Free Writing

Getting Old is a Train Station and You Know You’re There Because You’re There

These thoughts on old age

are dedicated to my grandmother, Lola Adoracion Sanchez.

We love you.

. . .

As I’m writing this, my good and brave and loving grandmother of 87 years old is at an intensive care unit of a hospital, battling pneumonia as her sons and daughters and her grandchildren grapple with the thought of a future that while everyone has already imagined at some point, is no less forlorn.

The news of her getting hospitalized reached me while I was on vacation in Baguio, a faraway city in the mountains in the northern part of the Philippines. I was with my girlfriend of over two years and her family–and her extended family: uncles, aunts, cousins, and nephews, some of whom I only got to talk to for the first time. I’m 32 years old; my girlfriend is 27. This was undoubtedly one of those trips that take you one big step toward that next stage in life, a stage for which I’ve honestly been ready for a long time even if my finances aren’t completely there yet.

The truth is I’m completely at peace with the fact that I’m already at that stage of life even though there’s no shortage of reports that say millennials have been putting off marriage more than any other generation before them. I am done with being single. Frick–I am done with a lot of things. I am done with drinking, horrible attempts at flirting, playing the guitar, writing haikus, screaming at authority–you name it. If I win the lottery today, I’d book the nearest church, retire, and start tending a garden.

But the news that my grandmother was in a very delicate medical situation back in Manila hit me like a ten-ton truck. Nobody’s ready for news like that, even if the possibility of losing people has been lurking in your mind for quite some time. I was launched into a pensive mood and one of the first things that popped in my head was that I really wanted my grandmother to be there when I get married, and it was painful realizing how that prospect had begun to grow colder every second, even colder than Baguio’s incredibly cold weather.

Getting Old is a Weird Thing

Getting old is a weird thing. Throughout your life, you think you’re old but you’re not. Perhaps because I’ve been an arrogant schmuck most of my life, I’ve always thought that I was old and wise for my age. In fact, way back in college in the university, I looked at everyone around me as little, fumbling children who did not know half the things I knew. Every laughably tiny academic achievement I got just furthered my belief that I had everything figured out, like life was a test and I was passing my paper before everyone else. And when I started working, I still felt like I was ahead of others in wisdom, versed in some underlying philosophical truths that most of my colleagues’ infantile brains couldn’t possibly comprehend. I basically believed that I was an old man in a young man’s body.

I was a fool. And like I said, an arrogant schmuck.

Looking back at it now, nothing was old about me then. And absolutely nothing was wise. On the contrary, I know now that everything about my way of thinking in those days screamed the rage and insecurity of youth. I wasn’t old. I was just emo as fuck.

Now it’s different and I know it. Because old age is not a thought or a self-declaration. It’s a train station and you know you’re there because… you’re there. The big sign overhead the platform says so.

My grandmother is old. And she didn’t reach that train stop one or two or five years ago like me. She’s been old for decades. I can’t even imagine waking up each morning knowing, feeling that deep-seated certainty in your very being that you’re definitely as old as the sun is hot. That there’s no denying the truth anymore. And you’re just growing older every single breath you take.

She was already around 10 or 11 years old when the Japanese army invaded and occupied the Philippines in 1941, leaving death, destruction, and despair in their wake. When I mentioned this to my mother, she told me that my grandmother actually told many stories about them having to hide from the murdering and raping Japanese soldiers in the rice fields back in those days. I immediately pictured my grandmother as a little girl in a dirty dress hiding with her family behind thick rows of rice crops under a sullen sky somewhere in the province of Bulacan, everything silent and in a stereotypical sepia filter like in the movies.

I don’t know why I never actually heard any of those stories even if we lived with my grandmother in the same compound for many, many years. Now I wish I could listen to her tell those tales herself just so I could get a glimpse of how life was back then, and maybe ask her how it feels to witness the country change so much (and change so little) before her eyes over all those long decades. There was a lot I missed and I regret it.

Getting Old is a Task

I’m writing this in the middle of the holidays, which is why it probably struck me that getting old is a lot like last-minute Christmas shopping. You’ve got a list of things to buy and things to do and you cross them out one by one, mostly because tradition says you have to and you don’t want to be a scrooge to people. Getting old is crossing out items like marriage, buying a car, having kids, moving upward in your career, settling into a nice, cozy, lazy hobby such as gardening, growing your retirement fund, etc. These are basically tasks in a long task list and you have to perform them before you can show your completed form to the one in charge and you’re given the go signal to finally check out.

But it’s not all tradition though I maintain that a lot of it is. A huge part of it is also that ticking sound in your ear that tells you the buzzer is going to ring any second now, so you have to stop horsing around and just haul your ass to your destination as soon as possible.

To illustrate, in the last 2 or 3 years, I’ve been the most active in my art (the little comicbook-style drawings I call “art”) than at any other point in my life. That’s not just something that happened out of the blue or due to a sudden massive inspiration from the magical muses of lore. It’s because–after reading about the old comicbook artists I idolize (like Brian Bolland and George Perez) growing so old that they couldn’t draw interior pages and detailed drawings anymore–I calculated that I only had barely two decades of healthy hand muscles and joints left before my skill started deteriorating physically and I couldn’t progress as an artist anymore.

The thought horrified me. I ordered a massive, unbelievably expensive book of art from abroad and worked harder than ever at trying to master anatomy, shading, lighting, and everything else that I disregarded before because I used to have all the time in the world. I began scratching the paper with my pen furiously–maniacally.

It was simple: I was running out of time. I need to produce as much art now as possible because soon I’ll never be able to do this again.

My girlfriend was laughing as she reminded me somewhat of the same thing a few days ago. Somehow it just dawned on her that I was so old (at 32) that I’d already be around 50 by the time my son or daughter goes to college. It is something quite strange for the generation of our fathers who still enjoyed some span of youth alongside their children because they married and had kids earlier.

That’s even stranger to the generation of our grandparents who made churning out babies something of an economic strategy to achieve some security for the future. In fact, my grandmother and grandfather had a total of 9 children, my dad, who’s now at 63, being the eldest. Grandma started making fine children for the world to get its hands on starting at just 24 years of age. Grandpa was just 22.

It was a different time, and you could say the earth was greener. Maybe they didn’t fuss about having children as much as we do now.

After my girlfriend pointed out how old I was to start being a father, there were a few seconds of panic when I thought maybe we should start making that baby now? Like, right now even though I was sick with flu?

I shook my head and snapped out of it.

Getting Old is Marvelling at How Childhood Went on Forever

All this is almost too much for one to ponder. More and more, it feels like every second not spent crossing out that task list of old age–not adulthood but old age–is wasted time. If something doesn’t get you nearer to marrying, getting a car, having children, getting a promotion, or building your retirement fund then it’s senseless buffoonery. Sitting here is a waste of time. Writing this is a waste of time.

But procrastination–which always feels good regardless of your age–gets you during those tiny breaks in the hysteria, and you start daydreaming. And remembering your youth.

Youth is the complete opposite of all this boring rush.

In a weird way, life feels like a minivan–wide at the back and snub-nosed at the front. My childhood days feel like they went on forever, even faint memories like playing tag with my cousins in my grandmother’s front yard felt like they went on and on–as if it took millennia for us to grow up and learn we weren’t into wounding our knees every time we fell down on the ground anymore. A day took years to give way to the night. And every morning opened up another choose-your-own-adventure chapter that you didn’t really know when it’s supposed to end or if it would end at all.

I remember my grandmother as a persistent, smiling figure in the background telling us rowdy runts not to run too fast. An older woman who reminded our mother to check if a cloth has been tucked underneath our shirt at the back to keep us from getting sick. My grandmother even took the role of mother to some of my cousins who spent so much time in her house they more or less lived there, and they were basically her children. She fed them every day and made sure they were fine and healthy. But as a kid, you didn’t appreciate those little things. You couldn’t. You’re selfish and immersed in your own colorful world of swordfights and action figures. I’d be lying if I said those weren’t the best days of my life.

Childhood is a haze of wonderful memories that get more rosy the more details you forget. My fondest memories of my grandmother place her at the center of happy family gatherings where all my many cousins and I had our rare opportunity to get together and play until the sky turned gray. She and the other faceless adults sat at a table talking about something important and we would sprint around it or hide underneath as if their world was a separate, barely recognizable one that didn’t exist for us.

I can’t help but let out a sigh when I think that we are now those faceless adults talking about something important around a table.

It’s totally unfair. Especially after discovering that the topics around that table weren’t that important after all. Jobs? Fuck off with that.

Then at some point in life, time sort of looks down at its own watch and says “Time to go now!” and everything starts moving like, well… clockwork. Days become shorter and shorter until you get numb at their passing. Years start to feel like minutes–and I guess for people at the tail end of this journey–seconds. It’s the snub-nosed part of that minivan and everything is just crushed into a hurried frenzy within that small space of opportunity that’s left.

Getting Old is Slowing Down Enough to Realize That One Thing You Need

One day I was watching basketball and the announcer was talking about how rookies differed from veterans. She said “the game hasn’t slowed enough for them yet.” It stuck with me because I thought it was the perfect description of how it feels to grow old.

Discussing the biological underpinnings of why your legs start feeling like logs and your speech starts to slow down into a tired purr as you age is not at all interesting. Everything has a biological or biochemical underpinning, anyway, even supposedly mysterious forces such as love and spirituality. What is interesting to consider is how it’s so true that–along with yourself–the world slows down as your gray hair proliferates.

Events unfold in slow motion, so much so that you have plenty of time to sip a cup of coffee before another wave hits you. It gets hard to be surprised at anything. Oh, some stupid teen ran away from their home and was found in the middle of nowhere? Ok. Oh, that girl got pregnant by some dude who isn’t worth scrap? Got it. Oh, the government is screwing the masses in a new, creative way that nobody has anticipated? Noted.

99% of it zips past your ear. Ultimately, things don’t matter if they’re not on your getting-old-task-list.

You’re not jumpy anymore. When you get in a bit of trouble, you don’t think “I’m screwed.” You think “I’ll be screwed for a couple of days. After that I’ll be fine.” Everything is now situated in a chronological context. You begin to see that every issue, every object, every concept, maybe even every feeling has an expiration date, and solving problems could simply be a matter of letting it all play out until their energy is exhausted. Sit in a chair and wait. Everything’s going to be ok.

But all that time to think comes at a cost. The long pauses in between situations and decisions act like black holes that drag you into morose philosophizing. What’s happening to my grandmother has pulled me back into futile questions that I haven’t asked since I was in college, sitting in the library, reading a book about metaphysics that I didn’t completely understand. What is the purpose of suffering? Why is their pain? Is there an afterlife?

In another fleeting phase of youth, I was a self-proclaimed atheist. I found no reason to believe that there’s heaven or there’s anything that could happen after people pass away. The arrogant schmuck that I was, I found religion to be a terrible hindrance to the goal of mankind to be a more scientific lot. I thought to myself–how could we make real progress here on earth, help real people living here and now, if most of us continue to believe that the real rewards–the real life–happens only after our last breath anyway?

It’s the kind of fiery conviction a young person who hasn’t yet experienced anything of significance can be so quick to adopt.

Eventually, it was my favorite professor who taught me one of the legitimately grown-up ideas I’ve heard all my life. It was an idea, an argument so solid that years later when I sat and pondered it, it brought me back to believing in heaven. In God. And I haven’t found myself swaying since. My professor lost his mother fairly recently back then and that event shook up his beliefs and flushed out any trace of atheism or agnosticism in his system.

The idea was this: ultimately, it doesn’t matter if there’s an afterlife or not. We can’t really know that, anyway. What matters is we need there to be an afterlife. We need heaven to exist. Because it can’t all end here. Our love for all the people we lost and all the people we’re going to lose demands that this world not be the end of it all. Our love demands that we must see them again–everyone and everything we care about–after all this is over.

Our love demands heaven.

Advertisements
Standard
Free Writing

There’s Probably Not a Lot of Meaning Left in the World Now But at Least I’m Not Single

There’s probably not a lot of meaning left in the world now but at least I’m not single.

Growing older, causes may die, races may be run, and the thirst for high adventure may be quenched, leaving just a musty old room filled with empty space where youthful dreams once thrived–it’s admittedly depressing and picture-perfect suicidal at times–but at least I’ve got a girlfriend.

And not to brag about it but just to illustrate my point: I have a totally magnificently bonkers girlfriend who cures all the existential ailments plaguing my being.

Case in point: I would sometimes find myself looking into the distance, pondering what the point of living is but then out of nowhere, she intentionally steps in my line of sight and ruins every deep, dark feeling of mine with her lovely smile and her awesome legs, and suddenly I forget everything about what I was being sad for in the first place. Works every time and it’s great!

I know that might sound like objectification and there’s a chance it is to a large degree but it’s the plain truth, sir, madame.

We may be victims of this oversexualized society but we are not incapable of speaking the truth in our hearts though it might be dehumanizing at times.

But I digress.

I’d honestly hate to be that guy who looks into the abyss without a girlfriend pestering him for a selfie.

Selfies with the girlfriend plug the massive black hole in one’s chest sucking the joy out of the universe (and if you don’t acknowledge you have such a black hole right between your nipples, you are nothing but a sad, lying, booger-digesting gorilla). These selfies may be distractions from the all-too-important internal conversations you have with yourself when you’re alone in your bed in the darkness but at least they’re honest-to-goodness happy distractions. If you’re happy, it can’t be all that bad.

A lot of people would say being happy is the only point of living, in fact. Precisely why some people could survive on porn, video games, and weed–those tried-and-tested packs of happiness that are more or less accessible for every man and woman. And child.

Needless to say, a real relationship is much harder to get, let alone maintain and grow. And that’s why in the grander scheme of the hedonistic scales, a girlfriend is much more valuable by far.

Because if you think about it, a girlfriend is a handy answer to that question that’s always burning in the back of your mind: that question of why the hell you’re even here? Why are you not your dad’s wasted seminal fluid dripping down the bathroom drain? Well, I guess if you’re able to make someone like your girlfriend happy (provided she’s a completely rational individual who makes choices and not in fact just a code you wrote to laugh at your every ill-delivered pun or otherwise a pot of cactus or a piece of scab you named Janet), you must have earned your stay here to some degree, have you not? You’ve got a purpose. You’re not merely your dad’s seminal fluid dripping down the bathroom drain though you might still feel that way sometimes.

Living is much easier with that question quelled. Tragic accidents, such as getting hit by a speeding car while crossing the road, can easily happen when you succumb to existential questions like that in the middle of existing. And the worst thing about such a horrific turn of events is that the newspapers would never say you were actually being philosophical in a mobile manner in that moment; they would only say you got hit by a speeding car because you’re an idiot. Which of course would be a total shame.

Not to say that a lot of mobile philosophers are not idiots because in all likelihood, they are to a large degree.

So the truth is, I’m really sad for all those people who just couldn’t get a girl or a guy or just a sentient humanoid being to care for them back in a completely non-platonic way. And by “non-platonic” I mean you have unholy sex once in a while and your mothers should be ashamed of ever conceiving you. It truthfully is just a total waste of time and resources to be walking this earth without such terrific company.

I know some people say being happy doesn’t require another person, and some would even post those pretty quotes on Facebook, but I call bullshit on that giant tower of stinkin’ dung heap.

Porn, video games, and weed–as good as they are–can only get you so far. Any decent, self-respecting human being would not be content to snort those basest of modern pleasures for the rest of their lives, though admittedly a lot of lives in the history of mankind have been wasted in a lot of dumber and pointless ways. But that’s no excuse.

Not even the healthy options like climbing mountains or painting in water color pastel hues are that much of a difference. The additional health benefits and skills you develop with such hobbies will definitely be appreciated but they can never guarantee peace of mind. Just between you and me, you might be better off with just the porn, but to each his own, I guess.

But seriously, from a guy who’s been through the withering deserts of singlehood for years, please believe me when I say getting a girlfriend as good as mine is absolutely worth it in every way.

Bonus if she also loves you.

Standard
Free Writing

By the End of this Article, You Will Have Learned the Importance of Pancakes

Pancakes

All it takes is one shocking first sentence saying something like men are a waste of precious genetic material to launch everyone’s mind into a routine frenzy. I’m referring to the gender “man” by the way and not the primary species that currently populates the earth. But come to think of it, wouldn’t it be better if we were dogs because dogs are much friendlier to each other, and they’re more diverse so that some dogs don’t look like dogs at all but bears or wolves or rats, and they have much better spontaneous intercourse at the end of which they find it extremely painful to separate–unlike humans who just want to sprint toward the door the moment the deed is done? Considering everything, maybe the world is better run over by dogs.

But how about cats? Cats have the most stupid videos on the Web and they’re able to sell those videos so easily because they’re natural, straight-faced, cold-blooded mofos who are in the middle of a history-long master plan to kill their human owners and take over the earth. At some point, every thought just comes to that: how to rule everything and everyone around you. It’s like it’s hardwired into our brains to plant our flags and leave our babies on every square inch of the universe that would take them. Or even if they won’t take them, we’ll find a way to shove them down their throats because we’re extremely good at forcing our way in and surreptitiously making our way out. But we’re not all bad. We invented hot pancakes smothered in butter and maple syrup, after all.

Pancakes show the good in people. No, you don’t have to watch Schindler’s List to know we’re not too ripe for the culling; pancakes which took thousands of years to perfect illustrate why we should keep on living here without an asteroid the size of Texas bothering us out of our sleepy daydreams and early erections. But don’t worry because the whole point of progress anyway is minimizing risks: including reducing the risk of annihilation-by-asteroid to virtually null. Think about it. Calendars were devised long ago to predict the seasons, so that crops can be grown without nasty floods destroying all of that tribe-nourishing food, and computers were built to avoid costly errors by alcoholic accountants whom their loved ones left because they only loved math and alcohol, which may be the same thing at the core. Every bit of development we have achieved and aim to achieve has one ultimate goal: reduce the risk of living.

Which is why I firmly believe the very concept of chance is getting destroyed every day. You don’t have to wait for a serendipitous moment nowadays to find the love of your life; there’s an app that will help you narrow down your goals to that one perfect person who was fertilized by their parents to forge your future fetuses with you. Or basically, fuck. Oh there you go, I’ve successfully avoided mentioning that word for three full paragraphs but now I just said it and there’s no turning back. But I found that if you start saying “fuck,” you should certainly make the most out of it because grading sins or unethical behavior is probably done by brackets and saying fuck once is just as good or just as bad as saying it ten or so times but not twenty or thirty times. So fuck it. Fuck my office pantry. Fuck my neighbors’ nightly fight. Fuck Mars, there’s absolutely not a single fucker to be found on it. And fuck the moon, too, we’re not going the fuck back to that fucking natural satellite filled with fucking rocks. Fuck Bin Laden. I can somehow trace all this recent fuckery to his fucked up existence. Fuck the police. And of course, fuck the government for good measure.

All right, now that we’re done with all that cursing and we feel just a little bit more unsalvageable than before, we think of beautiful things. Like love. It’s always best to end something random with love because it’s a force that unifies by glossing over the ugliness of whatever heterogeneous mixture we’re talking about (think about your past relationships and see that I’m right). It’s the one discovery that really matters and the one legacy that our civilization would leave behind that will totally confuse the aliens that will land here on a spaceship in the year 8149. Of course, I’m assuming aliens don’t and won’t have any concept of love because if they do, then that would make them essentially no different from humans; in fact, that would absolutely make them human because love is a uniquely human emotion.

Or that’s what I’d like to believe. Must be the pancakes I ate this morning.

Standard
Free Writing

Yesterday, I Farted About Five-hundred and Forty Times

Please forgive me as I’m about to foray into a vapory territory but rest assured this is not just an extended fart joke. Yesterday, I farted about five-hundred and forty times. I realize this is not a particularly fabulous subject for discussion except the sheer amount of farts I farted, to me, makes it worthy of a fair amount of consideration. Especially since I suspect you’ve been in the same dreadful situation before.

I was with a woman whom I fervently fancy, talking to her about things of small and great consequence, and I enjoyed all our moments together except for the fact that I was farting like a methane factory all the time. She was telling me stories about her friends, fashion, and famous folks on Facebook but all the while, I was letting out flatulence in controlled little pauses so as not to produce a single perceptible whistle…

Fetid gas with unfriendly intent made their flight to freedom from the fissure in my buttocks in freakish frequency.

Needless to say, the task of keeping the fascinating conversation going while producing something unfragrant and maintaining a smiling facade was extremely difficult. I could imagine my little rectal muscles flexing its fibers to keep the floodgates of feces from forcefully erupting in a frightful flash of fustiness.

It was farcical how much effluvium I fielded. A whole farm of cows firing a symphony of fumes into the sky would have faired no better against me. I fought off the formidable foe in my belly with the ferociousness of a feral feline or a frenzied ferret but it was for the most part, fruitless. I farted as she spoke. I farted as I replied. I farted as she joked. I farted as I laughed. And laughed I did several times for she was a truly funny person with a flawless sense of humor, and as I laughed, I farted even more. I farted while we ate cup noodles and watched videos of people making fools of themselves. I farted fast and furtively, trying to forestall the inevitable. For to fail in front of her was frankly unfathomable.

And it made me wonder how people came to set such lofty expectations on themselves. Forcing out flatus is as natural a physical phenomenon as speaking and breathing yet we have come to regard it with infinite contempt. Wouldn’t it be freeing and far more functional if we’d simply let folks fart as often as they fancied without getting all furious about it? So that instead of me trying to hide the complex digestive processes forming and flowing along my intestines from this female I truly find fetching, I could just let out a fart bomb whenever I felt like it?

But all it is is fable and fiction because the sad and sometimes frightening fact is that public farts are forbidden. As frowned upon as nitpicking your nose, excavating your ear, and poking your nipples in full view of people. Yet I bet all these gestures are hardwired into our brains and have been passed down in the form of firm instincts from an early age when we were all honest apes.

And so as the sun flickered and fell in the sky, I spent the day with her and felt real fine. Frustrated as I was for the frenetic fabrication of fermented fumes in my tummy, and fatigued from fighting off the unfiltered, the truth was that I was grateful that she was there with me. We watched a fairly gratifying flick in the cinema, and there I had the freedom to flat out fill the room with funky air in the cover of thunderous sounds. There was definitely something fortuitous about the whole set up, but what really made me feel fortunate was that she was there beside me having a freakin’ fantastic time.

In those fleeting moments where she guffawed at the buffoonery on screen rather loudly and charming, I found few problems with life. I felt my fat face smile as my heartstrings were fiddled by a force frivolous and flowery–a formless, fragile fairy in a fugly world. So I decided that though my fanny was feverish, I had something fundamentally special that I must hold on to in the irony of a day filled with letting go.

Who cares about the future? I’ll go ahead and have fun in the present. Foul gas in my gut. Her in my mind.

Standard
Free Writing

The Problem is I Don’t Have a Problem–Not Anymore.

Oftentimes I would find myself on the brink of correcting someone on Facebook when they’ve made a particularly idiotic comment, but then just before I hit the Enter button, my hand would stop in mid-air, I’d press backspace, delete the entire thing, and say to myself, “Fuck it. Forget it.”

Something’s definitely amiss. The feeling’s strongest on Sunday mornings when I just want to sit in a chair and stare at garden plants with a retarded smile on my face.

I think the problem is that I don’t have a problem–not anymore. I used to have a collection–a library of problems! When I was younger, I would make a problem of just about everything: my coffee (“It’s too expensive, farmers died for this!”), the watch I wore (“It’s not working but I’ll still wear it because time is an illusion.”), the train (always been a problem that one), somebody’s boyfriend (“He’ll clearly not make her happy!”), rat carcasses on the road (“The perfect symbol for this rotten system!”), my spinster professor (“Projecting our arid sex life and general wish to die on our students, aren’t we?”), and stuff that everybody made a problem of–government and religion.

Those were the days! I could commute to school or to the office without listening to the radio or an “MP3 player” because I would be endlessly entertained by the hubbub of problems in my head. I’d be riding a jeepney and thinking, “Look at all these dead-eyed passengers just wasting away their lives going to and fro their cold cubicles when they could actually make a difference by saying ‘We’ve had enough! We’re crashing this pathetic jeepney into our pathetic buildings and torching our pathetic desks and stealing all the free coffee from the pantry!'”

Used to be I thought of things like that all the time.

I literally had stacks of journals all filled with my problems; they were written in volumes and could have served as an exhaustive catalog of humanity’s issues. The sheer size of the collection indicating the inordinate amount of time spent on such a dark, fruitless, lonesome activity would creep anybody out. My problems on love alone probably filled around three full notebooks. They discussed everything from the difference between love and lust to a theory about love as a disease that needed to be treated, sort of like the flu. They were absolutely fascinating! Because problems are fascinating things when written down or printed on paper, almost like old-school porn magazines. As an aside, it was always better to jerk off on those tattered pages than these gleaming cell phone screens.

But as I said, I don’t have those problems anymore. I wake up and the first thing I think about is not “Am I waking up to the real world or am I just a simulation like in The Matrix?” I wake up these days and I think, “Have I emailed that guy from the sales team yet?” And it’s terribly sad because that is not a problem at all. That’s a minor inconvenience or a daily task that may be bothersome to do but will nonetheless be accomplished that day or at some point in the future.

It’s not a problem.

Or it’s a problem but not a “real” one. It’s fake as hell.

‘Cause to me, real problems don’t necessarily seek answers; most of them have answers that are glaringly evident. Take for example the classic problem of: “Why do people keep on stealing others’ belongings when the world is already going to shit as it is?” That’s a legitimate problem right there and one worth thinking about leisurely while the very life is getting squeezed out of you in the jam-packed train. It can serve as a full-body anesthesia. You could spend an hour and a half looking at the different angles of that problem and trying to beat that voice in your head in a furious schizophrenic debate. That even though the answer is fucking obvious: “People steal because they’re poor as rats and even those who are rich still rob because they want more in this state of things where having more means having a greater fucking life. Having a big house is different from having a mansion is different from having your own freaking building and a private jet is different from controlling the entire country from your bathroom while you’re taking a shit.”

That’s a straight answer but nobody really wants that. It takes the fun away from nitpicking things that gnaw in our brains and our conscience. Straight answers are boring. The real problems are fun because they are never meant to be answered, only repeatedly considered in a semi-unconscious manner, like speaking a calming mantra, or squeezing a stress ball… or caressing your pet cat’s fur.

Something happened along the way–most probably aging–that made me lose all my precious problems. I think the overall lack of elasticity in the skin that produces wrinkles as one gets older extends to the brain, so that your once taut and springy mind progressively becomes soggy. And the physical sogginess of your brain matter is projected on your every view and every emotion such that your default face eventually starts to look like cold, overcooked pasta.

Of course, it could also be that thanks to your hard work and just the macroeconomics of it all (which you really don’t want to think about because you now have the attention span of a teaspoon), resulted in a pay at a level where the act of spending became more satisfying than questioning the ultimate purpose of spending. I mean, goddamn I can spend my wallet empty on Batman action figures without giving a shred of a thought! Who cares what you think of my hobby? Or what Marx would say about Batman? It’s the goddamn Batman for Christ’s sake! The Dark Knight that I deserve and need right now.

Sometimes, I also think it has to do with just being generally battered in love. I have a deep suspicion that love is the costly fuel that drives all goals and motivations in life. You don’t have love, sucks for you, because you won’t be launching any kind of revolution any time soon; instead, you’ll be sitting in a chair looking at garden plants with a retarded smile on your face. It’s not as fun to ponder love anymore and frame it philosophically or in some form of romantic literature when the plain fact is you’re just miserably failing at asking women out. Or outright getting seenzoned on Facebook. Or worse, unseenzoned (girl already posted three times that day about her cute, little puppies but still hasn’t opted to open your message).

And few men would admit it, but I sincerely think that every time a man fails at love or in romantic relationships, the damage is never confined to that space only. Rather, the ripple effects of that text message that was sent to you to tell you you’re a piece of shit that she would never date again touch on all the facets of your life: your work, leisure, morality, spirituality, in the very way your brain serves you the first thought of the morning. So that instead of feeling freshly intellectual when your eyes open, you just feel like you need another shot of Game of Thrones fan theory and a soggy McDonald’s cheeseburger.

I would like to craft a proper ending to this one but you know what? Fuck it. Forget it.

Standard
Free Writing

Date a Man Who Wears Watermelons on His Feet

Date a man who wears watermelons on his feet. Date a man who wears watermelons on his feet instead of shoes, who has problems eating watermelons because he considers the fruit footwear. Date a man who has a fridge full of watermelons and damp feet soaked in watermelon juice.

Find a man who wears watermelons on his feet. You’ll know that he does because he will always have big, green orbs of produce below the ankles–you can’t really miss it. He’s the one who can barely walk because watermelons don’t have a flat surface, the one who makes a weird squishing sound with every step. You see that bloke dragging bits of pink flesh along the street with a swarm of flies behind him? That’s the one. He can never resist sticking his feet into that cold, wet goodness, especially if they are plump and ripe.

He’s the man who doesn’t give a flying squirrel’s ass about your party’s dress code. He’ll wear watermelons for any ocassion. If you take a peek at those poor watermelons, the insides are already brownish slush because the man’s feet work better than a blender. Relax. Sit down. Don’t yell at him or you might receive a watermelon kick to the chest.

Buy him another bunch of watermelons.

Let him know what you really think of Citrullus lanatus. See if he knows the rich history of the fruit first cultivated in Egypt in the 2nd millenium BC, eventually spreading through India, China, Europe, and into the New World. Impress that watermelon-wearing bastard with your knowledge.

It’s easy to date a man who wears watermelons on his feet. Give him his favorite things on his birthday, and that would be… er… Correct. Watermelons. Just go to the nearest grocery store, bring a cart, and dump as many of those giant globes of fructose on his doorstep. Understand that he knows the difference between a ripe and a not-so-ripe watermelon, but by god he’s still going to take all of them because he’s freakishly obsessed with these things a completely normal person would eat.

Doesn’t matter if the fruits don’t fit. He’ll give it a shot somehow.

Wear them with him. If he understands contagious psychosis, he will understand your need to wear watermelons on your feet, too. Behind those twitchy eyes that have obviously been long out of touch with reality lie derangement, delirium, neurosis, and a dormant desire to kill people serially.

Fail him. Because a man who wears watermelons on his feet knows that failure could be a sign of originality. Instead of watermelons, wear coconuts sometimes or… I don’t know… cantaloupes. You can also probably wear pineapples as gloves and… and wear a papaya bra or something.

Why be frightened of using fruits as articles of clothing? Men who wear watermelons understand that there’s nothing to fear. Except early onset of rot.

If you find a man who wears watermelons on his feet, keep him close. When you find him up at 2 AM, in the dark, carving up a fresh one out of the fridge and weeping, blend him a glass of fruit juice and hold him. You may lose him a couple of hours as he takes a stroll around the neighborhood in his pyjamas and watermelons but he’ll always come back to you. He’ll talk as if the watermelons are people, because for a while, they always are. To him.

He’ll propose to you while you’re in the bathroom taking a shit. Or during a serious meeting in the office. Or in a funeral. Because he’s fucking nuts.

You will smile so hard you will wonder why you never thought of wearing watermelons on your feet before. I mean–whoever said we should wear animal hide around our soles, anyway? Sounds as random as wearing watermelons, really. He will introduce your children to other lunatic stuff like a banana dog on a leash or a berry aquarium. At that point, the sky’s the limit to craziness you’d both be surprised you haven’t murdered each other yet during a particularly violent hallucination-filled episode.

Date a man who wears watermelons on his feet because you deserve it. You deserve a man who can give you the most abnormal life possible. If you only want common boot or loafer-wearing folk, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a man who wears watermelons. On his feet.

Or better yet, date a man who wears vegetables.

Standard
Free Writing

Someday I Want to Be a Burdensome Old Man

My recent string of sicknesses has renewed my commitment to living a long life. But the goal is not merely to lengthen my existence for the sake of it like a deluded hermit. See, there’s this image in my head that I just love: me sitting at a table surrounded by dozens and dozens of my children and grandchildren, all bearing a resemblance to me in varying degrees, all waiting to get my blessing for something, all waiting to say their polite pieces to the “godfather”–the head of the clan.

But it’s not even the power or the prestige I’m after. I’m really just aiming to be the biggest, wrinkliest, most annoying burden the whole family has to bear with in every single gathering.

I just want to shoot sharp disapproving looks at everyone. And I mean everyone. I wouldn’t care if you managed to snatch the top spot in the bar exams or got a supermodel to be your wife, you’ll get the same grouchy disapproving look from my face–the same exact look your suicidal, junkie cousin gets.

Oh I would have the time of my life, just wearing a patented steel frown like Robert De Niro and muttering horrific curses under my breath without stopping. Sometimes my poor children and grandchildren would be able to catch some words when they take my hand to kiss it or press it to their foreheads; memorable words like “moron” and “idiot” and “clown” or “wench.”

I’d be carrying a trusty wooden cane, so I could snappily hit the little ones on the butt if their horsing around gets within two meters of me. They’ll shriek and bawl for mommy and daddy, and mommy and daddy won’t get anything from me but my go-to advice to “Discipline your stupid child!”

Cane would also be handy when poking someone rather painfully in the kidneys if they block my view of the TV.

On the buffet table, I’d take scandalous amounts of everything and then make it a point to eat only about 7% of my plate, all the while complaining loudly about the taste and my false teeth, which would keep on falling into the soup bowl with a plop.

That would be nice. Spoiling everyone’s appetite before they’ve had their fill and just making the table generally awkward for the hapless, brave souls who happen to sit there. And then I’d be munching the food in my mouth in that irritating way old people process their food, and spitting some of it unceremoniously onto the plate or napkin for everyone to see.

Nobody would get any real positive encouragement or sound advice from me. I’d always be comparing them to some long-dead celebrity or famous person I knew or remember from the good old days when the world wasn’t overrun by “wimpy dumbasses (my favorite catch-all term).”

Of course my life would be the golden standard for everyone, and I would happily replace the majority of it with amazing tales of impossible feats you couldn’t possibly match. “I used to sell little goldfish in the streets until I had enough money to buy a luxury car” or “Once, I got lost in the woods for 5 months and I only ate earthworms to survive. When they found me, I was wrestling a wild boar to the ground, which I proceeded to gut alive with my teeth.”

I’d remember each and everyone’s name but I would see to it to switch it with another one just to get the message across that their existence doesn’t mean squat to me. “Oh you’re not Rachel? Who are you?” “Megan. Rachel died 7 years ago, pops.” “Oh really? Tsk. Everyone dies soon enough.”

And then of course I’d do ridiculous things when I’m in the middle of the crowd, like letting my trousers fall, or kicking the cute dog everybody loves, peeing on the bonsai, “accidentally” crashing against some kid’s artsy school project he’s been working on for weeks, sitting on the cat, tasting the cake’s icing and eating all the flowers before a picture has been taken, dropping an expensive vase (Oops!), and constantly spitting the stickiest balls of phlegm to the floor.

My family would hate me so much they would jokingly wish among themselves that I die a horrible death, but I would disappoint them every freakin’ year because I just won’t. I’d be there, wasting away, little by little until only skin and bones remain but nevertheless, I’d still be there. Still whispering insults about the adults and scaring the snot out of the little ones.

Personally, I think it’s a beautiful goal to set for myself. I better work on it now.

Standard