Friday, March 26, 2010

Graduates, Welcome to the Real World

(In which you’ll wish life is like school.)

***

Aside from being historically (in)famous for being the time of Caesar’s assassination, being a favorite time for accidental fires and possible arsons and an eternal brand for the Philippine scorching heat, the month of March is the most popular time to hear The Pomp and Circumstance Marches resonating around gymnasiums, multi-purpose halls and exclusive complexes as batches of graduates march to receive their hard-earned diplomas.

I remember all my four graduations and they’re seriously nothing fancy – physically and emotionally. I only cried once – in high school – and it’s not because I hate to leave but because everyone else is crying and hugging and crying some more and I wouldn’t want my parents to see that I have been unfriendly and uncaring for others. All the rest ended for me as soon as I got off the stage. I wasn’t filled with longing for the past; only anticipation and worry for the future. I hope my fifth graduation would be more than these.

Looking at my life now, I wondered why I didn’t cry during my graduation from the university. Even when I saw some people did. Not that I have to follow their lead but because I knew this is my most productive experience academic and friendship-wise so leaving was supposed to move me but it didn’t. I didn’t feel sadness but fatigue from walking in high heels and uneasiness because of the heavy bronze medal around my neck. I don’t remember taking the march seriously as though everything related to it won’t really matter after the recessional.

Just now I wished I had cried then – not in public. It would have been a good time to think of all my hardships and the others’ as well as to mourn in advance for the darkness outside school life. That could have been cathartic.

Two weeks after graduation, I got myself a job which I had to quit three months after and I found another job in a different company but my position bears the same job description. After almost two years, I found myself enjoying it. There isn’t too much competition. I can do my job and exist separately from my co-workers when I want to but still be near enough to feel their existence. I can do my thing – blog, draw, sleep, be sarcastic, intentionally miss class, be distant and have the time of my life. Everything’s actually fine if I didn’t have to deal with a stubborn foreigner boss, settle with the not-so-high salary and an impossible career growth. But of course, I may leave – I can leave. But I don’t want to and I won’t. At least not now.

Four years ago I had a chance to spend the longest three months of my life to experience a corporate employment where you’ll have to be trained to receive calls and profanities from Americans. Everything “mature” for an eighteen-year-old is there. You deal with an intimidating, menacing supervisor, blasé manager, inexperienced “veteran” co-workers who never got tired of pulling each other down and irate customers, of course.

That is only one of the many faces of the corporate world. I do not know whether it’s my youth that made me suck in that field. I have been used to hearing that I’m too young to battle in a business where sensitivity and sentimentality aren’t welcome. Maybe now I can do better. I think I’m smarter but I still bear the same sensitivity and vulnerability.

Now I want to establish the point which this post is all about anyway. Life outside school is a totally different dimension. You can’t fully understand the truth about it even after hearing an eyewitness’ or a survivor’s account all day. Comprehension requires experience.

Imagine Morpheus in the movie “The Matrix” in the scene where he briefs the terribly confused Neo regarding what The Matrix is all about. He shows him an image of a dark and eerie place through the flat screen monitor and uttered “Now, this, is the real world.” Got the idea?

In school, all you have to do to is to be a good student to make sure you’ll march at the right time. You only have to deal with the idiosyncrasies of your eccentric classmates and professors for at least a semester; the end of which signifies the end of all your semestral conflicts. In the workplace, you deal with the same things for more than a year if you endured. You subject yourself to difficult and demanding seniors who find pleasure in making your life hell and every day is a challenge to your patience and social skills – and sadly, your faith. If you’ve managed to survive school by being an individualist, you might want to undergo a personality and knowledge in human relations makeover to properly equip yourself for battle.

But if you’re braver than me, I really suggest you venture in a more professional, beneficial and therefore more challenging career but you need to learn to leave your mushy sensitivity at home. And when you think the pressure is too much to bear, the competition too tough to withstand and the people too difficult to ignore, make sure you have your psychiatrist on speed dial.

So, you’re graduating? Congratulations!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

A Sudden Reminder

(In which I believe it the way others do.)

***
The world is unfair.

When something goes wrong, the sentence above seems to be the immediate – and not to mention, handy – response. People take it as a fact. You don’t have to explain it. When someone tells you how terrible life is and you retort with this reason both of you get silent as if the sentence puts an end to everything, and it leads to acceptance for there is nothing more to do.

Sometimes I marvel at how fatalistic this sentence has made me. But then again, what else is there to believe? When you’ve done all you can to make things right something will pop up to ruin everything, it’s easier to believe that the world has a playfully evil nature of being unfair than to chide and blame yourself for doing things wrong. Besides, if you believe you’ve done things right, then how can you actually blame yourself?

The unfairness of this world gives birth to a condition where “in an ideal world, everything’s perfect”. In our whim, we create a world where there is equality – you are with the person you love and the person you love loves you, people live in perfect harmony, there is no hunger, no war. We thoughtfully create our own utopia only to awoken from our reverie and go back to the real world. The cycle goes on.

The world is cruel. The world is unfair. It’s a fact we have to deal with.

End of discussion.

Monday, March 22, 2010

On Infidelity: The Life Room by Jill Bialosky

(In which it confuses me more.)

***
After reading the book, I was confused as regards to what really moves men to do things. I remember writing a poem about love as being a prime mover of people. But in this novel, the character’s decision seemed to be fueled by passion, which may or may not come from love.

Eleanor Cahn, (whose eyes of different colors remind me of Yuna of Final Fantasy X) lived with an emotionally intense childhood and an erotic series of past relationships. Her relationships with these men defined the way she sees and understands things. She is a professor of literature and a writer who was working on a paper about Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina and by coming in contact with her past and analyzing her present, she further understands the aforementioned classic piece.

First there was William, her first boyfriend who had a sensitive childhood like her because of their fathers. They seemed to be out of reach despite being physically present. He has a huge interest about nature and the universe. He is a loner and prefers reflection. When Eleanor went to New York to study, William started to be distant to her. She tried to reach him but he resisted. Then she met Adam.

Adam was an artist who hired Eleanor as his model for his latest series. He developed a passionate interest with Eleanor although he was married and he knows Eleanor loves William. He tried to win her and was somehow successful. They started having an affair so intimate Adam has to be separated with his wife. But all the while, Eleanor never forgot William and just when she thought they could reunite, William killed himself. Adam’s career suffered and so did his behavior. He realized that no one understands him more than his wife and decided to go back to her.

Presently, all seems well – Eleanor was happily married to Michael, a heart surgeon and they were blessed with two beautiful kids, Noah and Nicholas – until she was invited to Paris to present her paper. There she met Stephen Mason, a childhood friend who apparently still holds an important role in her life. Their encounters in Paris and then in New York awakened something unknown to her and threatened to destroy her and her family.

When she met Stephen in Paris, she thought the meeting will not be more than anything but friendly. But when he kissed her and then went to New York to see her more often, she realized she still wants him. Stephen has been Eleanor’s friend and they have always had this special bond between them. He also had a sad childhood because of the relationship of his parents which made him more connected to Eleanor. He thought he is the only one who understands and knows Eleanor. He has been watching her from a distance, afraid that in coming near her he would destroy her. But the connection between them never ceased. Eleanor felt it too and tried to reach Stephen but the latter keeps on running away, leaving something literally burned upon doing so. When he finally had the courage to approach her, he was too late. What he only holds now is an upcoming novel and his past with Eleanor.

Eleanor, knowing that Stephen is in town feels so bothered that it started to affect her relationship with her kids and her husband. She thinks she is too emotional to be understood by a man from the field of science. She then started to think of Anna. She formulated that perhaps Anna really loved her husband but at some point she feels disconnected with him. And with Vronzky she might have felt understood so she had an affair.

Stephen doesn’t stop leaving her voice messages and e-mails telling her what he’s been doing and how he remembers her. Eleanor is filled with excitement and elation at the sound of his voice and it confuses her. If she lets herself be governed by her passion and the longing for her unfinished romance with Stephen, she will put her marriage and her family at stake. But if she resisted she will be denying herself of something as urgent and valuable as life and she then has to watch herself die internally.

The Life Room discusses human relationships – that of parents and children, of spouses and of friends. The novel revolves around the issues in Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina – infidelity, passion, desire, the society and the consequences of choices. With every turn of the pages, the novel draws the readers to understand what the characters feel and think in their life rooms and somehow encourages them to create a life room of their own – a place where to reflect and understand themselves through imagination and association.




Currently reading:
Inklings by Melanie M. Jeschke



Friday, March 19, 2010

RadiusIM’s Demise (Part II)

(In which I was surprised again.)

***
No. there isn’t a second death. It’s just that this is a related post to the previous one with the same title and I can’t think of another title for this post.

I was thinking that the site might be using a different time zone so Friday morning might mean the next day since I was still able to use the site yesterday. (How lame!) But when I accessed the site, this welcomes me after waiting for a long time before it loads.


Whoa! And now they have this “Play” button which displays a slide show of cool stuff I’m not sure if I have seen or experienced during a year of using the site. I mean, I don’t remember it showing the “[user] is typing” sign in the chat window (Well, it has the pencil icon which sometimes fooled us.) or the chat window showing the current status of the other correspondent.


But nevertheless, the site was cool. And I sure will remember it as “young and beautiful”. My goodness, I’m gonna say “Hello” to boredom now that it’s gone for good! Thank heavens I still have Blogger. Well, at least as long as it isn’t blocked.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

RadiusIM’s Demise

(In which my regular internet usage is limited.)

***
I have blogged about the upcoming change in the company’s external appearance as well as the program that will block external sites that had us screaming for RadiusIM. Why would we want it gone when it gives us full access to Yahoo Messenger, Google Chat, Facebook and so many other instant messaging services all at the same time? We wished for the renovation to take more time so we could enjoy unlimited chatting while working. Ah, the boon of being able to multitask!

But just today, an officemate burst our bubble.

“Radius is going to be gone for good. Tomorrow morning,” I heard her tell our other co-workers.

“Really?” I made myself heard and earned a space on the conversation that didn’t involve me originally.

“Yes. Check out the small box that appears when you log in. You’ll see a headstone. It’s goodbye time.”


Oh, so she means the small box I automatically close upon logging in? That’s why I was caught unaware. I refreshed my page and for the first time, paid attention to the disregarded small box that bears the updates for the site. (I bet the box will suffer from a sudden rise in its popularity rate today.) I clicked “Next” and was relieved every time a new update that is not related to closing appears until I finally see the iconic tombstone. After the terrible news spread on our side, I began seeing statuses like “Goodbye friends” and “It’s over” as well as sad emoticons. Well, it seems like we weren’t the only ignorant ones.

So today is the last chatting day as it will end tomorrow morning. I am actually uncertain. The site may be using a different time zone! (Did you feel a hint of hope there?)

Anyway, it’s just another manifestation that all good things don’t stick around too long. I am glad that I’ve had a reasonably good diversion that made me meet good and interesting people. And at least the company doesn’t need to have the site blocked.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Sad Summer Drizzle

(In which everything is washed away.)

***

Judah has been complaining about the heat since the start of the season. I can’t blame him. To live with snow (and four seasons) all your life and then be sent to the Philippines in the summer is a torment. But for some reason and perhaps for the first time, I have loved summer. The dry feeling and the scorching heat are reminders that I am still living. And the refreshing, albeit short, kiss of the wind tells me hope still exists. When I walk under the sun, I try to slow my pace, not minding that people are running for shade. The sun gives me life. And the burning sensation of its rays revives my senses. I’m alive.

This morning I wake up under an overcast sky. I looked at the clock on my phone. Nine o’clock. I am automatically aware that I’ve set the clock thirty-five minutes ahead of the real time. I remembered my sister’s reminder; that it’s not Time who should adjust with me but the other way around. I feel stupid every time I conduct a time check since I have to read it thirty-five minutes backwards. Maybe that’s why it never works. I am always late for work.

I got up feeling heavy, as if all the week’s pains were tolled on this day. I’ve been out of myself lately. But it’s today that I feel the most broken. Tomorrow, the truths will all be laid out and our lives will shatter once again. I am not sure if the remaining pieces of us are big enough to be reshattered. Perhaps it will feel more of a grinding than a shattering. We’ve always been broken. Just as we thought it’s time to emerge, we have to face being broken once more.

As I sat on the hard cushion of the public van my thoughts wander. I do not mind what’s around me, though I am aware. I am aware of my cocky seatmate who bragged of him being a driver as if I care. I did not give a damn when he keeps on looking at me smiling and sometimes laughing. Then his curiosity and ill manners got the best of him and asked me random questions to which I gave one-word answers with the “po” and a poker face. But when he asked me why I was serious, I did not speak nor look at his rough, rugged face that looks like an acre of the moon’s surface. I have done my very best to be polite and civil even to the least deserving like him. It’s his turn to do me a favor and shut up.

It was drizzling. Cold air and crystal droplets disturb me. The grayness of the landscape before me seems alien, even threatening. I have been used to a long, hot season before the chains of rains and typhoons blow the heat away, signaling that time has underwent a new phase. It was just March, early summer. And here comes a drizzle, the start of a shower and a downpour. The soft showering of crystals is a blessing to those waiting for a break from the sun’s embrace. But for me it resembles my current emotional state. In the onset of a beautiful, sunny day of our lives, rain comes in to ruin a promise of happiness. And we are now warned of the darkness lurking in the corners, ready to drown us in its anger.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Late Birthday Post

(In which it’s better late than never.)

***

The Seeker blog celebrated its first birthday last March 6, together with Master Rapper Francis M’s first death anniversary. It’s been a long time since the last post. And there’s a lot that happened.

I really hoped to write something positive but I might not. Anyway, let’s get the huge ball of news rolling…

· The company is cost cutting. From two units, the management now looks forward to using just one. They showed us the plan on how they’re working out on placing the one-on-one classes, the group classes and the phone English classes in just one unit. We bade farewell to the function room because it will be the new home for the new plan. I never knew there is a farewell celebration for a room. Nevertheless, I hungrily fell for the usual pizza and soft drinks, the succulent Fuji apples and the best spaghetti I’ve ever tasted.

· In line with the renovation, (seriously, I have always thought that renovation is for augmenting and improving. But the management burst my bubble. ) the manager has hired a programmer to come up with a new system that will block all external sites. (Hey! I thought we were cost cutting!) That means we have to bade farewell not only to the function room and our beloved private cubicles but also to the liberty of browsing whatever site there is to explore – except of course for the notorious and already blocked sites like Youtube and Friendster. Who still uses Friendster nowadays anyway? But the terrible part is, Facebook and Radiusim are on the verge of being banned to our system. Translation: If we have a long break, we may try to read a book or sleep while standing. (We were informed that the new cubicles will be smaller and privacy is out of the option.)

· Speaking of Radiusim, Alvin has sent me a friend request! (Drum roll, please?) Not that a virtual friend request is anything close to a personal friend request but who cares? He typed ‘Hi’ and asked for my ASL for goodness’ sake! I was about to celebrate when I remembered that I accidentally hit the ‘Invite to video chat’ option while browsing his profile. And all the while I thought he has initiative.

· I’ve had long breaks last week and I found Alvin’s latest photo and was inspired. I was so inspired I have made a cool portrait. And I never really liked portraits before. But I made it! And now I feel addicted to it. Thank goodness I ran out of Canson! If not, I might not sleep. Or if I will, I might do that while clutching my pencils.

· Because I am now re-acknowledging my talent for drawing, I have been neglecting to update The Seeker. But the next problem is, Blogger will soon be blocked. So in order to update it, I would have to devise ways of blogging other than using my office computer.

· Just as I thought surprises and family problems are already too much to handle, we received a text message yesterday that drastically changed our lives. I thought my dwindling finances as well as my sabotaged plans are enough to make me restless and sleepless. But I found out that there is more to come. Seriously more to come. Fine. Bring it on!