Thais Don’t Have ‘Nose Bleed’ When They Speak English Imperfectly

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Because why would they? Nose bleed is what happens when a person gets punched in the nose, or when the brain is too stressed beyond human capacity, so blood can’t help but ooze out. It’s what happens when you’re Carrie and teenage girls are mean to you. Nose bleed happens in other instances that have nothing to do with speaking a certain language imperfectly. Thais don’t have the jokey nose bleed the way Filipinos do when they are suddenly made aware that upon speaking to someone who speaks English beautifully, they, native Tagalog or Filipino speakers, fail to match the proficiency and the beauty of the proficient English speaker, which is such a Filipino thing to do and feel.

I have to say, though, that there is nothing wrong with feeling inadequate with one’s unspectacular English-speaking skills, which compels one to make a nose bleed joke. I’m saying this because I’m a coward who feels the need to make a disclaimer, and also because I really think there is nothing wrong with coping with a perceived deficiency. That coping mechanism happens to be cracking a nose bleed joke which I’m not sure if people are still doing. I sure heard a lot of it in my former office when certain native English-speaking (sometimes, non-native speaking) executives pay us a visit for the sole purpose of hearing us speak English beautifully. Of course, they couldn’t care less about how we speak (or maybe they do which should explain the visitations), but that joke got cracked a lot (eg, ‘I have to take Katarchina to dinner tonight. Nose bleeeeed!’ etc.).

I’ve thought about it, deeply, and realized that being good English communicators does great wonders for the country and its people. If it weren’t for our relatively stellar English proficiency, we would probably be less adaptable as a people who feel the need to grace all corners of the earth with our presence. We probably wouldn’t be one of the most human resource-exporty country in the world, which we are. More importantly, I probably wouldn’t be here in Bangkok doing what I’m doing and loving the shit out of not being in the Philippines where things can be sometimes not so great.

It’s frightening to imagine Filipinos not being such good English speakers because if we didn’t have that, we would have much less, but maybe we would have something else. All that would be left would be our world-class resiliency and singing voice. Horrific. We would just be hospitable islanders who make laughable signages that other excellent English-speaking people would ridicule us for. Since we are such great communicators, we do this to ourselves. If we weren’t the occasionally vicious grammar Nazis that we often are, we would probably find alternative ways to be cruel to each other. The nose bleed joke is therefore essential in perpetuating our strong English communication culture.

I sometimes fantasize about a Philippines that is peopled with Pinoys who would speak Tagalog at least 95% of the time, the way Thais, and presumably other Asian nations, do. I just wish we were less obnoxious about this proficiency.

But who am I kidding? I used to find hilarity in those emails passed around containing jpegs of atrociously worded signs in China or any other country that doesn’t revere English the way we do. But I have changed and my humor leans towards other brands of jokes now. I still find hilarity in playing with open and closed vowel sounds and that might never fade. I used to sing LFO’s Summertime for this very reason (‘New keeds on the black had a banch of heets, Chinese food makes me seek. And I think it’s fly when the girls stop by for the sammer, for the sammer.’).

Thais, and presumably other nationalities who don’t give much thought (ie., give zero fucks) about their English proficiency, don’t have nose bleeds of the variety that is caused by English-speaking deficiency. In place of petty nose bleeds, they have hypertension when some foreigner has the nerve to engage them in conversations that would require more than yes or no answers which, in the absence of English language knowledge, they opt to answer with a nod or a shrug. This is wise as it keeps them healthy and free of nasal blood flow.

In truth, non-native English speakers (eg., Thais) might only be slightly peeved, or some of them might actually feel like this lack of superb English communication skills poses a major barrier to achieving potential greatness. I once asked a Thai if non-excellence in English is something that can get you ridiculed in Thai society, a reason to have your Facebook post screencapped and showcased to ridiculer’s own feed to be liked because shittily-worded compositions in Facebook are hilarious. I forgot his exact words but the meat of what his answer was that Thais ridicule fellow Thais for other reasons. And even though he was just one person, I believed him even though he was attractive and probably doesn’t get ridiculed for much so embarrassment is probably not something he experiences regularly.

Some Pinoys, on the other hand, make cracks about lost apostrophes and misplaced commas. Sometimes it’s well deserved such as in instances where the grammar crime is committed by someone with heinous thoughts. Sometimes, you can’t help but be on the side of the grammar criminal. It’s strange but an understandable phenomenon. Think about it: If little notes about turning off the faucet in our public bathrooms were heinously worded, where would we be?

How My Social Media Feeds Curbed My Need to Post About Beyonce and Mariah Incessantly

‘And as time passes, the not-really-friends on FB have sad things happen to them that I can’t care about if I want to continue living — humans just aren’t set up for feeling deeply about so many people.’ – Richard Lloyd, nymag.com commenter

Things are happening in the world every day, important things that do not involve divas (which happen to be my favorite topic). The Philippines is a very happening place and people are naturally always talking. As a semi-active social media entity, I hear most of the talk. From these, certain emotions are elicited from me, one being anger and another, fright (if that counts as an emotion) – for my frequent lack of concern for whatever important historic thing is happening. For instance, the pope.

Not having an opinion about an important event is probably not as bad as having the wrong or shitty opinion, but shutting up about something has always been more attractive an option to me. As one great diva once sang, ‘it’s not right, but it’s okay.’

When I don’t broadcast my feelings or ideas, I feel either an overwhelming wave of relief for not having said whatever possible foul, stupid or corny thing I felt like saying moments ago – or I feel like a stinking coward. A coward who stinks. I feel like a coward for failing to let people know, for example, that I think 50 Shades of Grey is shaping up to be the year’s condescension victim of the year (because people – actual movie critics and feeling critics alike – are praising it in the most hideous way possible, saying things like ‘it’s not that bad’ or ‘I’m surprised by how Okay it is,’ etc. which fucks my shit up for reasons unknown). I don’t even like that franchise and I don’t have immediate plans of seeing or reading it. People can be so patronizing sometimes (actually, most of the time) and this superior attitude over something so obviously inferior is such a shitty sight to see.

Also, the things that I get all worked up about can be embarrassing, so I think I have a very good reason for worrying about being worried, and talking about having second thoughts about saying things about things as un-vital as 50 Shades. I’m aware of this, but sometimes awareness is not enough. That is why I choose the path of comments-less social media persona every time. It’s not that I’m afraid of being seen as an awful person by my peers, it’s that I know I can be awful and I’m just choosing not to expose that capacity for awfulness so carelessly.

I should probably name other Important Events that I failed to see the value of having an opinion of, but I am slowly learning how to effectively turn off current events noise no matter how important they may be. Sometimes I do that by reading. Reading fiction is probably the second greatest way of escape; dying is first.

This is becoming a problem for me because when people are extra-effusive about certain IE, I feel even more worried (‘how could I not be feeling anything?!’).

My silence is also influenced by fears associated with having job and residential security in my current environment. A nice, non-awful person tweeting whatever the shit he wants and getting away with it is something that fascinates me. It’s admirable-infuriating when someone unleashes his inner sociopath by composing seemingly carefully constructed hateful thoughts about an awful situation (one of those important events), thrive and not get shit from some authority figure. It could be that they are saying something mind-blowing about an important thing which affords them a pass, or it could be that these fearsome authority figures only exist in the mind of cowards who tend to gravitate towards unlikely scary scenarios involving imagined authorities.

It could also be because some people’s brand of awful is more substantial or palatable than others. Plain lack of intelligible thoughts could also be a factor. Bobo lang, ganun. Neither uncaring nor unconcerned but stupid.

Yet another factor is being surrounded by personalities teeming with intelligent thoughts. If I surround myself with dimwits, I might have a chance of sounding more intelligent, I think. If I surround myself with even more opinionless personages, I might stand a chance of coming off appropriately opinionated. There is no shortage of possibilities in this scenario and I am willing to explore each and every one of them. What else? If I take drugs (drug addict drugs) and worry instead about my next fix, I wouldn’t be so concerned about today’s social ills, and just focus exclusively on my own.

And now, some finalities.

I know that:

1. Talking about your Facebook life in a blog has the look and feel of someone who hangs out with the popular kids at school during recess, and then goes to his real friends after school hours to bitch about school and its peoples. It’s not cool. Since I’m dripping with awareness (I think), I know this and feel compelled to let you know that I know.

2. Having a public monologue about how uncomfortable you are about your social media ‘silence’ is yucky no matter how it’s done… but maybe only when it’s done by certain people. Yes, the worrying about social media is realer than ever and there is no stopping it.

3. Time and effort could have been saved by refraining from talking about things such as the ones talked about in here, but this my blog.

4. I should take the time to invest more emotional energy in the careers of other females other than Beyonce and Mariah. It is not impossible and I would really like to see me succeed! I feel like I have succeeded somehow by posting about Madonna instead lately. But even she is getting irritating and becoming the very sort of social media celebrity who speaks just so she can make sounds. Ditto Beyonce and constant news about her wig shifts.

My Brother Knows The Real Me

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When we moved to Better Living in 1994, my brother and I made friends with the neighbourhood kids. We had to because our house was poorly furnished and the architectural lay out was ill conceived. Our bungalow was a box with two bedrooms – one small enough to fit two boys who haven’t been circumcised and one master’s bedroom which I didn’t see the masterliness of at all – and a bathroom that has drainage problems. Maybe it is a little early to be talking ill about a house that we still live in but someone has to document its history and right now I have time to do just such a thing.

Our mother, who was responsible for the house, was about to die and so it was a sad time for everyone, although I don’t remember any of us being very, very sad. We didn’t look forward to it maybe because we weren’t sure her death was imminent.

After she died, we moved on and made friends with the kids in our new neighbourhood. Kids in the village were nice, especially the girls who maybe found me and my brother intriguing. As children, we were very cute and we advertised ourselves as half-Chinese although the truth is that we are maybe only one-fourths Chinese. Being half-half is great because you get asked about your heritage by Filipino classmates and friends who are 100% Filipino and who have no other heritage to speak of except their Filipinoness which is something me and my ‘half-Chinese’ siblings wouldn’t ever be curious about. Being young and Chinese-looking is one of the best life stages ever. It makes you feel special, unique and attractive.

Mostly, the girls found my brother cute. I know this because they told me and also some of our boy friends. My brother truly is the cute one. Aside from being good-looking, he was also good in math, algebra, English, dancing, HEKASI and architecture. He was well-loved by high school teachers who made it a point always to emphasize that I am not like him at all in terms of interpersonal skills and smiling skills and maybe also dancing skills. He can wear Spice Girl drag in a cheerleading competition and still be adored, but if I had pulled a stunt like that in high school, my sexuality would have been questioned and that would have really hurt my feelings.

I used to like basketball because there used to be a basketball court in front of the house. Despite the presence of this mini-court I never really got better at it because my heart belonged to volleyball. Volleyball is such a beautiful, graceful sport and I loved it and I think I still love it now. But anyway, my brother and I used to play basket with the annex boys even though I knew in my heart that volleyball is my sport. My brother, my kuya, got better at it, although he looked really funny, like a flying hanger about to dunk.

One summer afternoon, I overheard my brother talking to some of the girls. The girls, apparently, found me a bit effeminate because maybe I played volleyball well or I played it with apparent glee and abandon, I can’t be sure. Maybe, they found me a little girly because I’m one of the two boys in the group who never got teased with a female. The other one is an obvious gay with quite a gay name so his effeminacy surely has never piqued anyone’s interest. It is very hard to imagine that gay’s gayness ever having disturbed anyone’s peace. Also, I got along well with the girls.

If you’re a second child, being the subject of discussion induces feelings of preciousness in you because it rarely happens. I didn’t exactly delight in being talked about but of course I wanted to know just how my brother would defend my honor. He didn’t defend my honor because maybe, to begin with, no one’s honor was being besmirched.

‘So, is he gay?’ was what I remember being asked of him. I don’t recall him disproving their suspicion. Instead, he described my character in a way that, even now, will be hard to refute. He told them that while I may not actually be totally gay, I do have a tendency to mimic the behavioural patterns of the group to which I attach myself the most, which during that particular era was the group of the volleyball-playing girls. It was classy of him. He knew that I could get very sore about being accused of homosexuality. He knew how much it would have wounded me. On our worst fights, I need only to be called ‘gay’ in order to lose my shit and lose.

I’ve always believed that my personality is special, magnetic and that in time, it will shine. Coupled with my exotic half-Chineseness, I used to believe that once I get out of school, I could dazzle people and employers with what I have to offer – my Catholic education and ability to describe people and things using big, Mariah Carey words. These didn’t happen very often. Instead, I became the dead of the party in most parties and my half-Chineseness has officially ceased fascinating people.

When I was in college, I bought a lot of CDs. Random albums that I thought I might enjoy. I bought Coldplay’s X&Y, Tiesto’s Just Be, and Sarah McLachlan’s Mirrorball and many, many, many others. I read somewhere that Mirrorball was Patty Laurel’s leave-me-alone CD. But who cares about Patty Laurel’s favorite album? Thanks to my mother’s fortune, I was able to buy all the albums I desired. Mirrorball was the album I played the most because it was gorgeous and her voice, indescribable. My brother said something about how Sarah McLachlan was one of those artists who sound as gorgeous in concert as they do in the CD. I agreed and that was when I became a super Sarah McLachlan fan. Even though I haven’t found the time to care about Shine On, hew new, I hope she comes to Bangkok very soon.

I Have a New Catcher in the Rye

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It is with so much delight that I’m announcing David Sedaris’s Barrel Fever as my new Catcher in the Rye. This is great news for me, for you, and for my very, very few friends. Congratulations, everyone, we no longer have to suffer the Holden Caulfield affectation, a spectacular achievement in execution failure though it may have been. I’ve also just finished David Shields and Shane Salerno’s ‘Salinger’ and read with great interest the Assassination section, specifically Mark David Chapman’s, and I’m symbolically cowering in shame for being guilty of the same crime as him: overlooking the humanity behind Holden’s profanity-laden but sobering view of humankind. My misreading, though, is not as total as MDC’s. My love for Holden stemmed (yes, stemmed) from his unfamiliarity with his own person (yes, person) the loveliness of which I feel strapped itself to my very own unfamiliarity with mine. We didn’t/don’t know the world, our place in it, and that was lovely in a movie, literary setting kind of way, but in your late 20s, not knowing your place in the world is just infuriating. Yes, I’ve already proclaimed freedom from the clutches of JD Salinger’s penetrating worldview, but if Mariah Carey can proclaim emancipation three times, why shouldn’t I?

When JD Salinger died, I rushed to Fully Booked and bought a hardcover Catcher in the Rye because I’m not the kind who idolize properly and sensibly. I might be sick with a disease characterized by uncontrollable urges to spend on things as a sad gesture of undying admiration. I might be suffering from a kind of psychological disorder that does not let me rest until I physically own something of the worship-figure. The easiest, most obvious explanation would be that I am a goddamned fool.

With Barrel Fever, there can never be a misreading, a misinterpretation, not even a silly attempt to embody a persona of an esteemed literary character. Maybe one: Adolph Heck, named after history’s most vicious imposer of viciousness, in the collection’s funniest story, Barrel Fever. A mother naming her son Adolph is guaranteed a slayer of me. I love Adolph and his mother. I love that Adolph’s sisters are named Faith, Hope, Joy and Charity. I love how he mocks his friend who once was his closest ally in mocking the mockable but who now has clung to nice persons.

Barrel Fever has become essential reading, a warder of the blues, a pair of shades in a dessert storm, a pair of truly dependable earbuds for Metro Manila life, a pair of balls in your ballsless days, etc. A Barrel Fever is a best friend.

Each reading of Barrel Fever for me is fresh. Sometimes I want to live in it and lap up the freshness.

If one day you find yourself in the pages of a Barrel Fever-like publication authored by myself, and you feel like pressing charges for character defamation because you Feel like I have cruelly borrowed and repackaged one of your least attractive characteristics and turned it into a bestseller, I’m sorry but I’m not sorry. If you decide to press charges, sue me for libel, you will find me in court carrying a tattered copy of Barrel Fever, with the words, ‘This is my statement!’ scribbled beside blurbs that proclaim it as ‘breathtakingly irreverent’. ‘This is my statement!’ — the very words written in Mark David Chapman’s copy of Catcher in the Rye, a piece of woeful evidence that was brought to court for the trial of the crime of gunning down one of the world’s most famous Beatle, 1/4 of Mariah Carey’s Billboard Hot 100 nemesis, John Lennon. I do not ever wish to reach the same level of insanity but there is a need for me to make friends with things whose reason for existing is to supply me with joy.

I may have already confessed an attachment for this Sedaris book, and even though the retelling of this attachment seems to go against what Adolph Heck feels about saying the same thing twice: ‘…nothing gets on my nerves more than someone repeating the same phrase twice. I think it’s something people have picked up from television, this emotional stutter. Rather than say something interesting once, they repeat a cliche twice and hope for the same effect,’ I feel it’s a necessary retelling. This is my statement!

Link These and Die

I regard every essay posted in Facebook or Twitter with suspicion because life is short and I don’t want to spend precious seconds of my life reading worthlessness when I can spend it trolling prestigious publications such as Gawker, Mariah Daily, Jessica Rules the Universe and Read This and Die. It’s an economical way of plowing through daily Internet readings. Sometimes I regard these essays with contempt because suspicion and contempt are best friends. I can only imagine how someone with the same tendency as me feels when I post essays that entertain and impress me greatly. In the spirit of democracy feel free to express your feelings about people like me who post essays such as the ones I do in your own Pat Session.

Travel!

I’ve been seeing this travel-related essay too often and too much. It basically pontificates the virtues of travelling while young. It’s a bombastic persuasion on how youthful travelling can be so nurturing to the soul and well-being. Point taken, but actually, travelling is so expensive. I’m saying ‘expensive’ but I’m also meaning I don’t like spending time at airports, falling in line for bus tickets, jeeps, and other such cruelties to the mind, body, spirit and feet. A friend once emoted exactly how I feel about the kind of travelling I do (leisurely): I like the feeling of being in a place but I’ve never warmed to the necessity of having to face people whose job it is to suspect my intentions for lugging big, uncomfortable bags to places where about a dozen other people in my Facebook have re-enacted the exact same poses in, like as if they’re the very first human beings to ever pose inappropriately beside a religious statue, wearing the same sets of wacky facial expressions.

But really, people who enjoy travelling and posting pictures of their naked selves in the beach, or fully clothed in the mountains, etc, are people whose passion for travelling I totally respect. I get that their exposure in my timelines are accidents of their having cameras and FB/Twitter. Travel people are not the same as skinny people who go to fancily ambienced restaurants so they can hashtag foodporn their pics (which I can tolerate if you’re a chunky/fast metabolismed person with a nice camera who actually likes food). You’re fine, travel people. I especially like it when you go by yourselves and never feel the need to make me feel inadequate for not vomiting all over myself for not booking the next piso-fared flight to Turks and Caicos. I guess my point is I don’t mind travelling but I’d rather be magically transported to a place. But I prefer reading and that’s travelling, too!

Things to accomplish in your 20s

This is popular with people whose lives are perfect or whose lives are perfectly advertised. To better ram their points across, they point out that they really, really have accomplished a lot and are perfectly happy in their achievements as 20-something persons and that in fact numbers 2, 3 and 5 are crossed off their list. As a twenty-something person who hasn’t achieved a quarter of what this magnanimous Internet person is telling me to achieve already, I sit by the sidelines in the meantime and swallow whole my peers’ glittering achievements. Thank you, my mouth is so full.

Patricia Evangelista’s things

I don’t know what you see in Patricia Evangelista’s writing that you would mercilessly bombard timelines with her essays but every time I read an article of hers, I imagine her face. It’s a face so serious it will make you question the existence of humor. I will admit that I don’t  read her often because I’d rather think about Channing Tatum’s loins or read serial killer novels, but when my timeline is Patricia Evangelista’d I can’t help but notice and read each word, and think, ‘Gurl, chill! Gurl, listen to some Carly Rae or some Britney.’ I kinda like her column about Ernesto Maceda, though.

List of things gays need to stop doing

In this, the writer gives a guideline on how not to behave as a gay person. But you know what, writer? Being a homosexual in this world is hard. You may think it’s easy, but it’s not. Our inward-smirking society may give the impression that it’s totally okay to be gay but still, no. We get innumerable rules on how to maintain an acceptable amount of gayness that we should unleash to our fellowmen so adding to that is mean.

But I will agree on one point and that is in the needless sassyfication of the self (the way actually paminta gays attempt to be sassy and attempt Z-snapping personas – #4 on the list) just so one can meet the expectations of how the average, unexposed-to-gays perceive a gay person. I don’t z-snap in public but I do sometimes exhibit flamboyant tendencies just because I feel I can behave as a certain type of gay without having to think if my behaviour is becoming distractingly gay. It’s silly but I act a bit swishy around friends who know and I don’t get why I do either, but maybe it’s because my thing is I have to be myself.

You can’t follow hunks on Instagram AND like their photos without being suspected of being a fag. If you do manage to follow a hunk, you might have to do it one at a time (so, say, you want to follow both Semerad twin, you have to settle with one and follow the other one some weeks after just so it won’t look suspiciously creepy to people who, despite fat, flaming evidences to the contrary, still think of you as straight). You also can’t comment on your out, freedom-loving gay friends’ posts the way you want to. You may get away with the occasional Chos but sometimes you want to have variation and use Char, but Char will most certainly raise an alarm.

Also, you get endlessly jeered by clueless or vicious people who find it highly retarded (and maybe frightening) that at your age, you have no girlfriend. It feels intrusive and harrassy when you get teased with females you’d rather be friends with. I refuse to be the type who ceremoniously announces whatever people feel I need to ceremoniously announce, but there are fools who will want to worm this information out of you. It’s hard.

Indifference ban

Things happened today in Manila, Philippines: a person who has had it with this world committed suicide via the trusty killing machine, the MRT, and caused traffic along EDSA where I pass by daily, and it allegedly happened around the same time I was on commute (In my opinion, people who commit suicide in public places, especially in Philippine public transportation, and in rush hours, are not thinking very reasonably) — totally unnoticed by me; blackout in the gloriously hot Metro Manila and I wasn’t as affected as affective people who are highly affected by all things that happen in this world and maybe also elsewhere, because I was using a laptop (so my work went uninterrupted) and I was spared from possibly grave air-con-related inconvenience because I was fine with the combination of early morning extreme air-con cold and sudden mellow, moderate office heat; and lastly, there is a election-related liquor ban being imposed because, maybe, the people who think about these things (congressmen? MMDA?) are very simple-minded because I, also sometimes insufferably simple-minded, just fail to see the sense in this, although I don’t feel like this ban is going to affect my being because there is leftover liquor in the ref and I’m lately not caring so much about being very drunk as to be roused from what I humbly think is a very senseless, snicker-worthy reason and occasion to ban liquor.

As the second child in a family of the kind that I have, there is strong evidence to support the occasional suspicion that the universe is evidently, undoubtedly indifferent to the idea of me. Maybe of you, too. Based on these observations of mine, too, I seem to be indifferent/want to affect an air of indifference to many disgraceful, mind-blowingly senseless events, but the universe, which would not suffer to be out-indifferenced by any fool, is way more indifferent and don’t I forget it.

The Real Mes

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I bought Christina Aguilera’s Stripped Live in the UK DVD because, and only because, it was on sale at Astrovision Glorietta. If you think about it, self, the only time you ever buy Xtina is when she’s on sale which happens to be all the time. She’s cheap lately. I got Back to Basics, Bionic and Greatest Hits CDs at bargain basement prices. I was also given a Burlesque soundtrack CD as a gift because it was on sale and because the giver is poor. Joke.

The DVD starts with Stripped Intro from the album Stripped, and it’s just the sort of concert intro you’d expect from her from a song called ‘Stripped’. In it are the proclamations of breaking free, independencehood and barriers overcomings, blehlehleh, the ceremonious pop star outpouring of true feelings and the image-peddling (no make-up, no hype, no gloss, no pretense, just me… stripped…). K. It was all expectedly edgy and okay because it was a pre-taped video of the Aguilera that’s about to unfold before the probably unwitting London Wembley Arena crowd and myself, since I bought and secured for myself the company of Xtina, even though I know money is precious.

The intro nicely (or whateverly) segues into Dirrty, probably my favorite Xtina song because it has a great, ear-oppressing beat and lyrics that I like, and suddenly I’m back at a place where I don’t find her super annoying. I like Dirrty live performances because I know in my heart that each time Dirrty gets a stage performance, the result will never be short of sluttily attired ladies and gentlemen gyrations. It is for me the Xtina song that just will never stop giving.

But by the time I get to Voice Within, the song which has a Positive Message, I realize and tell myself as if I haven’t already a million times before, why I find it hard to not mock her whether in my mind or with people with the same hobby, and here are the reasons why:

1. She really oversings. It’s true what the 1,723 music critics and blog trolls have been saying. I have no freshness in my thoughts right now so let this be my contribution to that movement.

2. She flickers her fingers in her mic which I find distracting. If that was meant to give her performance some sort of character, congrats for the attainment of just such a goal.

3. Her platitudes are outrageous. They are excessive and only ever slightly less irritating than her outrageous growls. She propels causes such as female empowerment – specifically that of being allowed to behave sluttily and being regarded not as such (slut) but as equals of slutty guys. She expounds the merits of an equal opportunity-giving society while showing ass and singing semi-filthy lyrics to a crowd of thousands.

4. She’s smug. Stop me with the ‘show don’t tell’ horseshit. I’m not the DVD.

5. It’s not her exclusive territory, the spouting of The Real Me grand announcements, but she is maybe the least convincing pop star to ever profess to the public that the real me is this nose pierce having growler and not the record label’s manufactured pop star that you see in your screens or wherever. This reminds me of the one and only Glitter, specifically the sequence where the music video director tells Billie Frank’s music video people, ‘the glitter must not overcome the artist!’ (or something), which unfortunately for Mariah, the Glitter overcame her in 2001. For ‘Tina, the goth aspirations era overcame the artist.

I really, really would rather have affectionate feelings for her instead of saying all these, but she makes it so hard. She almost wins me over for things like Get Mine, Get Yours aka Skank Persons’ Theme. I would say that UK Live is maybe the first time I ever appreciated Fighter as there were some great dancing in it. It’s usually hard for me to do, not hate Fighter, because when you listen to a Xtina song called Fighter you know there will be haterade renouncements, which if that’s your thing, you’ll get plenty of in Lotus. But what really bugs me about Xtina is the I don’t give a shit posing. The problem with acts and pronouncements of non-shit givings is that the shit tends to leak one way or the other. In short, she gives some version of shit whether she’s conscious of it or not. It is my hope that she commit.

Someone once told me that I am secretly a fan of hers. Two people, actually: myself and someone keenly observing my DVD/CD-buying patterns (which is basically guided by ‘say yes to cheapness’). I reason that the Christina Aguilera-hoarding is so that I can hate her more but actually it feels more like hope. Christina Aguilera is maybe the person I encounter everyday that I don’t exactly want to tolerate because my heart is clearly a forgiving and tolerant heart, and so I tolerate anyway. None of which matters because loudly and clearly, words won’t bring Xtina down.

My Mother is the Best Person

I was around 10 when my mommy was going through the critical stages of her cancer of the respiratory something. I remember the regular trips to Makati Medical Center; the consultations, chemo therapy sessions, and all the other cancer sessions she had to undergo, she went through them like a really brave person. I don’t dislike yet hospitals then the way I sort of do now so Makati Med was still a fine place to 9-year old me. I knew she was sick but because I was young, I was certain that Makati Med is the answer to all her ailments, that each visit guarantees a cure, a cutting down of the killer cells.

I don’t remember being told by her or daddy that the cancer will be a big deal and that it will be life-changing, mostly because our family was too stoic for words like ‘life-changing’ or serious conversations that would begin with something like, ‘We have very serious news and you have to brace yourselves’ to ever come out of our mouths. Stuff like these I only ever got to experience from TV. My faith in her recovery was so strong and I may have even thought God or Jesus or Mary are crazy if any of them refuses to heal her. This is of course just a dramatic way of saying I was a child who hoped.

If any of the clear-headed adults had told us that there will be a great, big drama caused by a serious illness, I certainly don’t remember it because it was a fairly unremarkable period; 1992-1994 was neither depressing nor a joy-filled time. Whatever joy I derived from that period was from having a mother. Looking forward to her coming home at exactly around 5:30 was a moment to every day celebrate. Mostly I think, this is due to her being a great pasalubong-bearer. Mercury Drug, where she was Supervisor, was junk food heaven, actually, and it kind of makes sense that the very institution that sells  medicines is also an agent of obesity, though nothing she ever brought ever threatened to cause us malnutrition. Among the junk she would regularly bring home are Valda Pastilles, Pik-nik, Chips Ahoy, Mentos, Twix and Flintstones.

She was getting weaker in 1994 because of the chemo and all the sessions that were supposed to be bringing her health back. Hair falling out, face getting gaunter, body getting more prone to colds and easy diseases – she was going through them all, and I was spared of being emotionally impacted by this unfolding tragedy. She was looking frail every day but thanks to whoever decided that we, my brother and I, be sent to Nueva Ecija for school, we were spared the emotional toll, but not our much younger sisters. Our transfer also meant less time with her which in retrospect sucked.

We were going through lifestyle changes and I was indifferently sailing through them the way a 10 year old is supposed to do. The house in the South was well under way in becoming habitable thanks to an architect uncle who, it took us quite a while to figure out, did a botched job out of our aesthetic-deficient bungalow. But we were going to have a home and that was all that seemed to matter, and our mother in heaven lived long enough to see her most important investment resided by the people she all her life suffered/loved.

Eventually, brother and I returned to Pasay from Nueva Ecija because things were presumably looking worse, or maybe because it was my birthday and I needed to be treated with some filth, I can’t be sure. So I prayed to Jesus, etc. to make her well. I don’t think I begged or promised anything in return like corny children do because children are just not supposed to be without a mother although obviously I’m not entirely uncorny.

We went home and were asked about our whereabouts. From the looks of the faces of some lolas, some titos and titas, we knew that bad news is forthcoming. Horrible, tragic, ugly, unbelievable, depressing, bad news. Bad news being delivered, we were hugged, consoled, and told the body will be delivered at around six. Being young people, we were told to dress up in some version of a funeral-wear. Having wept buckets, we went upstairs and changed in only the best.

Augusten Burroughs kind of Christmas

You Better

Freak is what Augusten Burroughs will make you feel like in his Chistmas book, You Better Not Cry. Freak for not having memories of childhood filled with Christmas craziness anticipation. Freak. Especially if you happen to be a gay adult who can’t remember a childhood marked by tinsel fascination or any of the other Christmas fascinators. My Christmas childhood was spent fearing the day when Christmas ceases to mean dicking around the extended family compound in Pasay for gifts and cash, but mostly cash, because, if you must know, I’m ‘economically-challenged as hell’, allegedly, and at an early age I must have been made aware of the greatness of the sensation brought about by having so much cash. Mostly I remember just really wanting to have as much Archies and Jugheads. You would understand if you remember that in the 90s, a Double Digest has 256 pages and Filbars sells 3 for only PhP 200.

It’s easy to see why Augusten Burroughs’s brother accuses him of retardation. In fact it would be retarded not to accuse him of that; it would have been charitable of his brother not to see little Augusten as anything but a retard. Augusten is a freak. So freakish it often seems like he’s making stuff up, but who cares? We always need a laugh and it’s generous to produce hilarity at one’s own expense for the greater good of those in need. This act of generosity surely must make baby Jesus proud.

It’s become an Augusten Burroughs tradition to make mountains out of molehills, to milk every single life event of its story-telling worth as something worth telling and killing millions of trees for. Getting into his Christmas reminiscences, I expected to read about  minor accidents that happened to happen during Christmastime. Maybe in his childhood his mom got drunk and his dad sort of got upset on one of his Christmases is what I thought I should set myself up for. A Wolf at the Table really scarred me, if you must know. It scarred me deeply. But no. Augusten shocked me with genuine sadness, Christmas-style.

I know I set you up for AB’s Christmas memories but I feel like talking about myself instead because I know me better than I could ever know Augusten. You must know, though, that You Better Not Cry involves Santa Sex.

Persons not of the naturally sunny, happy kind are or should be aware of the lameness of expressing unpleasant thoughts about Christmas because if they are not, there’s forever the risk of being perceived as eternally trying to be unique and contrarian which is just so the wrong way to be. When expressing dissatisfaction over Christmas and its hassles, family hang-up horseshits-reminding tendencies, it is best to be firm and clear about exactly why and just how is Christmas and it’s  Mariah Carey ambience is making you not delirious with joy. Persons of this type, maybe they can try to aim for Christmas Fever okayness and be out of sunshine persons’s sight. Grinchies, to save themselves from judgments, could immerse themselves in the true spirits of Christmas, preferrably those that are 40% proof. Just like our guy Augusten.

Responsible, Sensitive Social Media Person

If you find yourself having a bad day, you are probably itching to say, ‘This day can suck a cock’ up in your Facebook or Twitter because there’s only so much you can do to put a little spin to the all too familiar expression, ‘This day sucks’ into something more specific, concrete, and pointed. But since you ought to care about the morning-after regrets of posting such negativities, you restrain yourself and let out a little scream deep inside yourself, out of reach of everyone’s social feeds.

You get like that sometimes, do you not, all itchy to let the world know of your yuppie, middle-class inconveniences and relevant-only-to-you rants? It’s as if the anger that sprouts from the little hasslefest that is your daily morning rush hour commute is invalid or false if they don’t get social media’d.

Tough if you’re into social media and you care about impressions. I try to refrain from vomiting all over the net where people in my life of all shapes, sizes and cuss-words/dick and bitch ‘jokes’ tolerance converge and manage to gag word vomit reflexes. But if you’re completely uncaring about the kind of character your feed is shaping for you, these might be some of the things you have been itching to say:

  1. This week can suck a dick.
  2. This day can suck a cock.
  3. Philippine transportation system, please suck a dick.
  4. Right to say shit about people who deserve it is worth fighting for.
  5. Sometimes your friend invites your for a drink so they can Facebook in front of you. (For friends who can’t get enough of socializing even while in the thick of socializing, who feel compelled to impose their socializations in every imaginable and available dimensions.)
  6. In case purgatory gets tired of its name, it can call itself ‘Wednesday’.
  7. The MRT is truly one of mankind’s worst inventions. (Sometimes, tagging whoever manages that awful piece of  transportation trash, to impart such simple a message as ‘MRT is the worst train on Earth,’ or ‘Riding the MRT is one of the most dignity-defying transport experience no one deserves to live through.‘ might be more effective. But if you think really hard, there are other awful public transport options and you realize they all deserve this kind of criticism. To economize, use #3.)
  8. Counting one’s blessings is exhausting. (For when you feel like complaining, but you’re aware that you’re somehow ‘still blessed’, and you’re concerned you might come off as an ungrateful whiner, but you just cannot shake off the feeling that sometimes, certain blessings are indeed exhausting to have and count, wicked as that may sound.)
  9. I’m too dressed for stress’ is a better platitude. (Not to pick fights with friends who have perpetually bubbly dispositions who say things like ‘I’m too blessed to be stressed’, but reducing the genuine stress some of us feel to a bunch of feel-good rhyming words deserves a little dig.)
  10. This bus/shuttle/cab is so hot. Satan must be driving it. (For the daily commute anger-causer.)
But a responsible, sensitive social media person will avoid very public displays of hate and try to practice vitriol-control, although some still fail, to the detriment of his conscience and anxiety-tolerance systems. There is an idea of just such a person. He’s the kind who likes check-in statuses, changes in relationship statuses, pictures of himself, pictures of people who tag him even though he’s not in the pictures. He posts in Instagram, shares such photos on Facebook or wherever, and adds a vaguely humorous but more important, safe caption. He reiterates fun just had through a reassuring tweet. If he is committed to creating and perpetuating this proper, pleasant online persona, he may occasionally say things like ‘Back to reality’, or any of the go-to platitudes and vague, cryptic stuff that are terrific substitutes to specific realities one must face, for instance, work. So instead of saying something like, ‘Back to my shit office to deal with my shit boss!’, it’s just plain, old Back to Reality. Whether these characteristics are the true marks of a RSSMP is highly debatable, because of course a true RSSMP can always prevent damage by saying nothing.