Confidence





I received an e-mail a few days ago. It was from my superior demanding explanation as to why a new agent I trained last month performs below expectations. 

"Who said it was okay to be formal when speaking to our clients!?" The superior asked over a chat conference.

"Sabi niya po sa akin okay lang daw." The agent was referring to me. "Lahat po ng sagot ko pinapakita ko sa kanya."

I pleaded not guilty to his accusations.

"Pero yung mga pinapakita mong mga replies hindi ganyan." I tapped on my keyboard. "I would have corrected you if I found something wrong."

"Pero sir, pinapakita ko nga po sa inyo lahat..."



Confession time. I didn't pay much attention when he showed me his replies. My mind was set to doing other things (such as blogging) instead of being nosy of his work. Part of the reason for letting him "play in the sandbox" was because of some earlier instruction to "let him produce" more. Changing his style means a lot of revision and in doing so waste time.  

"Do you remember our first chat session? These were your replies."

From the piles of letters in my inbox came the e-mail about the agent's progress. I was lucky to document the training to show that something was being done. The hastily written email was my only defense to cover up for my negligence and while tables were turned against me, it was the only assurance that I won't be pinned under the table's weight.

"Look, I was already confident of your replies. I didn't expect you to perform poorly like this because I thought you already know."

Assumptions make heads roll.  

It was my superior who cut the dispute dismissing it as rather circuitous. He asked the agent to return to work while confronting me with a single question that lead me to admit the truth.

"One question, did you tell him to be casual when speaking to clients or not?"

"Say it Baabaa," my partner whose arms tightly hugged my waist urged me to say what really took place. He was in my room while the conference was ongoing.

"No."

"And I take responsibility for my actions."

"End of discussion."  She said.



The superior saw the depth of my failure.  The chat transcript of our training revealed that I too, failed to spot the error in my subordinate's replies. My mind wanted to ask why she didn't see it when I showed her the transcript. But the answer came as swift as I had conceived the question.

The superior spoke her mind like a true mentor.

"I was confident that you know what you're doing. That's why I didn't bother checking it." Suddenly, the imaginary gun pointed at my head fired.

"I was wrong."

Our conversation ended after thanking my superior (for knocking my head) and assuring her that the mistake won't happen again. Emerging illumined from the showdown, I sent a message to the agent admitting my fault. During the course of our chat, he confessed that he was shaking the whole time we were grilled. Consoling him, I tried to make light of our situation by telling him that everything will be okay.

"Relax ka lang... kasama mo ako."

But enough is enough. Behind the false hopes of a reprieve, the agent's fate was already written. Only last week, he made the gravest error of not coming to the office when help was desperately needed.  Though he was working elsewhere, his long wait times when the queue was up irked the officer-in-charge.

Too bad, it was the superior.

As soon as his replacement was handpicked, the agent's days were already numbered. Retraining the newcomer commenced the next day - still by me - but holding on to my promise,  I sent a more detailed report of the subjects we covered.

The successor is seen as hard-headed, but his experience makes him better suited for the job. The director  may have his doubts, but with the superior enjoying his trust,  it was easy to convince him that the replacement would do just fine.



All it took was a ten-second phone call to cut the connection:

"Pahinga ka muna, there are changes happening at the office..." It was the superior who delivered the message. Blood bonds require a more delicate approach.

Much as it pains me to admit that I have added immensely to the agent's demise, there is nothing to do but accept the consequence. Pleading would never get us anywhere, since I was the first to bring up the  observation that the agent was misbehaving. And while I tried my best to warn him that he is close to the firing line, he tempted fate by showing how flawed his grammar was.

The coming days will be full of doubts as I try my best to do a my own soul-searching. Meanwhile, steps will be taken so no head other than mine will roll the next time I get into trouble. The unfinished business, I had with the agent may linger for sometime.

But a promise is a promise.

"Relax ka lang... kasama mo ako..."

I'm determined to keep my word once the opportunity presents itself.




Mary Jane





The stay-at-home yaya left for the province early last week. Her absence would make life difficult for the family. With most of our daily needs - laundry management, house cleaning, cooking meals relied on her, our easy life surely would come to an end.

All that is left was the lesbian driver whose violent fights with the maid, made her the antagonist. Relationships were still tense even though it already thawed when she fixed the main power switch one time it sparked. To be sure that  someone would run the house without the maid around, my mom asked an ex-yaya (who lives with her husband and four kids in our old house) for help.  She would check us from time to time, between her duties as a housewife.

We also enlisted the help of a guy, whose increasing presence has already made him a de-facto assistant in the house. He used to be my mom's student when he was in college. He was also my tutor until I learned to study during exams on my own.



The first days went by without a hitch. There were seven of us in the house and mouths were fed on  time and with sumptious meals. It was the lesbian driver who cooked the food. After several days, the big chunks of meat, which were hard to chew now melts in your mouth. The much fatter Lumpiang Shanghai even tastes better.

The living room, once the pinnacle of sloppiness is now squeaky clean. The cracked floor was always polished and the trash taken out once the bins are full. Even the dog who loves tearing strangers' skin only went out to poop. Everything was running well and we didn't even have to ask the ex-yaya to come and  intervene.

These welcome changes didn't escape the watchful eyes of the lords of the house. Twice, I told my mom how I felt ashamed leaving the dirty dishes on the table. Turns out, it was the same sentiment of my sister and her husband. After eating their meals, they now leave the sala clean.

For the first time in many months, I was forced to clean my plate after I have eaten. My obsession with order had reached heights never before seen,  I even tried washing the greasy pan when the lesbian driver fried something.



This new-found respect for someone I had previously thought to be on the verge of leaving opened my eyes to the people who should be given a chance. I cannot deny that the lesbian's violent tendencies swept all my sympathies. And her binge drinking, though seldom, made me doubt the company she keeps. 

But in the days we needed her most - and her male sidekick - the lesbian driver never failed to deliver. Not only did she run the house like a Swiss-made wristwatch, we too learned to give up something for the house to remain at peace.

Following the recent near-miss of typhoon Chedeng, I thought the maid would ask for extra days for her to come home. Her absence didn't matter really, we're doing well without her around. And just when the lesbian driver appreciation days resume, I woke up to another voice this morning after asking what's in for lunch.

"Menudo..." It was the maid who answered. She got bored in the province and decided to go home earlier than what she promised.

And with her return, everything will be back to normal. But each time I see the driver quietly passes on her way to her quarters, I will always remember how her fine work brought us closer to learning that we could actually stand up for ourselves.




End Of Summer





You know it when summer has ended. You hear it with the gentle rustling of leaves. You feel it breathing over your skin, when fine drizzle cools the air with a blanket of mist. It taps on your rooftop, sometimes with a jazzy beat when raindrops fall on quiet evenings, and it carries with it stories of the sea when westerly winds blow and the heavens loom with billowy clouds.  

There is no escaping: The monsoon season marches forth leaving sun-kissers hiding under the shade. Gone are the days when azure skies leave happy campers dreaming and the masses whining how scorched the ground was and how infernal their days were.   

I wish there is more time. But I've spent my sunny days thinking about my nowhere destination. People have become pilgrims in strange lands - island hopping until their pockets all become empty,  while my arching roots barely moved from my spot.

Meanwhile, the rain-bathers frolic, as the sun shies behind the clouds. Drenched but with smiles, they welcome the downpour like a long lost friend. Rivers swell with torrents of water. Lighting knifes across the horizon.  Thunder claps not far in the distance. 

But there's no denial, the earth feels more alive.

And as the runaway typhoon waltz across the land, seen by man-made machines darting across space,  I leave my hopes floating - like a kite defying the wind shears that would bring it to the ground. It's been a year since I stepped foot outside of the city, a trio more since the soles of my feet last pressed against the grains of sand. 

But as long as wet leaves give off this pine scent in places where they grow and moist soil wafts still under my often clogged nose.    

As long as I find greens sprouting in cracks along the concrete, and the neglected plants in my driveway hold back the creeping certainty of withering; A summer's encore would just be an excuse to keep dreaming that one day, 



Palaui Island, Philippine Daily Inquirer



I too will find myself back to the shore.        



Packard





** Ilang oras na lang at bibili na ako ng  notebook. This is my second one. More than the feeling of excitement ay nangingibabaw sa akin ang kaba. I'm not used to big spending, especially now that times are uncertain. But I wanted this more than anything else. 

Three years rin ang inintay ko para dito. 

Readers of my old blog knew what happened.  This is the reason why it took this long before I could get my own.  The laptop was my ticket to freedom,and to make sure there's no chance for my ex and I to reunite after a breakup, I decided never to get the laptop back.. 

Katanghan lang. 

This is the last time I will look back - not to feel remorseful - but to pay  respect for something that have always been mine. I'm not sure if the first notebook is still functioning, but it served its purpose well.

To that Packard Bell Easynote Laptop, thank you for setting me free. 




Human
May 16, 2008
Fullmetal Dreams



It was delivered to me like a newborn child.

Its carbon black surface was still warm from the box where it came from. When my fingers ran across its rubbery mouse pad, I immediately felt a connection. For a fleeting second, there was a bond a true parent could speak of. But ours was never sentient. What I had was a moment of pride that will only end in sorrow. When I held the machine for the first time, I didn't want to let go. It was after all, a dream came true. 

All my life, I longed to have a laptop. I could afford the machine anytime, but I've always known the price of having one. A few years back and I'd complain to one of my professors that I could not follow his instructions. He wanted us to present our paper in the form of a PowerPoint presentation in front of the class. My classmate do not share my sentiments, after all, they have a laptop they could use. They say, they needed it for work so they have to own one.

But me?

I'm content with my old desktop computer. A machine that evolved after its components had been constantly disassembled, reinstalled and reformatted just to be as workable as its descendant had come out of the assembly lines. I let my old computer adapt to new software until I found the courage to replace it with a new unit last year.

And I'm still paying for it after it had been mine.

But the laptop is my baby. Never in my life had I thought I'd buy one. How tragic that when I could finally call one my own, it was meant for someone else.

The turnover ceremony, which happened on a somber afternoon took place yesterday. I could not afford to take it home for fear that my family would grow suspicious as to where my money goes. It was a sacrifice I had to make - nobody will ever know that the laptop was from me. I just hope that the receiver would treasure it like a real parent will do to his child.

If not for Dabo's presence, I would find it very difficult to detach myself from something that came from my  blood. Blood money that is. It would take another year before I could finally emancipate myself from the responsibilities of paying for the laptop. By then I am not sure about the fate of the machine. It would have been stolen, corrupted by a virus, or even used for other purposes aside from learning.

As I reflect on the events that took place yesterday, I still find it hard to accept that I've given up something to someone who I have grown distant to. I tried to seek solace from my patroness in Katipunan, but her inspiration did not work while I was canvassing the laptop at Gilmore. I still felt bitter. The image of the compassionate Buddha, which suddenly appeared in the form of discovering the Universal Wisdom Center had given me peace.

Yet the heart stubbornly insists to express its human, self-serving feelings.

In the end, I resigned to keep my word and do what my mind intended from the start. I bought the laptop at a price far more expensive than my intended budget and delivered it to its new owner. I kept my peace by drinking with Deracinee, Dabo, Daniel and my colleagues after the turnover was done. Time and again, I would remind myself that once you give something, never feel resentful about your parting.

So I did, what my conscience suggests.

And he and I will remain distant but nevertheless, at one.

But from now on, the only love existing between us shall be compared to a recipient and a host.

Infatuation, attachment or companionship will just be a thing of the past.




A Clutter-Free Evening with

Author and Organizer Jamie Novak

By Barbara Battles & Rosemary Gohd, SBPL Staff

We had a fantastic turn-out at the South Brunswick Public Library on Tuesday evening, May 17, for our Get Organized Today event with celebrity organizer Jamie Novak.

Jamie was a very exciting speaker; not only did she provide many bits of

useful information about organizing your home, office, car, and life but she was also engaging and entertaining. While book-signing, she generously answered every person's questions in detail, neither hurried nor judgmental.

During the workshop, the world's most relatable organizer focused on her "3 steps for peace of mind." She advised the clutter-challenged to first: set a timer for 18 minutes, confront a pile of clutter and pick one thing in it. Second: Make a decision about the chosen item or unfinished project and follow through immediately! Third (and most important): keep it that way! Tackling a pile 18 minutes at a time, she says, makes the job effective but not overwhelming.

In reference to paper piles, her advice is instead of doing the "scoop and dump" before guests arrive, use a desktop box for hanging files or an expandable file folder. Keep it in a public area, she advised, such as the kitchen, to ensure you maintain the contents as their usefulness expires.

Certainly, every one of the 60 or so clutter-free wannabes in the audience went away with some encouragement and new-found skills. My personal favorite was to have a "lost and found" box in my home.

As attendees said their good-byes, she pleaded with them to go straight home and attack even just one bit of their clutter and disorganization that very night. Big clutter problems go away "one bite at a time!" She seemed confident we would succeed once and for all as she wished each of us to "have a clutter-free life!"

Jamie brought copies of her latest book Stop Throwing Away Money which she autographed for those who purchased a copy. You can find Jamie Novak on her website at www.jamienovak.com where you can register to get her newsletters, as well as on Martha Stewart's Whole Living website: go to the Community tab, select "experts' blog" from the dropdown menu and then click "organization" in the left-hand column.

Don't miss her weekly Bite Size Radio Show on Wednesdays at noon on BlogTalkRadio. In addition to the radio, she has been found in television shows on HGTV and QVC.

This Library event was generously sponsored by the Friends of the South Brunswick Public Library. Thank you to everyone who helps support our Friends!

If you missed Jamie's workshop don't despair. The Library has many free resources to help you de-clutter and organize your life.

After her first visit with us more than a year ago, the Library formed its De-Clutter Club. It is an open group for individuals to meet informally and brainstorm de-clutter ideas. They meet at the Library the first Thursday of every month at 7 p.m. in Program Room 1A/1B. Members all have tried to clear away the clutter and to organize their lives and the members share their challenges and successes.

The next meeting of the De-Clutter Club is on June 2. We will determine at that meeting if we will continue to meet during the summer or decide to take July and August off and resume meetings again in the fall. Check the library's event calendar on our website at www.sbpl.info for updates and to read the library's De-Clutter blog.

The Library also has numerous books and magazines to borrow on the topic, including Real Simple, Martha Stewart's Living and Whole Living.

By the way, if you are purging important files there is free help in South Brunswick from Middlesex County on June 4. (Jamie suggests a seven-year life for some documents, but check her website for more details.) County residents can recycle their old documents and confidential files safely and securely on Saturday, June 4, from 9 a.m. to noon for free at the South Brunswick Senior Center, next door to the Municipal Building on Ridge Road. Please do not bring books, magazines, newspapers, or plastics. For more information, pick up a flyer at the Library or contact the County Division of Solid Waste Management at 732-745-4170, solidwaste@co.middlesex.nj.us.

As Jamie says, "have a clutter-free life!"

Threshold





The problem began to show early last month - soon after I had my Sky Broadband installed. As the desktop reboots, the screen appears blank. I thought it was power failure, but I was mistaken. My next suspect was the video card. I decided to plug the cord from the NVidia to the built-in motherboard card hoping it would solve the problem. 

But it didn't.  

The same symptoms appeared after a few reboots.

I am running out of options. The desktop is already three years old and it has all the right to act up. While funds are scarce and budget priorities keep my hands tied, sources of  income and entertainment  depend on the machine.

I cannot live without it.






Therefore, I will leap past the age of desktop despite my situation and acquire something everyone already possess. Gone are the days when I would continuously replace the components of my computer to make its processing speed rival with the recently released models. 

The age of customization now ends: I will put all my investment on a mobile device. The machine I require  must be able to play games and could be used to write articles. It must also serve as a repository of songs, videos and ancient word documents I kept in my hard drive.

I need to move beyond the computer table and explore the world.    




** Sa totoo, hindi ko alam kung saan magsisimula.  I don't know what laptop to buy or where to buy it on a zero-interest plan. All I have is the budget - 30K max.  I want a reliable (but not high-end) machine that could last for a long time, and that I won't have doubts bringing around.  


The acquisition is totally unplanned, much less thought of.  But the unreliability of my old desktop is getting into my nerves.  Besides, I have waited long enough for this. Tapos na rin ang pagbabayad ko dun sa una kong binili. Tomorrow is my D-Day and I hope I'm not too late to salvage my old files. 


There is no turning back.  






DIY: Tibor Kalman inspired watch






My boyfriend showed me these watches that Tibor Kalman designed back in the 80s. I instantly fell in love with them & of course, wanted to design my own watchface. Who is Tibor Kalman?  Only one of the most influential American graphic designers of his time according to my bf. In 1979 Kalman and two of his friends started the design firm M&Co, which these watches are branded with.  Kalman also worked as creative director of Interview magazine in the early 1990s.

My design uses isotype symbols and is completely functional. Some of the symbols are isotype inspired, I designed two of them myself; the sewing machine and the sleeper were both created using illustrator. My purpose was to design a watch that lets me know what I usually do at certain times during the day. Much like a schedule - sleep, eat: lunch & dinner, sew, watch TV, work on the computer etc. Seven is the only number on the watch because, one: it is my lucky number and two: I don't seem to have things scheduled for seven o'clock.

Mainstream





Pop seldom comes on top of my list when picking my choice of sounds. Prejudice stems from this notion that most Pop songs are either too cheesy, its lyrics too shallow or the vocalist, too over the top. Personal preference also dictates that I should avoid the mainstream. For this reason, seldom will you hear me listen to Britney Spears or refuse any beats from Nicki Minaj, not because I look down on their music but because everyone includes them in their playlist.

But there are exception to the rules. Like when an artist - such as Madonna transcends her music style from Ballad to Electronica or Pink, whose lyrics scrape the barrel of human emotions. Or when Katy Perry uses her wispy voice to evoke an ambient state of mind. There are also days when I come across tunes that are familiarly infectious but they never reach the local airwaves. Such is when a fellow blogger (Cigarette Butts and Senseless Tangenialities) share some picks from the recently concluded Eurovision Song Contest held in Düsseldorf, Germany.    

The Eurovision Contest is like the American Idol of the United States, except that nations actually compete to pick the champion. Countries in Europe take this event very seriously and its live telecast garners millions of votes across the continent.  This year's winner came from Azerbaijan, a country who just sent its first representative very recently.  The song "Running Scared" by Eldar and Nigar caught the hearts of judges, as well as viewers that the duo was catapulted at the top spot by the end of the final voting.

I would leave the interpretation of the song with you.  Also pay close attention to the stage, including the layout of the whole stadium. More than the "oh, ohs," and the LSS-inducing chorus, the overall presentation leaves the viewers spellbound.









World Spins Madly On





If we take the word of Harold Camping and believe in his predicted rapture, the end times happen in a few hours. The chosen ones, they say, will disappear on earth and will be taken up to heaven. While those left behind are doomed to eternal damnation as the Armageddon goes into full swing.

I do not know what these doomsayers are up to, but it seems everyone is simply caught up with the Apocalypse. At work, some of my colleagues fear that they'd be left behind. I even had a heart to heart talk with one of them, assuring that should she stay behind, sooner or later she will be taken up there too. She said that while my words are kind only the Creator knows who will enter his kingdom.



Speaking of  the Kingdom, I think I have no place there. Not that I would want to burn down under. But if  I'd be given a choice, I would rather stay here - in this place - to be reborn in countless lives until my soul finds its purpose.  Compassion calls for a Master to let his creations undergo refinement until it reaches a near-perfect state. It doesn't matter if it takes a thousand lifetimes to accomplish such feat but in the end, all must return to the source with a clear understanding of the universe.

But who am I to pre-empt the Boss?  

Perhaps, the reason why this rapture affects me is because of the people who spoke of the end times like it will really happen today. I recall seeing posters of the same rapture (with images of angels suspended in the sky and blowing their trumpets) when I was in grade school. It coincided with the UFO phenomena so I thought the aliens have come to spirit us away.

No massive spaceships appeared in the sky.  The rapture didn't happen.

If we wish to believe the end times are near, the news already hints of tell-tale signs: extreme weather, destruction of nature, global food crisis.  We are actually the ones stirring our own Armageddon.

While I find it absurd for a man to predict our final days, the very reason for refusing the rapture is the selfishness of it.  Are the religious bigots the only ones allowed in heaven? How about those who loved - more than they had loved themselves?  How about those non-believers who worked their entire lives making the world a better place? How about the sinners, the refused, the ones denied to express their own faith yet they try to be compassionate to all living things around them?

How about the children who were born yesterday, and whose lives will shape the future of humanity?



So I was there in my work station, listening to a colleague while she was caught in a whiff of epiphany. The sudden change of heart was brought by her fascination with the coming rapture. I didn't make fun of her beliefs or raised doubts about it. But behind the serious chat conversation, only one image stayed in my head.



baby lenin, rubbing his eyes




Tribulation may come to other people, but for this child, the world spins madly on.

  

Everything that I said I'd do
Like make the world brand new
And take the time for you
I just got lost and slept right through the dawn
And the world spins madly on.


The Weepies
World Spins Madly On




Yagbols





"Bading po ako."

Ito ang mga salitang nasabi ko habang sumusuray na naglalakad sa ibabaw ng madilim na overpass sa Cubao.

Ang makulit na babaeng bugaw na pilit akong nilalapit sa kanyang mukhang katulong na prosti ay napasigaw na lang ng "Ay!!!" sabay bitaw sa aking brasong nagmamadaling umuwi.

Sadya nga namang iba ang nadadalang tigas ng tatlong macho mug ng San Mig Lights. Hindi na ako tumingin patalikod para pagmasdan ang bugaw at ang prosting kagat-labing pagkagulat.




Bliss



May 18, 2011
Wednesday


He is seated across the table in a fast food chain at Glorietta. The fast food, which was renowned for its unlimited drinks a decade ago now offers unlimited Wi-Fi connection to its customers. One could even recharge his laptop - for free - as long as he is able to secure a table right next to a socket. I wonder how the fast food makes a profit when half of its customers surf the web instead of munching some fries.

The partner now works from home. Gone are the days when I would drop by his office in Ayala to take a stroll around the park, or even watch a movie before we go home together. Instead, his shift starts two hours behind mine and ends an hour past midnight. With a sleeping time now pegged at eleven, I sometimes wake up only to tell him good night.

I cannot deny that our new arrangement has an effect on my routine.  Now that I have finally able to teach myself to sleep early and wake up to call the partner before he goes to work, the practice will be of no use anymore. No wonder the calls I make often result in premature awakening (and dropping) when I hear no word from Baabaa an hour after lunchtime.

Many of the changes would have its effect in the coming months.  Some will be for the better, while others  will require a turnaround for things to remain the same. I certainly will miss picking him up after my shift and personally drop him home before settling down in my own quarters. I  also doubt if  I could still ring his phone for him to pick up the coffee and cookies I bought from Starbucks to keep him awake - and hopefully inspired.

I will leave the thinking for tomorrow and savor the moment as it unfolds. Catching a glimpse of the partner, silent with his brows creased as codes appear on his Macbook screen gives off this feeling of pride and appreciation. The world he dwells maybe something unfamiliar, but  I'm glad he was gracious enough for me to take a peek.

Meanwhile, there are many things to be thankful for: the "I love you's" and "Baabaa's" whispered every now and then while guests keep arriving and leaving the fastfood; the levels I completed while playing Tower Defense for the first time; the fact we were able to find time despite our conflicting schedules to reinforce a bond which have grown leaps and bounds after he chose me as his satellite.

And him, my planet.

I do not know how many couples date like this. But as long as I am able to inspire the other half to do better in the field he chose to be, talk doesn't matter. 







Love is sweetest when words are left unsaid.

   


OUTFIT: sheer dresses




Image by Scott Schuman : The Sartorialist





 About two weeks ago Scott Schuman came to Atlanta for the second time and I was honored to have been introduced to him for the second time. This time he asked to take my photo and then to dinner. I like the guy, really funny and insightful. Hopefully I will get a chance to see him and Garance, or maybe even hang out with them in NYC this summer. FYI guys- I will be interning at Ohne Titel this summer.

I wore the white dress from the S/S11 collection on the beach this weekend on a trip to Jacksonville Florida. I hope you guys enjoy this over due post.





Moomoo In The City





Sunday.

Shift  begins at 10 in the evening. I  have three agents working with me in a large building occupied by less than twenty people. Our office sits on the third floor of the white-washed edifice, and with barely-lit hallways to cross before reaching our work stations, expect to be spooked as you pass by the empty rooms.

My place of work is replete with stories of spectral encounters. There's this little boy who peeks behind empty office cubicles. One time, a delivery guy from Jollibee got his biggest scare when the kid joined him inside the elevator at 2 in the morning.

I'm not sure how he got out without shrieking all the way to the lobby.

There's also this faceless male adult often seen near the elevator. He wears a white upper garment and tends to disappear shortly after being seen. A white lady is also spotted walking past walls. Among the three entities known to us, the lady makes the least appearance.

In a place where strange encounters become ordinary occurrences, the living residents have gotten used to the invisible presence that it frighten us only when we realize that we're sharing spaces with the dead. Sure, the elevator opens at the lobby before buttons are being pressed, or our peripheral vision tells us of human figures disappearing in the dark but these are merely harmless encounters.

However, there are moments when courage simply betrays us. These are times when the hauntings break all forms of reason that it resigns us to our basic instincts of fearing what cannot be explained.



One Sunday evening, I was left with two agents because the other one decided to work remotely at  home. The hallway leading to our office was darker than usual because of the broken light in front of our room. I  had no intentions of  getting frightened, but there's no doubt the vibe on the floor was heavier than the previous nights.

So I decided to plug my music player in hopes of shaking the blues away. Thirty minutes into our shift, a loud thud was heard outside the room. The sound was akin to a plus-sized person trying to force himself against the wall.





An agent thought a robber might be trying to sneak in. Perhaps one of the nearby offices was being burglarized. Gut feel was telling me otherwise.  Despite the hair on my skin rising, I turned up the volume of the speakers and switched to club music to show my defiance. Light were turned on as well to keep that darkness from getting in.

Had the loud thud went on, I  honestly don't know what to do. Should I speak the Creator's name to drive the spirit away? Should I call on the Blessed Mother like what the priests-exorcists do. The night was still young and had the haunting persisted, I doubt if the agents would still report to the office the next night.

Fortunately, the loud thud ceased at once. Meanwhile, clairvoyant friends from Twitter were telling me that it was a dark creature who followed someone to work. As to how they sensed the creature's presence, I  leave to their extra-sensory abilities.  One of them even suggested to leave sweets near the door before I go home in the morning.



Nobody spoke of the loud thud during the course of the night. I also did my best to avoid having trips to the bathroom out of fear that  I  might bump into something in the hallway. Much as I have grown used to my own encounters with the spirits, a wrong apparition may force me to scream in falsetto voice all the way back to our room.

The agents told me it was the first time they had such experience. They have gotten used to the split-second "malik-mata," but a loud thud, they said was out of the ordinary. I was ready to believe that what we heard came from an outsider. However, an agent from the morning shift also told me that they too heard a loud bang, this time from the room next to our office earlier that weekend.

Come to think of it,  I was told a few weeks ago that an agent from the night shift (the one who decided to work at home) heard some scratching noises on the wall as he passed by the hallway directly across that room. It was five in the morning and their workers are not expected to arrive until seven.

The agent also claimed that the door was ajar when he passed by it, but when he returned from his bathroom break minutes later, the door was firmly shut.

Word spreads that its new occupants seem wary of strangers. Weeks into their office refurbishment, nobody knows the kind of business they engage in.

Meanwhile as the mystery of the strange noises unfold, I have this feeling that the loud thumping will go on. I am convinced that it was never the kid nor the old guy who's responsible for our entrenchment,  As to when the haunting happens next, only time will tell.

We will just have to wait and listen as ghost stories are told on the floor.
   




      

Evacuation





We were made to believe that it never gets broken; that its content management system boasts reliability and its name synonymous with excellence. But no. Words have betrayed me. For the first time in recent memory, Blogger went offline after a routine maintenance check crashed the blog hosting service.    

The website's day-long inaccessibility sent chills across the blogging community. Twitter was abundant with real-time feeds condemning this inconvenience. What made this malfunction infuriating was the sudden deletion of recent posts.

As of this writing, my comments still needs salvaging.

The restoration of the service continues and there is no doubt that this inglorious outage hits close to Google Not only does it consider Blogger its key product, the search engine's name has already been tarnished by this system failure.

I wonder if Wordpress suffer the same fate.

Meanwhile, complacency must not reign over the brief lull. I will take my chances to protect my posts. Soul Jacker is the planetship. If a time comes when my memory is all that remains, the words written here - in this life repository - is the only footprint I will leave behind.




settings - basic - export blog


"Sir, we have found a way to reverse-engineer the Planetship. Blueprints of an exact copy is now available."


"Send it to our sentry probes," the commander instructs. "Make sure to send as many copies as you can.


"Sending blueprints now... Done"


"Good. should the star unexpectedly collapse or this machine's power plant fails beyond repair, we are assured that another planetship takes our cudgels.


Our entire civilization will not begin from scratch."    




   

NieA_7






There are stories that live off from the drama they bring, while others hit the climax because of the conflict among the characters. A narrative is supposed to take us on a journey. But what if a story possess no beginning and soars to a no end? What if the plot only centers around the main characters and puckers snippets of everyday life?

Will an open-ended tale stand on its own?

A slice of  life as the literati calls it is what urged me to watch NieA_7 when it was aired on AXN in the past. The anime paints a scene where aliens with TV antennas on top of their heads become refugees after their mothership crashed in a small town in Japan. Unlike with other alien themed stories, the people have grown used to these off-world survivors.

In the words of the protagonist in the first episode, "alien or not, what's the difference?"

The 13-episode series presents the life of Mayuko and her free-loading alien roommate Niea. Mayuko goes to a cramming school in Tokyo, but her penniless existence forces her to live above a bathhouse in a distant suburb of Enohana. She is seen as an introverted, anti-social teen who juggles different jobs (including newspaper delivery girl)  to support herself.

Meanwhile, Niea is a mischievous "under-seven" alien  who lives in Mayuko's empty closet. As to how she got there, nobody knows. She whines of not getting enough food, but is too lazy to find work  She builds spaceships out of junk, but her flying machines end up exploding the moment they are airborne. It is not revealed how Niea found her way to Enohana, but later in the series, her ties with the mothership gives hint of her enigmatic past.








Surrounded by a colorful mix of eclectic characters, NieA_7 explores how these extras affect the lives of Mayuko and Niea. There is Chada, an Indian masquerading alien who is seen organizing the off-worlders of Enohana. Those who show up in his meetings (watch out for the loud-mouthed Karna) end up sampling his latest curry dish instead of pursuing their planned agenda. Chiaki, a cram school student from Tokyo seems very fascinated with Mayuko's unconventional life. And the bath house staff, despite having their own misgivings and complains of not making enough profit continue to show dedication in their job.    

While the series briefly touches issues of discrimination, ghetto life and poverty, NieA_7 makes these concerns light and trivial. Instead of the characters dwelling on these issues, they make fun of their predicament and make the most out of it. In the end, lessons are learned, failures demand a return to the drawing board and life goes on no matter how difficult it has become.

What makes NieA_7 so endearing is its still-life interludes that invites everyone to pause and enjoy the rural setting as the koto strums lazily at the background. The most powerful imagery need no words, and seeing Niea wile away on the rooftop of the bathhouse as her transistor radio goes static between songs sum our deepest longings of a life free from worries.

The best elements of Japanese storytelling can be found in its subtleties, for its authors believe that beauty surfaces beneath the subjects' imperfections. NieA_7 carefully crafts these elements to make the characters breathe, and the episodes struck a chord with ordinary people despite being a cut-out sequence of a narrative.

NieA_7 certainly belongs to the rare and seldom explored genre where conflicts happen in everyday life.  While violence and sexual tension have no place in this series, its breathtaking simplicity and subtle commentary on human values make this anime a recommended treat for everyone.         

       


Seventh Annual Not Just Beef Steak Dinner - Fundraiser by the South Brunswick Library Foundation

SBPL Blog: Seventh Annual Not Just Beef Steak Dinner

The South Brunswick Public Library Foundation's seventh annual all-you-can-eat fundraiser held on Saturday, April 30 at the South Brunswick Senior Center.

By Rosemary Gohd, Library staffer

It was not so much the filet mignon, though it was tender and juicy, or even the cause of helping the Library, though it is a worthy one. No, it was an overwhelming sense of community that really seemed the biggest draw on the evening of April 30.

More than 130 people came together from all corners of South Brunswick Township, hugging and kissing, greeting old friends, meeting new ones. Leading the way were Susan Edelman, Foundation Member and President of the Friends of the Library, and her husband Gary Edelman. Mr. Edelman and newest Foundation member Anne Borbely were everywhere at once helping to sell raffle tickets and such throughout the event while Mrs. Edelman emceed.

Always around when someone needs a helping hand was Trustee Arthur Roedel Jr. and wife Debbie, along with guests from their Monmouth Mobile Home Park. Staking out a large table in back was Police Chief Raymond Hayducka, his wife Suzanne, who is President of the Library Board of Trustees, and several other FOP members and guests.

Holding court at a table on the port side of the room were Mayor and Mrs. Frank Gambatese, both Library Trustees. This fundraiser was the brainchild of Mrs. Gambatese, Vice President of the Board and Liaison to the Foundation, when it was first held seven years ago. Chatting with guests as warmly as if they had just stepped through her own front door, she seemed glad to see so many coming together once again for the Library.

The event has certainly grown in popularity since its beginnings. More guests than expected arrived to purchase the $45 per seat tickets, eventually prompting the addition of four dining tables.

Among those present were many notable community leaders. In addition to the Edelmans, Roedels, Gambateses, and Hayduckas, were: Deputy Mayor Chris Killmurray, Councilmen John G. O'Sullivan, Charlie Carley, and Joseph J. Camarota Jr.; and Tom Libassi of the South Brunswick YMCA. Also: too numerous to list were representatives of the Library Board of Trustees, Friends of the Library, and Library Foundation; Mark and Ginny Kraft and guests of the SBHS Music Department, and guests of the Islamic Society of Central Jersey.

After opening remarks of gratitude and good cheer from Foundation President Bill Stolting, the meal was served by a new caterer this year, The Brownstone. Yes, the same one owned by a family featured in the reality television show The Housewives of New Jersey. No housewives were spotted on the scene, for better or worse!

Tables were each given an anti pasta platter family style, followed by platters of pasta, vegetables, toasty fries, buttered slices of filet mignon on bread rounds, and a cheesecake dessert. High Grade Beverages supplied soda and beer.

Both meatatarians and vegetarians were full and happy.

So much so that young Patrick Killmurray, son of Councilman Killmurray, honored the new caterer with his bread sculpture "Castle Brownstone." He won the contest despite some very imaginative competition in the event's traditional bread sculpture contest.

Apparently a lot of people like their meat without the bread. (and it was really good!)

Stacked leftover bread slices were the building blocks for many of the sculptures: a flag; a toilet; a "Dragon-Seal" from the table of former Mayor Debra Johnson's; also, "Vino Endeavor" (a space shuttle using single-use dental flosses for the fins); an igloo; decorative wine bottle shapes; and of course the volcanic creation "Redemption Island."

More than 25 sponsors donated prizes and baskets. In fact, more time may have been spent winning prizes than eating filet mignon. Some of the winners and donors announced by Ms. Edelman included: Connie Tighe (50/50 raffle), Nancy Delgado, Sherrie Wells, Billie Furch, Carol Pollington (afghan donated by the Edelmans), Charlie Carley ($15 Sens gift certificate), Holly Antisell, Angelo Zayas ($100 Friends Giving Tree Leaf), and Cynthia Engel (Sonic Care for Kids donated by Dr. Matthew and Allison Schloss).

Former Trustee President Muhammad Ashraf won what may have been the most coveted prize of the night - the giant (estimated 4 feet tall) candy tower, built by Mrs. Roedel and Ms. Tighe, and donated by the Monmouth Mobile Home Park. When Jonah DiCorio heard the announcement he leapt from his seat calling out to Mr. Ashraf that he would gladly trade him his "Day at the Races Luxury Box at Monmouth Park Racetrack" (generously donated by Hoagland, Longo, Moran, Dunst & Doukas LLP) for the candy tower! No deal.

Please join us next year. The more the merrier!

The Foundation uses funds raised by this dinner to help support special needs of the Library. Thank you to everyone who supported this event in any capacity, especially our generous sponsors.

To make a donation to the Foundation, go to:

http://www.sbpl.info/foundation/donate.htm.

Jollieboie






To remind ourselves that some bonds stay for life.


Quote:
Endymionn wrote on 03-27-2002 10:58 PM:




Pex Is Back!


Hula ko katatapos mo lang basahin ang pm sa iyo ni Giosport at ni Greggytorned, o baka naman ito ang inuna mo.


Sana meron ka nang text kapag nabasa mo ito. Ewan ko kung nasaan ako, umaakyat kaya sa PICC, nasa bahay nakatunganga o kung nasaang lupalop naghahanap ng sarili.


Halos 2 weeks rin palang nawala ang pex... bilang ko kasi, three weeks na rin tayong magka-tropa eh.


Hah tanda ko pa noon, huling araw ng pex sabi ko babarkadahin ko si Econmajor para maging ka-tropa natin, ilang araw mula ngayon, kung nandito lang siya sa Manila makukuha ko na rin PM niya.


Wala lang, nakakamiss lang ang lahat.


Imagine kasama kita halos isang buong linggo - kuwentuhan, pinag-uusapan yung mga cb (callboys) at mga prospects (ka-trip) nila, asaran, lahat halos ng puwedeng pag-usapan nadaplisan na natin eh. hehe


Nakakamiss mag-mall na kasama ka. Tingin ko tuloy, ayaw ko munang umapak ng Meg (Megamall) tsaka Shangri-la dahil maalala lang kita. Sa tuwing maririnig ko yung Ortigas Center ikaw kaagad ang papasok sa isip ko, "Buong linggo naming inikot ni Jollieboie yun ah!"


source


Nakakapagod, magastos, at kung minsan nakakasayang oras man pero sa lahat ng lakad natin, enjoy ako na kasama ka. Tingin ko kasi ikaw lang ang makakaintindi sa akin eh - - ikaw lang ang nakakakilala kung sino talaga ako.


Sulit ring sabihin ang lahat, malaki ang tiwala ko sa iyo eh. Lagi mo sana tandaan iyon. Badtrip, wala ka nang credit, nasanay na rin ako na halos nag-te-text tayo araw araw eh. Gigising ako sa umaga, ti-tingnan ang cell, umaasa nandun yung text mo. Hay buhay nga naman.


Shensa na kung senti ako pare ... tingin ko kasi... Nasa sistema na kita eh - - Parte ka na ng buhay ko sa loob ng tatlong linggo nating pagiging magkaibigan.


Siguro sa isang banda, takot rin akong mawala ka... pero alam ko, patungo rin tayo doon. Kahit ilang beses ko man ipanalangin na sana huwag mangyari iyon.


Closeness is fleeting, distance is inevitable as they say. Sooner or later, all of this would be just in our minds. Hanging there, maybe never to happen again.


Despite all my hopes that we would be buddies for life... I guess that is impossible. Three weeks, anong panama nun sa mga nakasama mo na ng ilang buwan, lalo na ilang taon. Hindi rin naman ganun kalalim ang pinagsamahan natin. Bago pa lang naman tayo nagkakakilala eh.


Pero bihira lang makahanap ng katulad mo tol eh. Siguro nga hindi pa kita ganun kakilala kaya ganito ang tingin ko sa iyo. Pero andami mo nang hinawa sakin e.


Tama na siguro itong senting ito, nasenti ko na rin naman lahat sa iyo haha. Basta, just in case tol, just in case we woke up one day hanging out with someone else's company. Always remember this:


Nag-enjoy ako sa lahat ng gimik natin, pinangiti mo ako sa mga text na ipinadala mo...


Parekoy,






You're the first and only one, who came closest to my heart.


Ingats ka lagi, hanggang sa susunod na pagkikita.




Lumawak na naman ang mundo mo dahil sa akin.

Welcome, Parekoy.




Sardonic









Minsan ay naligaw ako sa Bambang para may bilhin sa Human Nature outlet doon. Dahil dayo ako ng Tondo, isang maling liko at napadpad ako sa lugar ng mga squatter.

Sa dulo ng kalsada ay may makipot na eskinita. Ang lagusan ay tumatagos sa mga bahay na yari sa pinagtagpi-tagping kahoy at yero. Dalawang palapag man ang mga ito pero ilang pamilya rin ang nagsisiksikan dito. Naiimagine ko na sako lang ang nagsisilbing dingding ng mga kuwarto samantalang karton naman ang papag. Para magkasiya ang isang mag-asawa na may anim na anak, ilan sa kanila ang kailangang manatili sa labas at uuwi na lamang kapag oras na ng pagtulog.

Ilang hakbang rin ang nilakad ko para nakalabas ng eskinita. Doon ay tumambad sa akin ang mga batang naglalaro sa daan. Dedma na sa init ng panahon o sa gutom na maari nilang nararanasan. Basta't makaramdam ng kalayaan sa larong habulan, okay lang kahit ang hapag kainan ay walang laman.

Nagpatuloy ako sa paglalakad. Ilang matatanda rin ang nakasalubong ko sa daan. Marami sa kanila ang galing sa pangangapitbahay. Samantalang ang iba naman ay tila sawa na sa pagtunganga, kaunting pahangin sa kalsada ay sapat na upang masabing buo ang kanilang araw.

Malapit sa bukana ay napansin ko ang mga bahay na gawa sa tarpulin. Ang mga ito'y nakatirik sa tabi ng mataas na pader na kaunting uga lang ay tiyak na tutumba. Kapansin pansin na walang banyo ang mga bahay. Kung pagmamasdan itong mabuti, ang loob nito'y sapat lang para maging tulugan ng isang tao.

Pero kadalasan, mahigit tatlo ang nagkakasya dito.

Ang mga larawang ito, sampu ng iba pang inuwi ko galing sa aking mga paglalakbay ang paulit-ulit na nagtampisaw sa aking utak habang umiinit ang debate sa Harapan tungkol sa RH Bill.

At bumabayo ang malakas na hanging dala ni Bebang sa lansangan.




Fix You






The crack beneath the rolls of electrical tape continued to grow. A day after our quick remedy made the electric fan stand again, it began to tilt dangerously low that the threat of the home appliance splitting in half became a worrisome fact.


In  two days, the base of the switch box was torn to shreds. I  had to anchor the entire unit  to the TV cabinet or the motor and the blades will fall apart. A replacement is needed fast. Having a room notorious for its searing heat meant sleeping soaked in sweat.


I might not be able to sleep at all.


So there I was at SM Centerpoint at noon the next day.  Pretty strange for someone who refuses to be seen in such places at  that  time of the day.  There were so many brands to choose from - 3D,  Standard,  Camel, - even the thought of buying the pricey aircon briefly crossed my mind. 


Until I was held back by the hefty electrical bill, which we would have to pay every month as a consequence. 




In the end, I settled to acquire a Nikon electric fan. The friendly attendant stressed its five blades blasting stronger winds that cool the air better than other brands. Having to pay on credit was my idea, but leaving the credit card at home meant a depletion of my cash reserves. 


Until now, I fear checking my balance.


The new fan was meant for my room.  It is an attempt to fix things, so that despite the soul's brokenness - I will be reminded of my recovery. But I had other plans in mind. Knowing that there's a room in the house, whose occupant has to endure far more scorching heat that what I suffer in my quarters. Inner healing meant the relief of others.  


Solace comes in the form of love.


"Kuya Pet,"  I called the house help's attention. "Pagdating sa bahay, paki assemble naman itong electric fan"


We were in the car. The lesbian driver (who has returned thank heavens) tried to plot a short cut to avoid the build up of cars in front of us.


"Punta lang ako sa pagawaan para paayos tong nasira kong fan."  The house help listened to every word I said. "Pag na-assemble mo na, pakidala sa room ni Mama."


"Sa akin muna yung electric fan niya."


Fighting Spirit





If there is one reason
I went to work today,
it is to see you
and hold you
and tell you
I will be okay.

Thank you for being that pillar of light
which continues to shine in these melancholic days.




Unbroken





Half-way between the base and the blade, the electric fan has a big crack below the switch box. It was a structural flaw made worse by the constant force when being pushed around to make space inside my small room.

Now the fan won't stand on its own. It tilts downward and falls to the ground because the propeller and its blade guard are heavier than its motor. Despite this defect, the fan would still spin its blade. It still cools the air when the fan is switched on, and as long as someone directs its air flow.

I asked the house-help to wrap electrical tape around the crack. This is to add strength to the already weakened torso. However, the electric appliance still continues to tilt. We then applied feet of  packaging tape around the midsection to reinforce the base adhesive. When this didn't work, contemplating on buying a new appliance became my next  fixation.

Too weak to go out, I could have asked someone to buy me a replacement.  But the fan will be bought on credit and  I am the only one allowed to sign my card. Finding a proxy is out of   the  question and  I  am being torn apart by the guilt that I'd be throwing away something that might still work - albeit dysfunctionally.

Necessity is the mother of all invention and we made the fan stand up by knotting a wire around its rotating mechanism and securing it at the base. We also used a string to loop the motor and fasten it  below the crack.  The fan did stand up this time  and  carried cool air where it is needed.

But we know, it wouldn't be for long.







The  crack continues to tear through the mid-section.  It's just a matter of days if not weeks before the fan tilts again  - this time - becoming too unstable to be used. Should this happen, funds are ready to source a replacement.  But for now,  as long as the electric fan is still working, we can find relief knowing we don't have to spend a dime for unplanned purchases.



The electric fan reminds me of how things are at home lately. With the desktop sometimes failing to display the  video, (one needs to reboot the system until the screen comes to life) to the long-delayed plans of buying an air-conditioner,  (the complexity of installing it in the master's bedroom hampers our progress) to the afflictions, (imagined or otherwise) keeping  us  from  moving forward, one can see through our state of dysfunction, yet we go through life still unbroken.

And embrace our purpose until our time is exhausted.




Reset Button






I have nothing to write anymore...


And why do you say that?


Don't know, my mind feels empty.


All the time.


 Is it true, or you just fill you head with so many things,


But you don't know how to draw them out anymore?


Possibly. I always conk out before I could finish my last sentence.


Just like right now?


Yes. See, I don't even know how to end this.


May I ask, why do you write again?


I don't know, maybe to express a thought?  To mark a memory?


To weave words so they would become music to one's ears?


Too pompous don't you think?


No it isn't.  *sighs*


Just admit that this is your way of confession:


To put some distance between your dreams and frustrations.


You can think of it that way, but I won't agree.


Because this is a much better life?


Lull...


Anyway, let me shake this blues a bit. 


Why did I return here in the first place?


Ummm because this is your home?


Ahh, the planetship?


Yes.


But can't you see, I'm already a satellite.


Let me clarify, a planetship that orbits a world.


Yes.


Well then, Mister Satellite.  How do you wish to resolve this?


Do you still want to write?


Let's see. I'm doing this to fill the space.


And?


Let this serve as a temporal bridge before I finally decide 


To disappear or not..


Okay.


I'm glad you're seeing it that way.


I say let's end this monologue now before he returns to the subconscious.


Agree


And let him drift to his destination.


Agree.


We will write without reasons


And pretend that nobody's reading


Okay


If time comes we don't find this exercise helpful anymore.


Uh huh.


We will disappear, without saying a word.


Okay.


So that when we finally decide to weave words again.


This beacon remains, floating among the stars.



Self-dialogue borrowed 
from the Spiralprince.