Short Fuse

It isn’t that I don’t feel disappointed or mad or whatever – it is that I choose not to show it. Most of the time.

Other times, though, I just want to, for lack of a better term, let it rip.

I was not always like this – I used to always choose the calm, shielded exterior over me hulking out, even if I had every right to throw vases and get into shouting matches. I believed that my choice was the high road, and people would appreciate my restraint.

But then college came, and my world was opened to the thought of protest. It was a matter of common sense – if you do not show how you feel, how will anybody know? I protested pretty vocally on the big issues – funding, school politics, social issues. It came to a point where if you didn’t know where I stood, it was either I wasn’t sure myself or you were sleeping under a rock.

The small issues, however, were a different problem entirely. I suck it up a lot – I have learned to live with most of life’s inconveniences armed with a smile and an “oh well.” I learned to work around my problems. Then one day I realized I didn’t have to budge all the time. I didn’t have to get steamrolled into a position I never wanted to be in. Hell, I didn’t have to live with the short stick, damn it.



Too Much or Too Little?

As of late, I haven’t been exactly stellar in anything – academics, extra-curricular activities, family, friends, life. At the risk of sounding like a total ass, I must say that I sort of was pretty good at most of these categories (well, I think) a while back, and being this resoundingly bad across the board indicates something, well, wrong.

So what is it: am I doing too much or too little? Am I overexerting myself or not exerting myself at all? Am I under pressure? Am I slacking off?

I have no clue whatsoever. And being lost really kind of sucks.

Scenes from the 33rd Manila International Book Fair

Okay, random confession time: I have a tendency to sniff.

And when I say “sniff”, I mean “look up from whatever the hell I’m doing, scrunch my nose up, and sniff in short, audible bursts until my crazy antics allow me to discern the general direction of the smell in question’s origin.”

Yes, I’m a dog.

Well, a bibliophilic dog. As we went inside the SMX Convention Center for the 33rd Manila International Book Fair, this conversation took place:

Me: <sniff maneuver>

The Mom: <what are you doing look>

Me: Smell that?

The Mom: Smell what?

Me: It’s the smell of books.

And I said that last bit like Beethoven was playing on the speakers.

Anyway, after a few minutes of shuffling about, we got in this enormous hall with quite a lot of people, milling about looking at what seemed like a hundred thousand books. Publishers and bookstores had their own little booths (or big booths, really, depending on your status as a publisher/bookstore – National Book Store practically transplanted one of its shops onto the convention floor), and a million signs were screaming SALE in our faces (there was one publishing house that actually did scream SALE in our faces, in the form of two dudes, two microphones, and a speaker).

Honestly, I went in there looking for a deal. As you probably know, medical school is expensive as hell, and that is partially because medical books cost quite a pretty penny. I was looking for a discount on some books I would need in my future endeavors, and, well, I came up short.

Not that I didn’t find great deals, but I guess I grew out of the habit of buying things I probably would never need. A lot of books were slashed to 10% of their original prices, but as I looked them over, I never could see myself reading any of them. Others promised four medical books at the incredibly low price of 100 pesos, but as I examined the copyright, the tomes were published around a decade-and-a-half ago – I might seriously harm somebody if I didn’t crosscheck with a more current source, and that was more trouble than it was worth.

After two hours of walking and examining and exercising good judgment, I was about to sigh and be sad that I was about to leave the whole thing empty-handed. Of course, as it is A Law of the Universe, it is when you almost give up that you find the thing you are looking for.

Hallelujah to your 20% off on all books, Fully Booked. Hallelujah.

From the Fully Booked store/booth. And that, dear friends, is just a crumb of the ten-tier cake that was going on.

And so I brought the whole Song of Ice and Fire (at a reduced price) into my life.

And, for a while at least, I shall stop writing for a bit, and start reading.


Yes Woman

(This post was longer. That’s all I have to say.)

I say yes too often.

It’s heartbreaking.

Damn it.

I used to think of saying yes as an opportunity taken, an adventure waiting to happen. “Why not?” I said to the world, and I was so sure Jim-Carrey-as-God was smiling down on me, and taking pictures while running.

Now, it’s like I’m digging this fantastically effin’ large hole, and I just go and dig a little deeper with a smile while signing yet another contract allowing the dirt I just dug up to fall right on top of my effin’ head.


Kids These Days

I was sitting on the bus, minding my own business, when I noticed that the two kids beside me were munching on a lot of food. The girl used the box on her lap to gain leverage over the last bits of tamarind sugar in the yellow cellophane, while the boy chewing marshmallows while holding the multicolored wrapper. It was otherwise the normal scene when a family boards the bus.

Then, as if in unison, the children beside me held their sweets wrappers, and threw them under the chair in front of us. Underneath the chair, there was also a mound of wafer wrappers and tissue paper, most likely coming from them.

It was saddening to say the least. More so since the kids’ parents were in plain view of whatever their young ones were doing.

Alas, I am nobody’s parent, and I do not look like I have the authority to reprimand anyone – and so I just kept my mouth shut, and transferred seats as quickly as I could.

Check-up #1

I was walking along in National Bookstore when I saw a friend. Being the amiable dolt that I am, I of course greeted her with a “How do you do?” Being the Filipina that she is, my friend promptly replied with an “I’m fine. How do YOU do?” To which I answered, “I’m good.”

Still following me? Thanks.

Then, she looked at me with a look that pretty much was incredulity made into facial expression, and said, “Wait, aren’t you a med student already?”

Before I could respond, she immediately got carried away by a flood of people towards the exit – which I guess was a good thing.

I mean, I was left pretty much speechless. I couldn’t answer her question if I tried.

Because, really, medical school feels, well, weird.

I know I’m not doing anything medical yet, and, quite frankly, I’m not even studying anything medical yet. But everything feels like it is tinged with the aura of medicine (if there’s such a term). Everything feels like I should be better than what I am, and everything I do seems so far from even the slightest notion of ‘enough.’

I don’t know if this state will change anytime soon, but if it does, I’ll tell you.

Current status: Stable but confused.

Pressure: Moderate but increasing.

BMI (Bad Mood Index): 5 out of 10.

Outlook: Positive (?).

Independence Day

Before anything else, happy Independence Day to all us Filipinos!

(Although, really, this was just the date Aguinaldo said we were independent – it was not the date we formally wanted to be independent, nor the date we were given independence. But, hey, go freedom!)

It is a sordid business, this whole packing thing.

I have never really packed for more than a week at a time, and even those instances were fraught with the difficulties my tendency to over-think comes in parcel with. I mean, what if the lights go out? What if there is an earthquake? What if strange armed men take me as hostage?

Now keep that in mind as you imagine me packing for a year. Or more, if God willing.

My head hurts just thinking about it.

Somewhere in between putting t-shirts in my bag and placing the printer back in its box for transport, I came to realize that I’m not really packing things – I’m packing away my life. I’m placing who I am in boxes, bags and plastic containers, to be unloaded in a place that will, in around five hours, be called home.

It terrifies me a little, thinking about that. I know I’m going to sound like a complete baby, but this is the first time that I will call a place home without my parents saying the same. It feels weird.

But I guess it can be a good weird, if I let it.

It’s my chance to become responsible, to become more mature, to become a part of the world. It’s kind of exhilarating, in the way that walking on a tightrope without a safety net is exhilarating.

As in, yes, I’m doing it on my own (finally), but crap is it gonna hurt if I fall.

I have fallen a lot of times before. I have made a lot of mistakes, but in retrospect I know it was because of my own stupid carelessness, because of my lack in foresight. I’m just hoping that the knowledge that it won’t be okay, that no one will be there to help me (well, maybe help me a bit), would make me put my feet in the right place, would make me keep my balance.

Here’s to hoping.

It’s funny, really, musing about this today of all days. Independence Day.

Sometimes the universe has a pretty commendable sense of humor.