Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Smoke Spells Trouble

Normally, I abhor elements that pollute the environment. Anything that spoils the beauty of nature is my nemesis. It still is. However, this time, I don’t come out clean.

Now, it used to be that I repel bitches and bullies. I guess my constant exposure to them allowed me to develop a special kind of immunity. I mean, in the world where I live, they are an inevitable part of the great majority. Note that in the world where I live, everything is not as pink and flowery as it seems. No, wait, it’s not pink and flowery at all! You can only imagine what would happen to me when trapped in a relatively small space oozing with positive ambiance and populated by a bunch of nice people. Not a good sight. Definitely not a good sight.

But I was trapped in a relatively small space oozing with positive ambiance, and populated by a bunch of nice people.

Nature found a way for me to cope. Again, I correct myself. I found a way to cope.

One nauseating afternoon, after being exposed to an extremely pleasant environment, I decided to defy my own personal laws. I searched for the most convenient store there is where I could buy the only thing which would potentially take the nausea away. In this case, my definition of “convenient” is not based on location. It’s more based on anonymity.

“Convenient” is scarce when your mother happens to be a title holder of the Ms. Congeniality award and you happen to look like your mother. Having been gifted with 90% of her genes, everyone will know that you are her daughter. And eventually, your mom will know what you have been up to.

Anyway, my search for the vomit-soothing tool was easy; it was the whole journey which proved to be hard.

Next step I took was buying the tool that would ignite the “the only thing which would potentially take the nausea away.” In my attempt to remain anonymous, I hopped to another store. I discretely asked the saleslady if they had the thing-which-should-not-be-named-aloud. With the least effort she could muster, she pretended to be searching. She wasn’t a good actress and she sure wasn’t the most patient person in the world. To my dismay she yelled to the other saleslady, “May lighter ba tayo?”

Guilty people are paranoid. In my case, even without the guilt I am paranoid.

I could have melted beside that saleslady but apparently I did not. Perhaps the persistent nausea kept me alive and conscious—extremely conscious in fact. I left the store in a snap and decided to buy the publicized lighter somewhere else.

A few minutes later, I succumbed to the practice which I used to detest. I popped a menthol candy inside my mouth. (A friend of mine once told me that the menthol candy completes the whole ritual.) Then, I saw a bright light, and another, and another.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen! I huffed and puffed my first stick of cigar. I, who abhorred elements that pollute the environment, polluted the environment! I, who never gave in to any form of smoky peer pressure, smoked!

Rationality faded along with the smoke and nausea I exhaled. For a few minutes, I learned not to care—I learned not to think. I huffed and puffed, and puffed and huffed; and the world became hazily clear. The same way nice things can be bad; bad things can be good too—sometimes.

The nausea subsided but I am sure that the nicotine and tar I voluntarily and actively deposited in my lungs did not. They are stuck in my alveoli—the tiny air sacs that keep me alive.

They may be clogging my lungs as I speak but at least this time, they are clogged because of me and not because of some inconsiderate stranger sitting beside me. Now, that’s supposed to justify the smoke that got me in and out of trouble? That darn stick must have done more damages on me than I thought!

Tuesday, November 2, 2004

When Dreams Do Come

We dream and we hope against hope that these dreams come true. For some, it takes millenniums before their dreams are actualized. For me, it took around two years. Roughly.

I am not a born writer. I detested writing the same way I abhorred reading. For me, both activities eat up precious time to socialize—to be present in the world, to see and breathe what is real.

I wrote because I needed to. It’s either I whip up something or I’ll fail in school. Whichever way I look at it, the latter was not an option.

I can’t say I survived school by submitting half-baked papers. Heaven knows they’re not half-baked! Come to think of it they were never baked at all. They were all utterly raw. Just imagine what kind of gibberish results from inserting a decent piece of paper on a worn out typewriter then typing one’s thoughts extemporaneously. Anyone who lived in the pre-word processor days knows that typewriters aren’t equipped with one (or two) of the best keys computer keyboards today offer, the backspace (or delete) key.

And I dared to dream of becoming a writer. Must be something I ate. Or my insatiable masochism—my subconscious must have known what torment it would be to turn me into a writer. But I went on with the bumpy ride armed with a dream, not with talent. And what fun it is!

One Sunday night, I got an unexpected call from the Philippine Daily Inquirer. I had to sit down and catch my breath, otherwise I would have passed out without hearing what the person on the other end of the line was about to say. And then she said it. They were considering the first article I ever submitted to them. That meant, the glory of the byline was soon to be mine. I shrieked and jumped and cried. Although I submitted my work, I never saw such privilege coming.

Almost one month after, I savored the sweetness of having the public listen to my written voice. I would say it is the best thing that ever happened to me. It kept me in cloud nine for months. The dream I thought of constructing two years ago just came true!