Anything Remotely Positive

I read several articles in the past days since I stopped, albeit temporarily, writing and my thoughts are jumbled, my stomach churns at the idea that I might be, probably, or sometimes most definitely, at least that’s what I think, wasting my life.

Two weeks ago today, I quit smoking. I wear a nicotine patch that gives me vivid dreams in the night. The first night, I had a nightmare and I couldn’t sleep properly. I am better now. I even had a dream where I laughed out loud and actually laughed out loud that my best friend next to me asked in my half-awake, half-asleep state, “What’s so funny?”

In my vivid dreams, I dream of HOME a lot. Los Angeles will always be second home to me. My home will always be Bacolod, where I grew up and where most of my family and friends are. I dreamt of visiting them and we had a big reunion, my friends and I.

I still see their faces on social media although admittedly, I rarely see it now because I don’t open my Facebook account at all. I haven’t hung out with most of them for 13 years.

I left Bacolod when I was only 17. I am now 30 years old. I haven’t lived or celebrated  my 20s with these people and it’s always nice to see them in my dreams. The funny part is, I forget their voices. I don’t even know how they sound now. I know how they look but what would a lengthy conversation with them might be? I know there’d be tons and tons of laughter. I know there’d be occasions when we’d cry and talk about life and what has come out of us after high school. Sadly, it’s all but a dream.

I miss my old self. The one that spent hours and hours driving around town going nowhere or anywhere that has great food, great company, great conversations. I miss my spontaneous self. The one that everyone asks, “Where to, now?” I say a destination and everyone says, “Perfect. Let’s go.” It was always perfect. It was always fun.

At 30, stuck in a 9 to 5 job, oceans apart from perfection and fun, I cling onto anything that’s remotely positive. I don’t know most days where this life is going to lead me but I keep hanging on because it seems like the right thing to do. What my heart says sometimes is not what my mind wants.

I have obligations now. I grew up in a “big city” for my country. A big city that technically is such a small place where everyone knows everyone’s whereabouts. This was long before Facebook or Twitter. You just know where everyone goes at a certain day because everyone ends up there, anyway. It’s boring when you’re in it but when you’re away from it, you miss it. Why must life be so complicated, huh?

I actually live in a big city now. A city famous for its name and its residents. This is where dreams are made of, if you want to pursue a showbiz career. This is where dreams are crushed, if you want to pursue a showbiz career. It’s normal to work in an office building next to a Disney studio with teenage actors and production people my age who take over our parking spots. It’s normal to run into Mario Lopez while having a nice meal at a trendy restaurant or to run into Mario Lopez again when you go to church. It’s normal to see Star Wagons vans everywhere and to consider “filming” as part of any ordinary day. I live in a city that wows unknown tourists and people I know alike who have never set foot in it. I, on the other hand, see it as the place that gave me the chance to be independent. It taught me patience. It taught me determination. It taught me resilience. What it slowly takes away are kindness, dreams, and contentment.

Los Angeles or Southern California, in general will always look beautiful in photographs because we rarely see rain so there’s so much sunlight to play around with. It is a beautiful place, no question. It can also be harsh and it can be, wait for it…stressful.

I guess that’s why my first home always haunts me in my dreams because it knows what my heart needs even though in my consciousness, it’s not what I think I want. It’s the serenity and the tight-knit relationships, of knowing that there’s always someone to call at any given moment even when things get busy because one way or the other, someone else is not doing the same thing you’re doing at the same time therefore it’s accessible.

I see my friends who are also based in Los Angeles once in every 6 months and that’s after weeks of planning and scheduling and making sure everyone shows up. I must admit, I don’t show up most of the time because I get busy. I live a couple of miles away from my parents and I don’t even visit them often. Whenever I go and meet my friends, I feel great because the familiarity sets in and is as automatic as riding a bike after a long time.

When I get the opportunity to taste a little bit of home, I don’t show up. When it’s not in front of me, I miss it and my subconscious reminds me of it by showing me snippets of what I left.

I get depressed. I feel a suppressed feeling of sadness that leads to nowhere. I feel lost. I numb myself and divert my attention by doing more work or reading useless articles online or just be in bed and not do anything productive.

I’m not going to end this post with a redemption line because there isn’t one. I’m still part of a vicious cycle that I know only ends up hurting one person…me.

Maybe, one day, I wake up and everything’s going to be okay.

I wish that day comes sooner than later.

God, help me.

 

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Spiders and Listerine

I pee at exactly 4 AM every day. Like clockwork, it’s as if my bladder has an appointment that I need to take it to the toilet so I can have better sleep if I only allow it to release all the fluids its holding. It doesn’t matter how sleepy I am when I get up, sometimes to the point of light-headed, dizzy, unbalanced, taking slow steps at a time, holding on to walls, figuring out shapes of what hangs on the wall using them as if they were the Braille system, a sign that I made it to my first lap and then only five more steps and I’m off to the door which we leave open right now so the airconditioner from the living room can travel from the living room, entering the hallway and some air goes to the space in the hallway and into our bedroom because it gets really warm in the night because right now summer is here and I’m afraid to open the bedroom window because I did that last time many times and many times I see spiders crawling up the ceiling, or to the wall on my right where I lay in bed, but they’re not together, I see only one spider at a time and it’s always when I open the windows at night or even during the daytime, it doesn’t matter but all I know is I’ve seen 3 spiders already, crushed one — the very first spider I’ve seen right between the sliding glass window and the screen and I slide the window so I crush the spider without thought yet without fail. I forget to mention that there could be more spiders that makes me wonder if that’s what bit my stomach three days ago but I can’t be too sure, maybe there was a bug, or maybe, I don’t know, a shirt splinter that pokes my stomach where I keep scratching until I fall asleep and then I wake up and I go to the mirror in the second bedroom — not a bedroom, it’s more like a walk-in closet but it’s a room — a bedroom but a black three-feet high chest drawer with an vertical mirror right above sits to the left corner of the wall while my office desk is to the right of it facing the left wall. I open my shirt in the morning in front of the mirror so I can see what in the world bit me — not that I’m going to see what bit me but how it bit me and I see a big red bump, not that big of a bump but a piece of bump that is red and circular, the size of a nickel and itchy as in it makes me wonder now really, what bit me? Is it a spider again or is it a bug, I wonder and then it reminds me of the time when I was barely 5 years old when my mother, my loving and caring mother who did not have Google but she knew what I needed when mosquitoes bite me in the night and there’s always a big bottle, the size of the gallon blue plastic jug I carry around nowadays when I want to drink lots of water but not really want but mostly need or remember that I have the jug and I need to drink 8 cups of water a day and it’s a big bottle of Listerine not because my parents were Listerine-gargling junkies but my mother was very strict about my toothbrush rituals and she makes me, insists actually, and she counts “1, 2, 3,” and if that doesn’t work calls me by my complete name, not call really, yell my complete name which is the sound that means she means business and I have to run now to the bathroom where she stands by the entrance door so I can pick up my mini-toothbrush from the medicine cabinet and stand on a stool so I can reach the sink on my own but she controls the amount of toothpaste so she has the Colgate tube in her hand and she squeezes it onto my tiny toothbrush that is parted in the middle like the Red Sea because I brush my teeth so hard because if I do it without pressure, I don’t feel clean so I brush them hard and then sometimes I hit my gum so hard and then my eyes water because I hurt my gum and then my mother stands behind me, stern and could be timing my brushing because sometimes my mother thinks I only swish-swish-swish brush my teeth and then gargle to finish, so I brush again and this time I swish-swish-swish-swishswishswishswish and then I gargle and then I gargle again and one more time because that’s for my Mama because her big rounded eyes never leave me, and no, I do not gargle Listerine, it is only used to cure my mosquito bites.

I go to the bathroom to see if there’s any alcohol because if I use alcohol there’s no need for me to buy Listerine but I go to the bathtub instead forgetting I’m there for the alcohol first because I’m running late and I must be at work by 8 AM so I forget to put alcohol after I’m out of the shower, after I dress up, after I put on my shoes, after I grab my keys, and still did not remember to put alcohol when I walk out the front door and lock the front door and walk to my car and open my car and drive and seven minutes later I arrive late in the office and I don’t remember the alcohol and I enter the back door of the office building, greet my Operations team a “good morning,” none of them were there actually, I just walked by every cubicle but my head wants to be in my office room fast as if it were a finish line as if someone will yell behind me, “Why did you just come in? It’s 8:01 AM!” and then I sit in my office chair, and then I fidget because that’s what I do when I’m not comfortable and then I touch the left side of my stomach, pull my shirt and then I feel a sting and then I remember I was supposed to rub alcohol on my red bump. I receive my first phone call and I pick up my cell phone, “Hello?” and then I forget about my red bump that forty minutes ago, I’m supposed to rub alcohol first in the bathroom.

Something Positive

A beginning of a chapter.

NicoDerm CQ is a nicotine patch that helps you ease away from smoking cigarettes.

NicoDerm CQ is a patch that you can show off to people to let them know you are legitimately quitting smoking.

NicoDerm CQ is more than a patch. It is a badge that you wear on your skin that represents resilience.

NicoDerm CQ has a little wallet card where you can list the reasons why you decided to quit smoking (because, I will remember to open my wallet every time to read it).

NicoDerm CQ begins every sentence in their pamphlet with “NicoDerm CQ…”

NicoDerm CQ will make sure you don’t forget their name while reading the directions on how to use.

NicoDerm CQ is embedded in my head more than the patch I currently have on my right arm.

First rule of NicoDerm CQ: You must be committed to stop smoking.

After several failed attempts by going cold turkey, yesterday, I decided that I’m no longer going to be a smoker.

I wear my patch for the first time this morning and I survived the day without a cigarette.

This, my friends, is commitment.

It’s not a hope, or “we shall see.” It’s a combination of fear and promise to myself that I’ve reached this decision.

It’s a beginning of a new chapter: keeping up with the blog, quitting smoking, walking at least 30 minutes a day, stay healthy, and continuously cook.

Where this road will take me, I sure as hell know it ain’t Regret Ave.

270 More Days to Go

“Oh, f**k! Oh, f**k! Oh, f**k!”

“Turn the water off!”

“I can’t. Oh, f**k!”

Renu runs towards the faucet and turns it to the right — the way you’re supposed to turn off a faucet.

I’m drenched in water when the hot water faucet kept running while I loosen the hose for our new washer.

A couple of installers from Pacific Sales came by this morning to deliver our new Whirlpool washer.

One of the men attempts to connect the hoses to the faucets, at first confused which one is for hot water and which one is for cold when water starts pouring on the floor.

“The faucets are leaking.”

How can they leak when they haven’t been turned on in a while? I thought to myself.

I didn’t argue because I see water all over our kitchen floor now.

He leaves the machine uninstalled.

“You need to replace the water faucets. They’re 6-dollars a piece at Home Depot,” he says to me.

We call our landlord, he stops by at lunch time, connects the hoses, and voila! No leaks.

“I hope you weren’t charged for this installation. Whoever that guy was, he didn’t know what he’s talking about. He probably doesn’t know you must flush the water out,” Harry said.

“Probably not,” I said.

Harry sits down for lunch with us. We offer him carbonara – the same food I f***ed the day before.

“Is it too salty? Is it okay?” I ask Harry.

“I need sodium,” he said, not really answering my question.

“Really?”

“Yeah. My doctor tells me I need more sodium because my blood pressure is too low.”

It’s the first time I’ve heard of a doctor recommending more sodium to someone.

I grew up in the Philippines where everyone around me is asked to take it slow on salty foods.

Harry is 73 years old, an active handyman/landlord who seems to love what he does.

Harry leaves our apartment. We thank him for his help.

“I work for food. I guess we’ll call it even,” he said.

Nine hours later, I am switching the hoses behind the washer and while I successfully turned off the faucet to the cold water before connecting the correct hose, I panicked while removing the other.

Lefty-loosey.

Righty-tighty.

It keeps playing in my head but when water sprays all over, the floor, the walls, the spices, the ceiling, my brain is screaming, “Where’s the shut off valve? Where’s the shut off valve?”

Sure, now, I decide to find the shut off valve to the hot water faucet when the cold water turned off without problems.

Thankfully, my partner in crime and my assistant to when I decide to shower in the kitchen comes to the rescue and righty-tighty she went.

270 days from now, we’re moving out of this apartment.

It isn’t because I power washed the kitchen today.

It’s not the quirkiest but it’s time to move on.

What Makes Me Happy?

Every day, I find the meaning to happiness.

What makes one happy?

What makes one successful?

What makes one satisfied?

Questions…I still can’t answer for myself.

It’s 4th of July, 2016. I am 30 years old and live in one of the best continents in the world. I regard myself as a writer but truth be told, I don’t write as much as I want to. I don’t even know where to start.

Today, I take my backpack with my laptop and drive away from the apartment I share with my best friend.

She wonders where I’m going and I don’t tell her anything. I drive around the block and go straight to my office, not too far from where I live and take my first cigarette of the day under the heat of sunny Los Angeles.

I drive back to my apartment.

Renu, my best friend asks, “Where did you go?”

“None of your business.”

I see her face turn into a frown.

I can’t help myself. Every time someone tries to help me, I push them away.

I wasted this 3-day weekend sulking, moping around, indecisive.

Renu tells me everything’s going to be okay but I know every time I’m in a funk, I hurt her more. She gets easily affected when I’m down.

I ask her what’s wrong, knowing I’m the reason for her change of mood.

She tells me at first, “Nothing.”

I insist and she cries.

She kneels down in front of me and tells me, I need to help myself.

“You’re the only one who can push yourself. If I try to push you to write, to do what makes you happy, you go into this self-defense mode and you push me away. I want you to be happy at all times. You can’t let yourself feel stuck. Do you want to see a therapist?”

I’ve been to therapy before. It was one of the darkest moments of my life. That was 5 years ago.

It doesn’t cost much to go to therapy especially if you have a good-paying job but it’s still money wasted.

I consider her question thoughtfully and I wonder if I do need to return to therapy.

What makes it so hard to be happy?

When have I become this person?

I used to be a spontaneous 16-year old girl from Bacolod, Philippines.

Now, I’m a statistic.

I am 30 years old — just turned 3 months ago.

Three decades of my life, half of which spent yearning for happiness.

Tell me, is this what life is all about? Is this how it’s supposed to be?

I love cooking. I love writing. I love creating things — draw, build, write a song.

Here I am, stuck in a job that takes away 12 to 14 hours of my time every day.

This is not how I imagined my life to be 15 years ago.

I cook today for the first time in weeks and I didn’t even do it right.

Everytime I cook a meal, Renu tells me how the food is. Does she like it? What’s missing?

“The food is good. It’s a tasty carbonara. But next time, put your heart into it. It’s as if the right ingredients are in it but they’re not together.”

Just like my thoughts…they’re in the right place, but not together.

More than a dozen blogs have come and gone right before my very eyes. I’d like for this one to stay.

If you happen to come across this blog…thank you for stopping by.

If you happen to read my thoughts…I thank you for spending the time.

You may have come across this at the present time or maybe three decades from now, when I’m 60.

Just know that I lived and I tried to constantly do the things that makes me happy.

My name is Pinx Marie. This is my life.