Dis 22, 2006

Period Piece

Sometimes I think of Ernest Hemingway. He must have gotten it, how every story ended meant that a man cleaned a gun good, loaded it with a fist of bullets, and licked the always open for business end of the barrel. Every story meant that while there was a man who did this, he did not pull the trigger. This is a specific knowledge because it is not equivalent to its obverse, that every unfinished story meant a man did swallow a bullet. While that is a possibility, an unfinished story may also mean many things. Some of those things may bear the stink of merely staying alive. Just something akin to surviving. But an ended story is definite. One thing. Meant someone tried his hand at death. Meant someone was a coward, was fundamentally scared of cutting his story short. This may be what Hemingway got. He who took pride in being a brave man. But it is only sometimes when I think of Ernest Hemingway. Just some of those sometimes when I think of him ultimately taking pride.

Dis 18, 2006


Perfect conversation with Carlos and Emmanuel over goto, late night after working with the students’ extracurricular poetry. What could I say about that conversation? Motivating, edifying. Pushed me to dream farther. A rather selfish way of thinking, depicting the conversation’s effect on me rather than its true nature. I hope the later part of this paragraph will remedy that as well as answer the question of the conversation’s fate. Meanwhile, let me describe the goodbyes. We three called it a night. When the night agreed to its name, we paid the cashier our almost forgotten bills, grabbed our bags, and unpacked our destinations. Then we threw them destinations skyward. Caloy’s destination dropped on his kuya’s place in Batangas. Mine, on the Demarses unit. No one quite followed where Emman’s destination went, but he had an idea and was confident about the idea. We all believed that a growth of confidence is well worth an MIA destination. So, goodbye and Caloy hailed his jeep, Emman pedaled his bike, and I walked the blocks to home. I was thinking about our perfect conversation when it hit me: I didn’t know where the conversation went. I mean, we were throwing the furball to and fro, watching it change color and dance along our trajectories. We were happy and surprised and developed ideas in turns. The furball was thrown and caught even while we were eating, even with just tentative throws and side glances. There were no-look passes. Thus, I found it right to consider that we were catching it because it wanted to be caught. Indeed, it was one agile conversation. Up the stairs to the Demarses door, I thought that it didn’t matter. No one had exclusive rights to that conversation, but if either Caloy or Emman took it home, well, the conversation picked its ride. When I opened the door, a flood of air rushed out, throwing me back a couple of steps. It was when I stepped in to turn on the lights and face what I faced that I realized my ill-hid hope to find the conversation waiting for me, maybe gnawing at my slippers, or up nosing through the shelves, or ahead on the bead, muttering nothings in its sleep. But I hit the lights. What was at the door with the air was silence. She was grinning at me. I could not smile back because aside from the fact that she was wearing nothing, her lips were to red and all the floor held evidence of rainbow hair.

Dis 17, 2006


Asking for me without looking for me. How prudent is that? Was watching you and your fool hair and all your pain trying to pin the tail on the yuletide donkey. Fool hands, fool lips. You will never at least apologize to them and thus my sweet fun is forever legit. Not to either of them, and not with your heart. Yes, that racing racing heart.

Dis 16, 2006


God I hate that I should call you Kuya when I do what I have to do, but there's the irony that I have to consider. And the thrill of a long chase. This is not your consideration, I know. Makes your life easier. Makes my life a hell to know yours is easier. Me, I have to write you down while all you have to do is strike. Now that I know I have your eyes, there's a tidbit I should tell you about. I want you to breathe. You ought to feel safe. Now that you let me know that I have your eyes, I can tell you this: you are not as unpredictable as you want to believe. Only the desperate enemy is unpredictable. Even the enemy who desperately wants despair but does not possess it is not really unpredictable. Now I know what she is to you. A shield. A shield, therefore you are not really as desperate as you want to appear, are you? Did you just sigh your relief, Kuya? Because I won't hit someone with glasses on?

Salvador Dali Cream

On top of everything else, three student writers passed their short stories. That was Wednesday night. Over a couple of nights, I left their stories in front of the electric fan. They weren’t wet, had no need for drying. I used a broken wall clock for paperweight. I admit that the dramatic effect motivated me. Stories anchored by the clock. Easy to identify with clocks. Broken ones, particularly. Or with the period in clock lives when the batteries are dead, when everyone had care to pump new ones in but no one had the wherewithal. Whenever we get around to hoisting them up fixed, powered, and aligned with the heartbeat of the world, my identification with the clock evaporates. That could have been part of it, the whole paltry drama. Or what could have been a more vital part of it may be my desire to see the clock melt like Dali cream. Then we would gain the necessity of drying the short stories. But that didn’t happen. So come Friday when I turned the fan off and took the stories home with my red pen, I had made up another reason for exposing their stories to artificial wind for around thirty-six hours. The reason I unearthed or claycreated was that I desired to see the flipping of pages like wings in search of sky. I wanted to know how the wind went about reading.

Dis 11, 2006


1. Sat through rapid eye movement. Not exactly a Sufi mystic stopping the heart but a good start.
2. Pushed my story some, okay with one Hum160 essay results and deeply disappointed with the other, hopeful with the workshop pieces. Wondered if I should tell one class about how good the other was. Did not bother wondering about telling the other class that it was better than the other.
3. Father still at the bad place. Sent message asking if I'll travel to Laguna despite the storm.
4. Somebody's sick. I want her out of the bad place.
5. No new lessons. A good phone call. Sent message saying I'll go to Laguna, do class.
6. Was home. Wasn't home.

Dis 10, 2006


1. Slept through most of my dreams again. I miss my lucidity.
2. Today's all about editing my current story, checking the twenty sentences times sixty students of Hum160, and reading the pieces for tomorrow's workshop. Must also adjust the lesson plan. I can do some of these things out of the house.
3. Father and his brother out at the bad place.
4. Somebody's sick. I want her out of the bad place.
5. I heard of a monastery in Bukidnon where the monk is an excellent chef and Sunday means hearty - or should I say soulful? - breakfast.
6. Wherever I decide to work today, I won't be there.

Room of Once Home

Students in my cubicle. Many, so I had to Indian sit on my desk. The more perceptive ones asked Why did you leave the previous school? The more audacious ones asked If you loved teaching so much, why did you even leave? Was it your scratch paper school? Were they guinea pig students? Your colleagues, were they books walking, motherboards talking, Bunsen burners out to blue lunch? Almost a chorus, they asked You wanted them shelved? I could not say no. Although technically, those were not my exact reasons. But before I could say what I felt the most convincing among my motivations, they had already allowed the questions to run rampant. Did you just discard it like that? Your scratch paper school in some university wastebasket? Before I could say my indefinite No or my equally irresolute Yes, they had already asked Did your co-teachers dislike you? Did you dislike them? Would you rather they were in in glass jars of formalin? Your students, did they mutate? Your guinea pig students, did they mutate right out of your computations like numbers exceeding the Excel sheet, leaking out of the plastic monitor frame, invading the room, your guinea pig students? Did they mutate? Did they die? After they said that, there was a hush, and maybe that meant it was my turn to speak No! Surely, they have not died. That was the last thing they'd do. You see, I left the school because of a delinquent classroom. It just would not cooperate, would play with the lights, never allowed the installation of fans. Room blackened its walls at noon and relaxed its ceiling when the rains came. Played with the acoustics so I had to shout sometimes and whisper sometimes. Room changed board from green to white at will. I had to use a knife to get anything written down. Then the classroom disappeared, a no-show at the final exams. Got everyone expelled, me included. Not an honorable exit for any of us. The door left before I could say goodbye. I said, expecting to end the telling. The more perceptive ones were respectful, let me finish, gave the polite smile. Then they looked at the audacious ones who were squirming with their silence. The glance seemed like a cue. They all began wondering out loud Did they multiply with a drop of your water? Did they develop extra elbows, spiral belly buttons? Your guinea pig students, did they shrink or did they evolve out of reach?

Dis 4, 2006


Verge of a new week. Still in Manila but Laguna in a couple of hours. It's December, yes, but there's a taste of watermelons in the air. I sniff some. Turn my head three sixty. My hopes for the week has been standing there, watching what I'm typing about this door to the week. "I'm here," he says. I see you are, I type. "Are you afraid?" he asks. Why should I be afraid of you, you're my hopes? I type and before I realize I just answered a question with a question which sometimes seems intelligent. But how to be intelligent when your hopes is looking over your shoulders, watching what you're doing? It pains me that I just typed another question. I'm this student thinking out loud, one mistake after another. My hopes for the week's beard grazes my shoulder. "What disappoints you more? That your hopes turned out to be old? Or that he's not a lady?" I was disappointed. But since he cushions my morning with questions, I think I can live with him. He'll just be in for a week. I may lose my hopes in the thick of things anyway, maybe by Thursday. Don't mind me, I type. You're a good one, you can watch TV, stay in Makati or Los Banos, I type. Wherever, I type. I can give you fare if you want to go to Rizal. I can... But I cannot. The taste of watermelons is not around anymore. Such a tasteless air. Maybe I should fry danggit all morning. Make lots of coffee.

Dis 2, 2006

Nine point exploration of sticky keys

1. I grow increasingly fond of Taralets (tara tara tara lets!)
2. Lian, Batangas is a breath away.
3. There is a blow to be struck and I’m not supposed to deal it.
4. About a girl.
5. Cancel them sticky keys.
6. A cat came in the house last night smelling the tuna that did not exist until I cooked it into the pasta this morning (with Lian just a breath away). Naturally, I shooed her last night.
7. My packs are bagged, Batangas or not.
8. I got my pillbox, my billfold, the soundless pen-pad combo, the charger without bothering with the phone, and pages of the next book which I hope to drown before it drowns me.
9. The striped tail either belongs to the cat or to the girl.