Lunes, Setyembre 19, 2011

The Third Act?

It's good to be focusing on a singular thing again. While I have been extremely busy with everything I'vegotten myself into personally and professionally, the whole Hong Kong thing has given me the one thing that I always need but don't consistently have: something to look forward to.

It's one of the pitfalls of having little or no reservations about pursuing anything you want; at some point you're going to feel like you've done everything worth doing. I don't mind it that much, especially since I've designed my life in a manner where I get everything done by the time I'm thirty.

I try not to dwell on what comes after. I'll face all of that once I'm done with this latest passion project, as usual.

The Passport. After several years of urging from various members of my extended life, I finally found a reason to get my passport renewed. Back then, I dismissed the notion of having one, thinking its absence would be another good reason to remain in the country. While I have a tendency to move around a lot, I don't really like traveling. In fact, I hate it. I used to even hate going on vacation. For me, if you feel the need to get away from it all, then there's something terribly wrong with your current station in life. I guess that's why I moved around so much (houses, groups of friends, relationships, jobs). I've been looking for a place and a set of circumstances that's ideal for me. It's a little too early to tell, but if things continue as they are right now, I might have found it.

Watching the hordes of people patiently standing in line, getting their documentation ready, obtaining the key to allow them passage to other places that are faraway from here, I have more than a little trouble understanding what they feel. Then again, I'm sure the majority of them would fail to understand why I'd participate in an endeavor that's far away, and with a high possibility of failure, on a trip that I definitely am not able to afford.

Purgatory, 2009 Style. The contest is a very big deal for me, but it's still not enough for me to take any measure I can that would ensure I get the funding I need. I selected very specific people that I would approach for assistance in this matter, the symbolism being that I'd be going there physically alone, but spiritually without he support of the best people I've ever been lucky enough to be associated with. Of course, it was the Scoobies that were the first on my list. Coming in second were the people from Purgatory.

My decision a few months back to reconnect with specific people in my past every week has been an enriching one, and I think it has been leading up to this year's quest. a few months ago, I reunited with some of the Purgatory people, but a couple of weeks back, on a Friday morning, that was when I truly felt their spirit.

I had initially decided to ask one person from the group to help me out, but she brought a couple of other faces along with her. Being able to shout the word "TARA!" again on the streets of Northgate at 5 in the morning, hear it resonate against those glass windows, felt really good. That familiar call resulted in us, sitting in a circle, faced with two buckets of beer and we drowned ourselves in early morning laughter and inebriation. It was 2009 all over again, without the shitty circumstances.

Man, two years went by too fast. There were updates, as usual. Last time, the biggest news was that one of them finally came out the closet. This time, one of our esteemed brethren got thrown in jail. Another got dumped by her boyfriend, despite their plans of getting married. Another was still depressed over being cheated on. My lack of funds to get to Hong Kong did not seem to matter, regardless of my personal desire. These are real people with real problems, and after being exposed mostly to First World problems for the most part of last year and early this year, I'm reminded of my I hold these individuals in high regard.

I had a great morning filled with memories with good people (even The Boss showed up, and that's always a treat) and a promise of assistance along with it. Whatever happens, I'm not going to let these people go.

The 3 and Oh with The Scoobies. I've already mentioned the Scoobies earlier, and I had a really great time with them as well. It was the same day I met with the people from Purgatory, or to be accurate, it was several hours after. It was Marvi's 30th birthday, and that would have made the night special enough. Marvi seemed to have spared no expense, and that I completely understand, being one who is less than half a year away from becoming 30 myself.

Beer, music, and the usual Scooby shenanigans all make for a good night. Marvi's emotional response to Shelly's lovelife, Nikki's comments that were obviously laced with bitterness, the gratuitous picture taking, hell, even Weng and Natz' absence have become an unofficial tradition. They seemed enthusiastic about helping me out with the whole Hong Kong thing, so much so that they had me perform in front a drunken crowd in the hopes of raising funds. I don't know if it worked, but it was admittedly fun.

It's a testament to how highly I think about the Scoobies that I let them get away with things that no other person in my life, past or present, regardless of relationship status, have never gotten away with. Marvi is the only person that can "scold" me that I actually listen to and surprisingly follow. Nikki is the only person who has bossed me around that didn't get a dose of the "Professor Cruz Special". Natz can say, and have said, the stupidest shit, and I let it fly without an insult. Shelly's the only person who has ever told me (during the time when she was dating this dude who tried to pick a fight with me) to be patient and I did it without arguing. Weng is… well, I don't see enough of Weng for her to actually do stuff that I normally don't like, so I'm going to move on. I've had jobs, bosses, friends and girlfriends that I've walked away from for doing the same things the Scoobies have done. The same way the 90s gave me my Hidalgo Boys, this decade of my life has produced the Scoobies, and they're family now.

There's no way I'm turning 30 without them.

Another Weekend, Another Strip Club Run. Speaking of the Boys, it seems that every time I post about them these days, it always includes another tale of a strip club visit. It's funny, a few weeks ago, the Big man and I were really broke but determined to drink, and we showed his newfound little brother how we rolled back in the day, when we were both unemployed and far from the "distinguished professionals" that we are. (I couldn't even write that with a straight face.)

A couple of weekends ago, we showed that same brother, without he help of Mr. Guerrero and another face from our past, how to have fund in a strip club on a very limited budget. It involved a contest to see which one was slicker. Mr. Guerrero, a strip club veteran who once unintentionally fucked his cousin, and the other guy (I haven't got enough info on him yet to give him a nickname) who once allowed the Human Torch to sleep with a girl that he liked and then got irked when he found out that the Torch couldn't umm… "flame on" on that night. He carries that subtle anger with him this day.

That, plus a little high speed drunk driving, equals the newfound little brother's introductory class to Weekends 101, a course I've been teaching to noobs since 1999.

Kebab Comedy Night. Amidst all the chaos and fundraising drama, I also had to still perform to keep my limited on stage skills sharp. Marvi's birthday party was a good ay to shake off stage rust, and the Kebab Bob comedy night allowed me to get into full swing. It was a so-so night, but I did enjoy the extended geek talk afterwards with my fellow comedians.

Am I ready for Hong Kong? Financially, no. Performance-wise, not really. Do I care? Fuck no.

Trouble at the Little Side Project. Of course, it hasn't been all shits and giggles for the past two weeks. The Big Man's little project is edging perilously close to failure due to several factors. He has expressed several times over the course of the past two weeks a desire to pack up, if not for a lack of options.

One good thing he's displayed throughout the ordeal is that he allowed me to one of the few things I do best. Ever since he asked to join his team, I've been observing potential as well as recurring problems in all aspects of job. I kept silent about it when he declined my offer to talk about it after the team's first and potentially only night out. Me, I only work as hard as whoever is leading me, and when I made that offer, he not only declined, but even offered that if I really wanted to talk about it, I should come by his house. We're friends and all, but there's a line there that should not be crossed. I mean, come on. He asked me to join the team. My findings would, in all honesty, benefit him and not me, as the success of his project is more deeply ingrained in his life and not really mine. Besides, it's his project. If he wasn't concerned, I shouldn't be.

A few weeks later, lack of results and the presentation of new problems finally shook him enough to actually embrace the job. In turn, I think, he also remembered why I was on the team in the first place. So I did my thing. If the project would be a bust, then it would go down swinging. Seeing the BIg Man actually devote time by showing up at the Fortress in the afternoon showed me that he was serious. To be frank, and at the risk of ticking him off cause I know he reads this, we didn't really need to meet. I had the whole thing laid out in my head already. I just needed to see if he really was serious about stepping up. See, it's not that he's bad at what he does, it's just that he has a tendency to be complacent, even with things that supposedly matters to him.

There is no assurance that what I cooked up will succeed, but I think it's important that the Big Man sees the urgency enough to act upon it. In doing so, the rest of the team should, and perhaps would, be stepping up their game as well. On a sidenote, if it does work, all I ask is for the due credit. Not for ego or anything else, it's just important to me to be able to operate in a work where the people around are aware of what I can be capable of to avoid nasty situations. Much like in college or in some of the jobs I had, people may crack jokes about how I'm a walking beer barrel and such, but they know that when it comes down to the essentials, I can deliver. I can't work well when surrounded by doubt.

I do hope the project achieves a measure of success, if only to maintain a particular status quo I've come to appreciate over the past couple of years. Plus, as I may have mentioned before, it's the first time the Big Man actually involved himself in something he actually wants (aside from his marriage) and when a friend commits himself to something he or she truly wants, regardless of whether you agree with it or not, it is your duty to support that.

God knows my friends have supported every single stupid act I've committed since I was 16.

Swimming Around the Think Tank. I have gone on record before that for the first time ever, I have found a job and a company that is ideal for me. Flexible schedule, sensible people, ideal location, and I get paid depending on how much I work. I have spent more and more time in the Think Tank and spoken with more people who work there in the recent weeks, and I admit to a growing affection for the most of them. From people with problems with their lovers, to the little issues between co-workers, and the fact that I'm in a position to be a completely impartial observer to most of that due to my relatively irregular appearances, I may have truly found a place where I'd be more than happy to render my services for years to come. (That's a claim I've never made before.)

I do hope I don't get fired. (Another claim I've never made before.)

The BIg Move. I have begun moving back to my mother's house. The BIg Man assisted me, with the Makeup Artist in tow, and the whole experience of gathering my things (most of them) and moving back to my supposedly original home felt a tad weird at first. I couldn't help but think about all the places I've lived in over the past 15 years. (I've been moving back and forth since before I graduated high school.) From the elaborate house that I grew up in, to the simple two bedroom nook I shared with my father, to "party central" where I spent most of my college years, to one of my mother's houses, to the Critic's place, Jeorge's, the Big Man's, the tiny apartment with Pmay that was frequented by SosoJeff and his wife, then back to the Critic's, then the first Fortress, and then the latest one… each place symbolizes a specific period in my life and bore witness to some of the best and worst moments in my personal history.

Now, I'm here. I don't expect great things, but I'm guessing that a real home usually tends to be boring. And the truth is, I've been aching for some nice boredom for quite a while now.

State of the My Own Private Nation. Right now, all I care about is going to the contest. If I could make at least one member of that audience laugh, I'd be happy. The past two weeks have been somewhat a preview of things to come, and like I said, I'd focus on that after the competition. One thing is for sure, though. Once I hit 30, it all ends. One way or another, the guy that everyone knows and probably loves even on a minimal level will be gone. It's going to be a new decade, a new era, and yes, I still have a schedule to keep. Those things I'll discuss soon.

Those who are reading this, well, donate to my cause, you cheap bastard! Fuck pandas! Send a comedian to Hong Kong! It's the stylish cause of the day!

Just kidding. About the stylishness of my cause, not about the pandas. Fuck 'em.

Huwebes, Setyembre 8, 2011

This Year's Story

It's been two weeks since I updated these pages, but I've been extremely busy. At least, more so than usual. With the year slowly coming into its final stretch, I'm feeling a level of elation that pretty much allowed me to act with the same confident strength that I've come to rely on that only living a life of semi-isolation can provide.

The past two weeks started out with minor pessimism for me. I heard something a petty and unnecessarily defensive remark from one of my old friends directed towards old colleagues that painted the first of my two weeks with a less than excitable hue. I never expected that kind of disillusionment would be the catalyst of potentially great things, but it did light some sort of fire under my ass to get my affairs in order and to ensure that I continue living life values, principles and beliefs intact.

A Real Good Night. The comment that kicked off my extended pondering came on a Monday night. I was having a conversation with the Big Man on our way to his little project. It was a casual talk, mostly I was just updating him about everything I had come to learn about our high school classmates. It was pleasant, and we were laughing and shit, but when I mentioned something about most of them going in and out of the country for financial reasons, he responds with how he doesn't need to leave the country to buy whatever it was that these people are working hard to get. While I may be reading too much into it, I was still taken aback, partly because it's an attitude that, aside from surprising, was clearly unbecoming and it was a comment that was uncalled for. Status was something that me and my old friends never really put much stock into, but then again, I may just be glossing over my past. Of course, I started thinking of the people in my life that have recently exhibited similar mentality. Certain exes, certain friends and acquaintances, it all came back to me and kinda bugged me all night. I used to roll with legends, but most of those legends are fading because of the growing susceptibility to self image pitfalls. Old age? You can't blame everything on that.

Then, the following night gave me a measure of peace. There has been a drought in the Think Tank and pretty much everyone was grasping for work to do. On that night, I once again found myself alone in the office, waiting for work to arrive, when I got a message from a fellow Think Tanker who was in definite need of company and, at the very least, laughter. Nothing was getting done, and I was pretty sure I could provide both for her, so I figured, what the fuck, right?

I went to her place (after getting lost and ending up in the wrong apartment complex, knocking on the wrong door and waking up and pissing off the wrong person). We hung out, and she told what was bugging her. Apparently, she was seeing someone who comes from a very well off family. Her lover went sick, and out of concern, she paid an unexpected visit. Long story short, it ended with her lover's sister going on a diatribe of how capable they are of taking care of the said sick person, considering how rich they are. Basically, the thought conveyed was pretty much in the same breath as my friend's statement from the night before. It was rude, hurtful, and again, uncalled for. She, my colleague, is one of the smartest, most talented, kindest and most real people I've ever met. From her humble beginnings and bad decisions she managed to rise up into one of the most accomplished individuals in my life. For her to be subject to that kind of bullshit was nothing short of a disgrace.

I did my best to cheer her up, and I think I did a fine job of it. I went back to the office afterwards content in the fact that I have made a connection with a kindred spirit.

As the sun rose, I decided to have breakfast in the area where I used to get drunk every morning with the people from Purgatory. It was good, being able to sit there and just bask in the memories. Recalling the days where I was surrounded by equally broken but essentially good, real people gave me a level of awareness higher than I had had all year. It was one of the most fulfilling nights of my recent history, and definitely one of the two best nights of my year (the other being my Super Weekend). I got shit done at work, helped a friend out, and had a satisfying, hard earned meal at the end of the day, just like simpler times.

Rediscovery. The following night, I was back at the Big Man's project wondering what to do next. As I alluded to in my previous post, I have a new quest to pursue before the year ends, but considering the daunting tasks it would take to actually complete the tasks, I wasn't really sure I was up to it.

What injected some newfound motivation in me was, of all things, a Youtube video made by a student filmmaker who went to Votre and did a documentary on us comics. Watching the video, not only did I feel the feeling I got overtime I hit the stage (or reasonable facsimile thereof) at Votre, I remember how doing stand up during that time was the only completely good thing going in my life.

It gave me the "eye of the tiger", so to speak, and I just focused on that for the rest of the night. The singular thought that was in my mind right then was "I've got a contest to get into".

Pilgrimage. The highlight of the first of the past two weeks was, surprisingly enough, initiated by none other than Jo F'n Regis. On another night when the Big Man, the Make Up Artist and I were heading for another night at the Big Man's project when I received Jo's text. everyone who has worked with me knows that while I am a hard worker, the right invite would make the decision of dropping everything and just making up for the missed work way too easy to make. The Big Man gave me permission (But to be honest, I didn't really ask for one, cause either way, I was going, but of curse, this is my friend I'm working with. Anyone else, I'd be telling him or her to stick it.) in exchange for a service that I could render and I was off for some serious bro time with Jo.

The invite that was so irresistible? A return to the Grill. Jo and I talked, laughed, and most importantly, drank. We even had some cheap ass Chinese food afterwards just to drive the point home. There are very few places that really feels like home, and that bar will always be one of those few places. Besides, it's been weeks since I had a legitimately good night out, and there's something about that place that makes me feel like the world is in my hands once more.

The night even ended with a surprise appearance by the Tapa King, which didn't actually improve anything, but didn't take anything away from the night either..

In fact, I left the Grill knowing that I went through everything that I exactly needed to be in the proper mindset in taking the next step to accomplishing my latest intended goal. Most likely, if those sequence of events did not take place the way they did, I'd probably just be completely lost by now.

Grand Motivations Among Materialistic Intentions. I learned that the Human Torch joined one of those atrocious network marketing deals in a big way. When I asked the Big Man (who, given his entrepreneurial nature, also joined) as to why would the Torch, with his remarkably stable professional state, jumped on this venture so aggressively, the Big Man told that, above all things, it was because a girl. (A girl who had cheated on him at least twice, to the best of my knowledge, no less.) I pretty much scoffed at this decision, and refused to join in. (I was apparently tapped to be one of the people to join in and help everyone make money.) Prudence would dictate that one should not join in on any endeavor led by a person driven mostly by emotion, as it would lead to clouded decisions and a distinct inability to lead. With my plate being full as it is, I could not afford any more risky business.

However, as it often happens, fate stepped in. On Saturday, I was supposed to finish this video I needed that would hopefully secure me a slot in the contest, and pay a visit to the Think Tank to finish the required output for my day job. But, a storm hit, and hit like a motherfucker. I knew the boys would be at a network-related seminar, so I decided to make an appearance instead of spending a Saturday night at home. What I saw was one of the most mind numbing displays ideals-twisting manipulation. There were a bunch of professionals there programed to achieve on thing, appeal to most people's baser natures by cranking up the cognitive dissonance and the fear of isolation and promising a completely fulfilled life through the ability to gather worldly possessions. Their arguments were clearly underscored by the promise of excess.

I wasn't buying anything that they've been offering. More money? I was born into a relatively well off family and walked away from that. More time? I have always been a man who's had my entire life in my control and my control alone, regardless of circumstance and consequence. This is not my problem. The ability to help the people around me financially? I'm surrounded by people who have the ability to earn a living. I live only for myself, and I'd like to think that I have everything I could ever need. And whenever new needs arise, I know I have the means to obtain it. However, sitting in on that seminar, I realized that the Human Torch's reasons, irrational as they are, are the only reasons in that room that I can really respect. Plus, it wasn't that long ago when I would be equally or even more daring in the name of love. So I was in, provided certain things cleared up.

We ended the night by paying a visit to one of their favorite strip clubs, and had a surprisingly decent amount of fun. (Disregarding a threat of a fight that occurred towards the tail end of the night and all that.)

The Race to the Deadline. The start, as well as the majority, of the following week, was devoted to one thing and one thing only: to ensure my spot in that contest. I have conceptualized, I have gathered, and I have made do with what little resources I had. What came out was, unlike many of my other creations, something I didn't really feel was the best product I could come out with. Still, the deadline was on the first of September, so I had to roll the dice.

I sent the video to the guy running the show, and came the most annoying part of anything: waiting.To make matters worse, the BIg Man's project had to take a week off, and the Think Tank was still running low on things for me to work on. And so I waited.

Friday night, accompanying the Big Man on his chores, (Plus, I was broke, so I didn't have much by way of options.) I received the single greatest e-mail I have ever received in my life. Ladies and gentlemen, I am officially performing and competing in the 5th Annual Hong Kong International Comedy Festival.

Now, I just need to raise the money to get my ass there. Minor details. What's important is that on my first year as a stand up comic, months before I turn 30, I get to perform on that level. Win, lose, or draw, I win. HK won't know what hit it.

Celebration. I wasn't the only with good news that night, as the Big Man apparently nailed another money making venture. While money's tight, there was no way we weren't going to do anything about it. Enter the Human Torch and the rest of his goons, all looking for a good time and willing to spend for it.

You know how this story goes, right? Drinks? Check. Ladies? Check. Laughter? (Check) Obscenely unhealthy meal afterwards followed by oversleeping and complete negligence of other responsibilities? Oh hell, check.

Facing Forward. What can I say? I've never been this pumped for anything. All my fears have been alleviated with the simple prospect of me being able to pursue something I love, despite the odds. For many years now, I've heard it from every other person that's passed through my life. You're too old to be idealistic. You can't always get what you want. You have to compromise.

I respectfully disagree. My creed has always been: "Change what I cannot accept, discard and replace that which I cannot change". I'll bend over backwards for the simple reason of helping my friends. I will go through trials to be with the person I love. And I will always be chasing after my legitimate passions without reservation. It's who I am. And the people around me, whether we all share the same point of view or not, accept that, the way I accept them. People don't have to like it, and I'm thankful for the ones that do.

"I've been roaming around, I was looking down at all I see

painted faces, fill places I can't reach

You know that I could use somebody...
you know that I could use somebody...

Someone like you and all you know and how you speak
countless lovers undercover of the streets

You know that I could use somebody...
you know that I could use somebody..." - Kings of Leon, "Use Somebody"