Word of the Heartbreaker

My question
My question

 

Why did I ask that?

I find it quite curious if people would heal by using the advice of the persons who hurt them. Would it be strange to take the word of the heartbreaker and use it to alleviate the pain? Like the poisoner telling you the antidote.

Of course, trusting the advice of someone who hurt you is a whole other matter.

Somehow, when my friends and contacts gave their replies, I could almost imagine that they have a specific person in mind. Like it’s never a general idea—always something, someone in particular. Then again, don’t we all?

White Hoodie with Black Details, Folded & Hung

The Hooded Figure

Hoodies were never part of my style until 2008.

What happened in 2008? Two things; first: I was officially transferred from the Human Resources Office to the Administration Office. Second: I began becoming a foodie. What do those things have to do with hoodies? I had names to live up to.

First: my post at the Administration required me to do particular jobs in and out of the office. These jobs resulted to people dubbing me with monikers that had to do with memos, retirement, and the end of all things fun at the office. Second: because of my fascination with food and restaurants, as well crave food and post photos of said food at ungodly of hours, I’ve been told I destroy diets. So, with the names and the complementary reputation I now have, it wouldn’t hurt to dress the part of Death, the original hooded figure.

Dressing up usually starts with me picking what shirt to wear. At times, it depends on what weather is inflicted on the city but most times it’s about what mood I have.

Then I jump to wear pants.

As I race downstairs, I mentally pick out which pair of shoes would go well with what I am wearing.

DSCF2605
[From left to right, clockwise] Indigo Azule, Boxfresh; Suede Chukka Boot, Quiksilver; S.C. Plex, Marc Ecko Unltd; Lynx Cyrcle, DC; Skytop Grey and Purple High Tops, Supra; American Flag Chuck Taylor, Converse; Marcus, Kickers; Dark Brown Zest, Boxfresh; Loafers, GBX
If I feel like it, I would even wear a cap!

DSCF2603
[From left to right, top then bottom] Pink Cap, Oxygen; Khaki Cap, Reebok; Red Cap, Bench; Dark Red Cap, Oxygen; Yellow Cap, Giordano; Blue Cap, Adidas
But all that is easily influenced by my hoodie of choice.

Friends barely take notice of the hoodie because they have seen me wear one so many times that it is typical that I do than I don’t. And because of what I wear, people expect me to be certain things. Then they have this surprised and/or stunned look on their faces when they learn of who I am as packaged so casually. It’s like disarming people just by getting a look of me and my hoodie.

 

[This blog post is a challenge of sorts, courtesy of fellow WordPress blogger and best friend extraordinaire Pam of Life of a Cuddle Bit.]

The Recruits

The same dream woke me up.

I was one of the many. We were all seated, each head turned to the ring at the center of the arena. Inside it was a wall with the height of a basketball player and the width of a sumo wrestler. On it, a circular board was mounted. Seven rings and four colors created its face and a band of 20 disoriented numbers completed its expression. A loud voice in the darkness called.

“21!”

The ring dimmed. Foot falls were heard. A sole light searched for the lone player, who was at the opposite end of the ring. I think it was a man. But that was all. Even with the light shone on him, something dark surrounded him. I couldn’t discern anything else.

Suddenly, there was a glint among his shadows. It was in his hand. A swift turn of the wrist and in the next second, it wasn’t.

What he threw in the air seemed like the length of a palm of a human hand. Its flight seemed like it was two thumbs wrapped in leather. The shaft and the barrel melded into one piece, ending with the point that had its sharp edge surrounding the last three parts.

I protested! I knew I spoke in the dream. But I couldn’t hear my voice. So I turned to the person on my right. He was asleep. I turned to the left. She too was asleep. I surveyed the whole arena. Save for me, the all the spectators were slumped in their seats, all their eyes closed.

My eyes followed the target. And I couldn’t believe where it would land. Between the board and the blade was a body, which still bore the unmistakable insignias only he could have.

I stood up. I still tried to warn the target. But I remained voiceless. I tried to run down to the ring. Yet no matter how fast I dashed down, I could never reach the ring. And in the most futile attempt, I jumped at the blade flying towards him.

And it was always at this point when I wake from the dream. Questions haunt me because of it. Yet I always dismiss them. But they persist. Even as I walk, I could hear myself asking the darkness things I know I was curious about but just frustrating myself more because I knew that it would never answer me.

Just as I was about to knock at the door, the heavy wood swung open. Sheepishly, I smile as I entered. I couldn’t tell if I was late or not because, strangely, there were already a crowd in the hall. It was always crowded when new recruits for the annual war games were presented.

And this year like the six years before, Hulyo Kaiser had the pick of the litter. It’s one of the perks of winning the previous war game. And Hulyo loved it. The only part he hated was he had to tell me. In truth, he doesn’t have to; they could register themselves and all I had to do was see that all the papers were in order. What he hated about telling me was that I always had something to say about his choices. Even when I don’t speak to him, he still believes I have something to say.

Since I arrived, I’ve heard a bunch of names. My guess is they are the names taken from the forum. Cassidy. June. Surfer. Five. Luke. Seville. Pubs. Alvin. Tullio. Trevor. Long. Enzo. Cecil. Bucky. Rubik. Marco. Six. Eagle. Pete. Ten. Paco. Nelly. So much more were in the air that I couldn’t make out the rest. And even with the supposed commemorative photos of them in a ring, I couldn’t tell who was who. Mismatching faces and names are a hassle.

But in midst of the noise, I could hear something distinct, something familiar which I could not identify.

Once I had water, I sat on the chair to begin the work. I laid the stamps and ink set in front of me. A tumbler of ball pens was to my right and empty forms were to my left. I breathed.

Walking straight in my direction was a large group of men. Their jokes were lost to everyone else. The drinks in their hands spilled to the floor. They moved like a huge wave coming from the farther shore. I asked how many there were in their group. They began counting but stopped. Like the sea of old, the din died and the waters parted to reveal one man standing in the far back. Despite being in a well-lighted area, he still stood in the shadows. His frame was a solid wall. His stance was that of a mounted board. His voice was a blade.

“21.”

New York Cheesecake Pancakes, Php 285.00

Pancakes for Dessert | IHOP Mall of Asia

You know how sometimes you avoid going somewhere but still end up there?

Strangely, that was what was kind of happening when I was with Jake when we stopped walking in front of IHOP. Just to be clear, I have nothing against IHOP, not even their price range. But, ever since the Spiral Lunch incident of 2012 (which is a whole other story altogether), I have become more aware of people’s certain dining preferences. That’s why I was wary of suggesting IHOP to Jake. He wasn’t oppressive with the idea of having dinner there so he and I marched inside.

The wait staff directed us to one of the booths. And – this is on me – but I forgot the name of the waiter assigned to the table. He was nice and patient because it took a while before Jake made up his mind about his order. I wanted chicken and cheese, which was easy. And because it was a pancake place, I had to ask for pancakes. But the struggle was picking which one.

Yes, you read that right: pancakes for dinner!

Personally, breakfast food is so good, it should be served all day. That’s why I love places like IHOP because not only is the breakfast menu extensive, they serve it even at night. Had I been hungrier than I was, I would’ve asked for the Breakfast Beef Tapa because I am curious as to how it stands against other known tapa places.

First order to arrive was the drinks. Jake had the Iced Coffee (original) and I the Spashberry. Coffee was coffee but the Splashberry was like a cheer dance competition in my mouth, which easily died down when the cheerleaders were gone.

Iced Coffee - Original, Php 145.00; Splashberry, Php 175.00
Iced Coffee – Original, Php 145.00; Splashberry, Php 175.00

I loved the Parmesan Chicken Strips. Nice tender meat though I wish it had more cheese. Or there was a cheese shaker at the table. There was ketchup on our table so why not a cheese shaker? But the revelation during the meal was the tenderloin tips, which were juicy through and through. It was so great, it made me crave for the tapa all the more.

Here’s a predictable moment: I dipped a strip of chicken in the juices of the steak tips. It was a foreign medley. You have no idea what they’re singing about but it just sounds like a Billboard chart-topper, which you buy.

Of course, to cap off the meal, there was the dessert, which was the pancakes. Jake protested that I order actual dessert like cake or ice cream because the stack I ordered was already sweet. Albeit, it was not dessert, the New York Cheesecake Pancakes did not disappoint. Even Jake liked it to the point that he went mad with the four syrups. I combined all four. Maybe the proportions were off by some bit because it did not taste melodious, more like a ruckus for a chorus.

The fun thing about all that: I could do it again—the eating of pancakes and beef, I mean.

 

IHOP
Entertainment Hall, North Wing, SM Mall of Asia, Pasay City

Chase the Sun

I got a job but I’ve got a problem
‘Cause I eat too much and I can’t afford to solve it
When I’m savin’ up for that cruise to the Caymans
And I’m hittin’ the snooze so I can keep on dreamin’

Smashmouth is in my head.

Also, while one foot is in the office officially pounding away at the keyboard, the other is at home packing for the weekend. What do I plan to do? I will chase the sun.

  • Read a book
  • Dance like a maniac
  • Sing in the rain
  • Clean the room
  • Join a breakfast buffet
  • Convince friends to go on a road trip
  • Hop to the nearest island
  • Take the trains
  • Relax on a ferry
  • Ride a kalesa
  • Raid a friend’s room
  • Get lost in a book store or a book fair
  • Visit historical ruins
  • Stare in amazement at religious art in old churches and cathedrals
  • Travel to the heart of a forest or a mountain
  • Create a photo shoot
  • Have a free tour of the National Museum on Sunday
  • Attend a town fiesta
  • Do some charity work
  • Knock arrows
  • Fire bullets
  • Play board games
  • Marathon movies or anime
  • Sing at a videoke
  • Try a new restaurant
  • Attend a banchetto
  • Enjoy a large meal
  • Try an exotic dish
  • Weird out friends at the dinner table
  • Indulge the sweet tooth
  • Watch the famous Philippine sunset
  • Talk over coffee
  • Have a second dinner at midnight

The Short and Long of It

The short of it: yours.

The long of it:

I was cleaning my room the other day when I found something that belongs to you.

For something small, it felt big. And now that I remember it, it’s hard to just forget about it. I can no longer keep underneath my bed. I can’t do away with it, even if you say that you yourself don’t want it. Technically, it’s still yours. All that means is it’s not mine and I should return it to whomever it rightfully belongs, who happens to be you. That’s why I did what I did tonight.

This letter is made in anticipation of unwelcome.

No, I don’t expect you to greet me, much less let me in to your house again. And no, I did not come by in the hopes that you and I befriend each other again. Also, no. I do not expect you to take it back, even if it does belong to you. You’d rather it be stolen by humans or dragged away by animals. That’s your call.

Fall From the Sky

[Don’t you bring the rainy season for now, my feelings are still not ready yet.]

It’s been said that the Philippines has only two seasons: hot and hotter.

Because of climate changes, even the cold that the rains used to bring isn’t as cold as it was before. Yet it still has a hold on people, a power only a great force of nature could possess. Just a little rain and people on the streets scurry. It sends drivers into a flurry. Even those who are high and dry still worry.

Without any hands, the rain could still reach into the secret depths of a soul. It could retrieve a forgotten memory. It could stir dead emotion. It could pull down water, blurring both recall and vision.

No matter how we shield ourselves from the rain – by ceilings and walls to sweaters and boots – it could still capture us, lock us in a grip, and then crush us in a mushy mess. All it needs to do is just fall from the sky.

The Unheard Muse in the Unseen Museum

My mistress – my muse – is strict and fickle.

She pays no mind if I do things by longhand or by the computer. It doesn’t matter to her if it is cursive or print, on a desktop or a laptop. Solitary or company is never an issue to her. As long as I heed the rules of the ritual, she remains my patron.

Always, I must approach cleansed. And I must walk with caution at my feet. I may head to her direction but she may not always be there. She could disappear or just be in hiding.

I enter her temple. Invisible, constant, unmanned, delicate, and bizarre. It is a shrine built by the winds, carried by the sun, and veiled by the moon. She is the muse and the place is hers, a museum. Its windows are on the ceiling. Its solitary door remains on the floor. Without her, the hall is quiet, cold, and dark. But it is not empty. It has never been empty.

Her museum continues to grow every day. She has no regard for the walls for there are none. There are only shelves.

The shelves contain nothing but music of both the living and the dead. The songs could be worded, wordless, worthless, worthy, or wordy. Maybe I should not have said worthless. It could invite her ire.

But that is what all those songs are for: to appease her, to invoke her, and to baffle her. She has many songs because her tastes change. What she likes now may not be the same one in the next second. Sometimes, she likes only one for days on end. To continually be in her good graces, I must remain aware of her shifting or stagnant preferences.

Songs fill her temple. So has silence. But, of all the voices heard there, none of them are hers. She has never spoken—not even to me.

Smart in a Stupid Way

But I was used to finding something deadly in things that attracted me; there was always something deadly lurking in anything I wanted, anything I loved.”
― John Knowles,
A Separate Peace

Do you like how you are when you have a crush?

Having a crush – for me – is double-edged sword. On one edge, I up my game: clothes, hair, smarts. I use basically every ace I have. I become a shinier, cleaner, proper version of me. Then there is the other edge. I act different from who I usually am. Though recognizable, yet somehow different: louder, brasher, and stranger. A friend said I am more tolerable, not like others who have it worse.

Just how worse?

In two words: online stalking. In the age of the Internet and the social media, gleaning information from various sources is almost easy. And there’s so much more knowledge available on the Web, that it could be quite overwhelming. Have just the name or a photo and search engines would reveal to you things that even the parents of that person don’t know about. And all that without even hacking!

But if that isn’t bad enough, people like my friend Marvin experienced actual stalking. And I do mean girl-follows-boy-from-their-school-to-his-home kind of stalking. Uncomfortable is an understatement.

Yet who hasn’t exceeded limits?

Maybe somewhere in our heads, what we did or what we do because of The Crush makes sense. Our actions would lead to the results that we want. That one dream of ours would come true. The end justifies the means. And when all that fails and we lose more than we bargained for, we wonder where we went wrong, how we could be smart in a stupid way.

North and South

A split-second matters.

It has spelled the difference between an A from an A+, a gold medalist from the silver medalist, and the casualties from the survivors. It is also why I am cursing while my teeth grit. I would have caught the train had I been just one step faster.

While the train has not yet left the station, its doors are already closed. There’s no way of opening them from my side. And all that the driver awaits for is the signal.

My heavy head searches the dirt-caked tiles for comfort or whatever form of reassurance there was on earth. None could be found, save for the defeat that I pay respects to but with hesitance. My eyes close. I know I would be late.

Engines roar to life. The steel beast has swallowed enough humans in its belly. It pads away in the shade yet quickly gives chase the second it feels the sun. Its twin does the same but in the opposite direction.

Opening my eyes again, the shame is still at my feet, which are made of lead now. I couldn’t bear to look at my shoes any further.

So I lift my gaze. And your sight met mine from across the platform. The rails remain motionless between us.

Of all people, it had to be you. Of all places, it had to be here. Of all hours, it had to be now.

The crowd that disappeared in the train awhile ago now found their way in my head. The station is as dead as a cemetery. My memory is a flower garden in midsummer.

For a moment, I was transfixed. Time did not dare pass between you and me. With another blink, my fingers began to touch unseen piano keys. My feet discovered wheels beneath them. My eyes began to remember your name.

Just as the first word jumped over the rails, two other steel beasts bounded in to the station. And they were hungry, like all others. They spewed out humans. They devoured humans. The noise, the chaos, the shadows gathered. And the word perished with the coming of the trains and disappeared when they left.

All that remained: a station, a blur, and a split of a second.

Photo by Mario Calvo (unsplash.com)
Photo by Mario Calvo (unsplash.com)