Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A post while I wait for the ghost of Christmas present...

Lately I’ve been having dreamless sleeps. I lay back on the bed, blink and suddenly the room is filled with the morning’s sunshine. I groggily pick myself up from the mattress, take a huge drag on a cigarette and wonder why the hell I don’t feel like I’ve slept at all? It takes a rather hefty infusion of brewed coffee to finally wake me up, at which point my heart is now palpitating wildly and I ditch the cigarette so as not to induce the morning’s heart attack.

One day, I finally got myself to google the situation, turns out I may be “stressed out”. Crap, exactly what I needed to hear. Just when I’ve been slacking off at work in preparation for the holidays, I find myself a step closer to being totally dysfunctional.

There are ways to avoid the impending breakdown, vitamins, regular exercise and the proper diet usually work, I’m told. Thought about it and found myself coming up with all sorts of excuses, good luck to myself, I guess. The best (read: most realistic and feasible) solution to the problem is to slack off a bit more, heck, a LOT more. A whole afternoon of mindless television and/or computer games should do the trick. So this weekend I plan to rerun the entire two seasons of “Rome”, with a beer in my hand and a slice of pizza in the other. Yes, in my book, this is how the day after Christmas should be spent.


I fired a third of the people I manage this week. A case of not living up to expectations. Before you report me to the authorities for unfair labor practices, let me clarify that “a third” represents just one of the three person team that I manage. Yeah, I know it’s quite pathetic to be called a “manager” when you’ve got only three people under you, but hey, it is what it is.

At first, I thought I’d never be able to bring up the topic. After all, this is my first time to assume the role of hatchet-man. We took our seats in the conference room and I brought up her stats… well, it’s definitely easier when you’ve got an unsatisfactory evaluation report to back you up. No there was no crying, no pictures of a worthless husband and young children to feed, no promises of doing better given another chance, not even an attempt to seduce me to save her job. She just nodded and waited for the words to formalize the deed. It wasn’t as tragic as I expected it to be, boring. Frankly, I wanted to fire the other two, just to see if the result would be just as painless as the first one. No, I didn’t, just a passing thought.

It is probably noteworthy that all this happens the week of Christmas. Well, I guess there really is no good time to fire someone, but wouldn't it be better if it wasn't Christmas? The office grapevine is all of a sudden murmuring something very much sounding like "Cold heartless Jackass", and so far I've been topping the survey on who best fits the title of "Scrooge of the Year". Shame on me!


So the holiday break begins, and I’m really tired from all the rush. I spent the last two days buying gifts for the staff and bosses, then ended up spending the whole night and the early morning packing and wrapping all those gifts. After I finished the pack and wrap, I was mortified to find out I didn’t have enough for everyone and there was no more time to get additional gifts. I started prioritizing and eliminating names off my Christmas list. Just barely made it work.

Lo and behold, by the time I got to the office I soon discovered there were a couple of people I forgot, I mean, I forgot that they even existed. Unfortunate that these were bosses not to be passed over come gift-giving. I had to choose whose gifts I was to give away to them. Luckily, two people took their leaves early, hence missed out on getting gifts from me. Woohoo!


And as you giveth, so shall you receiveth… well, that wasn’t to be. Out of the 32 gifts that I painstakingly bought, lugged, packed and wrapped over those two days, I got three in return. I know I’m not supposed to expect anything whenever I gave a gift, but 3 out of 32? Man that’s pretty pathetic. I’m kinda glad I didn’t run out of the house to get last minute gifts for the 46 other people who didn’t get a gift from me, that would have been somewhat of an all-time low. Wonder if firing someone the week of Christmas had something to do with it?

Note to self: Don't sleep commando, I doubt the ghost of Christmas present would let me suit up before dragging me to Tiny Tim's.

Monday, December 14, 2009


It’s another December Friday, and as usual, traffic has made it highly unlikely that I’ll make it home in time for dinner. So here I am again, at a gas station, not my usual one, but this will have to do.


Kermit, has been bitten by some sort of electrical bug early this week. Fluctuations in electrical charges has gotten me worried so much so that I’ve brought it to the shop for repairs last Tuesday. It went well, or so I thought. Last night it recurred, and I suspect that maybe something came loose again the past couple of days. This has made me wary of impending troubles that I may encounter should I try to brave 2-3 hour traffic along the SLEX so I made this particular pit stop just when traffic began to rear its ugly head.

Tomorrow, I’ve promised to wake up pretty early to bring Kermit back to the same shop and try to see if indeed whatever they did to fix the problem earlier had come loose. That’s the easy bit, because if nothing did, then they probably had a wrong diagnosis and the necessary repairs might be a tad more expensive. Considering the complex electronics that Kermit is equipped with, I hope that this is not the case.


Have you ever seen an owl flying free in the fields, hunting for mice? Well, I have. A couple of years ago, when I was still living in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, a grey owl flew overhead and landed in a field behind my house. Watched as it then flew once again with a rodent of some sort in its talons. Wow, a discovery channel moment right there.

A few days after that incident, I watched the news and on the lighter side, they featured a grey owl caught by a farmer in a field not so far away from where I sighted the bird. Given the rarity of these large bird of preys in the vicinity, I concluded that this owl was the same one that I saw. Too bad, it would have been nice to see such birds flying free.


Then my thoughts went back to a Myna bird that we once kept as a pet at my parent’s house. My dad bought it for me when I was in grade school, I think, after long hours of begging and crying. It was cool at first, then reality set in, and I soon enough realized that feeding, cleaning and caring for the bird was more of a chore that I’d rather not do. So I neglected it and left it up to my dad to take care of the black fowl. We kept it for close to a decade before it finally died.

One time, when I was tasked to clean its cage, the bird managed to struggle free and hopped out of the opened cage. I was in a panic as the bird hopped all over the place. My first thoughts were that it might fly away, meriting a big helping of pain from my dad, I’m sure. But no, it didn’t fly despite all that violent flapping. Turns out, all those years in captivity somehow negated its instinct as well as its flying muscles. Too bad little bird! But then, a more sinister plot was brewing, as our cat and about 5 dogs circled the hapless bird. Were it to become a light afternoon snack for any one of them, the pain would be much more than I could bear, I could imagine.

Fortunately, the dumb bird was caught by my awkwardly flailing arms and caged once again. I can’t recall another time that I cleaned that cage again.


Did I tell you about our other feathered pets at home? Let’s see, there were about 500 quails, 2 turkeys, that Myna, a couple of lovebirds, a couple of chickens and another couple of bantam chickens. Of course, we didn’t keep them all at the same time, mind you. They came and went either as food or dead pets.

There was also the time when my dad maintained a birdhouse in the yard for the mayas to perch in. He figured that would stop these critters from building nests underneath the roof. Well, it didn’t stop them, and all it did was increase the population of mayas that called our house its private toilet.

One day, I “accidentally” destroyed the birdhouse. For months, I got irritated at the constant chirping that these wild birds made. The birdhouse was placed right outside my window, so imagine how irritating it was trying to sleep off the morning’s hangover with a dozen birds seemingly chirping into your ear. One day, I got so irritated that somehow, the pick-axe suddenly developed a mind of its own and poked a rather large gaping hole underneath the birdhouse. The nest inside fell (no eggs, no guilt) to the ground and that was the last I heard of the awful chirping. Bye bye, birdie!

Well, it would seem that those birds still got the last laugh. As the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, it’s certain that a flock of birds will use my car as target practice each and every time that I got it cleaned. Makes me a bit thankful that ostriches and turkeys can’t fly.

Friday, December 11, 2009

As I was doing my laundry...

As I was doing my laundry, the urge to gently tap the keypad in the process of creating a new post for my blog suddenly came upon me. I obliged but could not think of any topic in particular to write about. I thought about writing a sort of review of the movie “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” starring Audrey Hepburn and the guy from the A-team, which I watched last night on my laptop (the DVD player went kaput). I started to organize my thoughts but suddenly realized I didn’t have any, only the memory of how hot Ms. Hepburn was in that film. So no, that’s not happening, folks.


Finally, I said goodbye to the recliner. I called in a favor with Joenard to help me lug the darn thing to my parent’s house. You should have seen the look on my dad’s face, it was as if Christmas came early and he believed in Santa all over again (come to think of it, I really have no idea if he had ever believed in a Santa growing up), he couldn’t wait to rearrange the living room to accommodate his new toy. Knock yourself out, John.

It was kinda sad to see it go. Though it did occupy quite a large space in my pad, it was the perfect throne for weekends watching television while gulping down a cold one. But a promise is a promise, and I’ve long ago promised my dad that I was going to give it to him as a gift… truth be told, he did kind of force it. But that’s alright, he needs it more than I do anyway. Every time I go visit their house, he would always be watching television while napping… and the old chair that he has isn’t even half as comfortable as the recliner. Other people get rocking chairs, my dad dreams of a recliner.


Christmas is just around the corner, and the traffic jams have started piling up on each and every street corner that I drive myself into. People seem to scurry around to this and that Christmas party or sale or whatever it is they go to this time of the year. Then this weekend comes when most companies will be handing out the bonuses, so I expect the traffic situation to only worsen as the days leading to the holidays draw near.

So what do I have planned for the holidays? Well, that’s still a work in progress. I could join my friends for the new year in Palawan, but no, I don’t think I will. There’s Corregidor Island, that tadpole shaped hunk of rock right smack at the entrance of Manila Bay, but I’m still too lazy to do research on it. More than likely, I’ll be at home, doing nothing, except maybe catch up on reading and watching television. I don’t even think I’d be doing much writing during that time. Jogging, yeah, that would be possible too, I guess. And there’s always beer…


This and last week, I’ve found myself in malls, scouring the appliance section always on the lookout for that micro-component that I’ve been pining for in the last 2 years. So far, my cheapness has managed to keep the plastic in my wallet, also contributing to my continuing misery at not having one at home. Besides this, there are a ton of items on my wishlist that I’ve been eyeing, shot down by my miserly ways.

Well, I can’t complain that much. I am still neck deep in credit so I may need to hold back on making future purchases, anyway. So far, I’m surviving with the stuff that I have now, plus I’ve got myself a new toy in my new coffee-maker that should provide me with enough interest to last me another 6 months. After that, I believe I’m qualified to get a new phone from Globe, so the cycle should continue until exactly next year.

Thus, with all that being said (well, written), my Christmas gift for myself will be a cheap brown pair of shoes! Yes, the omission of the words “brand new” is intended, I will have my old pair sent to the shoe repair guys and have them replace the soles. The thought of replacing them when they could still be salvaged is sacrilegious for me, years of training from my parents. Yes, they’re cheap, too.

Do note, however, that I still do appreciate expensive gifts from friends. So if you wish to buy me, say, a micro-component, go right ahead, master!

Monday, December 7, 2009

I'm still alive!

Well, obviously I haven’t been posting much on this blog recently. Also obvious, I’m still alive as evidenced by this spanking new post, just in case you were wondering. The reason for my absence? How I would love to declare “Because I’m not bored!”, but that would be a lie. Truth of the matter is, I don’t get to hang out at my usual gas station with the Wifi access. Work has me running around so much that it’s pretty inconvenient for me to do so. And though I have been writing stuff which I had planned to post at a later time, I keep forgetting to do so and eventually don’t post it at all. That’s that…. Just in case you were also wondering.


So now I live with my little sister who has decided to take up my other room. Suddenly my room is cluttered with stuff that used to be in the other room. I don’t mind though, she does share the rent, and does the dishes and takes out the garbage. There’s also a strange comfort in knowing there’s someone around to feed my pet hamster, if and when I finally get around to buying it, that is.

I dared open up to her my plan of getting this hamster, soon-to-be-named Bob. She objects to the name, and proposes Hammy. Not bad, but it doesn’t sound too good in a conversation, does it? We agree to name it when I finally bring it home, depending on what it looks like. Expect a name like “Ballscratcher” or “Uglylittlehairball” to be considered pretty soon.


The universe has conspired to get my ass to finally watch a movie in an actual theater. Courtesy of my beloved and much used Citibank credit card, I’m actually good for 4 movie tickets. Now a dilemma ensues, do I use them or sell them? My idea is to tag along with people who want to watch a movie then offer to buy them their tickets, taking their cash and using the credits I have instead. I’ve offered this scheme to some officemates who seemed aghast at the whole scheme. They feel that I’m some evil creature who has nothing in mind but to take someone else’s hard-earned money and benefit from it. What the heck?!

Fine then, I can use them, there’s no cost on my part anyway. But what to watch? Do I even remember how to watch a movie? Maybe it’s like riding a bike, and I’d get the hang of it pretty fast. As far as I could recall, there’s “2012”, “Paranormal Activity” and “New Moon”. That last one I know I won’t watch, seems like a chick-flick with vampires and werewolves, not really my type. I wonder if “G-Force” is still playing? Nothing like watching rats saving the world for a story.

Of course, the question of what to eat while watching a film is something not easily answered. My fantasy of a whole bucket of buffalo wings seems a bit messy and awkward in a darkened movie theater, pizza is a bit hard to manage as well, burger? Soft tacos? Arrgh! This is why I’d rather watch a DVD at home!


Despite my disdain of the movie theater, I am a movie buff. I grew up watching tons of films, a lot of which are B-movies and pretty forgettable to say the least. When I used to have movie channels on cable, I could spend a whole weekend just tuned in to HBO or Star Movies. Evidence of this would be my habit of recalling select scenes from movies whenever a peculiar situation arises, a particular specie of deja-vu. For example, when someone asks me what I think of someone else whom I’m not fond of, I think of the Rocky series to a scene with Clubber Lang and utter the infamous “I pity the fool!”. Or let’s say someone is giving me a lecture on how to pronounce a certain word or phrase correctly, then “Mickey Blue Eyes” comes to mind and I say “Fawgedaboudit”.

Somehow, its fun to try and see one’s life as a series of scenes from different movies. Always, I picture myself as the Freddie Prinze Jr. type, smart, athletic, good-looking and witty. Unfortunately, I’m not as athletic… “nobody’s perfect” (Independence Day, retort by the rabbi to the phrase “but I’m not Jewish”), I guess.


Two of my dear friends were hospitalized for kidney problems. I was able to visit one in the hospital, the other now lives in the US but I got word of her ills from facebook. As a result of this coincidence, I guess, I started to feel some lower back pain while driving the 5 hours from Baguio to Manila yesterday. I know that in all probability it was due to the long drive to just hours earlier, but I just can’t shake off the possibility that maybe I too was having kidney problems as well.

So I stop at a gas station, get a liter of water and chug down half of it in one giant gulp. Instantly, I feel my bladder fill up and drain it, right before I force feed myself the other half of the water. Then tonight, I stop myself at two bottles of beer instead of the usual barrel. Wow.

Then I get home and realize that beer kills livers, not kidneys. Cheers!