retail just calls out to me. 

What was unpleasant was the grilling I got for being "suspiciously" too young to be travelling alone. Whatever. I travel alone all the time. The man was just looking for an excuse to frisk me or something. Good thing the female airport official waved me on, rolling her eyes while at it. She’d probably seen him do it tons of times and was on to him.

***

I do like being at the first leg of a journey though. The moment you arrive at the airport, knowing you’re actually ON YOUR WAY… I love the feeling.

Maybe airports aren’t so bad after all.

Aimless Living

I used to be able to spend entire days doing absolutely nothing. Yes, even during the school year.

For some reason, at summer, while gloriously anticipated, when it finally comes, the nothingness weighs heavily on you.

I’ve known freedom for only a few days now and already the emptiness of my days is getting to me.

It’s not like we do nothing but study during the school year, in fact, there are days when we pointedly refrain from engaging in activity that could be remotely considered as academic. Maybe it’s because avoiding studying is more significantly a choice that we make for our sanity. While doing nothing for days on end is just… insane. Haha.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not looking forward to June in the slightest. The inactivity before then just might kill me, that’s all.

I guess it doesn’t help that nothing good is on TV. 😦

My reunion with television is always much-anticipated and as soon as I get home and set my bags down in my room, I reach for the remote control and turn on my favorite appliance.

So you can see why it would be such a letdown to find that the only decent thing on is an ancient episode of Knight Rider, starring no less than David Hasselhoff himself!

Though, to be fair, it has to be conceded that he was a real hottie during his younger days.

Oh my gawd, what is happening to me??!!!???