Dogs who don’t dance

Minato is a bit Baptist. He hates it when I dance. So, today, I chose a fun Spotify playlist and started a dance party he was determined not to join. He watched, hackles rising, as I snapped my fingers and swayed my hips to Bruno Mars’ That’s what I like. He jumped at me a few times to stop me from making an embarrassment of myself.

When I eventually tired of dancing solo, I sat on the floor and changed into a more mellow playlist. That’s when he turned from snob to sweet and lay beside me. Or maybe, he just didn’t want me to jump up and start dancing again. I placed his head on my lap and he didn’t resist, for only like the third time in his entire post-puppy life. We stayed in that position as he napped, while I thought of the last time he volunteered to lie beside me, when I was crying in prayer and it must have worried him.

So this time, I prayed tears-free prayers, and sang them from my heart.

 

***

One of our dogs back home died today, the fourth that succumbed to a dog epidemia this year. It is heart-breaking. If dogs went to heaven, I’m sure I’d see her there (even if she did bite me last May). Here is a doggo appreciation post I pulled out of my archives. It’s for a different dog, but i haven’t written one for Chizzy in this phone yet, so this will have to be for all the dogs I love(d).

RIP, Chizzy, you are such a beautiful momma dog and I love you. See you in heaven, my pet!

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Picky eater, impatient waiter

For most of this season, my daily bread included a generous serving of time with family and a second helping of coffee chats with old friends. In itself, it was a delicious meal. Sumptuous. Filling. I could not ask for more. I should not ask for more.

But, like a petulant child in a kindergarten playground, I keep on glancing at my peers’ baon and find my own lacking. I can’t enjoy my ice cream cone when my lactose intolerant friends are all licking lollipops.

For a long time, I had the audacity to believe myself a non-conformist, an individualist. I was never one to succumb to peer pressure. I took pride in not letting pop culture dictate my interests, in having personal goals that would not look like anyone’s Pinterest board. But, on my nth day of funemployment bumhood unemployment, I find that I do care about what others think of me. It is suddenly increasingly difficult to meet a different set of friends from the ones I’ve been consistently meeting, those who have been more or less apprised of what I have been doing for the past year. I find myself dragging my feet to meet my Manila friends, even actively hiding from them, because I cannot bear getting asked how I am and offering the same answers I did four months ago.

A lot of it has to do with pride, with having the same stories as last time, with having to remind people sometimes that I cannot afford that middle-class restaurant since my savings ran out more than six months ago. It also has a lot to do with the inability to be firm in my faith 100% of the time and feeling like a fraud when I say I am at peace with waiting. With having to contend with self-flagellating thoughts almost daily and being unable to articulate how debilitating the struggle feels sometimes. With having to, wanting to defend the choices I made because I truly, honestly prayed for them and continue to do so, even when the results are nowhere what I expected them to be. And sometimes, with the guilt of feeling like a bad, self-centered friend when their comments on enjoying my vacation (unemployment is hardly that), on not exhausting my options, on being okay to be choosy (I am not!) strike a sensitive chord inside me.

Every single one of my friend has a lollipop in hand. A lot of them complain over their flavors, trading commentaries on the textures, the tastes, all the while licking the sweets. Sometimes I stare at their stained tongues, wanting a lollipop for myself, knowing I’ve been promised one five months ago and feeling impatient that it isn’t here now. They love Fridays, they say. I hate Friday because he marks another week “wasted” on waiting. They hate Mondays.  I would love to have their Monday. I love Monday because he’s a work day and I can then expect a call from xxx. And so I continue to covet after the colored lollipops, as the ice cream carefully, lovingly, thoughtfully prepared for me by my Father melts, dripping down my dress.

I didn’t use to think of myself as a covetous person. For the most part, I’ve had a satisfying life. Not necessarily easy, but consistently grounded. (I still think I have the absolute best pair of parents in the world, and by that alone, I already feel like I hit the jackpot in the world lottery.) However, there are times, lots of times, when I feel like I’m in the battle of the barrel of middle-class twenty something college graduates because, at 25, almost 26, I remain a dot in the in the growing unemployment statistics.

It would be so easy to blame government bureaucracy for my woes – it is, in actual irrefutable fact, the bureacracy’s fault. But I lose when I harbor bitterness against my employer before I even get employed. So I instead revert to second-guessing, to doubting, to seeking reassurances from the God who has power over busy government employees. The God, who, in infinite love and wisdom, offered me a gift I did not ask for.

Today, I read a message from one of my best friends. She said I was building character. I don’t really believe that, because this season has brought out in me insecurity, covetuousness, bitterness and a hundred other ugly sins in degrees I have never before been conscious of registering. And though, I find respite from them at the foot of the cross, I again have to struggle against them at an almost literal daily basis, a struggle that escalates within the day and peaks at 6pm, at the end of the work day and still no call has come, when I find myself sobbing in prayer, leaving tear stains on my bible.

I wish I could say that I realized something and then lived it out and became at peace ever after. In reality, I “realize” things repeatedly, feel comforted, struggle to hold on to the promise that has comforted me so well the previous night, and then run out of joy again as the sun sets. It is a cycle that would feel exhausting, if not for the fact that my quiet times are never exhausting. That God’s word never runs out of promises for me. That He still hasn’t run out of patience for me, and He never will.

And, maybe, this fragility that causes me to come back crying to God again and again, this pendulum-swinging between faith and frustration, this precise state where I feel weaker in faith than I have ever been, is good for me. Because it reveals ugliness I was too blinded to believe had existed in me. And so I tell my God that I recognized new sins in me. I tell Him how my heart broke when I got another “wait” message. I tell him how petty I’ve become. And I add to the sins forgiven of me all these.

And maybe, that is my character being built. I thought character came at the form of steadfast, unyielding faith. But maybe, just maybe, this unsteady, yielding faith is the precursor to that. This weak, overdramatic faith that struggles to be strong, that finds itself coming back to God, and will always find its strength in Him.

Now that I’m back in the metro, my meals no longer include family time and friends time. But yesterday’s had a huge helping of reading and dog time, just as lovingly prepared for me as the ones before. It didn’t really make me feel like the kid with the ice cream, probably because it’s not Friday yet. For whatever reason, I felt more like my regular self, eating veggies I did not order; nevertheless, I found myself enjoying the meal all the way through.

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The God of good coffee

I possess no crystal balls. I have absolutely no answers for people who ask questions beyond the present. I don’t know where I’ll be next week, much less five years from now. In fact, the only future I hold for certain is one a lifetime from now. An eternity before me.

An eternity with no disappointments, no unanswered questions, no uncertainty.

An eternity where Bituin Escalante doesn’t croon Kung ako na lang sana, while I bawl my eyes out alone in McDo, as my hot fudge sundae melts and my coffee grows cold, and I don’t care because I worry I’ll look fat in my graduation photos so I shouldn’t have ordered the former, nor added so much creamer to the latter.

An eternity where I don’t worry about petty things like how I’ll look.
An eternity where I don’t worry.
A eternity where dreams don’t melt and faith doesn’t grow cold.
An eternity where faith becomes reality.
An eternity where I don’t cry my eyes out.
An eternity without tears.
An eternity without cheesy heartbreak songs.
An eternity without heartbreak.

 

An eternity where I don’t go chasing after the vain things of this world.
An eternity apart from this cursed world that was never meant to bring joy.
An eternity where disappointment doesn’t chafe my wounded pride.
An eternity where I have no pride.
An eternity where my every desire is fulfilled.
An eternity where I only have one desire.
An eternity where my only desire is to worship my God.

For now, on this side of eternity, I have to content myself with hope. I dry my eyes on the napkins the cashier had so generously handed out and Kyla’s Love Will Lead You Back plays at the background. (Who hurt this manager’s feelings?) Yeah, no. Love won’t, but their coffee might.

As I abandon my sundae and step out into the sunset, I decide that today wasn’t so good. But God, my God of comfort- He always, always is. Even when I run out of faith, and my cup feels empty, and I am unhappy. Because it is the nature of God to be good, as it is the nature of this life to disappoint. Big surprise. Life disappoints. Sipping my still-warm cup of joe, I at least find that McDonald’s coffee doesn’t.

Thank God for good coffee. #

 

 

Just sister stuff

My brother messaged me tonight.

He is seventeen, too-cool-for-highschool, and too-male-to-hang-out-with-sis. He is that most of the time. But when I’m home, he asks me to go to his school after his class and we go eat pancit batil patong together. He tags along to dinner with my friends and while he is silent the whole time, we chat it up at home. We buy halo-halo and fishball and get a bit fatter less thin when I’m home.

A couple of times a week, I forward a meme to him and we share HAHAHAs. Once in a while, he sends me a PM to ask for help on his homework or to rant about school. Once in a blue moon, he talks to me about girls and I talk to him about guys.

My brother is 17 and I’m still coming to grips about the fact that he’s no longer a kid. Soon, he will be 18, and then I’ll have an 18 year-old baby brother.

Magic Temple revisited

Week 3

Magic Temple was one of the most popular children’s films in 1996. We watched it repeatedly on cable tv when I was too young to appreciate its depth. When I heard it was being restored  and shown on the big screen again, I knew I had to watch it. So I did, with my fellow 90s kid friends.

I’m not a movie buff. If I say things like “ang ganda ng cinematography” and “the musical scoring was first-rate”, chances are I’m being pretentious. But, like everyone else, I love a good story. And I like them better when I have a good story-teller.

Above all else, the strength of Magic Temple was its story- so simple, and yet so layered. Special effects are dated, and even good acting is subjective, but a good story speaks 20 years after its time, and beyond.

In a nutshell, the was just three kids with a bit of power on a mission. But the mission required a journey, and there we had the best setting for a fantasy film. There were plot bunnies all over the film, and they were not woven seamlessly into the main mission, but because the main characters were kids- easily distracted, excited to undergo tasks, and with plenty to learn- the plot bunnies worked well. In fact, the movie would have been boring without Jasmine, the ghost whose bones they needed to recover and without Telang Bayawak, who is easily the most interesting supporting character in the film.

Even the extras, like the goatmen who shared their meal to them were stories worth exploring. Their few minutes on screen were there (for laughs and) for the boys to learn not to judge based on what is easily seen- a lesson they repeatedly forget and relearn all over again.

I was tempted to excuse off the kids’ outright disregard for instructions, and their annoyingly short memory, to them being kids. But on second thought, it is a perfect metaphor for practically every person. In so many ways, we all are still children- out of focus, unmindful of rules, needing to learn things again and again and again. And often, those mistakes cost us a lot- in Magic Temple, forgetting Telang Bayawak’s instructions to ignore invitations to dance cost them the whole side mission. But then, the characters do what’s typical of kids- they barely commiserate their loss; instead, they reassure one another that they will try it again on another day. If it were me, I’d be conducting a play-by-play SWOT analysis of the perceived defeat. But kids often choose to learn through experience. We watch the three learn and forget and relearn, and, despite the self-reflection and the consistent over-analysis, I’ve watched myself do the same, too.

The film is even more poignant when we learn that, in fact, the three kids are a metaphor for the three major islands of our country. Jubal is Luzon, Omar is Mindanao, and Sambag is Visayas. In a time of political divisiveness, the message of the movie is made more important. Listen to me say “the message”, like there’s only one. We know there’s a million- don’t judge based on what is seen; monsters are humans, too; remember what you learn; choose the hard path, etc etc. But Sambag, the narrator, said it himself- the story is about unity. And it is about overcoming individual weaknesses- insecurity, hot-headedness, disobedience- in the service of the team.

The film also crams these interesting characters and possible plot bunnies and leaves them a somewhat hanging but it’s a good reminder that these characters do not exist only in the main trio’s universe. They have whole other identities, lives, problems completely divorced from the kids’ mission.

It is precisely this undercurrent of uncertainty, of the movie being just a tiny molecule in an undiscovered universe of fantasy, which makes me find it so beautifully reminiscent of one of my favorite fantasy novels. I find the whole package so poignant that it doesn’t even feel sacrilegious to call it the kiddie movie version of Stardust.

With a back out and fade plus music kind of ending, the film did succeed in giving a “happy ever after” feel to its conclusion. And yet, there’s also a wistful feeling to it- the desire to know what happens next, what’s happening to the other characters. The contradiction it succeeds in eliciting is pure genius.

With the little bit of maturity these past 20 years have afforded me- the kind that allows me to let the world turn without my having to know all its whys and hows, I find that my 24 year old self appreciates Magic Temple more than the kiddie me did, and that’s saying a lot.

Did Magic Temple pass the test of time? It certainly did, with flying, magical colors. #

 

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Color me natural

Week 2

I have finally discovered lipsticks. After years of authentic no makeup (read: oily) look, the lab-made colors are making their way to my face. I have been promoted from using tinted lipgloss to real, glossy/matte lipstick.

Imagine my delight last week when my fashione friend gave me Colourpop matte lipsticks in nude/pale red (Beeper) and old rose (Clueless). With the excitement of a kid with a new toy, I proudly showed them off to my mom and my sisters. I stayed in front of the mirror, smiling, puckering my lips, indulging in a rare vanity.

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But tonight, my face is devoid of chemicals. Because I have proven again and again that I am at my ugliest when I get off the bus after 10 hours of travel, I don’t even bother putting powder or lipgloss on whenever I leave for Manila. My face is scrubbed clean after my usual pre-trip bath. As I run my hand through my wet, short, newly-trimmed curls, Mama looks at me and her lips curve into the gentle smile that only mothers could wear. She tells me softly, “Alle mas gwapa ka lagapa nu awan maski anni ta mukha mu, neng.” (You still seem prettier when there’s nothing on your face, my child.) I have never felt more beautiful.

Give me perrywinkle

Week 1

Today, I rocked on the chair in the porch and stared at the sky and the fronds of thr lone coconut tree in the house across the street. It was very reminiscent of the summer days I spent doing the same, except the rocking chair was by the garage. I used to read Sweetdreams novels and take plenty of breaks to simply gaze at the vast blueness and the brilliant greens I was gifted with, just by living here in the province. At fourteen, I was awestruck by the vivid colors gracing my horizon.

Today, following a week-long battle, the sun finally won against the LPA-led clouds. The sky was a faded blue, the palm leaves a dusty, wilted shade of green. And briefly, I wondered if my life was the same.

*I promised to be faithful in writing this year, and to learn to write short posts, but as usual, my resolution went down the drain in the first month. I still think I should post them, anway. So, here. 🙂