Martes, Agosto 28, 2012

At The End of the Day

You know what I hate? People who shove their lifestyles down everyone's throats. Everywhere I turn there's always somebody who promoting their way of life, whether it's for religion, health or wellness, business, or whatever it is that they think is the proper way to live.
A week or so ago, I met these people who kept urging me to join their church. They weren't even subtle about it. They talked about how I could turn my life around and all that shit. Months ago, I was also approached by some guy and talked about his training program and shit like that, emphasizing how good he felt and stuff.
Now, I don't care about the choices people make, especially since most of those choices don't directly affect me, but for the love of all that's sane, do I really have to hear about it? No, I do not care about the type of diet you have. No, I do not wish to know how you've been saved by the Holy Ghost. No, I do not wish to know how you've applied some management philosophy you've read in passing to improve your performance for your dead end job. No. You can post that shit online but, unless I ask, do not come up to me and try to get me to join your "revolution". That's what Facebook is for.
I don't recruit people into reading comics, watching wrestling, playing video games and basically eating like a nine year old. This is how I roll, and I respect how you roll. Let's keep it at that. Rant over.
Long Overdue Night Out.
I've been bugging the guys to go out for a long time now. With the amount of stress I go through, I thought hitting the bars a little more regularly would be good for me. Plus, for some reason the boys don't really go out much, contributing to some of their lamer tendencies. Finally, the BIg Man and his wife, along with the surprising presence of the Tapa King (he was not supposed to be there, especially since he's been getting under everyone's nerves as of late) and we went to this unsuspecting bar by the highway. It was a good time, of course. There was singing, lots of drinking, a dude who got in a fight with his wife in the middle of the highway (not the Big Couple) and more of us subtly insulting the Tapa King's intelligence.
That was indeed a great night out, and I think we've found the bar that suits all of our needs. I'm a fan of the bad food and cold booze and loud music that all bars have to offer, and, as it turns out, the waitresses also function as GROs, giving the rest of the guys a reason to drink there.
See? Middle ground isn't that hard to find sometimes.
Someone close to the Big Man and I got in an unfortunate accident wherein, while riding her motorcycle, drunk as drunk can be, she crashed and nearly had her face torn off and stuff. (The details are vague, and I really didn't want to find out more.)
We visited her in the ER of PGH, a hospital me and the guys have had some history with, and the whole thing just really bothered me. There was of course the incredible amount of misery in the air that's common in ERs and more so in that particular hospital. There's also the thought that the accident could have happened to any one of us. Seeing her all banged up, at the risk of sounding selfish, made me think about all those times me and the guys would travel completely shitfaced and out of it. I think of how the Critic usually eggs the BIg Man to drive insanely fast for no apparent reason, and when the Gadgeteer and I nearly fell off the road from the mountains in Tagaytay. I kept thinking about what would have happened if, in any one of those circumstances, things went wrong. Where would we be today?
Another predominant thought that came to my mind is that the girl was younger than us. We've been in a bunch of situations wherein people younger than us not just go through similar accidents but also died. There's Love's kid, and there's Kevin, from my Dungeons and Dragons party to name a couple. It's just weird that while we, a group of old fucking idiots, remain relatively unscathed.
And of course, there's the compassion I feel for the girl in question. A sewed up face, most teeth missing, who knows what kinds of internal injuries she got and of course the trauma from the entire experience, it goes without saying that she's facing a tough several months. Even years. And this girl, while not being a saint, has always been good to me. I don't know how she is with others, but she's been cool to me ever since we met back in the early 2000s. She always made me feel important, which is something I think she has a knack for doing. (I remember that old dude that she was totally putting over a year ago or so.) Not being able to help her feel sucky.
The Audition Video.
The day after the hospital visit, I shot my audition video for the Hong Kong competition, the deadline for which was just three days away. The finished product of the video was something that felt less sucky, in my opinion.
A Client Meeting, An Anniversary, and a Reunion.
Wednesday came, and as I've gotten used to by now, Wednesday is the day I go and pretend to know what makes the masses laugh in the weekly creative meeting for the TV show I am helping to destroy. Of course, just as I've gotten accustomed to the way things are, the Network threw me a curveball and included me in a client meeting in the morning. So there I was, at 9 in the fucking morning, with less then four hours of sleep from my previous unproductive night at the Think Tank (essays are scarce), trying my best to impress the corporate bigwigs of this new coffee product that's out in the market by talking as little as possible. (I've learned that the best way to deal with "important" people is to shut the hell up as much as possible while the grown ups are talking.)
After that awkward experience (I don't really know even today if I'm supposed to feel honored that they chose me for the meeting or cranky because I think they tapped me cause everyone else was busy.), it was off to the network for the actual creative meeting. The show is about to put out a 17th anniversary episode, and of course, we newbies got chewed out. Don't get me wrong, I'm still happy to be writing for the show. It's just that with every meeting, I remember more and more why I left the biz several years ago. Fuck it. At least I still get to listen in on Pete's genius once a week.
Once the meeting was over, I was obviously tired, but I had hours to kill before I could show up at the full time job, so I decided to follow up on my contingency plan if Hong Kong doesn't follow through. So, I met up with my long lost "nephew" in Makati. We talked over a couple of drinks and the prospect of working on this project of ours really excited me. He even threw me a few good ideas, and yeah, I'm pumped to get the Coffeehouse up and running.
All in all, I think I'm doing something right career-wise. It's going to be a while before I completely enjoy it though. While I'm not a hundred percent happy about what I do a hundred percent of the time,I always feel fulfilled, and at the end of the day, that's a hundred percent good enough. For now, at least.
Friday night, I went to my full time job, waiting for midnight when the line up for the Hong Kong competition, the single thing I've been looking forward to all year (despite the recent hesitation), was going to be announced. The clock struck midnight, I checked my email and boom. I didn't make the cut. With countless of applications from countries like the US, UK, Japan and others, I was not part of the 30 selected. I was stunned. Not surprised, but stunned.
Regardless of my newly formed reservations about joining, I still sent an application. When I got rejected, I felt things that I needed a couple of days to process, simply because I didn't know exactly how bad I felt and why.
Mourning Period.
I had more than a few drinks with the Big Man over the course of the weekend after my rejection. I figured it out. When I got rejected, I literally felt all the air get sucked out of me. It was because I felt less whole than I usually am. See, last year, I was happy to be picked for the contest simply because of what it symbolized. Getting selected meant that I was among the best in the world at what I did, and that's something that no one could take away from me and that very few people can claim. The knowledge that I could hang with all these talented people made me feel genuinely proud. It was something that was mine. When I got rejected, a lot of the confidence I had that stemmed from being a part of the competition somehow vanished.
I began to doubt. Even with all my contingency plans, my projects if ever I decide to not go to Hong Kong anyway, felt pointless. After all, I was having doubts about my desire to join the competition, but what I didn't need was doubts towards having the ability to claim my part in the competition. If I were to decide to not join, it was supposed to be because of my choice, not because I wasn't good enough.
The Big Man, as we were drinking on a Monday afternoon (a session that extended into the early hours of Tuesday morning) was uncharacteristically supportive. It's not to say that we're not supportive of each other, we just don't compliment each other verbally. I never really figured out why, but we were never like that. We make objective observations that sometimes come off as compliments, like "you're good at this…" or "this is your strong point…" and shit like that.
He even tried to comfort me as I was saying my piece about not being among the 30 best competitors by saying something like "Maybe you're the 31st. That's why you didn't get in." That statement of his, I remarked with a "that's not it", but in all honesty, I thought "man, what an idiotic thing to say."
The Phone Call.
I woke up on a Monday afternoon, stomach howling because of the ludicrous amount of alcohol that no two men of our age should consume. The Big Man had already left, we drank at my place, and I went about my day. Made myself breakfast, watched Robocop 2, and mentally prepared myself to do some more writing for the TV show, the project and even the new movie I was supposed to make before the year ends.
I received a text message, but I chose to ignore it. A few minutes later, my phone rang. It was none other than the guy who put together the competition in Hong Kong. Apparently, one of the contestants had to back out, and I was next in line.
Motherfucker. The Big Man was right. I was the 31st. The guy ended the call by saying "don't back out, okay? I'm going to kick your ass."
So yeah, I'm going to Hong Kong. Not because I'm afraid of getting my ass kicked, though he is Chinese and might know some sweet moves that would knock me on my ass. I'm going to Hong Kong with a killer set and show everyone that they shouldn't have rejected me in the first place.

Huwebes, Agosto 16, 2012

Wade For It...

You know what I hate? Probably everyone in the service level of the food industry. I know that sounds a bit mean spirited, especially since I'm somewhat friends with a good number of people who have either been in that position or those who have made a career in serving people their food, but bear with me here.
You know how they say you never mess with the people that handle your food? There's a well known fact (and this has been corroborated by the people I mentioned earlier) that if you piss these guys off, you will get, at the very least, some spit in your burger or whatnot. That's the biggest issue I have with those people. As a guy who has worked and learned the intricacies of customer service, it bugs me that these bastards at fast-food joints and restaurants have the sense of entitlement to bully the customer for not reaming them out each and overtime they fuck up. I work hard. I work at least 16 hours a day almost everyday and all I want sometimes is to be able to enjoy nice, properly prepared meal that is served promptly and correctly. If I don't get that simple pleasure, a simple pleasure that I pay for, mind you, I am going to mouth off to the person responsible. Why? Because when I turn in a less than funny script, the director is going to get in my face about it. When I do stand up and I'm not funny, I'm going to get a heckler. If I do an essay markup that's not up to par, I get shit form whoever's doing the particular shit slinging. If I make a movie and it sucks, I get bad reviews. Point is, if I don't do my job properly, I get my ass chewed out. What makes these people exempt? Because they have access to my food? they'll respond to fucking up by accident by fucking up intentionally? What gives them the fucking right?
You don't want customers to get in your face, do your job well. You don't want your mistakes to get rubbed in your face, don't make any. You don't want to be called an idiot, don't be one. It's not the world's fault that you're flipping burgers while your high school buddies are off doing fulfilling things in their lives. Don't take it out on the customer.
Rant over.
Back in Makati.
I started my third and inly full time job. It's a boring online writing thing that gives me something to do every weeknight and something to spend whenever I actually have time to do so. The work is okay, though a bit taxing, and the office is full of, well, normal people. It's not the collection of comedians the TV network gig is, nor the diverse population that is the Think Tank, but I think it's nice. I need a dose of boring. I go in, I do the job, I go home. No drama, no unnecessary bonds made.
What I am amped about is that I'm once again back in Makati. It's been two whole years since I've worked in the city and on my first night back, I felt something that I haven't felt in a long time. I've always been talking about my history in the place, and while it's too much to get into detail, Makati will probably always be my favorite place. Cavite is my home, it's where my roots are planted, but ever since '98, (and in some years before that, some can argue) Makati has played a huge role in my development. Even in my lowest point, (2009), Makati has been good to me.
I don't want to jinx it, but I simply cannot lose in that town. I simply can't. It's there that I'm at my best, it's there that I have a level of clarity that I just can't explain. That place empowers me, and I'm sure it has the same affect to a lot of people.
I'm still working at the Think Tank. Part time. Only on weekends. At least, if they get around to fixing my computer, yeah, I'll be there every weekend.
The Big Storm.
Everyone knows about the constant heavy rains that caused a bunch of floods all over the country, leaving hundreds in danger and facing possible homeless and whatnot. I don't care much about that. In fact, I love it when there's a huge disaster like that and I'm relatively unaffected. I'm not saying that to be a dick, I'm just being honest here. I love rain. I love how such calamities ensure that no one is traveling, making it easier for me to move around. A few years back, I was working in Purgatory when Ondoy hit. I was comfortably living in my Fortress, alone. The only effect such fucked up weather has in the general area I live in is that it makes the temperature all the more cozy. Again, I loved it, and I don't want to be insensitive to the people who were hit pretty bad, but that's how it is. I'm not a guy who cares about these things. I'm not really selfish, but I'm not entirely selfless either.
When last week's storm got worse, I was planning on just chilling in my bed, watching a few movies and eating a bag of chips as the weather slowly swayed me to sleep. But then, I heard about Marvi, one of the Scoobies, and her troubles without he flood. How her family was stuck at home, which was half submerged into the flood thanks to the non-stop rain of the previous night. I heard about how she had to get home, cause she was the home who was bringing food into their house and there was no access to get in. Not even her car could have helped her get into the subdivision.
Again, normally, I wouldn't care about other people's plight. That's just not me. But the Scoobies are not other people, especially not Marvi and her family. Most of anyone else, I would have wished them luck on braving the elements. But these guys, the Scoobies, have been on my side constantly since 2003 and if I am in any position to help any one of them with any thing, I don't hesitate to do so.
So, she and I braved the whole thing. We walked through the disgusting water, carrying bags of groceries making sure that they get to her family. It was a long day topped off with drinking, as , Marvi, Kokoy and I cracked open a few beers and surveyed the damage. I felt really good, seeing how the two of them took everything in stride. Impressive and admirable. I also felt good about being able to do something good, despite how little it was, to people who have done so much for me. I'll admit, I'm a bit of a prick to everyone else, but when it comes to my inner circle, I don't think there's nothing that I can't do for them.
I felt so good about hat day, that I even sent a text message to one of my "arch-foes", burying the hatchet. He replied, we did the SMS equivalent of shaking hands, and hopefully, that's one chapter of my life that's over. (I become a good guy approximately three days in a year. Don't get used to it, people.)
Everyone Brings The Funny.
Regardless of the conditions, TV people always feel the need to make sure the show goes on. And it did, so off I went to another creative meeting with the Gang. It was faster than usual meetings, and but there were a couple of noteworthy events. The first event: perhaps the funniest sketch idea of the day came from the director's personal assistant. It blew everyone else's proposals out of the water, including mine. I still snicker every time I think about it. The suggestion was so good, that the director specified two writers in the table to should be making him coffee and let the PA write the sketches. The second event, I wasn't one of those two writers. So, yay for me.
Seriously though, that moment reminded me of one of the many things I like about comedy. Everyone can do it. It's not really about talent, it's about a certain point of view. I left the meeting with a smile.
Second Thoughts.
Regarding the moments I clarity I usually have when I'm in the city, you know, the kind that hit you at 2 or 3 AM, in a dimly lit bar that's getting ready to close down, or as you smoke a cig along an empty backstreet? I had one of those. It made me question the need to do, scratch that, WIN the Hong Kong thing.
Truthfully, I'm not motivated by anything pure and noble. I'm not under the gun like I was last year. I'm not even that crazy about hitting the stage anymore, not like I was before writing for TV. I just got to thinking, here I am, busting my ass, working three jobs and for what? Stripped away from all the mental distractions, (working a lot does that) I couldn't provide a single, sensible thing to justify my decision to join the contest again.
It's true, sensibilities or practicality never comes into play whenever I find something that I really want to do, but that's the thing, I'm not sure I want to do it. A part of me thinks that the only reason I set my sights on that because I always need an end goal. If I don't have one, I don't function. BUt what's the end goal here? The TV writing thing is fulfilling my creative needs. I have a job that pays well. A part time job that's suitable. I already made a movie and there's a second one in development. It's not like there's a lack of avenues for me.
It sucks that I don't have anyone I can air this out to, and I guess that's why these lingering thoughts are coming out in this post. I'm sticking to the plan, but these thoughts can lead to burn out, and well, I've been down that road before.
The Weekend.
The thoughts, the anger, the burden of the jobs, despite everything that's positive going on, I'm still a big ball of stress. The weekend came, and I just really needed to blow off some steam. It's a good thing my boys were there. I don't talk abut my shit with these guys, for various reasons: The Big Man and I, we have a dynamic wherein he gets into silly shit, he talks about them to me, at length, I give him my thoughts, and that's it. Sometimes he follows my advice, sometimes he doesn't. The point is, that's how our relationship works. That's our dynamic. There have been moments wherein shit were reversed, but they're rare. The Tapa King, on the other hand, is someone who fancies himself as a wireman, given the hardships he's claimed to have survived. Because of that, he's a little too open when it coms to providing his insight, which, and I don't mean to insult the guy, are not that insightful. Maybe we're just too different, but still. The Critic, Jonic, everyone else, well, my relationship with them is very similar similar to the one I have with the Big Man, but to a lesser degree. They talk, I listen, but only offer my thoughts when asked.
Now, while I'm not entirely comfortable with talking about my issues with them, I could always rely on them when it comes to weekend stress management. And by that I mean, getting downright drunk and silly, bitches. We drank from the BIg Man's place, to this other place, and the new guy, this latest addition to the crew, was his usual drunk self, not making sense and shit, and we even almost left him at the bar. We were hiding each other's footwear. We overdrank, overate, insulted the Tapa King's intelligence a couple of times, it was classic. I can't even remember the last time I laughed that hard and that genuinely. It was nuts, and while it wasn't exactly what I needed, it helped.
As of now, I don't know what I'm going to do yet, but it's good to know that I can still rely on the weekends to help me out.

Lunes, Agosto 6, 2012

Brick by Brick

I actually thought that this was going to be a rant-free post, but there seems to be no shortage of annoying things people tend to do consistently. For this post, I'm going to complain about how people seem to be incapable of valuing other people's time.

A couple of weeks ago, I got a phone call from a high school friend inviting me to go to her kid's first birthday party. That was fine with me, had it not been for two important details. The party was to occur the following day and she lives in some far flung section of the north, thereby attendance to said party would take up the majority of the day. Seriously? She calls a day before? What did she think I was doing in my spare time? Sitting at hem with my thumb up my ass waiting for any invite? Inviting someone to a party that's far away the day before the said event, to me, means only one of two things: Either you think your event is so significance that it eclipses everything else that's on my schedule, or you didn't want me to show up in the first place and you gave me a polite invite. Either way, it's not cool. 

I hate shit like that. I hate it when people start conversations through text messaging then would take forever to reply because they are too busy. (Why start the fucking conversation in the first place?) I hate it when people show up in my house unannounced, expecting I have nothing better to do than entertain their rude asses. (If I'm at home alone, it's because I want to be home alone. Don't show up without notifying me in advance, cause unless you have a better offer than the prospect of me sitting around watching shit on a rare day off, I'm going to make sure I can fuck up your day as much as you fucked up mine.)

It's time, people. It's one of those things you can't get back. Leave my time alone, and you'll get the same respect from me.


Speaking of valuing time, the day after the company trip, I went to the TV network for the weekly creative meeting. When I got there, no one was around. Apparently, the meeting was held at some Japanese restaurant. I wasn't informed of this beforehand, and I even got chewed out for not knowing where the meeting was held. (I chose not to tell them that the person in charge of informing us about certain things conveniently forgot to message me, as she was already in trouble for other oversights.) One of the older writers took me aside and told me that this was some kind of initiation, a rite of passage for new guys like me. At the time, I was cool with it, but thinking about it, it didn't sit well with me. I mean, why would I need to go through a shitty ordeal just because I'm new? They called me to write for them. If this was a matter of earning my spot, shouldn't I be earning it by doing the job I was hired for as well I could? I'm not a fan of any sort of initiation. Why should i go through hoops just so I could be considered a part of something? It's ether you want me on board, or you don't. I should not have to be made to eat shit and like the taste. I do my job. I'll keep doing it until I am deemed no longer capable.

With that in mind, now that the luster of writing for that show has somewhat faded, I now remember why I left the TV industry several years ago. I'm not saying I'm going to quit tomorrow, but don't be surprised if I don't stick around as long as expected. It's cool and all, but if I was really made to work in a field that are veritable sluts to the audience, I would have stuck around MTV as that particular ship sank. The job's still fulfilling; just not as much as it used to when I started.

Birthday Amidst The Storm.

As a huge storm hit the South (I don't know nor care about the other places it hit), I dragged myself out of my extremely comfortable room to go and drink with Jonic and his friends/classmates to celebrate the guy's birthday. Now, I did say I was going dry, but of course, certain exceptions have to be made. It was the guy's birthday, and though we're not really as close as people might think we are, I had a feeling the storm would keep most of his guests from showing up.

The Tapa King was there, who apparently was trying to bed the McDonald's wench that hosted the Big Man's kid's birthday party. (I like the guy and all that, but if he devoted at least half of the determination and effort he puts into these meaningless affairs to his own personal and professional improvement, who knows what the guy can accomplish. But, to each his own, no matter how stupid his chosen path may be.) The GIrl Who Saved My Life was also there, along with her sister, and that was cool. I drank a lot, which resulted in me decorating the sidewalk with half digested spaghetti.

Probably it was the agreeable weather, but it was a fun night. 

The "Big" Meeting.

I was also blessed with a prospective freelance gig. ONe of the people responsible for giving me a job as a writer for a magazine about dogs and pets and shit looked me up and introduced me to people who were launching this new business and were looking for a writer. I felt really good attending that meeting, since I really do miss those days when I was freelancer extraordinaire. I felt in control. I felt optimistic. Plus, with the upcoming Hong Kong possibility, I felt like the universe was giving me a gimme. 

But then, I learned that the company was one of those network marketing stuff that sold beauty products and other similar shit, well… let's just say I gave them an offer that was easily refused. I'm not trying to be an asshole here. I just didn't agree with the values being sold, and regardless of whether or not I needed the gig, I couldn't do it. It was back to the old drawing board on that one.

Old Faces.

While all of those things are going on, I've been meeting up with Hannah and the Friendly Almost Neighbor, each asking for assistance on certain projects. Among other things, these two I worked with back in the Evil Empire. Hannah in particular, convinced me to leave my self imposed isolation and join the corporate world once more.

Those meet ups reminded me of old times, way before the drama of failed relationships and the discovery of comedy. Life was a lot simpler. I got up, went to work, got drunk, went home. Who knows, after I'm done with Hong Kong, I'm thinking I would welcome a return to the old ways.

The Third Job.

After sabotaging a freelance prospect in a not-so-subtle way, my slow loading brain bitchslapped me into remembering that I needed another source of income if I was to engage in my plan to end the year in the only appropriate way that I can think of. Fortunately, my feelings of returning to my old life, and the irrational sentimentality that came with meeting up with a couple of old friends and the solution to my frivolous financial need all came in one attractive yet mundane package: I just got a night shift online writing job in Makati. 

I was thinking about the last time I felt absolutely content in what I was doing, and I came thought about 2008. I had the same job, but in Ortigas. I wasn't happy, but I was okay. I was never in need, I was having insane weekends, and all in all, I didn't chase after anything.

So, my weeknights belong to this new company, Wednesdays to network TV, and weekends to the Think Tank or anything or anyone else who has a better offer. Yeah, that could work.

Back in the Bar.

Me, The Big Man and a few people from the Think Tank at Marbles on a stormy night can only yield good things. And they did.

A Life Less Ordinary.

I have three jobs now. I have a couple of passion projects and another movie on the horizon. I have far less people in my life than I did before, but the truth is, I've been content with dealing with everything alone. Truth is, while all of these things are going on, I've been feeling a lot of negative things and an intense amount of pressure. I wish there was someone that I could rely on during these times, but everyone who should don't really want to, everyone who's willing are not able, and those who are able, I recently discovered, are too full of themselves.

It's cool. It's my choice, hence, it's my burden. While I would appreciate the help, it's not required; all I ask is that everyone steer clear of my way. I'm rebuilding something important here, and I don't mind if I have to do it alone, brick by brick.

"I didn't think I would make it,
Thought everybody was against me
All those conquered eyes
And Christmases alone.

I never gave an honest answer
But I made a lot of angry organs.
Are we copacetic? Are we behaving now?
Filling up on endless enzymes
From other people's ugly insides

All this bitterness is starting to grow cold
Encompanies an empty evening,
Hanging onto complications
Sometimes quick sand has a massive appeal
To me

I want to be somewhere else

I think I can figure it out, but I'm gonna need a
Little help to get me
Need a little help to get me.
I think I can figure it out, but I'm gonna
Need a little help to get me through it
To get me through it

I always knew I had the answer
But I never understood the question
Indoor living
Lacerated to the bone

And now we've realigned the edges
I'm doing very well I thank you
All this sympathy is starting to wear me down
I wish I was someone else

I think I can figure it out, but I'm gonna need a
Little help to get me
Need a little help to get me.
I think I can figure it out, but I'm gonna
Need a little help to get me through it
To get me through it

I'll try to work this out
I'll try to get it on
I'll try (repeated in background after said once)

I like to tell you that I'm ready
For whatever's coming
But to be honest there's a part of me
That loses control (2x)

I think I can figure it out, but I'm gonna need a
Little help to get me
Need a little help to get me.

I think I can figure it out, but I'm gonna need a
Little help to get me
Need a little help to get me.

I think I can figure it out but I'm gonna
Need a little help to get me
Need a little help to get me
Need a little help to get me

Need a little help to get me through it." - Motion City Soundtrack, "A Life Less Ordinary"