Linggo, Disyembre 25, 2011

The Season to be Jolly

I never thought I'd be in a position in life wherein attending a company Christmas party is actually a big deal, but that damn party has been the center of everyone's focus for the past couple of weeks. I've been working for several years now, and have moved from one workplace to the other and I have been able to avoid being part of something (in my opinion) but an annoying way to wreck a perfectly good night. I guess things really are different now.

The events of that night, as well as the days surrounding that night, have been an apt way to end my year. Status quo has been shattered, both externally and internally.

Questions in the Dark.

Before the chaos, I was asked by someone from my past about love, and if there will ever be someone that would truly love me as much as she did back in the day. I just smiled, but there were a lot of thoughts that ran through my mind after that conversation. I knew the answer. Unfortunately. This was a thought that would stay with me for the rest of the following two weeks, and mostly likely go well beyond the remaining days of the year.

Drinking Before The Party.

At the start of the work week, the rest of the Breakfast Club weren't really the well oiled working machines that we usually are. Most likely, it was because we had dumped everything we had in the previous week's "competition". Or maybe it was just me. But the point was, I wanted to go out drinking, and, as is usually the case, I bugged the rest of the team to find some bar so we could get our booze on. It was then that I disclosed certain personal plans for the party. (I get a little open when I drink, as most people know by now.)

Still, it was a very unproductive night, but it was exactly what I needed at that point in time. I'm just glad to have people that would up and indulge me whenever needed.

A Throwback to The Empire.

The day before the party, I was doing a bunch of things related to the "family business", when I received a text message from the friendly-former-almost-neighbor. While I had a bunch of shit to do, I'm a sucker for a person in need, and being someone who also once was a part of the Evil Empire, I know she needs an ear more than most people.

It was a very pleasant afternoon. She seemed like she lost a smile or two, and that's something that's completely understandable. That soul sucking abyss has that effect on people. Sad though, as she was always one of those people who,despite her problems, used to make that place brighter that it was supposed to be. Among other things, that meeting of ours made me appreciate where I am now, too. I'm still trying to convince her to join the Think Tank, and hopefully, I'll be successful.

The Night Before the Party.

After I met with the former-almost-neighbor, I dropped by the Think Tank to see the goings on with the rest of the Breakfast club, as they had plans on really making a huge impression on the party. Again, it wasn't exactly my scene, but since they asked me to join them in their preparations (they let me write as they worked, claiming that all they just wanted me to hang around). So, off we went to the team's Batcave, and as they crafted this box from which one of the teammates would pop out and, in theory, wow everyone with her Barbie costume, I went to write a sequence treatment for an entire movie hours before it was due. They rocked the box, I rocked the story, and honestly, while I'm sure they could've done a great job on the box with or without me, I don't think I could've finished my story without them.

Honestly though, these bastards were amazing. Staying up all night for something that, to me, didn't really matter much shows a level of passion and unity that I haven't seen since the Scoobies. The people in Purgatory never gave a shit for anything beyond getting smashed (one of the many reasons I felt really at home with them). The Angels were happy with just hanging out. But these guys? Shit. They eat together, they work together, they know about each other's personal lives like a motherfucker. It nothing short of amazing. That night, the night before the party, has to be the definitive moment for this group.

The Party in Question.

And so came the all important night of the party. I don't know what the rest of the Breakfast Club did, but I went home, emailed my story, showered, changed, and headed out again for my meeting. The meeting was long, but at least it was productive. I got to screen an audition (in a fucking mall), discuss specific details of the project, and basically everything that would keep me awake. Most people don't know, or refuse to acknowledge, this, but I'm a workaholic. I don't like idle moments, and as long as there's something to be done, I keep doing. Once the meeting was done and over with, I bought a big ass burger for dinner and ate it on the way to the supposed party.

A lot of things went down in the party, but I'll stick to the shit that happened to me, to save space.

I arrived and saw everyone's attention focused on some trivia game. At that point, I've been completely awake for two days, and I was a six foot three ball of stress. They were going to need a bunch of Green Berets to get me away from the bar. The night progressed from silly games to dancing and of course, the booze. Gifts were given, and the only holiday spirits I was feeling were the ones I imbibed. Once the festivities died down, it was time to proceed with my plan.

I was fucking smashed, but enough to be able to speak with Erin. A few weeks ago, I told her how I felt. (I'm not too sure on whether or not I was clear about it, since I'm pretty bad at serious conversation. One of the reasons I became a stand up comic.) My main point then was that I genuinely liked her in "that" manner, but I had shit to get together first, so I wouldn't be actively pursuing her just yet. All that shit has yet to be worked out, but I told her during the party that I'm ready to you know, be Mr. Suitor or whatever. Our long, mostly one sided and hopefully still coherent conversation was cut short when one of the people from the party started breaking down and crying. (I learned it was like a yearly tradition for her.) So I helped take her home, and I left the party without a clear idea of how my talk with Erin went. (She has been clear about her lack of interest though, that was made obvious even before.)

I tucked the drunken girl in her couch, hitched a ride back to meet the rest of the Breakfast Club, and had met up with them when I realized I left my bag (laptop and all) at the drunken girl's place. At that point, the fatigue, the alcohol and the emotions finally took their toll and I passed out. I woke up at the team's Batcave.

Yeah, it was awesome. Awesome-ish, at least.

The Days After.

The days following that surprisingly eventful night (not just for me, but apparently for everyone) were composed almost entirely of me trying to juggle my jobs and overcoming my holiday anxiety. The days were mostly devoted to spending time without he team and futilely trying to get some time with Erin. There was drinking, of course, and on more than one occasion, those drinking sessions that involved the appearance of a person from Purgatory. One rather interesting encounter was with a drunken Purgatory dude who, outspoken as ever, approached our table and gave a couple of members of the Breakfast Club a unique perspective to my long history of romantic attempts. Now people at the Think Tank refer to me as a man-whore. (Or, on special days, a He-Slut.)

I even travelled to Tagaytay once to help out a teammate who was helping out his friends secure a church for their wedding. It was fun, I guess.I mean, I always liked helping couples out, and seeing that place where I sued to have retreats as a college student really kicked ass.

As I mentioned, the following days were also spent with my romantic endeavor, something that doesn't really seem to be going well. I knew going in that it was going to be not just difficult, but highly unlikely, and definitely not painless, but, like before, I'd rather fail at something that I truly want than succeed at something I don't give two shits about. (Again, another reason why I decided to be a comedian, despite the obvious lack of talent.) At this point, I just want her happy, and if anything I do contributes to that happiness then I've done my job.

There was also talk about sending me to Singapore for work, but that's something I'll tackle in a bit.

The Longest Day Ever.

The highlight of the post-party depression was perhaps the longest, worst day of the latter half of the year that ended surprisingly well. I did not even see it coming. I spent the night at the Think Tank, as per usual, and had to step out once the Big Man arrived. To those with short memories, The Big Man and I worked on a project recently, one that dissolved the moment I got back from Hong Kong. I honestly felt that I was abruptly set aside, so I kept my distance from the Big Man, my oldest friend, until I get the proper face time. It is, after all, the professional thing to do. We haven't spoken in months, the longest amount of time we were out of each other's lives since I disappeared for eight months after his sister and I broke up. So he stopped by and we talked over a few bottles of booze from the nearest liquor store. We shot the shit, and cleared up certain matters. He also updated me on the goings on back South. Apparently he's been through as much, or even more, shit as I have been. But, all hat has been settled, and I thought that was the extent of the drama I was going to go through on that day.

So, doing the usual thing I do, I went home, showered and changed for that night's hosting gig, and left early for the pre-production meeting. I haven't slept, so it goes without saying that I wasn't in the best of moods. We went to the location, and then went to some burger place to do the production meeting. I have been vocal before about how slowly things were going. This small project should not be taking more than a month to do pre-production for. This guy who wrote and directed this potential piece of shit was going on another one of his endless stories about his life that had nothing to do with the agenda for that day's meeting, and was trying to teach his crew a thing or two about the job. He spoke about how principal photography has once again been pushed back, and spoke about patience. "If you are not patient, you will not be a good filmmaker." That's when I walked out. Hearing those words from a guy who rushed writing a script (a script that has a plot with holes bigger than a pornstar's anus), went off to Singapore for nine days, tried to get an actress who already vehemently expressed disinterest in working with him and constantly wastes a good chunk of our meetings trying to pass the buck on stuff he was responsible for set me off. One, you take time to develop a good script, not shit one out and then take your sweet time in pre-production. Two, being impatient and recognizing inefficiency are two different things. Three, any real filmmaker knows that there is nothing more important than the project. Not the fucking holidays, not any stupid business trips, not any attempt to bang an actress the director clearly has the hots for. Nothing matters but finishing the project. "Family business" be damned. No Singapore for me. (Wow, I went on a full rant.)

The unfortunate meeting took place in some far flung burger place in the North, and I had to race to get to my hosting thing for the teachers at the School for the Deaf. it was a gig that Iw as looking forward to, for various reasons. But, thanks to the rambling of a poser and everyone else's holiday mania, (add the miscommunication between me and the contact) I didn't get to the gig on time, and got bumped off the program.

So, to sum up, I kept my distance from my oldest friend because of some professional principles and I discover he's been through some really rough shit, causing me to feel like a crappy dude, I spent an afternoon in a meeting that accomplished nothing aside from show me exactly why the family business isn't exactly booming, and I missed a gig that I actually want to do (and promised a good friend I'd do) because of that same meeting. Add the facts that I'm turing 30 in a couple of weeks, I'm deeply into a girl that would never go for me, my health failing, my holiday anxiety hitting its peak and I'm pretty sure hair is falling, and my day was the pits. I decided to go to the office instead after wandering aimlessly for a bit.

The sight that greeted me the moment I stepped through those glass doors was the team that I belonged to, the one I endearingly refer to as The Breakfast Club, dancing and singing. I took a second to digest that sight, and it was the first time I smiled on that day. Not surprisingly, we ended up in Tagaytay, and whatever shit I was carrying earlier that day, and whatever came after, all vanished. They did what they do best… they kept me relatively sane. The holidays would have been rougher if it weren't for them. It doesn't matter if it's binge eating, drinking, or overly pointless road trips, I've come to a point that I know there's at least a small group of people that could make me smile when I run out of reasons to.

Tourist no more.

I've been watching "Parks and Recreation", and there's this character there named Justin, someone a character referred to as a "tourist". He was someone who would travel through people's lives, taking pictures and stories, and then leaving. I've been a tourist all my life. The past couple of weeks have caused me to rethink that. Though I'm sure that whatever this phenomenon that's causing me to be attached to the team and the rest of the Think Tank would pass, I know that it's time for me to stop collecting shit for my scrapbook, and it's time for me to sit down and actually look through it. Right now, I don't know what to do with the family business or with Erin or the other shit that's on my plate. I just know that even though the answers to those questions in the dark aren't exactly in my favor, I can learn to live with them.

"I've made up my mind, don't need to think it over
If I'm wrong I am right, don't need to look no further
This ain't lust, I know this is love

But if I tell the world, I'll never say enough
'Cause it was not said to you
And that's exactly what I need to do if I'd end up with you

Should I give up or should I just keep chasing pavements
Even if it leads nowhere?"- Adele, "Chasing Pavements"

Sabado, Disyembre 17, 2011

Through the Wringer and Back

I'm in a coffee shop in the middle of nowhere, and I like it. I've been through the wringer the past couple of weeks, and indulging in a little isolation that a small caffeine peddling establishment could provide seems to be the single most sensible thing I've done. Everyone's on full Holiday mode, and I can't seem to shake the usual blues. They're even getting a tad worse as the days progress, and working non-stop has been nothing but an effective distraction. In the little snippets of free time that manage to sneak through my web of labor, all I have is another opportunity to break down.

Still, right now, with my mind set on getting shit done, I'm holding steady. I will never stop working again.

Conversations about the Future. I spent a few nights crashing in on a teammate's apartment a couple of weeks back. In the midst of all the worthless nonsense, a talk about the future surprisingly took place. I don't know if it was brought upon by a lack of topics to discuss, or if it was a sincere curiosity, or heaven forbid, another attempt to put me on the "right path", but I had a sinking suspicion that no matter what I told him, he was just going to blabber away anyways, so I told him the truth. (Most of it, anyway.)

Fact is, the concept of a future is a little strange for someone who had, until recently, set up a schedule to die at the age of 30. Because of that, everything I've ever really wanted to do, I've done. So, because of that little talk, well… let's just say I sunk into added shit to think about.

The Movie Business. I have semi-officially started in the family business, and I still have mixed emotions about it. On one hand, I do like making movies. On the other hand, this is the opposite side of the glamorous movie industry… where the dream is so dead that even any pretense of art has been buried. It's brutal, it's honest, and frankly, it's enough to drive one completely insane.

However, I think that this may be mutually beneficial. For me, of course, there's the money thing as well as the opportunity to practice a craft that I will always love (Though I've never really wanted to use as a livelihood). For the company, I may just be the guy it needs. (Not talent-wise, since there are a lot of talented people out there, but "good intentions-wise".)

I just found it funny that when I was introduced to the crew, my name was preceded by "he is a very creative guy that's done some amazing underground work", referring to the ten to fifteen minute dick jokes that compose my film making "career".

Indulgence. In the middle of everything that's been going on, The Breakfast Club still managed to celebrate like the gluttons that we are. We went to this place where you literally can eat until its closing time. Seriously, I commit at least two of the seven deadly sins on a daily basis.

Prior to the foodfest, I met up with another friend who happens to be an ex. She wants me to host the Christmas party at this school she teaches in, a school for the deaf, so I guess on a strictly Karmic scale, I'm all balanced out.

Unforeseen Events. The day after the team and I went all Viking and shit, Jo F'n Regis works his wonders once more, waking me up with a phone call and surprises me with a drastic favor. At the last minute, he asks me to pull off a seminar for him. So, I got up, got dressed and assembled whatever I could on the topic, only to find out that there was no need as the speaker showed up after all.

So, I was asked to do a set instead. Regis, you tricky bastard. Still, it was an amazing day, and hanging out with Jo is always fun. Little did I know that it was the beginning of a 40 hour marathon for me. It was a good thing too, since I needed to get back on my semi-workaholic ways. (Plus, I was broke, so getting a little something-something was nice too.)

The Crunch. Immediately after the event, I went to the Think Tank to do the day job. Model employee that I am, I didn't read the email that stated that there was a team incentive competition thingy that was going on. Frankly, the details of that little contest is still sketchy in my mind right now, but all I understood was that every single member of the Breakfast Club was asked to step up. Normally, I wouldn't have cared about any amount of individual incentives they presented, but this one was for the entire team. The Breakfast Club has been more than decent to me over the past few weeks, (unbeknownst to them, they've been helping with my holiday anxiety) so I decided to, for at least two days, give them the best of me.

It was grueling to say the least. People were dropping like flies. It was like the battle of Helm's Deep, only much lamer. In the middle of the two day stamina test, one of the legitimately good people at the Think Tank suffered from the effects of the tasking job, and had to be rushed to the hospital (he was taken to two different hospitals before I accompanied him home, actually). There I was, helping out a friend and trying to be a good member of the team at the same time. All of this went on as I, like several members of the Think Tank, was unwashed, sleepless, and high on energy drinks.

As the midnight deadline approached, my blood pressure soared. I was seeing spots, I was dizzy as fuck, but I already gave my word, and if it was any other team I'd bail. Once the competition ended at the stroke of midnight, the team was happy, and the friend who was sick was fine. It was worth it. It was bad for my weak heart, but good for my starving soul.

The Payoff. We were all tired, and I personally have been awake for forty straight hours, and on the move since Jo woke me up a couple of days before (Really, Jo, thanks. Haha.) A normal group of people would just go home and rest, satisfied without he events. But apparently, we were't the least bit sensible, and we were off to Tagaytay once more to eat overly unhealthy food. I was even "allowed" to drink a couple of celebratory beers, I think I earned it.

After being brought home, I slept with a smile on my face. For 12 fucking hours.

I therefore conclude... The weekend was spent with various people. There was game night with Caleb and his friends, and yeah, I'm glad to be doing tabletop RPGs again. I miss those D and D days that allowed me to practice my mind as well as completely escape reality in a more wholesome way. (Geek alert!) Of course, that was followed up by spending another night at the teammate's apartment getting all sorts of fucked up. The day after saw another appearance from the Island Girl, who helped me deal with that day's anxiety attack.

Looking at those past couple of weeks, one that started off with the question of the future, I can only recognize the trend that has been established. I still walk multiple paths now, there's my quest for personal fulfillment and comfort (the comedy, the geek stuff), there's my version of familial relations (working for the mother's company) and then there's my newly established normal life (the Think Tank). I don't see any deviations from this trend, and the only thing that's lacking is a healthy romantic relationship (more on that next post).

2011's almost over, the game-changer year. The next one doesn't seem to hold any promise of excitement, but after the past decade I've had, I'm not really lacking in that department. Just glad to be right on schedule. As I have alluded to before, one way or another, I kill myself once I hit 30.

Martes, Disyembre 6, 2011

Running Mojo-less

Before I get started with the drama, I'd like to get something off my chest. I've heard, in the span of one work week, at least three people who have pointed out that I should proofread my blog. Now, while I appreciate the honesty and whatnot, considering that I'v e said this before, it's starting to get annoying. So, for the last time, I do not proofread my posts, and furthermore, I will not proofread my posts. I type it, I post it. Done. I don't write a blog to showcase my life to people. I do it cause this is an avenue for me to express myself without inhibition. (And, what with the slippery memory I have after all the drinking and other equally mind numbing activities, documentation.) If it's getting too hard to read, no one's twisting your arm to read the damn thing. I rarely advertise the blog, and whenever I do, usually it's to update specific people that I haven't seen in a while so I wouldn't have to talk about my life at length. Telling me to proofread my posts is like telling me how to dress in public. If you don't like anything I do or say, you can simply divert your attention elsewhere and we can all live in peace without getting into each other's business. (I'm not starting any fights, here. I just thought an explanation would be far more mature than responding to these people with "blow me".)

With that out of the way, I'mma get my rant on.

The Early Onset. There aren't many people who have been unlucky enough to experience this in my presence (and to those that think they are, you're wrong), but every December my "episodes" get worse in terms of intensity and frequency. It's not something I'm proud of in any way, but it's a part of me and it's not going away. On certain years, they tend to start earlier, and such is the case for this year.

As the latter part of November rolled around, I increasingly have been handicapped by anxiety attacks and depression and all of the wonderful things that come along with the package. In the past couple of years, I've managed to get by with the simple act of getting drunk every day, a luxury that I don't have this year thanks to my job and recent exodus from my spheres. This year's annual blues tend to be a tad more challenging, considering the amount of time I spend at the Think Tank and the number of people I interact with. All the changes that have been circling around hasn't helped at all.

One instance was when I had to buy food from the nearby mall. (On a somewhat related note, it's called fast-food, not take-your-sweet-fucking-time-food. Dicks.) So I got there, and I sat for two hours, staring into space, feeling my left arm tingle and my heart race for no good reason. I felt detached to the point that I nearly panicked, and I found myself clutching this lucky charm I usually carry around with me. I started clawing at that spot in my arm in hopes of snapping out of it. Once it normalized, I went and bought the medicine one of my teammates required and the doughnuts another colleague asked for and went back to the office like nothing happened.

I've been running on low energy and spirits for weeks now, and so far I think I've done a good job of hiding it from my colleagues. Now that December has started, I'm just hoping I am going to be okay enough once my birthday rolls around. I don't think this year's crazy days phase would be worse than last year's, since I've managed to separate myself from many triggers of last year's hubbub, but then again, I think I've uttered those same words before.

I'm just glad the office is open on the holidays.

Breakfast of Champions. In an act of complete self-indulgence, I joined the rest of the Breakfast Club to Manila to eat the biggest burger I have had the pleasure of (mostly) enjoying. I've had a lot of people point out that the majority of my friends are on the umm… "heavier" side. It's true. I never really felt all that much comfortable with people who exhibit self restraint on things and activities that they liked so much. (Having two exes who have uttered the words "I'd rather be miserable as long as I'm thin" strongly reinforced that preference.) It's no surprise that I'm enjoying being a part of a team composed of heavyweights.

Back to the burger breakfast… we had what they referred to as the Tombstone Burger. It was a two pound burger composed of four half pound patties, each with a slice of cheese, slathered in cheese sauce. It also came with a shit load of fries and iced tea.

None of us managed to finish our meal, and we went back to the office and worked with an extra two pounds in our system.

This Year's Rock Pile. On the third weekend of November, I was to go to the beach and read poetry with the rest of the OWLers. I was hesitant at first, but considering I really needed a trip tot he beach, and here's one that's offered that I didn't have to pay for, I thought I said yes. I even agreed to do it for free. As I left the office on a Saturday morning to go to the shuttle that was taking me and the others to Coco Beach, I figured this would be a nice weekend shared with fellow artists and I was more than willing to be as hipster-iffic as they are. Just this once.

None of the other poets showed up. Motherfucker. The whole spoken word part of the program got nixed.

However, the time alone did me a lot of good. I had the opportunity to do the rock pile thing I annually do at the beach. Since I never got the chance to hit the beach last year, I figured my rock pile was going to be bigger, so I went with smaller stones. I mentioned this activity I do before, but for the sake of those who just tuned in, I'm going to go over the basics. Every stone represents a shitty thing that happened. I bury the stone. I leave it behind. A year passes, I go back to the beach (not necessarily the same beach.) with a new set of rocks to bury. It's a personal tradition. The quiet time did me a lot of god, as with each rock I pick I had the opportunity to really reflect on whether or not that particular thing the rock represents is indeed something I should leave buried. For example, the girl that I fell in love with the day after my ex and I broke up. I eventually decided against pursuing her, initially because some people of questionable judgment told me to go for it, but eventually because I realized that in the long run, if I did truly love this girl, I would serve her in the best capacity I could: as her friend. She was not part of this year's rock pile.

The sun set, and I had drinks with the person who invited me to this shindig. She is an old friend and an ex, and this was the only time we got to hang out alone after we broke up back in college. She's doing well. Remarkably well, in fact, and I am proud of what she's striving for. She's someone who gets it, and I'm glad to discover there's someone I can call for when the weight of the unnecessarily complicated world we live in takes its toll.

Another Birthday Party. I went home from the beach the following day, and by home, I don't mean a comfortable place where one can truly ponder the direction with which life is going under a familiar and relaxing setting. I mean I went straight back to the Think Tank, where the majority of the Breakfast Club was there to get some work done before celebrating a team mate's birthday.

It was everything one can expect. An old guy like me sees things here, and an old guy like me knows to not say things about it until the time is right. I have shut my mouth on a lot of goings on in the office, and I have made it a point to play the part of the fool for the vast majority of the people of the Think Tank. There isn't a single person there that knows where I've been and what I've been through, and most especially, what I'm capable of. It's refreshing and interesting for me, what with everyone not really keeping their guards up when I'm around. They see one facet of who I am, and for now, that's enough. (I'll probably get into detail in my next post.)

I left the party in the morning, as most of them were stirring, and my thoughts were geared towards anything but work or comedy or poetry. It's hard to be productive, or funny or poetic when you're having another attack.

Thanksgiving Weekend. The work week was kinda slow, what with the lack of students due to Thanksgiving. The weekend came and I found myself having one of my worse attacks. I left the house despite the fact that there wasn't any work to be done, and dropped by the office. There were a few souls there, mostly the new managers and Erin, so I left after my brief appearance to wait for confirmation for this foodfest thingy that I agreed to go to with the rest of the team.

Wandering around Alabang did not do any good, as I found myself on the receiving end of another attack from my physical and mental condition. I went home in the vain attempt to find some peace. It wasn't until the day after, when the Island Girl dropped by for a visit, that things got a little better. There were crazy thoughts here and there, but I guess since I was around the right person, not having to deal with the extra strain of putting up a mostly okay facade I normally do at the office, it went well.

Faith. The day after, I worked at the Think Tank and even met up with the mother's boyfriend to talk about the upcoming job. I honestly nearly walked out when I found out that it was his recommendation that I was put in line for the position, not my mother's. She apparently believed that I couldn't do it, even refused to put me on the payroll for the next project, thinking I would have to prove myself.

Let's look at the facts here. Despite the bad shit that may have happened to me over the years, I've been living alone and doing fine all by myself. In fact, I've been looking out for myself ever since college, and once I graduated, I worked towards complete independence. I have done everything that i set out to do and I did so in a manner that didn't compromise my ideals, my principles or my decision to not ask for any of her assistance. I've been a teacher, worked for crazy politicians, religious organizations, TV networks, managed to work four jobs at the same time to a specific level of quality, (all of which I landed through my own hard work and, admittedly, lack of shame) dealt with both physical and psychological issues and most recently traveled overseas cause I was good enough to perform. More importantly, I never answered to anyone, and while that may have put me in dire straits before, and would definitely put me in trouble again, I've never wasted a second doing things in any way other than my way. And now, I learn that I have to prove myself to get a job that I didn't want and ask for in the first place? Shit, the only reason I'm living in her house (which is actually costing me mow money than when I was in an apartment ten fucking minutes away from the office) is because she asked. I was fine all by myself.

But, I will be the nice guy here. I plan to treat it like any other job (or relationship, har!) I've had. Provide my best, and then leave when it's no longer ideal. Again, it's a damn good thing I have work on the holidays.

"Now, for ten years we've been on our own

And moss grows fat on a rolling stone But, that's not how it used to be When the jester sang for the king and queen In a coat he borrowed from James Dean And a voice that came from you and me" - Don McLean, American Pie

Lunes, Nobyembre 21, 2011

Blowing Kisses and Making Wishes

Writing this on a bus on the way to the boat that will take me to the beach. (More on that on the next post.) Aside from the cameos and the brief domestic dispute, the past couple of weeks have been mostly an exhibition of how my life revolves around the relatively tiny office I work in now. I've decided to take a break from doing comedy and other shit, since my mind has been riddled by questions of the future.

The office, all on its own, has presented a myriad of experiences that would make for a rather passable screenplay, as my comparison of the office towards school has been surprisingly accurate. I have yet to meet a single completely balanced person in that place, and that's exactly how I like my work place.

Starting November Right. When November 1 rolled around, I was at the office still working at an unusually slow pace. Halloween is my favorite holiday, and I've gone on record to mention that it's my Christmas. So despite the fact that I was in a workplace that I liked a lot, I was still bummed about the whole missing out on Halloween thing. It was a good thing I wasn't the only one, as three other regular night toilers decided to drop everything and go out drinking. So there I was, on Halloween, in a bar that I know so well, surrounded by waiters and waitresses in costume, and I was happy. So happy that I could sing. And I did… on stage, alongside with a teammate who, over the past couple of weeks, I've gotten to know and learned I like a lot.

As egotistical as it may sound, he reminds me of me when I was his age. Young, living alone, putting on the happy face while glimpses of a level of despair and even anger shine through from time to time. My first impulse when I sensed this parallelism was to speak to him, share my own experiences and shit like that, but if I'm accurate in my assumption about him, he wouldn't have any of it. Hell, I wouldn't have any part of that when I was his age. I could write a fucking book on the stupid advice I've gotten from people over the years. Words of optimism from people who've never had problems, financial and career advice from people who were born with everything handed to them, relationship advice from people who've either had exclusively shitty relationships or no relationships at all, all that bugged the living hell out of me back then (and even as recently as six months ago)because of how similar I think me and this brash young man may be, I know on good authority that the best thing to do is to just be there. That's what people like him and me really need, people just being there.

Fire! Unbeknownst to me at the time, the day after Halloween, I nearly died. Someone left a candle burning while I slept, alone in my, I guess, new Fortress. It was outside the house, and it was big enough that the neighbors had to call certain relatives to put it out. elite my keen observation skills, all of this went unnoticed. I woke up, showered, got dressed and went to work. I found out the day later.

Fuck. Dying ahead of schedule would be a real bummer.

The Breakfast Club. Aside from the young me, I've gotten to know the rest of the team, who seem to have made team breakfasts their own signature move. There's an interesting dichotomy here, and in my humble opinion, I'm fortunate to be a part of the only team in the company that actually looks like a team. Most of everyone gets along in a manner wherein there's a level of honesty there that transcends professional relationships. I'd like to think of them as friends, though I'm sure there's still quite a ways to go before the whole friends thing comes into fruition. I, for one, am willing to wait for that day.

The Audition and the Reunion. Since that little epiphany from the fire-gone-unnoticed, I went and answered a casting call for a thesis film despite the fact that I haven't slept yet that weekend; it's hella faraway; and I don't like doing student projects. (It was alright when I was a student too, but I think hanging out with college kids and not as their teacher at this point of my life is a tad wasteful.) Still, no day but today, right? So I went, got lost, finally found the place, only to discover that they were students of a teacher I thoroughly hated back in college. Hence, the logical solution was obvious: audition while drunk.

After the audition, I wanted to unwind, and since I was in the Island Girl's neck of the woods, we hung out. We finally got to talk about some of the things from the past in greater detail, and it does feel good to have certain things out in the open like that. I still wanted to talk about the other effects of what happened, effects that I never really told anyone, effects that manifested itself in following relationships. But, there will be a time and place for that, I guess.

Still, all's good from where I sit.

Erin and I. Oh, I told the office crush that she was the office crush. You know, fire and all. For details of her feedback, watch that scene from Empire Strikes Back, before Han gets frozen in carbonate.

Domestic Problems. For almost every week, I've been given a reason to regret the fact that I did what my mother wanted and moved into her old house. First there was the haircut inducing inanity, then there's that fire I mentioned. A week passes and lo and behold, I get the privilege to watch some unnecessary drama unfold at 9 in the morning, after I've had a mere two and a half hours of sleep. Seriously, this is the exact same bullshit that made me move out repeatedly for years. How bad was it? Well, it was so bad that I, the guy who never shows up for work before lunch time, got up, showered, got dressed, and headed to the office as fast as I could. By 10:30 AM, people were already asking what was wrong with me.

Most people would say that the mature thing to do is to be understanding and be the bigger person and to remember that these things normally happen. The thing is, another mature thing to do is to point out how much of a waste of time bitching to each other truly is. I swear, a couple more episodes of this, and I'm packing my bags again.

Here Comes Trouble. I think people in the office aren't used to be being in such a foul mood, as a number of people actually checked on how I was doing. It was a bit strange, what with me being used to dealing with shit alone, but it was definitely welcome. Some people even took it to a higher level by, at my behest, got smashed with me that night. I won't name names and provide details, but let's just say that it was so bad, we got an e-mail from the boss that threatened action in the event that our little adventure gets in the way of work.

It was exactly what I needed.

Pool party! Come weekend, another office-mate, part of the Life Coach's sorority had a birthday party and of course, I went, since spending 90% of the week with these people doesn't seem to be enough time together. Seriously though, it was fun. Me and younger me had a sing off wherein the loser wears booty shorts at the office, and of course, there were drinks, more moments with the Life Coach and that dude she's dating, and a bunch of other people at the office and a few who I didn't know.

It was refreshing, and it made me realize that even though my world has extremely narrowed down to just this one sphere, I don't I mind. Not yet at least. I've been moving around constantly for so long, meeting up with one group after the other from day to day, that it's good to have some sense of stability.

Plus, you know, free booze.

The Future. While of that has been going on, I've been dealing with what I was going to do regarding the mother and her boyfriend's company, and the offer (the request actually) to run it. After two weeks of deliberation, I finally sent an e-mail reply that consisted of four words: "Okay, I'll do it."

So now, what with the heart thingy feeling like it's getting worse, and the growing frustration I have on the domestic front, and my thoughts about cutting ties with people from the past (I'll get into the details about that once it seems necessary) I might have to leave the one aspect of my life that resembles anything normal to do… that. See, while the irony of the prodigal son becoming heir apparent is not lost on me, and there's nothing I hate more than carrying on someone else's work, with the way that the job was offered to me, there really wasn't any choice in the matter. (Another fact that's pissing me off.) It seems like ti was a planned thing, from getting me to come home and then this. Still, I already said yes, and I think I have two to six months to prepare anyways, so I'll cross (or burn) that bridge when necessary.

God, I feel like one of those jackass kids from my generation who I've been secretly criticizing over the years for just waiting for their parent's hand me downs. Hah.

Biyernes, Nobyembre 4, 2011

The Rest of October

I was back from my little quest (or as I like to call it, the vacation I wanted and everyone else paid for) and returned to a somewhat normal, delightfully dull life. It didn't last long, of course, but any amount of pleasantry is something I am always willing to savor. This post chronicles the past three weeks in which, good, bad or so-so, felt like a preview of the next year, and gave a rather appropriate image of how this one ends.

There are four walls around me for the majority of my present existence, and this time, I'm not complaining. Even though at times, those walls seem to be caving in.

Cooldown Period. Like I said, I returned my delightfully dull life at the Think Tank. It's become similar to school in many ways, but not the same way the Evil Empire did. It's more like college. The company has a roster of employees that reaches up to nearly a hundred people, and everyone's got their own little clique and trapped in their respective little worlds, and I'm in a unique position wherein I get to peek in those worlds.

There's the Life Coach and her sorority, then there's the people I smoke with, the bosses, the "freshmen", and the team that I belong to. In the span of an average day, I get to spend an adequate amount of time with each, and I hear about their history, in and out of the office.

For most of the first week of my return, I've done nothing but reacclimatize myself with the folks in the office and the job itself, and much like the majority of my college life, I've been fed with some very interesting material. while their stories are not as larger than life like the people from Purgatory, I'm finding the Think Tank to be Purgatory-lite. I mean that as a compliment. I've gone from being content in the office to actually enjoying the involvement.

The Return of the Absentee Scooby. On a day that I was supposed to do stand up, work, and meet up with Jo F'n Regis for a potential project, I decided to stay home due to my rapidly beating heart. (Despite the drastic change in lifestyle, the condition seems to be getting worse.) However, if there was thing that could make me get out of bed, travel and attempt to do the probably impossible and definitely stupid thing, it's a text from a Scooby. Particularly one from Nats, one of the people I've had the privilege (ha!) of serving as best man and one of the rarest Scoobies to get a hold of (they're like Pokemons).

So I dropped the open mic night, went to work, stared at my own personal Erin Hannon for a few moments, rescheduled the meeting with Jo F'n Regis and went to Nats' rather impromptu birthday party. Walking around with Jo alone would have made for a nice night, but drinking with him and Nats, and watching Nats getting verbally undressed by his wife (who seems to never run out of excuses to get pissed off at her hubby, and never passes up an opportunity to express that emotion) was just an amazing way to spend a Thursday night and risk a heart attack. (My life sounds so empty with that last statement, don't you think?)

A Productive Forty Minutes. An amazing thing happened on my way to work on a Friday afternoon. There I was, a week out of HK and stuck with one job (more on that later) and looking for a new project to sink my teeth into. Who do I see riding in the van that I had to take to go to work? The Uber-geek, the same guy that I've been bugging for a sit-down for the many short film ideas that I've been dying to do. And given his recent parting of ways with his band (who are set to go mainstream, which didn't sit well with a true indy artist like ol' Uber) I was banking on him being creatively hungry enough to join me in my lame projects.

After I logging in at the office I went off to have a little impromptu meeting, and the Uber Geek is on board. There have been certain causes for delay of our project, but it's good to know that soon, I get to do something new yet familiar. Stay tuned, folks. The Coffeehouse opens once more.

Southern Think Tank Birthday Party. I managed to drink somewhere a little closer to home the day after, as a former Think Tanker invited me, my Life Coach, and another colleague to her birthday bash. (I was surprised I was invited, though. I was under the impression that I was only there to accompany the aforementioned colleague as she was unfamiliar with the territory.)

It was good to drink in my neck of the woods with new people, though. It's something i haven't done in a long time. It's usually the blah type of drinking at the Big Man's house (the new one), or in one of the strip clubs they'd frequent, or some gathering with the Tapa King an his other retard friends (Don't get me wrong, that shit is fun, but you know, it does get old.)

It was a nice night. Learned a couple of new things and shit like that.

An Appearance in Makati. There were several days of quiet after that birthday bash as I gravitated towards spending my days at the office, listening to people tell me their tales, glancing at my Erin Hannon in moments wherein I was in need of inspiration, chain smoking, the usual shit I do these days. Of course, for at least once a week (or at least, as often as I can), I do take a break and go do that stand up comedy thing I love to do so much.

The trip to the bar (Bowler Restaurant, to be exact) in itself was an amazing treat. I haven't been to Makati (a city a have more than a few stories in) in what seems to be ages, and I ha an opportunity to take a long, lone walk on those familiar streets. It's been a year or so since I last stood at that smoking area which, I gleaned on that day, to be the epicenter of my personal history. No other specific spot in the world has bore witness to as many significant moments in my life, and even it's location is like a diagram of my adult life. Right across was the building in which I worked the phones part time in an attempt to bring the Island Girl back from exile, and where I met the Part Timers, of course. Adjacent to it was the hotel for which I also worked the phones for, months before becoming a teacher, a time wherein my days were just hazy alcoholic montages. Behind me would be the cinemas where B and I would see a movie almost every weekend before I made my presence known at the Grill. I sat on the same table wherein Jo F'n Regis and I welcomed the new year. Downstairs were the doors that welcomed Ol' Football Head and I for our numerous "bro dates".

All those Friday nights, those Saturday mornings, those rainy weekdays, they all came rushing back. To my left was 1998. To my right was 2006. It was 2004-2005 behind me. It was 2009 in front of me. And I was standing in a time warp.

Had a few beers at the Grill to put a period on the statement that ledge made.

As I was walking, I received another pleasant surprise. There was a security guard who went over (he literally left his post and approached me) and shook my hand, saying he saw me on TV a few months back and he loved my set. I didn't know whether to be proud of what i did, or feel sorry for the dude, whose fondest memory of television is that shitty two minute set back June. Still, I was polite, and I was happy that there was at least one person, aside from the people in my life and my nosy neighbors, who saw the thing and liked it.

Too bad the audience at Bowler were not appreciative. Ahh, fuck 'em. I had a good day in Makati.

A Day for Office Romance (Sorta). I pulled an all nighter on a Friday night, and come Saturday morning, The Life Coach asked me to join her and her boy for breakfast. I was happy that her boy's and my definition of breakfast were quite similar. The drinks were flowing and I sat there in the company of people in love. I'm not a hundred percent sure, But I think I was witness to the first time she said the words "I love you" to the dude.

Ugh. People can be really goofy sometimes. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)

So, home I went, slept until 10 PM and I was awoken by a phone call from another colleague, this time a teammate, to join him,two lady colleagues, and another dude from the team to another drinking session. Apparently, the other dude ditched a frat party just so he ca join us cause one of the girls there was someone he was planning to pursue. It was nice, and very funny, to see him try his best and score a date that night. I'm a big fan of uphill climbs, and the dude's efforts seemed sincere, so I'm on his side.

Yup. The office is full of lovesick morons. I ain't saying I'm not one of them. I'm just pointing it out.

The 2009 Remix. The whole three weeks were mostly me in the office or out with office folk, but that doesn't mean there wasn't any adventures from my boys in the old gang, particularly since I made a personal promise to somehow patch things up with the Critic. So, a bag of the fun stuff in hand I went to the Critic's new pad after work for a little male bonding. He bought beers and we both just et our respective consciousness drift as we talked about this and that.

The Big Man, for reasons I can't recall, showed up. Being under the influence as we were, we did the math. We had just imbibed tremendous amounts of beer with that little euphoric kick we loved so much, and then the Big Man, a guy with a car, shows up. How can we not go to Tagaytay?

So the Big Man drove, the Critic and continued killing a few more brain cells, and then we were stopped by some cops. I twas a holy shit moment, indeed. But, nothing happened, as we were just extra paranoid and the cops were just pointing towards a detour.

Tagaytay happened, I ate a sinful amount of food, The Critic threw up his and passed out and the Big Man drove as the sun went up.

It was… serene.

Think Tank in Tagaytay. A couple of days later, I come back to Ortigas with my Think Tank teammates. We had worked all night (more or less) and we had promised ourselves a nice breakfast so we could bond and hopefully come out of it a more cohesive unit. I think it worked. We were insulting people in chorus by the time breakfast was done.

An Ending of sorts in Ortigas. Straight from Tagaytay, I headed on to Ortigas to meet with someone who's presence, perhaps, had the biggest influence in my life.The Island Girl has come back, and she and I met for an evening in Ortigas. We did the usual casual stuff. Saw a movie at Megamall, talked at the smoking area at Shang, had a couple of beers and walked around a bit. It was… casual. Friendly even. I was something I didn't expect to happen in my lifetime, considering all the drama she and I had gone through, but she's cool now, and I'm cool now (relatively) so I guess that was closure.

It was amazing though, seeing her again after a year or so without any drama hanging overhead. Maybe now I can work on regaining some of the things I lost during that year.

Halloween Party! This year, I not just attended a company party, I fucking hosted one. and not just so I could get the attention of that girl I like in the office. (Though that was mostly it. I fucking hate company activities. I only attended one prior to this, and I only did so cause it was a Christmas thingy and I had to give some douche his gift.) I attended because finally, I'm in a company that celebrates my favorite holiday.

And they take that shit seriously, too. The costumes were amazing and the candy… god damn. Fuck Christmas!

But yeah, I did it to get a girl's attention. I'm apparently not too old for this shit.

A Recap of the Bad Shit. One interesting thing about hosting the Halloween party are the events that led up to it. The entire day, my heart was doing that thing it does that normally would lead me to lie down all day. But, the show had to go on. Minutes before the thing started, I received two emails. One, a work related one wherein I apparently failed another one of those evaluation things would then drastically change how I do work in the office. (No more weekend crunches, basically.) The other, technically also work related, but was cryptic and all that regarding my family and destiny and all that Obi Wan Kenobi bullshit. None of it helped my condition. The heart is definitely getting worse.

But, the thing the family got cleared up on the weekend, where everything made sense. The move back to Cavite, the mother joining me in Hong Kong, her boyfriend acting all chummy and all that. Apparently, I'm being groomed to take the big chair on the family business, so the old lady can retire. I received a speech about being my own boss and blah, ballad, blah. They want me run the business. Fuck, I even have trouble making rent. But I said yeah, as certain possibilities suddenly presented themselves.

On another business related note, one thing that's been bugging me since I got back from Hong Kong was the status of the Big Man's little project. Before I left, we had an agreement on my role in the company and how the guy who owns the place already greenly it and it was already a go. The moment the plane touched down and I was back home, I was ready to get cracking, only to find out days later that, and this all comes from the BIg Man's text messages, that his operation has folded was being merged with another group. He asked if I was still board, and I said yes, but to the new position that was agreed upon. (I had already made other commitments once I got the verbal signal that it was a go, and while that may be uncharacteristic, I know that their industry lives and dies on gentlemen's agreements.) So, I can't go back to doing the old thing, as I was doing the new thing even though I was designated to the old thing. All I got was a suggestion that I don't pursue it, cause the guy who owns the whole thing might do to me what was done to him (the whole sugar coated demotion thing). Huh. I smell bullshit.

So, much like the Life Coach, (who's got a budding new romance and a new job) I, too am working with a clean slate. A relatively new group of people to work with, old friends nearly non-existent, some old grudges buried and some new grudges being started, new shit beginning to unfold. It's not exactly the kind circumstances I'd ideally ask for, but what the hell.

Lunes, Oktubre 17, 2011

The Hong Kong Times

After two months of fund-raising, planning, auditioning and general day dreaming, the time has finally come. It was the week that I celebrate a bunch of things. One, the culmination of my first year as a stand up comic. Second, the last huge thing I do before I turn 30. And finally, just me going back to basics: going off to a venture that's over my head, alone (relatively), for something I've come to deeply love.

Basically, I went to Hong Kong, made people laugh, even made a few new friends, and I went home with a smile and a clearer head.

Second Skin. I don't know if I've written about it before, but I have also been spending a lot of time the past couple of months looking for a new jacket. Those who have been hanging out on me for a relatively long time would know that I have developed some sort of need to be wearing a black jacket on a daily basis. It's something that started back in 1999, and it's become my security blanket. I've had a few black jackets in my time. The first one I wore for three years and I lost it in one of my stints as a tour guide. (Seemed appropriate at the time, as I had just graduated college.) The next one, I gave to a girlfriend after serving its purpose for another three years, give or take. The one I replaced it with has already been in tatters by the time I retired it months ago.

I found a jacket worthy to serve my needs, and as usual, it was cheap, off the rack, and the last one there. I held out on buying it, waiting for the right time for me to finally wear it. Since the Hong Kong thing came around, I figured there was no other time more appropriate.

Most people would roll their eyes on this imagined need of mine, but the jacket and me go a long way back, and if I were to face this important event, I figured it was best to look like my "ideal" me. It's a tad eccentric, but it did help. I always feel naked without that additional layer of clothing. I look forward to the adventures the new jacket and I would be having.

The Pre-Festival Party. The moment the plane touched down in Hong Kong, I was itching to go and find a hotel and get ready for the show. (In my quest of auditioning and raising funds, I managed to forget the fact that I actually had to prepare jokes for the contest itself.) My mother, who, as I mentioned invited herself to this trip, much to my financial advantage but to a little personal confusion, was being wowed by the sights of being in a new land (a land she's been in quite a few times). The only thing that impressed me was the breakfast food at McDonald's were more awesome than what the fast-food joints at home had to offer

What can I say, I'm just not one for all the touristy shit. I'm the type of guy who'd only travel if there's a distinct and specific purpose. Looking at pretty things just for the sake of looking, well, as a co-worker mentioned recently, we have the Internet for that.

We eventually found the comedy club, and found a hotel that was closely, and I spent the day working on my set while my mother went about her merry way. Come night time, I set out on my own, wanting to meet the people who set the whole contest up in a pre-festival party.

I got lost, of course. It felt good. Me, in a strange place, a big city, with nothing but my wits, a pack of cigarettes and a map. It took a lot of the edge off. I eventually found my way, and the party itself was rather understated. I did meet a few interesting people. There was this American comedian, who's returning to the contest for the third time, and one who I've performed with months ago in Votre. He was actually the one who told me to join several months back, but I didn't bring it up, cause I doubt he'd remember. I met an author who gave me a signed copy of his book, and told me that "Life is limitless". Preaching to the choir, dawg. I shook some more hands, traded a few stories and then went back to the hotel.

It was the first time the whole thing felt real to me. The whole trip, I was numb. I even lost all the excitement that was building up for the past couple of weeks. But being at that party, the whole thing became genuine, immediate, and most of all, fun. I knew that it was going to be an honor, and it was, just being there, among all of these gifted people.

Conversations with People Back Home. The day of my performance, I decided to lock myself up in my hotel room while my mother was out enjoying all that is Hong Kong. I went over my set over and over, timing myself, doing the whole preparation thing that I should have done the moment I decided to go and join the contest. Suffice to say, I was a nervous wreck. Hell, I was bundle of nerves overtime I had to do Votre or any other rinky dink joint back home. This was a totally different league, and I was delightfully close to a breakdown.

I decided to go online for some reason, and I spent the day chatting with a few friends and some people from work. A lot of them were supportive, and helped calm me down a bit. Two conversations stood out from all those people I chatted with.

One was with a friend from work, KM (I'll have a nickname for her by the end of this post.). We talked about the usual goings on in her life, as, for some reason, I've been privy to the happenings that occur in her particular sphere during the past few months. And during her usual updates (the girl's got the kind of drama that holds my interest), somehow the conversation veered towards my direction. I guess she caught me at a vulnerable time, so I was more open to her than I've been to most people in my life that I've known for only a short time. (I usually start opening up after at least a year or two, and even that's rare.) She opened my mind to certain questions that I've heard from other people before, but I usually immediately dismiss considering the source. I view her, KM, as one of those rare breed of people who are actual survivors… people who had gone through hell and back with not much to show for it but a renewed smile, some battle scars, and a shitload of wisdom. The usual people who have given me the same advice that she did is mostly those who has just been saddled with first world problems for the majority of their respectively uneventful lives. The main point of our lengthy conversation is that after this whole Hong Kong thing is done, it was time for me to focus on the id… to discover who the real "me" truly is. Not the comedian, or the brain, or everyone's best friend, or the writer, or Captain Good Times, or the one with the messiah complex, or all of the other facades I like putting up depending on who I happen to be rolling with on that day. Just take some time to rediscover me before I continue serving others. I appreciated someone of substance finally telling me that, and again, I made plans of doing just that. Plus, I promoted KM to be my life coach. (I initially called her my therapist, but I already have that, and therapists are supposed to be nice.)

The other conversation was a lot less pop-psychology and a little more bro-ic. And again, surprisingly so, it was The Critic that resoundingly calmed my nerves and finished what KM started. The Critic, of all people, reminded me of who I was during our "golden years". He reminded of that time when he and I took on the entire class' projects as a freelance gig, and despite everything went wrong, I was the one who kept it together. He reminded me of some of my greatest strengths, strengths that I have long ago neglected to recognize. So, there I was, in Hong Kong, and there he was, in his new apartment, (one that coincides with the new chapter in his life, what with the promotion, the mountaineering and the single fatherhood) and I had a Tsingtao in my hand (A 40 even!) and he had a Red Horse in his, and we had ourselves a toast. I don't know what he was drinking for, but I tossed back for the best of the past, the excitement of the present, and the potential for the future. Our relationship has been strained in the past, more so than with any other long time friend of mine, but I will make sure that changes when I come back home.

I logged out, got dressed, put my game face on, and left the hotel room ready to bring the funny.

The Contest. I stepped into the Comedy Club, and my nerves were starting to catch up on me. I was overwhelmed with it all… standing on that little stage where some of the funniest people from all over the world have performed, and I felt small. All of a sudden, all of my material didn't seem as funny, and I felt as if my voice was cracking. I knew I was going to choke. That is, until I met the rest of the comics. Each one of them felt as anxious and as messed up as I was, and everyone, like me, was putting on a brave face. Unlike other kinds of competitions, comedians weren't out to beat each other out there, at least not primarily. Everyone just didn't want to suck. I felt at home.

We had an hour before the show starts, and I made it a point to talk with everyone I could. I made some very fast friends, saw some very familiar faces, and the whole vibe reminded me of when I was starting out last year… when I traveled two hours just to go to Votre, alone, and i would just sit there and watch everyone and picked their brains as much as I could. All worries I may have had were gone.

Come show time, and I sat back and watch all of them do their thing. Each one was funnier than the last, and the energy was unbelievable. I couldn't stop smiling cause I was just so wired form being a part of this grand thing. Then my name was called.

I stood on stage, fiddled with the mic a bit clumsily… and delivered my first joke. They fucking laughed. At that point on I just did my thing and I was loving every second of it. Not all of my jokes got the reaction I wanted, especially the one that ended with, but that was the stuff that I had, so I rolled with it. I was making people laugh. I went to another country, stood on the stage that many others wanted to be on, and I made people laugh. Simply put, I did not exactly suck.

Unfortunately, I didn't get chosen to go to the finals, but of the three finalists that were chosen from that night, one went on to win the whole damn thing, while another one was second runner up. I went on stage with the ones who would end up taking the trophy home and I held my own. I don't feel bad about that.

Plus, the other finalist from my night put his entire head inside a condom. Gotta fucking respect that.

The show ended, we all shook hands went our merry way. The one who put together the whole thing even gave me a special shootout on stage. I am definitely coming back next year.

I've had some amazing nights in my entire story-filled life. That night, my first shot at an international stage, is on the top of that list now, and it's going to be incredibly hard to beat.

A Really Long Day on Macau. From the greatest night of my life, to one of the longest days I've ever had to endure. The contest was done, at least it was for me, and there was nothing left but the long journey home. Unfortunately, there was a 12 hour period that my mother and i had to kill before our flight back home. Remember when I said I hated touristy shit? That was just one of the many pet peeves I've had to endure over that day. Shopping, crowds, an agenda-less travel, the commercialism, that day made me understand a lot of things about myself. All of my pet peeves came to light, and I know why I grew up the way I did. I had my first anxiety attack in months. Seriously.

I don't hold it against my mother, since she was just being herself. And I did appreciate the support. But I did remember why we never got along; it's because we were two extremely different people on a philosophical level.

But I got to ride a boat, and it was all good. I guess my Life Coach's prescribed "me" time came a little early.

The Supposed "Me" TIme Weekend. Back in the Philippines by Friday night. I've never been a nationalistic person… I just like being home. I passed by the Think Tank, mostly because one of the employees there was having some sort of personal crisis and I maybe thought I could help (but she wasn't there). But, lack of sleep, jet lag, a recent anxiety attack and way too many energy drinks caused my heart to do that annoying thing it does again. So I left and just devoted the rest of my weekend to kick off the self discovery. It was old school me all the way (black jacket, pen, notebook, sketchpad) but with a dash of new me (laptop, rap music) and my journey into mystery was underway.

It was productive, but I'm far from done. I realized three things. 1.) Another one of my Life Coach's suggestions was correct, that I should let go of the Girl. (I'll get into that in my next post.) 2.) I am more than ready for the step I'm going to take when I hit 30. And 3.) One of the reasons I've been holding off on pursuing the Girl is that I've developed a healthy, relatively issue free attraction to someone at The Office. Yes, I may have found my Erin Hannon. (Again, more on that next week.)

Shit's turned the corner, folks. The next few months are going to be uber-interesting.

"I am wrecked. I am overblown.

I am also fed up with the common cold.
But I just hate to say goodbye
To all the metaphors and lies
That have taken me years to come up with.

Say it's true. Say you like me.
(I like you.)
Just for the night.
for me, it's been eternity..

And as I gently sip this drink,
I think about my lack of future,
And all the places I could learn to fall in love.

I know I shouldn't waste my time,
Wishing I'd been better designed,
yet for some reason still think

I am wrecked. I am overblown.
I am also fed up with the fucking common cold!
When I just want to feel alive for the first time in my life,
I just want to feel attractive today." - Motion City Soundtrack, "Attractive Today"

Lunes, Oktubre 3, 2011

Cowboy Up

I am merely days away from heading to Hong Kong for the highlight of my year, and the past two weeks have been filled with both pleasant and unpleasant surprises. The majority of which were pleasant, and very uplifting. The unpleasant, while minimal, tend to have a devastating effect. I guess it all depends on how one perceives things.

All I'm going to say is that I'm fired up. THe whole HK thing started off as something to just end the year on a high note. The past couple of weeks elevated that to something more. It's like 2004 all over again, and I'm greeting the end of the year with a smile, minor resentments notwithstanding.

The Haircut inducing Homecoming. I'm back in Cavite full-time now, and bidding adieu to my last Fortress wasn't really that much of a big deal. After all, it didn't exactly measure up to my first Fortress in terms of emotional attachment and key events. It had its moments, like the first day I moved in and the Cheerleader made the phone call asking me to take her back, and the night Hannah stayed over, and the night after the break up, wherein the place was flooded, and I realized latent feelings for someone the day after. Compared to other places I lived in, it offered nothing more than convenience.

Being back at home, seeing how my new space has been make me feel truly comfortable, it's easy to forget that I'm no longer living alone. Unfortunately, there are times wherein the crowdedness becomes extremely obvious. The way I see it, the more people live in one place, the more fucked up things can be. While right now, there are only three people living in this house (me, my errant brother, and the newly rehired nanny that raised us), the entire place is littered with too many familiar faces. The niceness (for someone like me who's not used tot hat sort of thing) can drive a person mad. And it nearly did.

On a day wherein someone did a colossal fuck up which led to the ruination of my plans, I was so distraught that, left with no other outlet, I had a fucking haircut. An butt guy one. I've had one hairstyle the past two or three years (of varying lengths, of course) and since I just had to get rid of something, why not that. It wasn't the fuck up that really stressed me out though, it was the fact that people just told me to rest (I had spent the night working at the BIg Man's project) while they took care of it. That was way too surreal.

Basically, I'm still getting acclimated to the whole thing. Even when I've been living with certain people, I've made it a point to rely on no one. Now I've got people seemingly looking out for me. I shrugged it off as something I just need to get used to, but then, my mother mentioned that she'll be going to join me in HK. Not that I mind, but I don't know, I think it's too weird. It's fueling certain theories I've been having. It's not important now though. I have too much on my plate to worry about shit like that. Maybe when things normalize I can get to the bottom of this thing.

Gas Station Conversations. The Big Man and I had another one of those gas station drinking sessions that went well into the morning. Not having the Make Up Artist around is a good thing, in any scenario. We talked mostly about the other women in his life. Mostly.

I try to avoid talking about my own shit these days when I'm around him. He's got problems with the house, money, work and even emotional shit that can't be dealt with within the confines of a single drinking session. Maybe we'll work on that, again, when I finish with this contest thing. Maybe.

The Think Tank Experience Surprisingly Like College. I spent some time with the co-workers as someone from the Think Tank celebrated her birthday old school style with dinner and domestic drinking. After an entire day of work, it was nice to see the various little groups of the Think Tank in one room, sharing a meal and playing a few games in one area. I felt the same feeling I used to get back when I was in college, when I'd be in one of those dorm room drinking sessions, surrounded by people I barely know and me with a genuine desire to know more. I haven't felt like that in ages. In fact, the last time I felt like getting to know more people was during my last semester in college. The popery from Purgatory were just interesting enough that sharing experiences came naturally, and everyone else I met after graduation pretty much opened up on their own without any prodding from me. I don't know if it's a temporary thing, but these days I actually care about people.

I guess it's about being in an office that I like, is all. To paraphrase Tim, from the UK show The Office, you spend the majority of your time without he people that you work with, more so than your family and actual friends. You come different backgrounds, different places, and at some point, you're going to have to break barriers.

I've always had the luxury of having people outside of work to fall back on and the freedom from conventional real world constraints, but there's something about these people at the Think Tank that piques my interest. The things they go through, all the drama that I usually shy away from, it all interests me.

The Fund Raising. All the other riffraff aside, the main focus in my life currently is the contest. And considering the meager amount I make, I had to do some fund raising to actually get me there. It's been a great source of fatigue on my part, and the end result, was worth it. Getting into the contest was the first phase, and that was hard enough, The past two weeks weren't easier, but damn.

Of all the people in my life, I wasn't expecting the Think Tank to pitch in on this pipe dream, but pitch in they did, in an amazing manner. While not everyone was able to help financially, the moral support and the kind words were very overwhelming, especially since I'm just the guy who rarely shows up for work. On of them even put up the RRFF, the Rene-is-Really-Funny-Fund, and I have to say, that makes me smile every time I think about it. I'm looking at the little Disney Princess thingy they put the money in. If I wasn't so damned drained I would have wept in front of all of them.

The people from Purgatory also chipped in, and while they weren't able to give as much as they wanted, the thought that they'd support a guy who left their ranks is nothing but humbling. My BFF hugging me (in the middle of the fucking highway no less) telling me "Kailangan ko na umuwi, peer I love you, pare" is one of the more touching moments in this particular chapter in my life. Two years ago, she and I were getting high as Ondoy came crashing, now there we were. The others did an awesome job at making me feel good about it too, particularly Ghil, who took it upon herself to work on getting my solicitation letter out there. Two years ago, we were celebrating "Broken Promises Day". I wonder what we'll be doing next year.

Of course, the Scoobies remain supportive. They gave their contributions on a very pleasant night at the Grill. We even fleshed out plans for my 30th birthday. (The discussion as to why we can't have a road trip by riding a plane was priceless.) After the contest, that's the one thing I'm looking forward to.

The GIrl Who Saved My Life has her entire church praying for me, I heard. And I also got nice messages from TheTherapist and her people, and I appreciate Jo F'n Regis' efforts in helping me with the application video. (Sorry that didn't pan out, too many things going on, man.)

The Big Man helped me sell my other laptop (though I'm sure it was more about the profit for him than supporting me, but what the hell), the laptop I bought off Hannah a year ago. And The Critic, of all people, even pitched in not just with money, but a little something extra to take off the edge. (Drinking once more with the Critic was a fun experience as well. Once, we all used to have a constant Sunday afternoon drink, but these days, it's all about the strip clubs and other shit. It's nice to be able to just hang back and chill old school style once in a while and be juvenile.)

I mentioned before that part of the reason why I chose to approach specific people or funds and not everyone I know is that I was going for something symbolic. I wanted to go to HK, while physically alone (or so I thought), I was in some way bringing all of these people with me. The same way Buffy drew strength from her own Scooby gang to defeat Adam, that's what I'm doing. (Did that come off a little gay?)

Points to Prove. With the overwhelming (I've been using that word a lot) support, it's hard not to feel confident. It's a good thing there're still some people who'd put your feet back on the ground. Too bad it was in a rather douchey manner. Someone dissed online, and while I don't know and can't know for sure if it was intentional, it did light a fire under my ass almost as much as the people who supported me would.

Initially, this was just something that I wanted to do, regardless of the outcome. After all of that, now I'm ore determined than ever to walk away victorious. While I'm not exactly a shoo-in to win, but I've been in this situation several times before, where I'd go out of my way just to prove a certain contingent of people wrong. Hell, I think I work better when no one expects me to come out on top.

After everyone's influence, both good and bad, I'm heading to Hong Kong with a new perspective. I'm not just representing myself this time, and I never wanted to represent my country. I'll be representing these people. Thank you for making me feel larger than life again. I needed that.

"Can we pretend that airplanes

In the night sky
Are like shooting stars
I could really use a wish right now (wish right now, wish right now)" - B.o. B., "Airplanes"