Searching for Antidotes to Bad Places

One should not love something that one cannot own. Loving entails dreaming for that which one loves. And what would be the point of expending energy dreaming for  that which one will never be a part of?

****

Alice stares at Jonas while he was sleeping. She cannot help feeling like a voyeur; but since  this is the only time she can permit herself to be with him without being defensive or guarded, she relishes such moments.

She stares at his eyelashes — the ones she had, once upon a time, found so entrancing — resting peacefully against his wasted face. She still loves his eyelashes; and as she remembers how he used to get annoyed when she teased him about them, she smiles.

Alice wonders how a man who possesses such lovely eyelashes can turn (wittingly or unwittingly) into a monster.

*****

She remembers the time he held her hand, that far-off time; a stormy June at the faculty lounge. 

He brought her lunch at 4 pm: siopao, dimsum and chinese noodles. She was grateful, nervous and hungry. And he was looking at her with a mixture of fondness and amusement as she was eating.

He was telling her about Helen. His ex-girlfriend who was a drug addict.

“I haven’t heard from her for years. Then she called the university looking for me.” Jonas was tracing random figures on her palm. It felt ticklish but he was so absorbed in it that she let him go on.

“She was in trouble,” he continued. “She got into a group that was really bad for her. She quit her job and was not living in their house.”

“Where was Helen staying?” Alice asked, not that she was particularly interested.

“A bad place,” Jonas answered simply. “They uhmmm, they were blackmailing her. She had photos with them and they were threatening to release those photos and humiliate her and her family.”

“Why did she go to you for help?”

“I don’t know. She just did.”

“Do you always remain  friends with your ex-girlfriends?” she teased him.

He smiled, “I try.”

*****

Years later, after that conversation, when Alice was Jonas’s pseudo-ex-girlfriend, he told her that he really really wanted to kiss her then, in that faculty lounge. But he was afraid that she might bolt or slap his face. Given the person she was, Alice agreed with his conclusion.

****

How often can a person  change in one lifetime? Now Alice wonders.

She so wants to reach out and touch Jonas.

But she is afraid that he might bolt, slap her face. Or worse.

*****

 

Author’s comments (not that I matter in this story): I have always been  more partial to Nat than to Betty. So I choose to believe that Alice will turn into Scarlett Johansson and save Jonas from himself. Or, will it be the other way around?

 

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Necessary Fictions

Ana met up with Carrie after the conference. This was one of those seminars that people in Ana’s profession go to out of obligation. In her case, Ana felt obligated to attend because Carrie, who is a dear friend, already paid for her registration.

 

Ana started reading Mills and Boon before puberty. So maybe that's why she is R-rated and Carrie is PG. Mills and Boon are the precursors of Fifty Shades of Grey, with better editing.

Ana started reading Mills and Boon before puberty. So maybe that’s why she is R-rated and Carrie is PG. Mills and Boon are the precursors of Fifty Shades of Grey, with better editing. They sold to women who wanted to have fun. People cannot seem to understand this. Sex+love=romance and romance sells because it’s fun. Atrocious editing, bad narrative structure and seemingly shallow characterizations are (sometimes, though not all the time) superfluous. A roller coaster does not need to be blue for one to feel adrenaline rush while riding it. An orgasm is an orgasm whether one has had  it with a dildo or with something else. Picture from bankstownnorthps.com.au

 

Once upon a time, Ana and Carrie worked in the trenches together. They were excellent soldiers — obedient with just the right amount of cynicism; they could look at blood and gore with clinical detachment; they could sublimate their fear, disgust and depression, until a more appropriate time (however long that takes). They could have been made into generals. Ana actually rose to captain but she found that she  hated soldiering and was in it only for the money. For these girls (or women), Carrie and Ana, their passive-aggressiveness is an effective antibiotic to future success.

Now Ana  is thinking: there is something about being in a war-zone (which is basically what their previous job was all about) that draw people closer. If I had been more determined, and gave in to my Inner Goddess and quit while I was still  relatively sane, Carrie would not have been my friend. I would not be sitting here now, drinking mojito and commiserating about our husband’s infrequent erections.

Carrie: I think something happened after I gave birth. That fourth degree laceration really took something out of my sex life. Maybe it’s the lubrication or something.

Ana: I miss it when we were in our twenties and would have sex every other day. Half the time I was asleep, which is a bummer now that I look back on it. Men’s interest really go down with age.

Carrie: I love our daughter and I think I don’t mind not having sex with Ian at all.

Ana: Really!? You mean that?

Carrie: Ana, of course I’m lying! But I can’t help thinking that he doesn’t really love me. That he just married me because I got pregnant?

Ana: Oh please! Are we going back to this storyline? Harlequin, Loveswept, Silhouette, even Mills and Boon novels are teeming with the accidental-pregnancy-plot-that-leads-to-marriage — haven’t you learned anything by now?

(Carrie’s face is blank so Ana would have to spell it out for her)

Ana: Ian loves you, get that through your thick head. It’s not as if you pointed a gun at him and made him marry you.

Carrie: For men, isn’t an accidental gestation just like pointing a gun to their  heads?

Ana: (Silent. How would she know? She had never been pregnant.) Tell me again how your daughter was an accident?

Carrie: I forgot to take my pill.

Ana: Wow, that’s stupid.

Carrie: Thank you, Ana. That is very insightful.

Ana: Well if you will do it all over again, I’m sure that that you will not prefer not having had your daughter. I mean, Arielle is cute and smart and she will probably be your last chance at genetic mortality because, and I quote, women’s chance at conception drastically go down at 39 even with IVF. Hey look, you should have another kid, otherwise, you will smother this one.

Carrie: I am on DMPA.

Ana: Wow, is that so. Well you’re 38, you should probably give yourself a deadline. Don’t be like me. I am still not passionate about progenies and I’m only 3 years younger than you.

Carrie: Having a child is difficult. A real drain on the finances, and on your energy. You want to give her the best. And it’s depressing when you realize you can’t.

Ana: I am so glad you said that. I am tired of these women, and even men, who keep yammering on like having a kid is the Holy Grail.

Carrie: Of course they will say that Ana. It’s a necessary fiction.

 

***

Review of the week: Fifty Shades of Grey

“we should not begrudge E. L. James her triumph, for she has, in her lumbering fashion, tapped into a truth that often eludes more elegant writers—that eternal disappointment, deep in the human heart, at the failure of our loved ones to acquire their own helipad.”

 

fifty-shades-grey-men

 

 

 

Wondering on What Ifs

After a million years, Ana’s friend (finally!!) answered an email.

Caryn and Ana spent 7 years of school and 1 year of postgraduate work before Caryn left to follow the love-of-her-life-who was living in another country.

Being the romantic that she was, Ana completely understood. What she misses most about Caryn are:

1. Having someone who is as crazy about books as her

2. Scouring flea market sales for that once-in-a-lifetime deal

3. Eating a KFC fried chicken wing using spoon and fork

4. Coming up with crazy ideas like having a Vagina Monologues performed in front of crusty conservative bunch of god-wannabes

5. Walking into the bookstore of a great local writer (who considers Caryn as friend, or so Ana thought) and eating in a Japanese restaurant wondering who will pay

6. Gossiping about former classmates and friends that they haven’t been in contact with for a long time

7. Ana misses having someone eat a cake she baked; and lie so convincingly that it’s delicious that Ana would believe her. Christian also used to be a wonderful liar about Ana’s cooking; but these days, he had become like her Siamese twin that despite his best efforts, Ana still feels that she could read his mind and the truth behind his words.

8. Wondering  about what ifs

Right now, sitting idly in front of her computer at work, Ana is wondering about “what ifs”. She can’t help missing Caryn, who used to be her favorite person as far as wondering on what ifs is concerned.

Schrödinger's cat is a favorite thought experiment of boys. Boys cannot understand how a cat can be both dead and alive at the same time. Girls are all too familiar with such a predicament. Picture from Wikipedia.

Schrödinger’s cat is a favorite thought experiment of boys. Boys cannot understand how a cat can be both dead and alive at the same time. Girls are all too familiar with such a predicament. Picture from Wikipedia.

A hot shot scientist like Albert Einstein would have called what they were  doing Gedankenexperiment or “thought experiment”. But Ana would prefer to call it “wondering about what ifs” (WAWI is a nice acronym). In general, Ana believes that the “what ifs” of girls are quite different from the “what ifs” of boys (of which Einstein is one).

Girls tend to be more inclusive and non-clinical about their what ifs. Their what ifs have nothing to do about their current reality even if the two are parallel universes containing the same phenomena. Girls can wonder about what ifs and still be perfectly content about “what’s real”.

***

Today Ana was wondering: what if she had never met Christian? What if he didn’t ask her out that far-off time when they were students? What if she stood him up or what if she did one of her disappearing routines and didn’t bother to respond to his overtures after that first date? What if her mother didn’t die and so Ana wouldn’t have had a reason to go back to her so-called “career”? What if she and Caryn changed places?

***

Apart from Caryn’s email, these are the articles that inspired the above post:

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/01/11/fashion/modern-love-to-fall-in-love-with-anyone-do-this.html?smid=tw-share&_r=1&referrer

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/11/fashion/no-37-big-wedding-or-small.html

http://the-how-to.tumblr.com/post/29963954456/how-to-fall-out-of-love

Something True

JL had her first boyfriend in high school. Marcus was tall, handsome, an officer in their COCC (this was way back when CAT in high school was mandatory) and he liked her.

When JL entered college in a different city, she and Marcus vowed that they would make the long distance relationship work.

I have often wondered how JL, who was an advocate of the  I-won’t-have-sex-until-I-get-married School of Virginity, could do the deed with Marcus inside our rotting apartment one weekend. They were 17.

She waited a full month before she told me about it. She told me about it because she had a pregnancy scare.

Two years  after the pregnancy scare, JL did get pregnant. We went to the neighborhood drugstore to buy the 10th pregnancy test kit because “we have to confirm if this is true and not a false positive.”

When JL gave birth, Marcus was in the hospital but they had already broken up.

It was difficult for me to remain close to JL once she had her baby. For one, she had flunked Biochemistry so she had to stay behind 1 year and I had to progress (if one can call it that) to Pharmacology which was worse.

I heard from our friends that JL had this new boyfriend, Justin.

Who turned out to be gay.

Then she told our friend Pris (and Pris told me) that she was having sex with our exchange student classmate Harold.

But Harold got back together with his girlfriend Alex and he had to transfer back to America because he got “sick of the system in the Philippines.”

Then one night, we had a girl’s night-out and JL told me she had a one night-stand with Risa Rina’s (a local celebrity’s) brother. That made me envious.

Then JL got together with Simon. Whom I had a crush on for years. One of our friends, Emma, even said, “girl you’re in love with the guy, you’re just torpe.”  “Torpe”  is  the Tagalog word to describe Peter Parker who had been in love with Mary Jane for years but wouldn’t tell her until she hooked up with James Franco.

(I still maintain that I was not in love with Simon. By my definition of “love” — if I was in love with Simon, I would have had the courage to take my clothes off with  him. Which I eventually did — with the man I am still in love with.)

JL and  I had a heart-to-heart talk just after my graduation. She told me  that she just broke up with Simon.

I was aghast. “But you been have together longer than all the others.”

“Doesn’t matter. He couldn’t love my kid.”

“So what now?”

She smiled, “Last year, I met Erik. He’s from Sweden. Came here for an educational tour or something. I think he’s my soulmate.”

“Yeah. Right. The guy lives in the other side of the globe.”

“I called him last night. I was upset. I haven’t heard his voice since we first met a year ago. He was in a meeting. I told him I missed him.”

“You did?”

“I did. And he said, he’s jumping on the next plane to get here.”

Erik from Sweden did went on to the next plane to meet with my bestfriend JL. Needless to say, he got along greatly with JL’s son, Michael. Michael was 8 years old and he told me that he liked Erik more than his mom because Erik knows Astronomy.

Today I am doing bridesmaid duty to my bestfriend of 14 years.

Picture from rootedinloveweddings.wordpress.com

Picture from rootedinloveweddings.wordpress.com

Playing Matchmaker

From Facebook:

A TRUE BEAUTY FROM WITHIN

Lizzie Velasquez. Picture from www.nydailynews.com.

Lizzie Velasquez. Picture from http://www.nydailynews.com.

When she was in high school, Lizzie Velasquez was dubbed “The World’s
Ugliest Woman” in an 8-second-long YouTube video. Born with a medical
condition so rare that just two other people in the world are thought to have it, Velasquez has no adipose tissue and cannot create muscle, store energy, or gain weight. She has zero percent body fat and weighs just 60 pounds.

In the comments on YouTube, viewers called her “it” and “monster” and encouraged her to kill herself. Instead, Velasquez set four goals: To become a motivational speaker, to publish a book, to graduate college, and to build a family and a career for herself.

Now 23 years old, she’s been a motivational speaker for seven years and has given more than 200 workshops on embracing uniqueness, dealing with bullies, and overcoming obstacles. She’s a senior majoring in Communications at Texas State University in San Marcos, where she lives with her best friend. Her first book, “Lizzie Beautiful,” came out in 2010 and her second, “Be Beautiful, Be You,” was published earlier this month.

*** A TRUE BEAUTY ***

Y smiling

I once tried setting up my friend, Y, with K, who was older than her; but it turned out, K was still a baby.

Not to be discouraged, I tried setting her up again with someone I haven’t even met. GM sounded good on paper and I wrote something about him somewhere around here.

GM e-mailed back, and for a while, I thought that something will come out from all my efforts (or shenanigans, my word of the day).

However, GM is now lost to follow-up.

Thus ends my career as matchmaker.

 

Men & Their Erections 3

Christian’s POV or Not All Men End Up Like Harry Potter Who Saved the World From Lord Voldermort

Scene I

Therese: What do you call something that hates verbosity but loves words?

Ana: A haiku?

***king's bounty

Scene II

“Women.”

“What?” Marcus looked up from playing King’s Bounty on the PC.

“Women love words.” Christian replied.

Marcus shook his head. “Nah, I said it should be a name for a creature that loves words but hates verbosity.”

Christian thought about it for 5 seconds. “You’re right. Women don’t fit that description.”

Almost_famous

***

Scene III

Ana: So you remember “Almost Famous”, right?

Therese: Cameron Crowe, I love Kate Hudson’s hair!

Ana:  What’s the name of the guy?

Therese: The rockstar?

Ana: No, the boy pretending to be a journalist who interviewed the rockstar.

Therese: William Miller played by Patrick Fugit. Do you know that he’s cuter now that he’s older?

Ana: That was Christian when he was 15.

***

A Poetic Interlude …

Regarding Christian (Ana’s POV)

He, with his day-old stubble

and many-layered eyelashes

the dimple  that peeks like a surprise

during balmy nights in suburbia.

All I know of love

I learned from him —

from the cheesy to the profound,

from the crass earthiness of “nipple”

to the direct playfulness of “cock”.

He is the reason why I did not choose to be a lesbian.

Favor For A Friend

Friendships are important to me. I think that there is nothing sadder than dying alone and friendless. (http://m.guardian.co.uk/film/2011/oct/09/joyce-vincent-death-mystery-documentary)

***

So as a favor to my friend, I am posting her article which some publication has not deemed fit for mass consumption (her words, not mine).

When Life Begins: Thoughts on the RH Law.

Two days ago, proponents and dissidents of the RH Law went head-to-head at the Supreme Court of the Philippines to air their respective thoughts on the Reproductive Health Law. The Pro’s wore purple, while the Anti’s wore red. The crux of the debate on that particular day was: when does life begin. The Anti-RH camp wants the Supreme Court to give a lawmaker’s definition of the beginning of life. SC Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno put her foot down saying the SC won’t be making judgments on metaphysical matters.

That was just appropriate, I would think. I am a doctor. I spent 7 years of my life after high school studying the human body in all its pain and glory. I spent 4 years assisting women give birth. And two years treating children with reproductive tract problems. And I don’t have any idea when life begins!

You may ask the biologists. And I would bet my last centavo that the majority of them, or at least the ones who are intellectually honest, will tell you that they don’t know as well.

The problem is we can’t even define what Life is!

The Merriam & Webster’s Dictionary (as culled from Google) gave these definitions:

a : the quality that distinguishes a vital and functional being from a dead body

b : a principle or force that is considered to underlie the distinctive quality of animate beings

c : an organismic state characterized by capacity for metabolism, growth, reaction to stimuli, and reproduction

How can one possibly make a definition of human life (emphasis on human) based on these?

If it’s any of the above, then a sperm cell is human life. Henceforth, jacking off (masturbation) would be mortal sin. If Mr. Kit Tatad has never masturbated or had a wet dream his whole life, then he’s more God-like than I thought and is worthy of my eternal admiration.

What I learned in Embryology is that human life is a process. There are high-fallutin terms to describe the process – acrosomal reaction, fertilization, implantation, fetal development. Do we really have to pin down the essence of our humanity based on the definition of each stage of this process? I would think that to be human is to become more than the sum of sperm+egg or implantation/embryogenesis.

I would think being human is that woman I saw this morning, heaving and grunting to get her 4th offspring out into this world, an offspring that she claims she doesn’t want; but will love anyway. She has no choice but to have that offspring now, even when she is not ready, because she didn’t know what contraception meant.

I love Pope Francis and these are his words: the testimony of faith comes in very many forms, just as in a great fresco, there is a variety of colours and shades; yet they are all important, even those which do not stand out.In all probability, he was not referring to me. But I have faith in the RH Law. It may be flawed, as our science is flawed, but it is all we have for now.