Saturday, July 30, 2011

№ 29. My Life in REM Sleep

Today is May 4, 2010, Tuesday. We're in the middle of Manila's concrete bake off. It’s only 11:10 AM and I’m already melting from the heat. 

I’m writing this confession on a black Mac, which has the color of my id.


Like the rings of a redwood, sweat is etched in my indexes. They yield tales of the fat years as well as the lean ones. 

I have recently been self-employed---unplugged from the matrix of production.  Technically though, I am just a capitalist in hibernation.

I also just switched from Windows to Mac last year. 

Yes, I’m aware that Mac is a Q Continuum compared to that unenlightened majority of the technological divide. Those protozoans and their clones. Still, my Mac hums on XP. Defilement, you say. Well, my system can’t be purged of all eighteen years of assimilation. Redmond is still fused with my flesh.


I breathe the heat from the roof.

Nate asks when his mom’s coming. While donning the Hazmat suit, I said that she’ll soon be back from her check-up. Satisfied, he goes back to the LocoRoco on his grip and, Disney channel. Of course.


Remember our apartment in Recto? 

Room 401. Topmost floor.

Summers there simulated 3M tin ovens placed over a burning stovetop. I miss 3M pizzas: Del Monte tidbits, Magnolia quickmelt and cheap ham on top of chewy bread.

Also, no elevators meant we sweat over ten flights of stairs carrying our textbooks strapped by elastics to the trailer bags.

We also didn’t have TV then. 

To enjoy Saturday Fun Machine, we knocked on Room 402. Our doors faced each other. So friendly Mrs. L obliged by opening their door and by tuning in to RPN 9. Then we sit on the hall. No one cared for chairs. Happily, we had a cool bonus: Green Lantern, the Wonder Twins, the Justice League and Legion of Doom minions came with Mrs. L's gulaman stained and sweetened with arnibal.

Because the universe demanded it, the generosity of Room 402 was balanced by the thorn of condescension from Room 405.

I realized, early on, that the universe is dual and schizoid. And I now see why the Electrolux ditty resonated in us.


Nate complains about the heat. I ignore him. 

He turns the AC on. Good luck! It’s due for repair. 

The Santol tree at the back doesn’t have enough foliage as sunblock. We need a rain forest.


Someone said that to be immortal one has to plant a tree, sire a child or write a book.

In 2003, I brought our business unit on a field trip to the La Mesa watershed. About 30 of us planted 50 seedlings. But our forest, tagged with serial numbers, carried only the firm’s name. We, drones, were considered subsets of the collective, I suppose.

This summer, I planted a Chico, a Pomelo and an Ilang-Ilang behind the Santol. That should cure the deficiency of the first attempt at immortality. 

As for the two other means to immortality, I need to discern....

Just March of 2009, I sat through ten sessions of spiritual talk. After the catechist spoke of Israel’s salvation history, e.g., prophets, pestilences, Passover, Promised Land, et cetera, she asked in which episodes I could see myself.

Five minutes. 

Then I said I was still in Egypt. 

I was still waiting for a Levite to apparate through the network of burning brambles.

A rethink of metaphors may be in order....

2009 saw the supernatural collide with my universe. The invisible hand ripped its coherence and syncopated the rhythm of my space and time. I was, in effect, inhabiting a quantum singularity!

For example, in 2007, my doctor noted, “surgically absent,” after an ultrasound showed the excision of my gallbladder. I thought that ended my pain. No more stones meant no more abrasives in my guts. But in January, just this year, I lost volumes thanks to a reprise of gastritis. The steroids quelled the conundrum in my stomach but also woke me up at 3 AM craving for Spam.

Three months of plague!

A friend suggested acupuncture from a Mandarin nun. She was originally from Beijing who studied Traditional Chinese Medicine in the US and was sent here by the Franciscan Order. My sleep, at least, obeyed a semblance of pattern after one session with her.

Then August came.

Seven, my Labrador, bled to death after a Civic ran over her. Yeah, the neighbor felt remorse. But she complained that brown was hard to see at night. She even offered to pray over Seven, to my mother’s incomprehension. Evangelicals and Catholics can have immiscible sensibilities about nonhuman deaths.  

She also sent Julie’s ensaymadas the following day. The holocaust of cheese, butter and bread, a few of which I ate, did not atone for her tort. It did not resurrect my dead bitch.

My two pianos, the Yamaha and the Grotrian, and the library went next in Godot’s laundry list. Tropical storm Ondoy choked the keys, hammer mechanisms and strings with effluents. It also blighted my Calvin and Hobbes collection, Sandman installments, Narnia Chronicles, photos, graduate notes, textbooks and music scores with detritus from the estero.

For days, I tried to shut out the carnage. Post-Ondoy, the sight of books with drying spines and falling pages invoked my pain. The proton pump inhibitors helped ease the tempest in my belly. But I still lost the books in the end.

To cope with bereavement, I logged 100 hours in a Web Page Design course as a PGMA scholar. Megamall became a refuge at the center of the universe under duress.

The Yamaha piano, after three months in the abattoir, can finally sing its tale of surviving the vomit. Its timbre has mellowed, though.

In November, Ben, my other Labrador, escaped to the streets at 6 AM. Another neighbor backed up over him with his Pajero. I thought he’d survive because he was able to limp his way home. Three days in the hospital and another three weeks of wailing under pain relievers could not fix him. I decided to have him put down. The vets wept!

Euthanol parched Ben’s eyes. I could not break his stare as he walked away from me. That day I remembered Karenin’s smile from the "Unbearable Lightness of Being."

Ben is buried with his Seven near the Santol tree.


Nate tires of the PSP and asks about his mom. I say we’ll just have to wait for her. He returns to Phineas and Ferb.

Then I hear the title sequence….“There’s 104 days of summer vacation… Discovering something that doesn’t exist… Surfing tidal waves… Creating nanobots….”


Ah! I think, I’m in a cycle of purification.

And, just maybe, I’m meant to dance across Israel’s wilderness---a desert populated by its riddles of freedom, providence, sin, chastisement, metanoia, recidivism and then back.

Oh, I bought a guitar. An appendage I can haul on my back will be safe if I need to flee Egypt. 

No, I haven’t given up on my other piano, the Grotrian. But it's now dry, unyielding and reticent. It has refused to sing duets with its pair. I cannot bear yet to euthanize and bury it with my dearly departed dogs beside the Santol tree.


Nate’s possessed by the mayhem of animation. Disney characters, Black Holes and small boys are siblings. All are phenomena that cannot thrive outside of chaos.


I did mention that I no longer practice in a firm, no? When I’m asked, I say I’m a freelancer on 104 days of summer vacation. 

I dropped music from my curriculum in college a long time ago. But this summer, on Wednesdays and Fridays, I wrestle arpeggios out of my guitar. 

My blood quickens again at the thought of finger drills. I’ll tuck a Bach salvaged from Ondoy in the case sleeve. A flood-stained Prelude’s worth an attempt on the thin strings.

I can sense that the dances and the riddles in the wilderness may be drawing to a close. I’m certain the universe abhors perpetual disequilibrium. I’m hoping it will concede, at least, a sight of what my teacher promised: a June recital under the shade of Acacia in Abelardo Hall.


Bento Box:

Photos/Images from:

1. Art 1
2. Art 2
3. Art 3

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