Sunday, January 31, 2010

Ex Spoiled Brat: Survival Tips

Were you one of them?

Oh, don't be coy. You know that growing up you got your way most of the time. What did it take for you to bend your parents' iron will again? I've heard there are countless of ways. The pretty-please dopey eyed look, the i'll-pray-every-night-promise, the you-know-you-love-me mini dominatrix/dominator, or the you-don't-give-me-enough-time-anyway-so-buy-me-what-I-want mojo?

Let me tell you mine. I was the "straight-laced, straight-As in exchange for anything I want" kind of kid. C'mon, I know it sounds devious, but it makes perfect honest sense. Who can deny you anything when you've given everything to be the best in the one thing your parents value? For my family, school rules. Hey, I was born to a couple of pedagogues, so get off my geeky case. Good grades equate to pocketbooks and Teen Beat magazines cum Sunday. Housework? Well, how can I study if I'm worrying about washing the dishes, right? Besides Ate "Fill-in-the-blank" will take care of it. Oh, we're out of eggs? Sorry, I'm not allowed to go out, not even to the corner store, the other "Ate" can do that for us. It's dangerous out there and I'm too precious, you see (but of course my parents never saw it that way, I think they were more concerned I'll buy too many Flat Tops with the change).

If you lived that life, you know what I mean. If you're still living it, I'm torn between envy and pity. Sometimes I wish things could be that easy again. The worst thing you have to worry about is if Manang/Ate remembered to prepare the right uniform for tomorrow and it will be totally her fault if you forget to wear your school ID.

But that life had its pitfalls too. The Ivory tower of every princess will fall, if not today, then someday. Mine fell about ten years ago and I'm still struggling for a toehold. Whether you like it or not, the time will come when you'll realize that the spoiled brat is finally out of her/his depth. So, as a public service for the greater good of all the Daddy's little darlings and Mummy's pretty munchkins out there, I offer you the following bits of hard-won knowledge on surviving outside Rapunzel's lair:

1. Bills needs to get paid by the due date. They aren't, by any means, mere suggestions.
2. When buying food from the grocery store, do NOT go to the snacks section first. By the time you reach the meat section, you'd be up to your chins in Cheetos and no place for the dressed chicken.
3. When you're sweeping the floor and your wrist starts to hurt, don't jump into the conclusion you've acquired carpal tunnel syndrome. Check your grip on the godforsaken thing and try again.
4. Never get outclassed in raking leaves by an 11-year-old neighborhood kid. It makes you feel like an incompetent ninny.
5. When changing light bulbs, avoid death by electrocution by turning off the switch first. (duh, right? but you'd be surprised how you could just've sworn you switched it off already)
6. Do not microwave bagoong. Just don't.
7. When cleaning dog poo, holding your breath only makes you gasp for bigger gulps of air in about 5 seconds, which would then result to getting more whack out of the smell. Just breathe slowly and pretend its brain surgery --- remain calm and steady.
8. Unless you're practicing for your Oscar acceptance speech, chop onions with a piece of stale bread nearby. It absorbs the sting, I don't know how or why.
9. When you're trimming trees, watch out for falling fire ants and the far more fatal (heart-attack inducing) bird poop.
10. Sweeping dust under the rug/carpet doesn't work anymore, never had.
11. Do not put off for tomorrow what you can do today --- like laundry. It'll be a nasty surprise to find you've ran out of knickers. And no, cycling shorts won't do.
12. Find yourself a good pair of sensible, slightly fashionable shoes. It'll bring you places.
13. When in a financial bind, check your bags. There's bound to be spare change or bills clinging to the inside lining of your Zara.
14. Hair=condition. Face=moisturize.
15. Get handy with the hammer and the spanner. Elastoseal and Plumber's Putty can also be your best friends.
16. Familiarize yourself with your home's main power switch. Don't be turning off the electricity in the kitchen if it's your patio that's short circuiting.
17. Lock your doors. Lock your doors. Really, go check it again.
18. You could never have too many batteries or toilet paper.
19. If you can't see yourself doing it, find a way to pay somebody else who can do it for you.
20. Just pray. I mean it, I'm not trying to be cute. When you feel like nothing is going right, and life is about to fall into its seams, amaze yourself with what a little prayer can do, and lots of the right tensile string. :D

Monday, January 25, 2010

Geeks Guide: Legion

Oh dear God almighty. This movie only works because it makes you believe in hell and you are deep in it.
I deeply love Paul Bettany and his inked, muscled self, but loyalty could only get to a certain point and beyond it lies a dark region where no one ever returns. I think I have toed the demarcation line, but decided to remain on this side of sanity.
Legion. WTF?
I admit, the trailers already gave me the foreboding that this movie will be difficult to like. Desert + midwestern accents + zombies = Go do the math. But Mr. Bettany can reanimate a 100-year-old Egyptian Mummy by just raising a sexy eyebrow, (in my opinion) and thus, I truly believed he will "save" this movie from it's B-movie sad existence.
Well, let me present the points and you decide if I was gravely mistaken or just almost right.
Exhibit A - The modern Joseph and Mary are named Jip and Charlie, respectively. He a slow, nice kid, and she a waitress / ho. I get the "regular kind of people" characterization, but the utter lack of character building makes it hard to believe that the faith of humanity lies in the hands of the Mojave Desert's version of Legally Blonde.
Exhibit B - A small huddle of people get stuck in the middle of the desert in a rundown greasy spoon. Oh, you know, Fate just casually threw them all together there in a mixed brew of rich and poor, black and white, young and old and dying. The first they knew something wasn't right was when their TV broke and the phone lines got cut off. They get all worried, assumes its terrorists and grudgingly assumed they were probably safe right there in the middle of nowhere. Then comes the part I hate most...
Exhibit C - the Zombies. Well, technically, they're people possessed by angels. So they stop being human and become all freaky for your innards and going for the jugular. In my dictionary, they're called Zombies. I hate Zombies. I can't even play Plants vs. Zombies without getting nightmares. Zombieland would've been hilarious, if there weren't any zombie parts (why can't they just do goblins? Goblinland sounds fairly good). In this movie, it's like watching Zombieland all over again, without the obsessive listing and with far superior ammo-power.
Zombie Number One - Grandma Gladys. Who first called dibs on the baby yet to be born (let's call this baby= Jesus Jr.). She ate rare steak, and when got her freak on, bit filthy-rich-man, climbed to the ceiling and spouted invectives from a higher plane (literally). As all zombies are, she's not very smart, and got caked when a brother from another mother split her head with his flashy S&W.
Zombies Number 2 through 4000000 - ugly, the lot of 'em.
Zombie Sweetie Number 1 - she was a girl about 7 years old and carrying a balloon. Oh, my lovely, your princess dress is pretty, and so does your brain on the dirt road.
Zombie Sweetie Number 2 - a boy about 4 who the group tried to save but was transformed and got inside the diner and tried to finish off Jesus Jr.. He got blown to seven thousand jigsaw puzzle pieces when the angel Michael and his gun said hello.
Exhibit D - okay. now that i got the zombies out of the way, let me tell you why they were possessed in the first place. It seems that God has lost his faith in Mankind. He/She/They got tired of people blowing things up, running for senate, brushing their teeth with their fingers, and ordering Starbucks Mocha Frappuccinos without even saying please. So He/She/They decided it was time to renew the earth again. But He/She/They can't possibly send another flood, cos of the Covenant and the rainbows and thatcrap. So He/She/They made the weaker-willed men turn on the strong. The "dogs of heaven" were unleashed to possess them, turning their minds to nil, and their teeth to Stuart Little proportions. The archangels are commandeering this apocalyptic attack --- all of them except Michael.
Exhibit E - Michael. The Defender of Humanity. The Sword of Heaven. The Commander General of the Heavenly Swarm. Who knew he was British? The first shot of the film actually depicts Michael pontificating on his Sovereign's unusual orders. Gabriel tried to talk some angelic sense unto him, but Michael was dead set on saving the world because he knew God only needs to have one reason to save the world. And that of course is Jesus Jr. So he plunges down to earth, cuts off his beautiful wings, robs a toy store which surprisingly has the first aid kit he needs, and enough artillery to bring down a small country. After stitching up his butchered shouldered blades, he abducts an LAPD police squad and made haste for Paradise Falls where our diner is located.
How are you? Head reeling yet?
If you can still read on, let me tell you how he saved the world. He rallied up the ragtag team inside the restaurant, barricaded the doors and gave them guns the size of a Croatan. He instructed them to blow up anything that moves outside and insisted that everybody stay inside until after Jesus Jr. makes his appearance. And when the girl's water broke, Michael was also her first class obstetrician, sensitively telling her to bloody push for the literal love of God.
A few scenes therafter, Gabriel appears, all sorry and sheepish, and proclaims he got sent to finish the baby and Michael off. With a sincere apology, he started slashing at his best friend. Meanwhile, Charlie, Jip and Jesus Jr. (there's also a straggler named Audrey, but she dies in the chase) walked out of the diner where seven hundred zombies just stared at them and made way for them.
Let me pause here to ask a critical question. Why don't the half-deads attack? At this point, I have been pushed to the edge of my suspension of disbelief so I figured they felt just like me: they have given up trying to understand the plot and would rather wait and pray to the Doubting God for all of it to end.
To cut this very long narrative short, Gabriel extinguishes Michael, chases after the escaping holy family, and was about to decimate Jip when Michael swoops down from heaven, wings and all, and staves off Gabriel. Before falling, Gabe asked Mike what happened why is he alive, your wings are pretty.... He received the reply: "You gave Him what he asked for. I gave Him what he needed. That's where you failed Him." Michael restrained from killing Gabriel, cementing him as the Hero of the whole fiasco. He walks away, wishes Jesus Jr. nice Saturday afternoons in the park and wings it back home.
The best I can say about this film was it had some nice tidbits of knowledge. Aside from the line mentioned above, another favorite of mine was : "You are so lost, that you are so close to being found." Paul Bettany was believable, even admirable as Michael. And as an actor, he must have wells of talent inside him to make it through the film without cringeing. Other than that though, i can't say it would float everybody's boat.
The lesson of the story is, wait for the DVD. And next time you're in Starbucks, you know what to say after placing your order.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

2012 Game Plan

My goal for my 30th birthday is to save Php 200,000++ for a trip to London and maybe part of Europe. I already did the hard math and figured out that I would need to save Php 6,000 per month to reach my goal. Shouldn’t be a problem, right? Rrrrright. Let me just put that aside right after I buy the Rolls Royce and the vacation house in Cebu.

God, what happened? I’m hitting 28 in a few more days and I’m disillusioned to say the least. Ten years ago, I thought 28 was ancient and I would have my own car by now, living a fast-paced jetsetter lifestyle as an international development consultant, and engaged. Age does skew things a bit, doesn’t it? Now, barely a week before the calendar awards me another year, all I have is an ailing laptop, a days-old half-eaten croissant, and lots of bills to pay.

I’m tired of being “on a limited budget”. I have to unlearn creating an adverse correlation between poverty and happiness. Because not doing something I hate does make me relatively happier than my deadline-ridden friends, but it also means cutting some dreams to size because of limited resources.

I could simplify my dreams, true. But somehow Hongkong doesn’t quite cut it for London, a new MRT line passing in front of our village is not quite the Honda I want, and my Parisian slip-ons doesn’t exactly feel like Rockport.

I do recognize my blessings: my own house full to the ceiling with books, a job I like (sometimes), enough household income to keep us afloat and then some, friends who are generous when you can’t quite pay for the extra order of pasta, and cable TV. What else could a girl want? But surely one is allowed to want one impossible dream at a time? Surely, there must be more?

I hope the Fates and Madame Fortune won’t take it against me if I make a stand, right here, right now. Look, Tyche, the last 3 years when the landscape of my life was drastically altered by the demise of important personages, I’ve sacrificed a lot of dreams just to stay afloat. But seeing the world -- swear to Jupiter and his seven hundred harems -- can’t, won’t, shan’t be one of them. Now, c’mon, won’t you give me a chance?

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Right Size Love

I have a huge confession to make.

I have always been a fat kid.

No, of course that’s not the confession. Everybody with half a functioning eye can see that. My confession is, for someone who has always been fat, in my head I’m just the right size. Not the right size for clothes, definitely. Topshop, Mango and Zara are alien boutiques to me, with their current styles and cuts catering to the toddler-sized up to swallowed-half-a-peach-pit kinda fat (which isn’t fat at all). I’m not the right size for health either, it now turns out. Whenever I go to the doctor, I just nod my head on auto-pilot. They scare me, true, but death doesn’t, so here we have a critical impasse. But to me, I’m just the right size for me.

You wouldn’t agree of course. But you haven’t lived your life comforted by the knowledge that no hearty gale of wind will bring you down. I like the feeling of being firmly on the ground, practically screwed unto it. This works for me because my idea of spreading my wings and flying constitutes of closing my eyes and unleashing my imagination.

I have met people who try to tell me, eating too much is a sin. I don’t feel guilty because, if you look at it, I don’t eat too much as per quantity. I just eat often and without paying heed to calorie-intake. There’s a difference. And I always tell myself, murder is a sin. Darfur is a sin. Running for congress after a presidency is a sin. Eating is a furlong and a hatch away from those things. And besides, I love to cook. It’s one of the things that calms me and soothes me. When I’m cooking, I feel like a goddess about to feed her multitude of worshippers. And when I cook, darn heck of course I’ll eat the feast I prepared.

And my last reason for thinking I’m just right is that I like my own softness. I like my roundness. When I become a skinny bitch, I imagine I’d be drop dead gorgeous (don’t we all?), but that wouldn’t be me. I don’t do gorgeous. I do functioning brain cells and roly-poly jolly.

I’m not saying I don’t want to lose weight. Now that my knees are giving in and my back is prone to aches, it’s my doctors’ imperative. If they succeed in forcing me, let this post remind me though: it’s not about how much you weigh but how much you like yourself. I’ve had my battles with self-image, but I emerged a veteran. Thin or fat, I’d always be just the right size for Olivia.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Descent (insert scary background music here)

Last night, I woke up screaming my guts out.

In my dreams which felt too real, I saw a burglar trying to infiltrate the house. I was shouting for help, but my mouth couldn’t fully form the words. I was trying to scream at the burglar, but all I was capable of making were muffled sounds of protest. When I woke up, of course, I was in bed, drenched in cold sweat, and the night quiet as the dead. Geez.

Welcome to my slow descent towards paranoia.

I wish I could say this is the first time this has happened. But no, every night brings new terrors to me. Ever since our yard was broken into, and our water pump and some electronics we foolishly left outside were taken, I never fully trusted the security of our place. True, the house itself is practically impregnable, and with what our 3 dogs who would bark at a moving leaf may be enough to provide alarm. But I think the night terrors are due to other deeper sources; and when I talk of security, I’m just skimming the surface when I say it’s just the house I’m worried about. I know enough of psychology to recognize that my sense of lack of security and safety is really about having to face the challenges ahead without parents. The house is just a metaphor for everything I find myself responsible for and how all of it is gradually slipping from my control.

I’m used to my own melodrama. But night terrors? Come on. That’s a new level of insanity right there. Gads, I keep telling myself to get over it already but it’s harder than it looks. Everything in my waking life is being compromised. I can barely stay awake during the day and constantly seeking sleep. I’m seriously considering sleeping pills if only I’m not terrified that my anxiety over being burgled again may prove true someday and I will not be able to do something about it because I’m trapped in drugged slumber. Wargh.

Good thing I don’t own an oven and I love my ear too much to imagine ever cutting it off. Ha. Other than that, I think I may become certifiable any day now. :D

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Before the Future, the Past

I did not deserve my 2009. Looking back, I had been such a passive, spoiled brat who just huddled under a blanket telling herself and to anyone who would listen that I hurt, I hide, I cry. But if the people around me are tired of that, imagine how I would feel --- I who have to live with myself everyday.

So, even if I cannot promise not to wax melancholic this year, I do want to start the year with good prospect: I will not take this year for granted. Something's telling me, my 28th year on the planet will be an interesting one. I'm just going to give it a hand by believing in the best.

Happy New Year to everyone. :D